I had learned from the Union Square Greenmarket app that there would be no fish sellers there Saturday (almost certainly because of the extreme cold), but I figured if I got there early enough, I might still be able to buy some local (Newburgh, an indoor aquaculture farm) shrimp for dinner that day. I also had to pick up some fresh vegetables for meals over the next 3 days, so the walk in the bitter cold and snow was going to be worth it anyway.
I was lucky with the entrée search, and came home with some”colossals”, just about the last of Jean Claude’s stock that day.
The first course, dominated by slices of an Italian smoked ham, made the meal something of an odd surf ‘n turf event, but the fact that there was also a strong smoky aroma and taste in the main course (a smoked pepper) brought it all together.
- five or 6 ounces of thinly-sliced Recla Speck Alto Adige IGP, from Bolzano, purchased at Eataly, drizzled lightly with a very good Sicilian olive oil, from from Agricento, Azienda Agricola Mandranova (exclusively Nocellara olives)
- a few leaves of ‘baby Romano’ (oak leaf speckled lettuce) from Eckerton Hill Farm dressed with the same olive oil, Maldon salt, and freshly-ground black pepper
- slices of a buckwheat baguette from Runner & Stone Bakery
The Speck was followed by a plate of the shrimp and a side of tomatoes and baby leek.
I prepared the shrimp in the same way I had for the 2 years I’ve been enjoying ECO Shrimp Garden’s harvests.
- one teaspoon of chopped Rocambole garlic from Keith’s Farm, heated inside a heavy (13 1/2″) cast iron pan over a very low flame until the garlic had colored nicely, a pinch of Spanish saffron, pieces of one dried chipotle pepper from Northshire Farms in the Union Square Greenmarket (I have always used a whole one, but this time tried the broken pieces of one of the peppers in the package), one crushed section of a dried orange-gold habanada pepper, and a teaspoon of freshly-ground dried cumin seed from Eataly added, all of it stirred for a minute or two, then 15 ounces (10 count) of Hudson Valley farmed ‘colossal’ shrimp from Eco Shrimp Garden (that I had cut the length of their backs, from head to tail, for ease of shelling later, added, seasoned with salt and pepper, the heat brought up a bit, and the shrimp cooked until firm while turned twice [they were delicious, but slightly overcooked, probably because I had overcompensated for their larger-than-normal size], served with a generous squeeze of lemon, garnished on the plates with chopped parlsley from S. & S.O. Produce and micro scallion from Two Guys from Woodbridge [the micro green touch was my own, after completing Mark Bittman’s terrific recipe, and may seem like overkill, but they worked with the other flavors, and look pretty good]
NOTE: There was more than enough sauce in the end, so I gathered what I wasn’t going to use, allowed it to cool a bit, and swirled it into a couple tablespoons of softened butter, to use as a flavored butter in some future meal.
- one Japanese scallion from Norwich Meadows Farm, washed, dried, sliced lengthwise, then halved, cooked in heated olive oil until wilted, 6 Maine Backyard Farms ‘cocktail tomatoes’ from Whole Foods Market, halved, slipped into the pan and heated briefly, then a generous amount of chopped thyme from Stoke’s Farm, some sea salt, and black pepper added and stirred into the vegetables, served with a little more of the chopped thyme
Today’s lunch was an ensemble of leftovers, easily thrown together minutes after I had returned from a wintry rendezvous with the Union Square Greenmarket.
I knew when I had asked for a pound of fresh tagliatelle earlier in the week that it would be too much for just the two of us, but it looked so good inside the glass case at Luca Donofrio’s pastificio inside the Flatiron Eataly, and it was so inexpensive, I decided it would just be rude to order less.
We enjoyed most of it on Wednesday, with some leftover pigeon sauce, when it had basically been the only part of a meal that wasn’t a leftover.
