meat

Cider-Braised Chicken

I love cooking with cider. It's a little sweeter than wine and gives refreshing apple tones. Last summer I met John, the cider maker from Tideview Cider, who let me sample the apple and pear brews. The Heritage Dry is my favorite. So here's a recipe for a cider braised chicken. I'm fortunate to live near Pandora Farm, a small family farm which raises chickens in a very decent manner. And for the tomato sauce, I used some that we jarred this summer. Boy, is it going fast!

Enjoy this chicken with a glass of the same cider used to cook it.

Ingredients

• 1 whole chicken, cut in 8 pieces • 2 cups hard cider • 1/2 cup tomatoes, diced • 1 medium leek, sliced • 4 tablespoons sunflower or grapeseed oil • 4 tablespoons heavy cream • 1/4 cup flour • 1 bay leaf • salt + ground black pepper

Dust the chicken in the flour. Heat the oil in a large skillet and sear the chicken pieces for a few minutes on each side until they are golden brown. Transfer the chicken to a medium-sized pot and deglaze the skillet with half of the cider (1 cup). Let it simmer for a minute then add it to the chicken with the rest of the cider, leek, tomatoes and bay leaf. Slow simmer on low heat, half-covered for at least 2 hours, stirring occasionally. Add the cream. If you want the sauce to be thicker, low-boil until the sauce reduces. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Finish with some fresh chopped chives, tarragon, or parsley.

Slow-Braised Cajun Spiced Leg of Lamb

I made a feast for Easter. We ate garlic-parmesan potatoes, honey-whiskey carrots, barbecue-grilled veggies, homemade bread, a fall-apart leg of lamb, and a couple of salads. I barbecued the lamb on very high heat, mainly to brown the surfaces but also to give it a smoky taste. I did this a day in advance, and I would recommend giving yourself a similar head start. If you're the last minute type, just start early morning on serving day. The size of the leg does not really matter, but you'll have to reduce the cooking time a bit if you don't have a whole leg to, say, 6-7 hours. You'll know it's finished when it comes straight off the bone. You can use this Cajun Spice Mix.

Ingredients

• 1 leg of lamb • 1 teaspoon hot smoked paprika • 2 onions, roughly chopped • 2 cups tomatoes, crushed • 2 cups red wine • couple pinches of salt • 3 tablespoons dijon mustard

Spice Rub

• 2 tablespoons oil • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped • 4 sprigs thyme, leaves only • 1 tablespoon cajun spices • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper • 1/2 teaspoon salt • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Pre-heat the oven to 225°F. Rub your leg of lamb with some oil, salt and paprika. Grill it on the barbecue on all surfaces (or in a pan if you have one large enough), and make sure the grill is really hot. Put the wine, onions, and tomatoes in a large roasting pan. Add the leg of lamb. Mix all of the spice rub ingredients together. Brush the lamb with the mustard, and rub the spices on the surface. Cover and cook in the oven for 7 to 8 hours. Take it out a couple of times and baste it with the juices so that it doesn't dry out. Reserve the meat. For the sauce, strain the liquid and reduce it by half on medium-high heat. Skim away the fat during reduction. Serve.

Port and Thyme Chicken Liver Pâté

While food shopping, I came across some quality chicken livers perfect for making pâté.What's nice about this kind of recipe is that you can experiment with it; swap the port for a different liquid or switch the thyme for another herb or spice. Don`t be scared. Making pâté is easier than it looks, and it can be done in under 30 minutes*. Enjoy it with crackers, on toasted bread, or in a sandwich.

Ingredients

• 1 lb chicken livers • 2 shallots, chopped • 1/2 cup port wine • 4 sprigs of thyme, leaves only • 1 garlic clove, chopped • 2 tablespoons butter • 2 tablespoons duck fat or butter • salt + black pepper

In a sauté pan, sweat the shallots in 2 tablespoons of butter on medium heat until soft--about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and thyme and cook for another 2 minutes. Transfer to a bowl. In the same pan, heat up a tablespoon of oil and once the oil is sizzling, sauté the chicken livers. Cook on each side for about 4 minutes. Add the shallot mixture, stir, and add the port. Let it reduce until you have a thick sauce. Season with salt and pepper and remove from heat.

Transfer everything to a food processor and add the duck fat (or butter). Whizz until smooth. Line a mold with plastic wrap and pour the mixture in. Seal it with the plastic. *Refrigerate for at least 45 minutes.