Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Braised and Roasted Turkey -- Making cooking a turkey manageable

Let's face it, nothing sucks more than getting up at 5 a.m. to get the turkey in the oven, just to find hours later that the white meat has dried out while waiting for the dark meat to get done. We've done the butterflied turkey, but same results. This ingenious recipe doesn't give you a "presentation bird" (more on that in a second) but it gives you fabulous dark meat, easy gravy and moist white meat. Hats off to Chrysa Robertson of Rancho Pinot Grill here in Scottsdale, Arizona for the technique and recipe, which she adapted from David Tanis.

First, you may read -- "What? You want me to debone a turkey?" and the answer is yes, we do. It's no different than cutting up a chicken (just bigger) and once you learn how you'll be so thrilled with having the skill. Here's a great link to Julia Child and Jimmy Sneed showing how it's done.

BUT....if you just feel you cannot do this, go buy parts -- two turkey breast lobes (you could buy just a turkey breast and have the butcher debone, or some places sell them deboned), two thighs, and two drumsticks.  If you can get two wings, that's great too!

And, for that presentation bird, have a family member roast one, tent it with foil and bring it over. It can be presented, and then taken back to the kitchen and carved after dinner for folks to take home leftovers.

So, once you have the parts, just follow this recipe. You can start up to three days before you're serving:

provided by Chrysa Robertson of Rancho Pinot Grill, Scottsdale, AZ
based on a recipe by David Tanis

(this recipe is for a 12-14 lb turkey, but you can adjust up or down)

a 12-14 lb. turkey
- cut off the thighs with legs attached.  cut leg off of thigh.  carefully cut the breast
  from carcass in two lobes. cut off the wings, removing the tips for stock.  chop the
  carcass into 2 or 3 pieces (for stock).  reserve neck for stock and giblets for gravy. (there are all sorts of online sources to see this…and really, it will take you less than 20 minutes and is much less daunting than you think)

2-3 T. unsalted butter, softened
fresh thyme
sea salt & freshly ground pepper

*season the turkey the day before cooking for best results*
- place all turkey pieces on cutting board and season well on all sides with sea salt &
  freshly ground pepper.  
- mix the softened butter with a bit of chopped fresh thyme leaves.  carefully lift the skin
  from the breast lobes on one side.  using you fingers, smear the butter under the skin in
  an even layer. wrap the breast lobes together in plastic.  place all the remaining pieces in
  a covered container.  refrigerate, overnight is best.

STOCK   *may be made 1-3 days ahead of time*

turkey carcass, including neck, chopped in pieces if desired
1 large yellow onion, quartered
1 large carrot, chopped
1 large rib celery, chopped
2 whole cloves
1 large clove garlic, smashed
a few teaspoons of oil
a few parsley sprigs
a few thyme sprigs
2 bay leaves
about 1 gal water

- place the bones and vegetables on tray or roasting pan, toss with oil, and roast at 400
  degrees until nicely browned, about 30 minutes, stirring once or twice.
- scrape the bones and veg into a stock pot.  pour a little water into the pan and scrape up
  the browned bits, add to pot.  add the neck, herbs & water.  bring to a boil, skim, turn down to
  a low simmer, and cook for about 2 hours.
- strain stock.  cool at room temp for about an hour, then refrigerate.  skim fat when cold.

BRAISED PARTS       preheat oven to 400 degrees

- place thighs, legs and wings in roasting pan (do not crowd).  place in oven and roast while
  you prepare the braising liquid.  check occasionally to be sure they aren't browning too


2 large yellow onions, chopped
2-4 cloves garlic, sliced (omit or increase/decrease to your taste)
1 cup dry white wine
thyme sprigs
parsley sprigs
sage sprigs
small pinch of fennel seeds
4-6 cups turkey broth
olive oil & butter for browning
(optional: 2 slices bacon or pancetta, cut into small pieces)

- in a large skillet over medium high heat, warm a few tablespoons of olive oil & butter.  add  
  onions, season with salt a& pepper.  cook & stir until softened and browned. add garlic (if
  using) and cook til softened.
(*optional:  first render the bacon or pancetta in skillet til starting to brown, remove with
  slotted spoon and enjoy this snack as your reward!  add a bit more oil to pan, and proceed  
  with cooking onions)
- pour in wine, scrape up all the browned bits.  add stock, herb sprigs & fennel seed, stir
  and cook til simmering.

- remove turkey parts from oven. they should be light golden brown.  drain off fat into a bowl for the gravy.  deglaze pan with some water or stock, pour braising liquid over parts and cover tightly with foil or lid.  reduce oven to 350.  return  pan to oven and cook for about 1 1/2 hrs, or until legs are tender when tested with a fork.  remove from oven and let cool about an hour.  remove parts from liquid.  strain the braising liquid and
  set aside.  skim fat as it cools.

*if not proceeding directly to dinner, cover and refrigerate the turkey parts.  cover and
  refrigerate the braising liquid.  bring turkey to room temp before re-heating.