Today some of that same pasta became the central leftover feature of another meal. The amount not used 3 days ago today, tossed then in a bowl with olive oil, covered, and placed in the refrigerator, became an almost instant lunch for the two of us, simply heated with a little olive oil and mixed or sprinkled with some more leftovers that had been hanging around the kitchen: one herb that had already been chopped, a bit of crushed dried heatless pepper, and some toasted homemade breadcrumbs (that had not been used on a smoked eel pasta)
Even the bread had been ‘leftover’ from earlier meals, but, while purchased days ago, the Bread Alone sourdough miche was still fresh.
The whole meal was far more delicious than the negligible effort it required would have suggested.
We both agreed that this was absolutely the most delicious smoked pork we had ever had – in any form. I’d say it was almost entirely about the virtue of the supplier, Flying Pigs Farm, but I would also have to add that, over time, I’ve learned a little about how to best enjoy this wonderful butchers’ creation.
It’s also astonishingly easy to do. To put it as simply as possible, find the best smoked pork chops you can (like Flying Pigs Farm or Millport Dairy in the Union Square Greenmarket, Ottomanelli’s on Bleecker Street in the West Village, Schaller & Weber on Second Avenue and 86th Street, Dickson Farm Stand in the Chelsea Market) and some good pre-packaged sauerkraut (in a jar or plastic bag), and you’re already halfway there.
There are almost an infinite number of dishes to accompany this classic, although only a very few are classics themselves. Last night I went with the non-classics, but I stuck with a classic wine.
- * one 16-ounce glass jar of sauerkraut (simply cabbage and salt) from Millport Dairy Farm, drained and very well-rinsed in several changes of cold water, drained once again and placed inside an enameled cast iron oval covered pot with one chopped sweet yellow onion from Norwich Meadows Farm, one cored, peeled, chopped ‘Ashmead’s Kernel’ apple from Samascott Orchards, one cup of an Oregon (Illinois Valley) white, Foris Wine Shop Dry Gewürztraminer 20168, 9 smashed whole juniper berries, and about the same number of whole black peppercorns, a little salt, and a tablespoon of olive oil, all brought to a boil, simmered over a low flame, stirring occasionally, for less than half an hour, covered, and then uncovered for 20 or 25 minutes more, and near the end of that time joined by two 9-ounce smoked pork chops from Flying Pigs Farm that had been thoroughly dried and then briefly seared on both sides inside an enameled cast iron pan with a little olive oil and butter, slightly buried in the sauerkraut where they were heated for 10 or 15 minutes, the chops and sauerkraut then arranged on 2 plates
- * a small amount of wild cress from Lani’s Farm, dressed with olive oil, Maldon salt, and freshly-ground black pepper
- * most of 2 bunches of French breakfast radishes from Eckerton Hill Farm, all that remained from two earlier meals where some had been used as simple crudités, washed, the green stems and little white ‘tails’ removed tossed in a bowl with a little, olive oil, a pinch of dried golden habanada pepper, sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper, then roasted for 20 to 25 minutes or so, at 375º, inside a medium Pampered Chef unglazed pan
- * the wine was spot on for this meal, a German (Pfalz) white, Friedrich Becker Pinot Blanc 2013, that had remained from a purchase some time ago from our very-much-missed former neighborhood wine shop, Appellation Wine & Spirits
- the music was Francesco Maria Veracini‘s 1735 London opera, ‘Adriano In Siria‘, Fabio Biondi conducting the ensemble, Europa Galante
The American Seafood folks are back in the Union Square Greenmarket, and inside their stall on Wednesday Warren seemed to know exactly what I wanted, pointing to 2 perfectly-sized and shaped, very fresh looking swordfish, showing only the tiniest bit of a bloodline.
