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You read that right, how to cook Silkie chickens. While not traditionally a prized bird to eat here in the States, in Asia it's a delicacy that can be found throughout the likes of China, Vietnam and Thailand to name a few. In the States, Silkies are kept as novelties [really they look like cotton balls with beaks], or as docile roosters, or hens known for their broody qualities.
This is traditionally a Chinese dish, with the chicken being coveted for its health benefits. It is rich in amino acids, vitamin B and protein [like any pastured animal turned into soup, but hey, ancient medicine amirite?]. It's most often found being distributed by street food vendors to locals, as well as the open-minded food driven tourists. It's sold in some Asian markets here in America and can be found throughout Asia for purchase fresh or in soup form.
The first thing you'll notice, undoubtably, is that the flesh, meat and bones are all a deep purple color, almost black after cooking. You'll also notice that these chickens are considerably smaller than the supermarket chickens we've all come to know commercially. It's for these reasons that Silkies make the perfect soup bird. The soup you'll be making is simple, in that there are no fancy techniques or special cutting. Even the ingredients are pretty easy to find, while you may have to do a little searching around your local Asian market. The end result, however, is far from simple. It's a rich, uniquely flavorful and unctuous dish glistening with chicken fat on the top and bright, fresh vegetables throughout. The colors set against the bold color of the chicken and you have something you, your family and most of your friends have likely never seen before. We're excited to be kicking off the 2017 CSA season with this offering and are excited to see pictures of what everyone makes.
We are so excited to kick off our CSA for the 3rd year, and even more excited to be heading out of the winter months and into one of the most beautiful seasons in Michigan, Spring. We're already hearing sandhill cranes in the distance, a multitude of songbirds have been visiting our feeders, and our horses are even starting to shed. The first day of spring is just 2 weeks away, so close we can taste it.
The taste of Spring is a good segue into this month's share, as we'll be kicking it off with what we do best. Pork, pork and more pork. Warm weather isn't reliably here yet, so we're not going the grilling products just yet either. Instead, we're going to be providing a beautiful pork roast for you to cook up for you and your family. As such, we wanted to provide you with two recipe options for the roast, both sure to be a crowd pleaser for you and your family.
Slow Roasted Pork
- 2 tbsp Brown or Maple Sugar
- 2 tbsp Salt
- 2 tbsp freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tbsp paprika
- 1 tbsp cumin
- 1/2 - 3/4 cup of good dijon mustard
- 1 - (4 - 8 lb) pork roast
- Preheat your oven to 225 degrees
- Place a rack inside a roasting pan or cast iron skillet
- Brush pork generously with mustard.
- Blend or mix spices well and sprinkle generously all over pork roast
- Cook approximately 30 - 45 minutes per pound, until you reach an internal temperature of 130 - 135 degrees.
* historically the FDA has suggested cooking pork to 150 to avoid trichinosis. Not only has there been no cases of trichinosis from pork in dozens of years, but that temperature absolutely destroys the meat. Our preference is to cook to the range above, allowing for some carry-over cooking to have the final temperature end at 135 - 140, slightly pink in appearance.
- Baste the roast with the released juices every hour or so.
- Remove from oven and let rest for 15 - 20 minutes.
- Serve with some roast vegetables, or better yet, creamy grits.
Whiskey Braised Pork
- 2 tsp salt
- 2 tsp fresh ground black pepper (or to taste)
- 1/2 tsp coarse ground mustard seeds or dry mustard powder
- 1 tsp brown sugar
- 1 bay leaf
- 3 Sprigs fresh Thyme
- 4 Cloves Garlic, Rough Chopped
- 3 of your favorite root vegetables, rough chopped (carrots, onions, parsnips, etc.)
- 1-1/2 Cups Rye Whiskey
- 2 Quarts Chicken or Pork Broth. If you don't have broth, use water and amp up seasonings a bit.
- 1/4 cup olive or vegetable oil
- Generously season the pork roast with salt, pepper and brown sugar.
- Heat heavy-bottomed pot on medium-high heat and add in oil, as well as preheat oven to 325 degrees.
- Sear all sides of pork to a deep brown, taking care to not let it burn, but still develop a deep brown crust.
- Remove pork from pot and set aside.
