Cooking Class Notes | Roasted Chicken with Roasted Winter Squash, Caramelized Onions, and Brown Butter-Cider Dressing

A glimpse of our first-ever cooking class!

A glimpse of our first-ever cooking class!


Cooking Class Notes

Class with Suzanne, Kendall, and Gabby, on September 19, 2018

Thank you so much to our members who joined us for our first-ever cooking class! This blog post includes notes on just about everything we covered in class. If you missed the class, you can still follow along with our detailed notes. Please feel free to be in touch with any follow-up questions.

Tips and Q&A

  • It’s ok to be messy and not have the perfect equipment! It’s good to try new things and it’s OK to make mistakes!

  • Cooking at home is almost always healthier.

  • Rarely is there a right or wrong way – read up online, try it out, and don’t hesitate to ask!

  • Use your sense of smell and hearing too – smell for when something smells good & done, listen for sizzling on the stove or in the oven.

  • These exact ingredients might not come in one week’s basket, but throughout the season you can use these techniques and mix and match ingredients!

Overview and Outline

I. Start caramelizing onions

II. Start reducing apple cider

III. Peel & start roasting squash

IV. Breaking down and roasting a whole chicken
(and how to make chicken stock later)

V. Browned Butter & Reduced Cider Dressing


Caramelized Onions

Where to use them:

Pizza, salads, sandwiches, in grain bowls with roasted vegetables, to top casseroles or mashed potatoes, in burritos or omelettes, on crackers with cheese… anywhere you would use regular onions!


  • Overall cook time: about 1 hour 15 min

  • Store in the fridge for up to 6 days or store in the freezer to add to heated meals later

  • We used yellow onions, but you can use red onions too!

  • Oil: 50/50 blend of olive oil and grapeseed oil or 50/50 blend of oil and butter

How to caramelize onions:

1.       Peel and cut onions into slivers. When you add them to a pan or pot, remember that they will reduce and cook down!

2.       Add oil, salt, and water to the pot

3.       Cook over medium-low heat, stirring every 10-15 minutes. You want them to brown, but slowly. If you hear a lot of sizzling or see them browning too quickly, add water and/or turn down the heat.


  • How do you avoid crying while chopping onions?

  • We don’t really know! Try chilling them or grab your goggles!


Roasted Squash


  • We used Kabocha Squash (large orange squash with big seeds), Butternut Squash (pale yellow with a longer neck and seeds just in the bottom), and Blue Hubbard Squash (pale blue-green on the outside and orange on the inside with large seeds).

  • Different varieties of squash will have slightly different shapes, textures, and flavors, which can lend to different uses, but in general, you can use them interchangeably. We encourage you to try as many different kinds as you can!

  • We used 50/50 blend of grapeseed/olive oil

  • Having a large, sharp chef’s knife and a quality vegetable peeler will make this job noticeably easier! Make sure hands are above the knife if cutting something large and tough.


Where to use it:

ANYWHERE. In tacos, blended into soup, served over rice or grains, in a salad, mashed as a side dish, on pizza, blended with beans to make a dip, in an omelette, baked into muffins or breakfast bread, added to mac & cheese, even in a smoothie! Whether it’s breakfast, lunch or dinner,  you can always add some roasted squash!


How to prepare and roast squash:

1.       Peel squash and cut into similarly-sized pieces for generally even roasting. Cutting the squash will help it cook more quickly & evenly than roasting it whole

2.       Lay out quash pieces on a large baking sheet. Drizzle oil over the squash and sprinkle salt evenly across the pieces, then mix up so that the pieces are evenly coated. Evenly coating the squash in oil will help it cook evenly – and the fat will help your body absorb the vitamins and minerals in the squash!

3.       Roast at about 400-425 for about 20-30 minutes (lower heat = longer time) Generally, cooking at a higher temperature will cook the outside quicker, giving more of a crust/crunch – but the risk is that you might burn the outside. Cooking at a lower temperature for longer will lend to more evenly tender pieces of squash. There is not a right or wrong way to do it – over time, you’ll learn your preference! (It also depends how much time you have to put dinner on the table!)

4.       When the squash is done, remove the pan and let it cool.

Q & A Notes:

  • For roasting squash- do you roast in cubes, or do you roast bigger pieces then cube?

