Pig Out. The Rise and Fall of Hogtown.

GeneralPeter Sanagan

Sanagan’s currently carries pork from three Southern Ontario family farms. Like all Sanagan’s suppliers, our pork farmers value small scale, humane animal husbandry. The pigs are processed at low volume facilities located near the farms. By contrast the abattoirs that inspired the name Hogtown were anything but small scale. So, while Sanagan’s embraces a different approach to the life and death of the pig, we’re proud to be selling great pork in Hogtown and thought you might be interested to know how the name came to be. 

 

Sanagan’s heritage pork raised on Murray’s Farm 

 

If the name Hogtown can be attributed to one person, it would be William Davies whose ascent from a single St. Lawrence Market stall in the 1850’s to the establishment of Canada Packers (now Maple Leaf Foods) firmly implanted the pig’s footprint on Toronto’s identity. Along the way the William Davies Corporation became the largest supplier of bacon to England, shipping out of North America’s second largest pork processing plant, located in the Don Valley at Front Street. Davies is credited with popularizing peameal bacon, making him the Godfather of Toronto’s signature sandwich. Eventually the animal world tired of Mr. Davies attentions. He died as a result of injuries suffered after being butted by a goat. 

 

It’s not difficult to witness a herd mentality at Keele and St. Clair as shoppers descend upon Home Depot and Canadian Tire, but this area used to support actual herds of cattle, pork, and horses. The Stockyards, a 300-acre network of rail sidings, loading platforms, stock pens, and processors, including Maple Leaf and Swifts, was once North America’s largest livestock facility. The fortunes of the Stockyards rose and fell with the railroad. By the time trucking eclipsed rail as the most efficient form of livestock transport, and combined with the pressures of Toronto’s ravenous real estate market, the demise of the Stockyards was inevitable. The majority of processors moved from Toronto to Cookstown in 1994 but not after doing its share to consolidate our nickname as Hogtown.

 

Toronto Stockyards

 

Up until its closure in 2014, for many Torontonians the name Hogtown was embodied by Quality Meat Packers on Tecumseth Street near Fort York. Even if you never saw the abattoir there’s a good chance you saw the trucks, loaded with pigs, driving towards it. I remember working at Fort York in my early 20’s. You either got the industrial beer smell of the Molson’s brewery or the raunchy not quite bacon smell of Quality Meats. Grimly, it felt historically accurate. There had been a packing plant on the site since 1914 in the form of the Toronto Municipal Slaughterhouse. This facility was bought in 1960 by Quality Meats. At its height, Quality processed one third of Ontario’s pork. While it defied animal rights protests and condo-mania it was eventually brought down by the cruel variables of the free market. The last straw was the piglet-killing virus of 2014. Thankfully for Sanagan’s, and the pigs, our small-scale pork farmers were unaffected by the outbreak. 

 

The original site of Quality Meat Packers  

 

Things change. The hogs have left Hogtown. Toronto’s de-industrialization has been rapid. But high quality, locally raised, family-farmed pork will never leave Sanagan’s and Sanagan’s, finger’s crossed, will never leave The Six. 

 

Graham Duncan

Photos: Graham Duncan and Toronto Archives

Smoked Brisket

RecipesPeter Sanagan

Smoking a brisket is both a simple endeavour and a stressful one. You don’t want to overcook the brisket, or cook it at too high a temperature, as it can easily become dry and tough. However, there are a couple of tricks you can use to ensure a moist and tender brisket, rich with the flavour of smoke and spices. One is to brine the brisket for at least a day before cooking. I just submerge the brisket in a brine, while others will go to the trouble of injecting the brisket, much like you would with a ham.  I suppose it depends on how much energy you have, or if you had an injection pump. I don’t. The other “trick” is something called the “Texas Crutch”, which is basically wrapping the brisket in heavy duty foil (or sometimes butcher paper) to allow the brisket to steam while it finishes cooking. At the end of the day, if you utilize both of these methods, and cook the brisket at an even low temperature, you will be rewarded with a delicious, meltingly tender, smoky slab of meat.

