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I’ll be honest, I spent a bunch of time writing about the local versus organic debate for this post, mostly because we always get asked if we use one or the other. But then I threw it all out. When it comes down to it, we try to do the best we can with what we have.

The great thing about wanting to write about the local versus organic debate is that it inspired us to create a meal with ingredients from our area during the bleak growing off-season in Minnesota.

We figured it’d be a challenge, but we found so many local ingredients! We picked up beautiful arugula, cress, mushrooms and butternut squash. We found cheese from Wisconsin for a garnish and used Camelina oil produced in southern Minnesota for sauteeing and roasting the vegetables. 

We got the star of this dish, the chicken breast, from Zweber Farms. We trekked out to the farm last summer and picked up a few dozen whole frozen chickens direct from the source. We got to see the farm and talk to the owners – can it get more local than that? We argue it’s the very best chicken we’ve ever had. 

All Local Chicken

Serves 1, double to serve 2

1 small squash (butternut or similar)
a handful of mushrooms (I love oysters and crimini)
a few leaves a fresh arugula (try to find some fresh leaves not in the pre-washed bag, the difference is unbelievable, this is one of my favorite Minnesota finds!)

1 chicken breast, skin on
1 bunch of cress
1 clove of garlic, crushed and minced

Camelina oil, or canola or safflower
salt and pepper
a bit of shaved parmesan

Preheat the oven to 350.

Cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Place cut side down on an oiled silpat or parchment paper and roast in the oven until soft, approximately 30 minutes.

While the squash is roasting, toss the mushrooms in oil, salt and pepper and put them in the oven on a separate tray to roast. They take about 10 minutes to roast, depending on how many times you open the oven to snack on them. When they are nicely browned, remove the mushrooms from the oven and place in a bowl. Add a few leaves of torn arugula to the mushrooms and stir. Set aside.

When the squash is done, remove from the oven and scoop out the flesh. Place in food processor or blender and season with salt and pepper. Then blend until smooth.

Finally, getting a nice crispy skin on chicken is easy. It takes patience and medium heat. At home I use a non-stick pan and place a lid over it while the chicken is cooking, as not to decorate our stovetop with splattered oil.

Coat the bottom of a pan with oil and set the chicken skin side down. Cook covered on medium heat until it starts to swell, about 10-14 minutes. Turn the heat down to low and flip over the breast in the pan. Add chopped garlic and cress to the side of the pan and stir a bit to wilt while the chicken continues to cook, about another two minutes. When the chicken is cooked all the way through, remove it from the heat.

To make a well-composed plate, I like putting the puree down first in the center of the plate and adding the wilted cress on top. Next add the chicken on top of the cress. To finish it off, I top with the mushrooms, torn arugula and shaved cheese.