Maple Spring Chicken

I feel that I owe everyone an apology. I've been absent from this blog for far too long. I have a good excuse though - I'm in the midst of buying a house! It's my first time getting through this process; It's been arduous and stressful, and hasn't left me with much time or inclination to blog..... plus it's March and my locavore diet is at it's most boring and monotonous - cabbage, carrots, potatoes, meat, dairy, and that's about it..... I'm beginning to have wild dreams of asparagus.... I can't wait!

I did manage to make a meal worth blogging about last weekend, thanks to this maple tree in my backyard. Though it's not a sugar maple (it's a Norway maple), I decided to tap it and collect some sap just to see what it was like. I'd heard that the sap is considered by some to be a spring tonic, and I was sorely in need of such a thing.

Dave came over and helped me drill this hole in the tree (not that I wasn't able, but unfortunately I don't posses a cordless drill). He drilled up at an angle so the sap could easily escape. It's hard to see in this picture, but the sap immediately started trickling out of the hole.

I purchased some spiles online, and all we had to do was hammer them into the holes. The whole thing took about 5 minutes. Very easy.

Instead of springing for the official maple sap collection buckets available online, I bought two feed buckets from Farm and Fleet and they worked just fine. I hooked them onto the spiles and voila - I was collecting maple sap!

We drilled the holes in the early afternoon, and by evening I had almost a quart. I quickly decided that maple syrup was not in my future - it takes 40 quarts of sap to make just one quart of syrup.... and that's with sugar maples. Norway maple sap has less of the sugary syrup component and would probably take more than 40 quarts. I was excited to see what the raw sap was like though.... it was delicious! It reminded me of the coconut water that's all the rage in the natural foods world. Refreshing, slightly sweet..... a spring tonic indeed!

On to the chicken. On a recent trip to Black Earth Meat's little retail shop in Black Earth, I was delighted to find some local chickens in their frozen case. I'm always really happy with the quality of their grass-fed beef, and I was excited to try the chicken. Except.......

..... when I pulled it out of the packaging I discovered that it had no legs! I'm not one to say this usually, but WTF? The gizzards were stuffed in the cavity, but there was most definitely something missing from this bird!

What's a girl to do? I was planning roast chicken brined in maple sap, and I wasn't about to change the menu over some missing drumsticks!

I soaked the bird for about 8 hours in a maple sap, salt, dried sage, and brown sugar brine. I was hopeful that the maple flavor would come through.....

For a simple dressing I mixed cubed bread from The Batch with fresh (or fresh frozen to be more exact) parsley from the garden, dried sage, salt, pepper, an egg courtesy of my chickens, and a little local sunflower oil.

I chopped up the gizzards and added them too.

I know it's funny looking, but the cavity was still quite stuff-able.

Just to be sure nothing fell out, the back end got covered with aluminum foil. I rubbed the bird with local sunflower oil and into the oven it went. I started it hot (450) to brown the skin, and after 10 minutes turned the oven down to 350 to roast.

Since spring was the theme, and the day was warmish and sunny, I decided to make a potato salad to go along with the chicken. I've had enough roasted, mashed, or boiled potatoes for a while. Potato salad seemed just the thing to get me out of my winter rut.

These are definitely not spring carrots however. The storage crops are still around, but looking a lot worse for wear at this point. No matter, after a good washing and scrubbing these looked as good as new.

My potatoes were starting to grow eyes that had to be cut out. It's the time of year when they decide that it's time to grow again....... soon little potatoes, soon.

Carrots, frozen garden corn, and lots of fresh frozen parsley for the salad.

Just add mayo, and here it is! A beautiful potato salad to remind me that summer will be here eventually.

The legless chicken turned out quite well. There was only two of us for dinner, so we had plenty of meat.

I couldn't decide if I could actually taste the maple sap or if I could only imagine I tasted it. Stanley swore he could, but maybe he was just being nice. Either way it was delicious!

Another sure sign of spring - I've got seeds started in the basement!! Tomatoes, peppers, tomatillos, catnip, and basil. These will all be transplanted at the new house in June. The tomatoes and peppers will probably be in pots this year..... no germination yet, but soon!

share on: Facebook

1 comment:

  1. Megan,
    How exciting to be able to tap a tree right in your own backyard! I've been writing about syruping too, but we've been visiting our neighbors' trees, a mile down the road. It's a nice walk though.
    Mmm, stuffed roast chicken brined in maple sap--sounds very tasty!


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.