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Not exactly a recipe, but ...

... a very good video showing how to cut up a whole chicken. By law, we can't do this for you, but it's so easy that you shouldn't be intimidated by it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zW5BFvCmV7k

The hardest part of the whole process is removing the keel or breast bone. Once you have that down, the whole process won't take you more than a couple of minutes per bird.

Search Youtube for "cutting up whole chicken" and you'll find lots of other videos as well. Some are horrible -- people practically ripping them apart with their bare hands -- but there are a few other reasonably good ones out there, including this one, which shows how to make boneless breasts, has some good tips on food safety, and shows how to individually quick freeze the parts.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wyoG3ebfy2U

IQF is especially great if you're going to be processing several birds. Once they're frozen, you can make a bag of breasts, another of drumsticks, another of thighs, etc. so you can quickly defrost just what you need for a quick meal.

Of course, sometimes you just have to have a whole roasted chicken. Nothing better than that!

 

Garlic Scapes Pesto

6 garlic scapes, chopped
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup freshly grated Asiago cheese
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup pine nuts
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste


Place the garlic scapes, Parmesan cheese, Asiago cheese, lemon juice, and pine nuts in the bowl of a food processor. Drizzle the olive oil over the mixture. Blend until the pesto is a brilliant green color and smooth in texture. Season with salt and pepper.

(Recipe swiped from New Roots Farm)

 

Shepherd's Pie

This is a hearty recipe that freezes well, which is good because it's not quick to make. If you already have the lamb stock on hand and can stay very focused, it's possible to make this dish in about an hour, but it'll probably take longer than that.

Filling:
2 lbs ground lamb
1 large onion
3 to 10 cloves of garlic (depending on taste)
1 cup sweet corn niblets
1 cup peas or green beans
1/4 to 1/2 tsp. whole fennel seed
salt and pepper to taste

Gravy:
1/2 stick butter
Wondra flour (other kinds will work in a pinch)
Worcestershire sauce
2 to 3 cups lamb stock (made by slowly boiling bones that have been roasted; boughten stock can be substituted. Even chicken works okay, but beef would be better.)

Topping:
3 to 5 potatoes
whole milk, cream, or half and half

The topping will require the most time, but it's largely unattended, so we start that first. Put a pot of water on to boil the potatoes, and start prepping them to be mashed. You can do this however you like your mashed potatoes -- skins on, or skins off. Cut into cubes about 3/4 inch to speed cooking. When the water comes to a rolling boil, add the potatoes and stir occasionally until the potatoes are cooked. Mash, adding milk, cream, or half and half to obtain a smooth but stiff consistency. (A stand mixer is excellent for this.)

While you're waiting for the potatoes to cook, start the filling. Chop the onion and garlic and brown along with the lamb in a large skillet; ideally one that you can put in the oven. Add fennel seed and salt and pepper to taste, brown over medium heat, stirring frequently. Do not add veggies just yet.

While that's working, start the gravy. This requires some pretty close attention, so try to make sure that the other two things can do without you for a few minutes before you commit.

Heat up a sautee pan or medium skillet over medium to high heat. Cut the butter up into 1/2 inch slices and melt it in the pan. When it's starting to bubble, gently shake the flour over the pan, stirring constantly. Try to distribute the flour very evenly, adding no more than the butter can absorb. This will avoid lumps. If you don't have Wondra flour, sift the flour onto the melted butter. All of a sudden, the butter and flour will start to turn into a solid. That's when you stop adding flour and start turning the mixture with a spoon or spatula, watching for it to start to brown. When it has started to brown, add the stock gradually, trying to keep the pan boiling at all times. Keep stirring! Add a teaspoon to a tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce, according to your taste.

Keep adding stock until there's enough gravy and it's thick enough for your taste. Bear in mind that you can always add more stock to thin a gravy that's too thick, but you can't really thicken a gravy that's too thin, so err on the side of too little stock.

You're getting closer now! Turn on the oven to broil to pre-heat.

Meanwhile, back at the filling ... add the gravy and stir, and reduce the heat to low. If the mashed potatoes aren't ready, do them while the filling simmers. The last step before the potatoes go on the top is to add the veggies. If they're frozen, they need about 10 to 15 minutes to defrost and cook. If they're fresh, they need about five. Don't even talk to me about canned, unless you did them yourself. Then they need about two minutes, and obviously, need to be drained.

When the filling is ready, it needs to go into an oven-safe dish. If you've used a skillet that can go in the oven, you're ready to go. Otherwise, transfer to a casserole or baking pan. Spread the filling out evenly and add a layer of mashed potatoes to the top. If the potatoes are too dry spread with the back of a spoon or a spatula, add a little more milk, cream, or half and half to thin them.

Place the dish under the broiler for a few minutes -- just long enough to get some golden-brown highlights on the potatoes.

Note that any part of this dish can be made ahead and reheated for assembly and finishing. You could also assemble the whole dish out of cold stuff and bake in the oven until it's hot through and through.

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