Note: You need to start this recipe two days before cooking. For the BBQ Spice, you can use your favorite brand. We make our own all purpose one at the shop; see recipe below.

Serves 6 to 8

Ingredients

½ cup                    sugar
½ cup                    salt
3 tbsp                    pickling spice 
2 L                         water
5-6 lbs                   brisket (I prefer the fatty end, or “point”, but the leaner side, or “flat” is nice too)
1 cup                     BBQ dry spice rub (see recipe below)

Method

  1. TWO DAYS BEFORE COOKING: In a large stainless steel pot over a high heat, mix the sugar, salt, and pickling spices with the water. Bring to a boil to dissolve the salt and sugar, then take off the heat. Once the water is cool to the touch, submerge the brisket in the brine so it is totally covered. Place the pot in the fridge overnight.
  2. The next day, remove the brisket from the brine and pat dry. Discard the brine. Place the brisket in a non-reactive (glass or stainless steel) pan, and season it liberally with the BBQ dry spice mix. Cover and place back in the fridge to marinate overnight.
  3. The next day, prepare your BBQ. Soak four to five cups of wood chips in water for 30 minutes. If using a propane or gas grill with a smoke box, light only one burner and preheat the grill to 250°F to 275°F. Place a handful of the soaked wood chips in the smoke box and put the box on top of the one lit burner until it starts smouldering. If using a charcoal grill, light the coals and pile them on one side of the grill. Close the lid and adjust the intake and exhaust damper to get the temperature to around 250°F to 275°F, then sprinkle a handful of soaked wood chips on the coal to begin the smouldering.
  4. Place the brisket on the indirect heat side of your BBQ, and close the lid. Maintain the temperature and smoke (adding woodchips and/or charcoal as needed) throughout the duration of the cooking process. After two hours, flip the brisket over. After another two hours, take the brisket out of the BBQ and wrap it in heavy-duty aluminum foil so it is completely wrapped. Place it back on the BBQ, close the lid, and continue cooking for another 1.5 to 2 hours, or until the internal temperature of the brisket reaches around 190°F, and feels soft to the poke of a fork.
  5. Remove the brisket from the BBQ and let it rest in the foil for 45 minutes before unwrapping, slicing thinly across the grain, and serving. I like to serve brisket with seasonal boiled corn and potato salad.

 

BBQ Dry Spice Rub                         

Ingredients        

2 cups                   kosher salt
1 cup                     sweet paprika
3 tbsp                    onion powder
3 tbsp                    garlic powder
2 tsp                      rubbed dry thyme
4 tsp                      dry rosemary
1 tbsp                    ground black pepper

Method

Mix all the ingredients well in a large mixing bowl. Store in an air-tight container for up to two months.

 

Our Chef at Home: Anne Hynes!

GeneralDeveloper Clermont
Even at home I find myself making pie! Instead of making meat pies though, I have been making fruit pies - more specifically Strawberry-Rhubarb Custard Pie. Mark and I have a garden at the Leslie Street Allotment, where we inherited a robust rhubarb plant. Truthfully, I have never been much of a fan of rhubarb, but when you have access to a free and bountiful crop it seems a shame to not do something with it. Over the years I have done a lot of experimenting and have come up with a few great recipes, one of which has ended up on the shelves of Sanagan's - the Rhubarb and Lavender Jelly. This pie has evolved from a recipe that I found in Chatelaine (Ed. Note: a Sanagan household favorite magazine). It is very easy to make and can be easily adapted to accommodate different fruits or berries. If life gives you rhubarb, you make rhubarb custard pie!

