I can’t believe it’s September already… Labor Day weekend is behind us, the unofficial end of Summer, and it’s back to school and the old routine for many of us. I’ve always loved this time of year, though, looked forward to new Fall clothes, blank pages in fresh new notebooks, the seemingly endless possibilities ahead.
I’m looking at transition and change in the weeks ahead, riding out the last few days of my current job and starting the new one next week, so to prepare for that, and to preserve as much of Summer’s bounty before it’s gone, I cooked. A lot. Pounds of tomatoes were blanched, peeled, ground into sauce, chopped into salsa, pounds of peppers were roasted over hardwood, charred skins removed, the flesh processed into sauce or silky strips marinated. Beans were trimmed, blanched and frozen, berries too – spread on a sheet pan, frozen and bagged. And then there was the meat.
Our last few trips to Whole Foods saw us stocking up on various cuts of grass-fed beef from American Grass Fed, a good chunk of which we planned to grind ourselves. We processed nearly 3 pounds of chuck through the coarse blade, set about a pound of it aside for burgers, then ground a pound of pastured pork loin (from another source). Finally, we combined the beef and pork, running it through the machine a second time with the fine blade. This was our first go at grinding our own meats, and it was totally worth it, both for the difference in texture and the knowledge of what exactly was in there.
But what to do with all of this ground meat? Well, there were the burgers I mentioned above, served patty melt style with plenty of caramelized onions, local baby Swiss and tasty French Rye from Seven Stars.
I made a huge pot of Bolognese as well, 5 cups in all, combining our beef and pork mixture with a pound of Bobolink‘s ground suckled veal and letting it cook for hours over low heat before cooling it and portioning it out for future meals.
I took the remaining meat mixture and browned it in a pan with plenty of Mike’s chile powder, some ground cumin, a dab of tomato paste and a couple of spoonfuls of fresh tomato puree. I had visions of meaty, cheesy enchiladas swirling in my brain, so I cooked the seasoned meat until it was almost dry, not wanting to leave too much moisture and end up with a soggy dish.
For the enchilada sauce, I whizzed up a couple of reconstituted dried guajillo chiles and a bit of their soaking liquid, a peeled charred fresh poblano, ground chipotle, cumin, and a wee splash of fresh tomato puree in the blender, did the usual dip-and-fry, and stuffed the seasoned meat inside of the tortillas. I had a little bit of meat left, so that got mixed with the remaining chile sauce and slathered on top of the enchiladas. A layer of cheese, then 20 minutes in a 400 degree oven, and dinner was served:
Rich, spicy and comforting, these enchiladas might have been some of my best yet. And while my hands, feet and back are pretty unhappy with me today, all of the time I spent in the kitchen over the long weekend was positively restorative. I’m hanging on to as much of Summer as I can, but looking forward to the changes to come.