Tag Archives: foraged foods

Heirloom Tomato and Wild Boar Ragu

Heirloom tomato ragu with wild boar over fresh pasta

For this dish we used orange and red heirloom tomatoes from Balakian Farms, and wild boar from….well that’s a bit of a secret.  The first thing you want to do is start the wild boar cooking. That’s what is going to take most of your time in this dish.

We used several shoulders of boar for this dish (because that’s what we had), but other cuts that respond well to slow cooking, or even ground meat could work.

Boar:

1 10 lb boar shoulder (or several smaller ones)

garlic

salt and pepper to taste

olive oil

1 C red wine

Wild game has a tendency to dry out more than cultivated meat, so slow braising is key.  Preheat oven to 300 degrees, then coat the meat in a rub of garlic, thyme, and olive oil.   Place in large stew-pot or baking dish, cover well, and cook….for 4 hours. check on your meat every hour or so, to see how it’s looking. The meat is done when it is falling apart.  Take the pan out of the oven, and remove meat to separate plate to rest.  pour off all but 2 tbsp of liquid from pan, add wine and cook over high heat, scraping bottom of pan to remove cracklings, cook down for 3 minutes. This can be used to add an intensity of flavor to the pasta sauce, or saved in the fridge (keeps about a week), to flavor another dish.

Sauce:

First I cut the heirlooms into segments using a 3:1 ratio of orange to red heirlooms.  The orange heirlooms taste amazingly bright and sweet so I used some red heirlooms to give the flavor more backbone or base.

Heat a good amount of olive oil in a pan.  Brown chopped garlic and add onions and salt.  Allow onions to get soft and see through.  Add almost all of your orange tomato segments and then slowly add in red tomatoes in stages.  Turn burner down to medium.  If sauce starts spitting too much turn burner down more.  As the tomatoes release their juices watch the color.  If it starts turning too brown add more orange tomatoes.  Add coriander, AllStar Organics Italian Herb Salt, and kosher salt to taste.  If you add too much coriander (like I did) just add some more tomatoes to balance out the flavors.  Cook for 30-40 minutes until tomatoes are very soft and lots of juice has come out.  Let cool and then blend in blender.  Keep the ragu somewhat chunky:  you don’t need to blend it very thin but also don’t want big pieces of skin.  Return to pot and heat.  Add more coriander and salt if desired.  If flavors aren’t coming together well, try adding a bit of sugar, 1 Tbsp at a time.  Take the wild boar that has been resting, and pull apart as you would pulled pork. Add to sauce, and cook a further 10 minutes to blend flavors.  Serve over fresh pasta.

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Local Albacore Crudo With Balsamic and Fried Sea Beans

Tuna Crudo

This is a dish that I made at the last Wild Kitchen Dinner.  Crudo is essentially raw fish, often made with halibut or tuna.  There was some really nice local albacore coming in from the coast, so I decided on that. Albacore is a smaller tuna, and so has less mercury than the larger varities  From there you can be really creative with what you do with it.  Up at Contigo we do a really simple one with olive oil, lime juice, and course sea salt.

This was my only dish for the night (Ellen, our guest chef and a friend of mine, who goes by the name of Radical Radish), did most of the cooking, and did a really great job in my opinion. As we were plating I still hadn’t figured out what I was going to do with the crudo.  At first I wanted to have a small green salad with a simple vinegrette, but realized that overwhelmed the fish, then I was going with a bed of onions with paprika, but that didn’t really go with the rest of the meal. As the plates were being set out for me to fill, I decided on a bed of red onions with rough chopped snap peas, a splash of balsamic, course sea salt, with the fish tossed in foraged lemon juice and EVOO, and cilantro…then we forgot the cilantro. People seemed to like it though,and that’s what matters in the end.  Be creative with this, make it your own, it’s half the fun of cooking.  I really like how the pungency of the onions offsets the richness of the tuna, with the acid of the lemons slightly cooking the fish as you plate.

Serves 4

6 oz very fresh albacore filet cut into 1/4 x 2 inch pieces (more on this later).  You can use tuna steak if need be, but cutting straight of a filet is better

1 bunch cilantro

2 large red onions

balsamic vinegar

1 Cup fresh snap peas, cleaned of strings

EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)

Course Sea Salt

The hardest part of making crudo is cutting the fish.  If you do it wrong, you destroy the fish, and what you up with is albacore mash, rather than delicate delicious slices of tuna.  I’ve heard you can get your fishmonger (I try to use that word as much as possible) cut it up for you.  If you do, tell him what you’re using it for, and he’ll probably know what you want.  If you want to learn some new technique, try buying some, and if you have a nice fishmonger (again with that great word), ask him to show you.

