Christopher Ranch

  (Gilroy, California)
Gilroy's finest. Family owned since 1956
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ADD MORE GARLIC AND LAISSEZ LE BON TEMPS ROULER

On the 5th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, we would like to acknowledge the people of New Orleans and surrounding areas for their courage, strength and tenacity in getting their communities and lives back on the road to recovery. Much work is still needed, but their spirit shines through in their rebuilding efforts and their drive to preserve their society, culture and, most definitely, their food.

Although I hate to admit it, a lot of my experience with New Orleans style food has been limited to the use of Tony Chachere’s seasoning, and if you haven’t tried it, cher, do, but if you’re also looking for some classic Cajun or Creole dishes, check out one of my favorite websites, www.NolaCuisine.com There are recipes for Shrimp Creole and Etouffé, Red Beans and Rice, and other traditional fare, but what got my mind and mouth going was the Chicken Fricassee. Even though it’s a Louisiana staple, I still think of it as the dish immortalized by pregnant Marge Gunderson in Fargo (the movie) who devoured a plateful of it at every roadside buffet. Never did a dish look so warm and satisfying…

Even the word fricassee makes your mouth water, and this recipe from Nola will have you channeling your inner Marge. I am shamelessly copying it here with much deference to the author. The only suggestions I have (no disrespect intended) are to increase the garlic by at least one tablespoon, and to add ½ cup of chopped Christopher Ranch Green Garlic* as the final garnish. Ah C’est Bon!

NOLA CUISINE CHICKEN FRICASSEE RECIPE

5  – 6  lbs. chicken legs and thigh quarters

For browning the chicken:

1  cup flour seasoned

2  tbsp. kosher salt

Few turns of black pepper

Healthy pinch of cayenne

For the Fricassee:

1  cup lard (home rendered), bacon drippings, duck fat or vegetable oil (if you must)

¾   cup flour

2  cups onion, chopped

1  cup celery, chopped

½   cup green bell pepper, chopped

½   cup mushrooms, sliced

2  tbsp garlic*, finely chopped

½   cup dry white wine

1  quart chicken stock, preferably homemade

1  bay leaf

1  bundle of fresh thyme, tied together with butcher’s twine

Kosher salt, black pepper, cayenne to taste

2  tbsp. fresh thyme, taken off of the stem and chopped

1  tbsp. Worcestershire Sauce

1  tbsp. hot sauce

½   cup green onions, thinly sliced

1 recipe Creole Boiled Rice

Heat the lard, or whichever fat you chose to use, over medium high heat until a small sprinkle of flour quickly sizzles when tossed in. While the fat is heating mix together the flour, salt, black pepper and cayenne, dredge the leg & thigh quarters in the mixture and shake off any excess, set aside on a plate. When the fat is hot, brown the chicken until golden on both sides, do not cook all the way through, set aside. Mix together the onions, celery, and bell pepper (holy trinity) in a small bowl.

When the chicken is browned and set aside, pour off 1/2 cup of the fat, leaving about 1/2 cup of it in the pan. Over medium heat gradually whisk in the 3/4 cup of flour until incorporated and slightly thick, stir constantly until a roux the color of peanut butter is achieved, then stir in 3/4 of the holy trinity, mushrooms, and a pinch of Kosher salt, turn the heat to low and cook for 8-10 minutes more, stirring slowly but constantly.

Add the white wine and increase the heat to medium, cook 5 minutes more. Whisk in the chicken stock very gradually to avoid lumps. When it is all incorporated bring the mixture to a full boil to bring the flour to it’s full thickening power, then reduce the sauce to medium low. Stir in the remaining trinity, garlic, bay leaf, bundled thyme, Worcestershire, hot sauce, and season to taste with salt, black pepper, and cayenne. Submerge the chicken in the sauce cover and simmer for about 2 1/2 hours or until falling off of the bone tender. Remove the bundled thyme and bay leaf and stir in the chopped thyme. Adjust the seasonings if necessary.

