About ten years ago Penny Barend AKA the "Local Meat Maven" and Melissa Khoury AKA "The Queen of Pork" became friends when they worked together at a restaurant in Orlando. After feeling a little burned out working kitchen life for other people, they ultimately decided to join forces and start up their own butcher shop here in Cleveland, called Saucisson, where they now sell the highest quality meats from locally raised animals that are all hormone and antibiotic free. Three years ago they opened up their own brick and mortar kitchen and cafe in Slavic Village where they also played a key role in helping to revitalize a neighborhood which had been the hardest hit in the U.S. during the housing foreclosure crisis. They have fought really hard to get where they are today and we are super inspired by their drive to go after their dreams.
Not only are Penny and Melissa fighting to reinvigorate the neighborhood they call home, they are also fighting to reduce food waste here in their kitchen. They try hard to utilize everything. The hogs they buy from all local farms weigh about 220 pounds and on average they throw away less than a pound of that! They use the skin for dog treats, they roast the bones to use later for delicious soup stocks, they use the fat to roast veggies, and they even cook the pig head.
In the same way, they are firm believers in using up less than perfect produce to create delicious dishes here in their restaurant. "Just because it has a bruise on it, doesn't mean you can't make something delicious with it," says Melissa. And when all else fails, "pickle it." This mindset comes in part from knowledge she gained from watching her grandma in the kitchen utilize her Depression era "use everything" mentality.
Saucisson's lunch menu changes each week and it is created based on what's in season, but also taking into consideration what's around that needs to be used up. Just as we buy up surplus produce from farms, these ladies will often bring in animals that farms have already slaughtered but then the buyer's order changed, for example. They are food waste warriors. And just like our customers share ideas with what to do with our produce, the tight knit community of Saucisson customers share ideas with each other on how to prepare the various meats available there. We were eager to see how Penny and Melissa would utilize their "use everything" practices to transform our imperfect produce in combination with their locally sourced meats to create a beautiful and tasty dish.
Since February is Heart Health Month and we happened to have a box brimming with veggies and fruits that are particularly heart healthy, we challenged Melissa to create dishes featuring them! While we only expected her to make one, she created so much more!
Shaved Black Spanish Radish & Apple Salad with Red Wine Vinaigrette
Red veggies like this week's beets are packed with carotenoids, fiber and vitamins to help your heart. Here Melissa featured them in this delicious appetizer which contains the perfect combination of sweetness from the apples plus a little bite from our locally sourced black Spanish radishes.
1 head of your favorite lettuce - chopped
1 Perfectly Imperfect apple - washed NOT peeled
1 Perfectly Imperfect black Spanish radish - washed NOT peeled
1 Perfectly Imperfect beet - washed NOT peeled
4 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. pepper
Mix together vinaigrette ingredients. Stir again before serving. Slice beet, radish and apple paper thin on a mandolin. Dress with a little vinaigrette and allow to macerate for 3 to 5 minutes in a small bowl. Toss lettuce and dressed apple mixture and season. Add more vinaigrette if desired.
Seared Pork Chop with Herb Roasted Potatoes & Citrus Fennel Slaw
Fennel contains significant amounts of fiber which decreases the risk of heart disease as it helps reduce the total amount of cholesterol in the blood. Citrus fruits are also rich in beta-carotene, potassium and fiber making them heart health all stars. Melissa combined both to make a tasty slaw to place atop her lean pork chop sourced from New Creations farm in Chardon, Ohio.
1 bulb Perfectly Imperfect fennel, shaved
2 Perfectly Imperfect oranges, segmented and juiced
fennel fronds picked
salt and pepper to taste
3 Tbsp. olive oil
Mix all together and set aside.
Roasted Russet Potatoes:
4 small Perfectly Imperfect potatoes, cut in half and then sliced 1/4inch thick
2 Tbsp. melted lard or olive oil
1 sprig rosemary
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
Toss all together and roast for 20-25 minutes at 400 degrees.