Poached Chicken with Celery and Rice

RecipesDeveloper Clermont
What a boring sounding dish. What, are you making sandwiches for tea time or something? Like it’s 1935 and your grandmother from England is coming over? Jeez, it just sounds so…meh. Fine, I’ll try it. Truth is, you’ll like poached chicken and celery. Just like that dude in Green Eggs and Ham, you’ll try it and declare that you’d eat it everywhere and with anyone (boats, goats, boxes, foxes, etc etc). Trust me. Serves 4 Ingredients: 1 L bone broth (recipe follows, or you can get a liter at our shop!) 2 pieces star anise 8 whole peppercorns 2 bay leaves 4 chicken legs 1 celery head, outer stalks removed and trimmed to 4-5 inches above the base 2 cups short grained rice to taste salt and pepper 4 tbsp blue cheese, crumbled 2 tbsp green onion, sliced Method:
  1. Pour the bone broth into a sauce pot and add the star anise, peppercorns, bay leaves, and the chicken legs. Bring to a light simmer over a low heat. Add the celery, cover, and poach at a very low heat until the chicken legs are cooked through (about 40 minutes). To know when the chicken is cooked, use an internal thermometer plunged into the thickest part of the leg until it reads 165°F. Remove the chicken and celery and set aside.
  2. While the chicken is poaching, rinse the rice under cold water to remove the excess starch. Soak the rice in cold water until the chicken is cooked.
  3. After the chicken and celery are cooked and set aside, strain the broth, then measure and pour 2 cups back into the same pot. Quarter the celery lengthwise and place in a small bowl. Pour any excess broth over the celery and place the bowl on your stovetop (off the heat) to keep it warm until serving time.
  4. Strain the rice and add to the pot with the broth. Bring to boil over a medium heat, then lower the heat to a bare simmer, cover, and cook for 20 minutes, or until the rice is fully cooked and has absorbed the broth. Take off the heat and let sit for an additional ten minutes.
  5. Preheat the broiler to high.
  6. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Place the chicken legs, skin side up, on the sheet. Place it under the broiler until the skin is golden brown (about one minute or two).
  7. To serve, place a scoop of rice into four shallow bowls or plates. Take the celery out of the broth and set on the rice, then place the browned leg next to the celery. Pour a tablespoon or two of the broth from the celery bowl over the chicken leg. Season with salt and pepper if desired, then sprinkle 1 tbsp of the blue cheese and green onions over each dish. Serve immediately.
Bone Broth Makes 4 liters Ingredients 1 kg chicken carcass bones ½ kg beef knuckle bones, cut into small pieces (ask your butcher) ½ kg beef marrow bones, cut into small pieces (ask your butcher) 2 tbsp tomato paste 2 pc Spanish onion, peeled and cut into quarters 2 pc garlic bulbs, left unpeeled and cut in half width-wise 4 pc medium sized carrots, peeled and cut in half width-wise 4 pc celery stalks, washed and cut in half width-wise 2 pc parsnip, peeled and cut in half width-wise 5 tsp salt 2 tbsp whole peppercorns 6 pc bay leaves 8 branches fresh thyme Method Preheat the oven to 375°F. Ask your butcher to cut up the beef bones as small as they feel comfortable doing so. Spread the beef bones and the chicken bones out in a roasting pan and place in the oven. Roast for forty-five minutes, or until golden brown. Take the bones out of the oven and put them into a large stock pot. Add the tomato paste, onions, carrots, celery, garlic, and parsnips to the same roasting tray, and stir them around to pick up some of the fat from the bones. Put into the oven and roast for another forty-five minutes, stirring once or twice, until the vegetables are golden brown. Take the tray out of the oven and scrape the vegetables into the stock pot. Pour a cup of water into the roasting pan and place it over a medium heat on the stovetop. As the water comes to a simmer, use a wooden spoon to scrape all of the good bits of roasting bones and vegetables from the bottom of the pan, and add that to the stock pot. Pour 4.5 cups of COLD water over the bones and vegetables in the stock pot. If the bones aren’t completely covered with the water, add just enough to cover them. Add the salt, peppercorn, bay leaves, and thyme to the pot and place over a medium heat. Bring the broth to a simmer, then turn the heat down to low. The broth should be just bubbling, maybe a bubble or two every ten seconds. Allow the broth to simmer at this temperature for at least eight hours, carefully skimming any scummy water off the surface. After the eight hours, strain the broth through a large colander, and then again through a fine mesh strainer. This extra step just helps ensure a clearer broth. Taste the broth for seasoning, and add more salt to your liking.