  • For pureeing, bigger pieces is better because less surface is getting dried out. For roasting, bite-sizes are fine, especially with dressing added later


Breaking Down a Whole Chicken


  • Buying whole chicken will get you a much better value of $/pound. Plus, you can make stock with the bones after!

  • Defrost for about 2 days in the fridge, or, put your plastic-wrapped chicken in hot water in your sink or a large bowl for 2-3 hours (or the day if you’re gone for work).

  • Once defrosted, you can break down your chicken or you can roast your chicken whole. Be sure to check for a neck, liver, and heart. If you plan to make chicken stock with the leftover bones, keep the neck to add to the stock. The liver and heart can be sautéed and blended for pate.

  • A smaller boning knife can be helpful, but your best sharp knife will work well, too.

  • We separated the larger pieces for separate meals (which you can re-freeze for later). For the salad, we used the shredded chicken pulled from the body of the chicken.

How To:


  • Start at natural separation between wings and body, make a cut in the skin. Then you can bend back the wing to pop the join, and then use your knife to remove the wing. Repeat on the other side.

  • You will have 2 wings.


  • Again, look for the natural separation between the body and the leg. Separate the skin first, to find the line, then cut down along the line/space (you don’t need a lot of pressure). Once you cut through the joint, you will also need to cut through the thigh meat to remove the leg from the body.

  • Remember that it’s OK to feel around and take your time, especially if you haven’t butchered many chickens! Repeat on the other side. For legs/thighs, it’s best to leave the meat on the bone (rather than try to remove the bone from the middle)

  • You have the option to separate the thigh (upper leg) from the drumstick (lower leg) if you want to. The parts would cook a little bit more quickly this way, and you will have smaller portions of meat for use in different recipes. For frying, we’d recommend smaller pieces, but for roasting or pan cooking, you can keep the leg whole.

  • You will have 2 legs, or, 2 thighs + 2 drumsticks (as pictured below)


  • Holding the body upside-down, with the cavity facing upward, slice off the back bone from the breast bone. You will need to bend the back, then cut it off. You can save the back for stock. You can cook the back before you add it to stock, but it’s not necessary to cook it.

  • Lay the chicken down on the cutting board. With the breast meat facing upward, press down to flatten slightly. Separate the skin, and then cut meat off the bone beneath it, staying as close to the bone as you can. You will cut off the chicken breast and the chicken tender under that. Repeat on the other side.

  • You will have 2 boneless chicken breasts.


  • Organize chicken on pan based on how fast parts cook- breasts are the fastest, then wings, then legs/thighs. Cooking bone-in will mean longer cooking time, but the benefit is added flavor and moisture.

  • Add oil, salt, and cook at 375F,

  • Use a meat thermometer to check temperatures, and take parts out when they reach 165F (25 - 45 minutes)

 Making Chicken Stock


  • You can extract fat, collagen, and tons of flavor from the leftover bones and meat of poultry.

  • Store vegetable scraps, chicken bones and parts like necks, hearts, and backs, in a container in your freezer to make a big batch of stock when you have time.

  • It’s highly recommended that you only make broth/stock from poultry that you can trust. The nutrients in a small-scale, pasture-raised, non-gmo-fed or organically-fed chicken – like the chickens from Maple Wind Farm -  are going to be much higher quality and safer. Furthermore, conventionally-raised chickens can have pesticide residue in their meat & bones from the poor quality of their die

Where to use homemade stock:

Homemade stock is great for the base of a soup, such as chicken noodle soup because of the great flavor and to highlight your hard work, but we also love to use stock for cooking grains and for adding to blended soups!

How to:

  1. Simply add vegetable cuttings (carrots, onions, herbs) and chicken bones to a large pot and cover with cold water (don’t need to add salt). Add a splash of apple cider vinegar to help dissolve the minerals in the bones.

  2. Bring to a boil, then cook on low heat to simmer for 6-12 hours. This is a good weekend or evening project. You can expect better results with stovetop, but a slow cooker for the low-heat portion (after boiling) will work as well.

  3. Skim off cloudy bubbles at the top occasionally.

  4. Cool it to a temperature that’s safe to handle, then you can strain out the scraps with a mesh sieve or cheesecloth.

  5. Then, transfer to plastic bags or Tupperware to store in the fridge (for use within 6 days) or freezer. (It’s hard not to make a mess but it’s worth it!)  (Be sure to leave room for liquid to expand if you’re storing in the freezer.


