Many of us all have that one dish that seemed to make it to the dinner table more often than most. My mom, who worked full time, often deferred to a boxed, rice based, one dish meal. A portion of starch, a packet of seasoning, add in your favorite protein, serve white bread and margarine on the side, and voilà! – dinner.
I’m not throwing shade at my mom’s cooking skills, she was a busy woman, who volunteered often and had three kids, plus, I was the world’s pickiest and most dramatic eater. I distinctly remember a few nights where we sat at the kitchen table for an hour before my parents would become frustrated and set me free.
Years later, not only do I have a much different palette, but I also have friends with kids, and I am truly amazed at how they somehow manage it all! I wonder if they sleep? I don’t even have pets and often fail at feeding myself a proper meal. So, the following recipe is an ode to my super-mom, and all they busy parents out there. I hope it can help you support local and encourage healthy eating while keeping in mind your busy schedules and tight budgets.
Pork with Mushrooms & Wild Rice
1 cup Manoomin, Native Wild Rice harvested at Wild Rice Camp in the Western UP, a festival in partnership with both KBOCC, the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community Natural Resources Department and Roger LaBine from Lac Vieux Desert Band of Lake Superior Chippewa
2 Oyster Mushrooms, Tonella Farms
2 Shiitake Mushrooms, Tonella Farms
1 Pound Ground Pork, 4-H Pig from the U.P. State Fair
½ Cup Cream, DeBacker Family Farm
Salt & Pepper
Nasturtium Leaves & Chive Blossoms to garnish, My windowsill & NMU Hoop House
This was my very first time working with wild harvested rice, gifted to me by a friend in the Western UP. I washed the rice thoroughly twice, then put in a pot of water (1 part rice, 3 parts water). Then just cook (steady simmer) until the kernels begin to pop and are tender. 35-50 minutes). This was the easiest rice I’ve ever cooked, and can be done ahead of time so it’s ready to go for a quick evening dinner.
Heat your cast iron to a medium-high temp and add local pork. Slice the mushrooms to ¼ inch thick and add to the pan. Season with salt and pepper. The fat from the pork, and added salt will help the mushrooms cook down.
Use a wooden spatula to break apart the ground pork and stir. Once pork is fully cooked, and mushrooms have shrunk, usually about 10-12 minutes, add the cream. Turn the temperature to medium and add paprika (I added hot smoked paprika as well). Salt and pepper to taste.
I got creative and used local honey to line my bowl with nasturtium leaves, which doubled as a few fresh bites of salad mid meal. Then a nice layer of rice, followed by the pork and mushroom sauce, topped with some freshly harvested chive blossoms from the NMU Hoophouse.
Alex Palzewicz is the Local Food Coordinator for Taste the Local Difference. She wants to know your favorite simple, affordable and local go-to dish! Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org