I’m sure many of you are familiar with the concept of “Nose to Tail” eating; by which I mean consuming all the parts of an animal. But I think some folks might be inclined to think of that concept in a way that recalls an episode of “Fear Factor” where participants choke down spoonfuls of mealworms or something equally cringe-worthy. We however, embrace Nose to Tail in its many delicious forms. Recently we posted on our facebook page an image of Buffalo Chicken Necks. This was recipe testing and market research rolled into one, but got me thinking about how we could sell some of our patrons on unusual parts by providing some practical and delicious ways to use them. So first, those chicken necks. The necks are primarily dark meat and contrary to initial consideration the meat is tender and not at all stringy. We prepare a sauce made of equal parts hot sauce and melted butter, pour over the necks and bake, covered 20-30 minutes at 350 degrees. Then remove the cover and bake or broil to reduce the liquid.
Another dish that is seductive enough to tempt even those who protest, “I have never liked liver” is Cheryl Wixson’s recipe for John Thomas pate. Now I find amusement in the name itself, but this pate is no joke. I’ve made it up for several poultry processing days, potlucks and similar events and have always found one attendee who claimed they wouldn’t touch liver eating this pate with a spoon. You can reduce the butter if you are feeling health conscious by not leaving enough for the top “crust,” but save this recipe for a decadent or draining occasion when you won’t be calorie-counting, because it is worth it. I also must admit to being less than careful with this one and have yet to add cognac, but season to taste and make something you enjoy eating.
John Thomas Pate
1lb chicken liver (or other liver)
½ lb salted butter (at least ½ a stick of this is for the topping)
6 garlic cloves (I usually use an entire head)
1 large onion, sliced
1 tablespoon Fines Herbs * see note
2 teaspoons salt
1 ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
3 tablespoons Cognac (optional in my opinion)
Combine all ingredients except Cognac. Simmer in a saucepan for 20-25 minutes, until livers turn light pink in color. Remove from heat and let cool (up to a half hour). Blend the mixture thoroughly in a food processor. Add the Cognac and blend again. Pour into crocks annd cover with melted butter. Cool in fridge, but serve at room temperature with sturdy cracker or crusty bread.
*Fines Herbes are a mixture of very finely chopped herbs. The classic French quartet is chervil, chives, parsley and tarragon. If you don’t have fresh chervil you can use equal parts of the other three.
It is my hope that these dishes will entice eaters out of their comfort zone, but if not a simple roast chicken is always delicious, followed by a rich homemade chicken soup to use up the leftovers.