Serve the chicken with Creole Boiled Rice, and a generous portion of the sauce topped with green onions*. If you like, the sauce or gravy for this dish could be finished with heavy cream, sour cream, or creme fraiche. This would also go great with dumplings to replace the rice.

Note: It is important to have the sauce for this dish almost fully seasoned before adding the chicken, because you want the chicken to take on all the flavor of the sauce. Nola suggests slightly under-seasoning with the salt as the sauce will reduce a bit. Serves 4.

 
 

This green garlic recipe tops them all!

The sun has finally seen fit to shine on this burg (sadly, a little too late for our cherry crop) but with 90 degree weather expected this weekend, dining light is on tap for me and mine. And what’s better than a big, beautiful green salad on a hot day?  Well, a lot of things (a walk in the redwoods, a winning lotto ticket, okay, I’ll stop…), but when I’m craving greens, I’ll go to great lengths to build a masterpiece piled high with freshness, flavor and even a little love.

If you’re like me and throw your heart and soul (and the kitchen sink) into a salad, you don’t want to ruin it with a mediocre and/or bottled dressing lacking any real personality. Which brings me to the point of this blog: our very own Justin (salesperson slash chef) has created what I so eloquently described as “awesome” when it first hit my taste receptors, Green Garlic Vinaigrette. Before you tell yourself, cripes, it’s another green garlic recipe, do not NOT try this recipe. Besides being fresh, zesty and just plain delicious, this dressing is a refreshing pick-me-up for an energy draining dog day. Try it on salads, meat, fish, chicken, burgers – and in or on any food you can think of.  Last night, I grilled some venison sausages, sliced them up and used Justin’s GGV as a dipping sauce instead of mustard. It was, and I contentedly repeat myself, awesome!

JUSTIN’S GREEN GARLIC VINAIGRETTE 

3        oz. Christopher Ranch Green Garlic, trimmed and coarsely chopped

3        tbls. chopped cilantro

3        tbls. white wine vinegar

2        tbls. water

½       cup canola oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Blend green garlic and cilantro first, then add vinegar, water and blend. With blender still running, add oil very slowly until well blended

 
 

Oh Shoots, It’s the Garlic Family BBQ

 

It’s May – it’s Memorial Day – it’s barbecue, baby! No matter what the weather’s doing (Gilroy is unseasonably cool and dewy right now) the grill and my taste buds are ready to spring into action. Grilling is my favorite way of cooking and I refuse to listen to those who say charred is not a food group. Vegetables, especially, taste amazing on the barbie and CR Green Garlic is a primo candidate for grilling.

GRILLED GREEN GARLIC is quick and tasty – the perfect appetizer or side dish for an outdoor bash. Trim, wash and pat dry at least 4 Christopher Ranch Green Garlic shoots per person. Coat shoots with extra virgin olive oil, a little salt and pepper if desired and place on the grill. Turn every minute or so until lightly browned to a nutty sweetness. All that’s left to do is pour the wine, serve the shoots and leave the chips and dip in the dust. This is barbecue with character – fresh, delicious and healthy! 

Now that we’ve kicked off our garlic party, let’s get to the beef. My once-upon-a-time mom-in-law, the late, great Josephine, created a killer marinade for top sirloin steaks. It’s loaded with enough fresh lemon juice to make you “gleek”, but the lemon also seems to have a tenderizing effect on the meat. I have a wonderful, heirloom Meyer lemon tree in my yard so I recommend using Meyers, but any type of lemon will do as long as it’s fresh. Josephine had no recipe measurements because she did everything on the fly, but I’ll give you my best guesstimate on her ingredients. Feel free to adjust if you must. 

