braised chicken with a lot of garlic

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I’ve made this recipe twice now. It’s really, really good, even if you use a lot less than the traditional 40 cloves of garlic, but when I make it it seems to come out very rich and salty, causing me to wake up at 2am with a certain digestive regret. Maybe if I went easier on the salt and did a better job of defatting the sauce. Or maybe just eat less of it. I dunno, did I mention it’s really, really good?

Braised Chicken with Forty Cloves a Lot  of Garlic
adapted from Use Real Butter, who adapted it from Fine Cooking

4 lbs. chicken, whole or pieces (whole thighs are nice)
kosher salt
black pepper, freshly ground
1/2 lemon
1/4 tsp sweet paprika
2 tbsp olive oil
a dozen or so cloves of garlic, peeled
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 or 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
2 sprigs flat-leaf parsley
1 cup chicken broth
baguette for serving

Pat the chicken dry, season (both inside and out if whole chicken) with 2 teaspoons of salt and 1 teaspoon of pepper, then sprinkle paprika over it. Squeeze the lemon juice into a vessel and reserve. If preparing a whole chicken, place the used lemon half in the cavity. Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, place the chicken breast-side or meaty-side down and brown for about 2 minutes. Flip the chicken and brown another 2-3 minutes. Remove to a plate and drain off the oil in the pot (but keep the brown bits!). Return the pot to medium-high heat. Add the garlic cloves and the wine, stirring the bottom of the pot to deglaze the fond. Place the chicken in the pot on top of the garlic, with the breast-side or meaty-side up. Add the herbs and broth. Bring to a boil. Cover the pot and set the heat to low.

Braise 45 minutes to an hour, basting every 20 minutes, until done.  Move the chicken to a plate. Defat the sauce as much as possible, bring the drippings to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce to a simmer, mashing the garlic into the gravy. Season the gravy with salt, pepper, and lemon juice to taste. Serve with the chicken (carved or as pieces) and toasted slices of baguette.

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pickled garlic scapes

loop de loop

It’s no secret here that I love garlic scapes, and I’ve already written about most of the ways we eat them: grilled, sauteed, blitzed into pesto. But I wrote an article on cooking scapes for Grow Northwest last month, and I threw in a recipe that I hadn’t tried before: pickled garlic scapes. My own garlic crop this year is pathetic (my back yard is getting too shady to grow garlic), so I had to wait until a local farm had them at their market booth, and only got the scapes into the pickling liquid for my trial run the day the article was due for publication.

packing in the scapespickled garlic scapes

Fortunately for my credibility, it worked! I opened the jar when we got back from our road trip and I really like them. The scapes I used are a little tough and fibrous, but the texture on the whole is like very firm green beans, and the flavor is rich, mellow and extremely garlicky.

The recipe I used is basically the one from Marisa McClellan of Food in Jars, and her version is on the Serious Eats website here. I really liked the flavor of the dilly brine with the garlic, but I’ve seen many different flavors of brine used for scapes. As long as you have the right ratio of vinegar, water and salt I don’t think it matters what else you put in there. Halving the recipe works very well if you just want one small jar.

Also, I don’t can, so I just packed the scapes into a clean jar and put on the lid after adding the hot brine, then let the jar cool on the counter before I put it into the fridge. I waited a week before opening it again, and we’ll try to finish them off within a few weeks. I like these enough, though, that I might actually try canning some next season to eat all year.

pickling vinegar

Pickled Garlic Scapes (previously published in the July 2012 issue of Grow Northwest magazine)

  • about a pound of garlic scapes
  • 2 teaspoons dill seed
  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • 2 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons fine salt

Thoroughly clean your jars, either one quart jar or two pints. Trim the ends of the scapes, making sure to remove the fibrous blossom sheath, and cut them into lengths that will fit in your jars (garlic scapes are so curly it’s a little tricky to pack them tightly). Place the dill and black peppercorns in the jars and pack the trimmed scapes in on top.

Combine the vinegar, water and salt in a pot and bring to a boil. Slowly pour the hot brine over the garlic scapes, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Once the jar is full, tap the jar lightly to dislodge any air bubbles. Check the headspace again and add more brine if necessary.

If you want to can your pickles, wipe the rim, apply the jar lid and ring, and process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes. If you don’t bother with the hot water bath, simply put on a lid and refrigerate. Let the pickles cure for at least a week before eating. They will last for several weeks in the refrigerator.

scapes

kale sausage soup

soup

This Portuguese-style soup has been one of our go-to dinners for years, and was one of the first soups I ever made that really worked. The original recipe was from the dearly departed magazine Kitchen Gardener, and while I occasionally muck around with different ingredients (white beans are particularly good), I always come back to the basic formula: kale, sausage, tomatoes, and garlic. And it’s not just delicious – it’s stuffed full of vitamins, and low-carb to boot. Whenever I make it we wonder why we don’t have it more often.

kale

sausages

pot o' soup

Kale-Sausage Soup (an approximate recipe)

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, sliced
  • 1 large bunch curly kale, cleaned, stemmed and roughly torn or chopped
  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 lb hot Italian sausages (if your sausages aren’t spicy, I’d suggest adding red pepper flakes to the carrots and garlic)
  • salt and pepper

Heat the olive oil in a soup pot and saute the carrots and garlic until sizzling and beginning to turn golden. Add the kale and a good pinch of salt and stir well until it wilts. Add the stock and tomatoes, bring it to simmer, cover and cook about 20 minutes on low heat, or until the kale is limp but still green.

