chicken

10 Reasons to Buy from a Butcher

by Anne Maxfield on April 30, 2018

Accidental Locavore Butcher Case If you bypass a butcher to just grab a couple of steaks or a chicken from the store, you might not be making the most of your meat-buying dollars.

Having a butcher you can depend on is the next best thing to buying a part of an animal from a local farm or meat CSA (and requires a lot less freezer space).

Why would you want to search out and befriend a butcher? Here are 10 reasons I love hanging out with people like Barb at Barb’s Butchery:

  1. If you have a dish at a restaurant with an interesting cut of meat, they can replicate it. Recently, I was reviewing a restaurant for Organic Hudson Valley Magazine and had a pork shank, something I wasn’t familiar with. I mentioned it to Barb and she was intrigued enough to start cutting some shanks from the pig she was breaking down.Accidental Locavore Butcher Pork Shank
  2. You know where your meat is coming from. They have relationships with farmers, so you’ll know how it was raised, finished and butchered.
  3. They can guide you to lesser known cuts (often known as butcher’s cuts) that are often less expensive and more flavorful. While cuts like short ribs and skirt steaks have gained popularity, flat-iron steaks are still flying under the radar and well worth checking out.Accidental Locavore Pig Butcher
  4. They can give you recipes and ideas. This is really useful if you want to try out some of the lesser-know parts of an animal. Often, if you have a recipe in mind, they can give you alternative meat ideas that might save you some money.
  5. They can teach you a lot of stuff. I learned how to test for doneness by just poking the meat. Here’s a link to the video I made; it’s much easier to see it in action.
  6. They can custom cut anything for you (although I always feel guilty about asking to have a chicken cut up—it’s so easy and I should practice my knife skills).
  7. They can grind it for you (important if you’re making something like steak tartare or have a special hamburger or meatloaf mix in mind).Accidental Locavore Butcher Sausage
  8. They can tell you about new stuff they’re working on and save you some. Barb recently made some Saucisse de Toulouse that were terrific!
  9. They may be making great sandwiches. Sometimes they’re posted and sometimes you just have to be in the know, but look for great brisket, Cubans, or Italian combos to be on the menu.
  10. You’re supporting a local business (and probably more than one, if they’re buying local meat).Accidental Locavore Barbs Butcher Bisket Sandwich

Did I miss anything? What do you like about shopping at a butcher?

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Accidental Locavore Sheet Pan ChickenThis sheet pan chicken dinner came about because I was stuck in the house on a snowy day, and come across a recipe (this from the NY Times Cooking) for something that sounds perfect for dinner and…

I had all the ingredients!!

Bonus points because it all got prepped in the time it took to thaw out the chicken thighs and clean off a car.

Sheet Pan Chicken with Potatoes, Arugula and Garlic Yogurt Sauce

  • 1 ½ pounds chicken thighs and drumsticks
  • 1 ¼ pounds small Yukon Gold potatoes, halved and cut into 1/2-inch slices
  • 2 ½ teaspoons kosher salt, more as needed
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper, more as needed
  • 2 tablespoons harissa (or to taste)
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • 4 ½ tablespoons olive oil, more as needed
  • 2 leeks, white and light green parts only, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
  • ½ teaspoon lemon zest (from 1/2 lemon)
  • ⅓ cup plain yogurt (do not use Greek yogurt)
  • 1 small garlic clove
  • 2 ounces baby arugula
  • Chopped fresh dill, as needed
  • Lemon juice, as needed

Accidental Locavore Chicken Sheet Pan MakingsCombine chicken and potatoes in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper. In a small bowl, whisk together harissa, cumin and 3 tablespoons oil. Pour over chicken and potatoes and toss to combine. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes, or up to 8 hours in the refrigerator.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine leeks, lemon zest, a pinch of salt and the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons oil.

Heat oven to 425°. Arrange chicken and potatoes on a large rimmed baking sheet in a single layer. Roast 15 minutes. Toss potatoes lightly. Scatter leeks over pan. Roast until chicken and potatoes are cooked through and everything is golden and slightly crisped, 25 to 30 minutes longer.

While chicken cooks, place yogurt in a small bowl. Grate garlic over yogurt and season to taste with salt and pepper.

To serve, spoon yogurt over chicken and vegetables in the pan. Scatter arugula and dill over mixture. Drizzle with oil and lemon juice, serve and enjoy!

Accidental Locavore Sheet Pan ChickenMy verdict: Like I said in the intro, miraculously all the ingredients were in the house! I did all the prep and made the yogurt sauce (adding about ½ teaspoon of lemon juice) while the thighs were thawing. Then, all I needed to do was pop it on a sheet pan (which I’ve taken to lining with parchment to make cleaning up easier) and bake it.

It was delicious! The potatoes were amazing, and the chicken was great! We’ll definitely be having this again.

A few comments from readers who had made it, taught me to keep the potatoes on the outside perimeter to help them crisp and try to put the leeks under the chicken and potatoes so they wouldn’t singe. Both worked well. The next time, I might slice the leeks a little thicker, it wouldn’t hurt the cooking time, and there would be less chance of singeing them.

The third helpful comment was to put the arugula on the plates and then plate the chicken and potatoes on top, so the arugula doesn’t get too warm and wilted. Also, a good idea.

If you’re not a fan of spicy food, you might want to go easy on the harissa. My favorite brand is spicy and flavorful, but not killer.