JOSIE’S BBQ SAUCE: Squeeze 6 or more fresh lemons into a bowl, pits, pulp and all. Add 1/4 cup catsup, 1/3 cup Worcestershire and ½ cup A-1 sauce. Add 3 to 4 cloves of fresh crushed garlic, a generous pinch of Italian seasoning, and if you have any raw CR Green Garlic left, chop and add. Blend and set aside about half a cup of sauce to use while grilling. Marinate a couple of your favorite steaks at least 4 hours, but preferably overnight, in the refrigerator. Grill to desired doneness while basting at intervals with the reserved sauce. Serve hot and zesty!

 

You’re on your own with the side dishes, but I suggest potato salad and old-fashioned garlic bread, both spiked with chopped CR Green Garlic. You just can’t have too much of a good thing!

 
 

GREEN MINDS RUN IN THE SAME CHANNEL

Just received some great feedback from Jennifer Armentrout, Senior Food Editor of FineCooking.com about our new Green Garlic. She also happened to mention in her latest blog that the appearance of green garlic reminded her of raw leeks -exactly what popped into my head last night when dreaming up new recipes instead of counting sheep.  

Thanks for jump-starting my memory, Jennifer, because I wanted to give our garlic lovers some food for thought: CR Green Garlic can be used instead of leeks – or onions, cilantro, chives, scallions, shallots, elephant garlic, parsley, basil – in any recipe. It’s a fresh, fresh, fresh alternative (or addition) to the tried and true… the ordinary. On a practical note: CR Green Garlic is easier to prep than leeks! Just trim roots, rinse in cold water, pat dry and try your own version of Jennifer’s aglio e olio (pasta with garlic and olive oil.) To give you a jump-start, here’s a vintage recipe from the Christopher Ranch vault updated with a generous infusion of Green Garlic. Buono mangiare! 

SPAGHETTI AGLIO VERDE

2/3       cup extra virgin olive oil (or half oil and half butter)
8         shoots (3 oz. bag) Christopher Ranch Green Garlic -trimmed and chopped into
½”        pieces (or julienned as Jennifer did)
1         clove fresh garlic - finely chopped
1         tsp. fresh basil - finely chopped
2         pinches or more red pepper flakes
1         lb. thin spaghetti or vermicelli -cooked al dente and drained
          Salt and pepper to taste
½         cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

 Heat oil in large skillet over low heat and lightly sauté Green Garlic with the regular garlic until limp. Do not brown. Add basil and pepper flakes, blend well and lightly heat through. If skillet is large enough, add pasta to oil mixture, salt and pepper to taste and toss until well blended. Or place pasta in large serving bowl, add oil mixture, salt and pepper and toss until well blended. Sprinkle with Parmesan if desired. Serve immediately. Yields 4 to 6 servings.

 
 

Earth Day, Every Day

 

The Earth Day celebrations are over, Oprah’s on to another topic and disparate headlines crowd the internet and prime time news, but as I see it, it’s the days after that count. The sun may have set on Earth Day’s 40th anniversary, but now is the perfect time to rise up to the challenge of making the earth a priority – every day.

It’s easy to think about going green, especially at this time of year when the Ranch is enveloped by that most perfect of colors. The cherry trees have dropped their riot of white blossoms in favor of verdant leaves, the forerunners of late May’s luscious bounty. Sixty acres of Bings, et al, stand against a velvet backdrop of emerald hills to the west. Broccoli has been harvested, and another wave of new green garlic is awaiting harvest at just the right moment. But apart from what’s visible to the eye, Christopher Ranch’s roots also run green and deep.

 The Christopher family has been farming in California’s Santa Clara Valley since the 1880’s, and has always held the Earth in high esteem. How else could they continue to work with her and reap her benefits year after year, nurturing crops and sustaining jobs to keep the garlic growing, flowing and perfuming the air.

 But more work is always needed and Christopher Ranch does its utmost to be green in all aspects of its operations – from the ground up with stringent field rotation programs, drip irrigation, pesticide residue free garlic, increased organic production, to the packing facilities with reduced energy use, eco-friendly packaging and preventative maintenance, to transportation with more economical fuels and shipping procedures. Every one of the staff are encouraged to practice the other 3 R’s (bear with me, I have to repeat it… reduce, reuse and recycle) and the recycling bins are full on Friday afternoon – a positive sign that we’ve gotten with the program.