Reverse Grilled Rib-Eye with Salsa Verde

RecipesDeveloper Clermont
Reverse grilling (or searing) is a technique used commonly on thick steaks to ensure a more even interior temperature for the meat. While professional cooks have years of experience cooking meat to a prefect medium-rare, it can be more challenging for the home cook to replicate that exact internal temperature. Common steak grilling techniques involve searing the meat over the hottest part of your grill, then letting the meat finish cooking on the cooler side. The sous-vide technique has taught us that if you slowly raise the temperature of the interior of the meat before caramelizing the outside, you have much more control over the desired internal temperature. And when you’re spending good money on a thick cut of rib-eye, you really don’t want to stress about over-cooking it. A salsa verde is a simple herb pesto of sorts that can be made with a variety of fresh herbs, olive oil, and brined ingredients for a bit of acid that will cut through the delicious fat on the steak. It is an excellent sauce for all grilled meats. Serves 2 Ingredients 1 rib-eye steak, at least 1.5 inches thick (this will be around 1 lb, depending on the size of the loin) to taste salt and pepper 1 tbsp olive oil 1 clove garlic, peeled and smashed with the side of a knife 4 branches fresh thyme For the Salsa Verde 3 tbsp fresh Italian parsley, roughly chopped 2 tbsp fresh chives, roughly chopped 2 tbsp fresh basil, roughly chopped 2 tbsp fresh tarragon, roughly chopped 1 tbsp Dijon mustard 1 tbsp capers 1 tbsp green olives, pitted and roughly chopped (about 4 olives) 2 tbsp olive oil to taste salt and pepper 2 tbsp shallot, finely minced Method
  1. Season the steak liberally with salt and pepper, then lay it in a shallow dish with the smashed garlic and thyme. Marinate for 30 minutes while your grill is getting hot.
  2. Prepare your grill so that one half has a high-heat flame and the other half is unlit. If using a charcoal grill, combine your hot coals in either a small pile on one side of the grill, or better yet use a charcoal box that fits under the grill, and set it only on one side of the grill. If using a propane grill, only light one element and set it to high. Close the lid to preheat the whole grilling area.
  3. Set the marinated steak on the cool side of the grill and leave the lid open. The steak will slowly get warm – this process can take up to an hour or more, depending on a few variables (thickness of steak, type of grill, etc). Keep your eyes on the steak, flipping occasionally. Use an internal thermometer to check the internal temperature. When it’s five to ten degrees lower than the desired temperature, remove the steak from the grill.
  4. While the steak is cooking, make the salsa verde. Place all of the ingredients except the shallot in a food processor and puree until emulsified. Stir in the shallot and adjust the seasoning if necessary.
  5. Make sure the grill’s “hot side” is screaming hot before searing the steak right on top of the fire. Grill for one to two minutes per side to caramelize the exterior, then remove the steak and rest the meat for five minutes.
  6. When the steak has rested, slice it and place on a serving platter with the salsa verde in a small bowl on the side.

