Eat from the Larder

Erica at Northwest Edible Life threw down an Eat From the Larder Challenge for the month of April. I think this is a perfect activity for this time of the year, to clear out the old and make room for the new. Erica’s going for 100% of her meals out of her own pantry stores, but she said we could set our own rules. So I’m setting exceptions for fresh milk and eggs and Easter. Easter is a family day and we have a fabulous menu planned and it’s not from my pantry (except for maybe a few items I feel like sharing).

A very cool thing indeed!

Best Biscuits Evah

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I’d made some pulled pork and love to have it on southern-style biscuits. I went in search of an Alton Brown recipe, since he’s my go-to guy when there’s science involved (that is to say, when proportions, timing, and ingredient reactions matter). I found this recipe for southern buttermilk biscuits.

I made a few substitutions to keep it as local as possible, as indicated:

Since yogurt is an acidified dairy product, the chemical reaction we’d get with the buttermilk and the baking soda is the same and the biscuits will rise like we expect. Since shortening is a substitute for lard, I just went back to the original ingredient. (Major thanks to the folks at Saugatuck Craft for making lard!)

I did everything else just the way Alton wrote it:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees (F).

In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Using your fingertips, rub butter and shortening into dry ingredients until mixture looks like crumbs. (The faster the better, you don’t want the fats to melt.) Make a well in the center and pour in the chilled buttermilk. Stir just until the dough comes together. The dough will be very sticky.

Turn dough onto floured surface, dust top with flour and gently fold dough over on itself 5 or 6 times. Press into a 1-inch thick round. Cut out biscuits with a 2-inch cutter, being sure to push straight down through the dough. Place biscuits on baking sheet so that they just touch. Reform scrap dough, working it as little as possible and continue cutting. (Biscuits from the second pass will not be quite as light as those from the first, but hey, that’s life.)

Bake until biscuits are tall and light gold on top, 15 to 20 minutes.

Pulled pork on biscuits (pork from Rowland Farm in Oxford, CT

Pulled pork on biscuits (pork from Rowland Farm in Oxford, CT)

I could not believe the exceptional taste in these biscuits! I mean they were sooo good. I’m giving the credit to the lard. And now that Bittman said it was okay to eat animal fat again…I’m happy to say that you too can get in on the new animal fat craze.

Never mind that CheeseSlave, Kimberly Hartke, Kelly the Kitchen Kop and Sally Fallon, and others have been saying all along that animal fats are not only okay to consume, but good for you and even necessary. No, they’re not saying to go hog wild and they are also saying to watch out what else you consume. They are simply saying that saturated animal fats are not the demons the canola and margarine people would have us believe.

If you have the time, this is an informative talk by Sally Fallon Morell on the Oiling of America.

Country-style pork ribs

I love country-style pork ribs, even more than baby back ribs. Technically, they’re not really ribs (back-story here). These country ribs had enough meat to make them worthwhile and enough bone to give them flavor. You can cook them just like you would cook pork chops but my favorite way to use them is in a slow-and-low type recipe. There is no potpourri or Yankee Candle that can make your house smell as good as slow-braising pork!

country_ribs_and_corn

I used Melissa d’Arabian’s country-style pork ribs recipe and adapted it for local ingredients and what I have on hand.

  • country-style pork ribs from Ox Hollow Farm
  • carrots from Riverbank Farm
  • celeriac (substituted for celery) from Fort Hill Farm
  • leeks (substituted for onion) from Sport Hill Farm
  • garlic from Sport Hill Farm
  • plum tomatoes, defrosted (substituted for tomato paste) from Stone Gardens Farm
  • cayenne red pepper flakes from Joel
  • bay leaves from Northfordy Farm (Yes! They really have local bay leaves. And local ginger too, but that’s another post)
  • turkey stock (substituted for chicken stock) from a Quattro Farm turkey
  • apple cider vinegar, sunflower oil, salt, and pepper: not local

The recipe said to go with a 350°F oven for 1-1/2 hours. I did 325°F for 2-1/2 hours until the meat was practically falling off the bone. It came out incredibly moist and flavorful. Next time I may substitute white wine for the apple cider vinegar.

Those beautiful corn “niblets” are also from Sport Hill Farm with some butter from Ronnybrook Farm. I don’t go gaga over corn on the cob in the summer like most folks do, but I really do enjoy it in the winter—it’s like a burst of summer on a frosty day (and it was pretty darn chilly earlier today). Also, a lot easier than polenta.