Browned Butter & Reduced Cider Dressing

Reduced Apple Cider Syrup

Where to use reduced cider:

Add to ice cream or pancakes, beverages or cocktails, in salad dressing, or add to meat, marinades, or to braised meat. Starting with at least ½ gallon of cider, add to a pot and simmer over medium heat.


You’re evaporating water from the cider, and condensing the flavor and sweetness. The longer it cooks, the thicker your apple cider syrup/reduction will be. Aim for the consistency of maple syrup.

You can add sage or rosemary to your syrup too!

How to:

Pour apple cider into a sauce pot. Bring to a boil, then simmer and reduce to desired thickness.

Browned Butter


We used Ploughgate Creamery Cultured Butter

How to:

1.       Put butter in pan and simmer it, medium-medium low

2.       Butter will simmer and break down, then clear fat will separate  (ghee) and milk solids (whey, casein, lactose). Leave everything in the pan and stir often.

3.       Milk solids get stuck to bottom of pan and brown and flavor changes

4.       If you keep heat lower, it’ll still brown it’ll just take longer



The Essential Make-at-Home Dressing Ratio:

  • 1 cup fat (we used ¾ c browned butter and ¼ c olive oil

  • 1/3 c acid (vinegar and/or citrus

  • 1/3 c cider syrup

  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard

  • 1/2 finely chopped shallot

  • pinch of salt

Add all ingredients to a food process or blender and blend to combine. Store in a glass jar or tupperware.


Essential Kitchen Equipment


These items make cooking more enjoyable and more efficient, and will give you a broader range in the kitchen.

  • A good, sharp chef knife, 8 or 10-inch - The most important kitchen tool, hands down. If your knives are dull, every cutting task will be just a little bit harder than it needs to be

  • Honing wand - to keep your knife performing well between sharpenings

  • Large wooden cutting board


  • Pots and pans - Most Used: Soup pot, sauce pot, frying pan, and cast iron pan. We recommend stainless steel, stainless-clad aluminum, and cast iron

  • Baking Pan - a good heavy pan that won’t warp in the oven, for roasting veggies and more

  • Silicone spatulas - won’t melt, don’t scratch, and are useful for pretty much everything

  • Several pairs of heavy tongs - Useful for nearly every kitchen task, from stirring things to moving bigger pieces of food around

  • Whisk, nice and heavy - in addition to actually whisking, whisks can be used to mash veggies such as potatoes. They might actually be better at mashing than mashers!


  • Blender - We recommend an immersion blender, because they’re less expensive than a countertop blender. Blenders can be used to make smoothies, salad dressings, puréed soup, tomato sauce, and more

  • Box Grater - for cheese and for vegetables

  • Microplane grater - a tool that will last for a very long time, and can be used to grate cheese, take the zest from citrus fruits, shave nutmeg, grate up garlic and ginger, and many other things

  • Peeler - we recommend y-shaped peelers as the best when you have lots of veggies to peel. You can also use this to make veggie “noodles” or ribbons

  • Mandolin - for quick, efficient, and uniform slicing

  • Parchment paper and/or aluminum foil - this helps keep things from sticking to baking sheets, and is helpful to use on top of dishes that are slow-cooking in the oven. It’s super useful

A Well-Stocked Pantry List

These are items that we’ll use again and again, to make delicious, healthy, well-rounded meals. You probably have many of these in your cupboards, already! We also cover our favorite kitchen tools and websites for recipe inspiration.

  • Eggs & Dairy
  • Cooking Fats & Oils
  • Canned Goods
  • Flavor, Part 1: Condiments, Ferments, Sauces  & Sweetener
  • Flavor, Part 2: Spices, Herbs, Fruits, Nuts & Seeds
  • Grains and Pasta
  • Baking Ingredients
  • Kitchen Equipment
  • Our Favorite Websites
pantry list

Eggs & Dairy

Including high quality eggs and dairy are key elements to simple, delicious meals. They are yummy, very easy to work with, and they can add a lot of variety and nutrients to your meal.

When shopping for eggs, we recommend looking for eggs that come from Vermont farms that raise their chickens on pasture. It's the best option for quality, nutrition, and sustainability. When shopping for dairy, we recommend looking for Vermont farms that grass-feed or pasture raise their cows, goats, or sheep. That's the best way to ensure quality, nutrition, and sustainability. Grass fed and organic, like Butterworks Farm or Does' Leap, is even better!

