Gettin' Down on the Farm

There is something very romantic about the idea of living on a farm and feeding your family off what you have grown and raised yourself.  I feel like that would be very gratifying, the down side of course is the amount of time and energy, not to mention the cost, it takes to maintain a farm.  Fortunately for me I have a friend who has a small farm and does all the hard work for me, and twice a year invites me down to cook for a festival he holds on his land.  Rick Edwards (aka The Frustrated Farmer) has been working hard as usual to produce as much as he possibly can so that he and his wife and select group of friends can enjoy the fruits of his labor.  Rick's goal is that someday he will be able to produce everything we need for one of his festivals.  He is getting closer to his goal and with the expansion of his garden, the addition of more ducks, rabbits and meat chickens he is well on his way to accomplishing his goal.  Hopefully by the time the fall festival rolls around we might have our first batch of rabbits for me to transform into something succulent and delicious.

Pickled Rhubarb

Earlier this week I started to get things ready for the festival, so I stopped out to Rick's and gathered some things from him that I would make ahead of time.  I got some fresh rhubarb, a leg of venison and a beef heart and tongue that were donated by the Benson's who raise cattle at the farm next to Rick's.  My thought was that if I could pickle the rhubarb I would serve it with the confit'd duck legs from Last years batch of ducks.  I was also going to marinade the venison legs and make tacos out of the heart and tongue and needed to get that done ahead of time  as the heart and tongue cooked for 28 hours before they were cooked the way I wanted them.  I also pickled some ramps and cherries to round out the Charcuterie board I was going to put together.

Pickled Cherries

I would like to consider myself and amateur Charcutier and really enjoy making terrines and sausages and curing meat of all kinds.  So I thought I would use what I had in the freezer and put together a couple of terrines.  The first terrine was going to be a wild game terrine, courtesy of the Frana family I just happen to have some wild boar, venison hearts and venison liver  so I put all that together with some spices and carrots and shallots and produced a mighty tasty terrine.  For the second terrine I used more deer liver and some wild boar belly and mushrooms to make a lever pate that was quite delicious.  I served the terrines with toast points pickle ramps and a spicy brown mustard that I had made the day before. 

The heart and tongue meat slow cooked for 28 hours prior to getting to the farm and then cooked for about 3 more hours on the grill we had put together.  I had made a little Pico De Gallo and gotten some white corn tortillas and made little street tacos for all to try.  Most everybody was a good sport and tried them and a few people came back for seconds and thirds.  I always enjoy getting people to step outside their comfort zone and try something new.

The main course of the feast was going to be a couple of venison legs that Rick had saved from last years deer hunt and a suckling wild boar courtesy of Dave Frana.  The venison legs were marinaded in red wine, juniper, garlic, rosemary and bay leaves and the wild boar was marinaded in a mixture of lime and orange juice with garlic with oregano pepper and bay leaves.  Rick ha a particular affection for Bay leaves  so I try to through them in when ever possible. The boar and the legs cooked over an open fire for 4 hours and were absolutely tender and smoky and delicious.  I am always amazed at how wonderful things taste when cooked over wood fires.  

So all at once I had two legs of venison, one wild boar the tongue and heart taco meat and some venison and wild boar sausages that were smoking to tend to.  I was hoping for most of the afternoon.  I also had to get all the appetizers plated and set out for the guest when they arrived.  I had six confit'd duck legs from last years batch of ducks so I cooked them and shredded all the meat and served them with toast point and pickled rhubarb and pickled cherries.  It was no surprise that the confit disappeared in a hurry.  Everyone really seemed to enjoy the pickled cherries as well.

Full view of my outdoor kitchen set up

I wanted to trough something else in that would be a good option for those that weren't interested in variety meats and wild game so I through together a smoked salmon and goat cheese terrine with a lemon, caper vinegarette It was fantastic and thanks to my mother I had some nice plates to serve them on.  

Lastly I had some left over ground venison and  a particularly fat wild boar belly so I wanted to make some sausages.  I have been following a food blog by Hank Shaw called Hunter angler gardener cook and have tried many of his recipes so I thought I would look and see if he had any venison sausage recipes.  Of course he did and he even had one with bay and garlic, and remembering that Rick has and affection for bay I jumped on it and made 6 pounds of sausages.  I smoked them for four hours and then finished the on the grill.  They were fantastic the casing had a nice pop to them and the smoke and bay worked really well together.  They too disappeared in a hurry.

I always enjoy being able to feed people I know and love and really enjoy being able to do it in such a wonderful setting.  Thanks to Rick and Jess for the great opportunity to cook outdoors and thanks to the Frana's for all the meat they have shared with me.  I look forward to the fall festival and have already started planning the menu.