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.


Compound Butter

IMG_1494 (1).jpg

Compound Butter

Recipe Level: Basic | Active Time: Quick | Season: Any | Type: Basic | Diet: Veg/GF* | Labels: N/A

Compound butter is incredibly simple to make. You just soften butter, and stir in another flavorings you like. You can serve it warm, or chill it in rolls so that you can cut it into pretty slices. 

  • Butter, softened
  • Flavorings, such as: 
    • Alliums: such as chives, garlic, shallot, or red onion; minced. You could also use roasted garlic or caramelized onions. 
    • Spices: such as smoked paprika, black pepper, 
    • Fresh herbs: such as dill, basil, parsley, sage, thyme, or tarragon; minced
    • Salt: smoked salt is excellent in compound butter

Mix your chosen flavorings into the softened butter. You can spoon it into a crock and serve it as-is, or you can wrap it in plastic wrap, form it into a log shape, and refrigerate it. Then, once it has set, you can cut it into slices for serving. 

Uses for compound butter: 

  • a spread for sandwiches or toast
  • a dip for fresh, crunchy vegetables
  • put it on top of a grilled or seared steak
  • rub chicken with it before you pop it in the oven to roast.
  • any other place you'd use plain butter, but think flavored butter would be better! 

Seasoned & Baked Chicken Drumsticks

Chicken Drumsticks

Recipe Level: Creative | Recipe Speed: Average | Season: All | Type: Main Dish | Diet: Omnivore

Crisp, juicy and quick, chicken drumsticks make a perfect weeknight meal. This recipe, which is a riff on Shake 'n' Bake, calls for coating the chicken with a mixture of flour and seasonings. You can use any herb or spice blend you enjoy, from curry powder to a barbecue rub to Middle Eastern za'atar. I noticed when making these that in the package of four drumsticks, two were larger, and two were smaller. If you want to be super precise, you could stop cooking the smaller ones a bit earlier than the bigger ones. If not, it's not big deal if you cook them all for the same length of time...the small ones might just be a little bit less juicy. 

  • 1 package chicken drumsticks
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 teaspoons spice blend of your choice 
  • salt (perhaps)
  1. Preheat the oven to 425-degrees. 
  2. Remove the drumsticks from their package, and place on a large plate, or in a dish with sides.
  3. In a plastic bag, shake the flour and spices. If the spice blend includes salt, you may not want to add any. If the spice blend doesn't include salt, and 1/2 teaspoon to the dry mix. 
  4. Pour about half of the flour mixture over the chicken pieces, and turn them every which way to coat. If you need more, pour on a little more. You want them to be fully covered with flour (this is called "dredging"). 
  5. When the drumsticks are coated, put them on a baking sheet or in a 9 x 9 glass baking dish. If you'd like, you can put parchment underneath them so they won't stick, or grease the pan a bit. 
  6. Bake for 15 minutes, turn the chicken pieces, and bake another 10 minutes. When you remove them from the oven, the internal temperature should be around 165. 

Strained Yogurt

Strained yogurt

Recipe Level: Basic | Recipe Speed: Quick | Season: All | Type: Condiment | Diet: Vegetarian/GF

Strained yogurt -- also called labneh, or yogurt cheese, or "even better than Greek yogurt!" -- is a rich and creamy condiment that's delicious stirred into stews, used as a topping for roasted vegetables, or even eaten plain. And, it's super simple to make. 

  • 1 quart whole yogurt
  • walnut oil or olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  1. Line a colander with one of these things: a couple layers of cheesecloth or a clean kitchen towel. (In a pinch, you could use paper towels, or coffee filters, but they're less preferable).
  2. Dump a quart of yogurt into the center of the cloth/towels. Whey will begin soaking the towel, and dripping into the bowl. If using cheesecloth or a kitchen towel, tuck the edges of the fabric up over the yogurt to cover it. If there's not enough fabric to cover, find some other way to cover the colander. Place the colander in the refrigerator. 
  3. Let the yogurt sit for at least 3 hours and up to 2 days. The thickness will correlate to the length of time it sits. 
  4. When you like the labneh's texture, scoop it into a container for storage, and stir in half a cup of walnut or olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste. (Also, save the whey! You can use it in place of buttermilk in salad dressings and in baked goods such as pancakes or biscuits, and put it in marinades for meat).

Extra exciting ideas: sprinkle the labneh with za'atar, a Middle Eastern spice blend that includes thyme, sumac and sesame seeds. It's also great topped with cardamom and pistachios. If you like things sweet, stir in a little bit of honey or maple syrup, some fruit, and cinnamon. 

