Basic Roasted Chicken

Folks you have blown through our Chicken Freezer this winter. Poor Christy at Brittany Ridge Farms cannot keep up. Normally winter is a downtime for chicken. This year you fine folks said, “NOPE!”.

Since this burst of chicken flying off the shelves has hit I have been bombarded with emails and texts. “Why is my chicken tough? Chicken from XYZ store is never tough” At first I was perplexed, then I asked how it was cooked. Now this is where I giggle.  350 is not the magic oven on the  oven folks. It seems that is the go to temperature that most folks set their oven at.  Please stop cooking everything at 350.

You see chicken at XYZ regular ol’ grocery store is pre-brined. It is pumped full of a saline solution. This tenderizes the muscles & weighs more per pound for the grocer. This also allows for the water to cook the chicken at a lower temperature. Having less moisture in it to begin with our chicken requires a higher cooking temperature.  Brittany Ridge pasture raises their birds allowing them  free reign over what they eat. They are given access to a milled grain with 21 % protein from Statesville. Keep it local folks.

Beef & Pork Roasts= 280 F, roughly 1 hour per pound.

Chicken skin on bone in should be cooked at 425F unless it is whole. Then we have some fun. With a whole chicken  you want to start off with a hot oven at 475F then after 20 minutes drop down to 425F for the remaining time.  How long though is up to the state of the chicken. Completely defrosted 50-60 minutes. You want the thickest part of the chicken to reach 165F. This is not negotiable.

There is trick though to help insure super crispy skin, dry off the chicken thoroughly first with paper towels. You do not need oil or any thing else.

For crispy all the way around I suggest. lining a  sheet pan with tinfoil then place a cooling rack in it.

Below are prices and cooking times, remember they vary on size and temperature when going in.

For the price I recommend Quarters-at $5 per lb= 40-45 min ,2 per pack. Each person receives 1 as a serving,

Drumsticks- at $6.50 per lb = 30-35 minutes 4 per pack typically.

Thighs-at $6.50 per lb ( they are currently out of stock),= 30-35 min. 3-4 per pack. Each person receives 2 as a serving.

Split Breast-at $10 per lb 40-50 min, 2 per pack. Each person receives 1 as a serving,

Boneless skinless breast at $12 per lb, 2 per pack 1 per person. Cook at 375 for 20-25 minutes until 165F. Each person receives 1 as a serving.

 

 

 

 

Cube Steak Alarita Style

Have we all recovered from the “This is Us” crockpot episode? I may never! Rutabaga’s need to use my oven on the daily basis to bake desserts has me using my new trusty crockpot to all of my friends & family’s glee.  After my 2 decades of disdain for crockpot they are all getting a great laugh that I’m using one.  I’ll sit here and eat my humble pie. I’m still not happy with relying on the darn thing. My tween  baker though needs to experiment and bake tasty desserts much to my waistlines demise.

The crazy weather we have been having is wrecking my weekly menu. Today and tomorrow will be in the 60’s the rest of the week will be 40’s. The nice thing though is that it is sunnier here in Raleigh than it was in Nashville during February. I remember one February back in the early 2000’s that we had 0 days of sunshine in Nashville. Good sunshine goes a long ways on cold days.

The folks at Alarita are always full of sunshine though. It is a great family business where I have yet to see one of them smiling. It is pretty contagious when you’re around them. Their happiness for life translates into their products giving you bright happy flavors. Their dry rub has a great herb mixture for my tomatoes with just enough sweetness to dampen the acidity.  The dry rub also works well on roasted veggies. The first time I met Jeanette I took her roasted eggplant with Alarita on it. She was an instant fan & is the one behind my home canned tomatoes I’ll be using today.

Cube steak is a machine tenderized coming from the round. Typically top round. It is one that needs a slow cooking process to help make it tender. Hello Crockpot.  In each package  of NCF Cube steak there are 3-4 steak(mostly 4)  priced at $9 per lb. Perfectly portioned for a hearty meal when the sun goes down and it turns cold out.  Alarita Seasoning runs $8 a bottle, buy it this will not be the only recipe you use it for.  This is one spice I use frequently in my cooking. Finally I’m going to top this meal at the end with Redneck Romano as tomatoes slow cooked beg for cheese. Redneck Romano is sold for 9.45 per lb and is sold in 8 oz wedges in our store.

Now to  throw everything into the pot set it and forget it till dinner. Try not to think of Jack too much.


Tacos

Has Taco Tuesday been a regular event in your household for years? It has been in mine. Our daughter loves Taco Tuesday. We do a variety of tacos, fajitas, & enchiladas to keep up variety. Rutabaga never realized that Taco Tuesday was an actual thing until the Lego Movie came out.  Now that she knows it is a thing she is try to also get a Taco Thursday on the schedule every week. Some weeks I give in. My tween could eat tacos at every meal.

 

One of the things that I like to do is avoid spice packets. High Blood Pressure and Heart disease run through my family like the Mississippi.  Those nice little flavor packets at the grocery store are easily reproducible at home with an even better flavor.  And the great news is that you can control the sodium. While I love Pinterest for their recipes I hate the “packet of this, packet of that” recipes. When you look at the sodium suddenly you’re eating a weeks worth of sodium in one sitting. Eeek! In the NCF store we sell the taco shells for $5.75 per pack.