Sanagan's Picnic Basket

GeneralDeveloper Clermont
Spreading out a blanket, sitting in the sun, eating, drinking, maybe a touch of postprandial Frisbee: the picnic is summer at its best. And during the pandemic, it’s a responsible way to socialize with those beyond your bubble. If food tastes better outside, then imagine how good our all-Ontario products will be al fresco. All you have to do is stock your cooler with our charcuterie, cheeses, salads and accompanying condiments and you’re ready for a class repast on the grass. Just add bread and beverages. Charcuterie Packaged salami and cured meats from our deli selection are the ultimate in no-cook feast-ability. A little bit of bread and mustard doesn’t hurt either. Prosciutto, Soppresatta, Black Forest Ham and Summer Sausage are just a few examples of picnic perfect deli meats. Or go minimalist with a backpack compatible selection of jerkies, biltong and pepperettes. Pâtés and Terrines Created by our charcutier, Scott Draper, these classic preparations are portable servings of delectability made with the same locally sourced meat you see behind our counter. Luxurious selections such as Pâté Forestier, Pâté de Campagne, Pork & Dried Fruit Terrine and Duck Liver Mousse can be spread on bread or crackers and elevate your nature noshing with French culinary traditions. Salads When you head out to the green fields be sure to take some of our greens with you. Anne Hynes and the kitchen team have house-made salads that will keep your picnic delicious and balanced. Lentil and Pear Salad, Beet, Orange and Feta Salad and Kale Super Salad should definitely be on your summer dining shopping list. Or take your own greens and anoint them with our House Vinaigrette. Roasted Chicken Our fantastic King Capon Farms chickens are coated in our Sanagan’s Rub, roasted, vacuum-packed and chilled. Here’s where a genetic mutation that gives you some extra fingers would be good because you’ll want to lick as many as possible. Cheese We’re sure it’s not news to you that Ontario is home to some great independent cheese makers and Sanagan’s is proud to supply their products to you. Enhance your hamper with selections like: Monforte’s Providence; Stonetown’s Emmental or Thornloe’s Cheddar. Pickles and Condiments Our kitchen makes numerous mustards, jellies and pickles that can jazz up your al fresco feast. Maybe a little Beerhall Mustard on your Summer Sausage? Maybe a little Rhubarb and Lavender Jelly with your Monforte Emmot cheese? Maybe some Chili Infused Garlic Scapes with your Pâté de Campagne? Actually, there’s no maybe about it! Along with our house-made products, we carry an outstanding lineup of All-Ontario jarred goods that are picnic classics: Aunt Lovina’s relishes; mustards by Kozliks and Brü; Apple Flats Crab Apple Jelly (says right on it, “try it with cheese”). Simplest picnic in the world? A jar of Sanagan’s Pickled Eggs on the fire escape. So, stash the stove, grab the lawn chairs, come to Sanagan’s, pick a park, find a field or bivouac in a bower. Summer only lasts so long.

