Fall in Maine can be really glorious… the foliage is bursting with color and the air is finally crisp and cool. We’ve certainly been enjoying the streak of gorgeous weather that has lasted for most of October and the start of November. This season has been quite remarkable, with such warm and consistently sunny days, crops that are normally beginning to die are continuing to thrive. The garden crew has been taking advantage of the great weather and in preparation for the cold ahead, they have replanted the green houses with spinach, turnips, arugula, lettuce, kale, tat soi and radish. We have also prepared garlic beds for next seasons garlic crop. With our limited farm space, utilizing every bit of ground is essential and makes the rotation of our crops and animals over different areas of the farm very important. The area that has just been prepped for garlic was once our pea patch, followed by cover crop, and then home to our broiler chickens.
The fabulous weather has also given us a great harvest with tons of leeks, squash, turnips, radish, and a favorite fall friend, sunchokes. Sunchokes are often considered a nuisance because of their propensity to consume entire lawns… we, however, embrace their wild side and encourage the patch to expand because they’re delicious and wonderfully versatile (Enjoy Chef Kelly’s Cream of Sunchoke Soup recipe below!). Due to our shallow soils, the sunchokes seem to be relegated to one small area of our farm, so it’s a great occasion when we get a large harvest to spice up the menu.
With these new additions and others such as pumpkins and apples, the menu is truly starting to feel like fall. Our counter menu features pumpkin risotto served in a whole roasted pumpkin with pecorino sardo cheese, roasted squash and autumn herbs. It’s paired with swiss chard, greens and toasted pumpkin seeds. It’s fabulous comfort food for the cold nights ahead! We know it’s truly deep fall here when our pork joins the menu. The first pork chops from this seasons pigs are now being served and our ”Nose to Tail” menu it about to make its debut. Each dish in the seven course menu features pork from the pigs that were raised with love on the Primo farm this season. The ”Nose to Tail” offerings begin next week and will be available for about a month. It’s true farm to table fare that should not be missed!
Primo Pork Chop
For us, the harvest season has been a time for celebration. We began by getting into the Halloween spirit with our annual staff pumpkin carving extravaganza. There’s really no better way to add a little magic to our harvest decor and showcase the Primo teams’ amazing knife wielding skills than with a line of freshly carved pumpkins illuminating the walkway. Also, the fun that can be had carving pumpkins is undeniable… the joy that comes from scooping out the gooey guts and figuring out how to create a complex scene that won’t cave in is hard to outgrow. We enjoyed Halloween in style with most of the staff dressing for the occasion as well as some of our fun loving dinner guests… and the best costume prize definitely went to the adorable little peanut who came trick or treating in her very fancy chef attire.
Chef Kelly and wee Chef Dodge
The celebration was capped this week with our annual Pig Day. It’s a day that the extended Primo family comes together to celebrate the pigs that are raised here each season with a bounty of great food, wine, work, and company! With a great amount of team work we whipped up a plethora of Primo charcuterie including, Culatello, Prosciutto, Zampone, and Lardo as well fresh cider and other fall treats. Some of the charcuterie such as sausage, pork confit, and liverwurst will join the menu right away, while other items including Prosciutto and Culatello are real labors of love that will cure for at least 18 more months. The Primo prosciutto that is currently served is from our 2011 Pig Day… it’s a tasty time investment that is definitely worth the wait.
Enjoy Chef Kelly’s sunchoke soup recipe… just in time for cold weather!
Cream of Sunchoke (Jerusalem Artichoke) Soup
with seared diver scallops, black trumpet mushrooms & sunchoke chips (Serves 8-10)
- 3lb Sunchokes(reserve 1 tuber for garnish)
- 8T butter (preferably unsalted)
- 3 medium onions, thinly sliced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 3qt (12c) chicken stock (can substitute vegetable stock or water)
- 2c heavy cream
- tt salt & white pepper
- 1lb U-10 jumbo diver scallops
- 2oz black trumpet mushrooms (can use dried or substitute dried porcini. If you are using dried, rehydrate in hot water… just enough to cover and reserve until ready to use)
- 2c peanut or canola oil for frying chips
Take 1 sunchoke and slice it paper thin. While you are doing that, heat peanut or canola oil to about 350 degrees (can check with candy thermometer). Add the sliced chokes a little at a time and fry until lightly browned and crispy. Drain on paper towels and salt them as soon as they come out of the oil.
Wash sunchokes thoroughly, scrubbing the skin clean, then cut them into chunks. Melt the butter over a medium flame and add onions. Cook for 3-5 minutes until the onions become translucent (do not brown). Add garlic and cook for 2 more minutes. Add sunchokes and cook for 5 minutes, then add stock and turn heat up to high. Bring to a boil and then turn down to simmer… simmer until all is tender, add cream and bring back to a boil and then take off heat. Puree whole mixture in a blender, then strain through a sieve. Season with salt and white pepper. Keep warm until ready to use.
When ready to serve… heat 1T canola oil in a sauté pan until smoking. Season scallops with salt & pepper, place in the pan carefully, do not crowd the pan. Cook for 1.5 minutes on each side, do not turn until the first side has caramelized. Place 1 scallop in each bowl, ladle soup in and sprinkle with mushrooms and choke chips.