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Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Brown Butter and Sage

Sweet Potato Gnocchi BannerThere are a few foods that seem to require being made by hand.  They simply have the handmade goodness baked right into them and their imperfections are somehow an integral part of what makes them so special.  For me, that list begins with berry pie and continues on to include many of my favorites.  Gnocchi would definitely be among them, and the sweet potato version would be my sentimental favorite.

The reason is really quite simple.  Sweet potato gnocchi was one of the first recipes that the whole family gathered in the farmhouse kitchen to make together.  Several times each fall and winter, we would spend a Saturday in the kitchen together making pounds of these little orange pillows to keep in the freezer.  During the years that our garden’s sweet potato harvest was plentiful, those days were frequent and we had a supply of homegrown and handmade sweet potato gnocchi to last all winter long.

Our children were young, but their small hands followed ours while rolling ropes of gnocchi dough until they were ready to section into pieces before pushing them down the ridged paddle and rolling them onto a sheet pan. By the time we were finishing filling tray after tray with gnocchi, we would be covered in the mess of the day’s work.  The kids often had sweet potato dough mashed under each fingernail, smeared onto their foreheads, and pressed  into every crevice of the table and slate tile floor. Cleaning up the kitchen and the kids sometimes took almost as long as making the gnocchi. 

No matter the mess, I have such fond memories of those days.  They ended with our family gathered around our farmhouse table enjoying a meal that was literally made with our hands.  Every bite was a celebration of time spent together in the kitchen. There’s something warm and wonderful about that sort of memory, that type of meal, and knowing that we are continuing a tradition as old as this farmhouse by creating something nourishing for our family table together.

Years have passed, but we still enjoy this meal just as much today.  My kitchen helpers have grown by leaps and bounds in every way including their gnocchi making prowess.  They roll these gnocchi down the paddle with such ease now.  The trays fill quickly with beautiful gnocchi and the mess is a mere hint of what it was years ago.

I’ve written about food memory so many times before.  Most often, my childhood food memories involve my paternal grandmother’s homemade pies.  The mere thought of them has the power to transport me back decades to her humble kitchen table.  Food memories are so powerful, so intertwined into our remembrance of a time and place.

While I didn’t set out for this rustic recipe to become one of my children’s food memories, they certainly have.  We speak of them often, peering back into the years gone by to revisit them.  I hope that my children will continue to hold this food memory and many others we have cultivated very close to their hearts.

For me, these sweet potato gnocchi will always have a special place in my heart, a rich food memory that will be bound together by the mental images I have of us gathered together to make them in our farmhouse kitchen.  I hope that you will create your own tradition and food memory by making them to share with your friends and family.  I can promise that all who gather at your table to enjoy these gnocchi will remember them fondly for years to come.

 

You can certainly make this recipe without a gnocchi paddle.  The ridges are meant to both make the gnocchi look beautiful and help them to hold on to their sauce.  You can make them without the ridges without affecting their flavor.  We have two gnocchi paddles at the farmhouse.  One is an antique that we discovered at a local antique shop.  The other is a new version we purchased from a kitchen shop.  I’ve had so many readers ask me where they can find a paddle for making gnocchi and pasta that I’ve added one to our Amazon shop so that you can find one to add to your kitchen!

 

Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Brown Butter and Sage
This recipe comes together quite easily, but does require a bit of prep time. At our house, we make a double recipe and save half of the gnocchi for a second evening’s dinner. These frozen, unboiled gnocchi can be stored in a freezer bag for later use. When the time comes, frozen gnocchi can be dropped directly into a pot of boiling salted water. They will take a few extra minutes to float to the surface and cook completely, but the taste will not be affected by their stay in the freezer.
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For the Gnocchi
  1. 2 pounds raw sweet potatoes
  2. 15 ounces ricotta cheese
  3. 2 Tablespoons brown sugar
  4. 1 ½ teaspoons sea salt
  5. 2 1/2 cups All-purpose flour
For the Brown Butter
  1. 3 Tablespoons butter
  2. 1 Tablespoon fresh sage, minced
  3. Parmesan cheese, grated for serving
Instructions
  1. Wash the sweet potatoes and puncture all over with a fork. Place half of the potatoes on a microwave safe plate and microwave on high in 4 minute intervals until soft. Remove from the plate and set aside to cool. Repeat with the remaining sweet potatoes.
  2. Once the cooked sweet potatoes are cool enough to handle, split each potato in half lengthwise. Using a spoon, scrape the flesh from the skin and place into a potato ricer. Rice the sweet potato into a large bowl. Repeat until all the sweet potatoes have been riced into the bowl. If you do not have access to a potato ricer, the cooked sweet potato flesh can be placed in the large bowl and mashed using a hand potato masher.
  3. Add ricotta cheese, brown sugar, and salt to the sweet potatoes and stir until well combined. Add 1 1/2 cups of the flour to the sweet potato mixture and stir until fully incorporated. Add the remaining flour 1/2 cup at a time until the dough forms a soft ball. The goal is to create a soft dough that comes together without being too dry. If needed, add more flour a bit at a time until the dough comes together. Take care not to overmix.
  4. Turn dough out of the bowl onto a well-floured surface. Divide the dough into 8 equally sized sections. Take one of the sweet potato dough sections and roll on a floured surface to form a rope with a 1 inch diameter. Using a knife or bench scraper, cut the rope into one inch long pieces.
  5. Traditionally, gnocchi are individually rolled on a gnocchi paddle or over a fork in order to create ridges that trap the sauce on each piece.You can also push each piece of gnocchi across the tines of a fork with your thumb.
  6. However, if you find this intimidating or simply don't have the time, don't despair. This step can be skipped and the gnocchi can simply be prepared once they are cut. While the appearance will differ slightly, the flavor will still be delicious.
  7. Place the gnocchi on a sheet pan lined with a piece of parchment, waxed paper, or freezer paper. Continue until all of the gnocchi have been shaped and cut. If you are planning to freeze some of the gnocchi, place them in a single layer on a tray lined with freezer paper. Freeze them for several hours until they are frozen solid. Transfer them to a freezer bag for long term storage.
  8. To prepare the gnocchi, place a large stockpot filled with water over high heat. Once the water comes to a simmer, add 1 Tablespoon of salt and allow the water to come to a full rolling boil. Reduce the heat slightly.
  9. Add the gnocchi in batches small enough to allow them to move freely in the salted boiling water without being crowded. The gnocchi will begin to float on the surface of the water as they cook. Continue to cook for approximately one minute before removing with a slotted spoon to a lightly oiled baking sheet to allow the gnocchi to dry slightly. Continue until all of the gnocchi have been cooked.
  10. Once the gnocchi have been boiled and are drying on the sheet pan, prepare the brown butter and sage. Add the butter to a large skillet over medium heat. After the butter melts, you will notice that the milk solids will begin to separate. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally to allow those solids to brown slightly. You will notice a slight change in color and aroma. Brown butter has a slightly nutty aroma which will signal that the solids have caramelized and that the brown butter has finished cooking.
  11. Reduce the heat to low and add the minced sage, swirling the pan or stirring to combine. Begin adding the boiled gnocchi to the pan in small additions, tossing gently to coat them in the brown butter without damaging the tender gnocchi. Continue adding gnocchi to the pan until they have all been added.
  12. Warm the gnocchi briefly, moving them gently to prevent sticking and to ensure that they are all coated with the brown butter and sage. Transfer the warm gnocchi to plates and garnish with grated Parmesan cheese before serving. Enjoy!
  13. Taste for seasoning, adding salt and pepper to taste. Add the cooked gnocchi to the pan and gently stir to coat. Serve immediately, garnishing with grated Parmesan.
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Creamy Polenta Made with Home Ground Cornmeal

