I know I said I was going to give my computer a break and I did for a couple of days but at this time of year, I’m a real sucker for lists of all kinds — the best of and trend predictions are among my favorites. Of course, I had to check on food trends for 2010 and see how we’re doing here at Mixed Greens. I’m proud to say, we’re right on track and in some cases, we’re ahead of the curve.
One trend I’m very excited about is the growth in the use of offal, the various innards of animals. Cheeks, lungs, sweetbreads, tripe, brains, liver, heart — it’s all showing up in the most upscale restaurants. Don’t be surprised to find any one of these on the menu at the trendy Corson Building. I won’t pretend that it doesn’t make me squeamish to even talk about but I just happened to have made the most delicious and easy chicken liver pate for our Christmas Eve gathering. Admittedly, not the prettiest (or the scariest) dish, but we all know how forgiving candlelight can be and it was a huge hit regardless. Not to mention the fact that it’s one of the healthiest foods you can eat, especially if you have a great organic source for chicken livers like Stokesberry Sustainable Farm. (They’re still coming to the University District Farmers Market on Saturdays).
This offal trend also reflects the ultimate in sustainability — nothing is wasted. Organ meats, particularly liver, have gotten a bad rap through the years because of the knowledge that toxins tend to accumulate there. That’s the function of liver after all — to filter out toxins. This is a legitimate concern and a good reason to find out where your food comes from and how it’s being grown . One of the fastest-growing professions is butcher and artisan charcuteries, like The Swinery in West Seattle, are popping up around the country.
Pate may be a baby step into the world of offal, but it’s a step well worth taking.
Chicken Liver Pate
1lb. chicken livers, trimmed (I used a combination of chicken livers and a turkey liver frozen from Thanksgiving)
3 slices of chopped lean bacon, lightly cooked, not crisp
1 cup chicken broth (homemade is best)
1 large shallot, sliced
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 1/4t sea salt
1T cognac (Charlie thinks 2 would be even better)
Butter or oil a 3-cup souffle dish or terrine. Line dish with plastic wrap. Butter or oil the plastic wrap. You can use vegetable oil spray, if you have it or forget the plastic altogether and just serve it in the dish you make it in.
Combine livers, shallot & broth in saucepan. Bring to a gentle boil. Cover and simmer until liver is cooked through, about 12 minutes.
Drain off cooking liquid, put liver and shallot in food processor.
Add butter, bacon, cognac and salt. Puree until smooth.
Transfer to prepared dish. Cover and refrigerate — at least 4 hours.
Unmold onto platter. I set mine onto radicchio leaves. Serve with crackers or crostini.
If you want to get even fancier, press chopped nuts onto the outside.
Just in case you’re a trend freak like me, here are a couple others you can expect to hear more about in 2010.
Homemade pickled vegetables including sauerkraut and kim chi — also small batches of refrigerated seasonal pickles.
Korean food is reportedly becoming the new Thai, although I think Vietnamese is in there somewhere.
High quality spins on comfort food, especially fried chicken (yay for more Southern food).
And the list goes on — more local, healthy food trucks, restaurant-grown-produce, homemade cheeses, gluten-free foods, immunity boosting foods, small dinners held for charities and a continuing interest in environmental and ethical issues. It all sounds right up our alley. Looks like it will be a great year for Mixed Greens, hope you’ll stop by often and join in the fun.