Let’s play a game.

Close your eyes.

You are going to get very sleepy.

Oops. Wrong Game. Let’s try this again.

Keep your eyes closed.

Now. Hand over your wallet.

Hmmm. That’s not quite it either.

Third time’s a charm?

Hold out your hand.

I am going to reach into my Bag O’ Esoteric Meats here. I am going to hand you something. Rabbit, pheasant, quail, elk, boar, buffalo. No telling what it might be.

And then you are going to rush over to your corner of the kitchen. Unwrap whatever it is that I handed you. And cook a dish for 13 people.

Keep. Your. Eyes. Closed.

Chicken? Of course there’s no chicken. What do you think this is, a Walgreens? We run a high end establishment over here. If you want chicken, you can go to your local Olive Garden, order the chicken parm and never come back. Seriously. Whoever is afraid to expand their culinary horizons. Leave. Now.

Alright good. I think we got rid of the weaklings. Can you believe that? Chicken, she mutters, shaking her head.

Shake it off, Jo. Shake. It. Off.

Here’s the point where you either start to back away. Slowly. Or say, Ok. What the hell is going on.

Let’s go with the latter.

You see. I know Christo.

Christo knows Marx Foods.

Marx Foods said to Christo. Let’s make a deal. You gather some of NYC’s best bloggers. In a kitchen. In Manhattan. And we will send you meat. And dried mushrooms. And dried chiles. And vanilla beans. And flavored sugar. And then you guys will cook it. And eat it. The end.

How could you not agree to that? So that’s how I found myself in a kitchen yesterday afternoon in NYU’s nutrition department (thanks so much for hosting us!) with Christo, Christy, and Kian. Cooking meats that I had never cooked before. And then eating meats that I had never eaten before.

Christos and I chatted about it beforehand and felt that the best way for us to use all of the ingredients in as varied and interesting a way as possible would be if we made the dishes tapas-style so that everyone could get a small taste of everything.

I was in charge of the sausage (rabbit, pheasant, and lamb merguez). Kian took the quail, osso bucco, oysters, and veal ribs. Christy attacked the lamb ribs and pork chop. And Christo worked his magic on the kobe sirloin, kobe burgers, boar ribs, and boar tenderloin.

Yes. We had enough food to feed a small army. In fact. I like to think of us as a kind of military unit. Fighting the good fight against boring food.

With the pheasant sausage, I made a pumpkin risotto with nutmeg, cinnamon, roasted garlic and mascarpone. First, I cut a head of garlic in half. Wrapped each half in aluminum foil and roasted them at 400 for 45 minutes. Then I scooped out the cloves and mashed them together.

I heated some olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat and sauteed a box of arborio rice for about 2 minutes. In the meanwhile, I set a box and a half of chicken broth (about 6 cups) to simmer on the stove. Little by little, I added the chicken broth to the arborio rice, constantly stirring, only adding more when the last bit had just evaporated. When the rice was tender, I mixed in a can of pumpkin along with the roasted garlic, about 3 tbsp of mascarpone, and salt, nutmeg, and cinnamon to taste. I spooned this into ramekins, which I then placed in a 250 degree oven to keep warm.

Grilled the sausage, sliced, and plated as shown above. Done.
Rabbit sausage.

Christo had prepped the polenta for me before I got there (he mixed it with some of the fabulous dried mushrooms that Marx Foods had sent us along with a mix of cheeses, cooked it, spread it out onto a baking sheet, and popped it in the fridge so it would semi-solidify.)

Now as an Italian, there was no way that I was going to cook a variety of sausage dishes without including broccoli rabe in there somewhere. (Especially since pasta with sausage and broccoli rabe is possibly the only dish that my mother made that I still dream about. Incessantly. I might need a cold shower.)

So what I did was, thoroughly washed a bunch of broccoli rabe. Sauteed it in some garlic (6 cloves), olive oil, and red pepper flakes. Salt and peppered to taste.

Grilled the rabbit sausage. Sliced.

Cut the polenta into rounds using a cookie cutter. Heated in a 350 degree oven until warm. Topped each polenta round with a piece of broccoli rabe, and a slice of sausage. Eat.
Last up. Homemade pasta with cinnamon-scented tomato sauce. I made the cinnamon sauce posted here. Except instead of keftedes, I removed the lamb sausage from it’s casing and sauteed it, adding it to the sauce as it was simmering.

