Friday, September 6, 2013

The other day my son said to me, “Mom, it is sad that we kill animals and eat them... But, not birds, because Dinosaurs were their ancestors, so it is ok if we eat them.”  While I don’t quite understand the logic behind the whole Dinosaur thing, it did get me to thinking. At 5 years old, he is already conscious about what he is eating, and the impact that has on the animals in the world around him. I took this as an opportunity to tell him why if we choose to eat meat, it is important that we choose wisely.
In the past few years, there has been a lot of attention brought to CAFO’s, or Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation.  In a CAFO and animal is treated as a product instead of a living breathing animal. Our locally raised animals are not treated this way, yet another reason to buy local! This weekend I picked up a Wild Boar tenderloin, from Northern Unique at the Farmers Market- This richly coloured and flavorful meat is incredibly lean. This is not “the other white meat.”
I made a dish with this that was inspired by Barbara Lynch’s Prune Stuffed Gnocchi, which I cooked last weekend. It is time consuming, but not difficult.  The dish features a number of local items, and Madeira which is definitely not Local. Madeira is a product of Portugal- This sweet wine is heated as it ages from a few months in artificial heat to over 20 years in a sun warmed room. The quality of Maderia can vary greatly.  Generally a dessert or aperitif wine, it really compliments the flavours of this dish. 

Cheese Stuffed Gnocchi with Wild Boar Ragout
1 Northern Unique wild boar tenderloin.
1 onion- diced
2 cups tomato sauce
2 cups tomato (peeled, seeded and chopped)
6 cloves of garlic
1 cup of Madeira wine
Salt and pepper to taste
4 potatoes
Thunder oak gouda, sundried tomato 
When you get your tenderloin from the market, it will be frozen, which is actually perfect. For this dish, the boar needs to be cut into very small pieces. Frozen meat makes it easier to cut uniform pieces, but be careful- it is also slippery- Use proper knife skills and keep your fingers curled under, and away from the blade.  Cut the tenderloin this slices about ½ a cm thick. Cut each of those slices into ½ cm cubes. This seems daunting, but it really only takes a few minutes.
Heat some olive oil in a large pan or Dutch oven, when it is hot, add the boar cubes. Stir until they are browned. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon.
Add a bit more oil to the pan and put the onions in. Cook until they are translucent. Add the garlic- cook 2 minutes more.
Deglaze the pan with the cup of Madeira wine. Scraping the bottom of the pan to get all those flavorful bits. Let the wine reduce a minute or two, then add the tomatoes, sauce and return the boar to the pan. Simmer over low heat for a few hours (or put it in the slow cooker!)
To make the gnocchi, boil the potatoes until tender.   When they are cool enough to handle, peel and mash (or rice them if you have a ricer).
Knead in about a cup of flour. Add an egg, and incorporate that. Knead in more flour until the dough is still a bit sticky, but easy to handle.
On a floured surface, roll the potato dough out thin. Cut out circles with an overturned cup. Put a few pieces of gouda inside, and seal the gnocchi like a pierogi.
A tip I learned from the prune gnocchi, is to freeze the gnocchi after they are formed. This way, they won’t completely disintegrate by the time the cheese is warmed.
To serve.  Boil the gnocchi until they float to the surface, and remove with a slotted spoon.  Top with the ragout, and a little dusting of cheese.
Serve immediately and enjoy immensely. 

Originally Published 3/5/2012 on by..ME! 

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