“We often warm up the kitchen by cooking all day,” Witherspoon says. He particularly likes slow-roasted dishes, like his lamb shank pictured here. (photo by Haley Gray)

Sugarbeet chef Seth Witherspoon shares his recipes for an evening when ‘The Gang’s All Here’ with:

♦ Roasted Chicken Soup with Cannellini Beans and Swiss Chard
♦ Braised Colorado Lamb Shank with Rosemary Jus, Roasted Baby Heirloom Carrots and Creamy Polenta with Gorgonzola
♦ Pure Vermont Maple Semifreddo with Quince and Toasted-Pecan Crust

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Roasted Chicken Soup with Cannellini Beans and Swiss Chard

1 whole organic chicken
3 Tablespoons poultry seasoning (preferably with no msg)
4 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 bay leaves
1 bulb fennel, cored and sliced
1 large onion, peeled and diced
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
6 stalks of celery, sliced
2 parsnips, peeled and sliced
2 cups cannellini beans, cooked until tender
1 bunch swiss chard
¼ teaspoon basil
Salt and pepper

Roast Chicken in 325 degree oven for 1 hour and 10 minutes. While chicken is in the oven, prepare the vegetables and sauté them (except swiss chard) in olive oil and set aside for later.

After chicken is roasted, pick all of the meat from carcass and set aside. Place carcass in large pot and cover with 1½ gallons of water and bay leaves. Bring chicken carcass to boil and reduce to a simmer for 40 minutes.

Strain stock and season with salt and pepper, then return it to the pot. Add the sautéed vegetables, pulled chicken meat, swiss chard and fresh basil to broth, and simmer an additional 12 minutes.

Braised Colorado Lamb Shank with Rosemary Jus, Roasted Baby Heirloom Carrots and Creamy Polenta with Gorgonzola

Note: Sugarbeet’s Chef Witherspoon suggests a roasting plaque for this recipe. (A roasting plaque is a roasting pan usually made of stainless steel or copper with sides 3-6 inches high, often with a fitted lid.)

10 lamb hind shanks
1 cup finely ground steak seasoning
2 cups canola oil
1 bunch celery, chopped
1 yellow onion, diced
2 parsnips, chopped
8 sprigs of thyme
6 sprigs of rosemary
6 bay leaves
1 bottle zinfindel wine

Preparing the lamb shank

Preheat oven to 300 degrees (Note: do not use convection.)

Heat canola oil in large, heavy, high side pot (necessary to prevent splatter and more clean up). Heavily season the shanks with your seasoning blend, the brown the shanks in hot oil two or three at a time depending on the size of your pot.

When all shanks have been nicely caramelized, discard the oil and place all the prepared vegetables and herbs in a large roasting plaque; place the shanks on top of vegetables and submerge shanks completely with hot water and wine. Cover tightly with foil or lid and place in oven.

Shanks will take 4-5 hours, depending on size. When done, the meat should easily pull away from bone. Reserve strained meat broth, return to a pot and reduce to 5 cups of liquid, or until the jus begins to thicken slightly.

Preparing Polenta

4½ cups polenta
3 Tablespoons fresh thyme
½ cup grated pecorino cheese
Gorgonzola dolce cheese

Use 4½ cups polenta and follow manufacturers instructions for basic recipe.

Once thickened, add thyme, pecorino and salt to taste.

Add 1 Tablespoon gorgonzola to each portion when plating.

Preparing Baby Carrots

4 bunches trimmed carrots
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 cup honey
3 Tablespoons minced fresh ginger

Blanch the carrots in boiling water for 2 minutes, then remove from water and place on sheet pan. Lightly oil carrots with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Roast carrots at 450 degrees for 20 minutes. Last, toss carrots with honey and ginger.

Maple and Quince Semifreddo with Toasted Pecan Crust

10 egg whites
3 cups heavy whipping cream (with 40 percent butter fat)
2 cups pure Vermont maple syrup
1 cup quince paste, thinly sliced and chopped


3½ cups toasted pecans
1½ sticks butter, melted
½ cup granulated sugar

Blend crust ingredients together in food processor until just bound. Form in the bottom of a 10-inch spring form pan and chill.

Start Egg whites in mixer on medium and beat until just slightly stiff.

In a saucepan with medium heat, reduce maple syrup until it reaches 165 degrees (check with candy thermometer).

Then stream in maple syrup to whipped egg whites and continue mixing for 5 additional minutes. Place mixture aside and allow it to further cool.

Nest place heavy whipping cream into clean mixing bowl and mix on medium until just stiff.

Fold the two mixtures together and mix in the quince paste. Pour completed mixture on top of chilled crust and freeze for 3 hours before opening spring form and slicing to serve.


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