January 29, 2017

A Cooking School in the heart of Litchfield Hills & An Apple Cider Braised Chicken Recipe

Nestled in the heart of beautiful Litchfield Hills in a renovated circa-1800's horse barn is The Silo Cooking School at Hunt Hill Farm, established by Skitch and Ruth Henderson in the late 60's, is now a non-profit organization dedicated to cultivating love of land, food and arts, and it was there that Brady and I spent some pleasant and fun hours last Saturday.

It's the second time Brady participated in a cooking class at the Silo, it was my birthday gift to him, a Slow Cooking class with chef/instructor Trish Lobenfeld.

I had contacted Dawn Leahy, the Cooking School Director, for the possibility to be there just to take some pictures. She graciously made me feel most welcome.

Unfortunately, my pictures did not come out as good as I wish, it was a cloudy day with just some rays of sun every now and then, and it was my first time shooting a social event, I felt a little uncomfortable, did not want to disturbe the students and ended up missing great shots.

Preparing the braised lamb shanks. 

Peeling pears and apples for the crumble.

Draining potatoes for the pancakes.

The menu consisted of:

  • Split Pea and Barley Soup with Smoked Ham Hock
  • Apple Cider Braised Chicken with Potato-Kale Pancakes
  • Braised Lamb Shanks Provençal over Creamy Cannellini Bean Puree
  • Simple Salada with French Vinaigrette
  • Candied Ginger Apple and Pear Crumble
  • French Vanilla Ice Cream
Everything amazingly delicious, really!

Trish explaning the best method for breaking down a chicken.

Classes at The Silo are beautifully organized and packed with information. Students are given printed out recipes of what they are cooking, and then they get to sit down together, have some wine, and eat the most delicious food that they cooked together

The class consisted of 4 groups with 4 people each. Brady was part of the group that prepared the Apple Cider Braised Chicken and the Potato-Kale Pancakes, and let me tell you, these recipes are so good that Brady made the braised chicken once again the next day, with a slight variation.

Apple Cider Braised Chicken
6 serves

♥ 3 1/2 pounds boneless and skinless chicken breasts & thighs
♥ 2 cups apple cider
♥ 2 cups thinly sliced onions
♥ 1 cup thinly sliced carrots
♥ 1 cup thingly sliced celery
♥ 1 garlic head (12 cloves)
♥ 2 tbsp olive oil
♥ 1 bay leaf
♥ 1 large rosemary sprig
♥ 1 thyme sprig (about 5)
♥ coarse salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Season the chicken generously with salt and pepper. 

Heat the oil in a large heavy-bottom pan over medium high heat. stir in the onions, garlic and salt, cover and sweat for about 5 minutes, stir once. 

Remove the cover, reduce the heat, and let the onions and garlic cook down until soft, stirring occasionally. Continue cooking for another 20-25 minutes until they are deep brown - adding a little water if they start to stick to the bottom. This delicious brown caramelized sugar is what gives color and flavor to the food.

Stir in carots and celery and sauté for about 3 minutes.

Add the seasoned chicken, apple cider, bay leaf and rosemary sprig. Stir to combine all ingredients and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to barely a simmer, just an occasional bubble comes to the surface. Cook for 1 1/2 - 2 hours.

Undoubtedly, The Silo Cooking School is a great place for communal cooking learning and eating the freshest of foods. Cheers to a fun afternoon!


  1. Whau what a wonderful opportunity you had! The chicken dish looks amazing. Wish I lived closer to the Silo! Your photos are very good. Thanks for sharing Regina.

  2. Regina, thanks for the shout out! Your pictures are wonderful! Trish


  4. this sounds so perfect and cozy! the apple cider is bringing me back to thoughts of crisp fall days and crunchy leaves (:

  5. Regina, com ou sem sol, suas fotos são sempre lindas e me fazem viajar. Não acho nada fácil fotografar pessoas, há que ter grande sensibilidade para apanhar o momento e o ângulo certo. Mas vc tem esse dom. Beijos!

  6. Everything looked so yummy Regina. My mouth watered from the beginning of the post till the very last word!! Did you use natural light for all your pictures? They turned out beautifully. I know what you mean about taking pictures of a social situation in action. I find it difficult even at my own family dinner without feeling awkward. But you got some really candid and great shots. Kudos to you. I hope Brady enjoyed his birthday present ;-)