Basic Quick Pickling Brine - for Cucumbers or Beets!

pickling brine

Recipe Level: Basic | Recipe Speed: Average | Season: All | Type: Condiment | Diet: Vegan/GF/DF

  • 2 cups vinegar, such as cider, white wine, red wine, champagne, or rice wine
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar or maple syrup, or 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns (optional, but good in most pickles)
  • 1 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds (optional, but good in most pickles)
  • Other whole spices, or dried or fresh herbs, as desired*
  • Thin slices of red or yellow onion, or shallot; or a few cloves of garlic, sliced
  • 2 pounds vegetables, fruit, and/or dried fruit. If you want to pickle tougher vegetables, you could cook them lightly, first. 
  1. To make the brine, combine all ingredients (except for the vegetables or fruits you wish to pickle) in a small saucepan. Bring the liquid to a simmer, turn off the heat, and let sit for 1 hour to steep.
  2. Meanwhile, prepare your pickle ingredients, usually by cleaning them and slicing them thinly, and pack them into glass jars. 
  3. When the brine has steeped, reheat it to a simmer, and pour it equally into each jar. Push down the ingredients with a fork. If your brine doesn't cover the ingredients fully, boil a 50/50 mix of water and vinegar, and add it to the jars.
  4. If you pickled tender items, such as cucumbers, they'll be ready whenever you wish to eat them, but they will get more pickle-y and delicious over time. Tougher items, such as beets, will benefit from more time in the brine. 

Safety Note: These pickles are not "canned," and must be stored in the refrigerator. 

Here are some combinations that make particularly good pickles: 

  • Cucumbers, white wine vinegar, garlic, peppercorns, mustard seeds, bay leaf, the leaves, flowers or seeds of dill
  • Beets, red wine vinegar, red onion, orange peel, cinnamon stick, allspice
  • Red onion, red wine vinegar, dried cherries, peppercorn, mustard seed, bay leaf
  • Peaches, champagne vinegar peppercorns, cardamom, garlic
  • Daikon, cucumber, carrot, rice wine vinegar, cilantro, ginger, chile flakes

Mustard Mashed Potatoes

Recipe Level: Creative | Recipe Speed: Average | Season: All | Type: Side - Starchy | Diet: Vegetarian/GF

  • 5 large, 8 medium, or 12 small russet potatoes
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1/4 cup mustard
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • optional garnishes, such as chives, scallions, bits of bacon, fresh dill, etc.
  1. Wash the potatoes, quarter them, and cut each quarter into similar-sized chunks. Place the potatoes in a large pot, and add cold water to cover them by an inch or two. 
  2. Bring the potatoes to a boil, and cook until they are tender and mashable.
  3. Drain the potatoes and return them to the hot pot. Add butter, mustard, and salt and pepper. Mash the potatoes with a potato masher, or do it the way that chefs do, and use a strong whisk. If you don't have either of those things, a pastry blender can also do the trick. 
  4. Taste the potatoes. Do you want them to be more creamy? If so, add more butter, milk, or cream. Do they need more salt or pepper? Would you like them to be more tangy? Then add more mustard. 
  5. Top with any optional garnishes you'd like, and serve. 

Toasted Pumpkin Seeds

Recipe Level: Basic | Recipe Speed: Quick | Season: All | Type: Condiment - Savory | Diet: Vegan/DF/GF

  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Sunflower oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Preheat the oven to 350.
  2. On a baking sheet, toss the seeds with a drizzle of oil, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. 
  3. Toast the seeds until some of them have turned from green to golden brown, stirring and turning the pan part-way through the cooking process, if they seem to be cooking unevenly. 

Reduced Apple Cider Syrup

Recipe Level: Basic | Recipe Speed: Average | Season: Summer/Fall | Type: Condiment- Flexible | Diet: Vegan/GF/DF

  • Apple cider, plain or flavored

  1. Pour cider into a pot, and simmer until reduced to a quarter of its original volume. If you started with a quart, you’ll have around a cup. If you started with a gallon, you’ll have around a quart.

  2. Reduce the heat slightly, and continue simmering, watching the pot more carefully, until the liquid is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon (approximately the consistency of maple syrup).

  3. Remove from heat. You can store this syrup in tupperware, or even better, in a recycled glass jar.

The syrup can be drizzled over pancakes or ice cream, used as a sauce for pork or chicken, or added to salad dressings. If you come up with other ways to use it, let us know!

simmering aronia berry apple cider
reduced syrup from aronia berry apple cider

Homemade Mayonnaise

Besteyfield Farm Eggs

Recipe Level: Basic | Recipe Speed: Quick | Season: All | Type: Condiment - Flexible | Diet: Omnivore/GF/DF

