Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Mea Coppa, Tua Coppa!

The statement on the homepage of the EcoFriendly Foods website could just as easily be a Holeman & Finch Public House motto: “Eating EcoFriendly Foods is a celebration of the shared meal.” Chances are you’ve already joined us for such celebrations.  We are proud to serve a number of eco-friendly foods, including products from Bev Eggleston’s farm in Moneta, Virginia. 

Eggleston, whose pastures sit in the Blue Ridge not too far from the historic farmlands that once belonged to Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, has become an agricultural celebrity due to his principles and practices when it comes to growing and cultivating food. An embodiment of Slow Food, he believes that farming should contribute to the welfare of animals, workers and eaters alike. Whereas the Agribusiness Industrial Complex can process about 130 chickens in a minute, EcoFriendly Farms handles only 400 chickens per day.

Eggleston also raises sheep and pigs—or as Frank Bruni once put it, “outrageously fine swine.”  We enjoy a fine swine as much as a fine wine, like you probably do. Our Chef de Charcuterie, James Ellington, is particularly jazzed about the swine that comes from EcoFriendly Farms. He is using it for the Coppa currently on the menu.  James notes that Coppa, a cut from the rear neck and shoulder region of the pig, is perfect for the season, particularly when cured in a marvelous mix of winter spices like cracked black pepper and cloves that add spice and warmth to each delicately thin slice.

This unsmoked cut of meat has been particularly popular in Italy for centuries, where it is sold as "coppa fresca" in most cases, and tastes best when braised or roasted. Coppa is, essentially, an even mix of meat and fat, adding pronounced flavor to stews and soups, or as the star of a small plate with sides. At Holeman & Finch, it is being served with tempura-fried pickled ramps, which are temptingly positioned on a small bed of griddled endive.

We look forward to sharing this meal with you, and suspect that it will become an instant favorite.

If you'd like to make some ramps at home, see the recipe below:

Tempura-Fried Pickled Ramps

4 ramp bulbs, root end removed
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tsp. whole black peppercorns
½ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup corn starch
½ cup buttermilk
¼ cup dredge

1)      Combine water, peppercorns, vinegar, and sugar in a pot and bring to a boil. Pour over ramp bulbs, making sure they are completely submerged. Refrigerate in sealed container for 2 weeks.
2)      Remove ramps from the pickling liquid. Separate bulbs into several hollow, bell-shaped layers.
3)      Drop ramps into dredge and toss to coat thoroughly. Remove and shake off any excess dredge.
4)      Dip into batter, then add to fryer or pan of frying liquid. Fry until golden brown, approx. 3 minutes, remove to let cool. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to serve.

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