Let’s talk taco shells for just a moment. While the  filling of the taco is important so is the shell. Typically I prefer soft shell, however we recently began carrying Mamacita’s Taco Shells.  You know those yummy Tortilla Chips that we carry. They’re now making them into Taco Shells.

This recipe is simple just use quality ingredients. Ground Beef in the NCF store is $7.99 a lb. Ground Chuck (if you want a steak flavor) is $8.75 lb. Both of these grounds run fairly low fat. I do not drain off the fat. I’m a believer that fat is what makes your brain release the hormones to let you know to quit eating.

Butternut Squash Bisque with Goat Cheese

Are you ready for round 2 of Winter Blast?  Farmer’s Almanac told us this would be a brutal winter and they were not lying. In the depth of the cold, comfort foods and soups call my name.  “Lucy, we’ll keep you warm and cozy.” Ahh warming soups, just a bit of added spice to warm you up after the outdoor cold.

Butternut Squash Bisque is a classic bisque. Thick, velvety  and nutritious for you as well.  The past few weeks I have stared at this squash on my counter, now it is time to cook it. The twist is I’m adding Celebrity Dairy Goat Cheese to the mix, sold in the NCF store for $5 a tub.  The nice thing about Butternut Squash, is that you can mix it up with just about any of the Celebrity Dairy savory goat cheese flavors and it will turn out delicious. I definitely would not do the chocolate or mango though.

For added texture I with the bisque,   I recommend  Accidental Baker Crackers. The NCF Store Carries them in 3 Flavors Garlic & Rosemary, Sea Salt, and Black Pepper and Salt.  These crackers are locally made and taste great.


Egg Drop Soup

Whew, that cold snap was a doozy. If you have never had to worry about keep animal waterers free of ice let me tell it is not fun. We are all thankful it is over. However it is only the 2nd week in January which means after a short reprieve we will be back to cold weather before long.  And that is where Egg Drop Soup comes in. It is plentiful and warms the body from the inside.

There is only a single photo of my dish. I simply threw it up on my personal facebook wall and poof lots of folks wanted the recipe. My message box blew up. I figured I probably needed to put it on here for our clients.

With this being such a simple dish I recommend using the best ingredients meaning homemade broth. Try out Farmer Dan’s recipe.  And of course use Farm Fresh Eggs just $4.25 a dozen.

Rabbit Cassoulet

Rabbit is becoming more of a mainstay among the American diet. I have started seeing several friends posting that they are having rabbit for dinner. When my family dines out we are seeing it on the menu more often. Why? Rabbit is a great hardy animal to raise for meat. The best part is it’s the healthiest meat & most environmentally friendly meat you can buy.  We just have to overcome the idea of what is in your head.

Cassoulet comes to use from France named for its cooking vessel.  You can use any meat to make this versatile dish. Duck, Rabbit, Chicken , Beef, & Pork can all be used. (If using red meat switch to Pinot Noir and add 2 Tablespoons of Tomato Paste).  If you need to make it fast use 2 cans of beans and lower the amount of of liquids to 1 cup wine & 1 cup broth. If using chicken then use chicken broth instead of beef.  If I was only only allowed 1 meal it would be Rabbit Cassoulet. The scent of this dish stayed in my house overnight, making me wish I had more of it to eat for breakfast.

Rabbit runs in the NCF Store for $10.50 per lb. Each rabbit weighs between 2.5 lbs and 3.5 lbs.  If we hadn’t had friends over for dinner this easily would have fed our family for several  meals. In this dish we also use NCF Italian Mild Sausage which sells for $10 per lb.  The rabbit and sausage pair perfectly together giving a great flavor profile.

Crock Pot Italian Chicken

I have embraced the crock pot. Many of you have spoken and the crock pot is the best way for dinner to make it to the table every night. Not eating out is the goal, right? It certainly is more me. As of today, in the past 5 nights we have had to eat dinner out 4 nights. My stomach is not pleased.  Vowing to not have this happen again I pulled out my old friend Renee’s Crock Pot Italian Chicken.

Shredding the chicken is easy. Place the breast only in you mixer with the paddle attachment once cooked. Turn on low. This will shred your chicken.  Once shredded add your liquids back to the meat. Do not walk away as your mixer works. That is a quick way to end up with powdered chicken.

To serve alongside this I typically throw in peas or broccoli at the end of the cooking process. Green Beans or just about any other veggie other than lettuce would work well. Cabbage would probably be a great way to mix it up. I think I’ll need to try that soon. We traditionally serve this over rice or pasta.

Christy over at Brittany Ridge grows the best tasting Chicken on the market in my humble opinion. Her birds get plenty of grass and a great omnivore diet from her free range methods. The one thing I notice when I open a package of her meat is there is no smell. Grocery store chicken has always smelled awful to me.  Smells tend to tell the quality in my book.  The other clue. The fat color, yellow is the golden key in pastured meats and Christy’s birds have it.  When I used to buy organic chicken in bulk I noticed the fat went from yellow to then gray.   Fat should not be gray, eww just NO!

In the NCF store Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast runs $12 per lb. A whole Cut Up Chicken is $6.50 per lb and a Whole Chicken is $4.50 per lb. My recommendation is to buy the Whole and just double this recipe.  Then you will get several meals for your hard earned $$.