Cooking Club- Meeting 4

Saturday night was my turn to host Cooking Club, and I stressed and stressed over what to do for it. I have a large kitchen at my disposal and I wanted to do something fun that we all could participate in, but for the month preceding the event I couldn't think of a single group activity that would really work well.

Then the afternoon before it hit me- pickling! We pickled some okra that will be ready in 3 weeks, and I taught everyone how to can. I've been canning things for quite a while and I hope I adequately described everything- everyone seemed to grasp it ok.

If you've not had pickled okra, I highly recommend it. You can pick some up in your grocery store (I find mine near the pickles), and it is a fantastic addition to bloody marys. Or eaten straight from the jar. I know a lot of people have an aversion to okra because cooked it does have a slightly slimy consistency but pickled it looses that quality and instead it is just crisp and tart.

For a starter I made fried pickles. I have to admit they were quite fantastic, and since I'd never tried the recipe before I was so happy they turned out well.

For my portion of the meal I made Nigella's One Pan Sage and Onion Chicken Sausage Bake. It was fantastic, and very easy. I used Italian sausage from my local farmers market and then some garlic sausage from the grocery store (actually Johnsonville Irish Garlic Sausage- the sausage choices in this town are a wee bit limited). Both were actually divine, but one person preferred the Johnsonville because they felt it was more juicy. This is probably due to the fact that the local Italian sausage is pretty lean from the very lean pigs the farmer raises. I hear his bacon is fantastic, but every time I get there he is already totally sold out of it.

Summer made crispy potato wedges, Nancy made perfectly roasted asparagus with lemon juice and Yumi made Alton Brown's Peach Upside down cake.

Fried Dill Pickles
3 to 4 lg. dill pickles, whole
1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 beer
1 tbsp. paprika
1 tbsp. black pepper
2 tsp. garlic powder
3 dashes hot pepper sauce
Vegetable oil for frying

Heat oil to 375 degrees F. in a large, deep saucepan. Or use your deep fryer.

Cut dill pickles into slices of 1/4 inch thickness- the overall consensus was that people preferred the round cut to the long slices. Drain them for at least 30 minutes on a paper towel. Combine flour, beer, paprika, pepper, garlic powder and hot pepper sauce in a medium mixing bowl. It should be a nice slurry- you may have to add more or less beer depending on the weather and such. Dip pickle slices into batter.

Fry pickles until they float to the surface, about 4 minutes. 4 to 6 servings.

One-Pan Sage-and-Onion Chicken and Sausage
Recipe courtesy Nigella Lawson

1 large onion or 2 small onions
1/2 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons English mustard
1 tablespoon dried sage
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 lemon
1 (4-pound) chicken, jointed into 10 pieces
12 sausages (I used 9 and it was enough-she uses small english sausages)
2 tablespoons fresh sage leaves, chopped

Peel and cut the onion into eighths, and put into a freezer bag with the oil, mustard, dried sage, a good grinding of pepper, and Worcestershire sauce. Cut lemon in half, squeeze juice into bag, and then cut the halves into eighths and add them. Squidge everything around to mix (the mustard needs help to combine) and then add the chicken pieces. Leave to marinade in the refrigerator overnight, or for up to 2 days.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Allow the chicken to come to room temperature in its marinade.

Arrange the chicken pieces in a roasting tin skin side up with the marinade, including all the bits and pieces, and tuck the sausages around them. Sprinkle the fresh sage leaves over the chicken and sausages and then put the tin into the oven to cook for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Turn the sausages over half way through to color them evenly.

Arrange the chicken and sausages on a large platter.



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