Tom Thumb with Dirty Farro and Rutabaga Relish

By: Hannah Lee Leidy
Photo by Rex Miller

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    For the tom thumb
  • 1 (3-pound) tom thumb sausage
  • 1 yellow onion, peeled and split
  • 1 large carrot, split
  • 2 stalks celery, halved
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

  • For the dirty farro
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 cup farro
  • 3¼ cups water, divided
  • 1½ teaspoons salt, divided
  • ½ pound pork sausage
  • ½ cup chicken livers, finely chopped
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2/3 cup diced celery
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/3 cup thinly sliced scallion, green part only
  • *relish for garnish
  • *recipe follows

  • For the rutabaga relish
  • 1½ pounds rutabagas
  • 2 quarts plus 2 cups water, divided
  • 2/3 cup salt, divided
  • 2 large red bell peppers
  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • 1¼ cups granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup dark brown sugar
  • 3 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 2 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 1 tablespoon mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon chili flakes
  • 1 tablespoon turmeric

For those who don’t raise hogs, tom thumb can be mail-ordered from Country Butcher Shop in Nahunta, North Carolina.

  1. Make the rutabaga relish: Peel and halve the rutabagas through the stem end, then slice into 1-inch wedges. Holding the wedges together, slice into 1/16-inch-thick triangles. Using a whisk, dissolve ½ cup of salt in 2 quarts of water. Stir in rutabaga triangles and let sit overnight or a minimum of 6 hours. Remove tops and bottoms from peppers then cut through one side to open them and remove core and membranes. Cut along the equator of each pepper to create two long strips 1 to 2 inches wide. Then cut across into julienne. Peel and halve the onion through its stem end and slice into a thin julienne. Stir together peppers, onion, and remaining salt and water and let sit an hour. Drain and rinse onions and rutabagas, then combine all the vegetables in a heatproof, nonreactive container. Bring the sugars, vinegar, garlic, and spices to a boil and cook for 1 minute. Pour boiling vinegar over the vegetables and stir, making sure all vegetables are submerged. Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 6 months. The relish is best after 1 week.
  2. Prepare the tom thumb: Rinse tom thumb and place it in a 6-quart dutch oven. Add onion, carrot, celery, and enough water to just cover. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then cover and cook for 45 minutes. Remove tom thumb and allow it to cool in the refrigerator for at least 15 minutes, then slice into 1-inch rounds. The rounds should be firm and cooked through. In a 10- to 12-inch cast-iron skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Without crowding the pan, add slices and cook on each side until caramelized and browned. Set aside.
  3. Make the farro: In a 3-quart saucepan, heat 1 teaspoon oil over medium heat. Stir in farro and roast for 1 minute. Add 2½ cups water, cover, and cook for 10 minutes. Uncover, add 1 teaspoon salt, and cook an additional 2 to 3 minutes, or until al dente. Drain and cool. In a cast-iron skillet, brown sausage over medium-high heat in remaining teaspoon oil. When browned on one side, add livers and cook for 30 seconds. Stir in onion, celery, garlic, spices, and remaining ½ teaspoon salt and sauté for 2 minutes. Add remaining ¾ cup water and simmer uncovered for about 2 minutes, or until a little more than half the liquid has evaporated. Stir in farro and continue cooking until all liquid has evaporated. Stir in sliced scallions just prior to serving.
  4. To serve: Mound the dirty farro on a platter and fan the browned sausage slices all around. Garnish with rutabaga relish, or relish of your choice.


  • Recipe by Chef Vivian Howard of Chef and the Farmer, Kinston, North Carolina

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