Creamy Polenta BannerPolenta is a popular side dish here at the farmhouse. For years, I made polenta from cornmeal purchased at the grocery store.  The recipe was foolproof and always produced a polenta that had a lovely texture and flavor.  We were very happy with the consistently good results we had making polenta to serve at our family table.

Then we added a WonderMill grain mill to our arsenal of kitchen tools and our good polenta was transformed into a great, show stopping dish.  By making the simplest of changes to the cornmeal we were using, our polenta became a richly flavored, earthy masterpiece. The only change was that we were milling our own cornmeal instead of using store bought meal.   It’s shocking what a difference freshly milled cornmeal can make.

Milling the cornmeal was incredibly easy once I had sourced the corn to grind in the WonderMill.  I searched in vain for a local source for dried dent corn, but couldn’t find any that was safe for us to have here in our nut free home.  After doing a little research, I found that other home millers used popcorn kernels to make their own cornmeal.  Popcorn is readily available in different varieties, including organic, so I was eager to see what type of meal it would produce.

In a matter of minutes, an entire two pound bag of popcorn kernels had been processed through the mill on the coarse setting.  The resulting meal was congruent with evenly ground particles.  The smell of the warm meal was amazing, full of the aroma of freshly cooked corn.

I couldn’t wait to use this home ground meal in our beloved polenta recipe and taste the results.  Polenta with Heirloom Tomato Sauce was added to our menu board for the following night’s dinner.  As soon as it was bubbling away on the stove, the amazing aroma told me that this home ground meal was going to make all the difference.

Both the flavor and texture of the polenta made with our freshly milled meal was superior to the polenta we had been making.  In fact, the intensity of the pure corn flavor was amazing.  It transcended the entire dish from something ordinary to extraordinary.  While the polenta we had made in the past was always a good base for a sauce or topping, this polenta was a great component of the dish.

This polenta’s intense, earthy flavor was robust enough to shine through the topping instead of just providing a backdrop to it.  Since then, we have made this recipe many times, yet I am still surprised by what a difference the freshly milled cornmeal makes.  It is rare that such a simple effort in the kitchen makes such a huge impact on a dish.  Thankfully, it’s achievable for anyone who has a mill and a few handfuls of popcorn in the pantry.  One taste and I’m sure that you and your family will agree:  fresh home ground cornmeal makes all the difference in the world.

 


Creamy Polenta
I use our own freshly milled cornmeal when making this recipe. If you prefer, you can substitute an equal amount of your favorite brand of store bought cornmeal.
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Ingredients
  1. 8 cups liquid (water, stock, bone broth, or a combination)
  2. 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  3. 2 cups fresh cornmeal milled on the coarse setting
  4. salt and pepper
Instructions
  1. In a large pot, bring the 8 cups of liquid to a rapid boil. Add the salt and return to boil. Place the cornmeal in a large mixing bowl. Using a ladle, add some of the boiling water into the cornmeal, whisking to incorporate. Add enough water to make a thin batter. Slowly add the thin batter to the remaining boiling water, whisking constantly. Adding the cornmeal to the liquid in this manner will help to prevent lumps from forming, making a creamier polenta.
  2. Return the cornmeal mixture to a boil while whisking constantly to prevent lumps from forming. Once the mixture comes to a boil, reduce the heat to low. Continue to simmer, uncovered, whisking often for approximately 30 minutes. Take care when whisking the hot polenta as it has a tendency to bubble and pop as it is simmering.
  3. The polenta will thicken as it cooks; yet retain a smooth and silky texture. If the mixture becomes too thick, simply add a bit of warm liquid and whisk to combine. Taste the polenta for seasoning, adding salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Remove the polenta from the heat. At this point, the polenta can be served by ladling onto serving plates and topping with your favorite sauce, meat, and vegetables. It makes a lovely base for richly flavored dishes like braised lamb shanks or brisket.
  5. The polenta can also be baked to create a dish that can be sliced into individual portions for serving. In order the bake the polenta, preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Prepare a shallow casserole dish or baking pan for the polenta by brushing with a thin coating of olive oil. Transfer the polenta from the cooking pot to the prepared baking dish. Spread the polenta to the edges of the pan, smoothing the top of the mixture. Using a pastry brush, lightly cover the surface of the polenta with olive oil. Season with fresh salt and pepper and add a liberal amount of grated Parmesan cheese if desired. Place the polenta in the preheated oven and bake for 10 minutes.
  6. After the 10 minutes have passed, turn on the oven’s broiler. Broil the polenta for approximately five minutes or until the top is lightly browned. Remove the polenta from the oven. Cut the polenta into squares and transfer portions of polenta to plates. Serve hot and enjoy!
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Cast Iron Skillet Pizza

Cast Iron Skillet Pizza BannerPizza night is a favorite here at the farmhouse.  I’ve made all sorts of homemade pizza over the years from traditional to taco pizza, grilled pizza, and homemade calzones.  Lately, we’ve been making our homemade pizza in a cast iron skillet with amazing results.  I should have known that creating a homemade pizza in my favorite type of pan would create a delicious, comforting meal to serve at our family table.

Preparing pizza in a cast iron skillet is so simple.  The crust bakes up beautifully thanks to the even heat in the skillet.  Once we have all helped ourselves to a slice, the remaining pizza stays warm and delicious until we’re all ready for seconds. 

I make one large pizza for our family in a 12 inch cast iron skillet.  You can also scale down your pizza to fit a 9 inch cast iron skillet.  The baking times remain the same; simply reduce the amount of toppings to create a slightly smaller pizza with equally delicious results.  If you prefer a thinner crust, less dough can be used to create a pizza just to your liking..  If you love a thick crust, do the opposite and use more of the dough to create a thick crust for your pizza.  This crust also makes  a delicious traditional style pizza baked on a pizza pan. 

This recipe makes enough dough and sauce for two 12 inch pizzas.  The dough stores very well in the refrigerator for a few days or in the freezer for weeks.  I make a batch of dough and sauce one week and have enough of both leftover to make our pizza the following week.

