Who Says You Can’t Eat Groundhog?
The Farm is a beautiful cookbook filled with the life stories and culinary adventures of Ian Knauer. Beginning his career as one of Gourmet’s recipe cross-testers (he tested recipes before they made it into the magazine), Ian then became food editor after Ruth Reichl received an introduction to Ian’s farm-to-table talents. Growing up, he spent much of his childhood on the rustic family farm and has filled the book with wonderfully simple recipes that highlight the farm’s seasonal ingredients. I read the entire book, front to back and loved every page. He begins each chapter with a farm tale, revealing family stories and cherished recipes.
When I get a new cookbook I read it like a novel and earmark those recipes I want to try. A difficult task with The Farm, as every recipe jumps off the page and says make me, now! Maybe not the venison or groundhog – yes, groundhog! This is real “old-school” farm living. He does say you can substitute chicken or rabbit for the groundhog. I didn’t earmark that page. His strawberry-cream cheese pie, garlic-pesto roast chicken, asparagus & scrambled egg all-day breakfast sandwiches, and zucchini pizza quickly made up for my groundhog squeamishness. There is a chapter on canning, with memories of his grandmother and her recipes. He includes homemade dill pickles, ketchup, canned peaches and how to make your own hard cider, to name a few.
I selected two recipes from the book for dinner this week. Both were delicious. Honey-Jalapeno Chicken Tenders and Grilled Eggplant with Cilantro Pesto.
HONEY-JALAPENO GRILLED CHICKEN
Adapted from The Farm
I’m not a fan of chicken tenders, so I substituted boneless, skinless breasts and thighs. I think the thighs have a lot of flavor and they tend to stay nice and juicy. The marinade was a snap to throw together and I altered the quantities slightly since I was using thicker pieces of chicken. Although he says you should marinate the chicken for at least 10 minutes, I threw the chicken and marinade in a Ziploc and let it sit in the refrigerator for hours. I knew I wouldn’t have time in the evening to prep it and cook it… this worked best for my schedule that day and it was perfect.
- 3lbs boneless chicken (skinless breasts and thighs)
- 5 large cloves of garlic, minced
- 1/3 cup honey
- 5 tbsp soy sauce
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 4-6 fresh jalapeño, finely chopped
- Zest of one lemon
- Kosher salt and pepper
- Handful of chopped cilantro for serving
- Sour cream for serving
* He calls for 6 jalapeño. I only used 4 because the ones from the market were huge. I removed the seeds from 2 of the 4 jalapeño and left the seeds in the remaining 2. I found it to have the perfect kick of heat. If you like it super spicy, leave all the seeds.
Place all the ingredients for the marinade in a medium size bowl and whisk together. If you’re using boneless breasts, pound them gently to a uniform thickness (not thin) so they cook evenly on the grill. Place the chicken in a large Ziploc bag and pour over the marinade. Seal the bag and mush it around to make sure all the chicken is coated. Place on a plate in the refrigerator and allow to marinate for a few hours. I generally turn the bag over a few times.
To grill the chicken, remove it from the marinade and scrape off any large pieces of jalapeño or garlic. Grill the chicken until it’s properly cooked through. Serve with a dollop of sour cream on the side and a sprinkle of fresh chopped cilantro.
* We used the leftover chicken the next night to make Chinese lettuce wraps with bean sprouts and Asian cabbage. Equally delicious and a great use of the leftover chicken. I made the dressing from my Chinese Chicken Salad recipe for the wraps.
GRILLED EGGPLANT WITH CILANTRO PESTO
I also made this delicious eggplant dip from the book. It’s like a Mexican version of baba ganoush. We ate this with tortilla chips, alongside the chicken. It was a really good dinner.