- Add in rough chopped vegetables and sauté until caramelized, about 5 - 7 minutes.
- Add in garlic and thyme and stir until fragrant
- Remove pot from flame and add in whiskey. Stirring well to scrape up all the brown bits off the bottom of the pot. Reduce whiskey by half.
- Add back in pork roast along with broth or water and bay leaf, making sure to cover roast about 1/3 - 1/2 way up.
- Cover and roast in oven until temperature reads 130 - 135 degrees.
- Remove from oven and let rest for 15 - 20 minutes.
- While meat is resting, strain pan juices and skim off any fat. Add back to pot and reduce by half.
- Slice and serve with grits, rice or wilted greens. Top with reduced pan juices.
As you may have guessed from the title, we at Ham Sweet Farm have officially declared September, Fried Chicken Month. Now, no one should ever need an excuse to cook fried chicken, but this now makes you unpatriotic if you don't partake. So, why fried chicken you might ask? Why not? This month's chicken is the last batch of the season (we do still have a ton in the freezer) and represents the oldest birds we've processed for meat to date. They were approximately 16 weeks old and the breed was Speckled Sussex. They are a heritage breed that is incredibly active and were often found sprinting around the farm getting into trouble. All this activity, combined with their older age, came together to produce a supremely flavorful bird that we couldn't be happier with. These birds are smaller birds and as such make a fantastic fryer bird. You'll be getting the bird cut into 8 pieces, just how you need it for Fried Chicken Month.
Never made fried chicken? No problem, because we have the most amazing recipe for you. We tested this recipe a couple of weeks ago and everyone involved remarked that it was the best fried chicken they had ever had. I would have to agree, as the flavor and tenderness were superb. So, what's the secret? It's arguably sacrilegious, but the secret is par-cooking, or cooking until almost done at low temperature so that when you fry it, there is no worry of it being uncooked. The recipe comes from Ed Lee out of Kentucky and is easy peasy to follow.
Little pro tip to plus up the chicken. Heat some honey in a pan with a few berries of all spice or juniper until fragrant. When the chicken is plated and ready to serve, drizzle the honey over the top. You won't be disappointed.
In addition to the chicken, you'll have some great steaks and brats for the final months of grilling season, so make sure you enjoy the nice weather while it's still here.
It's been a long cold winter and the start of the CSA means we're that much closer to spring, and we couldn't be more excited. We're not out of the winter woods yet, so this month's share has those stick-to-your-bones ingredients in the hopes of helping you stay warm until Spring decides to make an appearance. You hear us talk a lot about "value cuts" and the importance of utilizing the whole animal. These cuts don't always get a lot of love at the meat counter, but they have a great deal of flavor, plus in some cases the beautiful addition of gelatin [i.e. the stuff that makes soup or the trendy "bone broth" so delicious]. We kicked off the season squarely supporting this whole-animal philosophy, adding in pork shanks for the first edition of the small shares. These shanks are huge and are some of my favorite cuts on the animal. For the best use, you're going to combine three methods of cooking: searing, braising and broiling. It sounds like a lot of work, but I can assure you, it's not. This is a simple dish that's perfect for a cold day, and will give you a good deal of leftovers for the rest of the week.
Now onto the second recipe, the top round. The top round was in all the shares this month and is a great introduction into the world of grass-fed beef if you're unfamiliar with it. While you've invariably had beef before, grass-fed beef is, well, a different animal than what you typically find in stores. The cows tend to be older so that they put on more weight (also more flavor), and they also tend to be a bit more lean. Because of this, you need to take some care when cooking so that you can avoid having meat that is too tough. For the top round, we're going to do a simple roast, cooked to medium-rare and sliced thinly. You can pair this with roasted veggies, mashed potatoes or even atop a salad if you wish. Lets get to the recipe.
Slow Cooked Ham
Today we made a delicious slow cooked ham in the crockpot braised for approximately 8 hours. The ham was cooked with apples, onions, rosemary, honey and a mixture of chicken broth and cider as a braising liquid. The finished product was absolutely delicious being fall off the bone tender, a nice blend of salty and sweet.
The final product was shredded and served over rice with the onions and apples as accompaniments, and covered with a couple of ladles of broth over top of it. It was topped with some alder smoked salt to finish it off. All in all one hell of a meal.