I have used both homemade pizza dough and the store bought varieties to make great pizzas in my cast iron skillet.  Our favorite is the recipe I have included below.  It’s simple to make and tastes delicious.  If you prefer to use a store bought pizza crust, you will need around 14 ounces for a 12 inch skillet and 10 to 12 ounces for a 9 inch skillet pizza. 

We like to fill our pizza with a combination of 8 ounces local sausage, a sautéed red bell pepper, and a generous handful of sliced black olives.  Precooking the sausage and peppers ensures that they will be fully cooked and will not add too much moisture to the finished pizza which can result in a soggy crust.  This step also greatly reduces the baking time for your pizza.  On busy weeks, I often precook the toppings the night before or in the morning so that assembling our pizza at dinner time will be even easier.  You can substitute your favorite toppings for your pizza, precooking any raw ingredients and preparing them ahead of time if that suits your schedule.

I hope that you will gather your favorite pizza dough, sauce, toppings, and cast iron skillet for a farmhouse style pizza night at your house. I know that you’ll find that this simple recipe will make pizza night into a homemade feast that you’ll love serving to your family and friends week after week.

 

 

 

  

Cast Iron Skillet Pizza
I make one large pizza for our family in a 12 inch cast iron skillet. You can also scale down your pizza to fit a 9 inch cast iron skillet. The baking times remain the same; simply reduce the amount of toppings to create a slightly smaller pizza with equally delicious results. If you prefer a thinner crust, less dough can be used to create a pizza just to your liking.. If you love a thick crust, do the opposite and use more of the dough to create a thick crust for your pizza. This crust also makes a delicious traditional style pizza baked on a pizza pan. This recipe makes enough dough and sauce for two 12 inch pizzas. The dough stores very well in the refrigerator for a few days or in the freezer for weeks. I make a batch of dough and sauce one week and have enough of both leftover to make our pizza the following week. I have used both homemade pizza dough and the store bought varieties to make great pizzas in my cast iron skillet. This is our favorite is the recipe. It’s simple to make and tastes delicious. If you prefer to use a store bought pizza crust, you will need around 14 ounces for a 12 inch skillet and 10 to 12 ounces for a 9 inch skillet pizza.
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For one 12 inch Cast Iron Skillet Pizza
  1. 14 ounces pizza dough
  2. 1 teaspoon olive oil to prepare the pan before baking
  3. 1 – 2 cups pizza sauce
  4. 16 ounces mozzarella cheese, grated
  5. Your favorite pizza toppings
  6. dried oregano
For the Dough
  1. 3 ½ - 4 cups Bread Flour
  2. 2 teaspoons sea salt
  3. 1 packet active dry yeast or 2 ¼ teaspoons instant yeast
  4. 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  5. 2 teaspoons honey
  6. 1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons warm water
For the Sauce
  1. 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  2. 2 cloves garlic, minced
  3. 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  4. 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
  5. 28 ounces tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes
  6. 1 teaspoon sugar or honey
  7. salt and pepper to taste
For the Dough
  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine water, honey, salt, and olive oil. Sprinkle the yeast on top of liquids and allow to sit for 5 minutes to activate the yeast.
  2. Add 3 ½ cups of flour to bowl and fit the mixer with a dough hook. Mix on low-speed for three minutes. The dough will begin to gather together and form a shaggy ball. Turn mixer off and allow dough to rest for five minutes.
  3. At the end of the rest period, mix the dough for another three minutes at medium low-speed. Add up to ½ cup additional flour if necessary to bring the dough together. At this point, the dough will be transformed into a ball.
  4. Remove the dough from the mixer and knead by hand until it is elastic and smooth. Divide the dough into two portions and form each into a ball by tucking the ends underneath as you turn it in your hands. Place each ball of dough in a medium bowl, coating the bowl and ball of dough with a bit of olive oil to prevent it from sticking or drying out. Allow the dough to sit at room temperature at least 15 minutes. Cover the bowl and store the dough in the refrigerator until ready to use. The dough will keep in the refrigerator for several days or in the freezer for several weeks.
For the Sauce
  1. In a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring to prevent burning. Add the oregano and tomato paste and stir to combine. Cook for 1 minute before adding the tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes. Bring the mixture to a simmer. Add the sugar and season with salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally. The sauce should reduce slightly and thicken. Remove the pan from the heat and taste for seasoning, adding salt, pepper, and oregano as needed. If you prefer your sauce to have a bit of spice, you can add a dash of dried red pepper flakes with the garlic and oregano.
For the Pizza
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. If you have a pizza stone or baking stone, this is a great time to use it. Position an oven rack in the middle of the oven. Add 1 teaspoon of olive oil to your cast iron skillet. Use a pastry brush to coat the bottom and sides of the skillet with the oil. This will prevent the dough from sticking to the skillet as it bakes.
  2. As the sauce is reducing, I cook my pizza toppings. In a medium skillet, I brown 8 ounces of sausage removed from its casing before adding sliced bell peppers. Once the peppers are cooked, I remove the skillet from the heat, add the sliced black olives, and stir to combine. Precooking any raw ingredients will prevent the pizza from becoming soggy from the moisture released from raw ingredients as they bake in the oven.
  3. Press the pizza dough into the oiled cast iron skillet. The dough should evenly cover the bottom and the sides of the skillet. As you press the dough, it should keep its shape in the skillet, holding itself up against the side of the skillet. Place the skillet on a burner set at low heat as you assemble the pizza. The heat will help to warm the cast iron skillet and sear the bottom of the dough. This will help to ensure that the crust bakes evenly and has a nice crunch on the exterior. The pizza should spend about 5-7 minutes on the burner as you assemble the pizza before being transferred to the oven.
  4. Add half of the grated cheese to the skillet, spreading to evenly cover the bottom of the pizza crust. Add half of the pizza sauce, spreading it evenly on top of the layer of grated cheese. Add your toppings followed by the remaining grated mozzarella. Sprinkle with dried oregano. Allow the pizza to remain on the warm burner for a minute or two before transferring it to the hot oven.
  5. Bake the pizza for 18 - 20 minutes, turning it after 10 minutes to promote even browning and baking. Remove the pizza from the oven and allow it to cool for a full 15 minutes. This cool down period will allow the pizza toppings to set up slightly, making it much easier to slice and serve.
  6. Enjoy!
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Chocolate Cream Pie

Chocolate Cream Pie BrandedChocolate.  Cream.  Pie.  Need I say more?  I didn’t think so.  What could be better than a combination of rich, chocolate cream made from scratch over a crumb pie crust topped with vanilla bean whipped cream?  For a pie lover like me, adding chocolate to the mix sends this recipe to the top of my favorites list.

With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, this recipe is perfect for treating your loved ones to a delicious homemade dessert.  My Valentines are chocolate lovers, so this pie often finds a place at our table on and around Valentine’s Day.  It never fails to delight each and every one of them.

In our house, we bake and eat around food allergies, so the first step in any recipe is ensuring that the ingredients are safe to keep in our nut free home.   Finding premium quality chocolate that is free from nut allergens would be a difficult task if it wasn’t for Vermont Nut Free Chocolates.  Thanks to their delicious line of nut free baking ingredients, chocolates, and treats, I always know that the baking ingredients I keep in the pantry and use in our farmhouse kitchen are safe for our whole family.

