Friday, August 22, 2014

Maui, Day 5: Wild Boar Meatballs over Farro

Apparently, wild boar wreak all kinds of havoc on indigenous plants in Hawaii—this from Keith Robinson, whose family owns Ni'ihau and a large portion of the land on Kaua'i and whose careful conservation work has saved numerous Hawaiian plants from extinction...and who we had the pleasure of meeting in the midst of our helicopter trip on Kaua'i.

Chatting with him was a clear highlight of the trip—his obvious love for his work and the plants and the soil, the view across the canyon, the sight of bees crowded around the first flower on a severely endangered Hawaiian fan palm that he miraculously cultivated in the unfriendly dirt of a dry red mountain near Waimea Canyon.

I will remember that canyon, and those bees, and that palm. And I will remember that wild boar wreak havoc on indigenous plants, which I have taken to mean that eating wild boar is environmentalism at its finest.

We happened upon some at Mana Foods, so we thought we had better exercise our inner conservationists right then and there.

Olive oil
3 cloves garlic, 2 smashed and 1 slivered
2 shallots, halved lengthwise and sliced, divided
1 cup farro, preferably unpearled
1 1/2 cups chicken broth, plus a little extra
(adjust if the package directions on the farro call for a different amount of liquid)
1/2 bunch green kale, sliced crosswise into thinnish ribbons
About .6 lbs ground wild boar (or sub ground beef), formed into meatballs
1/2 - 1 basket cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
2 big handfuls sweet basil, chopped
1 oz grated Parmigiano Reggiano
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat a glug of olive oil in a small pot over medium heat. Add the smashed garlic cloves (reserving the slivered one) and half the shallot and sauté until they soften, then toss in the farro and stir to coat. Add the broth, cover, and bring to a boil, then turn the heat down to low and cook 23 minutes or according to package directions, until farro is tender. Turn off the heat and set aside.

Meanwhile, heat a wide nonstick pan over medium heat. Add a glug of olive oil and then the rest of the shallot. Sauté for a minute until it just starts to soften, then add the kale and toss well. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the kale wilts, then cover the pan and continue cooking for 3-4 minutes more. Add a slosh of broth, replace the cover, and turn the heat down to low. Cook another 6-7 minutes or so until the kale is tender. Decant into a bowl and set aside.

Return the pan to the stove and turn the heat up to medium-high. Drizzle with a little more olive oil, wait a moment to heat, and add the meatballs. Brown on all sides.

Push the meatballs to the side of the pan and turn the heat down to medium-low. In the other side, add a glug of olive oil, the garlic, and a third to half of the tomatoes. Sauté for a minute, then stir together with the meatballs. Cover the pan and let simmer until the meatballs are just barely cooked through. Toss in the tomatoes, basil, kale, and salt to taste. Cook for another minute to let everything warm up, then remove from the heat.

Drizzle the farro with a little olive oil and toss to lightly coat the grains, then serve into soup plates. Scatter with grated parmesan, then top with meatballs and sauce. Sprinkle liberally with freshly ground black pepper, and serve.

Serves 2-3.

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