CSA Abundance – Braised Chicken Breast with Bacon and Swiss Chard

Braised Chicken Breast with Bacon and Swiss Chard

We serve Swiss chard to our guests all summer long because it’s one of the staple vegetables that our CSA offers as it grows well in cold climates.  We’ve served it with lemon, balsamic vinegar, garlic, roasted garlic, roasted pine nuts and crumble feta cheese (not necessarily all at once!).  This is my favorite way of preparing it so far.  My husband, who eats green things mostly because they are good for him and not because he really has a love for them, had a third helping of this Swiss chard.

4 chicken breasts, bone in
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 bunch of Swiss chard, chopped and cleaned, stems separate from the leaves
2 teaspoons fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried
3 strips bacon, diced
3 garlic cloves, sliced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Preheat oven to 400º.  Heat a large skillet (one with a lid), over medium-high heat.  Salt and pepper both sides of the chicken.  Heat the oil and carefully add the chicken breasts, skin side down.  Sear for 8 minutes or until the skin is a deep golden brown.  Turn and sear for another 8 minutes.  While the chicken is cooking on the second side, clear a space and add the bacon keeping it in one spot in the pan.  When it is done, transfer it out of the pan with a slotted spoon.  When the chicken is a golden brown on the second side, remove it from the pan.  Drain the pan of all the fat and return it to the heat.  Cook the garlic for 30 seconds to a minutes being careful not to burn it.  As soon as it’s done, add the Swiss chard stems to the pan to stop the garlic from cooking further.  Sauté for 3-4 minutes and then add the rest of the Swiss chard and the bacon.  Stir all together and return the chicken breasts to the pan.  Cover and bake in the oven for 10 minutes or until the chicken breasts are opaque throughout.

Serves 4

Maine Ingredient – All About Squash

Squash and pumpkins come in a myriad of shapes and sizes some endearing and some impressive.  Some pretty or cute and some, well, just downright ugly.  No matter about what they look like on the outside though, because it’s the flavorful inside that counts.  The seeds and the flesh.

Pumpkins and squash at the farm

I find that many squashes can be used interchangeably although each kind has it’s own individual flavor and texture.

Two of my recipes that ran today in the Portland Press Herald column are:

Pumpkin Ravioli with Sage Butter and Spinach
Delicata Squash and Sweet Potato Soup with Bacon and Chive Cream Fraiche

We just had the Pumpkin Ravioli with a Spinach Salad – more greens, yeah! – last night for dinner.  Perfect fall meal.

Thinking up more things to do with all the squash from the farmer’s market

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Breaking Down A Local Pig

In less than 15 minutes, the guys at West Gardiner Beef broke down my
144 pound pig raised in Appleton on Terra Optima Farm.  They were
amazingly skilled with their knives and such a pleasure to watch.  My
pig was broken down into what is called primal cuts, such as the loin,
shoulder, ham, butt, hocks, etc.  I've been buying from Terra Optima
for several years now, and have not been brave enough to attempt a
whole pig on my own.  This is the first step toward breaking a whole
one down.  I call this my practice pig.  I'll use every part I can to
make sausage, head cheese or guanciale, pate, pancetta, bacon, lard,
Canadian bacon and I'll try to smoke some things in the Weber grill on
a sunny day. Hopefully, our appetizers this summer will be fruits of this winter's labor.

Back into the kitchen to make stock and then demi-glace

© 2009 Anne Mahle

Salami, Tomato & White Cheddar Strata

StrataStratas are pretty common recipes in my family.  Every brunch, holiday breakfast, wedding shower and funeral seemed to include a strata of some sort.  This recipe, of course, reminds me of home and family, which is perfect as I’m suggesting you use it just as my family has for years – to make your life a little easier.  This recipe is one that I’ve used hundreds of times.  It’s extremely versatile.  You can make it the day before or even bake it ahead and freeze it.  If you are looking to go a little more elegant, use 6 to 8 oz. ramekins for individual servings.

Salami, Tomato and White Cheddar Strata

1 one-pound loaf of French or Italian bread, cut into 3/4 inch pieces
2 tablespoons butter, melted
12 eggs
4 cups milk
4 tablespoons fresh parsley
2 teaspoons dried mustard
4 cups shredded white cheddar cheese
2 cups diced tomatoes
8 oz. sliced salami, cut in half and then in 1/4 inch strips, about 2 cups

Place the bread in the bottom of a 9 by 13 inch pan or equivilant.  Beat the eggs and combine with the rest of the ingredients.  Pour over the bread and bake at 350° for 30-40 minutes. 

For baking ahead and freezing:  follow the above directions and cool to room temperature before covering and freezing.  Freeze for up to one month.  Defrost in the refrigerator and then bake at 325° for 20 minutes or until warmed through.

For baking in ramekins:  follow the above directions and bake at 350° for 15-20 minutes.

Corn, Bacon and Cheddar – Substitute 12 strips of bacon, cooked and crumbled, for the salami and 2 cups of corn kernels, cut from the cob or frozen and defrosted for the diced tomatoes.

Smoked Salmon and Dill – Substitute the bacon with 10 slices of smoked salmon and the 4 t. parsley with 2 teaspoons fresh dill.  Omit the corn.  Lay the salmon over the bread and then pour the egg and milk mixture over.

Salsa and Pepper Jack Cheese – Substitute the 1 cup salsa for the bacon and the pepper jack cheese for the cheddar.

Ham and Boursin – Substitute 1 1/2 cups diced ham for the bacon and 2 cups of boursin for the cheddar cheese.  Omit the corn.  Dot the bread with pats of boursin and then pour the egg and milk mixture over.

Serves 10-12

Chef Annie
Thinking ahead

© 2008 Baggywrinkle Publishing

Rogue Radicchio

When I pulled the hay mulch away from the rich brown, clean smelling beds in the garden yesterday amidst the first warming trend we’ve seen since September, not only did I find garlic that I’d planted last fall, but a little, lone radicchio plant that had survived our cold, snowy winter.  It’s too small to do anything with, I’ll need to wait another month or two. But of course that stimulated a craving for bitter, colorful “greens,” purple or otherwise.

Off to the co-op to find luscious, colorful heads of minerals and vitamins for which my body is clamoring.  And when I got home, I played.  This is what we had for dinner with a Rosemary Roasted Chicken and crusty bread.

Radicchio, Bacon, Olive and Preserved Lemon Salad

No salt is needed for this recipe because the bacon, olives and lemons already make this a salty salad.  If you don’t have preserved lemons, don’t worry, just add fresh lemon juice (and then maybe a little salt and lemon zest) to taste.

2 strips bacon, diced and cooked
1/4 cup preserved lemon, diced
1/4 cup Kalamata olives, pitted and halved
1/2 head radicchio, sliced, approximately 4 cups
3-4 leaves romaine lettuce, chopped coarsely, approximately 3 cups
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice (more if you don’t have preserved lemons)
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Heat a medium skillet over medium-high heat and sauté the bacon.  When bacon is done, add the olives and remove from heat.  Toss all ingredients together and serve.

Serves 4