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Apple Butter - A Seasonal Favorite

A century ago, there were thousands of unique varieties of apples in the United States, but with the industrialization of  our agriculture we have decided to only focus on a few varieties of apples.  With the loss of biodiversity we have lost a lot of flavors, at least at the supermarket. The apple industry settled on a handful of varieties to promote and market. They became commercially extinct—but not quite biologically extinct.  You can still find a good variety at the farmer's markets and your local orchards.

One of my favorite fall traditions is to make apple butter.  Virginia is blessed with a pretty good variety of apples, and every fall I cook some down into apple butter to get me through the winter.

Makes 6 -8 pint jars

- Ingredients -

10 lbs of apples, cored and sliced ( you can mix and match a variety of apples, depending on the flavor profile you prefer, and softer apples cook down faster)
2 c brown sugar
1 1/2 c sugar
2 T ground cinnamon
1/2 t salt
1 t nutmeg
1/4 t ground cloves

- Tools - 
Weston Slow Cooker
Weston Professional Blender
Weston Canning kits

How To 

1) Core and slice apples
2) Toss with sugar and spices
3) Cook on low for ~12 hours in the slow cooker
4) Once the apples are soft, puree in batches in blender until smooth
5) Place back in slow cooker for a few more hours to let flavors caramelize
6) Apple butter will keep in the refrigerator for a month, and you can also can or freeze some to enjoy throughout the year.

    Oktoberfest Sauerkraut

    Nothing says October like sausage and sauerkraut.  Weston has the gear to help you create your own Oktoberfest feast. From meat grinders and sausage stuffers to cabbage shredders and seasonings, we've got what you need to make an oktoberfest feast.

    - Ingredients -
    2-3 heads of cabbage, green or red
    ( You can add other vegetables like carrots or apples or hot peppers, and spices like  caraway seeds or cumin or fennel seeds)

    1-3 T salt

    - Tools - 
    Cabbage Shredder
    Meat Lug

    How To 

    1. Shred cabbage using the Weston Cabbage Shredder into a meat lug or bus tub.
    2. Sprinkle with salt and massage into cabbage.
    3. Knead the cabbage, or pound with a rolling pin,until there enough liquid is generated to cover the cabbage.
    4. Stuff the cabbage into jars, pressing the cabbage underneath the liquid. If  you need to, you can add a bit of water to completely cover the cabbage.   
    5. (You have some flexibility on the jars you decide to use- it can be a traditional canning jar, or one with an airlock lid, or even just covered with a towel. 
    6. Keep the cabbage out at room temperature (~ 60-70°F is preferred) to culture  for at least 2 weeks until desired flavor and texture are achieved. If using a tight lid, burp daily to release gas pressure
    7. Once the sauerkraut is finished, put a tight lid on the jar and move refrigerator to store. The flavor will continue to develop as it ages but the fermentation lessens with cooler temperatures.

      Preserving the Bounty of Summer

      Damson plums bring me back to my grandmother's house where I used to pick them and help make preserves.  These small slightly sour plums are hard to find these days but make for a special treat!

      Makes 6-8  8 oz jars

      - Ingredients -
      3 Lbs Damson Plums
      3  C Water
      4  C Sugar

      - Tools - 

      Weston Canning Kit

      How To 

      Pre Prep for Jars

      First, sanitize your jars by hand washing, boiling for 10 minutes, then keeping them in the hot water until you're ready to use them. Repeat for the lids, but keep them in hot, not boiling, water. 

      In a separate canning pot, start boiling enough water to cover the jars (this could take a while, so start your
      water right away).