Then, Christos helped me to mix up my first batch of homemade pasta dough! We combined a pound of semolina dough with five eggs and a bit of water until it felt right. (Christo said it felt right. To me. It just felt like sticky dough.) Ran it through a pasta roller until it was thin enough. Then ran it through the fettuccine cutter of the pasta roller. Boiled for about a minute. Topped with sauce. Again. Ate.
All in all, I would say the evening was a definite success.

I learned a lot (how to make pasta, that I probably like cinnamon way more than the average person, that I should definitely plan more when cooking for a large crowd instead of just trying to roll with it). Had some really good, thought-provoking conversation (about food. And blogging. And more food. Sorry friends. Bloggers tend to have one-track minds.) Got to eat some new foods. And all in all just had a. Good. Time.

So thanks to Christo for organizing this and getting me involved, Christy and Kian for showing up and cooking, and Justin at Marx Foods for sending us the goods. Hope we can do it again sometime! Be sure to check out the other blogs in the next few days to see what they cooked.

You are reading this post on Eats Well With Others at https://joanne-eatswellwithothers.com. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author and or owner of Eats Well With Others. All rights reserved by Joanne Bruno.
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62 Responses to Dinner Impossible: Marx Foods Edition

  1. Bob says:

    Sounds like a wicked good time! Everything looks great, plus I must say I’m intriguied by the sound of your Bag O’ Esoteric Meats. Heh.

    I wish someone would do something like that in Boston. Wink, wink. 😀

  2. Muneeba says:

    I would have all three of those dishes and not back down from any of your culinary adventures! Sounds like a lot of fun … mental note to self: gotta check out Marx Foods next time I’m in NYC!

    On a side note – since the FFPW round-up is desserts this week, don’t submit your pasta recipe just yet. Keep it for when we do “Mains” again (it’ll be soon).

  3. Debbi Smith says:

    Holy cow, it sounds like an episode of Top Chef or something. Sounds like you had a great time and made some fantastic items.

    By the way, you could hand me a chicken and half the time I wouldn’t know what to do with THAT let alone most of the meats you worked with! 🙂

  4. Sippity Sup says:

    Wow what an amazing event! I would have flown to NYC just to be involved! GREG

  5. Mystery meat – LOL! Seriously, what a great event and opportunity. I love everything you prepared and am especially attracted to the polenta with broccoli rabe but I think I have to sub the rabbit sausage for the pheasant – even though I don’t know what either one tastes like!

  6. Tout semble délicieux. Quel plaisir.

  7. What a great opportunity Joanne!! What an exciting day. LOVE the pictures and looking at things I’ve never tried before.

  8. Mary says:

    You guys were so lucky. I also have to jump right in and add you did a fabulous job with an assignment that would have cowed many. It sounds like a fabulous day.

  9. Woooow!!!!! Superb recipe,,polento looks delicious,,pasta looks yummyy,,,very healthy one and different recipe for dinner,,thanks for sharing dear,,take care n keep smiling like this,,

  10. dessert girl says:

    That pumpkin risotto sounds divine! It’s going on my recipe list!

  11. Kristen says:

    What a fun time!! The food all sounds great. I have yet to meet a meat that I couldn’t eat (stop me! I seem to be channeling Dr. Seuss!). Your creativity knows no bounds.

  12. What a fun experience! You rock.
    Great food too – yum!

  13. Joanne,
    Looks like you had a blast with your buddies. I like the polenta with sausage and broccoli rabe. I would have to use turkey sausage since wild horses wouldn’t drag me to go eat rabbit sausage <-- Confessions of a newly turned carnivore. 🙂

  14. Mamatkamal says:

    Sounds great! What a lovely event! The food looks delicious especially polenta.

  15. teresa says:

    oh my goodness this sounds like so much fun, and the food is gorgeous!

  16. Chris says:

    “Let’s play a game. Close your eyes.”

    No way! Last time I fell for that I ended up in Mexico wearing only socks and a kilt!

