Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Grilled Beet, Fennel, and Jazz Apple

Beets. My extent of beets has up until this point been limited to Pickled beets, and the eggs pickled in the beet juice after the beets had been consumed. I can't say I had much of an opinion on them, other than they remind me of my boyhood in Ohio, and the black dirt from our gardens that give them the earthy goodness. Beets were truly a staple around the family, but I was too young to have developed the complex palate for them. My father and brother have been talking about how good roasted beets are recently, so I of course had to pick some up at the commissary. Adventures in fine dining, and grill mastery experimentation are a welcome experience in my little household. I have to say this turned out better than expected.

Grilled Country Style Ribs in Orange Marinade, Roasted Beets and Grilled Fennel with Grilled Apple. There was a homemade beef broth mushroom soup for a first course.

This turned out so much better than I expected it to. The pork shoulder is pretty fire (no pun intended) and forget, and always a crowd pleaser. The shoulder cut is so deliciously marbled with pork fat, and the charcoal grill does a terrific job of searing and caramelizing the outside, so you have a tender, juicy hunk of delicious pork. A simple marinade and some time over the coals, and you have a big chunk of awesome. The Beet dish was truly a wonder. I had never cooked with either beets or fennel before, and didn't really know what to expect. Fennel was one of those foreign vegetables that I had on my list to try, but never got around to. I highly recommend this dish to anyone who wants to impress a dinner party, or needs something cheep and moderately simple to bring to a pot-luck picnic or family function. It works well warm, but would be just as great as a cold salad. If you serve it cold, I would suggest adding walnuts or pecans to even out the texture and give it a bit more crunch. It's also a beautiful dish to serve if you are wanting for color on the plate. There is nothing like the color that pours out of roasted beets. A natural magenta that stains your hands, it leaves streaks of red all through the fennel and apples. The picture doesn't do it justice. It's truly food art if you give it a chance. The sweetness of the apple, the subtle anise cabbage-like flavor of the fennel, and the complex, earthy-sweet of the beets all stand alone on their own merit, but the trio is a concerto of flavor on your palate. Try this one out!

Here are my recipes:

Beet, Fennel, Apple salad
3 Beets with tops removed
1 Large Fennel Bulb
1 Large Sweet apple (I used a Jazz Apple)
Sea Salt
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
White Wine vinegar
1/3 cup Beef Stock

Prepare the beets: Roast beets in a foil packet on grill 30 minutes on each side or until tender through. After roasting, peel beets, and slice thin.
Prepare Fennel: Remove top and root of fennel bulb. Slice in 1/4 inch slices, and coat with white wine vinegar and olive oil with salt. Grill fennel on each side until seared. Remove from grill and place in saute pan with a dash of vinegar and Beef stock. Salt to taste, and saute until softened and separate pieces of fennel.
Slice fennel core into thin slices as well.
Prepare apple: peel, core, and halve the apple. Grill on the core side until carmelized. The sweeter the apple, the more caramelized the apple gets. Remove from grill and cut into small cubes.

Combine all the ingredients together in a large serving bowl. Salt to taste and drizzle with EVOO and White Wine Vinegar.

If anyone wants to duplicate this recipe and take better pictures of it, please post them! I never plan on making food posts until after I have eaten half of the dish, and the light in the room is too low for a quality pic.

Citrus Marinade Pork Country Style Ribs
Pork Country Style Ribs/ Pork Shoulder
3 Cups Orange juice
1/4 cup Spicy Brown Mustard
3 Cloves Garlic
1/2 Medium Onion
honey (optional)
4 TBS Cajun Seasoning
Hot Sauce to taste (I like Iguana Radioactice pepper sauce)

Combine ingredients in gallon zip-lock bag, and let stand in refrigerator for a minimum of 3 hours, but preferably overnight. Grill. Let rest. Serve. Yum.

Pork is so tasty and simple. Pair it with any good vegetable, and you can't go wrong.

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