      Making Preserves

      1. Wash and pick over plums, removing stems
      2. Add plums to boiling water and cook for about 20 minutes until soft
      3. When cool, remove pits from plums and return to pot
      4. Add sugar and boil for about 20 minutes until consistemcy becomes thick and "jammy"


      Quickly remove jars from the hot water with the Weston® Canning Tongs.  Pour the jam into the jars. Using a Weston® Magnetic Lid Lifter, remove a lid and ring from the hot water and place over the jar. Secure the ring with a Weston® Jar Wrench

      Using the Weston® Jar Lifter, drop the jam-filled jars into the boiling water, making sure that they are completely surrounded by water. A canning rack helps to keep the jars off of the bottom of the canning pot so that the boiling water can reach the bottom of the jar as well. After five minutes, check the lids to make sure they're sealed (the button on the lid will be popped down), and if so, remove the jars from the water with the Jar Lifter.

      Let the jars cool, remove the securing ring, and store your jam in a cool, dark, dry place for up to a year (like you can wait that long).

      Brie Stuffed Elk Burgers, courtesy of RMEF's Carnivore's Kitchen


      Our friend and partner Kristy Crabtree has an awesome new gig with Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation developing recipes like this one.

      THIS CONTENT IS FROM RMEF's Carnivore's Kitchen

      Makes 6 Sliders
      Preparation Time: 30 minutes
      Cooking Time: 30 minutes
      There’s something to be said about cooking outdoors and with hunting season just around the corner, I figured now would be the ideal time to utilize some ground game meat from last year’s harvest and share these brie-stuffed elk sliders that I enjoy preparing.
      Now what exactly is a slider? And we’re not talking about baseball here. We’re talking about what seems to be a growing popularity of American cuisine. Wikipedia’s definition of the term refers to the size of a small hamburger or small sandwich that typically runs around 2 inches across and made with a slider roll. Even White Castle trademarked the name ‘Slyder’ referring to their smaller in size hamburgers. Other references claim that the term slider came from the preparation and process of cooking the burger patty on a well oiled griddle and when ready, it would ‘slide’ right off.
      Either way you look at it, the term ‘slider’ has one common characteristic, it’s smaller in size.
      I assembled these brie-stuffed elk sliders with minimal ingredients that you can easily find at your local grocery store and using what’s referred to as a mini hamburger press, can provide the perfect thickness and diameter for the ideal sized slider.
      To compliment the sliders, I garnished each one with a few baby arugula leaves adding hints of pepper to the grilled meat. You can always add other garnishments such as sliced tomato and onion. I also prepared a simple spread that combines mayonnaise, dried tarragon, minced garlic, olive oil and fresh lemon juice. The widely used culinary herb known as French tarragon has a sweet aroma with spicy licorice-like flavor and when mixed with the bold taste of minced garlic and a squeeze of tart lemon juice, this creamy condiment will elevate your taste buds with every juicy bite.

      ·         1 1/2 pounds ground elk
      ·         4 ounces Brie cheese, cut into small pieces (rind removed)
      ·         1 teaspoon kosher salt
      ·         1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
      ·         1 tablespoon olive oil
      ·         6 rolls, cut in half
      ·         Baby arugula, for garnish

      Tarragon Garlic Mayonnaise
      ·         1 cup mayonnaise
      ·         2 cloves garlic, minced
      ·         1 tablespoon lemon juice
      ·         1 tablespoon olive oil
      ·         1 tablespoon dried French tarragon

      In a bowl, mix all mayonnaise ingredients until blended and smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready. 
      Divide the ground elk meat into 6 separate portions. Using a mini hamburger press, take half of each portion and place into the bottom of the press. Add a piece of Brie cheese to the center of the meat and then take the other portion of the meat and place over the top of the cheese. Take the top handle of the mini burger press and gently push down sealing the cheese in the middle of the meat. Repeat all steps until all slider patties are formed. (If you do not have a mini hamburger press, you can easily use your hands to form the slider patties with the Brie cheese in the center). Drizzle olive oil over each one and season with kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper.
      Preheat your outdoor grill to a high heat, about 450°F. When hot, place the sliders on the grill cooking for about 5/6 minutes. Gently turn and continue to cook until they reach your desired doneness. (Since all grills are not the same, you may need to adjust the heat if necessary).
      To serve, spread a little of the tarragon garlic mayonnaise on both the tops and the bottoms of the rolls. Add a few pieces of baby arugula and then the grilled brie-stuffed elk slider. Enjoy.

