Saturday, June 27, 2009

Sweat equity

Yesterday I went to help a friend, Susan, with the cooking for her daughter's graduation party, out at the farm. We cleaned and trimmed and roasted about 25 pounds of of their chicken, using a spice rub that I had put together the night before, with chili powder and brown sugar and lots of pepper. Their chickens are pretty big birds, and they have the processor cut them into 8ths - so all the breasts have a piece of the back attached (it's like when you buy it in the store, and the label says "chicken breast with rib meat attached"). We cut that off, and divided all the breasts in half. We started off saving the wings and backs for stock, but the backs were so meaty that Susan was inspired to invent a new cut, the fatback, a boneless piece of the back, dark meat with skin attached. Succulent and delicious, and, because I was squeezing limes for quacamole, we discovered that a squish of lime juice was the perfect garnish.

We also made six pans of mac & cheese, using 5 pounds of noodles and something like 8 pounds of cheese - somewheres between their grandma's recipe and mine. The night before, I baked two big sheet cakes to go under their strawberries, and whipped cream out of a can, using my new favorite plain buttermilk cake from Gourmet, times 10 - which technically should only feed 60, but the batter nicely filled my 2 half sheet cake pans, which is at least 80 squares of cake.

I worked in exchange for farm produce, and I think I really scored, coming home with 4 whole chickens, a bag of trimmings for chicken stock, at least two pounds of chicken liver - plenty for chopped liver for the next Jewish holiday - 2 big and one little bags of frozen strawberries, and two big bags of raspberries. Plus 2 quarts of fresh strawberries for the brunch tomorrow.

She even loaned me a cooler to bring all my loot back in.

I came home, loaded everything into freezers and fridges, and had a bowl of ice cream with strawberry sauce - hey, gotta rotate the stock - use up the old when the new stuff comes in.

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