Can you believe that Fiddleheads 4th anniversary celebration is less than a week away (Saturday, Feb 4th)? I know I can't. Didn't we just have the 3rd anniversary party maybe a month ago? That was the day I began grilling up samples of Four Mile River Farm's beef and pork for the Saturday markets. All the other vendors had samples every Saturday, why shouldn't FMRF? It looked like a lot more fun than what I had been doing, just sitting at the booth and talking about the products, and a lot more effective. Sure I can sell up the wazoo and talk a blue streak (in case you haven't noticed), but actually getting to taste their grass-fed, hormone-free locally-raised beef and pork is a whole 'nuther matter. (Fact: gross sales on Saturdays easily doubled last year when I started serving the little morsels at the booth.) It's obvious from first bite that this is nothing like the half-rancid, chemical and dye-injected flesh, from animals raised in feedlots, that generally passes for "meat" at the big-box retailers. The taste is what sells it, and in this instance I get to sell both the sizzle (the flavor) and the actual steak (or hamburger, or bacon, or....)
The only problem was - I was starting to get a little bored. Not with the customers and the interactions (can I ever grow tired of the exclamations of surprise and delight? No, I cannot), but with the samples themselves. There is only so many times you can sample hot dogs and top round pork sausages, however excellent they may be, before you begin to wonder *cue Peggy Lee* "Is that all there is?"
So over the last few weeks at the Four Mile River Farm booth on Saturdays (during the Indoor Farmers Market at FH), I've been experimenting with adding vegetables from the produce department to the usual meat samples. This particular dish, for kielbasa with mushroom-vegetable medley, is typical of my M.O. - there's little or no pre-planning involved; I look at what is available and fresh, what will go with the cut of meat I'm cooking, when I arrive at the co-op that morning. Then I walk across the aisle to the Bulk Herbs and Spices section, open the jars and let my nose help me decide what will best compliment the food. No measuring spoons, no exactitudes, just a bit of this or that according to feel. Add a little oil, olive or sesame depending on what's needed, from the general bulk section, and - TAH-DAH! - I'm serving up a tasty, satisfying and delicious snack in no time. It's better than any magician's trick.
Several customers asked me to post the "recipe" so here it is, but once again, it's merely a guideline; the measurements below of all the seasonings and mushrooms are to be taken with the proverbial grain of salt. Speaking of salt - I put the seasonings into small bowls or dishes, salt and pepper separately from the other herbs; this gives me a bit more control over the seasonings than putting them all in one dish. I use the large traditional size kielbasa, rather than the kellie dogs (hot dog-sized) here. Although kielbasa is the centerpiece, I've made very similar meals of mushrooms and various veggies at home as main dishes without any meat in them, replacing the sausage with sliced portabello mushrooms (see Vegan Version below). You could also add tempeh, seitan, tofu, etc. - any extra protein you like, or none at all.
Kielbasa with Three-Mushroom & Vegetable Medley
finely-ground sea salt, and ground or cracked black pepper
marjoram, dried and sifted, about 1-2 teaspoons
pinch each of ground sage and organo, or about 1/8 - 1/4 teaspoon
extra-virgin olive oil
1 large kielbasa (traditional ring or oval-shaped), cut into slices then quartered
1 large red onion, sliced or coarsely chopped
3/4 cup (approx.) white button and/or crimini mushrooms
3/4 -1 cup shiitake mushroom caps, stems removed
1-2 bell pepper, any color , sliced or chopped
Combine salt and pepper into one cup or dish, and the marjoram, oregano and sage into another; combine each well. Set aside.
Heat up electric frypan or skillet on medium with a scant amount of oil, and add the kielbasa chunks and chopped onions. Cook until the meat is golden brown on all sides and the onions likewise golden and limp; do not burn.
In the meantime brush any remaining dirt from the mushrooms and cut the larger button or crimini 'shrooms into halves or quarters as needed. Likewise tear the larger shiitake caps into halves or quarters, leaving the smaller ones whole; be sure to reserve the stems for later use in broth, etc. Put the mushrooms and peppers into a bowl, sprinkle with some of the salt and pepper, then some of the herb mixture to taste. Drizzle with just enough olive oil to coat, and combine until seasonings and herbs are well-distributed. When meat is nearly (but not quite) done, add vegetables to the pan, and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for a couple of minutes until the mushrooms and peppers are tender, al dente, but not overcooked; the peppers should still retain some of their original color. Serve immediately.
Four-Mushroom Vegan Version: Replace the kielbasa with 2 large portabello mushroom caps, stems removed, cut into chunks or slices.
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Text and photos copyright 2011-2013 Janice Janostak unless otherwise noted. All rights reserved.