      Cous Cous Salad

      Memorial Day kicks off the summer season with cook outs and grilling and the search for the perfect side salad.  Instead of cole slaw and potato salad, try this new salad using Israeli cous cous and scape pesto.

      Make 8 servings

      - Ingredients -
      2 c israeli couscous
      1 cup pesto (basil or scape)- see link for recipe
      1 12  oz jar of roasted red peppers, diced
      1 14 oz can of artichoke hearts, chopped
      Chopped Italian flat leaf parlsey
      1 c coarsley ground Parmesan Cheese

      - Tools - 
      Weston Professional Blender  (to make pesto- see recipe link above)

      How To

      Make pesto following linked recipe. ( can be made ahead and stored in refrigerator for one week)
      Cook 2 c of couscous in boiling water until tender , Drain and reserve.
      Combine cous cous and remaining ingredients in large bowl.
      Garnish with lemon and parsley.

      Roasted Rabbit with Pancetta and Olives

      This recipe has been adapted from a January 2009 Gourmet  recipe by Toni Oltrani.

      Makes 4 servings

      Ingredients -

      • 1-2 rabbits, cut into 4-5 pieces each
      • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
      • 2 tablespoons chopped thyme
      • 2 tablespoon chopped rosemary
      • 1 tablespoon fine sea salt
      • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon hot red-pepper flakes
      • 12 garlic cloves, peeled
      • 2 (1/4-inch-thick) slices pancetta, cut into 1-inch pieces
      • 1 cup dry white wine
      • 24 oil-cured black olives

      1.      Preheat oven to 450°F with rack in middle.  ( we used Weston's Roaster Oven which allows you to save room in the oven for important things like dessert)
      2.      Toss chicken with oil, thyme, rosemary, sea salt, red-pepper flakes, and 1 teaspoon pepper, rubbing mixture into chicken.

      Arrange rabbit pieces, skin side up, in 1 layer in a 17-by 11-inch 4-sided sheet pan. Scatter garlic and pancetta on top and roast until rabbit begins to brown, about 20 minutes. Drizzle wine over rabbit and roast 8 minutes more. Scatter olives over rasbbit and roast until skin is golden brown and rabbit is cooked through, 15 to 20 minutes more. Let stand 10 minutes.

      What better accompaniment to rabbit than carrots... here is a wonderful recipe for sous vide cooking carrots using Weston's new immersion sous vide.

      Glazed Carrots
      ·         1 pound baby whole baby carrots, peeled or well-scrubbed, or 1 pound medium to large carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
      ·         2 tablespoons unsalted butter
      ·         1 tablespoon granulated sugar
      ·         Kosher salt
      ·         Freshly ground black pepper
      ·         1 tablespoon chopped parsley or dill (optional)
      1.      Preheat sous vide to 183°F. Place carrots, butter, sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt in a vacuum bag and seal according to manufacturer's instructions. Cook carrots in the water bath until fully tender, about 1 hour. At this point, carrots can be stored in refrigerator for up to 1 week.
      2.      Empty entire contents of bag into a 12-inch, heavy-bottomed skillet and cook over high heat, stirring constantly, until liquid has reduced to a shiny glaze, about 2 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper, stir in parsley or dill, and serve. 

      Steve Rinella's Wild Game Jerky

      "Ideally, making  wild game jerky is one of those fundamental 
      outdoor skills that every hunter should know."
      Steve Rinella
      Watch Steve walk through the process in this video.

