Blackberry-Chipotle Cornbread

Old fashioned, locally ground yellow cornmeal, pastured dairy, seasonal berries, raw honey and smoky chipotle are combined in this variation of traditional skillet cornbread..

Blackberry-Chipotle Cornbread

1 1/4 cups stone-ground cornmeal
1 1/4 cups unbleached, organic all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons aluminum-free baking powder
1/2 aluminum-free teaspoon baking soda
1 1/4 teaspoons coarse sea salt
1 large pastured egg
1 3/4 cups fresh buttermilk
3 tablespoons cultured butter

1/2 pint fresh blackberries
1/2 cup filtered water
1 teaspoon freshly-squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons raw honey, more or less to taste
1-2 chiles chipotle morita

Remove the stem, seeds and ribs from one or two small chiles chipotle morita and grind into a fine powder.  Place the blackberries in a non-reactive pan with the lemon juice, water and chile powder and simmer over medium-low until reduced and thickened.  Remove from heat and allow to cool to about 100 degrees then stir in honey to taste.  Allow to cool completely.

Combine cornmeal, flour, baking powder, soda and salt in a bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the egg and buttermilk.  Slowly stir the buttermilk mixture into the cornmeal mixture until just combined.  Don’t over-mix.

Allow the batter to stand while you melt the butter in a 10-inch skillet in a 400 degree oven.

Swirl the cooled blackberry-chipotle sauce into the cornbread batter, leaving it streaky.  Remove the skillet from the over and swirl to coat the sides with the hot butter.  Pour the batter into the skillet and bake uncovered until just set in the middle, about 25 minutes.

Brush the top of the cornbread with a little more blackberry-chipotle sauce if you think it needs it, then allow  to stand 5 minutes before serving.

Black Ale and Ginger-Fried Rabbit

Fresh rabbit is brined in black ale and fresh ginger for 24 hours, then dredged in sprouted rye flour seasoned with herbs and spices and shallow-fried until golden brown.   Serve with mashed potatoes and giblet gravy..

Black Ale and Ginger-Fried Rabbit

1 fresh rabbit, cut up in the usual manner
2 12oz bottles black ale
2 tablespoons freshly-grated ginger
1 cup fresh cream
1 cup filtered water
1 1/2 cups sprouted rye flour
2 tablespoons dried herbs and spices such as rosemary, thyme, savory, sage, etc.
1 tablespoon sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
tallow or peanut oil for frying

Cut up a rabbit in the usual manner and place it in a glass dish.  Add enough black ale and ginger to cover, wrap loosely and refrigerate up to 48 hours.

Drain the rabbit and place into a clean dish, cover with cream and water and let stand 30 minutes while you heat the oil, etc.

Combine rye flour, herbs, salt and pepper.  Drain rabbit, dredge evenly in seasoned flour and shallow-fry over medium heat in enough hot oil to come about 1/2 up the side of the rabbit pieces.

Cook until deep golden brown, about 10 minutes per side.  Drain thoroughly before serving with mashed potatoes and giblet gravy or your favorite accompaniments.

Wild Boar Leg with Chile-Apricot BBQ Sauce

I just got back from an absolutely glorious week’s vacation at the home of the Cage Free Family in the Taos Canyon of Northern New Mexico’s Sangre de Cristo Mountains.

One of the many highlights was a picnic with family and friends beside a creek at an elevation of about 8,500 ft., where the menu included wild boar leg with chile-apricot BBQ sauce, Anasazi beans and a slaw of Napa cabbage, daikon sprouts, red amaranth, raw honey and freshly-squeezed lemon..

Wild Boar Leg with Chile-Apricot BBQ Sauce

A particularly hard-working set of muscles, the rear haunch of a wild boar requires long, low and moist heat to break down the collagen.  This specimen was first seasoned, then oven-roasted under cover at 300 degrees for 3 hours.

Next, the meat was uncovered and slow-roasted at 200 degrees for 2 1/2 hours, mopped with BBQ sauce every 15 minutes.

Finally, the roast was finished on an open wood fire for about 30 minutes, yielding a smoky, crisp outer crust and a tender, moist interior.  Our small, hungry group demolished the entire meal in record time.