In this recipe, I use three different types of chocolate from Vermont Nut Free Chocolates.  I found that combining milk chocolate, dark chocolate, and unsweetened chocolate yielded the most delicious result.  If you don’t have nut allergies to consider when making this dessert, you can substitute your favorite brand of chocolate when making this recipe with equally delicious results.

This pie is also the perfect recipe to use the very best vanilla extract you have available.  In our house, that means reaching for our homemade vanilla extract.  Its rich amber color, intense flavor, and fragrant aroma are the perfect counterpoint to the chocolate filling and whipped cream topping.  You can learn more about making your own vanilla extract and our vanilla extract kits in our Mercantile Shop.

I hope that you will enjoy making and serving this delicious pie as much as I do.  I turn to it time and time again when I want to treat my family to a dessert that puts a smile on every face gathered around our table.  It never disappoints!

 

Chocolate Cream Pie
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For the Crumb Pie Crust
  1. 200 grams (approximately half a box) of graham crackers
  2. 6 Tablespoons butter, melted
For the Chocolate Filling
  1. 4 large egg yolks
  2. 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  3. ¼ cup cornstarch
  4. ½ teaspoon salt
  5. 2 ½ cups whole milk
  6. 3 ounces milk chocolate
  7. 3 ounces dark chocolate
  8. 1 ounce unsweetened baking chocolate
  9. 2 Tablespoons butter
  10. 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
For the Whipped Cream Topping
  1. 8 ounces heavy whipping cream
  2. 1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
  3. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
To Make the Crust
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Place the graham crackers in a food processor or blender. Pulse/process until the crackers have been reduced to fine crumbs. If you prefer, you can place the graham crackers on a sheet tray and use a rolling pin to crush them to a uniform, fine crumb.
  3. Melt the butter in a small saucepan or microwave. Place the graham cracker crumbs and butter in a medium bowl and stir until the crumbs are evenly moistened. Transfer the crumb mixture to a pie plate and gently press it into the bottom and sides of the pan. The crumbs should come together to form a crust.
  4. Transfer the pie plate to the preheated oven. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove the plate from the oven and allow the crust to cool to room temperature.
To Make the Chocolate Filling
  1. In a medium saucepan, combine the egg yolks, sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Whisk the ingredients together until they form a thick, smooth mixture. Slowly add the whole milk, whisking to fully combine and prevent lumps from forming. Place the saucepan over low heat and add the chocolate, whisking until it is completely melted and the mixture is smooth. Increase the heat to medium and bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally to prevent the mixture from scorching on the bottom of the pan. Simmer until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
  2. Remove the pan from the heat. Add the butter and vanilla and stir until the butter is melted and the mixture is smooth. Allow to cool slightly as you prepare the whipped cream, stirring occasionally to prevent a skin from forming on the surface. Once the mixture has cooled to lukewarm or room temperature, transfer it to the pie plate, spreading it evenly over the baked pie crust.
To Make the Whipped Cream Topping
  1. Place the whipping cream, sugar, and vanilla extract in the bowl of a stand mixer or a large mixing bowl. Using a whisk attachment for your stand mixer or beaters for a hand mixer, beat the cream and sugar on high speed until it forms stiff peaks.
  2. Transfer the whipped cream to the pie, spreading it gently to evenly cover the surface of the chocolate filling. Chill the pie until you are ready to serve.
Notes
  1. Our family lives and bakes around nut allergies, so our farmhouse kitchen is nut free. This recipe uses one of our nut free favorites: Vermont Nut Free Chocolates baking pieces and cocoa powder. You can learn all about them at www.vermontnutfree.com.
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This recipe is included in our Valentine’s Day recipe gallery.  You’ll find our favorite homemade Valentine’s Day recipes there just waiting for you!

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1840 Farm abides by word of mouth marketing standards. We believe in honesty of relationship, opinion and identity.  Compensation received from sponsors does not influence the topics or posts made on this blog.  Product reviews will include our honest opinions about the product(s) reviewed.  Products that do not meet our standards of daily use on our farm will not be reviewed. Sponsored posts will be clearly labeled as such.

 

 

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Cinnamon Candy Applesauce

cinnamon-candy-applesauce-brandedI remember vividly the bright red, glossy candy apples I looked forward to at the fair each fall during my childhood.  I loved that hardened, glassy red candy with a juicy apple waiting inside,  They were so beautiful, so magical looking before I had even taken the first bite.  Once I did, my mouth was treated to the amazing flavor of cinnamon, sugar, and juicy apple.

My husband grew up enjoying a special cinnamon candied apple dish each year at Thanksgiving.  The chunks of apple were simmered slowly in a cinnamon syrup, taking on all the flavor of a candy apple and pairing beautifully with Thanksgiving dinner.

It stood to reason that I would eventually choose to combine those two childhood memories and create a dish that we could enjoy all year long.  This recipe has become a family favorite.  You’ll find a jar of this beautiful red tinged applesauce in our refrigerator just waiting to be served at our family table.

I have used a variety of cinnamon flavored candies to create this recipe with delicious results.  Choose your favorite cinnamon candy and give this simple recipe a try.  Your friends and family will love it as much as mine do!

Cinnamon Candy Applesauce
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Ingredients
  1. 6 - 8 medium to large apples, peeled and cored (should yield around 1 pound of flesh)
  2. 4 ounces red cinnamon flavored candies, crushed
  3. ¼ cup (2 ounces) water
  4. pinch salt
Instructions
  1. Wash, peel, and core the apples. The apples can be left in quarters or cut into chunks. They will break down as they cook, making fine chopping unnecessary.
  2. Using a food processor or blender, crush the cinnamon candies into small pieces. Place the water and candies in a large pot over low heat. Cook, stirring often, until the candies have completed dissolved in the water. Add the apples and pinch of salt to the pot and stir to coat.
  3. Reduce the heat to low and continue to cook until the apples begin to fall apart, approximately 20-30 minutes depending on the variety. You can speed up this process by crushing the cooked apples with the back of a wooden spoon or by using a potato masher.
  4. Remove the pot from the heat. Taste for seasoning, adding additional sugar if necessary. I prefer my applesauce to have a chunky texture, but you can puree the sauce using an immersion blender if you prefer a smoother texture.
  5. Allow the applesauce to cool to room temperature before transferring to a storage container with a tight fitting lid. This applesauce can be stored in the refrigerator for two weeks. It’s delicious served with your Thanksgiving dinner or other hearty meals.
Notes
  1. The amount of sweetness needed in this recipe can be adjusted to match the tartness of the apples you are using. Cinnamon candies vary in sweetness, making the addition of a bit of sugar necessary in some cases. Simply add a bit of granulated sugar to the applesauce during the final stages to adjust its flavor to your liking if needed.
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This post is included in our 1840 Farmhouse Thanksgiving Gallery.
You’ll find our favorite Thanksgiving recipes all gathered in one place so that you can easily include them in your family’s celebration.  I’ll be adding new recipes  right up until the big day, so check back to see even more delicious and fabulous Thanksgiving posts.

