Potage Colcannon – Potato Leek Kale Soup

The bounty of the farmers’ market created the inspiration of a Pottage Parmentier meets Colcannon – a potato leek soup with the addition of garlic sautéed cabbage. Potato leek soup served cold and topped with cream and chives is most often known as vichyssoise, but the classic warm soup owes it’s name to Antoine-Augustin Parmetier, who reportedly popularized the potato in Europe after it was brought back to the Old World from the New by the Spanish. I love potato. Parmentier may become my patron saint.

The French were slow to adopt the potato, seen at the time of introduction as peasant food, or even worse, animal fodder. The Irish took to the tuber a bit more readily and one of the classic dishes of the Emerald Isle is colcannon, which is basically mashed potatoes with onions, cream, and cabbage added. We were inspired by some beautiful kale (which basically is just a cabbage variety), leeks, and a selection of fingerling and traditional potatoes.

potato

Potato Leek and Kale Soup

2 cups fingerling potatoes, large dice
1 Tbs fresh thyme leaves
4 Tbs vegetable oil
4 tsp sea salt

4 leeks, minced (see directions)
2 quarts vegetable broth
8 medium potatoes, peeled and thin sliced
1 pint heavy cream (or almond milk)

6 leaves kale, or enough to yield 2 cups chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Toss fingerlings potatoes with thyme, 1 Tbs oil, and 2 tsp salt and spread on a sheet pan. Roast for about one hour, or until browned and crisp in the exterior and still soft internally. While potatoes roast, proceed to make soup.

Wash the leeks and thinly slice the lower eight inches, which is mostly white. The remaining greens can be saved for other uses. The slices should then be further chopped fine or processed in a food processor until finely chopped. Place 2 Tbs oil in a large soup pot over medium heat on the stovetop, add the leeks and sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Stir until softened but not browned, about 20 minutes.

Add broth and sliced potatoes. Cook until potatoes are softened, about another 20 minutes once broth comes to a boil. Add cream and just heat through. Do not overcook the cream or it will separate and   Puree until smooth and set aside.

While soup comes to a boil, slice kale into 1/2 inch pieces and rinse then drain well (a salad spinner works well). In a large skillet over medium heat, add 1 Tbs oil and minced garlic. Cook until beginning to brown and very fragrant. Add kale, sprinkle with remaining 2 tsp salt and toss well. Allow to cook for about 10 minutes. Cook times will vary depending on the variety of kale, but the result should be softened and yet retaining some structure. The result should be along these lines:

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Gather the roasted potatoes into a pile and top with cheese, then melt cheese until just browned under the broiler. We used a dill and garlic cheddar cheese curd. There are many great uses for Cheese Curds, but it turns out this wasn’t one of them. We should have gone with some grated white cheddar or similar strong, melting cheese, because the curds retain some of their spongy texture even when melted, which was not ideal in this application. But it looked pretty awesome:

potato2

We served our soup with a healthy pile of kale in the center and then topped with our crispy roasted potatoes and cheese. The smooth, rich flavors of the potato created a wonderful vehicle for the garlicky kale. Our fingerling potatoes were a stand-in for croutons. We’ve done grilled cheese croutons before in our tomato soup, which would have worked here as well.

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Playing with our ethnic traditions, local farm-grown products, and giving it a new twist is right in line with our definition of Great Lakes Cuisine. It was also a lovely, warming autumn meal. Thank you St. Parmentier.

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Cider-Brined Chicken with Red Rice, Acorn Squash, Kale

Cider Brined Chicken1

Cider-Brined Chicken with Red Rice, Acorn Squash, Kale

2 cup apple cider (Honeycrisp, if available)
1 cinnamon stick
3 bay leaves
5 whole cloves
2 cloves garlic, crushed, skin on
¼ cup salt
2 cup ice

1 whole chicken, cut in eight pieces
4 Tbs. butter
2 Tbs. fresh oregano, chopped
1 Tbs. salt
½ medium onion sliced
1 Honeycrisp apple, cored and cut in eighths

½ medium yellow onion, diced
3 cups low-salt chicken broth
2 cups red rice

1 acorn squash, peeled, seeds removed, large chunks
¼ cup canola oil
2 tsp. Penzey’s Old World Seasoning (or seasoned salt)

1 lb kale, ribs removed, chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled, minced
Zest of half a lemon
1 tsp salt

To make the brine, bring cider to a boil with cinnamon, bay leaves, cloves, garlic, and salt. Simmer for 30 minutes then remove from heat and add ice. Adjust salt or water to yield a brine which tastes as salty as ocean water. Place chicken in 1 gallon freezer bag or large bowl and cover with brine. Place in refrigerator for 4 hours.

