Monday, September 28, 2009

Braised Chicken Legs / Purple Ruffle Basil Pesto

By some inexplicable caprice of the Powers That Be, we don't have any new ConLaw reading this week, so helloooo updation!

It's really important to me that I keep this blog simple, because simple is an accurate reflection of how I, sticking only with local produce at hand, really eat. I also want to avoid any culinary pyrotechnics because one of the most common refrains I hear from people my age is that they don't have time to cook/wonder how I have time to cook. There's not really a pat answer for that. Surely, I am busy, just like all of my classmates. But nourishing myself, taking an active role in fueling this body, is really important to me. It isn't all philosophical, though---it's also super fun. I love volunteering at the market, meeting cool people, and being part of a much bigger movement. It's not just, as Barbara Kingsolver wrote in Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, about poking the fork in my mouth. It's about being active in its creation, and all that entails.

Plus, one of the best things about cooking locally (as opposed to cooking Kroger) is the variety! I totally fall for green zebra tomatoes, white sweet potatoes, purple cauliflower, duck eggs, and endless kinds of lettuce. They keep my sense of wonder alive.

In the vein of those dual thoughts, here's a simple dish and a fun dish.

Braised Chicken Legs
Adapted from the Art of Simple Food by Alice Waters (I swear, I don't work for her)

5 chicken legs (West Wind Farms)
olive oil
a sprig of rosemary and a bay leaf
1 medium onion, diced
several medium tomatoes (Heirlooms from the U of M garden)
4 garlic cloves, chopped (my own German Extra Hardy)
1 cup chicken stock
olive oil, salt, pepper

Season your chicken legs with salt and pepper the day before. Bring to room temperature before cooking

Pour several tablespoons of olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pan. When hot, put in the chicken, skin side down, and leave it there for 12 minutes (essential for getting a good crust!). Then turn and cook 4 minutes on the other side. Remove to a plate.

Toss your onion into the pan and cook until translucent. Season to taste with salt. Throw in your rosemary and bay leaf and cook some more

Throw in the tomato and garlic, cook for a bit until tomatoes release their juices, then put the chicken back in, skin side down. Pour in the chicken stock (should come halfway up the sides of the chicken) and bring to a boil. Turn down to a bare simmer, cover, and cook 45 minutes.

Serve over brown rice. I got 2 yummy dinners and a lunch out of this.

Purple Ruffle Basil Pesto
subtitled: well, what would YOU do with purple basil?

This was so easy. Thanks to Mark for suggesting it as I stood pondering in the U of M edible garden. You win a frozen pesto cube prize!

Wash and cut up a large bunch of basil, purple or otherwise.

Toast your nuts--I used almonds here, but any kind will do.

Throw the basil, nuts, some parmesan cheese, and olive oil in your blender or food processor. Blend away.

Not super-purply, but still tasty, with shells, some of my Beam's Yellow Pear tomatoes, and tomatoberry tomatoes from the school garden.

That's it, guys. It's not hard.

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