    Ok just kidding. No really. That didn’t happen. Or at least you can’t PROVE it did!

    Looks like you guys had a blast. How was the rabbit sausage? Did it come off gamey at all?

  17. what an amazing experience! how fun and how honored to be part of the group 🙂

  18. Nicole, RD says:

    Oh my goodness, what an evening indeed. While I am yet to try several of those meats, they all sound incredible. I think you struck a good point – step outside the chicken box (note to self!)!!!
    Mmmm lamb.. 🙂

  19. Karen says:

    Well, how much freakin fun was that??? Wow! Your dishes sounds great. Can’t wait to see what the other people did!

  20. wow! you are a MAJOR great chef! hahaha! exciting.

    hahaha i’m glad you find it interesting! i should email you the next time he texts something interesting. or if we meet up. i wonder if he’s just being nice.

  21. doggybloggy says:

    you did a great job – thanks so much for giving it your all!

  22. Amy says:

    Wait, so it was like an episode of Iron Chef, but without the pressure of a 60 minute timer…and without three judges that are totally judgmental. I like it. Although you are brave – most of the meats sound a little scary to me (go ahead, you can say, “tisk tisk.” I deserve it.)

    My Dad (aka King of the Picky Eaters) will devour anything if it has cinnamon in it. It truly is the ultimate spice (or maybe it’s just great because it’s most popular in dessert.)

  23. Kim says:

    You live in one of the best places around. What a wonderful opportunity. The meat you had to work with sounds unique and fun. Being the pasta lover that I am, I would be all over that homemade pasta with the lamb sausage. So glad to hear that you had a fun time!

  24. Pam says:

    What fun! This sounds like it was a complete blast!

  25. You do get yourself into some interesting situations and live to tell about them.

    In truth, this was a great chance to explore and discover. Good for you.

  26. Martha says:

    What a fun adventure! So tell us – was it all totally delicious? It all sure looks delicious but I’m a bit of a chicken (pun intended) about some foods, especially meats. I really don’t even think we were meant to eat meat – but it’s just so good! I call myself a wannabeatarian.

    Have a great weekend Joanne! 🙂

  27. Debinhawaii says:

    How fun! Everything you made looks wonderful and it is always fun to work with (and eat!) new ingredients.

  28. Kerstin says:

    What great pictures – everything sounds so yummy. I love playing with new ingredients too 🙂

  29. Astra Libris says:

    Thank you so much for your comment on my blog! 🙂 I am in awe of this collection of fabulous dishes and exotic sausages – an evening of cooking and trying new foods with fellow bloggers sounds like heaven! Your fellow bloggers were fortunate indeed to have you cooking these 3 amazing dishes for them – I’m in awe! Homemade pasta with lamb sausage and pumpkin risotto and broccoli rabe with sausage?! *swoons*

    P.S. I also have a mad obsession with cinnamon… 🙂 One of my favorite treats is warm almond milk with lots of cinnamon!

  30. wow looks superb joanne , pics are really tempting..

  31. This is simply fantastic missy….and only u could have pulled it off so smoothly ,beautifully n splendidly….thats jus like my buddy….

    U had great company and ur pals out there with u were sure honoured to have ya together….gurl u rock n i love cinnamon too……photographs well too:-)))
    And this was sure a fantastic oppurtinity for a super fantastic blogger as ya…cheers 2 ya and super sunday too….

  32. wow…how cool is this? You are so amazing, and so lucky! Christo made a great choice in asking you! What an adventure, Joanne! I have to admit that I have VERY little experience cooking meat, let alone all that mumble jumble mystery meat. I’m VERY impressed! 🙂

    I hope they didn’t taste like chicken. 😉

  33. Jessie says:

    Oh geez, I was already sleepy from waking up early – thanks a lot, Joanne!

    Those are some nice looking dishes you have there – you have some super friends, that’s for sure! I feel like such a carnivore saying this, but I confess that I actually like rabbit. A lot. I’ll bet rabbit sausage was out of this world. Was that real Kobe sirloin??

    Glad you had a good time!

  34. katiez says:

    Okay, so I’m jealous…..
    They look beautiful, they sound delicious…. Why wasn’t I invited? It’s only a 5 hour flight!