 The Ranch is ever implementing, updating, installing and even experimenting in a concerted effort to produce the best garlic in the world in the most earth-friendly way possible. We’re in it for the long haul, at least another 50 years, and we’re putting our resources toward a happy, healthy Earth day, after day, after day, ad infinitum.

GARLICIA’S TIDBITS – VIVA LA DIVA!

 

Christopher Ranch is excited about the debut of its new diva - Green Garlic. Our first few plantings have been harvested, packed, and shipped– so get ready to roll out the green carpet! This tender beauty will make your favorite foods sing.  

There are only a couple months left until the Gilroy Garlic Festival. It’s the diva of all food fests, the largest and most spectacular of its kind in the world. Set the date, July 23-25, for three days of fun, cook-offs, music, friendly people, and the number one reason 100,000 garlic lovers show up every year – delectable, garlicious, food, food, food. Christopher Ranch is the Official Garlic of the Gilroy Garlic Festival, natch! 

If you’re ready to wash down these tidbits, and celebrate your inner diva or divo (you know who you are…), try this tasty little beverage. Ladies and gentlemen, may I present:

THE DIVA COCKTAIL – GARLICIA STYLE

 

 

 

 

1½     oz. vodka

½        oz. fresh lime juice

1          tbls. cherry juice

½       oz. passion fruit juice

Club soda or 7-UP

Christopher Ranch Pickled Garlic Cloves

Fill a tall glass or Collins glass with ice and add the first 4 ingredients. Top off with club soda or 7-up. Garnish with a cherry, lime wedge, and at least 2 Christopher Ranch Pickled Garlic Cloves. Oooh, I can taste it… diva-licious. 

 
 

GREEN GARLIC INSPIRES FLAVOR ENVY

 
Garlicia here. Call me the Countess of Cloves or just another garlic lover, but I’m no fly by night when it comes to putting the bite on your queries and concerns about all things garlic. With a vault of information and piquant sense of the flavorful, I’ll be sharing my thoughts, ideas, recipes and passion for garlic with you. That said, let’s reek and roll!

Tastier than bunching onions, more fragrant than scallions, able to leap tall buildings…, oops, went too far, but seriously, our new Green Garlic is a super food with a flavorful edge over those other greens.  What is green garlic? Simply stated, it’s young garlic that is harvested before the bulbs have begun to mature. Also known as baby or “spring” garlic, it resembles onions and scallions with its small white bulb flowing upward into vibrant green stems, but the unmistakable albeit subtle fragrance of garlic and a mildly garlicky taste make it the envy of  those other greens.  

Christopher Ranch, no stranger to innovative garlic products (see our peeled, chopped, roasted garlic,) has committed considerable acreage and resources to bring Green Garlic to consumers seeking a fresh and nutritious new way to punch up their cooking. Weekly harvests will begin in April, but instead of the usually short season of this sometimes hard-to-find specialty, Christopher Ranch will continue growing and harvesting until October, enough time for cooks to try out, create with and, ultimately, get hooked on this new youngling. Christopher Ranch Green Garlic in 3 oz. packages is scheduled to hit supermarkets in late April, so look for it – or ask for it – at your local store.

Green Garlic is perfect for dishes that call for a calm garlic flavor or for the garlic lover who finds regular garlic too strong. It can be used raw or cooked, and the whole plant, after trimming the roots, is edible. Use liberally in any kind of salad (garden, egg, potato, mac, tuna, you get the picture…), vegetables, pasta or stir-fry dishes, beans, casseroles, sandwich fillings, salsas and dips. The “sprinkle” factor of green garlic is through the roof: try on salads, pizza, mashed potatoes, soups, stews, tacos, falafel (what is the plural of falafel — falafels or the perfectly descriptive falafelot, which is how I like them), antipasto, rice, even popcorn and _____ (add your favorite here).