David Haman's Moroccan Spiced Chicken Pie with Apricot and Pistachio

RecipesDeveloper Clermont
Chef Dave Haman and I have known each other for years. He helped open Sopra, the dining room that was above Mistura, after having worked throughout Europe. Not long after I opened Sanagan's Meat locker, Dave opened the Woodlot, a Canadian restaurant tucked away on a leafy side street in Toronto. It was a perfect gem of a restaurant with a giant wood-burning oven which was used for bread, roasts, vegetables, and more. The Woodlot was so special to my wife and I that we decided to get married there. Guests recollect that it was one of the best weddings they have been to, especially because of the delicious food! Dave has since moved on to his dream job - a professor of baking and pastry arts at George Brown - and we have stayed in touch throughout the years. He is still one of my favourite chefs in Toronto, and a genuine, authentically nice person as well, which are the reasons why I reached out to him to ask what he's been cooking at home during the pandemic. I highly recommend you trying out this recipe, his flavours are spot-on. Peter Moroccan Spiced Chicken Pie with Apricot and Pistachio by David Haman My vision here was an adapted and lightened up version of a Pastilla, which is a celebratory dish prepared in variations across Morocco. In light of the lockdown I’ve had time to prepare dishes that have multiple steps and can be made in stages as I can pop down into the kitchen for a little bit of time between tasks, working from home. The Instant Pot makes this especially easy as it is so self-contained. The recipe can be done without it but the braising of the chicken will take about an hour and a half in a covered pot in a 350°F oven. Until the chicken legs are falling apart nicely. I thought of the “Pastilla” as I wanted to present something that is a little special and celebratory. At home, I love cooking with and exploring exciting spice blends and bold flavours like those from North Africa. I was also thinking about something that can travel well too and would work in a picnic setting as I suspect that the first few meals we’ll have with people outside our households will likely be in parks or backyards. That will certainly be something to celebrate! The pies can be made small and individual or as 1 pie and sliced like I did. I always double up the recipe and freeze half the filling so that the next time, I just prepare the phyllo shell, fill it and bake. Serves 4-6 Ingredients 250 ml + 2 tbsp olive oil 750 gr chicken legs (approx. 3 legs, split) 1 tbsp unsalted butter 150 gr diced onion (1 large onion) 5 gr fresh ginger, minced (1 cm pc) 5 gr garlic, minced (2 cloves) 1 dry bay leaf 1 tbsp ras el hanout* ½ tsp ground cinnamon ½ tsp ground cumin ¼ tsp ground black pepper ¼ tsp saffron (soaked in a tbsp warm water) 125 ml water (1/2 cup) 125 gr russet potato, peeled and grated (1 lg potato) 75 gr diced tomato (1 medium Tomato) 75 gr dried apricots (1/2 cup) 50 gr pistachios (1/4 cup) 1 tsp chopped loomi** 200 gr kale (1 bunch) 1 lime 2 tbsp honey 1 box phyllo pastry sheets Method
  1. Using the “High” “Sauté” function on the Instant Pot heat the 2 tbsp of olive oil. Season the chicken legs with salt and sear in the oil until lightly golden all over. 5-6 minutes. Remove the chicken legs to a plate.
  2. Reduce the “Sauté” to “Low” and add the butter, onions, garlic, bay leaf and ginger with a pinch of salt. Sauté lightly until the onions are translucent and everything is aromatic. 5-7 minutes. Add the ras el hanout, cinnamon, cumin, pepper and sauté 1 more minute. Turn the “Sauté” function off.
  3. Add the saffron and its soaking water. Return the chicken to the pot and pour in the ½ cup of water. Lock the lid of the Instant Pot in place and set it to cook 25 minutes under low pressure. Once the cooking timer has gone off, allow everything to cool and the pressure to release itself by just leaving it alone for a further 30 minutes. This process will take about an hour start to finish; just let the instant Pot do all the work.
  4. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to the boil, add a pinch of salt and blanch your kale for 2-3 minutes until just tender. Remove from the water and let cool. Squeeze all the excess liquid from the kale, really squeeze it, forming a tight ball. Finely chop the kale and save it for later.
  5. Once you’ve let the pressure release naturally from the Instant Pot (at least 20 minutes after the cooking is done) remove the lid and lift the chicken legs out of the pot. Allow them to cool enough to handle. Just leave everything else in the pot.
  6. While they are cooling, peel and grate your potato. Don’t do this in advance as the potato will oxidize quickly. I just grate the potato on a classic cheese grater…. nothing fancy.
  7. Add the grated potato, tomato, apricot and pistachios to the spiced onion-y liquid in the instant pot. Turn the ”Sauté” function back on “Low” and bring everything to a simmer. Check the seasoning and add a little salt if required. Simmer for 15-20 minutes. The potatoes will dissolve and thicken everything up. Stir from time to time to prevent the bottom from burning.
  8. Pick the chicken off the bone, discard the bones and skins (or save for bone broth)
  9. Once the sauce has thickened up nicely, turn the heat off and fold in the honey, followed by the chicken and kale. Adjust the seasoning if required and balance it with a little bit of lime juice to taste. Transfer to a container and refrigerate overnight to allow the flavours to develop.
  10. The next day, remove the phyllo pastry from the fridge and reserve between two damp towels while you’re working with it. You can make small individual pies if you like and have small ring moulds or pie plates (disposable plates work). I made 1 large pie in a 9” spring-form pan. The spring form makes it easier to remove after but isn’t necessary. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  11. Brush your pie plate or mould with olive oil. Brush 1 sheet of phyllo with oil and lay it so that the oiled side is down and covers the entire bottom and then drape it over one side (see photos below). Brush the side facing up with oil too. Lay another sheet over the bottom and offset the remainder of the sheet draping over the side next to the first. Brush the top side of this sheet with oil too.
  12. Continue to lay sheets in this manner going around the mould until you have created a star pattern with the phyllo and all the sides are covered with lots of phyllo draped to cover over the top too. The base should be layered about 6 sheets.
  13. Fill the pie with the chilled filling. Now start to drape the overhang from each sheet over the top of the pie, brush each with olive oil after you lay it over the top. You should have enough overhang to easily enclose all the filling and make a top layer about 6 layers deep as well, if you need to you can add another sheet or two on top to cover……. This is difficult to explain in words, but not actually difficult. See the attached photos or YouTube “Making a Pastilla” for clarity if required.
  14. Once the pie is fully enclosed, transfer to the preheated oven and bake until the pie is crisp and golden. Approx. 35 - 40 minutes.
  15. Let the pie cool about 5-10 minutes then transfer from the mould by flipping it out onto a plate or opening the springform. Garnish with chopped pistachios and loomi. Let cool at least 30 more minutes before serving. It will stay crisp for 3-4 hours. If you want you can pop it back into a 350°F oven for 5-10 minutes before serving and it will crisp right back up.
* Ras el Hanout is a special blend of spices that differs from shop to shop. I am smitten with the blend made by The Spice Trader and Olive Pit on Queen St. West. ** Loomi are dried limes. Available at shops carrying Middle Eastern ingredients and some specialty food shops.

