Sunday, November 13, 2011

Harvest Dinner for Eight

Dinner for eight is pretty much at the maximum limit of my culinary abilities. Even at that, I'm apt to forget something in the fridge or in the wine cellar. That's said, there's nothing I love more than to cook for a table full of hungry, happy friends... 
A velvety blend of pears from Dick and Verna's tree, plucked by hand and canned to perfection in a light honey syrup, paired with the earthy flavours of acorn squash grown in my community garden plot, spiced with a generous dash of Chatty's curry.

The beets were pulled from my garden just days before dinner (and just before a hard frost) roasted and served in the classic pairing with walnuts and goat's cheese, topped with a raspberry syrup vinaigrette. Many thanks to the lady at the end of the street for letting me pick her raspberry bush at its peak in August.

Hunter Stew (see recipe below)
Otherwise known in Italian as 'Cacciatore,' I love this stew for its earthy blend of herbs, mushrooms and a hardy free-range chicken. Served with noodles, which my husband rolled while I set the table.

Apple Pie
Oh my gosh... This was one of the best apple pies I've ever made. Must be the locally-grown apples I purchased last Saturday at the farmers' market.

Recipe for Hunter Stew
Cut a whole chicken into pieces. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Heat 2 tbsp oil in a heavy pot. Brown the meat on all sides. Remove chicken from pot.

To the oil add 1 chopped onion, 2 sliced red peppers and 2 chopped cloves of garlic. Sauté until soft. Pour on 1/2 cup of dry red wine and simmer until almost evaporated, scraping up any brown bits in the pan. Add a mix of herbs to your taste: sage, oregano, thyme and/or rosemary. Return chicken to pan.

Add 10 homegrown tomatoes, fresh or thawed. Toss in a handful of chopped chanterelles (reconstituted dried mushrooms also work well). Add enough water to just cover the contents of the pot, place the lid and simmer on medium-low heat for 2 hours. If it gets dry, add more water. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.

Meanwhile, cook a pot of broad noodles. Remove the chicken from the stew to a platter. Place some noodles in each bowl, douse with the sauce and pass the chicken on the platter.

Note: Since I was serving eight and one chicken was not quite enough, I added several Italian sausages which I had pre-cooked, browned and cut into chunks.

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