Island Cooking

Patriotic Food

by Chef Jenn Farmer

A few days ago I was in Boston.  Before I got anywhere near Boylston Street, I began to feel a little overwhelmed by emotions.   I began to think about all the everyday heroes that I know and look up to.  The first to come to mind was my son’s Uncle Donald, who has already done 2 tours of duty in Afghanistan and is still working in unstable situations to protect people.  Then I thought of my neighbor kid Tyler, who graduated from Nantucket High School.  He was always in a bit of trouble in school and college.  Nonetheless, I always liked him, found him charismatic, and wanted to see him succeed.  He finally found his niche while training to be an EMT, and was, by chance, a first responder to The Boston Marathon bombings.    In fact I began to realize that real heroes are the people around us.  How they handle tough situations is what sets them apart, and how they are selfless, that makes them so special.

On July 4, 1776 the Continental Congress declared independence from the British Kingdom.  The document was drafted and signed to formally explain why the thirteen colonies were at war with the Brits, and that they considered themselves independent states.  Some of the founding fathers have surprisingly close connections with Nantucket.  Benjamin Franklin’s mother, mother Abiah Folger was a native of Nantucket, born near Madaket Road.  Franklin was not only a signer of the Declaration of Independence but a drafter of the document.  He was also quite the foodie.  He loved a lot of native foods like maple syrup, cranberries, and Indian corn.  He was known to say “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” and had his wife, Debra, send barrels of them to him with cranberries when he was overseas.   He, of course, loved turkey, which he believed should have been made the national bird instead of the Bald Eagle.  Benjamin Franklin is also credited with educating people that potato tubers are not poisonous but edible and delicious.  He was an ambassador for the potato to the French and would get a chuckle knowing how popular the fried potato is, and that it is called the “French Fry.”   In fact Thomas Jefferson was the first president to serve potatoes at the White House, increasing this South American native plant’s popularity

George Washington is credited with keeping the troops at Valley Forge warm with Philadelphia pepper pot: tripe, fatback, peppers, and potatoes, cooked into a thick stew.  It helped boost morale, and get them through the harsh cold.

John Hancock was the president of Congress when the Declaration of Independence was signed.  He was touted to love pork ribs and chicken pot pie, which are still two well-loved all American foods today.  In his honor, and that of another Bostonian and signer of the Declaration, Samuel Adams, I created this recipe for country style pork ribs braised in beer.  I have used several types of beer in this recipe with great results, but I am most excited about the batch I made with some Cisco Brewery’s Cherry Woods beer.  It was delicious and visually very attractive, especially after adding a half cup of tart pitted cherries just before putting the ribs into the oven.  Plus cherries come to mind when talking about all American foods.  I am excited to try this recipe in the autumn with the Pumple Drunken, but honestly just about any beer (especially if you have some opened that went flat) works excellently as well. If you have leftover ribs (and that is a big IF), they are good cold the next day, very good for a picnic at the beach.

Patriotic Braised Ribs

  • 4 pounds country style pork ribs (bone-in is best)
  • 2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoon hot paprika
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 2-3 onions cut into wedges
  • 1 carrot, large diced
  • 12-14 ounces of Cisco Brewery Grey Lady Beer(or your favorite flavor)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 thyme sprigs
  • 3 tablespoons Nantucket local honey

Pat the ribs dry and rub with paprika, salt and pepper, then set aside and allow the flavors to blend.  Next preheat the oven to 350.  Heat olive oil in a large Dutch oven, to about medium high.  Add the ribs in small batches, cooking on all sides until browned (this is an important step, that should not be rushed) 6-10 minutes per batch.  Remove the ribs and set aside, meanwhile cook the onions until they begin to caramelize in the Dutch oven.  Deglaze the pan with beer, and cook until the beer is reduced by about a third, scraping pan down often.  Add the herbs and honey, and then return the ribs to the Dutch oven.  Cover and cook for about one hour. Check to see the tenderness of the ribs.  Raise the oven temperature to 425, and cook uncovered for the remaining time, turning the ribs often (this could be for half an hour to one hour longer, depending on ribs and their tenderness.

Remove the bay leaf and thyme sprigs.  Take the ribs from the Dutch oven, and platter them.  Defat the sauce in the Dutch oven, and reduce if necessary, and use it to glaze the pork ribs.  Serves 6-8. Delicious over mashed potatoes.

Independence Day Salad

  • 1 cup applewood smoked bacon, chopped and cooked crispy
  • 1 firm apple, medium diced
  • one half cup dried cranberries
  • one half cup toasted hazelnuts, or walnuts, chopped
  • one half cup blue cheese, crumbled
  • 2 cups baby arugula or other baby greens
  • 2 sprigs parsley, chiffonade
  • 1 teaspoon fresh chives, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive oil
  • 2-3 tablespoons cranberry juice
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest, optional

Toss together the first 8 ingredients and set aside.  Make a dressing with the remaining ingredients, and toss the salad together.  Taste and season it if necessary.  Serves 4

Franklin Potatoes

  • 8 Tablespoons butter
  • 2 pounds russet or Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into rounds  or ovals
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • Salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Melt the butter in a cast iron skillet, to about medium-high heat.  Sauté the potatoes in the melted butter for about 6 minutes or so.  Place the skillet into the preheated oven, and roast them, stirring often. They should take about 20 minutes to cook, when done remove from oven, and sprinkle with fresh parsley and season with salt pepper and a pinch of cayenne.  Serve immediately.  Serves about 4-6

So this Fourth of July I celebrate our freedoms. For me Fourth of July is not just about being able to get together with your friends, but about being appreciative for what we have, and all the normal everyday people, who have helped us get there.  So please while enjoying your lovely time off on beautiful Nantucket, reflect for a moment.  One small thing that everyone can do is be more respectful of those who serve the public.  They are working really hard, on your day off.   I urge everyone to be a little more responsible with alcohol and attitude this year.  They just may save your life or a loved one’s someday.  It is a privilege to have them.

Articles by Date from 2012