A Truly Local Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is my favorite day of the year. One reason is because it is the only harvest still celebrated by the majority of people in North America, where people enjoy a variety of seasonal foods in a ritualistic manner. Celebrating the harvest is a festival that has been going on for a very long time in our human history and humans have always loved a good ritual. Celebrating the harvest is a way to give thanks for having enough food to sustain you through the next season. Living in a rural area, and spending much of this year planting, growing and harvesting our own food, has really put us in touch with a more natural cycle. Something I am very thankful for.

This year, Roberto and I decided in order to really appreciate the meaning of this holiday, everything we were to prepare would be from local ingredients – some ingredients as local as our own backyard! We pre-ordered a heritage turkey from Applecheek Farm. On Wednesday we went to the farm to pick up our fresh (not frozen) bird and decided to pick up other items at the farmstore to create the rest of our menu. We were greeted with an array of wonderful fresh and seasonal produce – fresh cranberries, brussels sprouts, potatoes, squashes, local breads, cheeses, eggs and milk. Everything one would need for a splendid holiday meal.

Since it was just the two of us this year, we decided not to overdo it. This was our menu:

Maple Roasted Heritage Turkey*
(Local Ingredients: turkey, butter, maple, From The Backyard: fresh rosemary)
Gluten Free Cornbread Stuffing with sausage oven dried tomatoes, fresh herbs and pine nuts
(Local Ingredients: Cornmeal, homemade chicken/duck stock, sausage, From The Backyard: oven dried tomatoes, fresh rosemary and sage) – recipe below
Mashed Potatoes and Gravy
(Local Ingredients: butter, fresh cream, From the Backyard: potatoes and rosemary)
Roasted Brussels Sprouts
(Local Ingredients: brussels sprouts, butter)
Fresh Cranberry Sauce
(Local Ingredients: fresh cranberries, honey) – recipe below
Maple and Pumpkin Crème Caramel
(Local Ingredients: maple, cream, milk and pumpkin, From The Backyard: eggs)

*note: heritage turkeys are much leaner and smaller than sedentary commercial birds. This means that fast cooking at high temperatures is a better method than slow roasting. To read more about heritage turkeys, and why you should consider one for your Thanksgiving table next year, read this short article from Local Harvest

I prepared the compound butter for the turkey (I suggest making extra to enjoy with the leftover cornbread – they are the perfect combination with a nice brown ale), the creme caramel and the cornbread on Wednesday, and then spent the morning on Thursday in the kitchen finishing up the rest.

Doing Thanksgiving this way is so much less stressful, because you just go with the flow and what it the freshest and available! So I challenge you to think about doing something like this next year!

We spent the day watching a Lord of The Rings marathon, talking to family on the phone and just relaxing by the fire with the pets. It was a perfect Thanksgiving and a great way to really relax and unwind after such a busy season on the homestead.
THANKSGIVING RECIPES:


Fresh Cranberry Sauce

INGREDIENTS:

2 cups fresh cranberries
orange zest from one orange
juice of one orange
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
¼ cup dark red wine (like zinfandel, grenache, or malbec)
¼ cup raw honey
pinch of nutmeg

METHOD:

In a medium saucepan combine all the ingredients. I even put the quarters of orange in that have been zested and juiced. Turn heat to medium low and bring to a boil while stirring often. Reduce temperature to low simmer and cook until the liquid has reduced and you are left with a thick sauce – about 15 miutes.

Gluten Free Cornbread Stuffing with Sausage, Oven Roasted Tomatoes, Fresh Herbs and Pine Nuts
(Recipe stuffs a 9-10 lb bird)

INGREDIENTS:

half a recipe of gluten free skillet cornbread (see below)
¼ cup pine nuts, toasted
2 TBS olive oil
½ onion, minced
1 clove garlic minced
1 TBS each – fresh sage, fresh rosemary
1 cup loose sausage (I use pasture-raised)
½ cup oven roasted tomatoes, chopped
½ – ¾ cup homemade poultry stock
salt and pepper to taste

METHOD:

Make cornbread and toast pine nuts and set aside. Sautee onions, garlic and herbs in olive oil until onions become translucent. Add the sausage and cook until just browned. In a large mixing bowl, break up th cornbread into small pieces, then add the contents of the pan. Stir together with the oven roasted tomatoes. Then add the stock and stir to coat all the pieces of bread – making sure everything is nice and moist. Then it is ready to stuff inside the bird.

