Will’s been making Julia Child’s coq au vin recipe for years, but always with broilers (quick tangent – many people today don’t know the difference between a broiler, a fryer and a stewing hen, knowledge we’ve lost in the past 50 years since the supermarkefication of our food supply. Broilers are the youngest you’d eat a chicken, which can be as early as 8 weeks with today’s hybrids. Tangent now over). This time, we actually used one of our roosters (mystery chick, not our New Hampshire Red) and the difference was amazing!
The whole point of the technique is to cook down the tougher meat of an older bird, so I shouldn’t be so surprised, but for a dish that I already found to be perfect, this was a culinary example of why we took on this whole farming venture… because you’re not suppose to use Cornish cross-, fatten up in half the time of traditional breeds-, Americans only ever eat broilers- chickens for everything. Not just because it’s unnatural, but because you can do delicious and interesting things with variety, the way our traditional, pre-giant refrigerator food culture understands. The very people who invented coq au vin in the first place.
So here’s a little photo montage of the entire creation. Be jealous of the mad skills of my awesome husband…
And then to really put things over the top, serve after finishing on an open fire while pressing cider (more on the cider pressing in a future post)…
Some of Will’s wine buddies are also hobby hunters, one of whom owns a ranch out in CO. As part of managing the land, he also has to manage the elk population, which means he comes back to VA with coolers full of elk meat. So the guys all decided to have a wild game night, as a means of getting to taste an elk steak.
Unfortunately, this coincided with Will’s mild flu/major cold this past weekend (he was so disappointed you’d think they’d canceled Christmas), making it so his contribution to said dinner became our Monday night meal (sorry, Meatless Mondays). And that meal was squirrel.
I know, I was even more hesitant than you. But then I realized I can’t really remember that last time Will cooked a meal that wasn’t amazing, so I had to give it a go. So here it is, braised squirrel in mustard cream sauce, served over french lentils and boiled potatoes.
The sauce gets most of the credit, but I have to admit the meat was quiet flavorful… like rabbit but a bit more game-y (in a good way), and surprisingly tender. The downside is that the meat to bone ratio is a bit like eating wild quail, i.e. you spend more time finding the prize than eating it. Even Alston cleaned his plate.
I guess this means I’m officially country, as I would definitely eat tree rat again.
A few years ago, I got Will a tuscan grill for his birthday (or maybe Christmas?). It’s not as fancy a device as it sounds. It’s a cast iron grill, 14″ square, on short little legs, maybe 3 inches tall, which you’re suppose to place over a fire pit or even in a fireplace in order to grill over wood. Last night, Will tried it in our modest sized Jotel wood burning stove.
It worked quite well, as the stove does a better job of drawing up the smoke than our oven hood (I’m a little bitter about that, given the hood is brand new).
Yes, those steaks tasted just as good as they look.
So how are you cooping with this absurdly cold winter?
Last week Wednesday, Will discovered our first duck egg:
So far we’ve gotten an egg a day, with the exception of this morning when we got two. Which, of course, meant time for omelettes…
Will likes to use the Julia Child method of shaking the pan to make them wonderfully fluffy.
What a wonderful breakfast. I’m looking forward to more of these.
Of course, after we found the first egg, we had the terrible thought that inevitably some fox would eat all the ducks, making that one egg the most expensive of all time. But let’s not think about that. Let’s scroll back up to the picture of breakfast instead.
Everyone should be required to read this. http://gizmodo.com/5654066/chicken-nuggets-are-made-from-this-pink-chicken-goop
If you ever eat a chicken nugget again, you are a lost cause.
Will and Alston had a productive day:
Now we’ll have to reference one of the shelf full of homesteading and organic gardening books we’ve bought over the last 4 months to figure out how to dry these so we can actually eat the nuts.
By the end of every season, I’m ready for the next one. I think this is common. It has to explain children insisting on wearing shorts in April or the universal craving for gazpacho that sets in early June, a good two months before the height of tomato season.
Right now, this is manifesting itself in the form of vegetables. I pick through our CSA share, thrilled to see butternut squash and kale, and I find myself completely uninspired to deal with the summer squash, peppers and tomatoes still trickling in. And that’s when I turn to soup.
The best part about making soup is that you don’t really need a recipe, and that’s coming from someone who is so anal about measuring I frequently weigh baking ingredients. But soup! So easy. Last night I simply sauteed up an onion, added all the tomatoes and peppers left in the house, simmered for under a half hour and attacked the pot with an immersion blender. Then it was time to call in the expert (Will) to consult on seasoning, and some milk and oregano later, we had dinner.
Now that we have a spare fridge/freezer in the basement, I was able to freeze a pint for us to dip into sometime in November while we’re sitting in front of the wood burning stove, wishing it was still summer.
Speaking of the wood burning stove, check out Will’s winter preparations from this weekend.
Bring it on, Jack Frost!