For the BBQ Sauce (enough for a 7-8 lb. leg with a little left over)

1 tablespoon rendered boar fat
3 cups filtered water
1 medium Spanish onion, diced
2-3 ripe slicing tomatoes, cored and diced
2 tablespoons raw cider vinegar
1/4 cup (more-or-less) ground New Mexico chilies
1/3 cup apricots
1 1/2 tablespoons molasses
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon chipotle powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup pan juices from a roasted boar
sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper

Cook the onions and tomatoes with the boar fat in a heavy-bottomed pan over medium heat until the onions are soft and the tomatoes have begun to disintegrate.

Add water, vinegar, chili powder, chipotle, apricots, cinnamon, cloves and pan juices and stir to combine.  Reduce heat to very low and simmer until reduced in volume by about 1/3, about 2 hours.

Add remaining ingredients and simmer another 30 minutes.

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Éperlan de Lac

Most closely resembling small trout or salmon, éperlan de lac (lake smelt) are native to the US Atlantic coast from New Jersey north to Labrador.  In 1912,  smelt were planted in Crystal Lake, Michigan; it is from there that they found their way to Lake Michigan.

Smelt Osmerus mordax

Spawning runs begin in the early spring, and extend for about three weeks.  I first met lake smelt in the 1970’s while camping in Wisconsin’s Door County, where early risers dip-net them from tributaries by the thousands.

Smelt are best prepared shore-side, minutes after being caught..

Éperlan de Lac

To Prepare

Clean fresh smelt by removing the head and entrails then rinsing in plenty of cool, clean water.  There is no need to remove the tiny fins or bones.

Pat the cleaned fish dry (you’ll want as many as a dozen per person, depending on size), then dip first in an egg beaten with a little water, then in cornmeal seasoned with ground bay, celery, dry mustard and red and black pepper.  Allow to stand while you melt some farmhouse butter (and a little olive oil) in a heavy skillet over medium heat.  A quarter inch on the bottom of the pan is about right.

Once the foam subsides, slide the fish into the pan without crowding and shallow-fry until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side.

Transfer fish to a plain brown paper bag to drain for a moment, then season with a little crunchy sea salt.  Serve piping hot with lemon wedges, homemade tartar sauce and perhaps a little Tabasco on the side.

Door County, Wisconsin

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Blueberry Cream Scones with Honey-Lemon Curd

Drop scones made from sprouted wheat, fresh cream, cultured butter & pastured eggs, blueberries, wildflower honey and freshly-squeezed lemon juice..

Blueberry Cream Scones with Honey-Lemon Curd

For the Scones (adapted from a recipe by Mark Bittman)

1 cup organic sprouted wheat flour, plus more as needed
1 cup unbleached organic all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 tablespoon aluminum-free baking powder
1 1/2 tablespoons local, raw honey
5 tablespoons pastured butter, cold
3 pastured eggs
3/4 cup fresh heavy cream
1/2 cup fresh blueberries, rinsed and picked over (substitute frozen blueberries in the off season)

Mix the dry ingredients together in a bowl.  Cut the chilled butter into the flour, ensuring that it is thoroughly combined. Beat 2 eggs with the cream, then stir into the flour.  Fold in blueberries.

Turn the dough onto a floured surface and gently knead until barely sticky.

Drop heaping tablespoons of mixture onto a greased baking sheet. Beat the remaining egg with with a scant amount of water and brush the top of the dough.  Bake in a 350 degree oven until it passes the toothpick test, about 12 minutes.

Allow to cool slightly before serving with honey-lemon curd.

For the Honey-Lemon Curd (recipe by Dede Sampson)

5 large pastured egg yolks
1 large pastured egg
2/3 cup freshly-squeezed Meyer lemon juice
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons wildflower honey
4 tablespoons pastured butter, cut into 8 pieces

Crème fraîche for serving

In a medium heatproof bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the whole egg, the lemon juice, 1 teaspoon of the lemon zest and the honey. In a medium saucepan, bring 1 inch of water to a boil. Set the bowl with the lemon mixture over the boiling water, reduce the heat to moderate and cook the mixture, whisking constantly, until thickened, about 7 minutes. Remove the bowl from the heat and whisk in the butter. Pass the curd through a fine-mesh strainer into a medium bowl. Wrap tightly and refrigerate at least 3 hours.

This post is part of A Moderate Life’s Tackling Bittman Recipe Hop !