Seared Pork Chops:
1 to 2 pork chops
Season pork chops with salt and pepper. Start by holding pork chops fat side down over medium heat to render the fat. Once fat is rendered half way, place pork chops down for 3 minutes on each side. Finish in oven if needed and cook to an internal temperature of 150. Allow to rest 3-5 minutes before serving. To serve, place roasted potatoes down, set pork chop on top of potatoes and finish with fennel slaw.
Tasso Ham & Brussels Sprouts
In this delicious dish, Melissa reuses the fat rendered from the Tasso ham (a cut that comes from the pork loin and is therefore a little bit leaner) to then roast our imperfect sprouts. This results in a more healthy version of sprouts than cooking them in bacon, a more traditional preparation. Green veggies like sprouts are great for your heart because they contain mighty nutrients such as vitamins C and E, potassium, folate, calcium and fiber.
15 Perfectly Imperfect Brussels Sprouts cleaned and quartered
¼ pound Tasso ham, small diced
2 Tbsp. salt
1 Tbsp. pepper
3 Tbsp. lard (use the fat rendered from the Tasso)
In a small pan over medium heat, render Tasso ham until lightly crispy. Once rendered, toss fat and ham with the Brussels, season with salt and pepper and roast in the oven for 20 minutes at 400 degrees. Serve with your favorite protein.
Denver Steak with Roasted Spaghetti Squash & Pistachio
As if three recipes weren't enough, Melissa used our spaghetti squash to create another dish full of flavor.
1 Perfectly Imperfect spaghetti squash
2 Perfectly Imperfect carrots, peeled and chopped
1 Perfectly Imperfect cauliflower, chopped
1 Tbsp. olive oil or lard
1 Saucisson Denver steak
Cut squash in half lengthwise, scoop out seeds, season with salt and pepper and drizzle with lard or olive oil. Roast cut side down for 20 minutes at 400 degrees or until fork tender. Allow to cool. Chop carrots and cauliflower and toss with oil and salt and pepper. Roast for 20 minutes at 400 degrees.
In a cast iron or sauté pan over medium-high heat sear Denver steak for 4 minutes on each side in lard or olive oil- lower heat and allow to cook for additional three minutes on each side. Cook to 140 degree internal temperature. Allow to rest 3-5 minutes before slicing and serving.
While steak is resting, scoop spaghetti squash with a fork, mix in chopped pistachios, season with salt and pepper. Serve squash with steak or your favorite protein and carrots and cauliflower on the side.
Saucisson is located at 5324 Fleet Ave. Cleveland, Ohio, 44105. Visit them Thursdays through Saturdays 11 am to 7 pm. They are open for lunch each of those days. They offer only the highest quality meats from local farms that are all hormone and antibiotic free animals that are pasture fed and raised humanely. Saucisson offers cured meats, chorizo, linked sausage, raw and smoked pork, smoked Tasso ham and more! Visit them on Instagram @iheartswine or online at www.saucissoncleveland.com.
Check out our Instagram and Facebook stories @perfectlyimperfectproduce for behind the scenes footage of Melissa preparing these recipes in their kitchen at Saucisson while sharing her own cooking and food waste fighting tips. And look for us on Channel 19 to see Melissa prepare one of these dishes LIVE on Cleveland Cooks with Jen Picciano!
We hope you'll prepare at least one of Saucisson's creations in your own kitchen. Don't forget to tag us @perfecltyimperfectproduce so we can inspire others with your creativity in the kitchen.
Photos by Karin McKenna.
What to pair? We're now partnering with Cindy Davis from A Wine Affair who will provide us with recommendations on wines to pair with our weekly recipes. Here's what she suggests for this week!
"A Pinot Gris would work really well with Melissa's salad. It's medium bodied and crisp with citrus and herbal notes. Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio are the same grape variety. They are just different styles. It is known as Pinot Gris in France where it originated. It is usually richer and sweeter than Pinot Grigio. One I would recommend is J Vineyards Pinot Gris. It's affordable and easy to find. Cheers!"
You can learn more about A Wine Affair at www.awineaffair.net. More information coming soon about her wine pairing parties where she'll serve dishes made with our imperfect produce and teach you how to properly pair wines.