Gluten Free Skillet Cornbread:
Ingredients:
1 cup oat flour
¾ cup cornmeal
½ cup kefir, buttermilk or yogurt
½ cup milk
¼ cup of butter, melted
2 TBS maple sugar
2 ½ tsp aluminum free baking powder
pinch of salt
2 TBS butter or lard for skillet (I used bacon fat)

Method:
Mix oat flour, cornmeal, kefir and milk in a large mixing bowl. Let sit out on counter overnight or at least 8 hours.

Preheat oven to 400 F. Then mix in the rest of the ingredients, except the fat for the skillet. Heat fat in a cast iron skillet, then pour the batter in and put the skillet in the oven. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Remove bread from pan and let cool on a wire rack.

Thanksgiving Leftovers!

Need some ideas of what to do with your Thanksgiving holiday leftovers? Try these delicious potato croquettes using leftover mashed potatoes, and other pantry staples!

INGREDIENTS:
1/4 cup  olive oil
1/2 cup onions, chopped
1 clove garlic chopped
Leftover mashed potatoes
1 egg
2 TBS capers, chopped
salt and pepper
2 TBS fresh rosemary
1/2 cup bread crumbs

METHOD:

In a small skillet sautee the garlic and onion in about 2 TBS of olive oil. In a mixing bowl mix together mashed potatoes, egg, capers and salt and pepper and fresh rosemary. Add in the onion and garlic and 1/4 cup of bread crumbs and stir to combine.

Mold croquettes and roll in bread crumbs. In a large skillet heat the rest of the oil and sautee croquettes until browned on both sides. I did this all ahead and then put them in the oven on a cookie sheet about 15 minutes before dinner so they were nice and hot.

Marinara Sauce

INGREDIENTS:
2 TBS olive oil
2 cloves of garlic
1/2 a small onion
1 small can of diced tomatoes
1 can of organic tomato paste
salt and pepper
dried oregano
splash of balsamic vinegar

METHOD:
In a saucepan, sautee the onions and garlic in 2 TBS olive oil. Once soft, add the tomatoes and tomato paste. Stir and let simmer for a few minutes. Add the salt, pepper and dash of oregano and balsamic vinegar. Stir and let simmer for about an hour. Serve with croquettes.

For more ideas, check out my Day After Thanksgiving Leftovers Party!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to all my American readers and anyone else who is celebrating this holiday!

Thanksgiving is my favorite day of the year, because it is the only real harvest festival that is still celebrated by most everyone in America. I believe harvest days are still very important  times to celebrate and give thanks for the bounty, to take a minute out of our busy schedules to take stock (hee hee) of the important things in life, like food, family, friends, all that good warm and fuzzy stuff.  And although venison is not gracing my Thanksgiving table, like I had hoped for this year, I really can’t complain, because one of these guys is.

Photo Courtesy of Homestead Hatchery

It is a Standard Bronze Heritage Turkey that we got from Applecheek Farm and it is going to be getting a high heat, maple butter infused treatment in a few hours. I am thankful to this turkey for feeding my family for many meals to come. In a later post I will talk about having a truly local Thanksgiving to really get in touch with that harvest festival feel.

This year I wanted to stop and take a moment to give thanks for all the many blessings we have received this year. Most notably, moving to this beautiful part of the world, and beginning a life of purpose, living close to the land and its many creatures that feed us in one way or another. I am thankful for family and friends, new and old, a special reunion with my biological sister Myia, who I was able to meet less than 2 weeks ago. I am thankful for our animals that make life so fun – our indoor furry friends,  and our outdoor feathered friends.

