Category Archives: Meat and Poultry

Perfect Night for Pie

chicken pieChicken pot pie is one of the most cozy meals I can imagine. Flaky crust sheltering tender bits of chicken and vegetables all gathered together with a light gravy.  When I was a kid my Mom would buy the little frozen chicken pies and stow them in the freezer as a treat for me.  While it is nice to have a meal that is just heat and eat,  part of the comfort for me now is the slow process of making a savory pie.

Today I woke to cold, wind-whipped rain slamming against the bedroom windows. Despite the downpour, I ran way too many errands getting soaked in the process.  After a trip to two banks, the dry cleaners, and delivering jam to several stores;  I stopped into Whole Foods and they had chicken parts on sale.  I already had some root vegetables from the winter farmers market and I decided it was the perfect time for staying home the rest of the day and making pie.

Here is my Chicken Pot Pie recipe which yields extra stock and extra chicken for another recipe.  Stay at home days don’t come often for me so later in the week I can use the chicken for chicken tacos and the stock to start a quick soup.

8-10 cups of water
1 whole chicken breast and 2 chicken thighs (both bone-in) chicken stock
4-5 carrots
2 parsnips
1 small turnip
1 onion
1 tablespoon coriander seed
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1 tablespoon kosher salt
a few springs of rosemary, parsley, and thyme

Peel onion, carrots, parsnips, turnip and cut into large chunks
Split chicken breast in half
Place all ingredients in a large stock pot and bring to a boil
Simmer for an hour or until chicken is tender
Strain stock and let chicken and vegetables cool slightly
Separate the chicken meat from the bones
Slice the carrots, parsnips, and turnip into bite-sized pieces
Reserve about 4 cups of stock and 3 cups of chicken and the vegetables for the pie filling.  Store the rest of the chicken and stock for another meal.

Pie Crust
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cold butter cut in about teaspoon sized pieces chicken pie sliced
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
6 tablespoons cold water
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Mix flour, salt, and baking powder in food processor or mixer bowl
Add shortening and butter and mix until pea sized crumbs form
Pour in cold water and mix just until the dough comes together.
Gather dough in a ball and wrap in plastic wrap.
Chill for 30 minutes or up to overnight

Pie Filling
3-4 cup chicken
1 small onionchicken pie filling
1 cup sliced mushrooms
4 cups of stock
1/4 cup cream
2/3 cup frozen peas
carrots and parsnips from stock
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon instant flour such as Wondra

Slice the onion and cut slices in half
Heat olive oil in a large frying pan and saute onions and mushroom until onions are just translucent
Add stock and simmer until reduced by about one-third
Add carrots, parsnips, turnip, and chicken
Add instant flour and cook until very thick
Add frozen peas and cream and set aside to cool slightly

Making the Pie
Prepared and chilled pie dough
Prepared pie filling
1 egg yolk plus 2 tablespoons of water for egg wash
9″ deep dish pie pan

Heat oven to 375 degrees
Divide the pie dough in half
Roll half of the dough to about 1/4″ thick 12″ circle and place in the pie pan, pressing gently into the pan and leaving edges overhanging
Pour filling into the pan
Roll remaining dough to 1/4″ thick circle and cover the filling in the pie pan
Cut off any extra dough and crimp the edges by using a pie crimper or pressing between thumb and forefinger all around the edge
Cut a few slits for steam to escape during baking
Brush top with egg wash
(optional) use the leftover dough to make decorations using a cookie cutter and attach using a bit of the egg wash
Bake for 1 hour until nicely brown and cooked through


Clean House, Sloppy Supper

lamb and noodlesI ambled down the isles of Whole Foods this evening in a clueless, hungry dither.  Hours and hours of spring cleaning can wear a woman out no matter how joyful she might be about the carefully stowed away wool sweaters or a magnificently organized linen closet. Random supper ideas flew through my brain; fish, pizza, maybe a salad.  I sampled some cheese and said hello to the charming cheese guy, which reminded me that I had homemade ricotta cheese in my fridge.  I headed to the pasta section and picked up some egg noodles and thought a kugel might be nice. As I passed the meat counter I noticed that they were selling ground lamb from a local farm and suddenly, a lamb burger or lamb sloppy joe sounded good.  Into my shopping basket went the lamb.  Warming to the sloppy joe idea, I grabbed a can of fire roasted tomatoes.  I finally found my way out of the store and once home I unpacked my purchases.
I sliced some onion and cooked it in olive oil with a bit of chopped garlic and added the lamb.  When the lamb was nicely browned, I poured in a bit of dry white wine and then added the canned tomatoes and a sprig of fresh rosemary and a little salt, pepper, and oregano. The mixture smelled delicious but I realized that I had not picked up buns for my sloppy joes.  I had ended up buying the egg noodles despite discarding the kugel idea so I quickly boiled some water and cooked the noodles until tender.  I spooned the lamb mixture over the noodles and then decided I would top the messy dish with the homemade cheese.
The resulting dish was so tasty that I would happily make it again (next time on purpose).  Now that my family is well fed, I am thinking about what room to tackle tomorrow, or perhaps we should get to that yard work…

