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Features

New England: The First American Melting Pot

Foods in New England have a background as diverse as the people who reside there.

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Evan Mallett

Evan Mallett

Evan is chef and owner of Black Trumpet restaurant and co-owner of Stock & Spice, both in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and Ondine Oyster & Wine Bar in Belfast, Maine, USA.

Shakshuka with Duck Eggs and Herbed Semolina Dumplings

Shakshuka Photo credit: Copyright © 2016 by Enna Grazier

I made this dish at a rare Black Trumpet brunch for the regional governors of Slow Food. I had made it before and not called it Shakshuka, but someone who apparently knew better pointed out that it was the best Shakshuka they’d had, so I determined I would call it that from then on. No worries if you can’t find duck eggs; large local chicken eggs are also delicious in this recipe.

Preparation

1. For the herbed semolina dumplings: Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F). Pierce the potato with a fork over its surface, place on a baking sheet, and bake 1 hour. Let the potato cool slightly, cut in half, and squeeze through a ricer into a large mixing bowl.

2. Bring the 945 ml (4 cups) water and the salt to a boil in a 3- to 4-liter (3 to 4 quart) pot over high heat. Pour the semolina into the pot slowly and steadily, whisking constantly. Reduce the heat to low and continue whisking for 2 minutes. Off the flame, using a rubber spatula, add the black pepper, cheese, and mashed potato, folding to combine. Add the yolks and whole eggs one at a time, combining each addition until fully incorporated before adding the next. Fold in the herbs.

3. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil over high heat. In batches, drop 15 ml (1 tablespoon)-sized balls of the dough (shaped into quenelles, if desired) into the boiling water, being careful not to crowd the pot. Cook for 3 minutes, remove with a slotted spoon, and repeat with the remaining dough. These dumplings may be made in advance and held in the refrigerator for up to a day.

4. For the shakshuka: Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F). Heat the olive oil in a wide, high-sided pan over medium heat. Add the onion and peppers and cook, stirring, until slightly softened, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, 1 minute more. Add the wine and boil 2 to 3 minutes, until the alcohol scent wears off. Add the orange juice, harissa, and brown sugar; stir to combine. Add the tomato puree and stock, stir, and simmer 5 minutes.

5. Transfer the simmering liquid to a terra-cotta baking dish (at home, I use a 40 cm [16-inch] round Spanish cazuela, but any large casserole dish will do nicely). Add the dumplings carefully, making sure they don’t sink down into the tomato liquid but also leaving room for the eggs (you want them to cook in the liquid, not on the dumplings). Crack the duck eggs into the open spaces between dumplings, nestling them on top of the tomato liquid.

6. Slide the pan into the oven and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the egg whites are set.

Mexiterranean Meatballs

Stock photo

Preparation

1. Place all the ingredients in a large bowl and, using your hands, knead the mixture to fully incorporate the eggs and bread crumbs and to emulsify the fat. Refrigerate the mixture.

2. When you’re ready to make the meatballs, remove the mixture from the refrigerator and mold into 28-gram (1 ounce) balls. Return to the refrigerator to chill for about 30 minutes before cooking. The formed meatballs can remain refrigerated in this state for a day or two if necessary.

3. To cook the meatballs, place a small frying pan over medium heat. When the pan starts smoking, brown the meatballs in batches, rolling them around so they don’t stick to the pan. If you’re serving the meatballs on their own, transfer them to a roasting pan and bake at 200°C (400°F) for 6 minutes, or until they are just cooked through. If you wish, you may pour off the fat, leaving the meatballs in the pan, and add yogurt or sauce (I use poblano-yogurt sauce) to the hot pan. Stir with the meatballs and serve right away.

Braised Beef Short Rib

Short ribs have appeared on half a dozen or so Black Trumpet menus. The marbled succulence of this cut can be prepared a few different ways — even as a seared steak — but I go back to braising it every time. Like shank, short rib melts in the mouth when braised, the caramelly reduction of its braising liquid clinging to the toasted crust of the reheated portion. Meatwise, this is the ultimate midwinter comfort food.

Preparation

1. Preheat the oven to 150°C (300°F).

2. Season the short rib meat generously on both sides with salt and pepper. Place a large, deep, heavy-bottomed pan over high heat. Add the olive oil and, when it begins to smoke, place the short rib in the pan in a single layer. Sear, undisturbed, for 1½ to 2 minutes, until golden brown and crusty. Flip and repeat on the other side. Remove the short rib to a large roasting pan and place the pan back on the stove, over medium heat. Add the next twelve ingredients to the pot, including the juiced orange halves, stirring to combine. Bring the liquid to a boil and pour over the short rib. Cover the roasting pan with foil and braise in the oven for 3 to 3½ hours, checking the progress after 2½ hours. The ribs should be fork-tender. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly in the roasting pan. When it’s cool enough to handle, transfer the meat to a cutting board and carefully remove the bones, cartilage, and fat membrane. Portion into ten pieces.

3. Meanwhile, strain the braising liquid into a saucepan, let it settle for a few minutes, skim the fat from the top with a ladle, and reduce over medium-high heat until the liquid coats the back of a spoon. Add the butter (if desired), stir to combine, and spoon over the short rib before serving.

Beef and Beet Borscht with Nigella and Preserved Lemon Crème Fraîche

Borscht Photo credit: Copyright © 2016 by Enna Grazier

Preparation

1. To make the Preserved Lemon Creme Fraîche: Fold everything together in a small bowl. Cover and refrigerate until needed.

2. For the borscht: In a large heavy-bottomed pot, combine the olive oil with the next eight ingredients. Cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the tomato puree and simmer 2 minutes. Add the red wine, vinegar, and spices; stir to combine.

3. Add the stock, sugar, and 475 ml (2 cups) water, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook for about 1¼ hours, or until the beets are fork-tender.

4. Let the soup cool slightly, then puree it in batches in a blender until smooth, adding more stock as necessary to reach your desired thickness. Serve immediately garnished with crispy short rib, crème fraîche, dill, and nigella seed, or let it cool to room temperature, refrigerate, and reheat over very low heat before serving.