Sufferin’ Succotash

It’s getting to be that time of summer when the corn and the beans all start ripening and the grocery store is almost paying you to take them somewhere, anywhere, just get them out of here!  That makes it a perfect opportunity to load up on fresh produce and make succotash.

Just don’t do what I did and go looking for ingredients weeks before they’re actually ripe.

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I am a terrible gardener.

We have friends who have gardens, and they always seem to grow bushels of beautiful vegetables.  “Just throw some seeds in the ground,” they say.  “Stuff just grows all over the place!”

My harvest always seems to be dwarfed by the amount of effort and care I put in to the garden.  The amount of time and money put in to one tiny zucchini can be very dispiriting.  However, there is one plant that I can grow reliably every year, that will tolerate my inattentiveness and ignorance.

Green beans.

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Ragu – Chuck Yeah!

Screw Bolognese sauce.  If you want a ton of flavor on pasta (or chickpeas, or polenta, or…), then ragu is the way to do.  This isn’t canned pasta sauce – it’s a rich, hearty meat dish cooked low and slow in flavorful stock and wine.  It takes a ton of time but little prep work, so if you have a half hour to focus on dinner and then need to do something else, make a ragu.

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More Farmers Market Finds

We have a mushroom guy at our farmers market.  I love mushrooms, and he usually has something interesting that we can’t get at the grocery stores.  This trip, he had some chestnut mushrooms.  “Just trim the dirty ends off and saute them whole,” he instructed me.  So I did, and then added them back in to a sauce cooked with the mushroom fond.  With some greens from the farmers market and a nice hunk of pork from the butcher’s Meat Club, this meal was about as “local” as possible.


Pork rib roast with broccoli rabe and mushroom sauce

1 pork rib roast (1 bone per person)1/2 lb broccoli rabe
1/4 pint chestnut mushrooms
1/2 shallot
1 clove garlic
1/4-1/2 cup pork stock
~2 tbp white wine
2-3 tbp butter
salt and pepper
parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 450F. Rub the whole roast with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and place in a roasting pan bones down. Place in the oven for about 20 minutes, or until the fat cap is nicely browned and crisp. Reduce the heat to 350F and cook until done. I aimed for 150 in the fattest part, but I’d probably go even lower next time – 140 probably. Good pork can be a little pink on the inside.

Mince the shallots and garlic.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to the boil. Trim the broccoli rabe, removing woody stems. Blanche in the boiling water for 2-3 minutes and drain. Remove as much water as possible! In a medium-high skillet, add about 1/4 of the shallot with a little olive oil and saute briefly until just starting to brown, and then throw in about 1/4 of the garlic until just fragrant. Add the rabe and saute for about 5 minutes, until it browns slightly. Remove from the heat but leave it in the pan.

To make the sauce, first trim the mushrooms of any dirty bits on the bottom. Heat about a tablespoon of butter in a pan and saute the mushrooms until well browned, then remove the mushrooms from the pan. Add the remaining shallots and saute until brown, then add the garlic and cook until fragrant. Add the stock and wine (I also threw in a splash of brandy), and simmer until reduced by about 1/3. Add in a few tablespoons of butter, small chunks at a time, but putting the pan over low-ish heat and swirling the pan until each chunk is melted and emulsified. Add butter until the sauce is the thickness you like. Mix the mushrooms back in to the sauce.

Just before serving, sprinkle shredded parm over the rabe and place the pan in the oven until the cheese browns unevenly. Place a heap of rabe on each plate. Slice the roast so in to general pork chop size (each person should get one bone) and plate. Spoon the mushrooms and sauce over the pork and rabe, and then sprinkle minced parsley.