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Burger

A brunch burger combines the best of both worlds for a special dish for Mother's Day. 

Bernie Mason

A local food hub is a way to support local farmers and growers and to also provide the community with healthy, locally produced food. 

After years in the planning, the Yellowstone Valley Food Hub is becoming a reality. The Northern Plains Resource Council and the Yellowstone County Citizens Council hosted a successful kick-off party in downtown Billings on May 1 to celebrate the progress that has been made so far. Those attending had the opportunity to meet and visit with the producers who will be selling their products through the food hub.

Starting in October, people will be able to purchase farm-fresh produce and ranch-raised meats directly from producers in the Yellowstone region. Until then, producers will have their products available at the Farmer’s Market beginning in July.

A successful food hub is already active in Western Montana — the Western Montana Grower’s Cooperative. 

Celebrate Mother’s Day with a special brunch or dinner prepared especially for her, using one of these recipes that have been contributed by some of the producers who will be members of the local food hub.            

Brunch Burger 

You can impress Mom with this special brunch dish shared by Annika Charter from “Charter Beef.” It combines a cheese-topped meat patty along with hash browns, greens, tomato and avocado. The topping of hollandaise sauce is simple to make using an immersion blender, and it turns out perfectly. If you do not have an immersion blender, use a standard blender instead.

Serves 6

Ingredients:

  • Kosher salt
  • Ground black pepper
  • 2/3 pound local pork breakfast sausage
  • 1/3 pound local ground beef
  • ½ tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • Cheddar cheese, sliced
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound (16 oz.) shredded hash browns
  • 6 English muffins, sliced
  • 1 small tomato, thinly sliced
  • 1 avocado, thinly sliced   
  • 1½ cups fresh arugula or local greens of your choice 
  • 6 local eggs, poached

Hollandaise sauce:

  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon water
  • 1½ teaspoons lemon juice
  • Kosher salt
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Black pepper

Directions:

Combine pork sausage and ground beef in a large bowl, seasoning it with salt, pepper and Worcestershire sauce. Create 6 – ½ inch patties and pan fry them over medium heat in a large sauté pan, flipping once (about 2 minutes per side). Top with cheese just before removing them to a plate.  Heat olive oil in the same sauté pan. Place 3 handfuls of hash browns in rounds in the pan and press down with the back of a metal spatula, being careful of the hot oil, to flatten them. Fry golden brown; remove to paper towels to drain; repeat, making 3 more patties. Toast English muffins.  Set out the burger elements buffet style or build your burgers. Layer an English muffin on the bottom, hash brown patty, tomato, arugula, sausage patty with cheese, avocado, poached egg, Hollandaise, top with the muffin top.

Hollandaise Sauce: Combine egg yolk, water, lemon juice, and a pinch or two of salt in the bottom of a small cup that just fits the head of an immersion blender. Place butter in a microwavable bowl and melt, then transfer butter to a measuring cup. Place an immersion blender into the bottom of the cup and turn it on. While the blender runs, slowly drizzle in the hot butter, emulsifying the egg yolk and lemon juice, until it’s thick and creamy. Season to taste with salt, cayenne pepper and black pepper. Serve immediately over burgers. Hollandaise sauce cannot usually be cooked and reheated but can be held in a warmed, lidded pot for up to 1 hour. 

Source: Modified from the crumblykitchen by Erica.   

Rack of Lamb with Herb Coating

Sara Hollenbeck of “High Five Meats” in Molt, shares one of her recipes for preparing lamb that would make a special Mother’s Day dinner.    

Ingredients:

  • 1 (8-rib) Frenched racks of lamb (approx. 1½ lb.) trimmed of all but a thin layer of fat
  • 1½ teaspoons salt
  • ¾ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1½ tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Directions:

Heat a dry 12-inch heavy skillet over high heat until hot, at least 2 minutes.  Meanwhile pat lamb dry and rub meat all over with salt and pepper. Add the 1 tablespoon oil to hot skillet; brown racks on all sides (not ends), about 3 – 4 minutes each side. Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350 degrees. Stir together the garlic, herbs, salt, pepper and oil. Coat meaty parts of lamb with herb mixture, pressing to help adhere. Roast 15 minutes, then cover lamb loosely with foil and roast until thermometer inserted diagonally into center of meat registers 120 degrees, 5 to 10 minutes more.  Let stand covered, 10 minutes. (Internal temperature will rise to 125 – 130 degrees for medium-rare while lamb stands.) Cut each rack into double chops or single depending on preference.  

As an accompaniment to the lamb try this option.  Brittany Moreland, who grows as assortment of greens hydroponically at “Elevated Harvest” in Luther, shares her favorite way to prepare romaine lettuce.  She brushes the leaves with olive oil and throws them over a medium-high heat grill until seriously charred on both sides. She swears the blackened bits make it taste sweeter.  Top with a little sea salt and shaved parmesan. Cherry tomatoes and croutons can be added as well.

Strawberry Freeze 

End your celebration meal with this cool, refreshing and easy-to-make dessert that makes use of the fresh strawberries that are plentiful now. You can use your favorite flavor of frozen juice or drink concentrate, such as raspberry, lemonade, grape or pink lemonade when choosing the juice.

Serves: 16

Ingredients:

  • 12 chocolate chip cookies
  • 1 pkg. (8-oz.) cream cheese, softened
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 (12 oz.) can frozen berry juice concentrate
  • 1 cup crushed strawberries
  • 1 tub (8-oz.) frozen whipped topping, thawed
  • 1 cup fresh strawberries, halved

Directions:

Place cookies on the bottom of a 9-inch spring-form pan. Beat cream cheese and sugar in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until well blended. Gradually add juice concentrate, beating well after each addition. Stir in strawberries. Add whipped topping; stir with wire whisk until blended.  Pour over cookies in pan. Freeze several hours or until firm. Remove from freezer and let stand in refrigerator for about 15 minutes before serving. Loosen around sides of pan and remove sides. Top with halved strawberries and serve. 

Source: “Kraft Food & Family,” Summer 2004.         

Bernie Mason writes the Local Flavor column for Lee Montana Newspapers. She was Yellowstone County extension agent for 24 years. Mason grew up in Sidney in a family of German and Danish ancestry.

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