Tuesday, October 5, 2010

My kind of people.

My first day of work was an orientation of sorts. We learned the layout, what we should wear, how to properly build the tables each morning. We learned the specifics of what we would do each Sunday and, of course, we learned each others names. We played one of those ice breaker introduction games; you know the kind you played on the first day of elementary school or summer camp or the first night in a college dorm. Except in all those situations you're usually required to give your name and maybe your favorite color or grade level or your major. Whereas here - in this light, airy, new office that the market calls home - we had to give the name of our favorite fruit or vegetable. If I didn't smile outright, as I'm sure I did, I certainly smiled inside; these are my kind of people. Not only did everyone go along with it, but they all did so as if it were the most natural thing in the world - as if people ask them this all the time. Maybe they do. As we went around the circle there were nods of approval as if everyone could taste the fruit or vegetable in question and were even having trouble deciding which they are partial to. 

Like I said, these are my kind of people.

For me it was a toss up: brussel sprouts or broccoli rabe. The sprouts put up a good fight arguing that they are easier to eat as a snack (I like to steam them and keep them in the fridge) but ultimately the broccoli rabe won out. It is absolutely hands down my favorite vegetable. One of these days years I'm going to grow my own but for now I'll continue to buy these enormous heads of it from Do Re Me Farms. 

I also truly believe that anyone who doesn't like broccoli rabe has never had it prepared properly. Yes, it can be bitter and tough but if it's sauteed just right, it's neither. It's tender like broccoli but more pungent like full grown spinach and I like it the best with garlic, oil, sausage and splash of either lemon juice, white wine or vermouth. I've made this 3 times in the past two weeks - twice with broccoli rabe and once with swiss chard. Obviously, I suggest the broccoli rabe version.

Broccoli Rabe with Garlic and Chili Sausage
The chili and garlic flavors here are a theme that repeats throughout. The sausage I used was a chili-garlic pork sausage from Dickson's Farmstand but I also added red chili flakes to the oil as it was heating up. I like to add my spices directly to the oil in this manner because it heats them up and really lets them release their flavors better than if I add them later on. It kind of toasts them even though it's not in a dry pan.
You don't have to use a pork sausage here, it could be poultry or even venison. What's important is that it is fresh and not pre-cooked the way many packaged sausages are. If it's pre-cooked it will not crumble and it will also cook to quickly and dry out. Serves 2

1 large uncooked sausage, about 1/3lb (see headnotes)
2 very large bunches of broccoli rabe (I mean REALLY large, not those wimpy things the supermarket carries)
2 or 3 large cloves of garlic, sliced
juice from 1 lemon (or a 1/4-1/2 cup of vermouth or dry white wine)
a few pinches red chili flakes
a few pinches dried rosemary
olive oil
salt and pepper

Trim the broccoli rabe and chop it into large pieces. Bring a large pot of water to boil and blanch the broccoli rabe just until bright green (a couple minutes). Plunge it into an ice bath to stop the cooking and set aside.

In a large frying pan, heat a little bit of olive oil (maybe two teaspoons - you won't need much because the sausage will give off fat as well) on medium high heat. Add the chili flakes and rosemary and stir to coat about 30 seconds. Slice the sausage lengthwise to remove the skin and crumble into the pan to brown for about a minute. Add the sliced garlic and stir the mixture letting the sausage and garlic brown. Add the lemon juice, wine or vermouth (whichever you choose) to deglaze the pan and scrape the fond from the bottom and sides. Add the chopped broccoli rabe and more liquid (only if the pan is dry). Cover immediately to finish cooking the broccoli rabe but remove cover and stir it around everything 30 seconds or so to keep it from overcooking in one place.
Remove from pan and add salt and pepper to taste.
Enjoy immediately!

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