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Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Cuisine of New England

There are six state in America which are known as New England and are located in the northeast. In New England cooking there is an extensive use of seafood and dairy products. Two characteristic ingredients which are native to New England are maple syrup and cranberries. Their standard starch is potato. Parsley and sage are common and there are a few Caribbean additions like nutmeg. The favored cooking techniques are stewing and baking.

In the 19th century sweeteners used by everyone but the upper classes were molasses from the Caribbean and honey. Since many herbs were uncommon, especially those from the Mediterranean, which are not hardy in much of New England away from the coast most New England dishes are not strongly seasoned.

Prior to the Prohibition, some of the finest rum distilleries were located in New England. The Boston Molasses Disaster occurred on January 15, 1919, in the North End neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts, when a huge molasses tank used to prepare rum collapsed.

There are New England dishes which are enjoyed in all of the United States such as clam chowder, baked beans and homemade ice cream. In the past two centuries, New England cooking was strongly influenced by Irish Americans, the Portuguese fishermen of coastal New England and Italian Americans. The oldest operating restaurant in the United States is the Union Oyster House, which is located in Boston, Massachusetts. It opened in 1826 and on May 27, 2003 the building housing the restaurant was listed as a National Historic Landmark.

Maine is known for its lobster. Lobster has now become the dish of the middle and upper classes. Northern Maine is known for its potato crop, second only to the state of Idaho. The official state soft drink is Moxie known for its strong aftertaste and is found throughout New England. A common ingredient or garnish are wild blueberries.

The state of Vermon is known for its cheddar cheese and other dairy products. Outside of New England it is best known for its maple syrup. Maple syrup in a common ingredient used in many Vermont dishes including baked beans. A common desert is rhubarb pie which is combined with strawberries in the late spring.

Coastal Massachusetts is known for its clams, haddock, cod and cranberries. Apples are grown away from the coast. Its capital Boston is known for baked beans, bulkie rolls and various pastries. Hot roast beef sandwiches served with a sweet barbecue sauce, usually on an onion roll are popular in Boston’s surrounding area. The North Shore area is locally known for its roast beef establishments.

The cuisine of southern New Hampshire is similar to that of the Boston area, featuring fish, shellfish and local apples. French-Canadian dishes are popular, including tourtiere, which is traditionally served on Christmas Eve. Tourtiere is a meat pie originating from Quebec and is usually made with ground pork and/or veal or beef. Corn chowder, similar to clam chowder but corn and bacon replace the clams. Portsmouth is known for its orange cake which often contains cranberries.

Rhode Island and bordering Bristol County, Massachusetts are known for Rhode Island clam chowder (clear chowder) which contains quahogs, clear broth, potatoes, onions, and bacon, quahog (hard clams), johnnycakes (a corn meal flat bread), coffee milk (coffee syrup is used instead of chocolate syrup), celery salt, hot dogs, grinders, pizza strips (with a thick crust and topped with a thick tomato sauce and are traditionally made with no cheese or toppings and served at room temperature), dynamites (a sloppy joe-like sandwich) and Del’s frozen lemonade.
There is also a popular food item called the "New York System Weiner". However they are unknown in New York itself. It consists of a weiner (skinnier than a hot dog and more orange in color) on a steamed roll with meat sauce and often with mustard and onion.

Connecticut is known for its apizza (particularly the white clam pie), shad and shadbakes, grinders and New Haven’s claim as the birthplace of the hamburger. The New Haven area is dominated by Italian inspired cuisine while Southeastern Connecticut relies heavily on the fishing industry.

Boston Baked Beans

4 cups canned kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup molasses
1/4 cup blackstrap, plus more as needed
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
2 tbsp dark rum
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tbsp dry mustard
6 rashers thick cut bacon, sliced (or 5 drops liquid smoke)
1 tbsp bacon fat
Cook bacon. Separate from fat and place 1 tbsp fat into a large stainless steel pan. Add kidney beans and saute over medium high heat. Add rum and tilt to ignite.*
Add remaining ingredients and bacon and fold to combine. Bake in a 325° oven for 1 1/2 hours, adding blackstrap occasionally to prevent drying.
Oven Roasted Beef Fillet

For four servings:

One whole fillet of beef, measuring at least 7 inches
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary (or 1 tablespoon dry)
2 tablespoons whole black or mixed peppercorns
2 ½ tablespoons of coarse sea salt or 2 tablespoons kosher salt

For sauce:

1 large shallot, finely chopped (2 – 2 ½ tablespoons)
½ cup dry red wine
1/3 cup chicken or veal stock
Sea or kosher salt and ground pepper to taste.

Remove the meat from the refrigerator one hour before cooking and preheat oven to 500 degrees. Place peppercorns, rosemary and salt into a spice grinder and reduce to a powder; a few larger pieces of pepper will remain. Mix thoroughly with olive oil, place fillet on a plate and rub oil mixture all over the meat. By Rasma Raisters

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