 

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Maple Applesauce

maple-applesauce-brandedHere in New England, real maple syrup is revered.  It’s so beloved that an entire season of the year is marked by the collection of sap from maple trees and the painstakingly slow process of boiling that sap down, down, and down until it is the rich, deeply colored amber maple syrup we all love.

After settling in here at the farm, we joined in the tradition.  We marched out in knee deep snowdrifts, tapping our maple trees, placing  spiles, and hanging galvanized collecting pails.  Once we had collected gallons of sap and boiled, and boiled, and boiled, we had indeed made our own truly homegrown maple syrup.  It was a moment to celebrate.

After spending hours on end to make our own maple syrup, we gained a deep appreciation for each drop.  We also started to look for recipes we could enjoy that celebrated the rich flavor of maple syrup.  This fall’s bounty of local apples seemed to provide me with the perfect opportunity to create just such a recipe.

This maple applesauce is sweetened solely with maple syrup.  It pairs the earthy, deep flavor of maple syrup and the bright taste of fresh apples.  We’ve been enjoying this applesauce alongside roast pork, chicken, and other fall dishes.  Next week, it will be served as a side dish with our Thanksgiving feast.  I can’t wait to taste it with our favorite holiday dishes!

Maple Applesauce
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Ingredients
  1. 6 - 8 medium to large apples, peeled and cored (should yield around 1 pound of flesh)
  2. 2 Tablespoons butter
  3. ¼ cup (2 ounces) maple syrup
  4. pinch salt
Instructions
  1. Wash, peel, and core the apples. The apples can be left in quarters or cut into chunks. They will break down as they cook, making fine chopping unnecessary.
  2. Place the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Allow the butter to melt. Add maple syrup, stirring to combine. Add the apples and pinch of salt to the pot and stir to coat.
  3. Reduce the heat to low and continue to cook until the apples begin to fall apart, approximately 20-30 minutes depending on the variety. You can speed up this process by crushing the cooked apples with the back of a wooden spoon or by using a potato masher.
  4. Remove the pot from the heat. Taste for seasoning, adding additional maple syrup if necessary. I prefer my applesauce to have a chunky texture, but you can puree the sauce using an immersion blender if you prefer a smoother texture.
  5. Allow the applesauce to cool to room temperature before transferring to a storage container with a tight fitting lid. This applesauce can be stored in the refrigerator for two weeks. It’s delicious served with your Thanksgiving dinner or other hearty meals.
Notes
  1. The amount of sweetness needed in this recipe can be adjusted to match the tartness of the apples you are using. Simply add a drizzle of maple syrup during the final stages to adjust its flavor to your liking.
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This post is included in our 1840 Farmhouse Thanksgiving Gallery.
You’ll find our favorite Thanksgiving recipes all gathered in one place so that you can easily include them in your family’s celebration.  I’ll be adding new recipes  right up until the big day, so check back to see even more delicious and fabulous Thanksgiving posts.

 

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Permanent link to this article: http://1840farm.com/2016/11/maple-applesauce/

Ginger Applesauce

ginger-applesauce-brandedI love the taste of fresh ginger. I use fresh ginger in both sweet and savory dishes here at the farmhouse.  For me, there’s simply no such thing as too much ginger.  Luckily, my daughter shares that belief, so she keeps me company.

I keep a jar of our Candied Ginger Slices in Ginger Simple Syrup in the refrigerator at all times.  The syrup is delicious in icy cold lemonade in the summer or in a cocktail to celebrate the end of a warm day.  Spicy Ginger and Garlic Quick Pickles are also a constant in our farmhouse kitchen.  They top burgers, sandwiches, and wraps all year long. 

When the weather turns cold, I turn to homemade Golden Milk with Turmeric, Ginger, and Ghee to warm me from the inside out.  The ginger adds such a delicious zing, a bright note to the earthy flavor of the turmeric and richness of the ghee.  Together, they’re delicious, comforting perfection with every sip.

So, when I was making batch after batch of applesauce using the local harvest of apples this fall, I began dreaming of a ginger applesauce to add to our dinner table.  After a little tinkering, this simple recipe emerged as our clear favorite.  It’s a lovely blend of the sweetness of fresh apples paired with the zip of ginger and just enough sugar to balance it all.

This ginger applesauce is so easy to prepare and full of flavor.  It will be featured on our Thanksgiving table this year.  I can’t wait to enjoy it alongside our roast turkey and all of our favorite side dishes.  I hope that you’ll enjoy it just as much as we do!

Ginger Applesauce
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Ingredients
  1. 6 - 8 medium to large apples, peeled and cored (should yield around 1 pound of flesh)
  2. 1 Tablespoons butter
  3. 1/2 cup (96 grams) granulated sugar
  4. 1 Tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and grated
  5. pinch salt
Instructions
  1. Wash, peel, and core the apples. The apples can be left in quarters or cut into chunks. They will break down as they cook, making fine chopping unnecessary.
  2. Place the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Allow the butter to melt. Add the sugar and ginger, stirring to combine. Add the apples and pinch of salt to the pot and stir to coat.
  3. Reduce the heat to low and continue to cook until the apples begin to fall apart, approximately 20-30 minutes depending on the variety. You can speed up this process by crushing the cooked apples with the back of a wooden spoon or by using a potato masher.
  4. Remove the pot from the heat. Taste for seasoning, adding additional sugar if necessary. I prefer my applesauce to have a chunky texture, but you can puree the sauce using an immersion blender if you prefer a smoother texture.
  5. Allow the applesauce to cool to room temperature before transferring to a storage container with a tight fitting lid. This applesauce can be stored in the refrigerator for two weeks. It’s delicious served with your Thanksgiving dinner or other hearty meals.
Notes
  1. The amount of sugar needed in this recipe can be adjusted to match the tartness of the apples you are using. Simply add a bit of sugar during the final stages to adjust it to your liking.
1840farm.com http://1840farm.com/

This post is included in our 1840 Farmhouse Thanksgiving Gallery.
You’ll find our favorite Thanksgiving recipes all gathered in one place so that you can easily include them in your family’s celebration.  I’ll be adding new recipes  right up until the big day, so check back to see even more delicious and fabulous Thanksgiving posts.

 

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Permanent link to this article: http://1840farm.com/2016/11/ginger-applesauce/

Cheesy Grits

cheesy-grits-branded-2Every time I serve grits at our farmhouse table, I am taken by how simple, comforting, and delicious they are.  Much like potatoes, they can be prepared and flavored in so many ways, making them an ideal companion to almost any meal.  They’re a great item to keep on hand in the pantry, ready to call into action at a moment’s notice.  They’re inexpensive, versatile, and so easy and quick to prepare that I turn to them time and time again.

