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Saturday, April 16, 2011

Beet It

I needed fresh parsley.

I was hoping the Thursday farmers' market would be open last week.  It's practically in our back yard, making it very convenient.  Last year, I browsed the market every Thursday morning on the way to work. It was a harbor that inspired me and a sanctuary that made me happy.

It opens next week. I'll be there, but I still needed fresh parsley. After work, I stopped by The Good Foods Coop to pick up parsley, potatoes, and Kentucky Bison Company  ground bison. As I fingered the parsley, my eyes were drawn to the beautiful golden beets nestled beneath the fresh parsley and watercress. They were piled willy-nilly and were radiant.  In a split second, my dinner plans changed. Beets. I grabbed 1/2 pound of organically grown golden beets. There was a samll glitch to my inspired re-interpretation of dinner.  Michael doesn't care for beets. I grabbed a bulbous red-skinned sweet potato and dropped it into my cart along with the beets. At the very least, we could eat similar colors. On a whim, I picked up a few gigantic leeks.
When I got home, I scrubbed the beets and potatoes.  After wrapping them in foil, I tossed them into a 350 degree oven to roast and bake. The leeks didn't fit into the vegetable bin of the refrigerator. They were huge. Remedy?  Braise them.  I removed the dark green parts of the leeks and sliced the them into 7 inch batons, leaving the roots intack. After rinsing them thoroughly, I sliced the root ends off and split the leeks  in half.

I sauteed the halved leeks in butter to slightly caramelize them before adding 1/2 cup white wine and 1/2 cup chicken stock.  I carefully removed the leeks to a baking dish and poured the pan juices over them. After dotting them with unsalted butter and covering them, I slid them into the oven to braise alongside the potato and beets.

I was so mezmerised by the golden beets at the Coop, I forgot to buy the ground bison meat.  My bad.  I pulled thinly sliced pork cutlets from the meat drawer and set them on the counter to rest at room temperature before cooking them.

I poured myself a big glass of wine and joined Michael in the parlor.

When it was time to eat, I cranked a saute pan to medium high heat, drizzled it with olive oil, and sauteed  sliced onions until they were caramelized.  When the onions melted into the olive oil, I added the boneless chops and sauteed them until they cooked  through before removing them and deglazing the pan with madeira wine.  I tossed 2 minced garlic cloves into the wine and let it reduce by half.  When the sauce napped the back of a spoon, I slipped the chops into the wine reduction to bathe in the sweet fortified madeira essence.

While Michael buttered his sweet potato, I rubbed the skins off my beets, halved them, and splashed them with red wine vinegar.  Salt, pepper, and minced green onions finished them off.

I lifted the leeks from the baking dish to plate them. During the long braise, they collapsed into the liquid and absorbed it. Like thick pasta strands, the limp leeks twirled like ribbons as they fell onto our plates. I crumbled Sapori d'Italia fresh young chevre over them, letting the cheese ooze through the warm pale green layers.

I plated the sauced boneless chops with a dusting of salt and cracked black pepper. A scattering of minced fresh red bell pepper and thinly sliced green onions finished our plates with final bursts of freshness.

The golden beets were mellow and sweet, brightened slightly by the vinegar splash. Their firm texture belied their creamy soft flesh. Stunning. Thankfully, tangy melted chevre awakened the sleepy leeks from their  long braise. Tiny pops of minced red bell pepper added crunch and freshness. The tender pork cutlets were delicate and gentle, napped with a madeira pan sauce that hinted  glaze without being overly cloy. Fabulous. Sweet meat.

When I stopped by the Good Foods Coop to shop the other day, the plan was to cook bison burgers and oven fries.

Go figure.

As it turned out, the only plan was no plan.

And I didn't need  parsley, after all.

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