The Mayan Jaguar lettuce lends itself to salads with strong, sharp flavors. Add some chicken (or more cheese, if you’re a vegetarian) and you’ve got a main dish salad. Note, this will serve 6 as a side dish
What You’ll Need
knife and chopping board
immersion blender, aka hand or stick blender
measuring cup and spoons
Ingredients for the Salad
1 head Mayan Jaguar lettuce (or other romaine)
¼ cup blue cheese, crumbled
¼ cup walnut pieces, toasted
1 medium carrot, shredded
Ingredients for the Vinaigrette
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
2/3-3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp walnut or regular Dijon mustard
1 small shallot, minced
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper
How to Make the Vinaigrette
Pour the vinegar into a bowl or tall container and add the salt. Whisk until the salt is dissolved
Add the mustard, shallot, oil, and pepper. Using your immersion blender, blend the ingredients until emulsified and well mixed.
Taste and add salt or pepper as necessary. The vinaigrette will keep, refrigerated, for a week.
How to Make the Salad
Add the salad ingredients to a bowl.
Toss with the about 1/3-1/2 of the vinaigrette. Add a little more if you like it more fully dressed.
The Start of the Season and the Start of Discovery
With the advent of my local farmers market (Minnetrista in Muncie, Indiana) holding weekly markets, I look forward to the thrill of culinary discovery, of the delight of finding a new-to-me variety of vegetable or fruit, or of a vendor offering me new locally produced treats. This past Saturday, I ventured to (and through) the market, with its wares. The pickings, and the number of vendors, were rather slim—it’s been a very challenging spring for planting. The average high temperature in February was followed by a lower one in March. Following on the heels of a relatively colder March, April turned warm again. May, what few days of it we’ve had, had been a cold, soggy, sodden mess. Copious amounts of rain interspersed with frost. As an organic farmer I know said, it’s been a most challenging spring for a farmer.
Still, on that morning of May 6, it wasn’t raining, despite being forecast. I ventured over to one of my favorite produce stands (Christopher Farms, a local organic operation), so see what farmer and all around wonderful person Wendy Carpenter had to present to her customers, both loyal and new. Knowing that I was looking to eat more salads, I was drawn to one of the more striking lettuces I’ve ever seen—Mayan Jaguar.
Mayan Jaguar Lettuce
With its dappled maroon and green, a head of Mayan Jaguar lettuce certainly commands a second look. This has the ability to form the foundation of a seriously interesting looking salad (interesting as in good, not weird). So naturally, I had to buy some.
Mayan Jaguar lettuce belongs in the romaine/cos family. The head is tall and the spines of the leaves have that characteristic romaine crunch. Its leaves are gorgeously ruffled. It is a beautiful lettuce.
Flavor-wise, Mayan Jaguar is sweet with a hint of bitterness. In a salad, it pairs nicely with balsamic vinegar and walnuts. Add some dried fruit and blue or goat cheese for a delicious dish. I will share a salad recipe which uses Mayan lettuce to its advantage in my next post.
Start Your Own Voyage of Discovery
If you have a local and treasured farmers market, find a vendor with unusual varieties of produce. In my experience, I’ve found that organic farmers are likelier to offer something different than conventional farmers (but I am a sample size of one). If you are unsure, just ask—most farmers would love a chance to talk about their products! It’s a great chance to break out of a standard-supermarket-variety rut.
I look forward to this every year—the start of the weekly farmers market season. My local market operates weekly from the first Saturday in May through the last Saturday in October. Monthly indoor markets occur during the months of November through April. So it’s May 1 and this Saturday (May 6) will be the first weekly market of 2017! I look forward to regional goodness and talking to farmers with whom I’m on a first-name basis.
And I’ll be blogging here at Flyovertapas again. Now, I won’t have a set schedule like my market, but I’ll be sure to post a couple of times per month, especially once my semester ends. In the meantime, I hope you have a local market of your own to enjoy!
I’m not sure of the date, though it’ll be sometime after the semester’s grades are turned in and I’ve had a few days to decompress. In the meantime, I’ll be enjoying all things food-related in the Midwest! It’s already mid-February, so I’ll see you in approximately three months, when we’ll be well into spring (although it’s been pretty springlike throughout much of this winter).
In the meantime, enjoy these heritage turkeys. I took this picture at Seed Savers Exchange in Decorah, Iowa.
I suppose that those of us Americans of relatively recent Germanic vintage of some sort (Germany, Switzerland, Austria) are statistically likelier to have conversations about sausages and wursts than those of some other ethnic background. Granted, I’ve not actually conducted this particular type of combination geographic-linguistic research (but, hey NSF, feel free to send me some monies!) Still, I’m fairly confident that my hypothesis is not only testable, but also reasonably likely to produce my anticipated results. So somewhere on my recent road trip to Iowa and southern Wisconsin, the term “landjaeger (landjäger)” came up in conversation. As in my extolling the smoky virtues of them. As in Mike not ever having eaten one. As we were cruising the back roads south of Madison, seeking (and finding, though closed, Cheese Chalet Coop, the only American plant producing limburger cheese), we stopped at a gas station in Monroe (WI) because my bladder is the size of an acorn. Low and behold, what do I see hanging up by twos like some glorious snack ark getting ready for a 40 day-and-night deluge but landjaegers! I bought a pair (they are typically sold in pairs) and excitedly (very excitedly!) split them between us. How serendipitous!
Speak Softly and Carry a Meat Stick
For those of you who haven’t had the pleasure of indulging in one of these (and are omnivores), a landjaeger is a meat snack. Like lottery machines and cigarettes, meat snacks are a mainstay of convenience stores (Slim Jims™ is perhaps the most well known). But landjaegers aren’t mere meat sticks. For one thing, they aren’t as well known outside of certain regions with large populations of Germanic ancestry; this is unlike beef jerky (which seems to be ubiquitous). Therefore, they are likelier to be produced locally (and, by extension, have a smaller market area). And they are often made by real butchers instead of in giant factories. Landjaegers are created with beef and pork, salt and spices, and smoke. The smokiness is integral to the landjaeger. You see, these babies are cooked/smoked and dried, making them shelf-stable and free from the need for refrigeration. That’s why I found them hanging next to the cash register at the Monroe BP station.
Landjaeger, directly translated, means “country (land) hunter(jäger)”, perhaps owing to its popularity with hunters or others about to spend a lot of time outdoors. Certainly hunters (or hikers or long-distance cyclists) would find these to be delicious yet portable snacks. But no need to go outside—enjoy them indoors (or on a country drive in Wisconsin!)
Zuber’s and Ruef’s
So, my first Wisconsin landjaeger was made by Zuber’s Meats of Monroe Wisconsin. Now that was definitely local, given that we’d stopped at a Monroe gas station. We enjoyed them as we drove on to New Glarus Brewing for an afternoon beer. In the über-Swiss town of New Glarus itself, we stopped at Ruef’s Meat Market, hoping to find more landjaegers, as we’d eaten the two purchased earlier. Alas, there weren’t any. But as luck would have it, another customer told us they often had a few extra in the back. We asked and were rewarded with some Ruef’s landjaegers. And, as luck would have it again, a stop at a gas station the next day yielded some more Zuber’s landjaegers. More souvenirs to add to my collection of fourteen Wisconsin cheeses, several liqueurs, and a couple of cookbooks!
Want Your Own?
If you have a German butcher or delicatessen in your neighborhood, see if they carry them. But if not, Zuber’s and Ruef’s do ship landjaegers. Because these babies are cooked, they can be mailed to your home.