 

I’m far from the first farmhouse cook to appreciate grits as a dish to serve to my family.  Grits have been a staple of American cooking for generations.  In fact, they were most likely among the first foods enjoyed by European settlers after arriving at the shores of the New World in the Jamestown settlement.  It is believed that the Powhatan Indians first introduced those settlers to “rockahominie”, a warm porridge made by cooking the cracked grains of corn.  That introduction dates back to the early 1600s.

 

cheesy-grits-bbq-wmCorn, referred to as maize, was a prized food source at that time.  It was revered and even used as a form of currency.  Plain corn was soaked in a lye solution made using lye extracted from wood ash.  This soaking removed the hull, bran, and germ from the corn.  The result was hominy which was a food source that was more easily digestible and required less time to prepare. 

 

While hundreds of years have passed, the comfort delivered to a meal by way of grits has stood the test of time.  I pair them with grilled meats, sausages, and our Cast Iron Skillet Roast Chicken.  When heirloom tomatoes are ripe in the garden, I often serve them with a sausage and tomato Bolognese style sauce spooned on top.  Sauteed spinach or Swiss chard are also delicious paired with these creamy grits.  No matter how we serve them, my family is always happy to see that grits are on the menu.

 

I hope that you’ll give this simple recipe a try. In a matter of minutes, you’ll have a bit of homemade comfort food to enjoy at your family table and an American history lesson to share!

 

Cheesy Grits
I like to use an equal combination of homemade bone broth and water when making grits. You can use any combination of bone broth, stock, or water. I find that any combination of cheese works well to flavor the grits. Simply choose a type of cheese or combination of cheeses that you like to flavor your grits. During heirloom tomato season, I often use ricotta cheese to create a mild flavored cheesy grit with a velvety texture.
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Ingredients
  1. 8 cups cooking liquid (bone broth, stock, or water)
  2. 2 cups quick cooking grits
  3. ½ teaspoon salt
  4. 2 cups shredded cheese
  5. salt and pepper
Instructions
  1. Bring the liquid to a boil in a large pot. Add the grits and salt to the boiling liquid, using a whisk to mix. Reduce the heat to low and cover. Simmer for 10 minutes or until thickened, whisking once or twice during the cooking time to ensure that the grits don't stick to the bottom of the pan.
  2. Remove the pot from the heat and add the cheese to the grits. This is a great way to use up bits of cheese that are in my cheese drawer. Whisk until the cheese is melted and incorporated. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed. Serve with grilled meats or sautéed greens. Grits are delicious when dressed with a drizzle of your favorite barbecue sauce.
  3. Leftover grits can be refrigerated and reheated with a bit of water or bone broth over low heat to help loosen them up a bit. They're just as delicious the second night!
Notes
  1. You can learn how to make your own batch of delicious and nutritious bone broth right here: http://1840farm.com/how-to-make-homemade-bone-broth/
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Permanent link to this article: http://1840farm.com/2016/10/cheesy-grits/

How to Make Homemade Bone Broth

bone-broth-branded 

Bone broth is the simplest of preparations and yields such delicious and nutritious results. It requires no fancy ingredients and doesn’t demand constant attention. Given enough time and heat, the bones break down, releasing all of their gelatin and minerals into the liquid. The resulting bone broth is rich in protein, gelatin, and minerals and adds a beautiful color and flavor to any dish. Best of all, you can create this amazing broth using leftovers that would normally be discarded.

How to Make Thanksgiving Turkey Bone Broth at 1840 FarmUntil a few years ago, I had never made my own bone broth. I had created my own stock and quick broth with good success, but didn’t fully understand the difference between the three kitchen staples and therefore didn’t realize that I could create something with more flavor and nutrition without creating any extra work for myself in the kitchen.

Since then, I find myself unable to pass up the opportunity to turn the leftovers from a roast chicken or turkey into a batch of bone broth.   I love transforming what used to be thrown away into a broth full of healthy calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, collagen, and a host of other nutritious minerals.

The process of making bone broth is simple. Reserve all that is left from the carcass of your chicken or turkey along with and any vegetables in the roasting pan. Any vegetables or leftover pan drippings can be scraped from the roasting pan and added to the slow cooker. They will add flavor and color to the finished bone broth.

When the meal is finished, transfer the roasting pan’s vegetables to the ceramic insert of a large slow cooker. Add approximately a third of the bones from a whole turkey or all of the bones from a 3 to 4 pound chicken to the slow cooker.  Add enough water to completely cover the bones and vegetables along with two Tablespoons of apple cider vinegar.  Place the lid on the slow cooker and allow the ingredients to rest for an hour. The vinegar helps to extract the calcium from the bones, making a richer and more nutritious bone broth.

Transfer any remaining bones to a freezer bag. Those bones can be frozen for later use. When making bone broth using frozen bones, allow the bones to come to room temperature before proceeding with the cooking process.

After the bones have spent an hour in the water and vinegar, turn your slow cooker on at high heat. Once the liquid has come to a boil, you can reduce the heat to low. The liquid should remain at a simmer as the broth cooks. Leave the lid securely on the pot to reduce the amount of liquid that evaporates away from the pot. If you notice that the liquid level has dropped dramatically as the broth cooks, you can add more water as needed. 

The longer the broth simmers, the richer the broth becomes both in flavor, color, and nutrition. While you can stop the process at any point, I like to let the broth simmer for 72 hours. As you can see, the broth takes on a beautifully rich color the longer it is allowed to develop in the slow cooker.Crumbline Bones from Bone Broth at 1840 Farm

If you’re wondering how to know when your bone broth is finished, the process is simple. Remove a bone from the pot of liquid. When the bones have released all of their mineral content, they will crumble in your hands with very little pressure. This crumbling signals that the bone broth is finished, that the bones have released all the nutrition they have to give.

At this point, the slow cooker can be turned off. I allow the broth to cool to room temperature before straining it through a colander lined with cheesecloth. Discard any bones, vegetables, or scraps, straining the broth a second time if any solids remain.

I fill one large Mason jar with bone broth to store in the refrigerator, using it in any recipe that calls for stock or broth. I freeze the rest using either ice cube trays or silicone baking cups before transferring to a freezer bag for long term storage. I use this frozen broth as I would fresh, adding it to any recipes that call for broth or stock.

Our bone broth never lasts very long in the freezer as we continue to find new ways to incorporate it into our favorite recipes. The flavor, aroma, and color are so superior to standard broth that I only regret that I didn’t start making bone broth sooner. Once you discover the simplicity of making homemade bone broth and its amazing depth of flavor, you’ll be wondering the same thing!

 


This post is included in our 1840 Farmhouse Thanksgiving Gallery.
You’ll find our favorite Thanksgiving recipes all gathered in one place so that you can easily include them in your family’s celebration.  I’ll be adding new recipes  right up until the big day, so check back to see even more delicious and fabulous Thanksgiving posts.

