Monday, December 27, 2010

Dark Days Challenge Week 3: Bitokes a la Russe and roasted potatoes

I've made these and blogged about them before. They are a quick and tasty way to use deer burger.

The recipe is from one of my favorite cookbooks, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, by Julia Child. And it's just a fancy French way of sayin' "a beef dish kinda like Salisbury steak." That's what it translates to, I swear...

I should clarify, though. These aren't actually Bitokes a la Russebut a variation of the recipe. That's one of the things I like about that cookbook. There are usually a handful of variations on a master recipe, I just can't remember what this variation was called. It has a fancy French name, too. We'll just say it's the "something-like-salisbury-steak-but-with-deer-meat" dish. 
The deer burger was from one of the several deer the hubs killed last winter. We really need to use up the last couple packages of last year's deer burger. I don't like to keep it in the freezer longer than a year. That, and he just loaded up the freezer again this month. There is also an egg (Breezy Knoll Farm via Monroe Farm Market), flour and minced onions mixed in the meat. The onions are organic yellow onions from Kroger. I also added about 2 tablespoons of bacon grease I keep in the fridge from my Sandy Creek Farms bacon. The gravy on the meat was made from turkey stock from my Thanksgiving turkey bought from Almost Heaven Farm (Monroe Farm Market) in Monroe County. Butter is Land O' Lakes (booo!!! not local). And the flour in the gravy is from Reed's Mill Flours in Monroe County. The potatoes are from my father-in-law's garden and the rosemary is from a generous co-worker's herb garden. I really need to plant some of my own...

Please disregard the baked beans. They were leftover from a potluck dinner I attended last Monday. No one wanted the baked beans. So I brought them home. I like baked beans, and I couldn't bear to see them thrown out. They were most certainly NOT local. Or even SOLE. They were good, though. And I don't like to waste food.

Deer burger is tricky. It is wonderful in that it is so lean. You can substitute it for hamburger in a lot of recipes to make them healthier. But, it also has a distinct wild taste. Some people don't mind the taste. But I usually try to use it in heavily seasoned or spicy dishes that will mask the taste a bit. This recipe is an exception. You taste the deer/wild taste a little, but it's not off-putting. Could be that bacon grease... Bacon grease seems to make everything better.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Dark Days Challenge: Week 2. Steak and potatoes

Last Friday, we had a heat wave here in Charleston. It hit 37 degrees. This weather is ridiculous.

I took advantage of the warmer temperatures to throw some steaks on the grill. The Monroe Farm Market started selling beef again a few weeks ago, and I bought some New York strip steaks. This is quickly becoming my favorite cut of steak. I marinated the steaks in a little bit of extra virgin olive oil, red wine and garlic. The red wine, sadly wasn't local--which is a shame since there are some really great wines made within an hour or two from me, but a Chilean Syrah was what I had in the kitchen. The garlic was, local though.

What goes better with steaks than potatoes? My favorite way to make them with steaks is to grill them. It's so easy. Boil whole potatoes for about 15 minutes until they begin to get tender when poked with a fork. Slice them in half long-ways and brush all over with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Throw them on the grill with the steaks until they have a golden crust. Immediately after taking them off the grill, sprinkle cheese on them and let it melt slightly. Blue cheese crumbles are the absolute best on these potatoes, but I used local goat cheese, which was pretty darn good also.

The steaks were from Swift Level Farm. The potatoes were kennebec white from Spangler's Greenhouse. The goat cheese was Walker Mountain Goat Cheese. All bought from the Monroe Farm Market.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

4th Annual Dark Days Challenge: Week 1

It's officially winter here. Well, not officially. But still. We got an inch of snow today. That counts in my book.

I'm participating in the 4th Annual Dark Days Challenge, and today was my first offering.

I guess I should explain what it is first. For roughly four and a half months, I must eat "SOLE" (sustainable, organic, local or ethical) meal once a week. It doesn't sound too daunting, but don't be fooled. Eating local in the winter in the Mid-Atlantic is a challenge because you have to rely almost exclusively on what you've put up. Or someone else put up.

In the Eat Local Challenge, most consider any food from within 100 miles to be local. I stretch it a bit further, so I can have milk. The closest dairy is in Wirtz, Virginia, approximately 221 miles from me. Homestead Creamery supplies dairy products to my local Kroger's. So, I play by the rule of within 250 miles. It's a good thing, too. I get a huge amount of my food from the Monroe Farm Market. Although, it makes deliveries to Charleston every two weeks, it's just over 100 miles away. Additionally, spices, oils and things like coffee are generally exceptions to the local aspect of the meal.

Every so often, we like to have what we call "Bar Food Night" at the Jones's. Today was that dinner. After taking in college football for the biggest part of the day, it seemed appropriate.

Today's dinner didn't disappoint. Wings and loaded potato skins. Mmm. I should have been drinking Mountaineer Brewing Company beer, or perhaps Yuengling or Starr Hill, which would have all been within 250 miles, but the hubs ran out for some beer and brought back Guiness Extra Stout. It seemed like a good day for it.

Anyway, I am beyond thrilled that I found a local port producer that sells pork products from pigs allowed to roam a bit. Bacon is one of those things that is hard to get around when it comes to cooking. You really can't leave it out and you really can't substitute something else more sustainable (than conventional pork). Late in the summer, I started ordering from Sandy Creek Farms in Ravenswood, WV. The are such nice people and they even met me at my office with my delivery. They have so many products, not just pork, either. I've been beyond pleased with everything I've tried so far. Yay, bacon!

So, tonight, we had wings from Almost Heaven Farm in Monroe County. The potato skins were made from potatoes from Spangler's Greenhouse in Monroe County, with diced bacon (Sandy Creek Farms), organic non-local red onion and garlic, and non-local, non-organic cheddar cheese, sour cream and cilantro. I will say that the sour cream is truly all natural, though. Half of the potato skins had cheddar cheese and half had goat cheese on them. I bought the goat cheese from the Monroe Farm Market, and it was made by Walker Mountain Goat Cheese, an amish dairy just across the Virginia border. I wasn't sure about the flavor combination on the potato skins with the goat cheese, so I did half with cheddar cheese. I should have done them all with the goat cheese, because they were DELICIOUS.
Here's the tag from the wings. Buffalo wings are one of the few foods that I actually hate, so I always make mine Asian. A couple years ago, there was a wing recipe in the food section of the local Sunday paper that I've been using ever since.

5-Spice Asian Wing Sauce from the Sunday Gazette-Mail

1/2 cup hoisin sauce
2 Tb rice wine vinegar
1 Tb sesame oil
2 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp Chinese 5-spice powder
1 Tb orange zest
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
sesame seeds (optional)
2 lbs chicken wings

Prehead oven to 350 degrees. Mix all ingredients except sesame seeds in a small bowl. Bake wings without sauce on a cookie sheet lined with foil for 30 minutes. Turn and bake additional 15 to 20 mintues. Remove wings from the oven and toss in sauce while hot. Garnish with sesame seeds if desired.
So, now that we're underway, I am realizing that I am a little rusty at this. I will have to put some more thought into the meals to make sure they are more local.