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Volume 38 Issue 11, July 10 - 16, 2008
now in our 38th season

Sounds of Summer

by Maryjane Mojer
Executive Chef, Bartlett's Ocean View Farm

There are certain sounds to summer.  The springy, slam of a screen door, the kids next door on the trampoline or the swing, bits and pieces of music wafting across the yards.

I am a firm believer that everyone should have a sound track to their day. Mine usually starts with my alarm clock, and recently I’ve been waking up with Blossom Dearie singing “Rhode Island Is Famous for You.”  (It only takes a note or two to engage my brain, and once I start thinking, sleep is done.)  I have an MP3 player at work, and really like to create play lists to keep us going all day.  The current favorite morning mix starts with Apollo 100’s “Joy,“ straight into Aerosmith’s “Livin’ on the Edge,” and is followed by Disturbed with “Superman.” A smattering of Johnny Cash, Al Green, Ella Fitzgerald, and Barry White with an occasional Nickleback for good measure round out the day.  Admittedly, bad 70s music will always hold a special place in my heart, and I feel it is my job to expose others to that particular genre as well.  Making a music mix for a busy, productive kitchen is like feeding a crowd; you want to have a little something for everyone, keep it tasty (and tasteful) and end with something sweet.  We are very much a teamwork kitchen, and we all work together to clean up at the end of the day.  So, of course, we have a cleanup mix;  high energy, everyone knows the words and everyone sings along.

Today is my day off, and while the soundtrack is decidedly calmer, it is certainly there; my neighbors are having a cookout.  The reggae is the perfect accompaniment for the smell of jerked pork from their grill.  Boy, oh boy, if you could bottle that smell.

Jerked marinades actually are available by the bottle, but traditionally the meat (usually pork or goat, and often chicken) are dry rubbed with the mixture of spices.  Like a curry mixture, the jerk rubs can vary.  After the meat is rubbed with the seasoning, it’s slow-cooked on a grill.

For a basic jerk rub, blend the following ingredients together.  Take the time to make a large batch, and store it in a cool, dry place.  This will keep for months (unless you use it all up!)

Dry Jerk Rub

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons onion powder
  • One half cup dried thyme
  • 2 tablespoons ground allspice
  • 2 tablespoons cracked black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves.

When you’re ready to use the rub, sprinkly it liberally over your chicken or pork, let it sit overnight and grill away.

For a wet rub or marinade, I really like the following mix.  Start with a pork butt, available at any grocery store.  I like to cut deep slits into the pork, and make sure to really work the marinade into the cuts.  Wrap it up and let it sit overnight.

When you’re ready to cook the pork, a low flame, slow-*cooked on your grill works best. I have used this marinade on fish and chicken as well, and it’s just as good on a pork loin or pork chops as it is on a pork butt. That said, the pork butt, slow cooked is the best.

Jerk Marinade

  • 12 scallions, chopped
  • One thumb size piece of ginger, peeled
  • One half cup fresh thyme
  • 1 large habanero pepper, chopped (wear gloves and don’t touch anything important!)
  • One quarter cup peanut oil
  • Two tablespoons (6 to 8 cloves) fresh garlic (don’t use the stuff in the jar! Take the time to peel and chop)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Juice and zest of one lime

This can be pulsed in a blender or food processor, or assembled by hand. Either way, I like to make the mix the day before I need to it really let the fla vors blend. This is spicy and flavorful and smells as good cooking as it tastes. If you don’t like the heat from the habanero, leave it out and substitute with a milder pepper, like a jalepeno, or use a bit of crushed red pepper.  This is good stuff.

Cole slaw is a great side dish to serve with this spicy, flavorful pork. I really love the sweeetness and crunch of raw sweet potatoes, and this slaw compliments the pork beautifully.

Coleslaw

  • Shred four peeled, raw sweet potatoes
  • Add one head of broccoli, rough chopped

(The stem of a head of broccoli is really quite edible.  Take of the bottom inch or so and peel about two thirds up on the stem. This is really moist, crunchy and flavorful, not unlike a water chestnut)

  • One half cup dried cranberries
  • One half cup toasted almonds

Dressing

  • Two cups buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon raspberry vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • One tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • One teaspoon Dijon mustard
  •  

Combine all ingredients and mix well till thick and creamy.  Toss the dressing with your chopped and shredded broccoli and sweet potatoes.

When your pork or chicken comes off the grill, toss your dessert on.

To grill fruit, make sure your grill is hot and clean.  I like a wire brush to scrape off all the good bits left behind by the grilled pork.  I then take some paper towels dipped in vegetable oil and wipe the grill down, to clean off any further debris and help prevent the fruit from sticking.  I also lightly, very, very lightly oil the fruit.

I like to grill pineapple rings, bananas, and, right now especially, stone fruit.  Peaches, nectarines, plums, and apricots grill really well, and the slight, smoky caramelization from the sugars as the heat of the grill draws them out will only enhance the flavors.

To top the grilled fruit, my family loves the following sauce.

Butter Rum Sauce

In a sauce pan over a low flame, mix the following:

  • Two cups brown sugar
  • One cup dark rum
  • One half cup coconut milk
  • One half stick (two ounces) unsalted butter

Heat till all is melted and whisk till combined.  After you’ve grilled the first side and flipped the fruit, brush it with the rum sauce.  Remember that rum (and butter!) are both flammable, so be careful when you apply it.

This is great on its own, but stellar over vanilla or rum raisin ice cream. Of course, everything tastes better with music in the background, so relax and enjoy.

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