Colcannon

Colcannon

When looking back in history, you don’t often hear about great famines or blights being brought about by a single type of vegetation, but the potato did just that. In Ireland between 1845 and 1852, the potato crop was devastated by a fungus known as “potato blight” or Phytophthora infestans. At the time, the peasantry of Ireland was very dependent upon the potato. The “Great Potato Famine,” caused a million deaths and another million emigrations (many to the U.S.). This caused the population of Ireland to drop by 20 to 25% during this period.

The potato remained Ireland’s staple crop after the famine and by the end of the 19th century, the Irish per capita consumption of four pounds a day was the highest in the world.  Because of their history and their first-hand experience Ireland has been at the forefront of international famine relief. In 1985 Bob Geldof, Irish rock star and founder of Live Aid, revealed that the people of Ireland had given more to his fundraising efforts per head of population than any other nation in the world. In 2000, Bono, lead singer with Irish band U2, played a central role in campaigning for debt relief for African nations in the Jubilee 2000 campaign. The Irish famine experience continues to influence many Irish people in their attitudes towards the developing world and famine victims everywhere. It is good to see that tragedy can turn into triumph, and bring about positive change in the world.

Ingredients:

6 medium/large yukon gold potatoes, peeled and quartered
2-3 tablespoons butter/margarine, divided
2 leeks, sliced (white and light green parts only)*
4 green onions/scallions, sliced*
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 head savoy cabbage, shredded*
2 ½ cups water, divided
3-4 cups green kale, washed, stalks removed and shredded*
salt & pepper

* Click here to learn how to clean cabbage, kale and green onions/scallions, and leeks.

Directions:

Boil the potatoes until tender. Drain the potatoes, saving about a cup of the cooking liquid. Mash the potatoes, adding salt, pepper, a little butter/margarine to taste, and as much of the cooking liquid as needed to make the potatoes fluffy.

While the potatoes are cooking put 1 tablespoon of butter/margarine in a deep skillet and sauté the leeks, green onions/scallions and garlic until everything is translucent, about 7-10 minutes, over medium heat. Add the savoy cabbage and ½ cup of water, then cover the pan and cook until the cabbage is tender.

In another skillet add the remaining water and cook the kale until tender, about 4-5 minutes. Drain the kale well, and then mix everything together, and taste to adjust your seasonings. Serve and enjoy!

Chicken Fricot (New Brunswick)

Chicken Fricot

New Brunswick is one of Canada’s three Maritime Provinces, boarding on Quebec and sharing its entire southern border with the state of Maine. Its eastern border is entirely coastal – along the Gulf of St. Lawrence and Northumberland Strait. It even has warm sandy beaches, with the warmest salt water north of Virginia. It is probably most well-known though for the Bay of Fundy and the Confederation Bridge, which connects it with Prince Edward Island. It’s food however has quite a French flavour, with it being so close to Quebec and having many Acadians living in the province. So with that I bring you today’s recipe, Chicken Fricot, which is like the southern classic Chicken and Dumplings, but highlights the herb savoury, which is very popular amongst the New Brunswickers. This hearty one-pot meal will serve 6-8. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

1 whole chicken, divided (about 3-4 pounds)
4 tablespoons unsalted margarine
1 teaspoon olive oil
3 carrots, chopped
3 ribs celery, chopped
1 large onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and chopped (about 6 potatoes)
2 teaspoons dried savoury
¾ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
6 cups chicken stock
2 ice cubes

Dumplings:
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon dried parsley
½ teaspoon dried savoury
½ teaspoon salt
2 egg yolks
⅔ cup cooking liquid from soup

Directions:

In a large Dutch oven, heat the margarine and oil over a medium-high heat. Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper, and then add chicken pieces to the pot. Brown the chicken all over, turning the pieces as needed. You are not cooking this all the way through at this point. Once browned all over, (about 8 minutes) transfer the pieces to a plate and set aside. Drain all but 2 tablespoons of fat from pot.

Reduce the heat to medium and cook the carrots, celery, onion and garlic, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened but not coloured, about 3 minutes. Stir in the potatoes, savoury, salt and pepper. Sauté for about 2 minutes, letting all of the ingredients combine. Return the chicken pieces and any juices that have rendered to the pot, and stir in the chicken broth. Bring the soup to a boil, skimming any foam or debris from the surface as needed. Once boiling, reduce the heat and cover, letting the soup simmer for about 45 minutes.

Next, place the 2 ice cubes in a measuring cup, and add enough of the soup to make ⅔ cup. Set this aside to cool. Meanwhile, remove the pieces of chicken with slotted spoon, and transfer them to a plate. Let the chicken cool enough to be handled, and then strip the meat from the bones, discarding the bones and skin. Shred or coarsely chop the chicken. Before returning the chicken to the pot, skim any excess fat the surface, then return the chicken to pot and bring it back to a simmer.

Dumplings:
In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, parsley, savoury and salt. Stir the egg yolks into reserved the cooled soup, and slowly add it to the flour mixture. Bring the dumpling dough together with a fork. It will make a sticky, stretchy dough.

Increase the heat on the soup to medium, and drop the batter in 8 mounds evenly spaced around the soup. Cover the pot and simmer until the dumplings have puffed and a knife inserted into centre of dumpling comes out clean, about 8 to 10 minutes. Serve the soup hot with the dumplings.