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wild nettles & rhubarb

My daily walk takes me into the woods where there are a ton of wild net­tles grow­ing.  I’ve never actu­ally tried net­tles but with some research I fig­ured you could just sub­sti­tute net­tles in any spinach, chard or kale recipe.

This got me really excited and I trudged into the woods with my gloves and clip­pers! Know­ing that you can make some­thing amaz­ing with food you find in the woods is pretty inspir­ing.   Plus you really can’t help but feel like a man when you’ve for­aged for food.

Here is my three course meal with wild net­tles and spring rhubarb from the property.

Net­tle & thyme mush­room cros­tini
Stuffed pork ten­der­loin with steamed net­tles, car­mal­ized onions and apples.  Yukon gold mash.
Rhubarb crème brûlé

Net­tle & thyme mush­room cros­tini (serves 2)

a cou­ple of hand­fuls of net­tle leaves. (use gloves or you’ll get stung and that sucks!)
5 or 6 mush­rooms — you could mix them up with wild ones as well
hand­ful of fresh thyme — i used lemon thyme
gar­lic clove
olive oil
fresh grated parme­san
sliced sour­dough bread

Steam net­tles in a pan with a lit­tle water until wilted and have lost their tough­ness and sea­son with a pinch of salt.  Slice the mush­rooms fairly thick and saute with some salt, oilve oil, pep­per and fresh thyme for a few mins.  Toast your bread and rub the gar­lic clove all over, driz­zle with olive oil.

Top the cros­tini with the mush­rooms first then the net­tles.  Grate fresh parme­san on top and driz­zle with more olive oil. stunning!

Stuffed pork ten­der­loin with steamed net­tles, car­mal­ized onions and apples.  Yukon gold mash. (serves 2)

1/2 lb pork ten­der­loin
1 sliced onion
1 gar­lic clove
2 hand­fuls of net­tles
1 tart apple , cored and peeled.
olive oil

4–6 medium size yukon gold pota­toes — peel and cut pota­toes and boil in salted water until a knife slides through eas­ily.  Drain, mash and add but­ter & more salt if needed. Yum!

Steam net­tles in a pan with a lit­tle water until wilted and have lost their tough­ness and sea­son with a pinch of salt.  Cook the sliced onion for a few min­utes and then add sliced apple and con­tinue to cook until the onions are sticky and sweet.  Make a slice along the length of the pork ten­der­loin for stuff­ing.  Slice your gar­lic clove and lay inside the pork ten­der­loin. Sea­son with fresh pep­per and salt.  Stuff the pork with the caramelized onion and steamed net­tles.  Now you can either wrap it in foil and bake in an oven at 350 Fahren­heit or you can tie the pork and sear it first in a pan then fin­ish roast­ing it at 350 Fahren­heit.  The pork will be done when an internal ther­mome­ter reads 140–150 Fahren­heit.   Let it rest for 5–10 min before serving.

Rhubarb crème brûlée  (serves 4) adapted from “Sugar” from Anna Olson

1 1/2 cups table cream (18% cream)
2 vanilla beans
4 egg yolks
1/4 sugar

3 cups chopped rhubarb
some sugar ( now, I never mea­sure I just start with a lit­tle and then check for sweet­ness at the end…it’s my way)

Scrape one of the vanilla beans into a pot with the rhubarb  and some sugar.  Cook over low to med tem­pra­ture and adjust the sweet­ness to your desire.  The com­pote is cooked when all the pieces have dis­solved.  Don’t over­cook it or it will just look like crap. Oh yeah, and cool it completely.

Whip the egg yolks and sugar until you get rib­bons.  Mean­while, scrape the other vanilla bean into the cream and slowly bring it to where it’s almost sim­mer­ing.  That’s kind of like boil­ing but not really.  Pour the hot cream over the yolks and mix.  Strain and cool completely.

Spoon the cooled rhubarb into small ramekins that are about 3 inches in diam­e­ter and 2 inches deep.  Pour the cooled cus­tard mix­ture over and leave about a 1/4 from the top for the brûlée part.  Pre­heat oven to 350 Fahren­heit, place ramekins into a casse­role dish and pour boil­ing water to sur­round the ramekins.  You only need to go about halfway up the ramekins. I highly sug­gest you do this with the casse­role dish already in the oven.  Lift­ing a heavy dish with boil­ing water is ask­ing for trou­ble.  Bake for 45–60 min, until they no longer jig­gle when tapped.  Remove from water bath and let cool for a few hours.

To serve: sprin­kle tops of cus­tard with a tea­spoon or so of sugar and broil in oven for one minute or use a butane kitchen torch.

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