Rick Rodgers riffs on autumnal fare
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Rick Rodgers' new cookbook, "Autumn Gatherings: Casual Food to Enjoy with Family and Friends" is the second in what is to be a series of four seasonal cookbooks ("Summer Gatherings" came out earlier this year). They serve the growing trend of eating seasonally, which Mr. Rodgers, who speaks Sunday at two Giant Eagle Market District stores, has found himself following.
I love his tidbits on, and recipes for, unusual fall produce such as quinces, persimmons and cardoons.
Fall is "the time for more stews and soups and more rib-sticking stuff," he says, and while there are many opportunities for gatherings, Thanksgiving is "the main event," and so he includes a menu specifically for that big day. This yam recipe comes from that. Many others in the book would be tasty for Thanksgiving, too.
-- Bob Batz Jr.
A long-simmered pot roast doesn't have to be made with beef, as this pork version illustrates. Made with a large pork butt, it feeds a crowd. Plan on making mashed potatoes to serve for soaking up the luscious sauce, made sweet with dried figs cooked along with the pork. I halved this recipe, with a 3-pound deboned pork butt, and it turned out fabulously, with the sauce a thick almost puree.
- 2 cups dry white wine
- 7 ounces dried Calimyrna figs
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, plus more to taste
- 1 1/2 teaspoons dried rosemary
- 1 1/2 teaspoons dried sage
- 1/2 teaspoon ground fennel seed (grind in a spice grinder or in a mortar and pestle)
- 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
- 7-pound pork butt with bone, skin trimmed
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, as needed
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 3 medium carrots, chopped
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Bring wine to a simmer in a small saucepan over high heat. Remove from heat and add figs. Let stand until cooled, about 1 hour.
Mix together 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, rosemary, sage, fennel and 3/4 teaspoon pepper. Using tip of a knife, poke about a dozen slits in the pork. Rub the herb mixture all over pork, forcing some of mixture into the slits. Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add pork and cook, turning occasionally, until browned, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a platter.
Add more oil to pot, if needed. Add onion and carrots and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion softens, about 5 minutes. Return the pork to the pot and add the figs and their wine. Bring to a boil over high heat.
Reduce heat to low and cover. Simmer until pork is fork-tender, about 4 hours. Transfer pork to a deep serving platter. Using a slotted spoon, transfer about half of the figs to the platter. Cover with aluminum foil to keep warm.
Remove the pot from heat and let stand for 5 minutes. Using a large spoon, skim off and discard the fat that rises to the surface of the cooking liquid.
Using a rubber spatula, mash butter and flour into a paste in a medium bowl. In batches, in a blender with lid vented, puree the cooking liquid with onions, carrots and remaining figs in pot.
Whisk each batch of puree into flour paste. Pour pureed mixture back into the pot and bring to a boil over high heat, whisking often.
Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until the sauce has thickened nicely, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Carve pork. Pour sauce over pork and serve hot.
Makes 8 to 10 servings.
-- Rick Rodgers
Yams (sweet potatoes, if you wish, but those have ivory-colored white flesh and aren't as sugary as yams) are a must for a Thanksgiving side dish. But, these are so easy to prepare that you may find yourself making them to serve alongside other main courses, like baked ham. Note: For this recipe, use ground dried chipotles, available at Latino markets and most supermarkets, not the canned ones in adobo sauce. (Both Spice Island and McCormick's stock ground chipotle, so look in their displays at your market.) If you wish, substitute 1/2 teaspoon pure ground ancho chiles (which are milder and sweeter) or 1 teaspoon chili powder (a mild ground chile base mixed with cumin and oregano) for the chipotle.
- 3 pounds slender orange-fleshed yams, such as jewel, garnet, or Louisiana, peeled
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- 2 tablespoons bitter orange marmalade
- Grated zest of 1 large orange
- 1/4 teaspoon pure ground chipotle chiles
Position a rack in the top third of the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a large baking sheet (such as a "half-sheet") with aluminum foil.
Cut each yam in half lengthwise, then crosswise into 3/4-inch thick half-rounds. Spread the yams on the baking sheet and toss with the oil.
Bake, turning yams occasionally with metal spatula, until yams are tender and lightly browned, about 30 minutes. (The yams can be prepared up to 8 hours ahead, cooled and stored on the baking sheet at room temperature. Reheat for 5 minutes in a preheated 400-degree oven before proceeding.)
Meanwhile, mash the butter, marmalade, orange zest and chipotle in a small bowl and set aside at room temperature. (The orange butter can be prepared up to 3 hours ahead, stored at room temperature.)
Remove the yams from the oven. Dollop heaping teaspoons of the orange butter over yams and stir gently to coat. Return the yams to the oven and bake until orange butter reduces to a glaze, about 5 minutes. Season lightly with the salt to taste. Transfer to a warmed serving bowl and serve hot.
Makes 8 servings.
-- "Autumn Gatherings: Casual Food to Enjoy with Family and Friends" by Rick Rodgers (William Morrow, $19.95)
First Published November 20, 2008 12:00 am