Brews & Ewes-Boston Lamb Jam 2012

lamb dishI  admit that I am completely addicted to food television; every chef contest from honoring the best to teaching (and laughing at) the worst captures my attention.  I watch as chefs and foodies discover and judge the greatest dishes, drinks, food trucks, and hidden dining treasures.   Lest you think I am only a competition spectator, a few months back I entered the American Lamb Pro-Am and teamed up with Chef Michael Scelfo of Russell House Tavern to win first prize!

Imagine how excited I was when the The American Lamb Board and invited me to be a judge for the Boston “leg” of the Lamb Jam tour.  The contest was held February 19, 2012 at The Charles Hotel in Cambridge, MA. Eighteen chefs competed and the judging panel tasted all eighteen dishes comparing factors such as flavor, presentation,  and originality.  We also sipped some wine, beer, snapped photos, laughed, and argued over mystery spices and the perfect level of salt in a dish.  There was a lot of food and it was interesting how some of the judges deconstructed each morsel and others just ate it all.
In the end we pushed through some hot debates and winners were chosen.  In addition to the winning dishes which I will detail in a moment there were two stellar bites for me; a lamb and pasta dish and a lamb donut!

Chef Tyson Podolski of Summer Winter Burlington, MA brought a Chiang Mia summer winter greensBraised Lamb with Winter Squash Cavatelli, Mint & Cilantro and their table was decorated with a flat of greens from their on-site greenhouse.  The lamb in the dish was tender and well seasoned but the cavatelli was the main attraction.  Perfectly cooked with a hint of sweetness and a sauce that was creamy but with light lemony and green notes.  I hope this cavatelli will show up on their menu this spring.

The other standout dish for me was the Smoked Bone Marrow Beignet made by Toby Hill of Pain D’Avingnon the charming bakery and bistro on Cape Cod. This lamb beignetdonut had a perfect light cake crumb and managed to be both airy and very rich.  The beignet was filled with melting soft lamb shank and a blood orange mostarda along with Vermont Shepard cheese.  Some of the judges found the orange filling too sweet but I loved the way this dish could almost be called a lamb dessert while remaining balanced and focused on the flavor of the meat.

And now for the winners!
There were several meatball dishes in the competition but Brian Alberg of the Red Lion Inn combined kale with the lamb shoulder to make the most delicate kale meatballsand satisfying little bite.  He surrounded it with a swirl of smoked tomato puree and finished the dish with crispy parmesan crustade.  By the time this dish came out, served in a cute mini covered cassarole dish, we were well into the tasting.  Our judging panel had eaten quite a bit of food.  It was all many of us could do not to eat every scrap of this dish rather than just taste (a few could not resist).  I am hoping this will be on their menu which by itself would make it well worth a visit to this historic inn.
Each category had a winner as well.  Chef Michael Scelfo of Russell House Tavern was the shank category winner with a small bite that nearly exploded with flavor.  The braised lamb shank terrine was served on a round of caraway brioche with horseradish and lamb bacon.
The winner of the leg category was Chef Brian Reyelt of Citizen with a lamb leg and bone marrow polpettone with bourbon cherries served in a bone.  This dish was fun to eat and generated an amazing amount of buzz for looks alone but the rich and sophisticated taste showed more than just clever packaging.
Chef Matt Jennings of La Laiterie won the loin category with a Korean Lamb Reuben with red miso cured lamb served on a semolina and lamb fat roll.  I could have eaten a whole plate of that lamb and the bun was fluffy and filled with flavor.
Finally the people’s choice award went to Chef Cassie Piuma of Oleana for her Lebanese Style Lamb Crepe with harra sauce, crushed walnuts, cucumber, and pomegranate.  This was a beautiful dish that blended fresh and exotic flavors folded into a delicate crepe.lamb cookie
The event also featured craft beers from local breweries, wine from J. Lohr vineyars cheese from Cabot, and adorable cartoon-like lamb cookies from Harvard Sweet Boutique.  These were so cute I could hardly bring myself to eat one.  Luckily they also had delicious caramels to munch on too and yes I ate some even after sampling 18 amazing lamb dishes.  Hey, I am always ready to take one for the team-as long as it is tasty!

Biscuit, Egg, Cheese, and Lamb?

I have to admit that I sometimes I crave awful drive-through breakfast food.  If you need to stop reading my blog or unfriend me on Facebook after this revelation, I will understand.  This morning, over tired and stressed; the greasy, salty siren song of the McSomething called to me as I drove to a meeting.  Somehow I was able to resist and tonight I rewarded myself with a slow food biscuit, egg, cheese, and sausage late night supper.

