He might not see it this way, but to scores of devoted customers, Jesse Griffiths is the moral compass of our local culinary scene. He founded his business on the simple principal that one could eat well--feast, even--on foods sourced solely from our own foodshed. This hardly seems groundbreaking now, but that's due in large part to Jesse's own tireless work educating and inspiring us with supper club dinners, cooking classes, guided hunting and fishing excursions, and expertly cut local, pastured meats and handmade pantry items from his Dai Due Butcher Shop line. For years, Dai Due lived a pop-up life, with dinners held on farms and butcher's cuts and brunch offered at the farmers' market. Now Dai Due has a home in the Cherrywood neighborhood, in a spiffy, new, stylish space with a crackling hearth and a gleaming butcher case. How happy this makes us--because, for years now, Jesse has fed us well, but even more than that, he has reminded us of the richness of our own community, inspiring us to notice how delicious our very own corner of the world can be.
Read on for Jesse's favorite cuts from the butcher case for cozy winter dinners and a recipe for one of our own favorites--chicken braised in milk.
Jesse's favorite cuts for winter:
Venison neck - I like to braise with onions, beets, bay leaves and orange zest in a mix of coffee and stock. Serve with mashed potatoes or sweet potatoes.
Pork stew - great browned, then braised in stock with green chilies, garlic and onion. Add winter squash like acorn or butternut, and serve with rice.
Venison shanks - nice browned and braised in a tomato sauce, or cooked in a crock pot with cumin, cloves, chilies, cinnamon and lime to make barbacoa. Shred the meat for tacos, then add hominy or chickpeas to the strained broth for a soup.
Roasting hens - great in the fall because of the vegetables we love to roast underneath them. I love potatoes, Brussels sprouts and winter squash cut into large pieces and tossed with a little olive oil and salt, then roasted in a pan directly under the roasting hen - which we put directly on the oven rack above it - to catch all of the fat rendering from the bird.
Beef short ribs - another great braising cut. I love them Daube-style with red wine, clove, carrot, bay and thyme, cooked in rich stock til tender. Again, mashed potatoes.
And here's an unlikely-sounding recipe I love to cook when winter arrives. Just the thing for cold weather and cozy evenings, a ragtag bunch of ingredients comes together in the most magical way. The lemon zest transforms the milk into a creamy sauce, flavored with rich chicken drippings, peppery notes of spice, and earthy marjoram.
CHICKEN BRAISED IN MILK
3 pound chicken
salt and pepper
2 Tbs olive oil
2 Tbs butter
zest of 2 lemons, removed in large strips
6 cloves garlic, slightly crushed but unpeeled
2 tsp pink peppercorns, slightly crushed
1/2 whole nutmeg
1 bunch marjoram
1 pint whole milk (local, low-temp pasteurized, non-homogenized if you can get it)
Preheat oven to 375. Season the chicken well with salt and pepper. Heat olive oil and butter in a dutch oven over medium high heat until foaming. Brown chicken all over, then remove to a plate and set aside. Pout out all but a teaspoon or two of pan drippings. Return chicken to the pot, then scatter lemon zest, garlic cloves, peppercorns, nutmeg, and a few branches of marjoram around the bird. Carefully pour the milk around the chicken and place in the oven. Cook covered for 20 minutes, then uncover and continue cooking for about 45 minutes to 1 hour, checking for doneness every ten minutes. Slice and pull apart the bird, and serve with milky pan sauce spooned over the top.