Within gitting distance

Before I get started with this week’s topic, I want to give everybody a heads up about something going on this weekend.On Saturday from 12-3PM, the Carolina Inn is hosting a Barbecue Throwdown on their front porch.  There will be eight local chefs (including the Carolina’s Chef James Clark), all trying to wind up the smoke and fire champ.

The event will be hosted by the radio announcer of the Carolina Panthers, Mick Mixon.  And music will be provided by the Gravy Boys.  There will be five judges plus the guests will also vote on a fan favorite.A portion of the proceeds will be going to TABLE, an Orange county charity that helps kids at risk for hunger.  They’re also asking that guests bring donations of non-perishable foods.  You can score tickets at: http://www.carolinainn.com/bbq-throwdown/.  Every ticket enters the holder into a raffle, too.

Petey and I will be there, and hope to see you, as well.

It takes quite a bit to get The Kid to do a characteristically very low-key, practically stationary happy dance.But one thing that mildly thrills my child is eating local.

Dinner last week was a banner meal.  A few weeks ago The Kid gave me a tip that the Durham Co-op had gorgeous, but inexpensive Denver steaks.  No fooling.  I went and scored two pretty specimens for around $6.

On the day The Kid and I made our pilgrimage to the Got To Be NC festival at the state fairgrounds, we also went to the state farmer’s market, in Raleigh.  Unbelievably and embarrassingly, it was our first visit.While there, I bought three jars of D’Vine’s sassafras jelly.  My child was hankering after peaches and strawberries.  On the way out The Kid stopped at one of the meat purveyors and along with a couple of steaks, picked up some fresh shitake mushrooms.

And after another quick trip to the Co-op for some local corn and pancetta, The Kid was ready to eat.

The protein was an extremely rare Denver steak smothered in a shitake mushroom sauce.

The Kid’s shitake sauce

shitake sauce

1 pound shitake mushrooms, cleaned sliced, with stems removed

Fat from cooking steak

½ cup sherry or cognac

1 ½ cup beef stock

1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme

3-4 tablespoons butter

Salt and pepper to taste

While steaks are resting, turn the cooking pan on medium-high.  Without cleaning pan, add mushrooms, season, and sauté until the liquid releases then cooks out, and mushrooms start to caramelize.

Deglaze with sherry and cook until the pan is dry again.  Pour in beef stock.  Bring to a boil, and let cook until it has reduced to half, and thickened slightly.

Whisk in cold butter until the sauce has thicken and is glossy and smooth.  Add back mushrooms, check seasoning, then spoon over steaks.

The Kid then attended to a side dish.

To make this recipe you need to cut the kernels off the cob.  To do this, stand up the shucked cob on a cutting board.  Run a sharp knife down the cob, slicing off the corn.  This is kind of messy, but the sharper the knife, the neater it will be.  Some people swear by standing the cob in the center of a Bundt pan, but I never noticed a big difference in cleanliness.  After stripping, using the back side of the knife, scrape the cob, gathering the corn juice.

Fresh corn and pancetta

corn pancetta

5 or 6 ears of fresh corn and juice, shucked and off the cob

¼ pound pancetta, chopped

1 shallot, diced

Salt and pepper to taste

Put pancetta in a skillet on medium, and cook until all the fat is rendered and the pancetta is crispy.  Remove and set aside.

Sauté shallots until they just begin to brown.  Then add corn, and turn to medium-high.  Stirring frequently, cook until it begins to caramelize around the edges and the moisture has cooked off.  Remove from heat, check for seasoning, and add back the pancetta.  Serves 2-3.


The Kid’s finished dish.  Dig those groovy black plates.

I think the only way The Kid would have liked the meal more is if there had been a produce picnic smack in the middle of the Durham garden in which it had been grown.

p rabbit

Thanks for your time.

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