I tossed together some cheddar biscuits (similar recipe to the corn biscuits here, but without corn and with 1/2 cup shredded cheddar) and while they were baking, I found the frozen lamb and apple sausage patties I had saved from my Lamb ProAm supper.  I browned the sausage nicely in a hot pan and put it aside while I soft scrambled a Golden Egg Farm egg.  I took a hot biscuit right from the oven and piled on my lamb sausage and topped it with egg and arranged it on a pretty plate.

The Egg, Cheese, Lamb Biscuit was a delicious treat and I didn’t even miss at all the experience of peeling stuck cheese from the paper wrapper or dropping chunks of egg in my lap as I swerved to avoid a maniac driver on Route 3.

Autumn American Lamb Supper

lamb jam winUPDATE-We won! Teamed up with Chef Michael Scelfo of Russell House Tavern, my lamb roast was transformed into a roulade of lamb belly stuffed with lamb sausage and sous vide overnide until it was meltingly tender.  It was served with a dollop of Doves and Figs Winter Carnival conserve, a brush of cranberry mustard and a sprinkle of micro greens.

A number of years ago at Passover, I arrived at my parent’s new home in Floridalamb supper to find out some terrible news.  My mom had decided that since it was a much smaller holiday crowd then in the past, she would just make a nice roast chicken or
perhaps a small brisket.  “No lamb?” I asked, concern rising in my voice.  As my  mother explained how she was simplifying many things now, tears started to run down my face.  My feelings were sparked in part by longing for my favorite dish, by losing a holiday tradition, and perhaps mostly by the realization that my parents and I were growing older.   Five minutes later Mom and I  were in the car heading to the store to buy a leg of lamb and a big head of garlic and the holiday was restored for me.  The miracles of parting the sea and freeing the slaves from Egypt paled in comparison to the wonders of that lamb dinner.

When I was invited by Boston Chefs, to participate in the American Lamb ProAm, (information and a chance to vote for this recipe) I jumped at the chance.  My first thought was to make the typical spring lamb dinner that I enjoyed so much as a child.  The beautiful crimson-tipped trees and the bounty of fall fruits and vegetables at the farmers market convinced me instead to give my lamb a local autumn flavor.  I have also been following the adventures of  a group learning blog founded by Cathy Barrow called Charcutepalooza which inspired me (and provided excellent help technical advice) to make sausage as part of my dish.

With the exception of salt, sugar, and a few spices, I used all New England local and farm-grown ingredients in my dish.  The lamb that was generously supplied by the American Lamb folks came from Superior Farms I was pleased to read that they are  committed to sustainable farming and their website states that “All lamb livestock are raised outdoors with healthy diets of natural grasses, crops and grains.”

The local ingredients featured in my dish include:
Corn meal grown and ground by Mainstone Farm, Wayland MA
Roxbury and Cortland apples, Bosc Pears-Kimball Fruit Farm, Pepperell MA
Eggs-Golden Egg Farm, Hardwick MA
Cranberries-PJs Cranberries, Sandwich MA
Brussells Sprouts-Grateful Farm, Franklin, MA
White Wine-Hardwick Winery in Hardwick MA
Harpoon Hard Apple Cider from Boston, MA and Vermont
Cabot Sharp Cheddar from Vermont
Kate’s Buttermilk from Maine
King Arthur Flour from Vermont

I hope you will enjoy this delicious fall lamb supper and please vote for my dish starting on Monday at and show your love of lamb and local farm-grown food!

Autumn American Lamb Roast Stuffed with Lamb Apple Sausage lamb roastBoneless leg of  lamb
Lamb Apple sausage (recipe below) or store-bought lamb sausage
Cape Cod Cranberry Marinade (recipe below)

Prepare the marinade
Place the boneless lamb leg in a large plastic bag and pour in marinade
Refrigerate the lamb for two hours, turning several times to make sure the marinade covers the meat fully
After two hours remove the meat from the bag and discard the marinade
Roll open the leg of lamb gently
Cut part way through meat from the inside, if needed, to
make the roast lay as flat as possible-be careful to not cut too deeply
Spread the sausage mixture over the inside of the lamb leg
leaving a small border around the edges
Roll the roast from the short end like a jelly roll
Truss the roll with butcher’s twine
Roast at 425 degrees for 15 minutes and then at 325 degrees until meat reaches desired doneness.
For a medium rare roast, cook about 25 minutes per pound to 145 degrees.
Let roast rest for about ten minutes before slicing

Lamb Apple Sausagelamb sausage meat
1 ¾ lb pounds of lamb meat (leg or shoulder)
1/3 lb lamb fat
2 cups peeled, cored, chopped firm baking apples
½ cup fine ground cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 tsp black pepper
2 ½ teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground allspice

Equipment needed-food processor or meat grinder and large bowl
of ice

Cut meat and fat into cubes and place in freezer for 30 minutes
Meanwhile peel, core, and chop apples finely in food
processor or with a knife and set aside
After the meat has chilled, grind in three batches in food
processor fitted with steel blade or run through meat grinder
Place the ground meat in a bowl over the ice bowl to keep it
chilled through the process
When all the meat has been ground, mix the cornmeal, spices
and apples into the meat with your clean hands, blending well
The stuffed lamb roast will need about half of the sausage, you can shape the remaining sausage into patties to freeze and cook later.

