Saturday, July 27, 2013

Recipe: Chicken Fricassee with New Garlic

Yum, yum, oh my it was really hard to wait until this recipe was ready to eat because the kitchen (indeed the entire house!) smelled SO good. In addition, this recipe is delicious, so easy, and the main star ingredient, new garlic, is available at your local farmers markets right now!

New garlic, also called fresh garlic or wet garlic, is commonly eaten in Europe at this stage of harvest. The garlic is harvested when fully developed, but not yet hung and dried or cured, so the wrappers surrounding the cloves are not dry but still wet and actually edible, somewhat softer than an apple peel. The garlic itself is crisp, crunchy, and while not completely sweet like an apple, the texture and some residual sweetness in the flavor profile lends itself to frequently being eaten raw.

However, here is an easy recipe using new garlic heads in a delicious cooked dish. It's a modification of a recipe I recently saw in the New York Times.

1 package boneless chicken thighs (6-8 thighs)
salt and pepper
1 Tbsp. butter + 1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 very large onion chopped, about 2 cups
8-12 heads of garlic (depending on size and also how 'garlicky' you and your guests enjoy being)
Several large sprigs of fresh thyme (from our herb garden)
1 large sprig of rosemary (from our herb garden)
1 cup white wine (I used a dry riesling)
Fresh parsley as garnish (optional, but beautiful, easy, tasty, and also easy if you have some growing in a pot on your windowsill or herb garden)

Generously season the chicken thighs with salt and freshly ground pepper.

Heat oven to 375 degrees. In your Dutch oven on the stove-top, heat the butter and olive oil, add onions and cook on medium heat until browned but not overcooked (5-8 minutes). (Special Note: I used my 6 quart Dutch oven but a smaller one could also be used ok.)

Cut roots and top/stalk from garlic head, peel any tough outer wrappers from the garlic heads. Cut each in half from top to bottom. (Special Note: If the garlic bulbs are hard-neck varieties, easily slip out the hard stalk from the center of each half.)  Add garlic halves to onions, season with a bit more salt and pepper, stir to coat completely. Place herb sprigs on top of onion and garlic mixture then add chicken thighs in one layer.

Add wine and 1 cup of water. Bring to a simmer on the stove top and then cover the Dutch oven and transfer to the oven. Bake for 35 minutes, covered. Remove lid, bake for an additional 10 minutes or until chicken has browned and juices run clear. Let it rest out of the oven for 10 minutes if you can wait that long!

Serve 1-2 pieces of chicken with juices, onion, garlic halves on top of cooked pasta (I used lightly pan-fried polenta pieces but I almost cooked up some lasagna noodles I had on hand).

Serve with any fresh vegetable as a side. I actually added some left-over braised summer squash and tomato mixture to the Dutch oven mixture while the chicken dish was 'resting'.

Seriously, this recipe is delicious. Don't be afraid of all this garlic. I'm going to make this recipe weekly as long as we are harvesting garlic and have 'new garlic' in spades. :)

I'm going to try the recipe using some thick fish filets, too.

Now for a few photos so you don't have to just take my word on this:

Garlic cloves cleaned and cut in half. You can see where I removed the center core (hard neck) from some of the garlic halves.

Garlic halves and onions in Dutch oven on stove top

Garlic halves, onions, and herb sprigs in Dutch oven on stove top

Adding chicken thighs to the garlic halves, onions, and herb sprigs, with wine and water added to the Dutch oven

Cooked Chicken Fricassee with summer squash and tomatoes added while resting in Dutch oven

Chicken Fricassee plated over polenta rounds.

Chicken Fricassee close up of the garlic half - eat it all! The garlic is now soft and mellow. 

What a great way to enjoy life, with great-tasting food, behind or not. :)

Here's an idea for those of my readers who have a favorite local farmer, no matter where you live. "Love your farmer? Feed your farmer!" Really, I confess that I would LOVE it. Even being 'fed' just one day a month by someone who loves us, to not be quite so far behind as we grow great food for our community, would be deeply appreciated. Yes, you can still offer to volunteer at your local farm by helping to weed or harvest, but don't be shy about asking if your farmers would welcome having someone bring them a meal. I'll bet my bottom dollar that most farmers who are scrambling to squeeze 36 hours of work into 24 hour days would appreciate your offer. Some might just burst into tears of gratitude. :)

Go down to your local farmers market and look for some new garlic! Ask if you don't see it. We're saving some garlic that's in the ground to harvest as new garlic right before we come back to markets so we can hand out this recipe.