  35. I want to come to these dinner parties!! Too bad you guys are 3000 miles away. Great job here. I would love that pasta with cinnamon. I could add that spice to everything given the chance. You are lucky to have so many foodie bloggers close by 🙂 Good times girl!!

  36. Caronae says:

    Wow, congrats on being chosen for that. It sounds amazing, like some serious food network thing or something. Wow, my vocabulary is so good.
    I would totally have tried all of those! I had chicken sausage last night and it twas oh so good. The pasta dish looks especially wonderful.
    Happy Sunday!
    xoxo caronae

  37. What great pictures… I love playing with new ingredients too:)

  38. Ruth Daniels says:

    Fantastic post. And like the rest of the comments…I’m green with envy.

    By the way, I passed on the Happy 101 award – because visiting your blog always makes me smile..or more typically rolling on the floor with laughter. http://onceuponafeast.blogspot.com/2010/03/happy-101-award.html

  39. Sounds like a lot of fun!!! Darn it, I’m THOUSANDS of miles away. The food looks really reallyn good! Happy Sunday~LeslieMichele

  40. PJ says:

    wow, looks like you guys had a blast, Joanne! all the dishes look so yummy and delicious.

  41. Michelle says:

    OMG….what a feast and so much fun! My husband would have been in 7th Heaven trying all the unique dishes!

  42. ruchikacooks says:

    U know what Jo, leave med school for a few days..Apply for the Iron Chef place..Atleast we will get interesting recipes we can make at home 😉

  43. Faith says:

    I love that game! 🙂 Sounds like it was such a fun time, Joanne! Everything you guys made looks incredible…and I have to say, it’s all presented gorgeously!

  44. Mari says:

    WOW what an amazing experience! I love all the things you create…you always leave me speechless with your dishes!

  45. Lori says:

    That sounds like so much fun! And what great looking food. I love your shot of the cut garlic.

  46. Oh what an adventure! Your risotto sounds totally delicious! As does everything. The only thing I would not eat is the rabbit. Peter cottontail and all – with Easter coming.

  47. Catherine says:

    Great post Joanne! Sounds like fun! The photos are amazing!

  48. Chef Aimee says:

    Your sense of culinary adventure is wonderful – what a treat!

  49. Joanne

    This was the opportunity for you to show your talent in the kitchen and you did it! with flying colors! merguez sausage is what I would love to try I miss it haven’t had it in decades! I love everything that you did I am impressed!

  50. Azita says:

    sounds like a lot of fun! everything looks so good! yummy!

  51. sounds like top chef.. how fun and look at what you did… I am so impressed… love the culinary adventure you just had and yeah good job joanne

  52. Katerina says:

    Looks like you had a great time plus a very interesting experience.

  53. Yosha says:

    Sounds like a great and delicious time! I keep forgetting must have breakfast before I visit your site!

    Speaking of not chicken, I am realding “my life in Frace” the Julia Child memoir (excellent book!) and it’s funny to read about her getting so excited about pigeon!

  54. I’m shaking my head in amazement, Joanne! What a fantastic feast! What a fabulous dish you made. 🙂 I’m inspired. 🙂

  55. msmeanie says:

    What an interesting challenge! I don’t think I’d do very well though. I have a hard time cooking with ingredients I’m not familiar with. Pumpkin risotto sounds amazing!

  56. What a great opportunity! Marx foods is pretty cool. I’ve got some dried mushrooms from them that I am trying to come up with recipes for. I’m thinking ravioli…can’t wait to try them.

  57. Shirley says:

    Thats a good deal from Marx foods! Good job on it too.

  58. katecooks says:

    wow, did you come up with all of these recipes on the fly? they sound so amazing, gourmet, delicious…you might just be a food genius. i am always so impressed!

  59. Marisa says:

    What a cool event! Your dishes all look so professional and cheffy!

  60. Katy ~ says:

    Very very well done. An outstanding effort and result. What a time to remember!

  61. Zibi says:

    Wow! That is a lot of food 🙂 It all looks great… the event sounds like blogger iron chef!

  62. What an awesome night you had! I’ll probably be kicked out now for not eating most meat, but I still woulda come for the amazing broccoli rabe.

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