The dill is probably optional, if you have it great, if not cilantro might even be better. I added lemon juice to the yogurt, so went a little easy with it on the chicken.

You’ve got lots of options here and any of them will make an easy, tasty dinner.

 

 

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Sheet Pan Chicken, Chickpeas and Fennel

by Anne Maxfield on October 30, 2017

Accidental Locavore Chicken and Chickpeas RoastedChicken sheet pan dinners always look like a great idea.

Can we all agree on a few things?

  1. Sheet pan dinners are trendy.
  2. They look good in photos.
  3. It’s a good way to get food on the table simply and easily.
  4. And you’ll spend the rest of the night trying to scrub all that baked-on stuff off the sheet pan!

I’m as easily conned as the next person and have been crazy busy lately, so this chicken recipe on the NY Times Cooking site, looked like a winner. Give yourself some time to let it marinate. Serves 4.

Chicken, chickpeas and fennel recipe

  • 3 to 3 1/2 pounds of bone-in, skin-on chicken parts, such as breasts, thighs and legs
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 ½cups full-fat Greek yogurt, divided
  • 5 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, divided
  • 2 teaspoons ground turmeric, divided
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seed
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 large red onion, thinly sliced, divided
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½cup mint or cilantro leaves, torn

Season chicken parts with salt and pepper.

Combine 3/4 cup yogurt, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 1 teaspoon turmeric and 2 tablespoons water in a large bowl. Season well with salt and pepper. (It should be on the salty side, as this is a marinade.) Add chicken and toss to coat evenly. Let sit at least 30 minutes at room temperature, and up to overnight in the refrigerator.

Place oven rack on the top third of the oven and heat to 425°.

Accidental Locavore Chicken and Chickpeas TossedCombine chickpeas, fennel seed, cumin, remaining teaspoon of turmeric and half the red onion slices on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper and toss to coat.

Move chickpeas to the outer edges of the baking sheet. Scrape any excess marinade off the chicken, and place the chicken parts in the center. Place baking sheet in oven and bake, tossing chickpeas occasionally, until the skin of the chicken is evenly browned and the chickpeas are golden and starting to crisp, 45 to 50 minutes.

Meanwhile, toss remaining onion slices with 2 tablespoons lemon juice and season with salt and pepper; set aside.

Combine remaining yogurt with remaining 1 tablespoon lemon juice and season with salt and pepper; set aside.

Once chicken is ready, scatter with lemony onions and mint or cilantro. Serve with seasoned yogurt alongside as a sauce and enjoy!

Accidental Locavore Chicken and Chickpeas PlatedMy verdict: Winner, winner, sheet pan dinner!

Since I didn’t feel like cleaning for days, as you can see by the photos, a simple piece of parchment paper, lining the pan, made the clean-up a snap.

I tossed some fennel with the chickpeas and roasted it—it was wonderful, tender and silky.

The chickpeas were a bit of a disappointment. They were chickpeas I had soaked, cooked and frozen. Rather than get crispy like the original recipe said, they were a little tough. I don’t know if canned chickpeas would work better in this case, but it would be worth a try. What might be even better would be to cube up some potatoes and roast them instead of the chickpeas.

We also really liked the contrast the “lemony onions” gave to the dish. I used up all the Greek yogurt I had on the marinade and forgot to buy more, but a few tablespoons of labne, worked just as well and made a good sauce.

 

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Charlotte’s Restaurant in Millbrook

by Anne Maxfield on October 16, 2017

Accidental Locavore Charlotte Restaurant GardenThere are some restaurants that are classics, frozen in time–places that seem to have been around forever.

Stalwarts.

A gastronomic tweak here or there to make them seem relevant and business pours in year after year.

Charlotte’s in Millbrook is one of those places.

It’s a cozy combination of rooms, the general impression is of floral chintzes and fireplaces. In the summer there’s a quiet patio where you can enjoy a cocktail or dinner.

Accidental Locavore Charlotte Restaurant InteriorPatrons of a certain age who have been coming every Friday night with family and friends.

The food is good. There’s nothing that will send you running for the doors, and most likely, nothing that will make you swoon with joy.

If you’ve been missing plates garnished with stuffed tomatoes sporting an erect sprig of rosemary and green beans wrapped with a contrasting carrot ribbon, Charlotte’s will not disappoint. No matter whether they’re described on the menu as fresh, seasonal, harvest, or garden fresh, it’s always the same carefully crafted combination.

Accidental Locavore Charlotte Restaurant ChickenThe night we were there, my friend went for the pan roasted chicken with the Marsala sauce on the side. She got and enjoyed a nicely cooked chicken served over saffron risotto and accompanied by the aforementioned vegetables.

For whatever reason, I wanted duck that night and they were offering it with a blueberry sauce. That threw me for a loop until the waiter reminded me that duck usually comes with fruit sauce and my friend chimed in that, like her, I could always get it on the side.

Accidental Locavore Charlotte Restaurant DuckI went for it and got a fine serving of duck breast with the blueberry sauce (living dangerously—not on the side). It was also served over saffron risotto and vegetables but had a crunchy pile of fried onions topping it off. The duck was a little more well-done than I normally like, and the blueberry sauce added to the flavor of the duck.

The dessert menu offers standards like bread pudding, crème brûlée, lava cake and assorted house-made ice creams.

Charlotte’s is open for lunch, dinner and brunch on the weekends. Check their website for events, like an upcoming comedy night.

 

 

 

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