The Best Chicken Stew You’ll Ever Eat

Best Chicken Stew - Fisher Hill Farm

We’re all in on this chicken stew recipe as you can see by the title. But one taste of this dish and you’ll agree with us. It’s easy to make and best of all you can get (almost) everything from us at the markets we attend. This recipe will easily serve 4 with leftovers.

What You’ll Need:

One Stewing Hen

3 Onions

4 Medium Rutabaga

6 Cloves of garlic

4 Medium Carrots

10 Ribs of Celery

2 tablespoons of AP flour

A few cheese rinds

A few sprigs of fresh thyme

What You’ll Do:

Take the stewing hen out of the package. Not sure what a stewing hen is? Check out our last post HERE. Give it a rinse and then put it in an 8 quart stock pot. Cut the three onions in half and put 3 halves in the pot along with 5 ribs of celery, 2 carrots, 3 cloves of garlic, the cheese rinds and the thyme. You can get these cheese rinds at the market from some of the vendors, or get them from Wegmans. The rinds will add awesome flavor and help add a little fat to the stock.

Local Rutabaga - Fisher Hill Farm
Local Rutabaga – Fisher Hill Farm

Cover the lid and place on medium heat. Forget about this for 3 hours. Occasionally come back to stir because the rinds can rest on the bottom and stick sometimes. After 3 hours, pull the chicken out to cool then strain the remaining liquid and put in another pot. Put this back on the stove with no top on it. Keep it at a simmer continue to reduce. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Stew Hen Stew - Fisher Hill Farm
Stew Hen Stew – Fisher Hill Farm

Peel and chop the rest of your veggies and put them in a soup pot like a dutch oven or an 8 quart stock pot. Saute them with 4 tablespoons of butter and salt and pepper until they start to sweat. Add the flour and stir to thicken. Add the reserved stock that’s already hot. Reduce the heat down so it’s just barely boiling.

Strip the meat off the chicken. Discard any skin. Rough chop the meat and add it to the soup. Salt and pepper to taste one last time. Keep it warm and serve when you’re ready.

 

 

 

Stewing Hens: Best Kept Culinary Secret

This weekend starts stewing hen season. But what exactly is a stewing hen?

Not all chickens are the same. On our farm we have two different types, one kind is raised for meat and the other is specific to laying eggs. Once a year we have a group of egg laying hens that have to be retired because they no longer lay any eggs. As much as we’d like to send them to Florida to play shuffleboard  and eat dinner at four o’clock, on the farm we make it a habit to use absolutely everything.

This week marks our stewing hen season. They will be fresh for this one market weekend only and then we will bring them to the markets with us the rest of the winter frozen. These hens aren’t meant to be thrown on the grill or sauteed with garlic and tomato. They need to be cooked low and slow.

One of our favorite stewing hen recipes is chicken pot pie. It’s a multi step process, but boy oh boy it will be an absolute favorite for everyone in the house.

Chicken Pot Pie Recipe

Take the hen out of the bag, give it a rinse and set it in an 8 quart stock pot. Cut an onion into quarters, a carrot in half (don’t bother peeling it), a few cloves of garlic, and rough chop three celery ribs and put them in the pot. If you have a bay leaf throw that in there too. Add cold water to the pot until it covers the chicken and then about three fingers above that. Add a tablespoon of salt. Put that on medium heat with the lid on and forget about it for at least an hour and a half.

Now you can make the topping and put in the fridge for later. Instead of a traditional pot pie topping, use a biscuit recipe. Just roll it thin before placing it over the top. Make sure you cut a small ‘X’ in the center before you bake it or it could rise up and pop! Here’s a good recipe that just uses Bisquick as it’s base and probably a lot of other stuff you already have.

https://www.bunsinmyoven.com/biscuit-making-101/

When the stewing hen is starting to pull apart with a fork you can take it out of the pot and let it cool. Strain and reserved the liquid. That’s the chicken stock you’re going to make the pot pie with. Once the chicken is cool enough, remove the skin and pull the meat off. Chop it up a little and get it into bite sized pieces. Now you’re ready for the pot pie filling!

Dice onion, potato,carrot, celery and garlic and put it in a pan with some butter. Once the onions are translucent you can add the chicken stock you made. In a little sauce pan or a frying pan, make roux. You want a light roux. Here’s a step by step how to:

https://www.foodnetwork.com/how-to/articles/how-to-make-a-roux-a-step-by-step-guide

Once the stock is boiling and reduced a bit in your pan, add your roux to thicken, then add the chicken meat, and finally peas. Once this step is complete, make sure to taste it in case you have to add some seasoning. Fresh rosemary and thyme gives it a winter feel and don’t forget to salt and pepper to taste!

dutch oven

Place your pot pie filling directly in a pan that can go into the oven. Our friends grandmother used to put it in a hotel pan, top it with the biscuit dough and put it in the oven. We prefer a dutch oven. Roll out the biscuit topping and press it onto the sides of the dutch oven. Put it in the oven at 375. Since the pot pie filling is already hot all you have to do is watch for that biscuit to cook and you’re ready to eat.

We’ll have lots of other ideas for stewing hen use that we can’t wait to share.

