I’ve been trying to eat a little better and working out some more lately. When my son has soccer practice, I go jogging along the trails in that area. The trails wind and twist in the semi-wilderness in the back of our neighborhood where the soccer, basketball and baseball fields are. As per usual, even when I am working out, I cannot help but look for food. Foraging for wild ingredients seems to be on the uptick recently and it makes sense. Why leave the spoils of the garden and wilderness to go to waste. Some of these are very tasty and interesting. Two sources I use frequently for ideas when it comes to foraging are Hank’s great blog, honest-food.net, and for a more local source and to id edible plants, Merriwether’s guide.
So while jogging I noticed thorny bushes all along the trail and the soccer field with nice little flowers. I kept and eye on them through the weeks to see if they might be blackberries. Well, I was close. They are apparently Dewberries. They look very much like blackberries, but are a bit smaller. They taste more tart than sweet but the overall balance is very nice. So, along with my son, we picked a couple of pints the other day.
Ice cream came to mind first, but I wanted to eat them that evening and not wait till next day. So, I went with a very straightforward crisp. I tossed them in some sugar and topped them with a streusel made from almonds, brown sugar and butter. It was delicious with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. I was hoping to go pick some more and make the ice cream with them, but unfortunately due to the bad drought we have been suffering from (I’m guessing that’s why) I have not been able to find more than a few here and there. Oh well, the season is over by now, but I am keeping my eyes open for next year’s crop.
It’s amazing how I manage to find more boar meat in my deep freezer overtime I look in there. I still have a couple of loins, some shoulders and maybe two hind (ham) legs. I see some boar sausage in my future, maybe Italian or Greek flavored…or some of each…we’ll see. Anyways, I took a package labeled boar loin from the freezer and what I thought was one whole loin was in fact more like a couple of pieces from two loins. Either way, the loins were too thin (think half the diameter of a pork TENDERloin) for what I wanted to do, so I knew I will be using some Activa, aka meat glue, to make a nice sized piece of meat.
I am currently in the middle of reading/studying the Modernist Cuisine collection of books and it is very much like drinking from a fire hose. There is so much information in there that deciding what to read and what to start with is a little intimidating. I figured I’ll look through the 70+ page index for pork and see if they have anything interesting I can use as an inspiration for the boar loins. The recipe for a leek-wrapped pork tenderloin fit the bill, but I did not follow it exactly since I did not have the time (Though I love the idea of using Activa to bind leeks that have been steamed with gelatin onto pork tenderloin). I just used the brine ratios from that recipe and added star anise to mine. Then I dusted the boar loins with Activa RM and wrapped them tightly into a cylinder shape along with thyme springs and garlic slivers. Using the Modernist Cuisine tables as a guide (those would be in volume 2 and in the Kitchen Manual as well), I cooked the meat sous vide and then seared it in grapeseed oil.
To serve it I boiled up some French Puy lentils and dressed them with sautéed leeks, a bit of cream and red wine vinegar. For the sauce, I cooked a cut up tart apple with port and beef stock. The stock is also a Modernist Cuisine recipe made in the pressure cooker and also includes port as a base flavor. When I got the exact flavor I wanted for the sauce, instead of reducing it to the proper consistency and risk it loosing its balance, I just thickened it with a very small amount of Xanthan gum. The gum has no taste and, if used correctly (less than 0.5% by weight of the sauce), makes a smooth perfectly thickened sauce and leaves no flavor of its own.