Whole Chicken Ballotine with Pork and Dried Figs

RecipesDeveloper Clermont
A ballotine refers to poultry (usually chicken or duck) that has been boned and stuffed, normally with meat but sometimes with cheese and/or vegetables. This is a great way of turning a whole chicken which normally feeds three or four people into a feast that easily feeds at least double that crowd. To make this, you will need your butcher to “glove-bone” a chicken for you, where the chicken’s breast bone, backbone, neck, and thigh bones are removed, all while keeping the chicken’s skin intact. It’s not a terribly difficult procedure for a butcher, but it does require a bit of time, which could slightly increase the cost of the bird. Serve with roast potatoes and a leafy green salad. Serves 8 Ingredients 1 cup dried figs (about 10 pieces), tip removed and quartered lengthwise 1 cup Madeira 1.5 lbs ground pork 2 tsp salt 1 tsp ground pepper pinch ground clove pinch ground nutmeg 3 tbsp white wine 1 chicken, about 3.5 lbs, glove boned (ask your butcher to do this), wing tips removed 1 liter chicken stock 3 tbsp soft butter 3 branches fresh thyme to taste salt and pepper squeeze lemon juice 1 tbsp cornstarch 1 tbsp cold water Method
  1. In a small bowl, soak the dried figs in the Madeira for 1 hour.
  2. Preheat the oven to 325°F.
  3. In a work bowl, mix the ground pork with 2 tsp salt, 1 tsp pepper, the clove, nutmeg, and white wine. Mix well. Using a slotted spoon, remove half of the figs from the Madeira and mix them into the pork. Reserve the rest of the figs in Madeira.
  4. Form the ground pork into a football shape, then stuff it into the cavity of the glove-boned chicken. Fold the drumsticks in an “x” around the back of the bird, then loop and tie a piece of twine around the equator of the chicken to truss it.
  5. Place the stuffed chicken breast up on an elevated rack on a roasting pan. Season well with salt and pepper, then smear the 3 tbsp of soft butter all over the bird. Add the thyme and the liter of chicken stock into the roasting pan, then cover with tin foil. Place in the hot oven and roast for three hours, or until an internal thermometer reads 155°F. Take the roasting pan out of the oven.
  6. Turn the oven up to 400°F. Remove the foil from the pan, and using a spoon or ladle remove and reserve the roasting juices. When the oven is hot, place the chicken back in and cook for 20 to 30 minutes, or until an internal thermometer plunged into the center of the chicken reads 165°F, and the chicken is golden brown all over. Remove and rest for ten minutes, covered.
  7. Meanwhile, make the sauce. In a small pot over a medium heat, bring the remaining figs and Madeira to a simmer. Reduce by ¼, then add the roasting juices from the chicken. Bring to a simmer and taste for seasoning, adjusting with salt, pepper, and a squeeze of lemon juice for brightness.
  8. Whisk the cornstarch and water together to make a slurry, then whisk it into the fig sauce to thicken. Reduce until the sauce coats the back of a spoon. Pour the sauce into a gravy boat.
  9. To serve, first carve the chicken. Cut away the drumsticks and the chicken wings, then slice the bird in ¼ inch slices. Arrange artfully on a platter and serve the sauce on the side.