I'll end exactly how I started - Yum, yum! :)

Cultivate your life - you are what you grow - inch by inch, row by row,

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

Friday, July 26, 2013

Friday night posts

Last Friday night, I put up a post that I took down almost immediately. I really hope no one had a chance to read it. I actually hit the delete button, which I am pretty sure I have never done before since I started this blog in 2007. Re-reading it when the post was actually live (not just the preview version) gave me quite a start, as 1) it sounded like I was whining, and 2) it gave me chills remembering how 'behind' I was, how overwhelmed I felt two years ago, ending up in the ER which I blogged about in four different posts once things settled down, after I got my thoughts together and had time to share them (here #1, here #2, here #3, here #4).

Yes, I am 'behind', but I am not in the is busy, but the vast majority of things not getting done are really not all that important in the big scheme of life. Yes, we look disorganized, the front of the house is still a frightening overgrown mess because our basement still floods (sigh.......) which means we really do need work done on the front foundation of our home (sigh........), but I am not in the ER. :)

So with that realization and relief, I quickly took my post down, decided that the best antidote to being behind was taking the time to cook and letting the Universe send us help if we really need it. :)

It's too late to post up the delicious easy recipe I made last night (I'll do that tomorrow night), but here are few pictures of our chickens. They are just so much fun to watch.

I think there are 8 chickens here in some high grass between our house and the barn. 

I guess our chickens prefer dry feet!

One lone red hen in the coop. She may be the one who prefers to come home at night instead of spending the night roosting in the oak trees behind the coop!

Here are all 8 chickens dashing from under the oak tree to the apple tree in the rain (for some reason unknown to us!). 

Remember, a great recipe is coming tomorrow night!

Cultivate your life - you are what you grow - inch by inch, row by row, 

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Cultivating, inch by inch, row by row

I changed the photo at the top of my blog today to that of one single organically-grown strawberry in our new garden on our farm. It looks pristine and perfect, and it is, but not without an enormous effort. :) This new strawberry bed has been prepped (cultivated) over and over, weeded over and over, the blossoms picked off these 50 first year plants over and over with a few that still escaped my attention and went on to actually become this one gorgeous berry, giving us a preview of our hopes for a huge harvest next year!

Now we need to finish the fencing around this bed, which also contains our 50 rhubarb plants, 50 asparagus plants, and the additional tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, and corn that could not fit into our other family garden (because of rotational space needs). We have already found turtles, which love strawberries, and if the deer find this garden and chow down on everything before we get that fence up and electrified, that will be a very sad day. We have been stopped by rain, rain, rain and the need to finish the first attempt at a chicken coop in order to get our chicks out of the garage.

Time to get outside (now, since more rain and thunderstorms are predicted for this afternoon) so here are just a few photos of the chicks and Phoebe, their guard dog:

The coop with the 8 chicks (1 rooster and 7 little red hens) all nestled in a pile together underneath their nighttime roosting spot. 

The chicks exploring their new home. After they have had a few days to get used to their home, when they start putting themselves 'to bed' each night in their coop, then they will be able to become free-range again. 

The chicks free-ranging in one of their favorite spots, kicking the leaves underneath an oak tree.

All 8 chicks are there somewhere, with the white rooster clearly visible.

Phoebe on break from guarding the chicks, hopping in my car while getting its first inside cleaning since we bought the farm

Phoebe doing guard duty. The chicken coop is just to the left out of sight in this photo. She comes running if she hears a bit of a distress call from a chick. She frightens them herself with her exuberance and herding instincts, but she is 'on guard!' She throws herself into the air if a hawk or vulture flies over our farm. I don't expect she will ever catch one, but she lets them know this is a 'no-fly zone' in her view. 

PS - I started a new tag with this post - Chickens!

Cultivate your life (even the same spot, over and over) - you are what you grow - inch by inch, row by row,

Diana Dyer, MS, RD