 

 

Recipe: Brussel Sprouts

Maple Dijon Brussel Sprouts Recipe

Brussel Sprouts are a super versatile little cabbage. They can be cooked so many ways it can be hard to choose which amazing recipe to choose.

The United States grows a lot of Brussel Sprouts, around 30 tons per year. Which sounds like an awful lot until you learn that The Netherlands grown over 80 metric tons per year! With all these sprouts kicking around the globe you bet there are some pretty interesting recipes to choose from.

Maple Dijon Brussel Sprouts Recipe
Halved Brussel Sprouts

But we have one today that’s pretty darn easy and take very little prep time. It will take just over an hour in the oven, but the result will be well worth it. This recipe also tastes awesome the next day, cold, right out of the refrigerator.

Our recipes are never exact. We couldn’t tell you how many Brussel Sprouts to use by weight, but we just use one stalk. For the purposes of this blog and our website we try to get amounts down. So for this one we did what we could.

Maple Dijon Roasted Brussel Sprouts

What you’ll need: 

One stalk Brussel Sprouts (halved)

1/4 cup local maple syrup

1/4 cup Dijon mustard

1 one gallon bag

Salt and pepper

Maple Dijon Brussel Sprouts Recipe
1 Gallon Bag of Goodness

What you’ll do: 

Take the sprouts off the stalk and cut them in half. Then put them in the plastic bag. Pour in the maple syrup, the dijon, and add salt and pepper to taste. Mix well in the bag and then let sit for an hour. Heat your oven to 375 degrees. Spread the seasoned sprouts out on a baking sheet. Line with foil or parchment paper. Use a little pan spray for easy clean up. Bake on the top shelf in the oven for about an hour to an hour and fifteen minutes or until the sprouts start to caramelize and crisp.

 

 

The Uncertainty of Farm Life

Fisher Hill Farm

Every day is something new on the farm. You never quite know what’s in store for you. Go in with a strong monthly, weekly, or daily plan and those plans can change in the blink of an eye.

It could be anything, too. Truck breaks down, tractor gets stuck, unexpected rain storm washes you out, anything to throw you off your game suddenly can happen. You kind of start to expect the unexpected, but it doesn’t make it any less frustrating when you have to stop what you’re doing to take care of something that you weren’t prepared for.

We’ve always been farmers so we can’t speak from personal experience, but in talking with friends and family it doesn’t seem that much different from any other job out there! Things come up constantly and you are always having to find new ways to make it work.

Life really isn’t much different. Things come out of the blue to throw you off your game all the time. Could be something as simple as a child getting the flu or as serious as someone close to you getting seriously ill. Those things are game changers in one way or the other and there’s no real way you can prepare for something that you don’t ever expect.

All you can do is try and keep your cool, stay centered, and make smart informed decisions as much as possible. The other thing you can do is ask for help. Never feel bad about asking for help when you need it. Too often we try to tackle projects that are just beyond our scope of comprehension and it only makes us more frustrated which never helps to solve any problems.

This is all stemming from us losing water pressure the other day and finding out there was a massive leak that needed to be dug up. Turns out it was a pinhole leak in the plumbing. But, man can that be frustrating. We had to bring someone else in to fix everything up and get the water back on. Never ideal to stop during peak harvest season to fix something you didn’t expect. But that’s life, the uncertainty of farm life!

 

 

 

How to Freeze 10 Ears of Corn

Fisher Hill Farm Local Corn - Frozen

Corn may be one of the easiest things to preserve. When the summer is getting late it can be a good idea to buy some fresh corn and get it in the freezer. There’s nothing like pulling out some frozen local corn at Thanksgiving instead of grocery store bought or even worse…canned!

It doesn’t take much effort at all really and it will come out perfect every time. No need to blanch ahead of time or anything. We used a food saver sealer for ours but you certainly don’t have to. Instead, just buy some freezer bags (Make sure they are Freezer Bags and not gallon storage bags. The plastic is different. Storage bags will result in freezer burn!) place the corn in there and use a straw to suck all of the air out. You’re corn will stay good for up to a year!

Fisher Hill Farm Local Corn
Fisher Hill Farm Local Corn

Use a sharp knife to take the corn kernels off the ear itself. Try and clean out as much of the hairs as you can but if you can’t get them all don’t worry about it. We pack ours up into one pound bags but you can easily do whatever size you like if you have room in the freezer.

10 ears of corn yields a little more than three pounds of kernels!

Fisher Hill Farm Local Corn - Frozen
Fisher Hill Farm Local Corn – Frozen

We packed up the three pounds and had a heaping cup of corn left. So we decided to chop half of a zucchini and mix them together with a clove of chopped garlic. Then we beat two eggs with a little bit of flour and mixed it all together with salt, pepper, and a little honey to make corn and zucchini pancakes. Optional if you’d like to top yours with chili garlic sauce! We did.

Fisher Hill Farm corn and zucchini pancake
Fisher Hill Farm corn and zucchini pancake

They were delicious! 10 ears of corn is lots of frozen goodness and a meal for the family. Gotta love the summer, but it’s nice to bottle some of it up for later in the year, too.