Archive for Meat/poultry Recipe

A Smoked Duck Breast & Blackberry Salad

smoked duck & blackberrry salad

Blackberry time is here. The canes in the garden have started to produce, and should all go well, continue to produce for another 4 weeks. Which is good, because blackberries (and eggplants) are one of the consolations of a typical Virginia summer, especially the kinds we’ve been seeing the last few years: hot, hotter, no rain, and yet muggy. Ouch.

But at least we have blackberries. That means blackberry sorbet, blackberry sourcream sherbet, creme de blackberry, blackberry shrub. But not blackberry gastrique nor blackberry jam, of which we still have plenty. We eat them. We freeze them. Me make juice. We sell them. It’s blackberry time, I tell you.

It’s also hot. So, preparations with minimum applications of heat are ideal. And blackberries, with their sweet-tart flavor, lend themselves well to savory dishes.

Recently, I prepared a smoked duck salad as an appetizer for a 32-guest lunch  (inspired by this recipe from the James Beard Foundation). I simplified the James Beard Foundation recipe by using smoked duck breasts prepared by The Whole Ox Butcher Shop in Marshall, VA (which sliced paper-thin with their meat slicer); changed the sauce a little bit… and reduced the plate to appetizer size.

An easy dish and attractive that’s great for a crowd, as all the components can be prepared ahead and assembled up to 30 minutes before serving (because we are using robust greens that can stand to the sauce).

So there, Smoked Duck Breast & Blackberry Salad – Appetizer for 12 Read more

A Winter Rabbit Stew With Mushrooms and Hakurei Turnips

Rabbit Stew

Rabbit Stew

Winter. Cold and white this February. We have seen -2F (-19F) several nights, which, for us, is cold, and it’s been sustained. There are days where the high temperature nudged 15 or even 20F ( -9 or even 77C). Even the Chesapeake is frozen in place preventing boats from reaching tiny Tangier Island!

Few clients are entertaining and, with snow on the ground, there is no outdoor gardening. There are only so many seeds you can start in the greenhouse … So… I cook (and I write a little more)

Long simmered dishes call to me on those bleak days – or on those piercingly clear and cold days. When I have rabbit, I generally roast it, but recently, I made a rabbit stew, which just reminded me how good rabbit is. Especially when a little cream is thrown in the sauce… and then something almost magical happens.  Because, you see, rabbit does not taste like chicken, it tastes like rabbit! And that’s good.

The dish is white – sorts, off –  muted in color is a better description: I used peeled potatoes as well as Hakurei turnips  which I had on hand, but any young small turnips will do. Just don’t go for those old shriveled things that have been sitting in the produce bins. Carrots would certainly work, although they would bring sweetness instead of a slight bitterness to the stew – and will also break the whitish color of the stew. But the important point is: don’t get hang up on the specifics of the ingredients! Just make the stew. It will taste great and comforting.

It’s rather soupy stew; if you want it less soupy then decrease the amount of liquid. It’s critical however to use a really good chicken broth, that means homemade. If you decide to decrease the amount of liquid, you may omit the potatoes, add more turnips, and serve the rabbit over grits or rice. Otherwise, pass the bread!

A Winter Rabbit Stew With Mushrooms and Hakurei Turnips

Rabbit Stew A rabbit’s back leg is very meaty… Read more

A Duck Roast With Currant Jelly Sauce

Roasted Duck, Photo by Molly Peterson


Let’s get it out of the way right now: duck is fatty, and duck is delicious, a rich dark meat that is quite distinctive and … – surprise! – does not taste like chicken. I sometime roast a duck mainly to collect its fat – because (as everyone knows) duck-fat fried potatoes are a treat. So if you are afraid of fat, skip the duck!

Duck is poultry, but a duck’s skeleton and body are very different from a chicken. A 5-lb duck yields a lot less meat than a 5-lb chicken — don’t forget that pound of lovely fat — mostly in breast and leg meat. Everything else is “gnaw off the bone” meat (wings, neck and back – and innards, of course!), stuff that not everyone cares to eat. At least not at a fancy dinner as fingers are required. Go figure.  So… anything smaller than 5 lb is not really worth roasting.

Ducks are — I am told — somewhat harder to raise than chicken. Mostly the processing (getting the feathers off) are a lot trickier and slower. So, it’s not that easy to get local ducks in the mid-Atlantic area. The closest duck farm I know is  Free Union Grass Farm in Free Union, VA, more than  60 miles away (which is further than I want to drive on a casual basis).

So duck is a treat here.

A rich meat, it marries well with bitter or sour: cherries in the spring, turnips and ginger in the fall, oranges & olives in winter, or like the recie here, make a tart sauce with current jelly. Or you could use tart cherry jam or jelly, or a seedless blackberry jam. Read more

Lard: make it at home. A pictorial guide.

Despite Thomas Jefferson’s efforts 200 years ago, olive trees don’t grow in Virginia. Erratic winter weather with nightly lows in the single digit temperatures followed by days at 70F — as well as hot muggy summers — don’t make happy olive trees. Anything below -10C (14F) will severely damage even a mature olive tree.

