Monday, November 29, 2010

Let's Eat Pie and Pigs

The turkeys, ducks, and chickens have been processed for the winter.  The farm is quiet except for the pigs fighting over the pumpkins.  Thanksgiving has come and gone but left us with a few extra rolls around the waist from eating too much pie.  But really, except for the added calories, how can anyone eat too much pie?  Hungry? Eat Pie. Depressed? Eat Pie. Bored? Eat Pie. Stressed? Eat Pie. Angry? Eat Pie. Ecstactic? Eat Pie. Lonely? Eat Pie.  Feeling Svelt and Beautiful? Eat Two Pies.

WIOX Radio in Roxbury's Farm Chatter features me and Tara Collins the first Wednesday of every month at 1 pm. On December 1 we will be chatting about pigs and pie and local and seasonal holiday gift ideas.

Farmer Tom Warren will be the guest this week to talk about how pigs get to be pork on a platter. He will chat about raising pigs and feeding pigs alternative crops such as pumpkins. He spends way too much time watching the pigs chasing pumpkins in the fields.  You can imagine what a riot it is watch big fat pigs frolicking after giant orange marbles rolling about the field.

I will talk about Colonial Minced Meat Pie.  This is a pie filling recipe from an old colonial Willambsburg recipe book that I used in my Perfectly Pie Gift baskets.  The gift basket included filling for minced meat pie, cherry pie, apple and cranberry pie, ready made crusts (just add water) and pie plates and servers.  Two of my favorite relatives are getting this for Christmas.   This recipe is sweet and savory and conjures up memories of fireside cooking and cozy Colonial suppers.

Colonial Minced Meat (real) Pie

1 1/4 pounds of beef round or leftover roast
1/4 pound suet
1 1/2 pounds apples
1 cup raisins or currants
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon clove
2 teaspoons nutmeg
1/4 cup brandy
2 cups cider or apple juice

Double recipe for Pie Crust

1 tablespoon butter (optional)

1. If uncooked meat is used, simmer beef 2-3 hours or until very tender, adding suet for last 1/2 hour of cooking.

2. When cooked, chop beef and suet very fine, into about 1/4-inch pieces. 3. Pare, core, and chop apples to make 3 cups. 4. Mix beef, suet, apples, raisins or currants, white and brown sugars, spices, brandy and cider or apple juice.

5. Prepare pie crust.

6. Line pie plates with pastry, fill each with half of meat mixture. Cover with top crusts, seal edges, slit holes on top for steam to escape. If desired, spread a thick layer of butter on pastry for flaky upper crust.

7. Bake 3/4 hour in 400°-425° oven.

Yield: Two 9-inch pies

These pies are available from Fable's Kitchen in our farm store and the Callicoon Farmer's Market on Sundays.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Talking Turkey

Going Going Gone
The calendar page flipped to November and just as we predicted, turkey reservations came barreling in!  The sad news is that we were sold out of turkeys by October 30th and the spare turkeys we saved for us were eaten by predators on November 1.   Coyotes came down off the ridge and picked off one turkey one night and three the next. Flora, our livestock guardian dog was unable to deter them. Last night we put up an electrified corral and herded the turkeys into it at dusk. We moved the night roosts into the pen. We added one more LGD to the pasture.  The racket last night was horrific - howling, barking, whining and yipping.  At daybreak the turkeys were unscathed and happy to be released into the pasture for a day of roaming, scratching, pecking, grazing and roosting. 

Talking Turkey and Food on WIOX
At 1 pm on Wednesday November 3rd, Tara Collins and I will be talking turkey, Thanksgiving, recipes, local food, stuffing.  I will test Tara on her turkey facts and quiz her on facts such as: What is the name of the skin that hangs from a turkeys neck? Wattle, snark, garble, swag?  Tune in tomorrow for the answer to this quiz question and to test your turkey knowledge.  Did you know that before the 20th century, pork ribs were the most common food consumed at Thanksgiving because most pigs were harvested in November? So the theme of next month's Farm Chatter on Wednesday, December 1 is Everything Piggery. 

The centerpiece of Thanksgiving is the turkey but the centerpiece of the turkey is the stuffing.  A few years ago there was a nationwide alert that stuffing should not be cooked inside the turkey because it may not reach a temperature high enough for safe consumption. Phooey. I have been stuffing stuffed in a bird for decades and am not going to sacrifice the yummy turkey juices mixed into the stuffing because of a food safety alert.   My favorite stuffing recipes are:

Pumpkin Stuffing (Make chili and cornbread a few days before Thanksgiving so you have stale cornbread for this recipe.)

