Many hands make light work, right? Dole out a couple of these recipes to your guests and then set the table for six. Wild Sage executive chef Elijah Crume has created a fabulous meal for home chefs — and most of the work can be done ahead of time. Note that the pork belly should be started the day before the party. As guests arrive with their contributions, final plating and garnishing can be done. Bon appetit!
ZUCCHINI SQUASH AND SUNDRIED TOMATO ROMESCO AND BALSAMIC REDUCTION
Romesco is a colorful sauce originating in Spain. It's made of tomatoes, roasted peppers, bread crumbs and pureed almonds. Make plenty and keep extra in the fridge to put over toasted bread, pasta or roasted veggies. Balsamic reduction is a garnish here and can be purchased, although it's easy to make by simply cooking balsamic vinegar over very low heat in a nonreactive pan until the liquid thickens, then storing in the refrigerator until needed.
2 ounces sundried tomatoes (dried, not in oil)
2 dried ancho peppers
¼ cup almonds, toasted
1 roasted red bell pepper, diced (can roast fresh or use preserved)
¼ teaspoon garlic, chopped fine
¾ cup tomato paste
¼ cup parsley, chopped fine
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
¼ teaspoon cayenne
2 ounces bread crumbs
2-3 large zucchini
Salt and pepper
Combine all ingredients for the romesco, except for the oil, in a food processor or large mortar and pestle.
Mix well, then slowly add the oil and continue mixing until smooth.
Wash, trim and slice zucchini in half, pat dry then lightly season with olive oil, salt and pepper.
To cook zucchini, grill for 2-3 minutes on oiled grates to maintain firmer texture, or broil on oiled pan roughly 6 inches from heat 4-5 minutes each side.
To plate the dish, place a generous amount of the romesco on the bottom of a plate or bowl.
Place cooked zucchini over romesco and garnish with balsamic reduction.
MERLOT POACHED PEARS AND GOAT CHEESE CROSTINI
This recipe is a two-fer, resulting in a brilliant, fruit-forward appetizer plus a side of delightfully mulled wine.
2 each firm Bartlett pears, whole, skin on
1 bottle Merlot
1 orange, sliced in halves
4 whole cloves
2 cinnamon sticks
3 star anise
1 baguette French bread
Light olive oil
4 ounces soft goat cheese
¼ cup toasted pistachios, crushed
Combine ingredients for pears in a nonreactive saucepan and simmer on low for 7 minutes.
Remove from heat and cool the pears in the poaching liquid, allowing flavor and color to seep thoroughly into pears. Can also be placed in refrigerator to chill/steep until needed.
Strain the liquid, which can be served warm as mulled wine or cooked down over low heat to reduce the liquid to make a flavorful, syrup-like garnish for the crostini.
For the crostini, cut baguette on a diagonal into half-inch pieces.
Place on a baking tray and drizzle with olive oil and pinch of salt.
Toast in an oven at 350 degrees for eight minutes or until slightly crisp.
Remove from oven and let cool.
To assemble, spread goat cheese onto cooled, toasted bread until completely covered.
Slice chilled poached pears lengthways, avoiding seeds, and lay slices on top of the dressed crostini.
Garnish with crushed toasted pistachios (optional) and reduced mulled wine (also optional) and serve.
ROASTED PORK BELLY WITH SPICED PLUM GLAZE
2 pounds pork belly, uncured
1½ tablespoon salt
2 tablespoon brown sugar
2 tablespoons canola oil
SPICED PLUM GLAZE
1 cup apple juice
1 cup water
2 cups sugar
2 cups plums, fresh and pitted -or- 1 cup dried plums
2 ounces apple cider vinegar
Dash of cayenne pepper (dry)
¾ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
Mix brown sugar and salt and set aside.
Place pork belly in nonreactive dish and spread sugar/salt mix on both sides of pork belly to help bring out flavor and tenderize the meat.
Wrap in plastic (or seal in bag) and refrigerate overnight.
The next day, remove pork belly from any accumulated liquid and pat the meat dry. Discard liquid.
Heat a rondeau or shallow, wide pan over medium heat.
Add oil and sear both sides of pork belly until crispy (Tip: wait until meat releases from pan before flipping).
Remove seared pork belly from pan and cook uncovered at 275 degrees for 3 hours or until tender.
While the pork belly is cooking, make the plum glaze by combining all ingredients into a nonreactive saucepan and simmering for 20 minutes.
While still warm, puree glaze liquid with an immersion blender, then continue cooking over low heat until the liquid has reduced by one-third.
Remove pork belly from the oven, let rest for 15-20 minutes, and slice into small squares.
Place the cubed pork belly on a plate and coat with warm spiced plum glaze.
Recipes courtesy of Elijah Crume, Wild Sage Bistro.