Friday, June 2, 2017

Taiwanese Meat Ragu and Spring Vegetables

This Sunday is the first day of the eighth season of the Fairmount Neighborhood Farmers Market. Be sure to be on the corner of 19th and Agate between 10 and 2 to pick up organic vegetables from Camas Swale Farm, pastured meats from Fair Valley Farm, and fresh flowers from Tiger Lily Art company.

For your market purchases, here is a recipe for a Taiwanese meat ragu served on rice with roasted and fresh spring vegetables. This is a take on the Taiwanese dish lu rou fan, inspired by recipes from here and here and here. My sister and I both have an irrational love for this dish, which we'll order at a hole in the wall Taiwanese restaurant when I visit her in Chicago. I wanted to make a version that had the same flavors, but would be as easy as a slow roasted Bolognese sauce. I decided to skip the blanched pork belly, but use a base of caramelized shallots for a deep, rich flavor. 

And while I had the oven on low for the ragu, I also roasted some spring radishes and some collard greens (this recipe without the chorizo), which made a delicious accompaniment to the dish, along with some crunchy fresh carrots and cucumbers, a handful of cilantro, and a jammy egg. If you get to the market at 10 on Sunday, you can be eating this for dinner Sunday evening.

Taiwanese Meat Ragu
(serves eight and freezes well)
6 Asian shallots, sliced
2 Tbsp canola oil
8 large dried shiitake mushrooms, rehydrated in 2 cups boiling water
1 lb ground pork
1 lb ground beef
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1/4 tsp of five spice powder
1/4 cup regular soy sauce
1/4 cup dark soy sauce 
1/4 cup sweet rice wine

1. Start rehydrating the shiitake mushrooms in 2 cups boiling water. Heat a large Dutch oven or other oven-safe pan over medium heat. Add the canola oil and then the shallots and cook until they are deeply caramelized. Don't be afraid to let them sit and sear between stirring. 

2. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Chop the softened shiitake mushrooms and strain the rehydration water to remove any grit. 

3. Once the shallots are well caramelized, add the ground meat and cook through. Then add the garlic, brown sugar, and five spice powder and stir to dissolve. Then add the soy sauce, rice wine, and the reserved mushroom broth and bring to a simmer.

4. Cover the pot and transfer it to the oven. Cook for two to three hours, allowing the liquid to reduce, the meat to become extremely silky, and a rich, roasted flavor to develop. Check on it occasionally and add a little water if it dries out too quickly. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired. 

5. While the oven is on, roast some radishes, collard greens, or other vegetables to serve with the dish. Prepare a jammy egg for each diner by submerging into a small pot of boiling water and simmering for exactly 6 minutes before running under cold water. Cook a pot of rice.

6. Serve the ragu over rice with roasted and fresh vegetables, a jammy egg, and hot sauce on the side. Enjoy. 

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