Thursday, October 22, 2009

Market finds: broccolini, rapini, organic chanterelles and shitake mushrooms

The farmer's market never stops to delight and educate. Especially in Marin. Especially in fall.

Last week I was all excited about broccolini, the Italian baby broccoli that tastes the way broccoli was designed by god to taste. I added it to my chanterelle mushroom pasta sauce, and found that broccolini and chanterelles complement each other perfectly.
I made a minestrone with the seasonal vegetables - acorn squash, red onion, mini sweet peppers, carrot, baby white cabbage, green peas - and broccolini shone like a star in it, both the texture and the flavor.
I even made a broccolini and ham pizza topping, and the topping was delicious, but, as always, I messed up the pizza dough.

This week's discovery was rapini, aka broccoli rabe. It is a relative of a turnip, and it looks like a very fat turnip flower, or a baby broccoli with yellow flowers on top. The flavor is strong, somewhat bitter, and it doesn't have the cabbage smell that broccoli has. Most recipes call for leaves and florets only, discard the stems. I found that the rapini that you get at the farmer's market (and where else would you get it? Your garden? Then you can pick the best) are tender enough to cook with the stems, just cut the dry bottom part off.

Pork medallions with rapini and shitake mushrooms

serves 2

1 pork tenderloin, trimmed, cut into 1 inch thick medallions

For the brine:
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 bay leave, torn
1 rosemary sprig
3 thyme sprigs
5 sage leaves
3 juniper berries, crushed
10 black peppercorns, crushed
3 cups water, or to cover

For the vegetables:
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup sliced shitake mushrooms
salt, pepper
1 bunch rapini, cut into 2 inch pieces
1/2 glass white wine

To cook the medallions:
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup white wine
1 tsp Dijon mustard
salt, pepper

Place all brine ingredients and 3 cups of water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil; stir to dissolve the salt and the sugar. Remove from heat, let cool to room temperature. Place the pork medallions in a glass or plastic bowl, cover with the brine, add more water at room temperature if needed to cover the pork completely, refrigerate overnight or up to three days.

In a large sauté pan, heat 2 Tbsp olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic, stir for about 1 minute, until it begins to brown and smell wonderful. Add the mushrooms, salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cook, stirring, until the mushrooms soften and release the juice. Add the rapini, stir, add the wine, reduce the heat to low. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 25 minutes. If the rapini start to dry out before they are fully cooked and tender, add a tablespoon of water.

Remove the pork from the brine, dry with paper towels (discard the brine).
Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil over medium heat in a sauté pan. Cook the pork medallions, turning, until golden brown on all sides, and cooked through - about 12-15 minutes. Remove from pan, keep warm.
To make the sauce, deglaze the pan with the white wine, scraping with a wooden spoon to dissolve all the brown pieces on the bottom. Reduce the sauce, whisk in the mustard and season with salt and pepper.

Serve the pork medallions over the vegetables, spoon the sauce on top.

No comments: