Tag Archives: Crockpot

Soup for the soggy soul

There are days that challenge my commitment to farming.  Like today.  Cold, wet, slushy, rainy, soggy…sick cows, muddy pastures, backed up storm drains in the milking area, I am tired and feel sick….it goes on and on.

So, as an antidote to all the woes of the world I made soup.

We had a hog butchered at Home Meats in Shelton.  They do an old-fashioned slow cure on their hams and bacon.  Very tasty indeed.  We had the ham for dinner earlier in the week and all that was left was a meaty bone.  I tossed it in the crock pot this morning with a pound of white beans, a chopped onion, a couple bay leaves, 3 quarts of water and about 1/2 cup of pan drippings from roasting the ham.  Pan drippings are my secret ingredient any time I need to give a soup or gravy a boost.  Intense, smoky and salty, the pan drippings  are strained and defatted and stored in a ziplock bag in the freezer.  It is so salty that it doesn’t really freeze properly, just getting firm but not solid.  A couple tablespoons adds life to potato-corn chowder, or gives an added layer of flavor to sausage gravy.   #2 son is always saying, “Everything is a little better with some pig on it!” and I think he might be right.

This afternoon when the beans were cooked I tossed in a couple potatoes, peeled and diced and half-a-dozen carrots, sliced up.   I stripped the remaining meat from the bone, chopped it up, tossed it in the pot and gave it a couple turns of the peppermill.

When we got in from doing chores this afternoon, chilled and soaked to the bone, it really hit the spot.  It will be even better tomorrow but for tonight it was good enough!

Chicken Stew with Ricotta-Chive Dumplings

Chris Henry posted my recipe for Chicken Cacciatore over on Peninsular Thinking as a follow up to her story on our Chickens 101 class.  That is my favorite recipe for stewing hens, but Harley suggested his favorite was this chicken stew and dumpling recipe.  It is pretty good too.  It is from Chefs on the Farm featuring the Quillisascut Farm School with photographs by Harley.  Check out the review here.  This is a “spring” stew because it features chives.  Winter variations can feature dried herbs or sage or rosemary as well.

Place a large (or two small) stewing hen in a pot with 1 onion, 3 stalks celery, 3 large carrots, two bay leaves, sage, thyme, parsley and 1 Tbsp pepper corns.  Simmer 2-3 hours on low.  Strain stock, discard vegetables, shred chick off the bones and reserve.  This can also be done in a crock pot on high for 4-5 hours or 8-10 hours on low.

For the Stew:

  • 2 Tbsp chicken fat or olive oil
  • 2 small onions, diced
  • 1 pound carrots, diced
  • 1 stalk green garlic or 3-4 cloves thinly sliced
  • 4 c stock
  • 4 c shredded chicken
  • 2 Tbsp fresh thyme (1 Tbsp dry)
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Saute veggies in oil or fat until onions are tender, add stock, bring to simmer and cook until vegetables are tender.  Add shredded chicken and time.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Dumplings:

  • 2 cups ricotta cheese (make your own)
  • 1/2 c fresh chived, chopped
  • 1 egg
  • 1 c corn meal
  • 1/2 c flour
  • 3 tsp salt

Mix all ingredients together, do not over mix.  Drop by spoonfuls into the simmering stew.  (Tip: use an ice cream scoop for nice round dumplings.  Cookie-sized for small ones, regular-sized for big ones).  Simmer small dumplings 4 minutes or until tender, larger dumplings will take 7-9 minutes.  Turn them over and simmer for 2-3 minutes longer.  Serve hot.  You will be tempted to lick the bowl. Winter Variation:  Potatoes, with sage in the dumplings instead of chives is also good.

Dinner on the Farm – Alfresco!

Today I spent time chasing around hoses and laying out the watering system in anticipation of a hot weekend.  After cursing the bunch of biting ants that spent the winter in one soaker hose (they were MOST offended at being disturbed this morning!) and getting everything set up I turned on the water and found all of the leakers and squirters that annoyed me last year.   Memo to Self: Get rid of the bad hoses in the fall rather than dealing with them in the spring!

The weather was so nice tonight that we had dinner out on the deck.  I started dinner last night, planning on a chick cacciatore-ish casserole, but the crew decided to go and do a hay delivery instead, my daughter went swimming and I had to work.  Since no one was going to be home to eat I put everything in the ‘fridge and attempted again tonight.   Tonight I took the chicken out of the tomato sauce, tossed it on the grill, cooked some pasta, steamed some asparagus and finished the sauce with some sauted green garlic, sundried tomatoes and a splash of cream.  Very seat of the pants but it was delicious.  It was so quick and handy I might do a couple chickens this way in my spare time and put them in the freezer for busy nights! 

2-Day Grilled Italian Chicken

  • 1 cut up fryer
  • 1 quart tomato sauce
  • 3-4 cloves garlic – crushed and coarsely chopped
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1-2 cloves green garlic – chopped (check out your local Farmer’s Market!)
  • 1/4 c chopped sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1 cup cream
  • 2 # rotini or similar screwy-noodle pasta

Day 1

Place chicken, tomato sauce, garlic and onion in crock pot and cook on high 2-3 hours or until chicken is done (but not falling apart).  Refridgerate overnight.

Day 2

Put pasta on to cook.  Put asparagus on to steam.  Fish chicken out of sauce, wiping off excess, send hubby out to the deck to grill until hot.   Saute the green garlic until tender, add sundried tomatoes, add sauce into skillet and heat to boiling.  Reduce slightly, add cream, salt and pepper to taste, and toss with cooked noodles.  Serve on a big platter, top with grilled chicken and a sprinkle of grated romano.  

Some crunchy french bread would be great for sopping up the left-over sauce but sadly, we are no longer able to stop at Luigi’s Baking in Bremerton for a loaf of his wonderful Pugliese.   Luigi died on Friday, May 22nd http://www.kitsapsun.com/news/2009/may/29/luigi-ferrari-43/ and will be mourned by many in this community.