Don’t get me wrong, I love olive oil. And I used quite a bit of it along with avocado oil and nut oils. But in the last few years, I have been switching part of my cooking  fats to … lard, specifically home-rendered lard from locally pastured pigs. Here, in the Northern Virginia Piedmont, what other cooking fat is locally available to me? in such abundance? and so easy to make at home? Read more

A Different Kind Of Pie

French Réunion Island where I grew up has a multi-ethnic population, hailing from France, the West coast of Africa, the East Coast of India (Malabar coast), Pakistan (people came when Pakistan was part of the British empire), and Indochina. Its cooking reflects the diversity of its population, each group’s culinary traditions enriching the common cooking pot.

An example is Paté Créole, a savory meat pie probably of French and Indian origins served on feast days, particularly at the beginning of the Christmas or New Year’s Eve meal.

So I think it’s an appropriate pie for Thanksgiving. Read more

Venison Chili (with Vanilla and Cocoa)


Venison Chili

The flavors of chili

Bow hunting season is less than 2 weeks away. And I am ever so hopeful for a good harvest this year. It is really time too make room in the freezer and use last year’s harvest… and with weather being now markedly – and blessedly – cooler (especially at night), what’s not to like about a good batch of venison chili?

You don’t often see cocoa and vanilla bean called for in chili, but it’s a great combination with chile peppers. We are so used to cocoa and vanilla in sweet recipes that we too often overlook how well they work in savory dishes. In fact, in their native Central America, they weren’t used for sweets. It’s the European palate that added sugar and milk to cocoa to turn it into chocolate as we know it today — and used vanilla for dessert.

If you do not have venison, use fully grass-fed, grass-finished beef – the kind that ‘s on pasture their entire life, and if you can, not Angus but a breed with a more robust flavor, like Texas Long Horn, Scottish Highland or Red Devon. They are perfect for that recipe. But – like venison, they are super lean, hence the need for ground pork (which is also sold as plain/unseasoned bulk sausage).

Venison Chili with Vanilla and Cocoa
Read more

Roasted Rabbit

This recipe first appears in the Dec 2011-Jan 2012 Seasonal Table column I write for Flavor Magazine.

Roasted Rabbit, Braised Escarole, Cheesy Polenta & Roasted Carrots. Photo by Molly Peterson, mJm Photography, for Flavor Magazine.

Rabbit is intimidating for many people. Sure, it’s not as available as chicken but a growing number of farms (who often raise poultry) offer rabbits in our area. You can also find them through custom butcher shops. On a per pound basis, rabbit is more expensive  than chicken. But a 3-lb rabbit has more meat than a 3-lb chicken, or rather I should say, that a 3-lb rabbit has denser, more filling meat than a 3 lb-chicken.

Rabbit does not taste like chicken. Not even close. Sure it is a white meat with a lot of flavor, but it is dense and lean. Roast a young animal, braise an older one. Rabbit is both meaty and bony, muscle meat tightly attached to the bones. But if you like eating blue crab, you probably won’t mind all the bones in a rabbit.  When served in a restaurant, rabbit is often deboned and served as a pate, rolled, pulled, or in some other way where using a fork and a knife is breezy. In my home, we don’t mind using our fingers (mostly).

In this recipe, based on a classic French country dish, I use gin and juniper berries. But sometime I will use one of our  local whiskey or rye. Omit the juniper berries if you can’t find them. The mustard is used both for flavor and to help the meat keep moist.

And a bonus – it’s done in a hour: 5 minutes to prep, 50 to cook, 5 to cut up and plate. Cook the veggies while the rabbit is roasting. Read more

Fast Food My Way (Tongue it is!)

We eat plenty of fast food here – especially for lunch. Don’t believe me? well… take a look at the picture of one of our not unusual lunches.


  • Green salad from the garden (Pick early in the morning, wash, dry, refrigerate, ready to go in seconds) with hard boiled eggs from the hen house (hard boil, refrigerate – they will keep several days and only take seconds to chop and add to the salad)
  • Various homemade pickles: curried zucchini pickles, dilly green beans, cornichons and green tomato relish. Made last summer. 3 seconds to open each jar.
  • Sliced Beef Tongue with really good mustard. Tasty (really! don’t knock it off until you try it), easy, inexpensive. What else do you want? Prepare the tongue up to days in advance, keep it in the fridge, ready to slice at a moment’s notice for sandwiches or just for a cold cut platter with pickled veggies.
  • Sun tea: steeped in the sun in 1/2 gallon jar and rebottled in recycled glass bottle for more convenience.

Voila – that is slow food, but it is also fast food. Better: it’s real food.

The how to on cooking beef tongue (or other tongues for that matter like lamb), you may find here at DC-based The Slow Cook. Ed Bruske gives very detailed instructions on how to cook tongue and brine it first – if you want.

But really, it’s easy to cook tongue; in a nutshell, this is what you do: Read more

Roasting a Spring Lamb


Roasting a whole lamb in the spring is the epitome of the outdoor party (although a whole pig comes pretty close too).

We just did that this week-end for the benefit dinner organized by Flavor Magazine to benefit the Rappahannock Food Pantry.


Read more

Smoking Bacon

Bacon’s my friend (especially the kind that comes from a pastured pig).

A few weeks ago I read Brett Laidlaw’s post on Trout Caviar about smoking bacon. He wrote  it just about 2 years ago, but I only recently read it.

I knew we had to try it.

We did.


It just so happened that I had two pork sides in the freezer Read more