I hope that all of my readers have a wonderful day today, whether you celebrate Thanksgiving or not, enjoying this day and all the blessings it brings.

Baking The Gluten-Free Way: Scones

Before I get into this post, I would ask that if you haven’t read my last post on what you can do to save small farms and the local food movement, please read it! Important legislation is about to be passed that will allow the FDA to have greater control over the ability to execute raids, seize products and force recalls on small farms and artisan food producers. The bill can be used to strategically drive small producers out of business all in the name of food safety! So please read the post and see what you can do to help!

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When I first announced that I was doing a gluten-free experiment, I got a lot of emails and facebook inquiries about baking gluten-free. People wanted to know if I was going to un-lock the secrets to gluten free baking. Many in this world are addicted to bread and baked goods, and so it is a reasonable first reaction – how will you bake if you are gluten-free?

For me, I have never been a huge eater of bread, and have been eating gluten-free about 80% of the time over the past year. The other 20% accounts for the occasional times we go out to eat, or when I was making sourdough spelt pizza dough once a week, or enjoying a sprouted wheat roll a few times a month. So although I do enjoy a croissant or a crepe once in a while or crave a sandwich sometimes, bread is not a staple of my diet. However, I am married to someone who has very different needs than I do – growing up in Italy, a day with pizza, pasta AND bread, is just not a good day. Without some good carbs at every meal, my husband feels tired. So I had to find a way to fulfill his needs while at the same time being able to eat some too if I wanted to because honestly, I don’t have time to bake 2 different types of bread each week.

Creating a gluten-free bread that can satisfy someone who is used to artisan Italian bread, is a difficult task. Anyone who has ever baked a sourdough or yeast bread knows that there is an art and a science to it. Introduce gluten-free flours to the mix, and it becomes even more of a project. For anyone who doesn’t know, gluten is the agent in wheat that makes bread and pizza dough stretchy and elastic. This creates that fluffy and wonderful texture present in artisan bread baking.

I am not ready to tackle gluten-free sourdough baking just yet because it is just too complicated and too much of a commitment in time and ingredients, until I make my decision, on whether or not gluten free is going to be a way of life for me. I am still on the fence about it. After almost 2 months of GF eating, I haven’t noticed much difference in the issues I was hoping to make a difference, and many of the gluten-free flours are giving me problems. As I write this I am beset with stomach pains.  I also am not happy that many of the gluten free flours are full of starches that convert to sugar quickly – rice flour, potato starch, tapioca starch, etc. Nor am I comfortable with all the gums – guar and xanthan that seem to be a part of every gluten free baking mix. I am however excited to announce that I have found a fantastic source for gluten-free sourdough baking, and I will be sharing that source soon and likely trying my hand at it as well because I will tell you, this is artisan style bread! It is truly revolutionary!

Anyway, to make a long story short, I decided to start with something simple – scones. Scones are very versatile, because you can make them sweet or savory. They are a little more “bready” than my normal bread substitute, oat cakes and therefore, a nice change of pace. I used the recipe here from the back of the Bob’s Red Mill Sorghum Flour package as inspiration, but adapted it to fit in with my soaking flour methods. The soaking in yogurt, buttermilk or kefir allows enzymes and other friendly organisms to break down the phytic acid, an organic acid found in all grains (and legumes) that may make the digestion of grains (and legumes) harder for some people, like me!

I made a sweet version, and then a savory version using oat flour and oats. These were the best gluten-free baking attempts I have made to date, when it comes to “bread”. It is nice for a quick breakfast or great with a cup of tea as an afternoon snack. Whether gluten-free or not, I think you will enjoy these scones!

