I’ve never been to Vermont and frankly I’ve only recently developed much of a taste for maple syrup. Though I receive a fair number of regional cookbooks I usually don’t find them very interesting. So I really did not expect to fall in love with Cooking with Shelburne Farms Food and Stories from Vermont. But I did.

Shelburne Farms is a 1,400 acre working farm that was declared a National Historic Landmark and serves as a nonprofit environmental education center. The book is filled with stories about farmers and food producers in Vermont and recipes from the inn on the property. And it’s the recipes that really speak to me the most. They are organized around food groups from the region such as Sweet Maple, Wild Mushrooms, Apples. They’re a combination of old-fashioned, and new and appealing combinations.

Here are some recipes that really caught my eye–Beet, Apple and Radish Salad, Tomato-Cheddar Soup, Pasta with Sweet Peas and Morels, and Apple and Cinnamon-Sugar Pancakes and Maple Sugar Blondies. There is something cozy and inviting about all of them. Though not the focus on the book, some of the recipes are fairly healthy, using ingredients like yogurt and plenty of vegetables. It’s a cloth bound hardcover book and there are chef tips sprinkled throughout and a handful of color photos. Like a good travel book, this cookbook makes you feel like you are there.

This recipe sounds perfect for a crisp Fall day…

Maple and Black Pepper Chicken
Serves 4

1 1/2 teaspoons whole black peppercorns
1 chicken, about 4 – 4 1/2pounds, cut into 6 pieces: 2 legs, 2 thighs, 2 bone-in breast halves with wings
2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt plus more to taste
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large shallot, finely chopped
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
1/3 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup pure maple syrup

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F with a rack set in the second highest position. With a mortar and pestle or a spice grinder, coarsely grind the peppercorns and set them aside.
2. Pat the chicken pieces dry and season them well with 1 1/2teaspoons of the salt. In a large, heavy-bottomed saute pan or skillet set over medium-high heat, heat the olive oil 3-4 minutes until shimmering. Put the chicken breasts into the pan skin side down and cook for about 7-9 minutes, without moving, until the skin is golden brown. Remove the chicken to a baking dish or roasting pan large enough to hold all the chicken. Next, brown the thighs and drumsticks, turning so the skin is evenly browned, up to 10 minutes.
3. Add the thighs and drumsticks to the baking dish and put the chicken in the oven. (Reserve the pan.) Roast for about 30-35 minutes until the chicken flesh closest to the bone is opaque. An instant-read thermometer should register about 165 degrees F for the breasts, and 175 degrees F for thighs and legs.
4. While the chicken is roasting, make the sauce in the reserved pan. Discard all but 2 tablespoons of the fat and set the pan over medium-high heat. Add the shallot and thyme and cook, stirring, 1-2 minutes or just until the shallot starts to color. Add the vinegar and simmer 1-2 minutes, using a spatula to scrape up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the maple syrup and cracked black pepper and simmer for about 8-10 minutes until the sauce is reduced by about half. Adjust seasoning to taste. Spoon the sauce over the chicken and serve immediately.

Recipe reprinted courtesy of Viking Studio published by Penguin Books, 2007

Cook by the Book: Cooking with Shelburne Farms 17 October,2007Amy Sherman

  • Derrick

    I’ve always been interested in Vermont’s food scene. Consider that three great food magazines are published by state residents (The Art of Eating, Cook’s Illustrated, and Eating Well). Or that the state has served as the other epicenter of eating local. Or that it was the other epicenter of the American cheese revolution. And I love the mindset of the state: one of only two with the right to secede from the US built into its constitution.

    Surely there’s more to it than maple syrup.

  • Anonymous

    Hi Amy – thanks so much for the nice comments on our book…and yes Derrick, you’ve got our state right on and there is much more to our cooking than maple syrup. In our book, you’ll find lots of recipes using dairy, foraged greens and mushrooms, game, pork, lamb, apples, and root vegetables in our book – all ingredients that have a strong link to Vermont’s food heritage. (And just fyi, although Chris Kimball spends lots of time in Vermont, Cook’s Illustrated is published out of Boston but we’re happy to take credit for it if you like it!) thanks again, melissa pasanen, co-author, Cooking with Shelburne Farms.


Amy Sherman

Amy Sherman began blogging in 2003, because all her
friends and family were constantly asking her where
and what to eat. Three months after it launched,
Forbes chose her blog, Cooking with Amy, as one of the
top five best food blogs, praising her writing as
“smart, cozy and witty”. Since then her blog has been
featured and recipes reprinted in many newspapers and
magazines in the U.S. and the world.

In addition to regularly updating her blog, Amy is a
guest contributor to the Epicurious.com blog, and
Contributing Editor of Glam Dish. She also writes
restaurant reviews for SF Station.

Her focus on Bay Area Bites is primarily cookbook
reviews along with some interviews and current events.

Amy is a recipe developer and freelance food writer.
She is author of WinePassport: Portugal and wrote the new introduction to the classic cookbook, Jane Grigson’s Vegetable Book, published by the University of Nebraska Press. She recently completed 45 recipes for a Williams-Sonoma cookbook and wrote her first piece for VIA magazine.

She is currently serving on the board of the San Francisco Professional Food Society and is a member of the International Association of Culinary Professionals. Amy lives in San Francisco with her husband, tech journalist Lee Sherman.

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