Our early warming season is definitely moving things along in my own garden, AND in the local producer arena. I take a few minutes to tend to my garden every day and have been delighted to see the speed of seed germinating, onion shoots climbing and the green of asparagus and rhubarb sending promises of wonderful meals for the very near future. Our local producers who grow for part or all of their livelihood seem to usually be about three weeks ahead of me. Either that, or they’ve got some great hoop and green houses because the produce is already rolling in.
This past Saturday at the OSU-OKC farmer’s market I purchased beautiful fresh dill, spinach, tender bib lettuce and rainbow chard. Then I headed over to the Urban Agrarian and picked up tomatoes, carrots, Della Terra whole wheat spaghetti, pork bones for stock, cilantro and…mushrooms. There were beautiful chantrelles waiting to be purchased in the front display and I was SO in the mood for mushrooms.
Why? Well, it is morel season in Oklahoma and so far I’ve come up empty-handed on the two quick foraging runs I’ve taken. However, my friends in Guthrie seem to be in the right place because they are now pulling in quite a few.
Armed with a refrigerator full of local food, I put my thinking hat on, and came up with this meal: blue cheese and veggie stuff tomatoes, chantrelle and bacon cream sauce for the spaghetti and a simple quartered bib lettuce head. Here are the “how tos…”Make pork stock reduction:
I usually roast any bones for stock at least 30-45 minutes to purge much of the fat and brown the meat. Lay the pork bones on a sheet pan, quarter a large onion and roast them together at 375 for 40 minutes. I then combined the roasted bones and onions with three local carrots, two stalks of celery and three cloves of garlic. Cover all the ingredients with water and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 3-4 hours, then strain the stock. I refrigerate mine overnight so I can pull off the layer of lard before using it in recipes.
I then added four parts stock and 1 part white wine and reduced the stock by about half before using for my spaghetti sauce recipe.
Make the stuffed, roasted tomatoes:
Cut off the tops of six tomatoes, then gently scoop out the pulp. In a medium sized mixing bowl, combine 1 cup bread crumbs, 1 egg (local, of course), just under 1 cup of blue cheese crumbles. Saute 8 large leaves of chard, chopped, with 1/2 onion diced, and about 1.5 cups of chopped fresh spinach; cook until the onions are clear and remove from heat. Chop two large carrots and microwave them (covered) for about 2 minutes, or until tender. Combine all the vegetables with the crumb, egg and cheese mixture, then mix well. Stuff each tomato liberally, arrange in a baking dish where the tomatoes can support each other, and bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes. Check the tomatoes around the 30 minute mark…when the mixture is nicely browned on top, they should be ready to pull from the oven.
Make the pasta sauce:
Thinly slice five garlic cloves, rough chop about 4-6 med to large chantrelles, and dice one-half large onion. Set aside. Chop 4-5 strips of bacon and brown them into bacon crumbs. Drain the grease and clean pan. Sautee the garlic/mushroom/onion mixture until onions are barely clear. Remove from heat and set aside. Measure 1 and 2/3rds cup of pork reduction and 2/3rds cup of half-n-half into your saute pan. Feel free to use cream. Simmer at a med-high flame for approximately 7-8 minutes, or until mixture is more thickened. (During this time, I’m bringing my water for the fresh pasta to boil). When the liquid is reduced to a thin gravy texture, add 1/2 cup sour cream and whisk mixture until all the liquid is nicely emulsified. Add the onion/garlic/mushroom mixture plus sea salt and ground pepper to taste. When the sauce is bubbling nicely and seems to be the right consistency for the pasta, stir in the bacon crumbs and keep warm until the pasta is ready to serve.
This sauce is hearty and delicious, and mixed with the nutty flavor of fresh whole-wheat pasta gives you and your guests a very rustic and filling meal experience.
Until next time…
Here are a few photos of one of my morel foraging runs. Enjoy!