Saturday, March 28, 2009

Maple Trees and Sap Buckets

I was born to hang out in the sugar bush and I adore the process of making that sweet "Vermont gold"! Once again, the sweet rich smell of maple has hit Vermont air. All around us Vermonters are working hard, "no sweat, no sweet" says Jimmy. I have had the pleasure and honor of helping out with a beautiful family sugar operation in Huntington Vermont. The sugar house is brand new and is a 100% post and beam structure. Early season we drilled two inches into the sugar maples, tapped the trees, and hung buckets. Over 200 buckets. Right away you could hear the drops of sap echoing in the galvanized buckets.

Since then 44 gallons of sweet liquid gold maple syrup has been made. Culinary moments happen in and and outside of the sugar house. Tailgating is perfect fun and great eats, one night I made the crew BBQ locally raised chicken sandwiches garnished with avocado and VT goat cheese. Plus everyone's favorite grilled broccoli.

My wish is that one day you all taste the sweet hot syrup just off the evaporator.

I have attached a delicious maple recipe. Enjoy!

Maple & Apple Braised Chicken

Serves 4

4 boneless, skin-on chicken breasts

Salt and ground black pepper

3 tablespoons grape seed oil

1 apple, sliced

1/3 cup apple cider vinegar or red wine vinegar

1/3 cup maple syrup

1 bay leaf

1 ½ teaspoons fresh thyme leaves

1/2 cup chicken stock or Apple Cider

2 tablespoon unsalted butter

1. Preheat oven to 425º.

2. Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper.

3. Heat a large oven proof sauté pan over medium high heat and add oil. When hot add chicken breasts skin side down. Brown the chicken on both sides then add apple slices.

4. Add vinegar, maple syrup, bay leaf, thyme, and stock to the sauté pan. Bring to a boil. Place pan in oven and roast until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165° F, 6-10 minutes.

5. Remove chicken from the oven. If needed reduce sauce 3 minutes to thicken over high heat. Turn heat off, add butter and adjust the seasoning.

6. Serve chicken with sauce and mashed potatoes!