Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Tonight's Dinner - Local Iacono Farm Duck Braised in Local Red Wine and Served over Tagliatelle

Lately I have been using my Le Creuset at least once a week - braising duck, pork, beef, and chicken.

It takes no more than 10 minutes (if that) to put everything together into the pot in the early afternoon and by 6:30 you have a flavorful meal to serve over rice, noodles, or potatoes.

Tonight I braised my favorite local duck from Iacono Farm. What I really like about the Iacono ducks is how lean they are. Most ducks are so fatty, but Iacono ducks have just the right amount of fat to keep them moist and flavorful without being too greasy.

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The inspiration for my recipe came from this Epicurious recipe from 1996. I added more red wine, my turkey stock from Thanksgiving, and carrots, turnips, and onions from my CSA Quail Hill Farm to enhance the flavor of the recipe. I also used an emulsion blender at the end of the process to blend the sauce.

What you need:
Serves 4

1 whole Duck or 4 large whole duck legs
2 cups of a good dry red wine (local if you have a good one)
2 heads garlic, cloves separated and peeled
8 fresh thyme sprigs
1 cup golden raisins
5 cups chicken or turkey broth
2 large carrots in a large dice
1 red onion in a large dice
1 turnip in a large dice

Preheat oven to 265°F and season duck with salt and pepper.

In a heavy kettle just large enough to hold legs in one layer, cook legs, skin sides down, over moderately high heat 10 to 15 minutes, or until skin browned, removing fat from kettle as it is rendered with a metal bulb baster (or very carefully tilting the kettle and spooning off). Rotate duck and brown all sides and then transfer to a plate.

Pour off fat from kettle and deglaze with wine, scraping up brown bits. Add garlic, thyme and 1/2 cup dried fruit and stock and return duck breast side up and bring mixture to a simmer and braise, covered, in oven 2.5 to 3 hours, or until meat is falling off the bone. Transfer to a platter and keep warm.

Pour braising mixture (removing the thyme) into a 1-quart measuring cup (or a fat separator) and let stand until fat rises to the top. Skim off fat and return liquid to the braising pan and puree with an emulsion blender or transfer to a regular blender. Boil liquid until reduced by about one third and slightly thickened and add remaining 1/2 cup dried fruit. Simmer sauce until fruit is softened, about 5 minutes, and season with salt and pepper.

While sauce is simmering remove the meat from the bone and cook your noodles. Once your sauce is ready return the meat to the pot and stir in buttered tagliatelle.

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Sunday, December 19, 2010

Tonight's Dinner - Local Squash Lasagna

I have made this dish several times already this fall its delicious and in my opinion better than a traditional lasagna. If you have fresh kale, swiss chard, and squash around - make this recipe and you wont be disappointed.

Tonight was the first time I used fresh lasagna noodles and it was noticeable, but definitely not a must.

Another plus of this dish is that you can make it ahead of time and then just pop it into the oven about 45 to 50 minutes before you plan to serve it.

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What you need:
Lasagna Noodles
2 to 3 Medium Size Squash Halved and seeds removed
1 wedge of a nice Italian Fontina Grated
1 Container of Fresh Ricotta
2 Onions Thinly Sliced
1 bunch of Kale Chopped
1 bunch of Swiss Chard Chopped
1 handful of Sage
1 Cup of Parmesan Grated
1/4 teaspoon of Ground Nutmeg
Juice of 1 Lemon
Olive Oil
*Optional, but a great addition is chicken apple sausage removed from the casing and browned in a sauté pan.

Preheat the oven to 450 and roast the halved squash on a foil lined backing sheet seasoned with a little salt, pepper, and olive oil until fork tender. While the squash is in the oven caramelize the onions over medium high heat in a bit of olive oil until very tender and brown. Grate the fontina. Juice the lemon and stir into the ricotta. Chop the kale and swiss chard and sauté until tender. Remove the squash from the oven and set aside until cool enough to handle.

Then scoop out the flesh and any juice from the squash into a food processor and add in a heavy pour of olive oil, the sage, nutmeg and half of the parmesan, half the onions, salt and pepper and blend until pureed.

Drizzle a bit of olive oil into the bottom of the lasagna pan and add a spoonful of the squash puree, lasagna noodles (fresh or hard uncooked), ricotta, sauteed swiss chard / kale, fontina, squash, lasagna noodles (fresh or hard uncooked), ricotta, sauteed swiss chard / kale, fontina, squash and top with the browned chicken apple sausage if you are using it, and the remaining fontina.

Put into a 425 degree oven covered in non stick foil for 45 minutes. Remove foil and add remaining parmesan and return to the oven for a few minutes to brown the top of the cheese.

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Thursday, December 16, 2010

Quail Hill Mourns

A few weeks ago there was a tragic accident at our local CSA Quail Hill Farm and Josh Levine one of our farmers lost his life.

Standing outside his funeral were many people that simply could not fit into the synagogue, my husband Dan and I were among those outside. For well over two hours we stood there in silence waiting, wondering, only slightly able to hear the numerous friends and family members one after another paying their respects to Josh.

We didn't know Josh all that well. We were small town acquaintances with one very special thing in common - the precious Quail Hill Farm. His presence was always felt on the farm where he worked for the past several years. He was an advocate of this blog and posted links to it on the Farm's Facebook page.

Since his death, I have been uninspired to write my blog and have had anxiety about returning to the farm - which I did yesterday - it was the bi-monthly winter share harvest day.

Mae, my 2 and a half year old, and I went over around noon to collect our vegetables, talk to the farmers and re-connect with other farm members.

The mood in the farmhouse was uneasy, the faces sullen, while the bright rays of sun streaked into the dusty farmhouse illuminating the kale, cabbage, onions, squash.

I am sure a blanket of sadness will cover the farm for a long time, although I know in the magical hands of Scott, the head farmer, the bounty and beauty of land will serve as an homage to all of Josh's efforts.

Josh's presence will be greatly missed and my deepest feelings go out to his family and friends.