The basic technique is….actually pretty hard to explain, but the general idea is that rather than letting the fish buckle under the pressure of your knife, you want to slice through cleanly, letting the knife do the work.

1.Place filet on cutting board perpendicular to you,with head (large) side facing in the direction of your non-dominant hand.

2. Apply pressure with your non-dominant palm to base of filet (your hand should be horizontal to the cutting board), pushing towards the tail of the fish.

3. Using a very long, sharp knife, starting with the back of the knife at the forward (closer to you) edge of the filet, make long, sure cuts 1/4-1/2 inch thick. Don’t push down, let the knife do the work.

I should have pictures for this process, if I was reading this I would be completely confused, but try it out, and if you have questions please let me know. Now back to the recipe….

1. Cut fish into 1.5 oz portions (this is about 2 good sized slices), and put aside on ice.  This is also a good time to get the seabans cooking, as you’ll want them to cool a bit before serving.

1. Clean seabeans, by removing any brown bits towards the bottom of the plant

2. Dice 3 cloves garlic, cook over medium heat until aromatic, throw in seabeans, add freshly ground                    pepper to taste. Cook for 4-5 minutes, until the seabeans start to color a bit, and lose some of their                    saltiness.

2. Using a mandoline or sharp knife, slice red onion into large, very thin slices.

3. Cut snap peas (in shell), into 1/2 inch slices

4. Pull cilantro leaves off stems

5. Make a bed of red onions on each plate, and place a dash of balsamic into the middle of each, followed by a small handfull of the peas

6. In a small mixing bowl, mix 1 serving of tuna with lemon juice and olive oil, more oil than lemon, but the   ratio is really to your taste

7. Place tuna on center of plate, sprinkle with a couple grains of course sea salt, and shower plate with cilantro leaves.

8. Place a small serving of seabeans on the side of the plate. Repeat. Serve. Eat.

Stilton blue and little gem salad with sauteed wild radish seed pods

Wild Radish seed pods are everywhere this time of year. When you look out over a meadow of purple/white/yellow flowers, you’re probably looking at wild radish.  The yellow flowers you see are actually wild mustard, but the interbreeding is so intense in the wild that its almost impossible to tell them apart ( and doesn’t really matter anyway).  I foraged the seed pods for mt last dinner in/around SF.  Wild radish is one of the most relaxing things to forage, mainly because there is so much of it.  Instead of scouring the leaf cover for that orange glint of the Chanterelle, you just pick.  Its all right in front of you, which gives your mind time to wander and wonder.  The best ideas are hatched wild radish picking.

The winter/spring gives us the leaves (which are a great cooked green) and the flowers.  As the weather starts to heat up the leaves fall off and we get the seed pods. At their peak, they have a great radishy bite, but with a lot more texture than the flowers, which are also edible. I think this will be the last meal for seed pods this year. As the summer progresses, the pods start to solidify and dry out, as the seeds get ready to drop.  The result is that no matter how hard you blanch or sauté them, they are going to be very tough.  Luckily I caught them at the tail end, and they were still nice and tender.  This is a really nice salad, with the tart vinegar of the blue cheese dressing set off against the spice of the seed pods and Nastertiums. Looks great too, all green, white, red…nice dish.

The Recipe: Serves 4

4-6 heads little gem greens (marin roots has the best, but not cheap)

8 Nastertium flowers

2.5 oz  Stilton Blue Cheese (about 3 Tbsp)

1 Cup wild radish seed pods

6 Tbsp cider vinegar

2 Tbsp heavy cream

1/4 Cup extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp sugar

Dressing: Add vinegar and cream, then whisk together with some salt and pepper. Whisk in the sugar until it dissolves, and then whisk in half of the cheese. Gradually whisk in the olive oil. Add seasoning to taste

Seed Pods: Heat 2 Tbsp butter over med/high heat. Saute radish seed pods until tender (about 4 minutes), add salt and pepper to taste.

Wash and dry the Little Gems.  Cut off the end, and, using your hands, toss in mixing bowl with 2 Tbsp dressing and 1/4 C seed pods.  Arrange on plate, with 2 nastertium flowers. Crumble remaining cheese on top.

That’s it! Unfortunatly I didn’t get any good pictures of this salad from the dinner, but if you make it, be sure to send me a photo, Ill put it on my site.