In the meantime, cook the sausages in a covered pan with a little water, then fry them in their own fat until they brown nicely. Slice them into rounds.

When the kale is tender, slip the sausage into the pot, stir it up, and taste the broth for salt. Grind in plenty of fresh black pepper and turn off the heat.

Saturday night grill

grilled corn

The weather was beautiful on Saturday, and I had been at work all day, so I was very happy to come home to a glass of rosé and dinner on the grill. Jon had picked up some gorgeous sweet corn from Dunbar Gardens, and there was a ribeye from an upriver Angus farm, as well as some eggplant left over from the last farmer’s market, which I decided to make into another batch of caponata.

grilling corn

Jon rubbed the corn with oil and a dry spice mix before grilling (see his recipe below). I love corn done this way, with just a little char and plenty of salt and hot pepper. He had run out of New Mexico chile powder, so he substituted a little extra cayenne and some dried chile flakes. The corn had quite a kick.

pitting olives

For the caponata, I tried something a little different. First, I used Castelvetrano olives, an unpitted green olive with a meaty texture and wonderful nutty flavor. We happened to have a few left, and I didn’t want to waste them, so I got out the Oxo cherry/olive pitter from my IFBC goodie bag. Astonishingly, it worked like a charm! A very handy little gadget.

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oven roasted tomatoes

fresh picked tomatoes

The tomato harvest this year has really blown me away. Normally, having just one or two vines in pots on the deck, I’m lucky if I have enough tomatoes to make the occasional salad, or to top a taco now and then. This year the stars aligned to produce showers of juicy little red Stupice tomatoes and bowlfuls of Sungold cherry tomatoes, including the single prettiest tomato I have ever grown. Look, isn’t it beautiful?

a perfect tomato

So, finding myself in the unusual position of needing to eat a lot of tomatoes all at once, I opened a few cookbooks at random and found a recipe: Oven Roasted Tomatoes with Thyme and Garlic, from James Peterson’s impressive tome Vegetables. I had a pile of freshly dug garlic drying on the front porch, a pot of thyme on the deck, and plenty of olive oil, so it was but the work of a moment to get a pan of this roasting in the oven. And then the work of an hour or two to wait for it to finish up…

tomatoes and garlic

All I needed to do was wash the tomatoes, cut them in half, and lay them cut-side-down in a pan filmed with olive oil.

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aioli

dinner

It was the asparagus’ fault. Last weekend Jon went to the farmer’s market by himself (it was my Saturday to work) and picked up some unusually beautiful Eastern Washington asparagus. Then he found some really attractive sockeye steaks. It all looked so good, but it needed a little something extra…I decided it was about time I made another attempt at homemade mayonnaise.

I’d been scared of making mayonnaise for a while. The one time I tried, I used the large food processor for too little sauce and it didn’t emulsify properly. But I’ve watched chefs make aioli at cooking classes, and it didn’t look hard – then there was John Thorne’s essay about learning to make mayonnaise with nothing but a plate, a fork, one egg yolk, a little vinegar and some oil. If making it by hand was really that easy, it seemed like I had no reason not to try. Besides, I know I can make a very good hollandaise, so what was I afraid of? I checked proportions in a few cookbooks and gave it a whirl.

oil

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spring garlic

spring garlic

garlic

It’s that time of year when those of us who grow our own garlic are getting a little antsy. I’ve long since used up my cured garlic from last year, and we’ve cut and eaten nearly all of the scapes (most of them are frozen as pesto for later). It’s still well over a month until I’ll be able to dig the bulbs for curing. 

If you don’t have scapes, or just need more of a garlic fix, though, there’s always spring garlic. My garlic patch is small, so I hate to harvest early, but I was able to raid my mother’s garden for some last week. Continue reading

mostly local

the all-local dinner

While I am, in principle, a big fan of the locavore, 100-mile diet movement, I really don’t think I’m ever going to manage to eat one hundred percent local. I’m very fond of olive oil, for instance. And mangoes. But it does give me a thrill when I realize that everything on my plate was produced within a fifty mile radius of my house. This was a recent dinner of grilled lamb chops, Japanese eggplant and asparagus, all purchased at the downtown farmer’s market.

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lemon, garlic, butter and grill smoke

dinner

The weather has been amazing (apart from the fun little storm that whipped through on Saturday), and the asparagus has been gorgeous. How many reasons do you need to fire up the grill? This was a fabulous dinner that Jon cooked up last week: an entire bunch of grilled asparagus, grilled shrimp bathed in a lemon and garlic butter sauce, and good local bread. It’s very fast to prepare, apart from getting the coals going, and really, really good.

grilling shrimp Continue reading

a small celebration

tomato harvest

We had a little impromptu celebration the other night, in honor of my first published piece of food writing. Nothing fancy, just some rotini pasta tossed with garlic scape pesto from the freezer and some hot Italian sausages, a salad with balsamic vinaigrette, a bottle of Bonny Doon Dolcetto, and a bowl of all the ripe tomatoes left on the vine. Easy to throw together, and fun to eat while curled up on the couch watching a very stupid movie. Sometimes you don’t want to have to try too hard.

pasta