White Bean and Smoked Pork Soup

As I’ve mentioned, Meat Farms is selling slab bacon now, and there are some recipes, especially soups, that really do benefit from bacon in chuck or diced cuts. Its why I prefer the thick cut bacon to regular sliced bacon. Bacon regularly sliced becomes non existent when added to soups, it just renders down to nothing.  Recipes often call for larger piece of smoked pork, like hocks, or butts, to add meat to these recipes. But, now, there is an option… really meaty bacon! So, without further ado… here’s an upgrade to our White Bean soup.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1/2 pound slab bacon diced
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 3 large onions sliced
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 2 cups of cooked white kidney beans, or great northern beans
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 1/2 tsp tarragon
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 8 cups of water
  • salt and pepper and a dash of hot sauce to taste

Melt the butter in a kettle and saute the bacon until ti just starts to crisp. Add the onions and sweat them for five minutes. Add the remaining ingredients and slowly cook over a low heat for about half and hour. Serve with buttered chunks of fresh bread.

 

Squid Week – Mexican Style

Sustainable squid, squid-week continues… Mexican style. Today it’s a simple squid cerviche. Ceviche is a seafood dish marinated in a citrus-based mixture, usually with lemons and limes providing the acid. In addition to adding flavor, the citric acid causes the proteins in the seafood to become denatured, cooked essentially, but not cooked with heat. This makes it a perfect picnic dish.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 6 to 8 whole squid, cleaned and sliced into ¼-inch rings
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 1 jalapeno, diced small
  • 2 Tbsp cilantro, chopped
  • Fresh squeezed lime juice (about 16 – 20 limes)
  • 1 clove garlic, smashed (not minced, not pressed)
  • Salt and black pepper, to taste
  • Tortilla chips and lime wedges, for serving

Start by juicing one lime into a large glass or ceramic bowl. Smash a clove of garlic and add it to the juice we want to infuse this juice with the garlic so I often use a garlic press here to smash the clove. Leave the garlic in the juice while you clean and slice the shrimp and chop the vegetables and cilantro. As your chopping all these ingredients, keep them off to the side, and don’t add then to the bowl yet.

After chopping all the ingredients, remove the garlic from the bowl and then add all of your ingredients except for the salt and pepper to the bowl.

Now, juice the limes over the ceviche, making sure there is enough to nearly cover the squid. Stir well, cover, and refrigerate for one hour. Remove, stir again, and return to the refrigerator. Marinate for another 2-3 hours, season to taste with salt and black pepper and serve with tortilla chips and lime wedges.

Sustainable Squid – Stuffed

Squid… I know, everyone’s tried fried calamari, and a lot of people don’t like unhealthy fried foods. But today is not a calamari day. Its stuffed squid day! Squid is healthy and nutritious seafood that rates favorable on our sustainability scale. There are several ways to work with this often overlooked delicacy, but today is stuffed squid day.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 8 to 10 whole squid (about 3 to 5 inches each)
  • 2 ounces raw shrimp
  • 1/4 cup fresh bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped tomato
  • 2 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups pasta sauce

Preheat an oven to 375 degrees F.

Heat the olive oil in a medium saute pan over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onions and salt and sweat until the onions turn translucent, about 1 to 2 minutes. Do not brown them, then add the garlic and continue to cook for another minute. Transfer this mixture to a medium mixing bowl and let cool.

Clean the squid thoroughly and remove the heads from the tentacles and discard the heads. Turn the tubes inside out as the outside skin tends to curl outward, it’ll curl better inside out, put them into a bowl with some ice and set in the refrigerator until ready to use. Place the tentacles and the shrimp into the bowl of a food processor and pulse 6 to 8 times or until there are no large pieces visible. Do not process until smooth. Now, if you don’t have shrimp, a reasonable alternative here would be crab meat, or even left over lobster, but who would have any lobster left-over.

Now, transfer this to the mixing bowl along with the onions and garlic. Add the bread crumbs, tomato, lemon zest, ginger, parsley and pepper. Stir to combine well. This is the stuffing mixture.

Now, here’s a handy trick that I saw on “Good Eats”, place the mixture into a re-sealable freezer bag and snip a corner.  Pipe the stuffing into the tubes. Do not over-stuff.

Place the tubes into an 8 by 11-inch glass baking dish and cover with the pasta sauce. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. Serve immediately. I like to serve it over pasta.

for more on sustainable squid: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/fishwatch/species/longfin_squid.htm

Pick a Peck of Pickled Peppers

Pick a peck of pickled peppers, and here’s how to pickle a hot one.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 10 large jalapeno peppers
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 3/4 cup white distilled vinegar
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp whole black peppercorns
  • 1 clove garlic

Slice the jalapenos into uniform sized rings, and toss them into a strainer. Run these under cold water to remove some of the excess seeds (this can reduce the capsaicin content which reduces the heat on the pepper). Set these aside.

Combine sugar, vinegar, water, salt, peppercorns, and garlic in a sauce pan. Bring this to a boil. Once boiling, add the pepper rings turn off the heat. Let these sit about ten minutes then transfer the pepper rings to jars. Top with the brine and refrigerate.

This is not a ‘long term’ pickling. There is no boiling of jars and sterilizing, so use these within a week or two. They are great on nachos with cheese sauce, tossed into salads, slopped on sandwiches, or an enhancement to eggs.