Storage: Keep refrigerated

*included in Omnivore and Localvore Packages | **Available as a weekly share

  • **Eggs (we feature Besteyfield Farm) (great for baking, hard boiled in salads, homemade mayo, and delicious breakfast dishes)
  • *Butter (we feature Ploughgate Creamery cultured butter) Great for sauteeing vegetables, cooking eggs, and adding flavor to almost any dish
  • Milk (Sweet Rowen, Kimball Brook, and many others)
  • *Whole Plain Yogurt (Butterworks Farm, and others. Great for breakfast, dips, sauces, marinades, and desserts)
  • **Cheddar Cheese (we feature Shelburne Farms 1-year cheddar) 
  • *Chevre (we feature Doe’s Leap) (Add chevre to salads, eggs, sandwiches, dips, and more)
  • *Hard-grating Cheese (we feature Mount Mansfield Creamery. Parmesan or Romano are versatile as well)

Cooking Fats and Oils

Having a variety of oils around will make your cooking more versatile. Some have mild flavors that will let your ingredients shine through, whereas others will add more layers of flavor to your meal. Plus, healthy fats help your body absorb many of the vitamins and minerals present in fresh fruits and vegetables!

Choosing the right oil for your cooking: Different oils can be used at different levels of heat depending of their level of refinement: here's a great guide, courtesy of the fabulous folks over at Serious Eats. 

Storage: Oils will oxidize if left at room temperature, especially if they’re in the light. Dark bottles help with keeping oil fresh, and you can store them in the fridge.

  • *Butter (we feature Ploughgate Creamery cultured butter)  
  • Coconut oil (adds flavor to stir fry, rice, and other dishes)
  • Grapeseed Oil (a healthy, neutral oil that is great mixed with other oils, or in the background)
  • Olive Oil (strongly flavored, and somewhat bitter. Best mixed with other oils when making salad dressings.)
  • Sunflower Oil (The less refined this oil is, the more nutty and delicious, but the more refined version can be used for higher heat cooking)

Canned Goods

Canned goods are some of the easiest items to stock up on - and they can transform a meal from a side dish to a filling main course with the twist of a can-opener. You can add these to casseroles, soups, dips, sauces, and so much more. We highly recommend choosing certified organic whenever possible, take advantage of grocery store sales when you can, and keeping several cans in your pantry at all times.

  • Black Beans
  • Garbanzo Beans
  • White Beans
  • Coconut Milk
  • Fire-roasted tomato puree
  • Tomato Paste (buying a tube will cost more, but will last much longer than a jar)

Flavor, Part 1: Condiments, Ferments, Sauces & Sweeteners

Having condiments at the ready will let you turn a bland dish into a delightful dish. Most have a long shelf life, so you can stock up and always have options on hand. We recommend choosing certified organic whenever possible!

Storage: Keep Refrigerated 

*included in the Omnivore Packages and Localvore Packages

    Must Have items:

    • Dijon Mustard (for sauces and dressings)
    • *Honey (we feature BTV Honey)
    • Hot sauce and/or Sriracha (Local brands to try: Benito’s, Butterfly Bakery)
    • *Jelly orJam Besides the obvious addition to toast, jelly and jam can be used in sauces, marinades, and desserts, too! You can also use jelly or jam to flavor plain yogurt (we feature The Farm Between and V.Smiley)
    • *Maple Syrup (we feature Square Deal Farm)
    • Mayonnaise (store-bought or homemade)
    • Salsa
    • Soy Sauce or gluten-free Tamari
    • Vinegar: We recommend always having Balsamic Vinegar, Cider Vinegar, and White Wine Vinegar on hand

    Items we love for even more flavor and creativity: 

    • Fish Sauce (for adding a ton of flavor sauce, marinades, and soup)
    • *Kimchi and/or Sauerkraut (we feature Flack Family Farm and Sobremesa)
    • Miso - fermented bean paste that you can use to flavor dressings, sauces, soups, roasted veggies, and more. (Local Brand to try: Rhapsody Natural Foods)
    • Peanut butter (for homemade peanut sauce!)
    • Red Curry Paste (we love simmering root vegetables in curry sauce!)
    • Tahini (sesame seed paste, which is amazing for dressings and dips

    Flavor, Part 2: Spices, Herbs, Fruits, Nuts & Seeds

    If you have a nice selection of spices, it will enhance your ability to whip up food from all around the globe, without an extra trip to the store. You can buy them in bulk and pick up just a few tablespoons at a time, and they’ll be fresh and fragrant when you bring them home. Or, we recommend buying in smaller jars at the store so that they don’t sit for too long.

