The word Company comes from the words com panis. Baking bread together. Although we did not bake bread together this week since we have not found local wheat, we did eat together. With many incredible people. We celebrated a quiet Wednesday evening with friends and threw beads at each other at our Mardi Gras celebration.
As I said in my last post, one of the reasons that we wanted to try this experiment is that we are inspired in what we eat in people and events. This week, we got to experience many amazing people and events when we ate with them. We hosted 14 adults and 7 kids to celebrate Fat Tuesday with a delicious Cajun meal and washed it down with King Cake.
Last Wednesday, we hosted our neighbors who live down the street and are becoming more and more curious and active in figuring out what local food opportunities we have to choose from in the valley. One of them is a private investigator and when we talk about the process of determining where our food is sourced, she tells me that this process is very similar to what she does, as a private investigator every day. I like thinking of myself as a private investigator and think I may need to buy a special cap to give me some sort of authority, like a construction worker with a hard hat, a cowboy with a cowboy hat or even a barrister with a white curly haired wig. I wonder what kind of a hat a local food maven should wear.
Carnitas (adapted from Diana Kennedy and from this great web site)
3 pounds of pork butt
1 cup of orange juice
3 cups of water
2 teaspoons of salt
1. Cut pork into strips (three inches by one inch), add to a large pot with the liquids and salt. Bring to a boil and then simmer uncovered on low for 2 hours. Do not touch the meat.
2. After two hours, turn heat up to medium high, and continue to cook until all the liquid has evaporated and the pork fat has rendered (about 45 minutes). Stir a few times, to keep pork from sticking to bottom of pan.
3. When pork has browned on both sides, it’s ready (there will be liquid fat in the pan). Serve either cubed or shredded (pork will be tender enough that just touching it will cause it to fall apart).
Goes very well with a green salsas such as Ninfa’s green sauce or this tomatillo salsa or this salsa verde with avocados and tomatillos.
Fried Polenta (Recipe courtesy Giada De Laurentiis)
• 3 cups Basic Polenta, recipe follows
• 2 cups olive oil, for frying
• 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
• 1 cup purchased marinara sauce
Lightly oil an 11 by 7-inch baking dish. Transfer the hot polenta to the prepared baking dish, spreading evenly to 3/4-inch thick. Refrigerate until cold and firm, about 2 hours.
Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F.
Cut the polenta into 2 by 1-inch pieces. Heat the oil in a heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches, fry the polenta pieces until golden brown on all sides, about 3 minutes per side. Using tongs, transfer the polenta pieces to paper towels and drain. Place the polenta pieces on a baking sheet and keep warm in the oven while cooking the remaining batches.
Transfer the polenta pieces to a serving platter. Sprinkle the polenta with the Parmesan cheese and salt. Serve, passing the marinara sauce alongside.
6 cups water
2 teaspoons salt
1 3/4 cups yellow cornmeal
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
Bring 6 cups of water to a boil in a heavy large saucepan. Add 2 teaspoons of salt. Gradually whisk in the cornmeal. Reduce the heat to low and cook until the mixture thickens and the cornmeal is tender, stirring often, about 15 minutes. Turn off the heat. Add the butter, and stir until melted.
Yield: 6 servings
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
• 1/2 cup warm water (105 to 115 degrees)
• 2 packages dry yeast
• 2 teaspoons sugar
• 4 to 5 cups flour
• 1/2 cup sugar
• 2 teaspoons salt
• 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
• 1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
• 1/2 cup warm milk (105 to 115 degrees)
• 1/2 cup melted unsalted butter, cooled
• 5 egg yolks
• 1/2 cup finely chopped candied citron
• 1 pecan half, uncooked dried bean or King Cake Baby
• 2 cups sifted powdered sugar
• 2 tablespoons lemon juice
• 2 tablespoons water
• Purple, green and gold sugar crystals
Preheat the oven 350 degrees. Combine the warm water, yeast and 2 teaspoons sugar in a small bowl. Mix well and set aside to a warm place for about 10 minutes. Combine the 4 cups of flour, 1/2 cup sugar, salt, nutmeg, lemon rind and add warm milk, melted butter, egg yolks and yeast mixture. Beat until smooth. Turn dough out on a lightly floured surface. Knead in enough remaining flour until the dough is no longer sticky. Continue kneading until the dough is smooth and elastic (about 10 minutes). Place the dough in a well-greased bowl. Turn once so greased surface is on top.
Cover the dough and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk (about 1 1/2 hours). Punch the dough down and place on a lightly floured surface. Sprinkle with the citron and knead until the citron is evenly distributed. Shape the dough into a cylinder, about 30 inches long. Place the cylinder on a buttered baking sheet. Shape into a ring, pinching ends together to seal. Place a well-greased 2-pound coffee can or shortening can in the center of the ring to maintain shape during baking. Press the King Cake Baby, pecan half or dried bean into the ring from the bottom so that it is completely hidden by the dough. Cover the ring with a towel, and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes.
Bake for 30 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove the coffee can immediately. Allow the cake to cool. For the glaze: Combine the ingredients and beat until smooth. To assemble, drizzle cake with the glaze. Sprinkle with sugar crystals, alternating colors. Cut into the cake and hope you do not get the baby.