Celebrating Labor Day with some Culinary Labor

Mister quasi-vegetarian, was in a grilling mood today. As you know,  grilling recently has not been my favorite cooking style. Don't get me wrong. I can appreciate a great meal that is made atop a grill, and I watch plenty of TV shows where pit masters, smoke their way up to celebrity status.  What I do not enjoy is having to man two "kitchens" , my normal culinary playground on the first floor, and the one outside, down one flight of stairs leading to the backyard patio. It is just too hard to man two fronts while ensuring nothing goes wrong. And delegation too, that magical fix, does not work for me when it comes to cooking. I have been burned too many times.

So this labor day, I did some extra planning.  First, I prepared my pièce de résistance, my special Labor Day wine sauce, yesterday evening.   All in all, it took about 4 hours preparation so I really did not have any other choice.  Second, I choose to make a pasta dish,  which could easily be prepared early in the morning.. As a result, when it came to grilling, no work was left to do in the upstairs kitchen , and I could easily man the outdoor grill, without any distractions.

The weather cooperated too. Indeed, the previsions of late afternoon rain did not materialize and  the fan club and guests got a chance to relax (read slumber) after our carnivorous feast.

Here's what our menu looked like

Labor Day Menu
Torfie  Pasta Salad (Tarry Market)
Grilled Pork Tenderloins Marinated  in Wine Based BBQ Sauce  
Grilled Jansal Valley New Hampshire Cob Smoked Sliced Country Bacon (Tarry Market)
Grilled Pork Boneless chops
Grilled Beef Short Ribs topped with Smoked Bacon
Hebrew National Jumbo Beef Franks topped with bacon
Labor Day Special Wine Sauce
Mango Sweet Iced Tea (So. Carolina inspired)
SKOL Brazilian Beer
Strawberries in Sloe Brandy Syrup (Mamaroneck Station Liquors)

Our table did not include either hot dog rolls, or hamburger anythings... Indeed our bread was a fougasse styled focaccia bread .

Trofie ai Vegetali 

Insalata di Trofie ai Vegetali

For the longest time I have been intrigued  by Trofie pasta. .It's a Northern Italian pasta that seems to be used in soups, certainly not with a tomato based sauce. I have come across many recommendations for combining the pasta with vegetable bases. Yesterda , as I thought about  the holiday menu, I started thinking of the old summers in Italy when we would make rice salads, a richly flavorful dish that was perfect for hot summer afternoons, something that you would eat on the beach or while picnicking in the mountains.  And so insalata di Trofie ai Vegetali was born,

Preparation here is trivial, Cook the vegetables, ensuring the they remain tender.  Cook the pasta, very al dente.  Cool the cooked pasta in a mixing bowl tossed with  drop of EVOO to avoid sticking.   Then toss the cooled veggies with pasta. Add some grated Parmigiano and cubed Cuban cheese (hard mozzarella will do too) and Gaeta olives. Season if necessary , adjust with more grated cheese , especially if little kids will be at the table.

Pasta Salad Vegetable Medley
1 Zucchini (cubed)
1 Orange Bell Pepper (cubed)
1 Large Italian Green Pepper (cubed)
2 Cups of cooked small white beans, rinse off starch
1 1/2 cups of super fresh white mushrooms, diced
1 1/2 cups of Oyster mushrooms
1/2 cup of gaeta olives
2 tablespoons fresh thyme 
2 cloves of garlic , crushed

Start with the zucchini and bell peppers, then add mushrooms.  Finally add beans, which will only need to be heated . Remember, do not over cook the vegetables as they need to remain crisp. Toss with pasta after both independently have cooled a bit so that no further cooking occurs.

Wine Sauce - Ingredients
2 -3 dried plums
2 fresh figs
2 cups  full bodied red wine (La Capra Pinotage)
1 cup baby carrots in discs
red bell pepper
1 cup grape tomatoes
2 tablespoon fresh time
1 small shallot
2 garlic gloves crushed
1 tablespoon  flour
1 tablespoon of pepper corns
2 tablespoon unsalted butter
4 tablespoons EVOO
1 pint chicken stock
2 - 3 cups of h20

Wine Sauce Preparation 
This sauce was a lengthy two step process. Create a quick roux by tossing the butter, EVOO in a high sauce pot with a heavy bottom  Toss in the shallots, garlic   and bell peppers, cook for a few minutes until slightly tender. Add remaining ingredients plus the red wine and chicken stock. Bring to a light boil, then cook over low heat.  Keep the pot covered as you want to reduce evaporation.  Cook for about 3 hours until the 1/2 of the liquids have reduced.Check every 15-20 minutes to make sure that the sauce is not sticking.  If necessary,  add some lukewarm water during the cooking process.

Strain the solids from the sauce using a tight sieve.  Keep the cooked solids as they will form the base for the wine sauce marinade.  Reduce the sauce in a sautee' pan , season if necessary .  Serve in a small sauce pot, when meats are served.

Wine Sauce Marinade 
Place solids from the wine sauce in blender. Add 1/2 cup of water. 1/4 of red wine vinegar.  Some EVOO, S/P, 2 Garlic cloves. Puree the mixture,  and adjust marinade thickness with some H20 if needed.

To prepare the pork tenderloins, place the tenderloins in a plastic freezer bag, along with the marinade. Marinate for at least 4 hours, over night is best.

Grilled Boneless Short Ribs

Grilled Short Ribs

These short ribs were grilled with a strip of smoked bacon, which keep the meat from drying up was it cooked, adding a rich burst of flavor ., We like our meats well done, so this addition made a big difference.

Pork Tenderloins in Wine Sauce

Grilled Pork Tenderloin

Our grilled tenderloins were plated and topped with some of the wine sauce.

Bacon played a nice role today . There is some truth to the saying that everything tastes better with bacon. Just remember, buy some real high quality bacon if you plan on make bacon the co-star.  Here's a site where you can start. Sid Wainer and Son.



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