Yesterday was the day I got to pick up my crop share or CSA from Good Work Farm (see right top for more details). It was week # 2 and I had no notion about what to cook for dinner until I saw what goodies were awaiting me. I opened the box on the spot and all I could see was GREEN, with a hint of pink and white from the lovely bunches of french breakfast radishes peeking out at the very bottom of my vegetable box. It was at that moment I remembered that I had actually forgotten to use my radishes from last week (save for popping a few into my mouth with some salt and butter the moment I entered my house!).
The other thing that caught my eye was the perfect little box of sugar Ann peas. I tried one and it was snappy and just slighty sweet. I had never eaten a pea called Sugar Ann and wondered who had come up with that name? Was it a cross between a sugar snap and something with the name Ann in it; sort of felt rustic and exotic at the same time. It was at that point I knew I wanted the title of my recipe to have the words French Breakfast Radish and Sugar Ann pea in it.
I have never really agreed with the famous quote from Shakespeare “a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” For me, as biased as it may sound, names in general invite intrigue or indifference. I am far more likely to choose Fennel Custard served with Blood Orange au Jus than Stewed Fennel with cooked Orange Juice! I mean, have you ever bought a wine or been given a wine and told it was purchased on the strength of the name or for it’s attractive label? I like names, I like how they sound and I like the images they can immediately bring to mind.
The Sugar Ann Pea sounded downright perky and sweet and the French Breakfast Radish conjured up images of a little bistro in Paris; yes, wildly imaginative and for the most part, unrealistic. Thinking like this goes a long way to making my world more beautiful and interesting.
Now that I had sorted out what I was generally going to call my creation I got down to cooking something. I did the unthinkable again and cooked something that is generally eaten raw, especially when it is so fresh. I braised the radishes! I had lots of them and so I did not feel too guilty. My guilt disappeared altogether when I tasted one. It was like eating a tiny, faintly sweet turnip, only the satisfaction of popping the entire vegetable into my mouth made the experience even better.
I was going to cook the chard and peas with the chicken and radish but when I saw the lovely pink color the sauce turned I decided against contaminating it with dark greens. I love greens with a syrupy balsamic vinegar so I cooked the chard and peas together into an intense vegetable side dish. My man Dave was totally taken with the unusually strong taste the sauce gave to the chard. It was like the chard became a sponge and grabbed all the flavor (he insisted that I mention how great it was!)
Thank you Good Work Farm for your veggies and, names that inspired me to cook something I think tasted worthy of your hard work!
For the Chicken Thigh dish; You will need: 4 chicken thighs (bone-in with skin), 2 tbs olive oil, 1 1/2 cups radishes (I used French breakfast but another variety of small radish would work), washed, topped and tailed, 1 celery rib, diced, 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced, 1/2 cup white wine, 1 cup chicken broth or water, 1 small fresh sprig rosemary, torn a little, sea-salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Preheat oven 400*
1 – Put saute pan on high heat and add oil. Season chicken with salt and pepper and fry until browned on both side. Remove to plate and set aside. Turn heat down and add the celery and garlic. Cook for 3 or 4 minutes before adding the radishes and rosemary. Continue to saute a another 2 minutes or so.
2 – Add wine and broth and bring to a boil. The liquid will take on lovely pink color. Add chicken thighs, cover with lid and place in oven. After 25 minutes remover lid and continue to cook for another 20 minutes.
3 – Remove from oven and add a drop of water or stock if the sauce is very reduced , along with the 2 tbs of cream. Replace lid and set aside while you make the vegetable side-dish.
NOTE: At this point you could stop and serve this with rice or a pasta….maybe wilting some fresh spinach into the sauce.
For the Sugar Ann Pea & Chard dish; You will need: 1 big bunch of swiss chard, washed, not dried, tough part of center vein removed and torn into big pieces, 1 dry pint of sugar Ann peas (sugar snaps can be used alternatively), washed, topped and tailed, 1 tbs extra virgin olive oil, 1 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice, 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar, 1 tbs honey.
1 – In small bowl whisk together vinegar, honey and the lemon juice. Put into a little saucepan and cook at a simmer until it reduced to about 2 tablespoons (reduces by half). Set aside.
2 – Put saute pan on medium heat and add the oil. When it has warmed toss in the peas. Stir fry for 4 minutes or so before adding chard. Cook until chard reduces dramatically.
2 – Turn heat down to low and add a little water and 1 tablespoon of the vinegar reduction. Give everything a stir and taste. Add more of the vinegar mixture if you want a stronger taste. Let it cook for about 1 minute before removing from heat.
Divide chicken and rice between warmed plates and top each with the intense pea & chard side dish.