“Sweet Version”

INGREDIENTS:

1 ¼ cup sorghum flour
½ cup tapioca flour
2/3 cup of plain yogurt
1 ½ tsp cream of tartar
¾ tsp baking soda
1 tsp xanthan gum
¼ tsp salt
4 TBS maple sugar
4 TBS butter cut into ½ inch slices
1/3 cup chocolate chips
2 tbs milk

“Savory Version”

1 cup gf oat flour
1/2 cup coconut flour
1/4 cup sorghum or tapioca flour
2/3 cup of plain yogurt
¾ tsp baking soda
1 tsp xanthan gum
¼ tsp salt
4 TBS butter cut into ½ inch slices

METHOD:

In a medium bowl combine flours and yogurt, let sit on counter overnight (you can skip the overnight step if you are not into soaking, and can just can combine ingredients in the food processor immediately).

Preheat oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In food processor combine flours and other dry ingredients. Pulse on and off to combine ingredients. Add butter and pulse 15-20 times until dough resembles large curds. Scrape dough into a bowl and fold in the chocolate chips, if making the sweet version. Pat the dough onto the baking sheet into an 8-inch circle ¾ inch thick. You can brush the top with 2 TBS of milk, if desired. Bake 12- 15 minutes or until lightly brown. Cut into 6-8 wedges.

The Politics of Food: Help Save Small Farms!

Cows at my favorite local farm, AppleCheek Farm

Do we as Americans have a right to chose the foods we eat? Seems like a simple enough question, and I am sure that many of you reading this, think of course we do! After all this is America, land of the free…But it would be a mistake to become complacent about the food that is available. Our complacency will lead to the extinction of small family farms and in turn local food systems. This is one of the MAJOR issues of our times. Think about it. Think how deep it goes, how over-arching. If Americans lose the right to chose what foods they eat, it is major infringement on our rights as a free people.

I know when we moved out to the country to start raising animals and vegetables for food, I had a lovely idyllic dream that one day, sooner than later, I would sell sheep and goat cheese at our many local farmers markets. It would be a way for me to share my love of these animals and the wonderful delicious and healthy food that can be made from their milk. The American Dream, right? Well for small farms it is more of a nightmare. In the name of food safety the government has passed and is soon to be passing more legislation that calls into question the ability of small farms to even operate and exist. Through this legislation small farms are set up for fines, seizures of product and even jail time. If we allow this to happen, where will it stop?

There is some legislation that is up for vote imminently. That is S510 designed to provide greater controls for food safety. However, if the bill passes the FDA with have greater control over the ability to execute raids, seize products and force recalls on small producers. The Farm-to-consumer Legal Defense Fund, who spoke about the bill at Wise Traditions, explained that the bill can be used to strategically drive small producers out of business all in the name of food safety. A similar story with the meat industry a few years ago. In that industry, USDA overwhelmed small plants with paperwork requirements, most of which had no real connection to safe food making their ability to operate business impossible.

We almost live in an idyllic world up here in Northern Vermont with so many family farms and local foods. As I write this, I think about what would happen if they were all of a sudden GONE. Or if the friends I have that run these farms were raided by people armed with automatic weapons, traumatizing their children, families and animals. Not so idyllic is it? Everyday these small farms are living on the edge of ruin and our government is doing all they can to make that a reality, all in the name of food safety.

Now before I delve into this any deeper, let me ask you, are cigarettes legal? How about alcohol? And what about high fructose corn syrup? Yep. All legal and all studied and shown to major health problems and even death. So how in the world is drinking raw milk or eating raw cheese more of a threat? How is producing and eating foods that have proven over the test of time to be healthy and nutrient dense foods, warrant SWAT-like raids on small family farms when you can walk to your local convenience store and easily get all three of the other above mentioned foods? The government allows our citizens to chose to ingest harmful things, but is taking away our rights to eat foods that are good for us. Does that make any sense? Many of us chose not to consume those products, and those people who fear raw milk products, based on mis-information can also chose not to consume those products. But to allow raids and product seizures thereby not allowing the public to chose…that is at the very heart of our independence.

Please go watch the trailer to the upcoming movie, Farmageddon!

So if you care about small and local farms, support them. But I ask that you take it a step further. Contact your local senators and voice your concerns. Visit the Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund for how and what to say to your senators.

