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S.O.L.E. Food 3. Roasted Chicken, Collards, and Blue Sweet Potato Fries

Posted Dec 26 2010 9:56pm
Roasted Chicken, Stir Fried Collards, and Baked Blue Sweet Potato Fries

As I've mentioned before, I've unofficially taken on the  4th Annual Dark Days Challenge  from the  (not so) Urban Hennery .
The challenge is to make a meal a week during the winter using S.O.L.E. foods (Sustainable, Organic, Local, and Ethical).

This week we got a local Chicken, and I roasted it in the slow cooker.  I had collards and a blue sweet potato left from our last trip to the Durham Farmer's Market and thought they would be a good addition to the Chicken.

Roasted Chicken in a Slow Cooker

(this is my take on Shirley's Crock Pot Rotisserie Style Chicken recipe from  A Year of Slow Cooking )

1 chicken (I used a local, all Natural Chicken) that will fit in your slow cooker easily.  Mine was about 3 lbs.
4-6 whole cloves of garlic
Seasoning of your choice.  (I used McCormick's Montreal Chicken Seasoning this time.  I often use a Garlic Herb seasoning blend, but I've used a Jerk Seasoning blend and a lemon pepper seasoning with sliced lemons too.  It just depends on the flavor you want.) 

Remove the Chicken from the wrapper, remove any giblets if there are any in the cavity, and rinse the bird inside and out.
Sprinkle the whole bird with your seasoning mixture.  You can even rub it in if you want.
Place the Chicken in your slow cooker breast side down.
Toss in a few peeled garlic cloves.

Cook for 4-5 hours on high, or about 8 hours on low.
It took my bird about 4 hours on high, cooked in a 3.5 quart oval cooker.

This is the easiest way I've found to cook a whole chicken.  

Stir Fried Collards

1 bunch of organic collards (I bought mine from the local farmer's market)
2 tablespoons or less of olive oil
3 teaspoons of minced garlic (More or less depending on how much garlic you like.)
1 small red onion (I bought a very large organic red onion and this was the last bit of it.)
a couple of large splashes of Mirin .  (probably about 1/8 of a cup or a little more)

Remove the stems from the collards.  I cut the whole center part out, the stems can be pretty tough and I like the leaf part best.  Stack the leaves and cut them in small strips (about 1/8 inch wide).  You can roll up a bunch of leaves at a time and cut them into strips, it's much easier to cut that way, and it doesn't take as long.

Heat the olive oil in a wok or sautee pan over medium-high heat.  Cook the onions and garlic until the onions are translucent (I've always thought it was funny that they say "translucent", you still can't see through them, but they are much clearer than when you started.) Don't let the garlic burn, reduce heat if necessary.

Add the Mirin (this is a sweet Japanese cooking wine, it will cut the bitterness from the collards and give them a slightly sweet taste.)  
Add the collards, and start mixing it up.  I use silicone tipped tongs to cook this, I just keep grabbing a bunch and twisting it around in the pan so the greens get completely covered with the mixture.  Cook until the leaves are wilted and a pretty green color.

(I never thought I'd like winter greens, but since I've been experimenting with different ways to cook them, I've found they can be quite tasty and satisfying.  Plus, winter greens like Kale, Collards, and Spinach are high in calcium.)

You don't have to use Mirin, I know it's a specialty item that a lot of people won't have on hand.  You can use a sweet wine, or rice vinegar with a pinch of sweetener.  Or if you don't want it to have a slightly sweet taste, just use rice vinegar.  I find this very good too.  Some greens are more bitter than others.  The Broccoli Raab is very bitter, and I think the Mirin would do wonders for it.

Blue Sweet Potato Fries

1 large Blue Sweet Potato (mine was organic and came from the local farmer's market)
Spray Olive Oil 
sea salt

Preheat Oven to 400F.
Cut the Blue Sweet Potato (you can use a regular sweet potato if you want, that's what I usually do.) into french fry shapes.  (the faster you want them to cook the thinner they should be. You can also cut them in rounds like potato chips.)
Spray a Baking Sheet with Olive Oil, place one layer of sweet potato on the sheet and spray them with oil too.
Cook for about 15-25 minutes depending on how thick your fries are.  When the potato is soft on the inside and crispy on the outside they are done.
Sprinkle with sea salt, or other seasoning of your choice.  Or just eat them plain.

Stuart gave this meal a big thumbs up and said the flavors went very well together.  (I liked it too.)

This challenge has been very interesting to me.  Most of the time I normally figure out my meal plan for the week, then go shopping for it.  With this challenge, I go out searching for S.O.L.E. ingredients and then make up a meal that goes with what I find.  I'm really enjoying it.  I do wish there were more S.O.L.E. ingredients available in the winter, but that's where the challenge comes in isn't it?

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