      - Ingredients -

      4-20 pounds of whole muscle venison (or any other horned or antered animal) Weston jerky seasoning mix Methods: Before slicing the meat, place it in the freezer for a couple of hours. You want it icy and firm, but not so frozen that a knife can’t easily pass through. This helps you get perfect slices and saves you a lot of aggravation.
      Slice the meat across the grain in slices that are 3/8-inch thick. The Weston Jerky Board does a great job keeping the slices uniform. If the meat starts to thaw, pop it back into the freezer.
      Mix 1 tablespoon of seasoning with 1 tablespoon of water for every pound of meat. Combine seasonings with meat and mix thoroughly. Set meat on dehydrator racks immediately or let it marinate overnight to let the flavor sink in. (vacuum sealing the meat helps in marinating)
      Lay the meat out on the dehydrator trays, leaving space between the slices. Set the dehydrator to 145°F. Depending on the idiosyncrasies of your climate and dehydrator, it will probably take between 2 to 4 hours to finish the job. Start checking the meat at 2 hours and remove pieces as they finish. They should be firm throughout, with no sponginess. They will not break when you bend them. Rather, the fold will reveal a network of thin white lines.

      - Tools - 
      Weston Jerky Seasoning Mix Dehydrator
      Jerky Board
      Vaccum Sealer (helpful for marinating jerky in seasoning or for storing jerky to keep freshj

      A Spring in Your Step-- Green Pea and Mint Soup

      Peas, along with asparagus and ramps, are a few of the best parts of Spring. When Spring sprung last week, much of the country was experiencing snow, so I decided to hold off on publishing this out of respect to those not experiencing Spring weather.

      Makes soup for 6

      - Ingredients -
      2 c vegetable broth
      3 c  fresh blanched green peas or thawed frozen green peas
      1/2 c chopped green onion (or ramps if you can get them)
      1 t salt
      1/4 t fresh black pepper
      2/3 c mint leaves
      2 t freshly squeezed lemon juice  +  more to taste
      1/2 c plain yogurt or sour cream

      - Tools - 
      Weston Professional Blender  ( This is a brand new offering from Weston)

      How To 

      1. Add broth, peas, green onion, salt & pepper to the blender jar, and press the soup button
      2. After completing program (about 5 minutes), blender will stop
      3. Add mint and lemon juice and pulse for 15 seconds
      4. Taste soup and adjust seasonings to your preference
      5. Serve soup, garnishing with sour cream or yogurt and fresh mint

      Steve Rinella's Wild Game Sweet Italian Sausage

      A lot of folks are intimidated by making their own sausage, but with the right equipment and a little practice, it can be the newest skill for your cooking toolkit. MeatEater's Steve Rinella walks you through the steps to make your own Sweet Italian Sausage.

      - Ingredients -
      8 lbs whole muscle game meat, cut into 1” cubes
      2 lbs pork fat, cut into 1” cubes

      - Tools - 

      How To 

      Place the cubed fat on a large plate or baking sheet in your freezer until it begins to harden, but don’t let it freeze all the way through. Put the cubed meat in your fridge to cool it off. You want everything nice and cold so that it’s on the verge of painful to handle it. Meanwhile, set up your meat grinder according to the manufacturer’s instructions and soak the natural hog casings (if using) in lukewarm water. Once the casings are pliable, change the water and give them another soak for 20 – 30 minutes. Then fit one end of each casing over the kitchen faucet and run a cup or two of water into the casing. Push the water all the way through, to rinse the inside of the casing. Set aside in clean water until ready to use.

      Combine the chilled cubed meat and pork fat with the Weston seasoning mix (1 Tbl/1 lb of meat). Mix thoroughly by hand for two minutes.

      Fill a tub with ice and place the bowl of meat inside the tub to keep it cool. Using the coarse grinder plate, grind the meat mixture into another bowl that’s set over ice. Change the die to the fine grinder plate and grind again. (This will create a finely ground fresh sausage. If you like a little more texture to your sausage, simply pass the meat twice through the coarse grinder instead of changing plates.) Cover and refrigerate while you set up your sausage stuffer. The sausage can also be stuffed into 1-pound poly bags as bulk sausage.