To bake chicken, heat oven to 475 degrees. Remove chicken from brine and dry with paper towel. Combine salt and oregano. Cut cold butter into eight pieces and roll each piece in oregano mixture, then place under the skin of each piece of chicken. Place chicken in pan just large enough to accommodate all pieces in one layer, skin side up. Tuck onion and apples around chicken pieces. Bake for 30 minutes then turn oven down to 350 degrees.

Toss acorn squash pieces in oil and spread on baking sheet in one layer, dust with seasoning. Place in oven with chicken. Heat one tablespoon oil in medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onions and cook until translucent, but not browned. Add rice and cook for an additional two minutes, stirring frequently to coat. Add broth and bring to boil. Then cover and reduce to simmer, continue to cook until tender, approximately 30 minutes.

Heat one tablespoon of oil in a large fry pan over medium-high heat. Add garlic and saute until fragrant, but not browned, and lemon zest, salt and kale. Toss frequently until wilted, just 2 minutes.

When the chicken has reached 160 degrees, approximately one hour, remove from pan and set aside covered for ten minutes. As chicken rests, stir the squash into the pan juices and allow to soak in the warm oven. When ready to serve, toss kale, rice, and squash together in a large bowl, then fill a platter with the mixture and top with the chicken. Serve family-style.

Cider Brined Chicken

We elected to add a bit of mulled cranberries (recipe at the bottom of our Autumn post) to the meal which added a nice, tart counter-point to the sweet squash, but this dish can be served without. Though really more of a “autumn” dish based on flavors and seasonal availability of the ingredients, we enjoyed this in the still chilly days of early spring.

Venison Sausage with Asiago Cheese

A recent gift of spicy venison sausage came with a warning – don’t over cook or it will dry out. This is pretty standard fair for any cut of venison, but often the pork fat added to sausages provide all the moisture needed. But these were not natural casings, and the links were not sealed as tightly as we might have preferred.  No problem – we baked them under a blanket of Nueske’s bacon to ensure moist, flavorful sausages.

Venison sausage with sweet potato2

We added these to a dish with quinoa, roasted sweet potato, kale, and candied pear, topped with Sartori’s Extra-aged Asiago cheese. In past versions of this dish, we’ve utilized dried cranberries, which are excellent.  A suggestion of pairing venison with candied pears appeared in my paperback version of The Derrydale Game Cookbook by L.P. De Gouy, originally published in 1937, though curiously no candied pear recipe is listed. Here’s our version:

Candied PearHeat oven to 300 degrees. Slice two pears vertically into 1/4 inch slices. Heat 1 cup water with 1 cup sugar to a low boil with 3 bay leaves, 5 cloves, and a cinnamon stick. Add pear to the pan and allow to boil until beginning to become translucent.  Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Place in oven until just beginning to turn caramel brown, about 20 minutes depending on thickness of the slices.  Allow to cool and then cut into 1/2 inch squares for this recipe.  Also, these can be left whole as a snack. The poaching liquid cooled becomes a wonderful simple syrup for cocktails.

In this dish, the spicy venison sausage are baked then allowed to cool enough to slice. These are added to a skillet on medium-high heat with rendered bacon fat.  The roasted sweet potatoes are added along with kale, which is allowed to wilt. Pre-cooked quinoa is added to the skillet along with the candied pear pieces. The dish is topped with large shavings of Asiago cheese.

Venison sausage with sweet potato

The result is a very pleasant blend of spicy, sweet, and nutty flavors.  The Asiago adds both nuttiness and creaminess as it melts into the hot dish. The candied pear is not individually discernible, but adds a lovely sweetness to the background and plays off the creaminess of the cheese. We’ve added an additional pear chip and a dried kale chip as garnish. Flavorful, complex, complete.