On a recent Saturday morning I happened upon on a farmers' market that I had not been to before. I'm very lucky that in my general area there are multiple markets on every day of the week. My biggest complaint about the markets closest to me is that they never seem to have any protein. I can load up on produce or bread, but when it comes to my other staples, I always end up at the grocery store on my way home. I was thrilled when, walking through this new market, I discovered eggs, cage-free chickens, grass-fed beef and even locally harvested shellfish. I was in heaven. My first instinct was to immediately move so I could be within walking distance of my new favorite market, but after taking a moment to calm down, I set about getting the week's supplies.
My biggest sin at the market is buying something because I'm taken in by how great it looked or how fresh it was, but with no plan on how actually to use it. I either end up not using it or having to go back to the store to buy everything else I need to make whatever it is I have decided to create with said fresh item. This go around it was two pounds of short ribs. Having happened upon the market with so much protein, I just couldn't leave without getting some.
Shopping at the new farmers' market got me thinking more about locally grown food. I always prefer to buy my produce at farmers' markets because I absolutely agree with trying to use locally grown and produced food whenever possible, but I never really took it beyond produce. This market opened up the idea that I could do more than just get local produce. With that in mind, I set about creating a new short rib recipe using only locally grown or produced food in the recipe.
Finding local produce was easy. I didn't have to look further than my local farmers' markets. The first place I ran into some trouble was with locating locally produced tomato paste. It quickly became clear that I would have to make my own. After browsing the internet for some time, I found this method that turns 5 pounds of tomatoes into about a 1/2 cup of paste. It certainly isn't the economical way (with time or money) to get tomato paste, but the flavor was absolutely better and, it was from locally grown ingredients. Problem solved. Check back in a few days to see the stock I made to use as a braising liquid.
Yield approximately 1/2 cup
5 pounds tomatoes
2 T olive oil
salt to taste
Preheat oven to 350*
Chop the tomatoes. Uniformity is not important as the tomatoes will be passed through a food mill shortly. Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan and add the chopped tomatoes. Simmer for 4 - 5 minutes until the tomatoes are releasing their juices. Pass the tomatoes through a food mill fitted with the smallest disc. If necessary, take the tomato pulp still in the bowl of the food mill and return it to the saute pan to help it break down some more and release its juices. Once all the tomatoes have been processed, place the tomato liquid in a half-sheet pan (rimmed cookie sheet) and place in the oven for four hours. stir the mixture every hour until a tomato paste texture has been achieved. If storing in the fridge, pour olive oil into the container to cover the paste for storage. Enjoy!