A few months ago I got an email from Kimberly, the creator of a new company called “Fig to Fork”. The business concept is cool, and on the cutting edge of home cooking trends-people want interesting food to make, and they’re interested in doing it at home.
Basically you subscribe to Fig to Fork, and they deliver you a weekly box of foodstuffs. In each box is a recipe from a local chef, and the ingredients to make it yourself, along with a few other local treats. Each chef supplies a couple different recipes and is featured for a month at a time.
I was excited to get together and collaborate, although many of the recipes I use at the restaurant rely on complicated, long reduced sauces, and things that take a week or so to make, bacon and ham for example. There’s also a cap on what can fit in each box, so unfortunately no one will be making an entire slab of my homemade bacon at home, yet.
Making recipes for home cooks isn’t as easy as it sounds for chefs either. I can’t really just pull a recipe card out of a box. All my recipes for the restaurant are written in large batch sizes, and simply reducing all the ingredients in a recipe by 80% or so doesn’t work-salt and dried spices in particular have a tendency to be too aggressive, or just not there at all with scaling very large recipes for the home kitchen.
Home cooking recipes are usually a “paint by numbers approach” too, with every, single, thing, measured out in minute detail. You can simply put “season to taste” as I often do with some things (salt) but subtle nuances of herbs and spices can be lost if you don’t have experience using them. Anyway, It took a couple solid days of writing, testing and planning, but I wrote a few recipes that I think reflect my style of Midwestern cooking, and are also approachable in a home kitchen.
One of my favorites is this simple side dish of wild rice, that holy swamp grain of the Midwest. I had planned to share a special ingredient I would pick myself for the boxes too-rowanberries. Of course, nature likes to throw curve balls and this year the birds have completely cleaned all the mountain ash trees I know of. Needless to say, a recipe with small game birds and rowan berries is in the works.
I can however, share the original recipe with you.
Wood Parched Wild Rice with Rowanberries, Crabapples, and Bacon
I ended up writing the recipe for Fig and Fork using pickled cranberries instead of rowans, which are good too, feel free to substitute them.
If you have typical, dark black cultivated wild rice, the cooking time will be more along the lines of an hour or so depending on how tender you like it.
- 1 cup wood parched wild rice
- 4 cups lightly salted chicken stock, preferably homemade
- 3/4 cup fresh rowan berries
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 1/2 cup water
- 4 ounces high quality slab bacon
- 5 or so small, tart crab apples, quartered if large, halved if small, seeded
- Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon torn fresh mint
- ½ tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon
- 1 tablespoon sliced fresh chives
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- Bring the water and sugar to a boil, then add the rowan berries and heat through. Transfer the berries and their syrup to a container and reserve for a few days to sweeten them.
- For the wild rice, combine the chicken stock and rice and bring to a simmer, then cook for 15-20 minutes or until the rice just puffs open. Drain the rice and reserve ¼ cup or so of the stock.
- Heat the bacon in a wide saute pan or cast iron skillet until lightly browned, add the apples and cook for 2 minutes more. Add the wild rice and rowan berries and heat through. If the pan gets dry, add a little bit of the reserved stock. Finally, double check the seasoning and adjust as needed, then finish by stirring in the chopped herbs and and butter, serve immediately.