Adapted from recipe of Dean Fearing, Mansion at Turtle Creek, Dallas, TX
6 servings
1 cup diced pumpkin (from 1 whole small pumpkin)
3 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 cups diced sweet onions
1 1/2 cups diced celery
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
1/4 cup finely chopped sage leaves
Salt and cracked black pepper
2 1/2 cups stale cornbread
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup chicken stock
Parsley sprigs, for garnish

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.  Cut pumpkin in half, and then cut each half into several pieces. Place the pumpkin on a baking sheet and roast until tender, about 30 minutes. Let cool, peel away skin, and dice. Lower oven temperature to 350 degrees F.  In a large skillet, melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Add onion, celery, thyme, and sage, and saute for 5 minutes or until tender. Season, to taste, with salt and cracked black pepper.  Meanwhile, crumble the stale cornbread into a large bowl. Add sauteed vegetables to the corn bread crumbs. Stir in remaining 1 tablespoon butter, beaten egg, and roasted pumpkin and mix well. Then add the chicken stock and mix well.   Transfer stuffing into a medium-sized casserole dish. Bake for 45 minutes. To serve, cut stuffing into squares and garnish with a couple sprigs of parsley

Sausage Stuffing with Fennel and Roasted Squash
The richness of the sausage is a great match for bright, fresh fennel and sweet squash.
8 to 10 servings
Nonstick vegetable oil spray
4 cups 1/2- to 3/4-inch cubes peeled seeded butternut squash (from one 1 3/4-pound squash)
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
3 cups chopped onions (about 1 pound)
2 cups chopped celery (4 to 5 stalks)
1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped fresh fennel bulb (about 1 medium)
1 pound pork sausage
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
2 tablespoons chopped fresh marjoram
12 cups (generous) 1-inch cubes day-old pain rustique or ciabatta bread with crust (about 1 1/4 pounds)
2 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons fine sea salt
1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 cup (or more) low-salt chicken broth

Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray rimmed baking sheet with nonstick spray. Scatter squash on sheet in single layer; sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Roast squash until tender, stirring occasionally, about 55 minutes. Transfer to large bowl; cool.

Melt butter in heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add onions, celery, and fennel. Sauté 8 minutes. Add sausage. Sauté until vegetables are tender and sausage is cooked through, breaking up sausage with fork, about 10 minutes. Add all herbs; sauté 1 minute longer. Add to bowl with squash. DO AHEAD Can be made 1 day ahead. Cool, cover, and chill.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Divide bread between 2 rimmed baking sheets. Bake until bread is crusty but not hard, reversing sheets after 5 minutes, 10 to 12 minutes total. Transfer to very large bowl and cool.

Butter 13x9x2-inch baking dish. Stir vegetable mixture into bread. Whisk eggs, salt, and pepper in small bowl to blend well; whisk in 1 cup broth. Add egg mixture to stuffing, tossing to combine evenly and adding more broth by 1/4 cupfuls if dry. Transfer stuffing to prepared dish.

Bake stuffing uncovered until cooked through and brown and crusty on top, 50 to 60 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes.

Lastly, Tara will be tasting one of my new butters from Fable's Kitchen new product line of chutneys, butters, pot pies, pates and other goodies.  The butter is great on toast or on toasted cranberry or pumpkin or zucchini bread, a dipping sauce for pretzels, a dollop on cheese, or spread on the bottom of a pie crust for apple or pumpkin pie.

Pumpkin Walnut Butter

Makes 5 cup jars
3 1/2 cups canned pumpkin
1 cup toasted chopped walnuts
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
4 1/2 cups sugar
1 box surejell fruit pectin
1/2 teaspoon margarine or 1/2 teaspoon butter
Measure pumpkin, walnuts and pumpkin pie spice into 6- or 8-quart sauce pan.
Prepare jars; keep lids hot until ready to fill jars.
Measure sugar into separate bowl.
Stir fruit pectin into pumpkin mixture.
Add butter.
Bring mixture to a rolling boil on high heat, stirring constantly.
Quickly stir in sugar.
Return to rolling boil and boil exactly 1 minute, stirring constantly.
Remove from heat.
Skim off any foam with metal spoon.
Ladle quickly into prepared jars, filling to within 1/8 inch of tops.
Wipe jar rims and threads; cover with two-piece lids.
Screw bands tightly; place jars in hot water.
Boil in water bath for 5 minutes for 8-oz jars.

Last Dinner at Fable is Saturday November 13th.  We would love to see you. The menu for the next two weeks is:
November 6, 2010

Amuse:  caramelized apple onion bites
Starter:  sausage stuffed apples
Main:  horseradish crusted beef roast and garlic roasted potatoes
After:  crispy greens with maple cider vinaigrette
Dessert:  maple walnut pie with double whipped cream

November 13, 2010

Amuse:  cheddar dumplings with hot pepper dipping sauce
Starter:  winter kale and bean bruschetta
Main:  roasted and beer brined chicken with malt glaze with rustic herb stuffing
After:  mixed greens with cider pepper vinaigrette
Dessert:  spiced caramel pear tart with ginger cream

Second Saturday Suppers, three-course supper for $30 begins in January.  Game Night (board games, cards, etc) is coming. Look for information in the next blog.