Friday, April 11, 2008

One meal to remember two others

First the recipe. It's followed by me waxing on and doing some regional name dropping. It was going to be in the reverse order, but it's been wordy around here lately. If you prefer the stories to the recipes, feel free to start with the last few paragraphs. And that's my favorite utensil in the background. Perfect for risotto.

Ingredients:
- Pasta (Organic Italian penne from . . . Target. I saw it, it was on sale, I had to try. Not bad.)
- Pork, chopped (shoulder meat)
- Onion, sweet, diced
- Celery, diced
- Carrot, diced (I didn't have it and it was missed.)
- Tomato paste
- Red wine
- Can of tomatoes, crushed (either by hand or precrushed)
- Salt and pepper
- Chile flakes
- Cream
- Olive oil

Method:
- Start making the sauce first (It'll force you to let the meat braise a bit.)
- Sweat onion, celery, and chile flakes in olive oil (Carrot too if you've got it) and season
- Once veggies are soft brown pork (If I do this again I'll brown the pork first in just a little olive oil and then add the raw veggies to soften in the olive oil/pork fat mixture. Browning the pork first would allow for better control of how much fat winds up in the dish.) and season again
- Once pork is browned add some red wine and tomato paste and deglaze the pan
- Reduce the liquid quite a bit, add the crushed tomatoes, and adjust seasonings
- When the sauce is the consistency you like cover the pot (or pan in this case) and let it stew/braise
- Cook pasta
- Once pasta is about done take lid off of sauce, raise the heat, and add cream to taste. It doesn't take much cream.
- Add pasta to sauce, cook together for a short minute, and enjoy.

This dinner incorporates elements from two of three really pleasant dining experiences I've had in the past few days, each courtesy of some of Cleveland's best chefs and each completely unexpected. The first I mentioned a few posts ago. I wandered into Bar Cento with a small piece of cheval (one of the few meats not available at the West Side Market) and Jonathon Sawyer was kind enough to stop what he was doing and make a great small meal with beer, the cheval (seared and tartar), and a few other accompaniments. I didn't call first, I didn't make arrangements, I just showed up with some cryovacked meat and the man hooked it up. The guy likes food, and he doesn't discriminate based on animal or part.

The second came by way of barter. Before the same trip that yielded the cheval, one-time Cleveland chef and sustainable food crusader Parker Bosley was making his usual rounds at the farmers market in Shaker Square. He was instrumental in getting me into the market and I asked if he wanted anything from the Canadians. I figured it was the least I could do. He asked for raw milk cheese. That was easy enough to oblige. When I got back, in exchange for the cheese Parker offered dinner. I was treated to Broccoli rabe with balsamic and fennel seeds, likely the best pasta noodles I've ever had with a traditional bolognese made with homemade pancetta (from a seriously happy pig), a perfect apple tart, and all the homemade baguette and Italian butter I could eat. The cheese went well with the tarts for dessert, but I definitely got the better end of the exchange by receiving the meal. Great food and conversation. It's too bad his restaurant is closed.

Finally, the third food pleasantry came courtesy of Karen Small at the Flying Fig. I live on their inexpensive happy hour food, and Karen, like Parker, has been very helpful with getting me situated at the market. So it's fair to say that she doesn't owe me much over there (although the bar tabs have added up once or twice). The last time I was there the Fig was having one of the four wine dinners they're having this month, and I think Karen saw me slobbering over the tasting menu at the bar. A few drinks later I had the chance to enjoy some duck fat confited grilled pork shoulder with scalloped potatoes (It was a pretty fancy version of scalloped potatoes, and I think it has a nicer, proper name.) and another dose of broccoli rabe. It's not always possible for me to commit to an entire tasting event, and getting to try one of the dishes that really stood out on the menu was a much appreciated accommodation. Great stuff and great treatment from one of my favorite spots. I was also introduced to Mick, the owner of Covered Bridge Gardens, a local grower who's also at the market and offers a CSA.

All in all it's been a good few weeks on the food front. Just hope it keeps up. As for the connection between the last two meals and the recipe above, it doesn't really seem like it warrants too much explanation. It's enough to say the pork sauce was no Parker's bolognese, and the pork certainly wasn't grilled and confited, so the Fig has nothing to fear.

Also, quick note of a correction from an old post. The March 22 post pictured farmed hybrid striped bass, not wild striped bass. The post has been altered to reflect the proper fish. Sorry about the mistake.

1 comment:

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