Archive | June, 2011

Range chicken garlic scape cilantro pesto sausage with chickpeas and beet greens

15 Jun

A friend of mine from high school contacted me via facebook back in February about moving to Nashville. She had several places in mind in North Carolina but was also considering Tennessee. She was interested in hearing our thoughts on Nashville since we had recently relocated here.

After a few e-mails and phone calls we reunited downtown at Tootsies over a few cold drinks and some good music and caught up over the past two decades (ahem, +). After visiting North Carolina and looking at employment options, etc., our new/old friend e-mailed to let us know she had decided to move to Nashville. We were thrilled!

Once she got here, I showed her some of the sights in Nashville. Since I had to pick up hog casings for sausage so I could make my June Charcutepalooza submission, one of the places we visited was the Butcher Supply store. It was quite the adventure.

Our new/old friend has read our blog and was intrigued by the Charcuterie challenge along with the recipes and the farm food. Since the sausage stuffing challenge was due on the 15th, we invited her to help us with the sausage making last Sunday, June 12th.

We started the afternoon off with a farm fresh shaved (we used a potato peeler but a mandolin would be better) beet salad, mixed with fresh squeezed lemon (or lime) juice and chopped parsley, a palate cleanser and supposedly a precursor to the evening. This salad is simple and delicious. A customer who bought some beets from our farm gave me this recipe last summer. It’s one of our favorite starters.

We had all kinds of plans including making pesto (which we accomplished) and subsequently the chicken pesto sausage (left for later), having a light lunch at home and then heading out to one of our favorite people watching venue’s, Puckett’s in Leipers Fork then back to the farm for dinner.

Well, the conversation and people watching was incredible and the day got away from us. When we finally got back to the farm from Puckett’s we had not started the chicken part of the sausage and dinner was not (even close to being) ready. However, we all pooled our skills and rolled back our sleeves to stuff sausage for the first time (even with a key component missing on the stuffer). This was a big mistake and the end product was a colossal failure. Instead we made a pasta sauce with the ground chicken and pesto mixture and had a late chicken pesto pasta dinner. It had wonderful flavor.

And we learned what NOT to do in our trial sausage making run. First, have ALL the parts for your meat grinder/sausage stuffer ready and re-read your instructions. Here’s how to do it right:

Cut the white and dark meat off of 2 (*humanely raised) chickens leaving the wings on the carcasses(save the carcasses for making soup later) put the boneless meat in a plastic bag in the freezer for at least a half an hour, you will want it almost frozen.

Prepare pesto

Soak casings for the amount of time specified on the package.

Run the chicken meat through the meat grinder and mix with the pesto. Run the meat/pesto mixture through the grinder again to make sure it is completely mixed with the pesto.

Remove the extruding piece from the grinder and add the stuffing arm (we have a manual grinder).

Make sure the stuffing arm has been sprayed with oil per Mrs. Wheelbarrows post about stuffing sausage…very important. Stuff sausages and cook or freeze, they will keep in the fridge, but only for a few days.

We decided to cook our sausages on a roasting pan in the oven at 400 degrees for 30 minutes (or until done).

To accompany our sausages, we looked to the garden. Garlic, beet greens and parsley appeared gorgeous and tasty, all perfectly fresh. We also had some left over cooked chickpeas from making homemade hummus a few days ago.

Beet greens and chick peas.

2 cans or 3 cups pre-cooked chickpeas
Large bunch of beet greens, chopped
5-8 cloves of fresh garlic, diced
bunch parsley, chopped
3 Tbsp olive oil or coconut oil
2 Tbsp whole grain dijon mustard
salt and pepper to taste

Saute greens, garlic and parsley over medium high heat  in oil until wilted (about 3-5 minutes) add chickpeas, mustard and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve sausages and chickpea/greens with a dollop of whole grain dijon mustard and if there is any leftover pesto, add that to the plate as well. Though the pictures don’t do it justice, it was incredible.

Our new/old  friend was not with us to enjoy the successfully completed chicken pesto sausages… however, there are some in the freezer for next time we see her!

*We know beyond a shadow of a doubt that these chickens enjoyed life in all the chicken ways that chickens will – given the opportunity to range completely without constraint on pasture and in the woods (with the protection of Livestock Guard Dogs). And when it came time to grace our table, the end was quiet, calm and a sincere apology was offered. This is the most humane end we currently know of. If there is a better way, we’ll find it, as the processing of a chicken is no fun for anyone. How do we know these chickens enjoyed this life and met this described end? We raised them and we processed them ourselves.