You can also help those family farms who have already had their products seized, their lives in ruin. Even $5 can help these families get the legal aid they need to get back to doing what they do best, farming.

PLEASE CLICK ON THESE LINKS TO DONATE!

Estrella Family Creamery
Click here to lend your support to: Help the Estrella Family Creamery and make a donation at www.pledgie.com !

Morningland Dairy
Click here to lend your support to: Uncheese Party and make a donation at www.pledgie.com !

Please go see Kelly The Kitchen Kop for more posts like this!

Wise Traditions 2010: The Politics of Food

Life in its fullness is Mother Nature obeyed ~ Dr. Weston A. Price

I had the honor of attending the Wise Traditions Conference in King of Prussia, PA this past weekend. This was the first time I attended the conference, but not the first time I wanted to go. I wanted to attend last year, but found out about it too late to make the plans necessary to travel across country. This year I was invited by the Weston A. Price foundation to attend the event and cover it for my blog. So Roberto and I were given free press passes to the conference on Saturday giving us the chance to attend many of the talks, and meet many vendors, some of whom I have known for a long time, online, but not in person. And of course we were also able to meet a few food bloggers, too!

The Weston A. Price Foundation or WAPF, is at the heart of the fight for real food. The conference this year focused on The Politics of Food. The topic was perfect timing in light of the many government crackdowns that many small family farms and food artisans have been facing in recent months, which calls into question whether people in the USA have a right to choose what foods they eat. It is also timely as another Food Safety bill is about to be voted on.

(Jenn with Jill Cruz at WAPF table, Jenn with Sharon Kane, Sally Fallon Morell and Jeffrey Smith)

For those who are new to the work of Dr. Price, Saturday’s conference opened with a talk by Sally Fallon Morell, President of the WAPF and author of the wildly popular book Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats. Her talk was extremely informative. Dr Price was a prominent dentist of his day. In 1939 Price published Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, a book that details a series of ethnographic nutritional studies performed by him across diverse cultures of isolated non-industrialized peoples from the Swiss Alps to the South Seas and although the foods in the diets were different, there were some key similarities like the consumption of animal fats and fermented foods.

Price believed that various diseases endemic to Western cultures of the 1920s and 30s – from dental caries to tuberculosis – were rarely present in non-Western cultures. He argued that as non-Western groups abandoned indigenous diets and adopted Western patterns of living they also showed increases in typically Western diseases, and concluded that Western methods of commercially preparing and storing foods stripped away vitamins and minerals necessary to prevent these diseases.

Well, I for one appreciate and agree with Dr. Price’s findings. Which is why I follow the foundation’s guidelines for preparing whole foods. We have been eating this way for over a year and it has made a tremendous difference in our health from digestive and skin issues to emotional balance and energy. It has been profound. With a diet rich in full fat, good quality (humanely raised, grass and pasture raised) animal products, I have lost and then maintained a healthy stable weight for over a year, gained more energy to sustain my busy and active lifestyle, and despite popular and mis-informed belief, I have maintained an excellent cholesterol level and all my other blood tests came back normal or above average. All this on a diet full of cream, butter, cheese, raw milk, bacon fat, etc. *

In Fallon’s talk she discussed how eating local, sustainable, non-industrial foods is a political act these days since it keeps money local, brings prosperity to small farms, instead of commodity farms and produces healthy people, which means less money for the pharmaceutical industry. Very wise woman.

We also listened to two other amazing talks on Saturday. One by a hero in my book Jeffrey Smith, founder of the Institute for Responsible Technology and author of Seeds of Deception: Exposing Industry and Government Lies About the Safety of the Genetically Engineered Foods You’re Eating

Jeffrey opened his talk with some interesting reports:

* In 2010 Monsanto went from being Forbes company of the year to the worst stock of 2010.

* The Nielson Survey named “GMO Free” the fastest growing claim for store brands in 2010. Meaning the trends are moving in the direction that consumers want – which is non-GMO foods!