 

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Permanent link to this article: http://1840farm.com/2016/10/how-to-make-homemade-bone-broth/

Velvety Mashed Potatoes

velvety-mashed-potatoes-brandedFor me, a serving of velvety smooth mashed potatoes is at the top of my list of favorite comfort foods. They’re always a welcome sight at our family table. They pair beautifully with so many main courses and I love repurposing any leftovers into the next evening’s comforting meal for our family. Leftover mashed potatoes make a delicious topping for a range of dishes from Shepherd’s Pie to a Farmhouse Style Mashed Potato Torta.   At Thanksgiving dinner, I can’t imagine our plates without a healthy serving of mashed potatoes.

As much as I love to make and enjoy mashed potatoes in our farmhouse kitchen, I receive countless messages and pleas for help from my readers who are frustrated by the process. They’ve tried so many different recipes and have yet to create the lovely, creamy mashed potatoes they’re dreaming of.

Making amazing mashed potatoes is simple once you understand the role a potato’s starch plays in the finished texture of the dish. You don’t need fancy tools or ingredients, just a few simple techniques for controlling the starch contained in the potatoes you’re working with.

First, carefully choose the type of potato you use and the method of preparing them for boiling. Yukon Golds are my preferred type of potato to use when making mashed potatoes. They are waxy and ideally suited for creating a smooth mashed potato. I love their flavor and texture and use them when creating any mashed potato recipe.

Next, let’s discuss preparing the potatoes for cooking. I like to resist cutting the potatoes into small pieces before boiling. The more surface area you create, the more water will be absorbed by the boiling potatoes, causing the starch molecules to swell and absorb too much water. Instead, cut the potatoes into pieces approximately 2” square which allows the potatoes to cook quickly without soaking up too much liquid.

As soon as the potatoes are fork tender, remove the boiled potatoes from the hot water immediately to a colander. Allow the hot potatoes to drain for a few moments before returning them to the pan. Use a potato ricer or an old fashioned potato masher to break down the potatoes. Do not use a blender, mixer, or food processor to mash your potatoes as they will over work the starch molecules and produce gummy mashed potatoes that no amount of butter or cream will be able to tame.

Finally, do not add cold liquid to the boiled potatoes. A hot, steaming pile of potatoes doused in cold liquid will seize up due to the drastic difference in temperature, producing and releasing far too much starch to create the velvety smooth dish we all love. Instead, warm your liquids before adding them to the cooked potatoes. You’ll be amazed at the difference in texture and rewarded with glorious mashed potatoes to serve at your family table.

Once you unlock these simple secrets for creating velvety smooth mashed potatoes, you’ll find yourself turning to this recipe again and again.  They’re simply delicious served with our Farmhouse Gravy.  I hope that your family and friends will enjoy them as much as we do!

Velvety Mashed Potatoes
Serves 6
I like a rustic mashed potato dish, so I skip the step of peeling the potatoes before boiling. If you prefer, you can peel the potatoes before boiling. This is the perfect recipe to use your homemade bone broth. I find that using bone broth delivers a rich flavor and texture unlike any other liquid added to the warm potatoes. Be sure to warm the liquids before incorporating them into the potatoes.
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Ingredients
  1. 3 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, washed and cut into 2” cubes
  2. 1 cup bone broth or high quality stock
  3. ½ cup whole milk
  4. ¼ cup heavy cream
  5. butter for serving
  6. salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. In a large pot, combine the cubed potatoes with enough cold water to cover and allow them to move freely as they boil. Place the pot over a burner on high heat, bringing it to a rapid boil. Reduce the heat as needed to maintain the boil but prevent the pot from boiling over. Continue to cook until the potatoes are fork or knife tender, approximately 15 minutes.
  2. Immediately remove the pot from the heat and drain the potatoes in a colander. Allow the hot potatoes to drain for a few minutes before continuing. You can use a potato ricer to break down the potatoes or return the cubed potatoes to the boiling pot to mash using an old fashioned potato masher. Take care to mash the potatoes without overworking them.
  3. Add half of the warm liquid mixture to the pot, stirring it into the mashed potatoes. Continue adding more liquid until the mashed potatoes are the desired consistency. If you find that you need more liquid, simply warm a bit of bone broth, cream, or milk before adding it to the potato mixture. Taste the potatoes, seasoning with salt and pepper as needed. Serve hot with an ample topping of butter, sour cream, or a ladle full of our Farmhouse Gravy.
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This post is included in our 1840 Farmhouse Thanksgiving Gallery.
You’ll find our favorite Thanksgiving recipes all gathered in one place so that you can easily include them in your family’s celebration.  I’ll be adding new recipes  right up until the big day, so check back to see even more delicious and fabulous Thanksgiving posts.

 

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Permanent link to this article: http://1840farm.com/2016/10/velvety-mashed-potatoes/

Farmhouse Gravy

farmhouse-gravy-brandedFor me, there are few recipes more rustic and comforting than gravy.  It adds flavor and velvety texture to roasted meats, mashed potatoes, and anything else it happens to touch on a dinner plate.  With very little effort, simple ingredients can be coaxed into a thick, delicious gravy perfect for a holiday table or family dinner.  It’s a true farmhouse staple in our home just like it was in my great grandparent’s farmhouse a century ago.

Cooking gravy certainly isn’t a modern technique.  It is believed that gravy dates back to ancient Egypt and the time period around 3000 B.C.  When you think about it, that makes perfect sense.  Spit roasting meat produced fatty, delicious liquid that simply couldn’t be allowed to go to waste.  A dripping pan resting underneath the cooking meat would collect the juices as they ran out of the meat when pierced with a fork or blade.  That liquid could be served as a thin dipping sauce or “jus” for chunks of meat eaten by hand or it could be reduced, salted, and poured over meat eaten with a fork. 

Fast forward to the 1960s when gravy became something made using a premade mix.  Simply add water, whisk, and heat to create a gravy with very little effort.  Add in canned gravies, and gravy making became something that few people practiced.  Perhaps homemade gravy would be made for Thanksgiving dinner, but even then it was just as likely to come from a can or pouch.  That trend continued.  In 2008, Food Technology magazine reported that 40 percent of American households served gravy made from a mix when adding it to their dinner plates.

Ironically, gravy making is incredibly easy.  It requires no special equipment, no fancy ingredients.   The process is simple and can be mastered easily.  From a flavor perspective, you just can’t beat gravy made from scratch, flavored to your liking.

Unlike our ancient ancestors, I prefer to roast our meat in the oven.  The pan collects the rich liquid which can be cooled slightly while the roast meat rests before skimming the fat from the top.  I use homemade bone broth added to the pan drippings and the resulting gravy is rich and delicious.  You can use a combination of broth, stock, and pan drippings to make gravy, adjusting seasoning to yield a delicious batch of gravy.

I hope that you’ll give gravy making a try.  I also hope that you’ll make our Velvety Mashed Potatoes to serve with it!  One taste and I’m willing to bet that you’ll be making a homemade version for years to come.