Cape Cod Cranberry Marinade
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup cranberries (chopped in food processor)
3 tablespoons sugar
1 ½ tablespoons cracked brown mustard seed (whole seeds can
be cracked in a coffee grinder)
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
3-4 garlic cloves crushed
1 sprig of fresh rosemary

Place all  ingredients in a large bowl
Stir well to combine

Side Dishes

apple cranberry conserveApple Pear Cranberry Conserve
6 cups apples (measure after peeling, coring, and cutting into ½ inch chunks)
2 cups of pears (measure after peeling, coring, and cutting into ½ inch chunks)
3 cups cranberries
3 1/2 cups water
5 cups sugar
1 cinnamon stick

Cook cranberries in sugar, water, and spices until cranberries begin to soften
slightly and pop (about 10 minutes)
Add apples and pears
Cook gently until apples and pears soften and mixture begins to thicken
Boil until mixture gels (will be a softer spread than a traditional jam)
Remove cinnamon sticks and refrigerate, can, or freeze

Cheddar Lamb Fat Cornbread
1 cup stone-ground corn meal
1 cup flour
4 tablespoons lamb fat saved from roasting pan and chilled
1 cup buttermilk
1 egg
2/3 cup cheddar cheese
1 tablespoon baking powder

Heat oven to 400 degrees
Mix together flour, corn meal, and baking powder in a bowl
Stir in cold lamb fat
Whisk buttermilk and egg together
Blend buttermilk and egg into flour mixture
Stir in cheese gently
Grease  9″ cast iron pan or muffin tin
Place in oven to heat for about 5 minutes
Scoop batter into hot pan
Bake 20 minutes for pan and 15 minutes for muffin tin

Brussels Sprouts  Braised in Hard Cider
Clean sprouts and trim stems as needed
Pan sear sprouts in a small amount of olive oil
Add a generous amount of salt and pepper and cover part way
with hard apple cider
Cook on medium heat until sprouts become just tender

Double Goat Burgers

goat burgerFor the last several years on the opening day of the farmers market in my town (Arlington MA) I celebrate by making a dinner from whatever I find at the market.  This year Chestnut Farms brought ground goat and Smith Country Cheese  brought fresh goat cheese from Westfield farm and I thought that these would be delicious paired together.  I served my double goat burgers with  baby tomatoes which I quick pickled and steamed asparagus both from Kimball Fruit Farm.  Young goat provides a mild-flavored, rather lean meat and the addition of goat cheese along with some fresh chopped herbs from my garden gave it a richness and brought out a hint of sweetness. It was a perfect pair!

Double Goat Burgergoat burger raw
1 pound ground goat meat
3 ounces soft goat cheese
1 tablespoon chopped herbs (I used a mix of rosemary, sage, basil)
2 tablespoons sherry wine

Combine all ingredients and make into 1/3 or 1/4 pound patties
Sear both sides of the burgers in a hot pan
Cook for a few minutes and then pour sherry over the top of the burger and cook until done to your taste.

Wicked Son Eggs

Wicked Son EggsPassover is a time of stories and symbols.  As the holiday draws to an end, I wanted to share one of the most fun things we served at our Seder this year.  Last year my hubby, Mark, led us in the   The Two Minute Haggadah for the second night of Passover.  Everyone thought it was a riot and we joked that there should be a dish to match that contained the essence of the Seder in a few bites.  A few days before Passover began, we remembered the conversation and tossed around various ideas of how to make a bite-size Seder.  We hit on deviled eggs as the perfect medium for our holiday madness and Mark insisted that we call them “Wicked Son Eggs”.  Off to the kitchen I went to figure out a recipe.

After a day of shopping and cooking, the lamb confit was ready and I assembled the rest of our Wicked Son Eggs as follows:Seder egg
Peel and sliced 12 hard boiled eggs
Scoop yolks out and mix with mayonnaise, little shreds of lamb confit, fresh grated horseradish, and parsley
In another bowl mix finely diced apple with chopped walnuts and sweet wine
Stuff the eggs with yolk mixture
Top eggs with apples and walnuts
Serve on romaine lettuce leaves