* The American Academy of Environmental Medicine stated that all Mds should prescribe non-GMO foods to all of their patients.

For helpful tools to make sure you are not eating GMO foods look on the package for these words “Non-GMO Project Verified” in the coming months and visit this page to download the Non-GMO Shopping Guide.

The third talk we attended was given by Judith McGeary of the Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance . Judith has been working to amend the Food Safety Bill, so that it will not destroy small farms. To find out more about how you can help please voice your concern to your senators as this bill is about to be voted on. Also make sure to check out the Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund to learn more about your right to eat the foods you want and those rights that may be taken away.

In between talks we took a break to peruse the vendors at the conference. I had a great time meeting some new friends and seeing face to face some people that I have been working with online for a long time. Some of my favorite vendors were:

WAPF
Sharon Kane who wrote “The Art of Gluten Free Sourdough Baking”
Cultures for Health
Farm Fromage
Shiloh Farms
To Your Health Sprouted Flour Co.
U.S. Wellness Meats
Vital Choice

There was also an amazing farmers market, featuring the local bounty and many Amish vendors from nearby Lancaster County, PA. We bought some delicious cheeses and fresh raw apple cider for lunch. Between that and all the samples we were able to try, we were quite satisfied!

To end our day at the conference we listened to some fellow bloggers on a panel about how to use social media for effective food activism. It was a great talk that was presided over by the wonderful and fabulous Kimberly Hartke from Hartke is Online! Other panel members included:

Kari Carlysle, Linked In guru
Kelly The Kitchen Kop
Jenny McGruther of Nourished Kitchen
Ann Marie Michaels of Cheeseslave
Jill Nienhiser, webmaster for WAPF

There is so much to learn at Wise Traditions. All of the talks we attended were just part of what was available during the 3 day event. It is remarkable how much they offer and how well organized it was. My hat off to the organizers who did a superb job with every last little detail. I have decided to make this conference a yearly event. The information obtained is too important not to go.

If this sounds right up your alley and you are sad to have missed the event this year, fear not! All talks were recorded for your listening pleasure! You can purchase them here.

*Disclaimer: I am not a doctor or medical professional. This information is based solely on my own personal experiences with dietary change. Please consult a medial professional before making any major changes to your diet. Also the animals the products I eat come from are raised humanely on small family farms on diets of grass. Do not expect these results from the same products at a regular grocery store.

Maple Crème Caramel

If olive oil is liquid gold, then maple is liquid amber. A true gift from the gods – thick, sticky and sweet. Ambrosia? Maybe. A beautiful natural resource? Absolutely. I adore all things maple. Maybe it is because I live in a well known Maple State. Or is it due to my overwhelming love of maple, that I moved to Vermont? It is the old chicken vs. the egg question – something else I have been pondering of late. Personally the answer doesn’t matter much to me, so long as I get to enjoy it. DAILY.

At this point I use primarily maple syrup or maple sugar to sweeten in my kitchen. It is local, abundant and absolutely delicious. I love its rich flavor and lovely color. I honestly can’t remember the last time I used white sugar. When we have friends or family come to visit, they always get maple sugar served with their coffee in the mornings. And at night, finishing off an incredible meal, we often leave the table with a hint of maple on our lips or in the creases of our mouths.

My favorite desserts have always been rich and creamy custards or puddings, or their frozen cousin, ice cream. I remember the first time I tried a Latin-inspired flan swimming in a luscious caramel bath. I also remember the first time I dug my spoon into, cracking through the thin burned sugar crust of a perfect Crème brûlée and watching it give way to reveal all the deliciousness underneath. Just like unwrapping a present.

