Friday, 5 September 2014

Barbecued Chile Chicken Thighs

Ron answers questions at his 13th Annual Farm Tour,
held this past Saturday.
Butterhead lettuce, with its almost cream, buttery texture,
makes a wonderful base for a salad to accompany this dish.
These are from S4 Greenhouses.
I was talking to Ron Hamilton, of Sunworks Farm this week about how he raises his chickens, and about the importance of people being connected to their food. Knowing where it comes from. Knowing how it is raised. And asking intelligent, ethical questions of the people involved in their local food system.

He was very thrilled with the response that he and his wife, Sheila, received with their 13th annual Farm Day Tour. They had over 700 people registered for the event... that's an incredible number of people who are invested in their food... people who want to know where it comes from, how it is raised, and the conditions under which it is harvested. Half of those people were Terwillegar residents! At SWEM we applaud that kind of intelligence, interest in and investment in our local food system. Well done! Check out the very brief video here to get a sense of the atmosphere... Farm Tour Video

Ron says, "When you come to our local farm, about 75 km away, you will see how the animals are raised. You will see how they are processed and how we make our products. Truly transparent. We don’t use any tricks, we don’t employ food scientists. We employ people that care about how your food is grown, raised, handled and processed. On our farm you can see that the social licence we have as farmers with the consumers is fulfilled and verified.

Mini tomatoes, like these, from Dargtaz Family Farm's booth
add a rainbow of colour to any end of summer tribute salad!
He urges you to, "Visit many farms, so you can get a benchmark of what a good farm should look like and see what their practices are. Do your homework and ask the deep questions. There should be no off limits and buildings that you can’t see. The visit shouldn’t gloss over or quickly step around a certain part of the farm. Is the farm clean, well kept and in good repair? Are the employees able to help with the questions so you know that everyone is on the same page? 

And Ron also strongly believes, "People go to farmers markets to meet the farmers and develop a relationship with the growers of their food. There often is a lot of trust that the patron of the farmers market has with the grower. When you can go to the farm it validates that trust."

Lettuce mixes, like these at Holden Colony, are
available throughout the market at many of our veggie
farmers' booths. Often, they have bags of pre washed,
mixed salad bags, ready-to-go.
Riverbend Gardens, the veggie farmers in our market with the green tents, also invites people to come out to their farm. They call it their Plant & Play event. They host regular volunteer sessions where you can go and help harvest veggies and pull weeds. Get connected to the land. Really understand where your food comes from. How it is grown and harvested. What it is like to farm the land, get your fingers dirty and toil for your food. 

Nasturtiums are edible flowers, pictured here in the centre of
basket at The Plot's booth at our market.
In an urban setting we are far too often distanced from our food. Going to farm tours or volunteering on a farm is a wonderful way to connect with the land and to get connected with our food. I firmly believe that we really only value what we know... whether that be the natural world, or the farm where our food is produced. The more experiences we have in that world, the more we come to care for that world, and the more we can influence others to care about it. Get to know that world, and you will come to care about its interests, its inherent values and its preservation. Teach your children to care about that world, and you take an important step in guarding a responsible, ethical, meaningful and prosperous future for them.

Corn, from Riverbend Gardens or Holden Colony makes
a wonderful accompaniment for this BBQ'd chicken!
In honour of Sunworks' successful farm tour this past weekend, we offer up this recipe: BBQ'd Chili Chicken Thighs. Dress this up with a quick salad, made with market fresh lettuce mixes, and veggies like mini cukes, red peppers and heirloom tomatoes, and toss it in a simple vinaigrette (personally, I like a more tart vinaigrette made with HALF oil and HALF flavoured vinegar... Evoolution's white, infused balsamics are my absolute favourites... traditional vinaigrettes are made with 1/3 vinegar and 2/3 oil.). Add some beautiful edible flowers from The Plot and you have the fixings for a gourmet meal. Next, add some corn on the cob with chill lime butter (the recipe was posted 2 weeks ago), and you have a wonderful end-of-summer/market-tribute feast!

barbecued Chili chicken thighs
Donna and I resting while hiking up Mt. Lady Macdonald...
named after the feisty wife of our first Prime Minister who
 liked to ride through the mountains on the cattle
pusher grill on the front of the trains!
My good friend, Donna, has made these delicious and ever-so-simple chicken thighs for us a few times over the years when we have visited her in Canmore. And now that BBQ season is drawing to a close (or at least, comfortable barbecuing season... unless you're like us, we BBQ all winter long!), it seems a timely thing to post.

This recipe is SO simple!!! It works every time. It works equally well for chicken breasts, but the thighs, with their higher fat content and their darker meat, are much juicier and, in my opinion, far more delicious, in this recipe.

2 lbs. Boneless Chicken Thighs
2tbsp. Chili Powder
1tbsp. Brown Sugar
1/2t. Salt
1/2 t Pepper
1-2 Tbsp. Olive Oil

Mix together the chill powder, brown sugar, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Coat the chicken breasts or thighs in olive oil. Rub the powdered mixture into both sides of the chicken thighs.

Grease the grill so the chicken won't stick and pull apart as you flip it. Grill on med-high on the BBQ, approximately 3 minutes a side, until the juices run clear when pierced with a fork or cut with a knife.

where can you find ingredients at our market?
  • Sunworks Farm has outstanding, wonderful tasting, ethically raised, organic chicken.
  • Dargatz Family Farm, The Plot and the Holden Colony have lettuce mixes that are washed & bagged and ready to use. 
  • S4 Greenhouses, along with The Plot, Dargatz Family Farm and the Holden Colony, often have whole heads of lettuce to use in an accompanying salad.
  • S4 Greenhouses and Holden Colony have gorgeous greenhouse cucumbers, peppers and tomatoes to use in a salad. Dargatz Family Farm, Riverbend and Holden Colony all have field cucumbers.
  • Dargatz Family Farm always has wonderful heirloom tomatoes to dress up a salad and add incredible flavour, history and intriguing texture. 
  • Add a few fresh herbs or edible flowers from The Plot and you have the fixings for a gourmet feast.
  • Corn on the cob can still be found at Riverbend Gardens and Holden Colony... but not for long!!!
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Contributed by Sheri Hendsbee

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