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Sarah's Farm to Fork

Preserving the Harvest: Garlic Scapes

Sarah BlackI am lucky enough to live in a climate where I can garden all year.  But even with the year-round ability to grow food, there are some things that have such a short season and need to be enjoyed right away or preserved. Canning is my go-to method for preserving most things.  But this Spring, much to my surprise, I discovered that a new variety of garlic I was growing was producing garlic scapes!  I had always grown soft neck garlic in the past, but last Fall decided that I would give hard neck a shot.  Garlic scapes only grow on hard neck garlic, which is quite a bonus if you love the strong flavor of fresh garlic.  The scape shoots up from the center of the bulb and does a bit of a curl, and each bulb only produces one scape.  Depending on how much garlic you are growing, you may have just enough to saute and add to your eggs for a morning or two, or you may have so much you have no other choice but to preserve it.  I chose to preserve mine, because I am a bit of a food preservation junkie.  The idea to make compound butter popped into my mind while I was staring at the basket of garlic scapes and remembering a restaurant my family frequented when I was a child.  They had sourdough garlic bread that had such a strong garlic flavor, that I think I am still somewhat immune to the strong taste of garlic, always requiring more than a recipe calls for in order to be able to taste it. 

fresh garlic scapes
Photo by eqroy/Adobe Stock

Compound butter is such a simple, quick thing to make, and is incredibly versatile, both in ingredients and how you use it.  You can make it in a food processor, or by mincing up your garlic with a sharp knife.  The amount of butter just depends on how much you want to end up with.  I tend to go overboard, so I took about 4 pounds of butter from the freezer to soften.  I use salted, but unsalted works just as well.  Let butter come to room temp so it is soft enough to stir.  I used my food processor.  I added the garlic scapes first, and pulsed just enough to get them broken down into small pieces.  The exact size of the pieces is not important.  I then added the butter and pulsed a few more times to get the garlic scapes evenly distributed throughout the butter.  And that’s it! It really is incredibly easy, yet adds such a boost of flavor to dishes. 

To store compound butter, I use parchment paper or plastic wrap and spoon a few tablespoons of the butter on to the paper.  Fold the paper over and form the butter into a log.  Wrap the butter tightly and either put in the refrigerator or freezer.  I tried to portion mine out into what I thought I could use in a week.  Compound butter can be stored in the freezer for up to 6 months.

Compound butter has a variety of uses.  You can spread it on homemade French bread and toast under the broiler.  Put chunks under the skin of a chicken or turkey before roasting to baste the meat with delicious fat and flavor.  Use it to sauté vegetables or cook scrambled eggs. Add it to your mashed potatoes. Or my favorite, put a spoonful on your steaks after you’ve removed them from the skillet or the grill.  Whenever I have used compound butter while company is over, I always get the ‘wow’ factor from my guests.  It is such a simple addition to a meal, but has a big impact. 

Compound butter can also be made with any combination of fresh herbs.  I often combine thyme, rosemary, oregano, chives, and sage.  Dried lemon rind also makes a wonderful compound butter.  There really are no rules, and you can make it as strong tasting as you like, depending on your ratio of butter to herbs.

Simply Delicious Chicken Potpie

Sarah BlackChicken potpie is one of those comfort foods we all know and love. However, I was not aware until recently how few people actually make them from scratch anymore. From talking to different people, I’ve realized most think that this classic is difficult or time consuming.  But it does not have to be.  We all have those go-to recipes, and this is one of mine. Potpie is especially great for last minute meals because the amounts of, and even the ingredients themselves, are very versatile.  Only have one potato and a few carrots? No big deal. Half an onion? No problem.  I’ve seen countless recipes for potpie that call for exact measurements, but I have never measured a thing when making one.  And I frequently get requests to make one when friends come over.  I also make these for my husband when he goes on hunting trips, and this last year I heard “all the guys loved the potpie. They talked about it for three days!” If you’ve never made a potpie, I encourage you to try it.  You will be surprised at how easy it is, and how delicious it turns out! I’m not going to write the recipe in the standard format, since it is so flexible and forgiving.  The point here is to let your ingredients guide you.  But in case you need a guide, here is roughly what you will need:

Chicken (or turkey)
Pie Crust (or biscuit dough)
Salt, pepper, fresh or dried herbs
Chicken broth and milk, or one or the other

Enough about that. Let’s talk about how to make one and why you should.  First, you need vegetables. About 3-5 cups. This recipe is very forgiving.  My go-to’s are typically onion, garlic, potatoes, carrots, celery, and peas. The amounts of each depend on what I have on hand.  Last night, for example, my celery didn’t look great. So I used the one stalk that looked good and added more carrots, because I had lots of those. I also realized after I’d started that I was completely out of peas, so I added two extra potatoes. Sometimes I use fresh garlic, other times I use garlic powder.  The goal here is just to use what you have. I have also used green beans when I have them in the summer, mushrooms, whatever is sitting around and needs to be used up.

Next, you need chicken. Or turkey. But that’s about as precise as it needs to be.  Breasts or thighs.  Cooked, leftover chicken works great. Raw chicken can be added as well, it just changes the order in which you add everything. I’ll go over both ways. About a pound if you’re using raw, cut into bite size pieces. About 2-3 cups if you’re using cooked. But more or less will work. Shredded or cubed. 

Lastly, you need a pie crust. Or some biscuit dough. I do either and my family loves both options.  Again, the key here is flexibility.  We’re trying to get a delicious, wholesome dinner on the table, so forget the hard-and-fast rules.

Ok lets get started.  Cut up your vegetables into bite-sized pieces and preheat a deep skillet or Dutch oven.  I have a cast iron braising pan that I always use.  Add about 4T butter (salted or unsalted, if you use salted, just use less salt when it comes time to season).  Sauté the onion, celery, carrot, and garlic until soft.  If you’re using raw chicken, now is the time to add it. Add it and stir it in and give it a few minutes to cook through.  If you’re using cooked chicken, hold off on adding it and put the potatoes in instead.  If you’re using raw chicken, cook it first and then add the potatoes.  Let the potatoes cook for a few minutes.  If you have cooked chicken, add it at this point, along with the peas if you’re using them.  Add about 4T more butter, let it melt, and then add about 4T of flour, enough to coat everything and start to look lumpy.  Add about 1 c of chicken broth, or enough to make a gravy that doesn’t quite cover everything.  If you don’t have chicken broth, milk will work.  It will have a richer feel to it, but that’s ok. I often use both chicken broth and milk. Season with salt, pepper, and herbs.  Herbs aren’t necessary, but I will say they add that little something extra.

At this point, preheat your oven to 425.  Add your filling to your pie dish. I don’t use a bottom crust. I find it unnecessary and nobody has ever complained.  Top the pie with your crust, homemade or store-bought (but I hope you try to make that too!), and bake until it is golden brown, about 20-30 minutes. I always let my son help me with the crust, so every pie looks different. Remove, let cool, and listen to your family rant and rave!


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