So if you are like me, and you love maple, and you love custard, this recipe really is the perfect treat for you. A wonderful way to end a harvest meal, like Thanksgiving. Coming to you straight from The Green Mountain State. You can find this recipe and many other delicious “Made in Vermont” recipes in Dishing Up Vermont: 145 Authentic Recipes from the Green Mountain State

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup pure Vermont maple syrup
5 farm fresh egg yolks
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 cups fresh organic whipping cream

METHOD:

Preheat oven to 275 F. Lightly butter 6 ramekins and set aside. Simmer ½ cup maple syrup in a small saucepan over medium heat for about 10 minutes, until syrup has reduced to a thick consistency. Be careful not to overcook. Immediately divide the syrup between the ramekins and swirl each ramekin to coat with the syrup. Set aside.

Make the custard. In a medium bowl whisk the second ½ cup of maple with egg yolks, vanilla and cinnamon. Heat the cream in a saucepan until just boiling, gradually whisk the hot cream into the egg yolk mixture, then divide the mixture evenly into the ramekins.

Set the ramekins into a baking pan, and fill the pan with water halfway up the sides of the ramekins to create a bain marie. Cover baking pan with foil, carefully place in the oven and cook for 50 minutes. During the last 10 minutes check the custards to make sure the center is set and a little wiggly, but not totally cooked.

Remove custards from the water, and chill uncovered in the fridge until cold, at least 4 hours. Custard can be made a day ahead. To serve run a knife around the edges of the ramekins to loosen custards and invert to serve on dessert plates.

French African Guinea Fowl with Maple Onion Glaze

As I mentioned in an earlier post, because of the amazing meat CSA we have with Applecheek Farm, we have been able to try a variety of meats, that we have never had the chance to eat before. Guinea Fowl is no exception. To learn more about Guinea Fowl and their status as watch-birds on the farm, please read this quick blurb from Applecheek.

I had never tasted a guinea fowl, let alone heard of one, until we were picking berries this summer , and were greeted by a flock of them, which at the time I thought were weird looking wild turkeys (hey, I am still growing into my status as a country girl)! So when I discovered that we got one in our CSA, I was absolutely intrigued.

I wanted to prepare a special “taste of Vermont” dinner for my aunt and uncle when they were visiting us for the first time back in October. So I took special care to choose a menu featuring the best local ingredients, including vegetables from our garden. I intended to save the guinea to enjoy for a special occasion, and their visit was perfect. I consulted one of my favorite cookbooks, Dishing Up Vermont: 145 Authentic Recipes from the Green Mountain State and found a recipe for Quail with Maple Onion Glaze. So I decided to tweak it to use with the guinea.

The dish was delicious, and the guinea fowl? One of my favorites. The taste is something like a cross between a chicken and a turkey – much more dark meat, which is what I like anyway. It was juicy and full of rich flavor, especially with the succulent sauce. I served it with pan roasted fingerling potatoes from our garden and a Maple Creme Caramel, which I will feature in a separate blog post soon.

This is a perfect dinner to serve to guests (probably feeds no more than 5-6 people with sides) and the leftovers and bones make a fabulous broth. If you don’t have access to guinea fowl in your area, I can suggest using quail (you will need 12 quail!) , like the original recipe, and I am sure it would be a perfect sauce to dress an autumn roast chicken or even a Thanksgiving turkey!

INGREDIENTS:

1 guinea fowl
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp dried thyme
2 TBS unsalted butter
3 TBS olive oil
1 large white or yellow onion, peeled and thinly sliced
½ cup or dry white wine or local light beer (which is what I did) + ¼ cup
½ cup of pure maple syrup

METHOD:

Preheat the oven to 325 F. Rinse bird inside and out and pat dry with paper towels. Season inside and out with salt, pepper and thyme. Heat 1 TBS of butter and 1 TBS of olive oil in a dutch oven until hot. Add the bird and brown on all sides, deglaze with ¼ cup of beer or wine. Place in the oven and roast with lid on for about 1 hour.
In a hot skillet, add remaining butter and olive oil. Saute the sliced onions, stirring constantly over medium heat, until onions are brown (about 10 minutes). Deglaze the pan with beer or wine. Cook until the liquid is reduced by half. Then add the maple and heat until the liquid thickens. Reserve and toss with the bird once cooked to serve. Serve immediately.