Last weekend I got to try out Blue Apron for the first time. Of course, I supplemented their menu with local goodies because the four of us eating made for a complicated mix of food preferences. In our party, two of us will eat just about anything, there’s one pescatarian, and then there’s my wonderful, but picky hubs who is more of a meat-and-potatoes guy.
I will definitely give Blue Apron another try — as well as try out a few more companies with similar services — because it was (mostly) wonderfully convenient and the menu combined flavors and foods that I probably would have never put together on my own. On the negative side, I didn’t love the amount of packaging waste in each order — though most of it was recyclable or biodegradable. The biggest negative, though, was that we couldn’t increase the number of adults on the order from two to four without switching to the "family" menu options, so we actually had to order through two different accounts and have the food delivered to two addresses.
The menu we selected included seared salmon with fall vegetables and an apple-brown butter vinaigrette (which everyone ate without any substitutions or additions), baked whole-wheat rigatoni with cone cabbage and sage, and spicy butternut squash empanadas with green tomato salsa and lime crema. For the meat eaters in our group, I paired bison sirloin steaks with herbed butter with the rigatoni and fried rabbit with the empanadas.
The bison came from Ratchford Farms outside of Marshall, Arkansas. Bison is naturally leaner than beef, so the butter was a lovely complement. As with any steak, these very much benefited from hanging out at room temperature with their seasonings (Beaverfork Blend from Cedar Rock Ridge in Conway) for half an hour or so before grilling. The steaks were about an inch thick, so over indirect heat, they only took 3-4 minutes per side for medium-rare.
The rabbit came from Green Acres Atkins (Atkins, Arkansas). Rabbit is a very lean meat with a mild flavor. I seasoned these with a south-of-the-border mix to complement the empanadas and then fried them in organic vegetable oil. Using a splatter screen kept the mess at a minimum. This method of cooking was very low-maintenance — once I put them in the oil, I set a timer for 7½ minutes, flipped them once, and finished prepping dinner while they finished cooking another 7½ minutes. By not disturbing them, a really crispy crust was able to form that didn’t require a lot of pre-fry dredging.
You know I’m a fan of getting as many nutrients out of my food as possible, so, of course, I always try to get as many of the ingredients possible through our local farmers markets. All of our seasonal markets have closed for the year, but the exciting news is that the Vilonia Handmade & Homegrown Market has joined Conway Locally Grown with an online market in our area! Check out the "market update" for their details – and also look for a few local food vendors if you get a chance to visit the Corn Maze at Lollie. As always, I hope you’ll eat as much local goodness as you can — and let me know if you try my recipes!