Friday, December 9, 2011

Loving winter...

I love winter, even though it takes me quite a while to adjust to the cold temperatures.  And while it makes cooking whole foods a bit more challenging, there are a lot of hardy vegetables and wild foods, as well as dried and frozen meats that make winter a delicious time of year.

I thought this would be a lovely place to share some of the recipes I've come across, especially the ones that allow us to highlight some of our locally produced meats and vegetables.  This week, I have a lovely soup to pass on from the Locavore's Kitchen by Marilou K. Suszko.  Published this year, it is a fantastic guide to seasonal eating.

If you are interested in a purely vegetarian dish, squash is delicious and incredibly easy.  Split a squash in two, lightly oil a baking sheet and bake each half cut side down at 350 for about 40 minutes.  Allow it to cool a bit, then scrape out the insides into a serving bowl.  I usually toss it lightly with a few spices and rice vinegar.  Easy and tasty!

Farmhouse Chowder
(makes 6 servings)

3 slices thick sliced bacon
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 bell pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic
2 cups cubed potatoes, about 1/2 inch cubes
4 cups chicken stock
2 and a half cups chopped cooked chicken (skin removed)
2 cups corn kernels
1 teaspoon dried thyme (or 1 tablespoon fresh)
1 to 1 and a half cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (or 1 teaspoon dried)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Cook the chopped bacon (we should have fresh slab bacon in from Morning Fog this week!) in a large Dutch oven over medium heat until crisp.  Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on a towel.  Set aside.

Drain off all but 2 tablespoons of the bacon fat.  Return to the heat and add the onion and the pepper, sauteing until soft and translucent, about 6 minutes.  Add the garlic and saute for another minute or so.  Add the potatoes and the chicken stock.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to medium and cook until the potatoes are soft and break apart easily with a fork, about 20 minutes.  Reduce heat to medium-low and add the chicken, corn and thyme.  (We have lots of Heather Ridge Farm chickens in our freezer, too.)  Return to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes.  Slowly add the cream and heat through without boiling.  Stire in the parsley and reserved bacon.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Let stand, or "cure" for an hour.  Reheat gently, if necessary, and serve.

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