  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons smooth Dijon mustard
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • 1 cup sunflower oil, a mix of 2/3 cup sunflower oil and 1/3 cup olive oil, or another neutral oil you prefer
  1. Separate the eggs, and reserve the whites for another use. I like to do this by cracking the egg, pouring it into my hand, and letting the whites slip through my fingers into a bowl, while the yolk stays in my palm.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, vigorously whisk the yolks, vinegar, mustard, and salt until the mixture has lightened in color and increased in volume -- around 2-3 minutes.
  3. If you have a friend to help, have them drizzle in the oil very slowly as you whisk it into the yolks. If not, take a kitchen towel and roll it up lengthwise. Form the towel into a doughnut shape, and place your mixing bowl in the center. That should help hold the bowl steady as you pour with one hand, and whisk with the other.
  4. As you pour and whisk, the mayonnaise should thicken until it looks like the store-bought stuff.

If you would prefer to make mayonnaise with a hand blender, check out this guide from Serious Eats:

Essential Vinaigrette


Recipe Level: Basic | Recipe Speed: Quick | Season: All | Type: Condiment - Dressing | Diet: Vegan

  • 1 small shallot
  • 1 cup oil (this can be 1 full cup of a slightly nutty or neutral oil, such as sunflower or grapeseed, or 2/3 cup neutral oil plus 1/3 cup stronger-flavored oil, such as olive, sesame, or walnut)
  • 1/3 cup vinegar or another kind of acidic ingredient, such as citrus juice
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • Pepper to taste


  1. Peel shallot, cut in half through the stem ends, and cut. If you will be mixing the salad dressing in a blender or food processor, you can chop the shallot roughly. If you’ll be whisking the dressing by hand, you’ll want to mince the shallot.   
  2. If you’re using a blender, combine all of the ingredients, and purée. The mustard will act as an emulsifier, which means that it will allow the oil and vinegar to mix, and it will make the resulting dressing seem creamy, even though it isn’t.
  3. If you’re making the dressing by hand, you could combine all of the ingredients in a jar, cover it with a lid, and shake it. Or, you could combine everything except the oil in a bowl, and drizzle in the oil while whisking.
  4. When you are dressing a salad, start with less dressing than you think you’ll need, add it to the bowl with the greens, and toss gently with tongs. Taste a leaf, and add more dressing, or salt, as needed. 

Caramelized Onions

Recipe Level: Basic | Recipe Speed: Leisurely | Season: All | Type: Condiment - Savory | Diet: Vegan/GF/DF


  • 5 yellow onions
  • 2 tablespoons sunflower oil, or another oil you prefer
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 cup water at room temperature, plus more if needed


  1. Peel the onions, halve them through the stem ends, and slice them into half-moons, making the slices as thin as you can. (When you can no longer make thin slices, set the end pieces aside, and save them for stock. You can make a “stockpile” in the freezer, with meat bones, onions ends, mushroom stems, corn cobs, and trimmings from other veggies).
sliced onions
onions in a pan

2. Place the oil in a large, heavy pan over medium heat, and when it’s warm, add the onions, and sprinkle with salt. The salt will help the onion’s cell walls begin to break down.


3. Cook, stirring every few minutes, as the onions sweat, and begin to caramelize. If that is happening too quickly, you can reduce the heat.

onions are browning

4. Partway through the process, you’ll notice that there’s some buildup on the bottom of the pan. In French, this is called “fond.” To keep the fond from darkening — and to help the onions along — you’ll want to start regularly adding liquid to the pan, a couple tablespoonfuls at a time, and stirring to release the browned bits from the bottom. This process is called “deglazing.” You can deglaze with water, but you can also use other liquids, including beer, wine, cider, and hard cider.


5. The onions are done when they are tender, dark brown, and consistent in texture. This usually takes up to 45 minutes, but can take longer, depending on the temperature you choose.


6. When the onions are ready, deglaze the pan one last time, and cook just until the liquid has evaporated enough to cling to the onions, but not enough to stick to the pan. Scoop the onions out, and let cool.

7. Caramelized onions can be used on sandwiches, in omelettes, as a garnish for roasted meats, and in quiche. You can also purée them with sour cream to make onion dip, with oil and vinegar to make a salad dressing, or with stock to make French onion soup. The possibilities are endless. 


Hard Boiled Eggs

hard boiled eggs


Recipe Level: Basic | Recipe Speed: Quick | Season: All | Type: Basic | Diet: Vegetarian/GF

A great option for breakfast, snacking, or to add protein to a fresh green salad


·      4 eggs, at room temperature, if possible



  1. Fill a medium pot with enough water to cover the eggs, and place over high heat. When the water boils, add eggs, cook for one minute, and then reduce heat to low. Let simmer for 10 minutes.   
  2. Pour off the boiling water, and fill the pot with cold water to “shock” the eggs.
  3. When cool, you can peel the eggs and eat them, or store them in their shells, for later.