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TND – N’awlins Revisited

July 22, 2013

tomato plate

BREAKING NEWS!

It is officially corn and tomato season. Let the gorging commence.

I stopped by the Stillman’s stand at the Wednesday farmer’s market on July 3rd and stared in blank astonishment at the pile of corn they had on display. Surprised, I asked how on earth they’d achieved corn in time for the 4th of July. The way that Kate Stillman muttered, ‘you have no idea what it took for us to achieve this’ left me wondering if small animals had been sacrificed on the edges of fields. Turns out it was a somewhat more prosaic method involving seeds from Germany, and hot houses, and constant constant vigilance – the guy at the stand looked exhausted just talking about it. It is possible virgin sacrifice would have been less time consuming all round, although you do then have to do something with the body.

Stillman’s also achieved field grown tomatoes a solid 10 days before I saw them anywhere else, and I seriously started deliberating whether I should have a word with them about making deals with strangers on crossroads at midnight. Hint, the house always wins.

But now it’s officially summer, and local corn is in everywhere. Local field grown tomatoes are pendulous upon their vines, and piling up at farmer’s markets. This week is the first (of many) weeks where I bend my back in unfortunate ways carrying home ears of corn picked in the early morning hours, and tomatoes that smell like summer.

corn husks

STOP THE PRESSES!

I have made bread! With yeast! And it rose and everything!

Dizzied by my success with pita bread the other week I got ambitious and decided to try my hand at making ‘po boy rolls to go with Dinner this week. I pulled them out of the oven on Monday night and thought ‘well, they look like a duck, and walk like a duck’. Then I tasted them (because I made a half roll to taste test for quality control) and thought, ‘okay they don’t taste like a duck, but that’s a good thing because the only time bread should taste like a duck is if it’s a toast point slathered with foie gras’. They did, however, taste just like bread. Good bread even.

baked rolls

I suspect that my previous doomed forays into bread making were hampered by not enough kneading. The recipe I used for these rolls (below) calls for 10 minutes of kneading with the stand mixer on medium speed, and I’m pretty sure I didn’t put in nearly enough elbow grease to equal that much gluten development when I was trying to knead by hand. So, all hail the power of the stand mixer. Also, dude, bread! I made bread! I feel excessively accomplished.

Spicy Pork (and turkey) ‘Po Boys
‘Po Boy Rolls
Tomatoes
Corn & Zucchini Salad
Collard Greens Salad with Pickled Apples

Cupcakes courtesy of Eat Cake in Newburyport (birthday girl wanted to bring cupcakes, who am I to argue?)

Spicy Pork (and turkey) ‘Po Boys
(serves 4)

Too many years ago we went to New Orleans. We’ve been trying to get back almost since we boarded the plane home to Boston, but unfortunately we suffer from the grim affliction of too many places to visit and not enough time to visit them all. Clearly we all need to win the lottery and spend our lives traveling.

While we were in New Orleans we did our level best to experience ever culinary tradition the city had on offer. We failed – I still have never had Bananas Foster, or a café brulot, or a muffeletta – we did, however, manage to partake in what has to be one of the best ‘po boys in the city. It didn’t hurt that it came with huge baskets of shoe string onion rings, and gallons of ice tea.

Those ‘po boys were miracles of crusty bread with soft yielding interiors stuffed with shredded lettuce, thinly sliced tomatoes, pickles, over which thick slabs of fried green tomatoes had been layered and then the whole generously dolloped with rich remoulade sauce.

These are not quite those ‘po boys, but they were a pretty good way to make us all reminisce about New Orleans and start plotting more actively how we can get back there.