I was introduced to Green Garlic several years ago by Gilroy Garlic Festival head chef, the late, great Val Filice. He occasionally showed up at the Ranch to treat us to his flights of hometown culinary genius whenever he had the time. One such morning Val brought his outdoor “kitchen” to the Ranch and set it up in one of the garlic packing sheds. It consisted of a propane stove and the biggest skillet (think satellite dish, circa 1985) I had ever seen. He recruited one of the field staff to pull a few young garlic plants from one of our fields and when they arrived, he proceeded to chop the plants into thick slices while melting a stick of butter in the pan. I had never seen anyone use young garlic before and was salivating in anticipation of what was brewing. Val threw the slices in the pan and sautéed them gently while he whisked up an entire flat of eggs adding a dash of the milk that he had brought for his morning coffee and some salt and pepper. At just the right moment he poured the eggs in the pan making that familiar “chshshssss” sound they’re supposed to make when they hit the heat and proceeded to make the best scrambled eggs I had ever tasted – rich creamy eggs with a gently sublime taste of fresh garlic. We had a bottle of Christopher Ranch Garlic Salsa (yes, the Ranch used to make salsa) to top the eggs, but at that moment I wanted to savor the scramble in its pure state the way nature intended. My flavor memory is just shy of a drool right now and I’m anxiously awaiting our first Green Garlic harvest so I can make my feeble attempt at recreating Val’s inimitable scrambled eggs and green garlic. Ooooh, I can taste it… garlicious!

GARLICIA’S ATTEMPT AT
SUBLIME SCRAMBLED EGGS

6          Christopher Ranch Green Garlic stems
4          eggs
1          tbls. butter
3          tbls. milk (suggest 2%)
½         tsp. salt

Trim roots and wash stems in cold water, pat dry with paper towel. Slice stems into half inch pieces. Melt butter over medium heat in frying pan until bubbly. Add garlic and sauté until limp, (don’t burn) about 1 to 2 minutes. Blend eggs with milk and salt and whisk vigorously for about 2 minutes; add to hot pan with green garlic. Let eggs set for a few seconds before scrambling. Cook to desired consistency; add salt and pepper to taste. Serves 2. Beyond sublime: serve with cappuccino, toasted ciabatta slices and fresh fruit.

 
 

Green Restaurant Association and Green Seal connect sustainably-minded diners and restaurants

 

 

 

A growing percentage of diners are seeking out restaurants that they perceive as “green,”  but  many have a difficult time locating those restaurants and defining what “green” is.  As a result, the Green Restaurant Association (GRA) and Green Seal have been formed to assist diners in connecting with restaurants that share their values and establish guidelines by which restaurants can achieve “green” certification.

 

 

 

For over two decades, GRA has been involved in the greening of the restaurant industry. The organization has identified standards in seven environmental categories including water efficiency, waste reduction and recycling, sustainable furnishings and building materials, sustainable food, energy, disposables, and chemical and pollution reduction. Points for food procurement are assigned on the basis of whether ingredients are certified organic, humane (free range/cage free, hormone and antibiotic free), and regional (300 miles) or local (100 miles). Association consultants are available to help restaurant operators quantify their impact on the environment and take definitive steps to reduce their footprint.  There is also a search function on the website for customers to locate “certified green restaurants” by zip code.

 

 

 

Green Seal was founded in 1989 to establish guidelines for various products and services including construction materials, facility operations, hospitality services, and utilities.  Suppliers can use this resource to get their products certified, and restaurant operators can use it to design procurement programs that favor “green” products and “services.”

 

 

 

These programs encourage environmental responsibility and provide the support necessary to achieve it. At Christopher Ranch, we embrace our responsibility as stewards of the environment, and we strive to provide products that support our foodservice partners’ efforts to become green certified.  We are proud to be featured on the menus of many certified restaurants, and encourage you to look for the Green Seal or the GRA certification when you dine out to support these sustainable operations.

 
 
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