Chicken, Nova Scotian, Vegetarian

Hodge Podge

My Nova Scotia Garden in June

Do you know what Hodge Podge is? Then chances are, you are from Atlantic Canada. Though I’m not exactly sure where the exact culinary boundaries are, it’s safe to say that my friends from Nova Scotia say “yum!” while those from elsewhere say “huh?”. Hodge Podge is a wonderful perfectly seasonal mix of new-from-the-garden (or market) vegetables, napped with a creamy sauce. I think the rules are usually potatoes, carrots, peas and beans, although asparagus, spinach, onions and just about any fresh vegetable should be welcome. Last week, my dear friend Alexis killed her chickens and brought me one. I roasted it with fresh herbs, made my first batch of Hodge Podge of the year, and dug in. Bliss!

Hodge Podge serves 4-6
1 lb. New Potatoes, halved if large
1 lb. New Carrots, cut into thick slices
1/2 lb. Sugar Snap Peas, stems removed (or use 1/2 lb shelled peas)
1 lb. Green or Yellow Beans, stems removed and snapped in half
2 T. Butter
2 T. All-Purpose Flour
1 1/2 C. Milk
1/2 t. Salt
Pepper
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and drop in the potatoes and carrots. After 10 minutes, check the potatoes. When they are almost tender, add the beans. Simmer for another few minutes, then turn off the heat and add the peas. Leave while you make the sauce. Heat a large saucepan over medium high heat. Add the butter, and when it has melted, whisk in the flour. When it is smooth, slowly add the milk, whisking all the while. Continue cooking until mixture bubbles and thickens. Season with the salt and add pepper to taste. Drain the cooked vegetables, saving a little water for thinning. Add to the pot containing the sauce and combine thoroughly, adding cooking water if necessary.
Now that you have your basic Hodge Podge (try it like this first if you’ve never had it before) you can go crazy with variations. Try stirring in a couple tablespoons of pesto, or chopped fresh herbs. Add asparagus with the beans, or chopped spinach with the peas. If you grow garlic and have scapes to use up, chop them and add with the beans.
Best of all, cut a roasted chicken from your neighbour into serving pieces. Load up your plate with Hodge Podge, then top with a piece of chicken and a spoonful of the roasting juices from the pan.