Farmhouse Gravy
You can use any combination of pan drippings, bone broth, broth, or stock to make delicious gravy. I keep bone broth on hand and add it to the pan drippings as needed to have enough liquid needed for this gravy. I like a very peppery gravy, so I season it liberally with black pepper and often add minced fresh thyme, rosemary, and tarragon from the garden which is often left over from seasoning the roast meat.
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Ingredients
  1. 2 Tablespoons lard or butter
  2. 3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  3. 1 ½ cups (12 ounces) warm pan drippings, bone broth, broth, or stock (or a combination)
  4. salt
  5. freshly ground pepper
  6. finely minced fresh herbs (I use thyme, rosemary, and tarragon from the garden)
Instructions
  1. Make the roux to thicken the gravy by adding the lard or butter to a small saucepan set over medium heat. Melt the fat before adding the flour. Whisk to combine and reduce the heat to low. Continue to whisk until the roux is smooth and takes on a bit of color, approximately 2 minutes. If you are using herbs, add them to the roux and cook for 1 minute.
  2. Add the 2 cups of warm drippings, bone broth, stock (or combination of liquids) to the roux. Whisk to incorporate and increase the heat to medium. Bring the mixture to a simmer, stirring often to prevent scorching. Simmer gently for 3-5 minutes to thicken the gravy to your desired consistency. Reduce the heat to low. Season with salt and black pepper. Taste for seasoning and adjust as needed.
  3. Gravy can be kept warm over low heat, stirring often before serving.
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This post is included in our 1840 Farmhouse Thanksgiving Gallery.
You’ll find our favorite Thanksgiving recipes all gathered in one place so that you can easily include them in your family’s celebration.  I’ll be adding new recipes  right up until the big day, so check back to see even more delicious and fabulous Thanksgiving posts.

 

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Permanent link to this article: http://1840farm.com/2016/10/farmhouse-gravy/

Cast Iron Skillet Roast Chicken

cast-iron-skillet-roast-chicken-branded

These days, I find myself actively looking for meals that fit a few key criteria. I want everyone to be eager to come to dinner, to look forward to the meal that lies ahead.  I like to have a multipurpose meal, one that can easily result in leftovers that can be reinvented the next evening into something equally delicious.  I also love when that meal can be procured locally, raised in our community, and eaten at its delicious best. cast-iron-skillet-roast-chicken-wm

I also like to serve something comforting at our family table.  After a long day, we could all use a plate that allows us to take a collective sigh, gather around the table, and enjoy recounting our day while eating something that delivers comfort with each bite.

For me, a whole chicken roasted to perfection in the oven delivers on each of these points. If the chicken can be cooked in a cast iron skillet, all the better.  The results are delicious each and every time, with my family clamoring for more, requesting that we make it again soon.

Thanks to inspiration from Thomas Keller’s Bouchon cookbook, I began roasting two birds at once each in their own cast iron skillet.  I’m only sorry that I didn’t think of this technique years earlier.  With very little extra effort, I can roast a duo of chickens side by side and ensure that we have plenty of leftover chicken to enjoy as tacos, sandwiches, pot pies, and in pasta dishes on successive evenings.

Roasting two chickens also provides me with all that I need to create two batches of hearty bone broth.  That bone broth delivers robust flavor and healthy nutrition to every single dish it is added to. Having homemade bone broth in the refrigerator or freezer at the ready is akin to having a bit of magic to add to any recipe that calls for broth or stock.

I hope that you will enjoy this hearty, comforting meal as much as we do.  It’s sure to become a favorite around your family table!

Cast Iron Skillet Roast Chicken
I roast two chickens at a time, each in their own 9 inch cast iron skillet. If you prefer, the two chickens could be placed in a single roasting pan large enough to accommodate them. When roasting two chickens, select birds of a similar size to ensure that they cook evenly in the same length of time. Prepping raw chickens can be a messy task, but I have found that lining my prep area with a generously sized piece of freezer paper helps to make cleanup a breeze.
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Total Time
1 hr 30 min
Total Time
1 hr 30 min
Ingredients
  1. Two 3-4 pound whole chickens
  2. coarse sea salt
  3. freshly ground pepper
  4. 2 Tablespoon lard or olive oil
  5. 2 teaspoons fresh minced thyme
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit and position the oven racks in the bottom third of the oven. Remove the chicken from the refrigerator to allow it to come closer to room temperature as the oven preheats.
  2. Line your prep space with a large piece of freezer paper if desired. I like to use two small prep bowls, filling each with ample coarse salt and pepper to use when seasoning the chickens. Having the seasonings at the ready allows me to season the chickens inside and out without contaminating my pepper grinder and salt cellar.
  3. Remove the chicken from its packaging. If your bird contains a packet of organs in its cavity, remove them. Rinse the chicken under cold water if desired before transferring to the prepared freezer paper. Using paper towel, pat the chicken dry inside and out. It is important that the chicken be as dry as possible. Any moisture will create steam in the oven which will prevent the skin from becoming crisp.
  4. Liberally season the chicken inside and out with salt and pepper. If you like, you can truss the chicken using a length of kitchen twine to tie the legs together and hold them tight to the body. Trussing the chicken will help to hold the legs close to the body, keeping it in a beautiful shape and also helping the meat to cook evenly and the breast to stay moist.
  5. Prepare a cast iron skillet for each bird by placing each skillet on a burner over high heat. When the pan is hot, add a Tablespoon of lard or olive oil to each skillet, swirling carefully to coat the bottom surface of the pan. Reduce the heat to medium high and add a prepped chicken to each pan. Allow the chicken to cook for five minutes undisturbed.
  6. Transfer the skillets to the hot oven with the legs facing the back of the oven. Placing the breast in the front of the oven (the coolest spot) will deliver a slightly lower temperature and help to ensure that the breast meat does not overcook.
  7. After 30 minutes, turn the skillets 180 degrees to encourage even browning. I like to very gently tilt the pan to encourage any juices that have collected in the cavity to run into the skillet. Take care to not splash the hot liquid out of the pan when doing so.
  8. Roast the chicken for another 20 minutes before removing the skillets from the oven to check for doneness. When done, the birds should be golden brown and a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh without touching the bone should register around 160 degrees. Juices from the chicken will run clear when it is fully cooked.
  9. When the chicken is finished cooking, add a generous teaspoon of the minced thyme to the juices that have collected in each skillet. Allow the chicken to rest for ten to fifteen minutes. This rest period will encourage the meat to stay moist and the pan juices to warm the fresh thyme.
  10. Remove the trussing twine from the chicken. Carve and serve, basting the chicken with a bit of the herbed pan juices.
  11. If you happen to be serving mashed potatoes and gravy with your chicken, add a bit of the pan juices to your gravy to boost the flavor and add a beautiful color.
When your meal is finished, the bones and skin can be used to make a delicious bone broth. You can learn how and why I make bone broth at
  1. www.1840farm.com/how-to-make-thanksgiving-turkey-bone-broth/
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