Persimmon Pie and Lamb Steaks

Aren't these persimmons sexy? They're local Hachiya persimmons from Willow Creek. This is an astringent variety that's basically inedible until ripe, but once they are they're simply delicious. These sat on the dining room table for about 10 days and were perfectly ripe by Sunday. When ripe, they feel just like a water balloon, and the pulp is ooey and gooey and sweet and oh so delectably persimmony. The texture freaks some people out a little, but I like to just suck the flesh right out of the skin.

Persimmon pie was on the menu for Sunday dinner, along with local lamb steaks and Brussels sprouts. Here's how I put it all together:

I bought this tapenade at the farmer's market on Saturday. It's nothing but locally cured olives from Orland, salt, walnuts, garlic, rosemary, and olive oil. Some of my very favorite things in the world all blended together - it doesn't get much better than that!

I processed some of the tapenade with fresh garlic, rosemary from the front porch, olive oil, and a little black pepper.

These are the local lamb chops. Beautiful!

I spread the tapenade mixture onto the chops and let them marinate in the fridge for most of the day.

Then it was time to make the pie.

I squeezed the persimmon pulp out of the skin and easily mashed it into this delicious puree. For the pie, I started with 2 local eggs beaten with 1/2 cup Sucanat, some cinnamon, cloves, and a dash of salt. I added 1 cup of persimmon puree to this, then two cups of half and half, and a couple tablespoons melted butter. The recipe was very much like a pumpkin pie, with persimmon in place of pumpkin.

Here's the pie going into the oven. The crust is homemade, but the making of it was not picturesque enough to document. I need lots more practice with pie shells before I put them in a blog post. I baked the pie at a high heat (425) for 10 minutes, then turned the heat down to 350 and cooked it about 40 minutes more, until it was set. It cooled, then went in the fridge to chill.

Roasting is about the best way to cook Brussels sprouts as far as I can tell. I used to hate these veggies when I was a kid - I remember learning to plug my nose in order to choke them down. I love them now - especially these local ones from Willow Creek. They get sweeter as the weather gets colder, so this time of year they're at their most delicious.

I trimmed them, cut them in half and mixed them with local sliced red onions and some local carrots that had been kicking around the fridge for too long. I heated up some bacon grease that had also been sitting in the fridge for a while with the little bit of leftover melted butter from the pie and coated the veggies in it. They went in a hot (425 degree) oven for about a half hour. You have to be careful not to burn veggies when cooking them this way. If you don't stir them every 5 minutes or so they start sticking to the pan.

While the sprouts were roasting I cooked the lamb. I browned each side, then added some sweet vermouth and chicken stock and let it cook slowly, turning the steaks every so often. I have a bottle of vermouth left over from my Dad's visit this summer, and I've discovered I much prefer cooking with it to drinking it.

After the lamb was cooked through, I took it out of the pan and made a sauce. The combination of the lamb drippings, tapenade marinade, vermouth, and stock made a wonderful black sauce that I thickened with a little flour.

Here are the finished Brussles sprouts. The one thing better than roasted Brussels sprouts are Brussels sprouts roasted in bacon grease!

Here's the sauce. It was so thick and black - if I didn't know what was in it I might have thought it was a black bean sauce.

I cut the chops into four pieces and reheated them. We saved two pieces for another meal.

Here's dinner. The picture could have turned out a little better - it sure was good! I was glad that there was no starch included in the meal since we had a delicious pie to eat afterwards, and that provided plenty of carbs.

And here's the pie. I whipped some cream and sprinkled a little cinnamon on top for color. Delicious! It tasted amazingly like a pumpkin pie. I think if I hadn't known it was persimmon, I probably would have assumed it was pumpkin. If you closed your eyes and really tasted it though, you could taste the persimmony goodness!
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