I doubled this recipe to serve Dinner, and in deference to how very little my stomach likes even the concept of ground pork I made 1x the recipe with ground pork, and 1x the recipe with ground turkey. You could also mix turkey and pork together if you wanted a slightly leaner patty without sacrificing the pork flavor (my stomach voted against this idea – the memory of a terrible encounter with a grilled meatball when I was in high school are enduring and vivid).

cooking patties

For the Pork (or turkey) Patties
1 ½ lb (24 oz) ground pork
1 ½ tsp paprika
1 ¼ tsp dried thyme
¾ tsp cayenne
¾ tsp garlic powder
1 ½ tsp kosher salt
¼ tsp black pepper

Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl. Divide into 12 (2 oz) ½” thick patties. Grill over a medium high heat for 8-10 minutes, turning once, until they are cooked through.

If you’re making this with turkey, decrease the spices/herbs by ¼ – 1/3 (depending on how spicy you like things), and add about 1 Tbsp vegetable or olive oil to help keep them juicy.

For the Remoulade Sauce (which is really just a fancy word for a flavored mayonnaise)
½ cup mayonnaise*
1 ½ Tbsp Dijon mustard
½ small shallot, finely minced
(optional) 2 medium dill pickles, finely minced**

Mix all ingredients together and season to taste with salt/pepper/lemon juice.

meatballs & mayo

* I’ll confess I cut a little of the mayo with plain yogurt, because my feelings on the taste of mayo are well documented, but don’t cut it too much because you do want the unctuousness of the mayo as part of the taste experience.
** In deference to the strong opinions some people at Dinner have about pickles, I left the pickles out of the mayo and served them on the side so that people could add them to their sandwiches or not as they were so inclined. If you leave the pickles out of the sauce I’d recommend adding a squirt of lemon juice to add a little brightness and acidity.

Assembly
‘Po Boy rolls (see recipe below, or get nice sub style rolls – something with a little chew, but not too crusty or you won’t be able to bite through it all)
Thinly sliced tomatoes
Shredded iceberg lettuce
(optional) thinly sliced dill pickles

Split the roll and spread one or both side of the bread with remoulade sauce. Arrange some lettuce on the bottom half of the roll, top with tomatoes, dill pickles (if desired), 2-3 grilled patties. Close sandwich with top half of roll. Squish down to fit in your mouth. Enjoy.

‘Po Boy Rolls
(makes 8 rolls)

3 cups bread flour
1 Tbsp dry active yeast
1 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp vegetable shortening (like Crisco)
1 cup warm water
¼ cup milk
1 ½ tsp kosher salt

Fit a stand mixer with a dough hook. Add the flour, yeast, sugar, and shortening to the bowl, and mix until the fat has just been cut into the flour. Add the water and milk (or use all water), and mix until the dough is just pulling away from the sides of the bowl. Add the salt, and then mix on medium speed for 10 minutes. The dough should be smooth and elastic.

Lift out the dough and grease the mixer bowl lightly. Replace the dough, cover loosely, and allow to rise for 60-90 minutes in a warm place, or until doubled in size. Punch down the dough.

Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and divide it into 3 oz balls, cover with a clean kitchen towel and allow to rest for 15 minutes. Shape each ball into a 6” long roll and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Cover with a damp cloth and allow to rise for 60-90 minutes, or until roughly doubled in size.

Preheat your oven to 375. Bake rolls for 20-30 minutes, or until golden brown. Transfer to a rack to cool completely.

Dough, through the first rise (before you shape it) can be made the night before and stored in the fridge – make sure you check on it periodically in the first few hours to make sure it’s not rising beyond the bounds of the mixing bowl. Remove from the fridge and allow to rest at room temperature for 10-20 minutes before proceeding (or, if your house is 80+ degrees the way mine is right now, you can just divide and shape the rolls and let them come up to room temperature as they rest for the 15 minutes).

Rolls can be made in advance and stored in an air tight container for 2-3 days.

rolls - 2 part

Corn & Zucchini Salad

Recipe previously given: Resistance is Futile – I added diced lemon cucumbers this time too, and that was a nice addition.

corn & zucchini salad

Collard Greens Salad with Pickled Apples
Embrace the N’awlins (well, the Northern interpretation of N’awlins at any rate)

Recipe previously given: Laissez les bons temps roulez

salad

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