      Fill the hopper of your sausage stuffer with the sausage mixture, and fit the stuffer tube with a cleaned casing. Start pushing meat through the stuffer to clear any air in the stuffer tube. Before meat enters the casing, tie the end with a simple granny knot. Working slowly, stuff the sausage into the casings. Be careful not to overstuff, and expel any large air bubbles inside the casing by pricking it with a sewing needle. When filled, tie off the casing with another granny knot. To create links: make two creases in the casing, one 5” from the end and another at 10” from the end. Twist the sausage at these two creases about eight times. Now you have two links. Make two more creases at 5” intervals and spin these. Continue down the length of the casing. To separate the individual links, gently pull the links apart and snip the middle of the “twist” with a pair of scissors or knife.

      Seasoning the diced meat and fat before grinding

      Stuffing the casing

      Tying off the sausage

      Creating links

      Preserving with a vacuum sealer

        Cochinita Pibil (Yucatan Pork in Banana Leaves)

        Traditonal Mayan cochinita pibil  is cooked in earthen oven, but we've decided to try our roaster oven as a substitute. While we may not have met the earthiness of the traditional recipe, it still worked well.
        Makes 24servings

        Seasoning Paste
        • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns crushed
        • 1 tablespoon teaspoon cumin seed
        • 1 1/2 teaspoon whole allspice 
        • 1/4 cup whole annatto (also called achiote) seed 
        • 12 cloves of garlic - minced
        • 1 tablespoon dry Mexican oregano
        • 2 tablespoons kosher salt 
        • 1/4 cup Seville orange juice (bitter orange juice), or a blend of equal parts of orange, lime and grapefruit juices, plus 1/2 cup more for sauce.
        • 2 - 6-8 pound boneless pork shoulder, well marbled 
        • Zest of 2 oranges, sliced into thin strips 
        • 2 large white onions, halved and then sliced into half moons
        • Banana leaves, thawed
        Accompaniments for serving:
        • 30 corn tortillas, warmed
        • Garlic-Oregano Pickled Onions
        • 3 limes, cut into wedges

        - Tools - 

        Weston Roaster Oven
        Weston Juicer (coming March 2018)

        How To 

        1. Make the seasoning paste: In a small skillet over medium heat, toast the peppercorns, cumin seed, and allspice until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Cool then transfer to a spice grinder or mortar and pestle along with the annatto seed and grind into a powder. Annatto seed is hard and takes a bit of scraping down and repeated grindings to break up. Add the garlic, oregano, salt, and 3 tablespoons of the orange juice and process into a paste.
        2. Make the pork: In a large bowl, rub the pork with the seasoning paste, a liberal amount of salt, and  another 1/4 cup of the juice, taking care to rub the mixture into the folds of the meat.
        3.  Place some chopped onions and orange zest on top of banana leaves, place pork fat side down, and add onions and zest on top.

        4.  Fold over banana leaves, tie with twine, and turn over when placing in roasting oven so fat is on top. 

        5. Cook at 225 degrees for 16 hours.

        6. Remove meat from leaves and shred with forks.
        7.  Reduce remaining juice over medium heat until halved. Pour over shredded pork and serve with warm corn tortillas, lime wedges, and pickled onions ( see recipe below)

        Garlic-Oregano Pickled Onions 
        Makes about 3 cups; 15 minutes prep time; 2 to 3 hours marinating time
        The onions keep in the refrigerator for several days.
        • 2 medium to large red onions, sliced into thin rings
        • 1 cup white vinegar
        • 1 generous teaspoon dry oregano (Mexican if possible)
        • 1 teaspoon salt
        • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
        1. Combine all the ingredients in a medium bowl with enough water to cover the onions, and marinate for a couple of hours.
         2. Serve at room temperature with the Yucatan pork, with refried beans, or on sandwiches.