When I was in Costa Rica I ordered a tuna salad at a little restaurant and throwing the cautionary tales of eating only cooked food to the wind (which I later paid for after drinking a couple drinks with ice) in order to have as big a variety of local food as possible.
The salad was a little dissapointing when it arrived, a little shredded lettuce with some tomato and cucumber, and what I can only assume was canned tuna. It ended up being a lot better than I expected, and made me want to make something light along the same lines when I got back.
Lettuce season is gone here, but there is still lots of fall and winter greens. Eating them raw can be a bit of a challenge though, kale especially is not good raw unless you’re having dino/lacinato kale, and even then you should make sure to take the ribs out. Shredded and seasoned though, dinosaur kale is great to have raw after a quick massage with acid, oil and salt.
Confit: One of the Best Recipes for Small Game Arms & Legs
Instead of tuna, I used woodchuck confit I‘d packed away in some pork lard before I left. Picked off the bone and warmed up gently in a little of the lard It was preserved in, it Made a great lunch.
Obviously not alot of people have woodchuck confit laying around, but the confit’d legs of any small creature are fine, and are a great way to use parts that often get thrown away, especially in the case of pheasants and game birds.
Putting my salad together, I rummaged around the apartment turned up some Georgia candy roaster squash and a hunk of Musque de Provence. A quick drizzle of Sam Thayer’s Hickory nut oil, and a couple hickory nuts was a great touch to finish. I had some marinated milkcaps I added too, but they were gilding the lily.
Confit Woodchuck Salad, with Heirloom Squash and Hickory Nut Oil
- Small baking dish, like ceramic or cast iron
- 3 oz winter squash peeled and cut into medium-sized pieces, roughly 3/4 cup if you're dicing it
- 1 tablespoon hickory nut oil or walnut oil, or another richly flavored seed oil, like Smude's
- Sprinkling of toasted hickory nuts or walnuts, preferably the same as the oil you're using
- 7-8 leaves of lacinato kale ribs removed, leaves cut into 1/4 inch julienne
- Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
- Fresh squeezed lemon juice or apple cider vinegar, to taste
- 4-5 ounces of confit from a small game animal commerical chicken or pheasant legs make a good sub if no game is available picked from the bones, warmed gently in some of it's fat
- A few salted or marinated milk cap mushrooms optional
- 10 minutes before serving, season the kale with the hickory nut oil, salt, pepper, and a good dash of lemon juice. Massage the kale around with your hands in a bowl to break it down a bit, then allow to rest until you're ready to serve. You can massage the kale up to a couple hours ahead of time.
- Season and saute the squash until just done and tender in some of the confit oil. Reserve the squash.
- To serve, toss the kale with the squash and mushrooms, then double check the seasoning for salt and lemon and spread out on a serving or entree plate.
- Scatter the just warm woodchuck confit over the kale, then crack some black pepper over everything, drizzle with a little extra lemon, scatter over some toasted hickory nuts and serve immediately.