    Other key ingredients are lemons and citrus, garlic, onions, and fresh herbs. We'll supply these in our Vermont Vegetable packages, but it never hurts to have them on hand.

    Spice Blends can be a great shortcut, especially if you have some favorites you like to use often. We love using Montreal Seasoning for meat and potatoes, Italian Seasoning in summer pasta salads and homemade pizza, Za'atar for grilled vegetables and grain bowls, and Taco seasoning (store bought or mix your own). 

      Storage: store spices in airtight jars in a cool, dark place.

      • Allspice
      • Bay leaves
      • Cayenne
      • Cinnamon
      • Coriander
      • Cumin
      • Ginger, ground (fresh is delicious too!)
      • Mustard seed
      • Nutmeg
      • Pepper
      • Paprika, smoked, and sweet
      • Rosemary
      • Thyme

      Dried fruit, nuts, and seeds will add flavor and texture to salads and other dishes. Plus, they're great for snacking!

      Storage: Because of their high oil content, nuts and seeds are pretty perishable. They can also pick up aromas from their environments. The best way to store them is to keep them in airtight containers in the freezer.

      • Dried Cranberries and/or Raisins
      • Almonds and/or Walnuts
      • Peanuts
      • Pumpkin Seeds and/or Sunflower Seeds

      Grains and Pasta

      Grains and pasta are essential elements to our favorite go-to recipes, like stir fry with rice, grain bowls with roasted vegetables, or pasta with sautéed vegetables. Keep your pantry well-stocked with your favorite quick-cooking grains and pastas - but don't forget to try something new some time! We highly recommend choosing certified organic whenever possible.

      Storage: These items can be kept in the cupboard, but do have a shelf life -- grains will oxidize over time. Store in airtight containers, kept in a dark place, and make sure to follow the “first in/first out” rule.

      Must Have Items:

      • Pasta - smaller noodles, like penne, bowties, or macaroni, are great for pasta salads. Spaghetti, linguini, and angel hair are nice for main dishes with sauteed vegetables.
      • Noodles - soba noodles or rice noodles cook quickly and can be added to delicious soups. They pair well with cabbage, mushrooms, carrots, and stir fry. 
      • Rice - brown and white rice are great staples. Arborio rice is best for risotto. Wild or other exotic colorful rices are a great way to mix things up.


      Items we love for even more flavor and creativity: 

      •  Barley (A quick-cooking grain that makes a delicious base for summer salads, like tabbouleh!)
      • Farro (A delicious chewy grain that's great for grain bowls or side dishes)
      • Quinoa (comes in different colors and cooks easily - we like to cook in broth for more flavor)
      • Wild Rice, Forbidden Rice, etc. (Wild or other exotic colorful rices are a great way to mix things up.)

      Baking Ingredients

      Whether you love making pancakes on the weekend, or you love sneaking your vegetables like carrots, parsnips, and zucchini into delicious desserts, it's handy to have small amounts of these ingredients stored away for special occasions.

      Storage: These items can be kept in the cupboard. Store in airtight containers, kept in a dark place, and make sure to follow the “first in/first out” rule.

      • All-Purpose Flour (Local brand to try: King Arthur or Nitty Gritty Grain Co.)
      • Whole Wheat Flour (Local brand to try: Nitty Gritty Grain Co. or Roger’s Farmstead)
      • Rolled Oats
      • Baking powder
      • Baking soda
      • Sugar - both brown and white
      • Vanilla Extract

      Our Favorite Websites

      Not all recipes are created equal. These websites do a great job of curating, so it’s more likely that you’ll find recipes that work.

      101 Cookbooks

      Bon Appétit 



      Serious Eats

      Simply Recipes Food and Cooking Blog

      Smitten Kitchen



      Book Recommendation

      The Flavor Bible: The Essential Guide to Culinary Creativity by Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg

      If I could only keep one book in my cooking library, it would be this one. It’s not a cookbook, but rather, a guide to which foods go well together. Not sure what to do with your cucumbers? This book will tell you that the crunchy vegetable pairs well with buttermilk, feta cheese, cilantro, cream cheese, dill, garlic, gin, lemon juice, mint, onions, parsley, salmon, scallions, soy sauce, Vietnamese cuisine, and more.