Or, rather, what I'm THINKING about cooking...
After a summer of cheese, salads and takeout, my food focus has happily returned to the kitchen. Two recipes have been spotted by my Fall flavors radar and they will surely be on the menu in the weeks to come. The first recipe is a savory pumpkin soup from my Provisions days (I was co-owner of Provisions for thirteen years and I never tired of finding and creating soup recipes.) This is awfully simple if you use canned pumpkin but obviously better if you choose fresh. Perhaps an organic one from Pumpkin Pond Farm?
The second recipe leapt off the page of a recent Sarah Leah Chase column. I love reading Sarah’s writing and faithfully read her reviews of cookbooks I may never own and recipes I long to prepare. This one, Farro with Pork Ragu, was not only desirable but appears manageable by my limited culinary capabilities. To be continued on that one...
At currentVintage, we always suggest food pairings with our wines, so I have offered wine (& beer) pairing suggestions here. Our focus at the cV tasting this week is organic & biodynamic wines and several work well here. For more on organic & biodynamic, check out this week's newsletter. Cheers to Fall!
Savory Pumpkin Soup
TAMI Frappato--a fresh & fruity biodynamic Sicilian red (~$20) or PEAK Organic Nut Brown Ale ($11)
Farro with Pork Ragu
Suggested Pairing: QUERCIABELLA "Mongrana"--A hearty biodynamic tuscan blend of Sangiovese with Cabernet Sauvignon & Merlot (~$20)
RECIPE: SAVORY PUMPKIN SOUP
2 tblsp butter
6c cooked pumpkin, pureed
6c diced tomatoes
6c 1/2 & 1/2 or soy milk*
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/4 tsp tabasco sauce
sour cream (optional)
1. Coarsely puree tomatoes in food processor
2. Melt butter in a large stockpot. Add all ingredients through cider vinegar. Simmer for 1 hour, stirring frequently.
3. Add tabasco. Season w/ salt (generously) and white pepper.
4. Garnish w/ sour cream or nutmeg, if desired.
*I used to make a non-dairy version with soy, as well.
Makes approximately 10 12oz servings.
RECIPE: FARRO with PORK RAGU
For the Ragu:
2 pounds boneless pork shoulder
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
112 tablespoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
1/2 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes, or to taste
1/2 cup white wine
One can (28 ounces) Italian plum tomatoes, preferably San Marzano, crushed by hand
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
For the Farro and serving:
1fresh bay leaf
1teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 cup freshly grated
1/2 cup freshly grated Pannigiano-Reggiano or Grana Padano, plus more for serving
1. To make the ragu: Trim the fat from the exterior of the pork. Cut it into 3/4-inch cubes, trimming more bits of fat and cartilage as you cut the meat. Pat the pieces dry with paper towels. Pour the olive oil into a large pan set over medium heat. Add the pork and season it with the salt. Cook slowly for 15 minutes or so, turning and moving the pieces occasionally, as the meat releases its juices and they cook away.
2. When the pan is dry and the pork starts to sizzle and crackle, clear a hot spot on the bottom and drop in the garlic and hot red pepper flakes. Stir until the garlic is fragrant and sizzling, and then toss with the meat cubes. Raise the heat a bit, pour in the white wine, stir, and bring to a boil. Let the wine bubble until it is nearly evaporated and the pork is sizzling again. Pour in the crushed tomatoes and a cup of water that has been sloshed around to rinse out the tomato can, grate on the nutmeg, and stir. Cover the pan and bring to a boil, then adjust heat to maintain a steady, gentle simmer. Cook until the pork is tender and falling apart and the sauce has thickened, about 1-1/2 hours. If the liquid is still thin toward the end of the cooking time, set the cover ajar, and raise the heat a bit to reduce it rapidly.
3. Meanwhile, prepare the farro, first rinsing it well and draining it in a sieve. Place in a saucepan with 6 cups cold water, the bay leaf, salt, and oil. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, then set set the cover ajar and adjust heat to maintain a steady simmer. Cook until the grains are cooked through, but still al dente. Turn off heat, pour off excess liquid and keep farro warm until ragu is done.
4. To finish the dish, have the ragu simmering and thoroughly stir in the farro. Cook together for a minute. Turn off the heat, sprinkle the grated cheese on top, and stir in. Spoon the sauced farro into warm bowls, and serve immediately, with more grated cheese at the table.