Seared Duck Breast with Blueberry Sauce

RecipesDeveloper Clermont
Duck and berries are a classic pairing, and I particularly enjoy blueberries, as their slight acidity punches through the natural fattiness of the duck. While people may be a bit hesitant to cook duck, I urge you to try this recipe. Duck breast is easily one of the most uncomplicated cuts to cook. It should be in everyone’s repertoire of “fast after-work dinners”, and when served with a quick pan sauce like here, it can turn a regular Tuesday into something a bit more special, with minimal effort. Serve with some roasted potatoes and green vegetables. Serves 4 Ingredients 4 small (hen) duck breasts, or 2 large (drake) breasts to taste salt and pepper 1 tbsp duck fat 1 shallot, minced 1 garlic clove, minced 1 cup port 1 piece orange peel strip, pith removed (use a vegetable peeler for this) 2 thyme branches 1 bay leaf 1 cup beef stock ½ cup blueberries 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar 1 tbsp cornstarch 1 tbsp cold water 1 tsp butter Method
  1. With a sharp knife, score the duck breasts – skin side only - in a cross-hatch patten. Season them with salt and pepper
  2. Lay the duck breast, skin side down, in a room temperature large pan. Place the pan on a medium heat and cook the breasts, skin down, for about ten minutes, or until the fat has rendered and the skin is golden brown. Flip the breasts and cook on the meat side for an additional 4 minutes, or until an internal thermometer inserted into the center of the breasts reads 135°F (for medium). Remove the duck from the pan and rest, covered to stay warm.
  3. Meanwhile, start the sauce. In a sauce pot over a medium high heat, melt the tablespoon of duck fat. Add the shallot and garlic to the pot and stir well with a wooden spoon. Cook for three minutes or until the shallots start to caramelize. Deglaze with the port, then add the orange strip, thyme, and bay leaf. Simmer for one minute before adding the beef stock, blueberries, and balsamic vinegar. Continue simmering for another four or five minutes, until the blueberries have burst and the sauce has slightly thickened.
  4. At this point the duck breasts should be out of the pan. Drain the duck fat from the pan (save for another use), and place the pan back on the medium heat. Pour the contents of the blueberry sauce into the duck pan, and stir well to get all of the cooked duck bits into the sauce. Whisk the cornstarch and the cold water together, then whisk the slurry into the sauce to thicken. Simmer for another minute – the sauced should be able to coat the back of a spoon. Season to taste before taking the sauce off the heat. Remove and discard the herbs and orange peel. Add the tsp of butter and stir well to emulsify it into the sauce.
  5. Pour the sauce into a serving dish. Slice the duck breast, fan it out over the sauce, and serve.