- * two 6-ounce swordfish steaks off of Scott Rucky’s fishing vessel, ‘Dakota’, from American Seafood Company in the Union Square Greenmarket, marinated for half an hour in a mixture of olive oil, chopped winter savory from Stokes Farm, a very small amount of crushed dried peperoncino Calabresi secchi from Buon Italia, and a tiny amount of chopped red shallot from Norwich Meadows Farm, drained well, covered on both sides with a coating of homemade dried breadcrumbs, pan-grilled over medium-high heat for 4 to 5 minutes on each side, removed, seasoned with a little sea salt, a little juice from a Whole Foods Market organic lemon squeezed on top, sprinkled with micro scallion from Two Guys from Woodbridge, and drizzled with a little olive oil
- Brussels sprouts from John D. Madura Farms, snapped directly off their 2-foot stalk, washed and dried, then tossed with olive oil, sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper, roasted in a 400º oven until browned and crisp on the outside (when they will taste surprisingly sweet and rather nutty)
- slices of a whole wheat sourdough Miche from Bread Alone, with the further addition of a few drops of olive oil [not pictured]
- the wine was an Italian (Sicily) white, Corvo Bianco 2015, from Philippe Liquors and Wines
- the music was Handel’s 1723 opera, ‘Ottone, re di Germania‘ [Otto, King of Germany], George Petrou conducting Il Pomo d’Oro, with Anna Starushkevych (Mezzo Soprano) as Matilde; Ann Hallenberg (Mezzo Soprano) as Gismonda; the album’s hot cover boy, Max Emanuel Cenčić (countertenor), as the eponymous 10th-century Ottonian Holy Roman Emperor; Xavier Sabata (a second countertenor), as Adalberto; Lauren Snouffer (Soprano) as Teofane; and Pavel Kudinov (Bass) as Emireno
This meal included many of the same players we enjoyed in a much more ambitious meal the night before. It was a small triumph of home economics,* and the ingredients made it nearly as delicious as they had the first time around.
It was also dramatically easier to put together.
The dinner began with an appetizer which utilized the offal (hearts and livers, in this case) of the 2 pigeons we had enjoyed on Monday.
- eight slices of a more-than-day-old buckwheat baguette from Runner & Stone Bakery, toasted on top of the stove on my ‘Camp-A-Toaster’, then sautéed in a little olive oil, turning several times, until they were all crispy and succulent, spread with the livers and hearts of two California farmed pigeons from D’Artagnan, purchased from Frank at O. Ottomanelli & Sons Prime Meat Market, that had been briefly sautéed in a little olive oil inside a medium tin-lined copper skillet after a bit of finely-chopped Keith’s Farm Rocambole garlic and several tiny chopped scallions from Willow Wisp Farm had first been softened, the offal bits removed and finely chopped, a small amount of chopped thyme from Stokes Farm, about a teaspoon of tomato paste, a splash of a dry Oregon Gewürztraminer, sea salt, and freshly-ground black pepper all added to the pan and mixed together, the chopped pigeon innards returned to the pan and stirred with the rest of the ingredients
- a bit of wild cress from Lani’s Farm, dressed with a very good Sicilian olive oil, from from Agricento, Azienda Agricola Mandranova (using exclusively Nocellara olives) sea salt, and freshly-ground black pepper
* Basically, the only thing in the main, or pasta course, that had not been a part of an earlier meal, or originally purchased to be a part of another meal, was the pasta itself.
There were mushrooms! They had originally been gathered to be a part of a different recipe for squab than the one I ended up using.
- three quarters of a pound of fresh tagliatelle from Luca Donofrio’s pastificio inside the Flatiron Eataly, cooked for only about one minute, drained, tossed with olive oil and a little of the reserved pasta water, arranged in shallow bowls, topped with a sauce that had begun the day before as the rich liquid in which the pigeons had been braised, now finished with a small amount of chipotle pepper adobo sauce (from a container that had contributed to this years Thanksgiving meal), and further enriched by the addition of 8 ounces of chopped Bulich Mushroom Company shiitake mushrooms that had been sautéed in olive oil until lightly cooked, the mushrooms seasoned with salt, pepper, a little California merlot, and the dish garnished with chopped parsley from S. & S.O. Produce