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Garlic scape cilantro pesto

12 Jun

Pesto is the word around here this summer, or pistou or pestare whichever you prefer. We’re going to grind up a lot of good stuff to make delicious sauces with bright, healthy flavor. Most of these sauces will be flavored with garlic.

There are many varieties of garlic out there, all of which seem to be very easy to grow. I love that it gets planted in October when many of the other garden chores have subsided. Garlic likes the cool fall to set down roots and when spring arrives, your first crop is already in for an early summer harvest.

I’ve got all kinds of ideas beyond the traditional basil/garlic/pine-nutty varieties of pesto. The key is flavor. It’s vibrant and summery and can be tailored to any cuisine.

This year, I will save some pesto for the winter months by freezing it. I plan to experiment with freezing pesto in ice-cube trays to thaw for dressings; in wide mouth mason jars for soups and stews or as a pizza/focaccia sauce and also large batches in freezer bags for pasta sauce or a quick hot or cold potato salad.

My first pesto of the season utilizes garlic scapes, which come from the hardneck variety of garlic as flowering stems that shoot up in the spring. For the bulbs to keep the energy and mature into garlic cloves instead of making seeds, the scapes must be broken off before they flower. For us, this happened right at the end of May and early June this year. Almost overnight we noticed curling stalks in comical ringlets winding around as if confused, looking for the sunshine. We intervened and found quite a bounty!

Note: break off or cut the scapes and wait to harvest the hardneck varieties until the bulbs are ready, up to several weeks.  In the picture above Jack has harvested some softneck (the type you find braided) garlic.  The kids enjoy harvesting both scapes and garlic.

I knew garlic scapes had good culinary use and flavor but had no idea how delicious they could be as a substitute for garlic cloves in pesto. I will grow hardneck garlic next year for the scapes alone! This year, we planted Rosso di Sulmona from GrowItalian.com.

The Viola Francese has always been my favorite because I like large purplish cloves and the flavor is wonderful but when I planted the Rosso seed garlic, I could tell this would be a keeper. The cloves were smaller and firmer with a nice reddish color, I also liked the pungency and the more assertive garlic flavor. I think it might hold up a little better in marinara or other sauces that cook a long time.

With all of those scapes, I decided to make pesto. My recipe is adapted from this article.

It is still somewhat early in the season so the basil isn’t yet bushy, but with the heat, the cilantro is starting to fade so I opted to use cilantro; you can use parsley or basil or a combination of several different types of herbs depending on your ultimate flavor goal.  You can make pesto with multiple herbs including dill, oregano, sage, fennel, marjoram, thyme, mint, etc., you get the picture. There are no hard and fast rules, be creative!

Garlic scape and cilantro pesto

2 cups Garlic scapes flowers removed and chopped into small pieces.
1 cup walnuts
1 bunch cilantro
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
¼ cup grated Pecorino cheese
Squeeze of lime
Pinch salt, pepper and cayenne to taste.

3/4+ cup olive oil

Put all ingredients in food processor fitted with the metal blade and add olive oil slowly as you process it.  Stop adding oil when the pesto is the consistency you desire.

This recipe makes a very garlicky pesto and with the cilantro it has a clean, fresh flavor. It can be used to season hummus, sour cream or plain yogurt for dips or dressings. I wanted a pesto with a strong enough flavor to hold up to ground up chicken for a chicken pesto stuffed sausage aka my June submission for the Charcuterie Challenge…

Jambalaya

5 Jun

Todd and Preslie Bolton, talent sure runs in the family.

A ripe tomato and the dog days of summer.

4 Jun

Our first ripe tomato of the 2011 growing season! Never mind that it was started indoors in November and the variety is called “Glacier”.

Glacier is a smaller tomato that packs good flavor and is a fine producer.

Although there are many more tomatoes planted in the ground here at the farm (last count 192), Glacier is always the first to produce (well, since we started growing it last year, anyway).

Our rescued Dane, Lucy witnessed our first ripe red tomato of the season too, but really doesn’t care much about tomatoes…

She’d rather just hang out in the shade with her human pal Sophie, getting lots of pets and attention.

Which makes it difficult to do things like weed and tend the garden…

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