Homemade Rolling Pin and Pastry Board

I got a little tired of not having a rolling pin and pastry board so I made a set. The pin is poplar and the board is pine, and both are sealed with four coats of butcher block conditioner.

The biscuits turned out a little dry, but the board and pin performed amicably. No need to scrape anything off of either, and when I wiped them with a wet paper towel, the water beaded up and was able to be absorbed away by a dry towel.

All in all, a success.

Also, I’ve included a picture of my grandmother’s biscuit cutter. She gave it to me a few months ago. I don’t know how old it is, but I can only guess by the wear on the handle, it’s cut quite a few biscuits.

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Slow-Cooker Onion, Leek and Potato Stew with Sausage

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So this all started from a post I made on my personal Facebook page. Technically this isn’t “Southern Cuisine,” but I had so many people request the recipe I figured the best place to put it would be here.

I made this in a 6.5 quart slow-cooker. If yours is smaller, you’ll probably have to adjust things down for size. Given the fullness of my particular cooker, I’d say that it would be a pretty tight squeeze to fit it all in a 5 quart.

Slow-Cooker Onion, Leek and Potato Stew with Sausage

1.5lbs Yellow Potatoes, skin on, cut into a large dice

1 Large Yellow Onion, roughly chopped

3 Leeks, tops removed, chopped

1.5lbs Cased Smoked Sausage, cut in one inch pieces

2 cups Chicken Broth

1tbsp Salted Butter (for beurre manié)

1tbsp All Purpose Flour (for beurre manié)

2 Dried Bay Leaves

1tsp Dried Thyme Leaves

1tsp Dried Parsley Flakes

1/2tsp Dried Ground Sage

1/2tsp Dried Garlic Powder

Total cook time will be 8 hours on the “low” setting. Once the prep work is out of the way the next big step will be layering the ingredients in the slow cooker and letting it do the hard work. We will have to come back twice during the cooking process. Once at the 4 hour mark to stir, and then again at 6 hour mark to add our beurre manié and stir for the last time. (Don’t know what a beurre manié is? We’ll get there.)

The layering:

Place the potatoes on the bottom, and try your best to get them all in a single layer. On top of that, add the leeks, dried herbs and dried garlic. Next go the onions, and on top of them, the sausage. Once that’s all in, pour in your chicken broth. The results should look something like this:

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Turn your slow-cooker on low, and walk away.

At the 4 hour mark, we need to stir. But only the onions, leeks and sausage. Try to leave the potatoes undisturbed on the bottom.

In the interim, lets talk about the beurre manié we’ll need in 2 hours. A beurre manié is a mixture of flour and butter that’s used to thicken soups or stews. (Think roux, but without the cooking-ahead part.) In this case, we’re actually going to treat it like any other ingredient and cook it along with the other items in the pot. So, we’ll need to give it sufficient time to cook to get any “raw flour taste” out of the finished product. To make one, combine equal parts (in this case 1tbsp each) of flour and butter until you get a dough-like paste. We’ll then take this paste and incorporate it a bit at a time into our stew just before the next stir.

I’ve included an image below to give you an idea of what a beurre manié looks like.

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Beurre manié” by Alec VuijlstekeFlickr: Beurre manié. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Once we hit the 6 hour mark, the onions and leeks will have released quite a bit of liquid (see image below,) so this will be the perfect time to add that beurre manié and let it do it’s work.

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It’s best to do this sparingly, while focusing on getting it to dissolve completely in the liquid. Take the paste and dab in a little bit at a time until you’ve got it all in. Don’t add a new piece of paste until the other has melted away. Try not to knock all of your other ingredients around too much while you’re doing all this, either. Everything has had time to soften a bit now, so stirring too vigorously could turn it all in to mush.

Once you’ve gotten all the beurre manié in, give the pot, including the potatoes, one good stir. Try to fold the potatoes out of the bottom without tearing the softer or smaller bits to pieces.

And that’s all she wrote on this one! Come back in two hours, fish out the bay leaves, and you should have a fairly thick stew that looks similar to this:

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Thanks for reading!

TST

Pot Likker

“Pot Likker,” “Potlikker,” “Pot Liquor,” or “Collard Liquor.” I don’t care what you call it. When you combine chicken stock, chardonnay, pepper vinegar, garlic, onions, smoked pork neckbones, smoked hog jowls, and a pinch of sugar & black pepper; the resulting broth would make an old boot delicious.

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Slap-together Chicken & Dumplings

Making things from scratch is a wonderful thing. All the time, love, and passion that goes in to taking base ingredients and molding them into a completed dish is something to be respected and revered.

I didn’t feel like doing all that work. I wanted to plop stuff into a pot, and boil it off.

So, here we go. Slap-together chicken and dumplings.

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I took a picture of some of the ingredients. Not sure why. I was pretty sleepy.

5(ish) pounds of boneless-skinless chicken thighs.

3 32oz tetrapacks of low-sodium chicken broth

1 26oz can of cream of chicken soup

1 10oz can of cream of mushroom with roasted garlic soup (couldn’t hurt right?)

2 large cans of “Grands” style buttermilk biscuits

1/2 cup AP flour

1/4 cup oil (olive/canola/blended/whatever)

2 TBSP butter or margarine

1 TBSP dried thyme (divided)

1 TSP dried parsely

1 TSP ground black pepper  (divided)

1TSP seasoned salt

1/2 TSP hot sauce (Tabasco/Texas Pete/Crystal/Louisiana/whatever)

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Rinse chicken and pat dry. Trim any excess fat that hangs off. Drop the thighs into a bowl and coat them with the oil making sure to get all pieces equally covered.

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Place them cut-side down on a sheet pan (foiled if you want) making sure to roll them back into their standard thigh shape. Keep the chicken as uniform in size as possible (that’ll make it cook more evenly.)

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Sprinkle the chicken with all of the seasoned salt, half the thyme, and half the black pepper.

(Here’s a few more shots of raw chicken and seasonings for absolutely no reason. Did I mention I was sleepy? Also, I’m a crap photographer that likes to play with his cellphone camera.)

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Preheat the oven to 425. Once it’s up to temp, bake the chicken for 20-30 min or until internal temp is 160 degrees.

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While the chicken is baking fill a large stock pot with all of the broth, both cans of soup, hot sauce, and the remainder of the spices. Make sure there’s at lease half a pot of room left for the chicken and dumplings. Cover, set on med-high heat and bring to a boil.

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While our pot is heating up and the chicken is baking, lets make some dumplings. Put your 1/2 cup of AP flour into a bowl large enough to do some coating.

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Pop the biscuits and separate. Cut each biscuit into 4 equal pieces.

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Then drop them into the flour.

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…and shake until evenly coated. Remove and reserve for later.

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The flour will help thicken the stew as well as keep the dumplings from sticking together during the cooking process.

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Chicken’s done! Let it rest for 20 minutes. No touchy.

(Here’s another picture of chicken. Randomness.)

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Once it’s rested, get to chopping. Nice big chunks. Set these aside.

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Pot should be boiling now. Add the dumplings a handful at the time until they’re all in there. You’ll probably have to sink them down with a spoon, but, be gentle. We don’t want them broken up. Bring the pot back to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and cook for 15-20 minutes or until dumplings are cooked through.

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Once the dumplings have finished, add your butter and chopped chicken and stir lightly. After 3 minutes on the heat, cut the eye off and let sit for 5 minutes. By then the chicken should be warmed back through and you’re ready to serve.

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Hmmm… never noticed that sticker on my big plastic spoon. Wonder what it’s made of? It’s survived about 300 trips through the dishwasher…

Anyways, Happy eating.

TST