3-4 T. butter or bacon/pancetta fat (or the turkey fat from roasting the parts)
3-4 T. flour
braising liquid
chopped thyme, parsley, sage, etc.
(optional:  finely minced cooked giblets)

- in a sauce pan over med heat, melt the butter/fat.  gradually whisk in the flour til a
  smooth paste forms.  cook and whisk for about 3 minutes til golden and fragrant. 
- slowly whisk in braising liquid.  continue to whisk and cook til thickened.  add chopped
  herbs and giblets if using.  taste for seasoning, adjust.

* if gravy is too thick, add more turkey or chicken stock.  if it seems too thin, shake
  a couple tablespoons of flour with water, and whisk this slurry into gravy.  continue to
  cook for several minutes to eliminate any raw flour taste.
* to cook giblets:  place gizzard & heart in small pot, cover with water or stock and simmer
  until very tender.  let cool, trim off any membranes, and mince. (I don't use the liver in
  the gravy, but my cats love them! dogs, too!)

ROASTING THE BREASTS   preheat oven to 375-400 degrees

* roast the breasts as you reheat other dishes just before dinner, up to an hour before*

- bring breasts to room temperature.  place them in a shallow roasting pan, skin side up,
  and roast for about a half hour, until the temp is 140 (the temp will continue to rise as
  they rest).  remove from oven and cover loosely, let rest for 15-30 minutes.


- tear or cut into pieces the meat from the legs, thighs & wings, heat in the oven til heated 
  through, 15-20 minutes. 
- reheat the gravy
- slice the breasts crosswise

Kicking Pumpkin Pie Up a Notch

This year, we're looking for recipes that give a bit of a twist to the old standards. We made this yesterday -- it's scrumptious!

Chocolate Pumpkin Pie – adapted from The Chew
one pie crust (refrigerated)
6 oz Semisweet Chocolate chips
4 tablespoons Unsalted Butter (cut into small pieces)
1 14 oz Can Pumpkin
1 12 oz Can Evaporated Milk
3/4 cup Packed Light-Brown Sugar
3 Large Eggs
1 tablespoon Cornstarch
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1 1/2 teaspoons Salt
3/4 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon Ground Ginger
dash Ground Nutmeg
Pinch of Ground Cloves

Roll out dough and press into pie plate, finish edge. Cover crust with foil and use pie weights (I used dried beans) and bake until golden, about 15 minutes.
Reduce heat to 325F.
In a double boiler, melt chocolate and butter, stirring frequently until smooth, and remove from heat.
In a large bowl, mix together the pumpkin, evaporated milk, light brown sugar, eggs, cornstarch, vanilla, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves. Fold in the chocolate mixture, and pour into pie crust. Place pie pan on a baking sheet.  Bake at 325F until center of pie has set, about an hour. Refrigerate until cooled completely to serve. 

Note: if you double this recipe, you may have enough for three regular sized pies.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Menu Ideas for Thanksgiving: Sausage, Chestnut and Mushroom Dressing

For the past several years, I’ve switched from the stuffing recipe I grew up with to this one from William & Sonoma.  Now that I’m gluten-free, I no longer imbibe on it (I really need to work on a gluten-free version), but still prepare it for my family’s enjoyment.  The chestnuts add a really wonderful dimension to it.

Sausage, Chestnut and Mushroom Dressing

4 Tbspns (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1 1/2 lb. mild Italian sausage, casings removed
2 yellow onions, diced
1 fennel bulb, trimmed and diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
7 oz. cremini mushrooms, quartered
1 1/2 tsp. minced fresh sage
2 tsp. kosher salt
freshly ground pepper, to taste
1/4 cup dry sherry
1 cup roasted and peeled chestnuts, halved (I purchase them from William & Sonoma in a jar)
1 package (1 lb) stuffing – I use the La Brea Bakery focaccia stuffing (also found at William & Sonoma)
2 Tbspns minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
3 to 4 cups chicken stock, warmed

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Grease a 3-quart baking dish with 1 Tbs. of the butter.
In a large frying pan over medium-high heat, cook and crumble the sausage until lightly browned and cooked through, about 7 minutes.  Transfer to a plate.

In the same pan, over medium heat, melt the remaining 3 Tbs. butter.  Add the onions and fennel and sauté until soft, about 10 to 12 minutes.  Add the garlic, mushrooms, thyme, sage, salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender and beginning to brown, about 12 minutes.  Stir in the sherry.  Let cool to room temperature.

In a very large bowl, combine the sausage, vegetable mixture, chestnuts, stuffing an parsley.  Stir in the warmed stock 1/2 cup at a time, making sure it is completely absorbed into the crouton stuffing.  Taste a crouton, it should be moist throughout but not crunchy or mushy.  You may not need all of the stock.  Transfer the stuffing to the prepared baking dish, cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes. 
Remove the foil and continue baking until the top is golden brown and crisp, 25 to 35 minutes more. 
Let rest for 10 minutes before serving.  Serves 10 to 12. 
Friday, November 18, 2011

Menu Ideas for Thanksgiving: Whipped Cream Mashed Potatoes

Okay—I’m going to let you in on a secret.  It’s delicious.  It’s decadent.  I have no idea where the original recipe came from, but it has become an absolute Thanksgiving “must” in our family.  It is Whipped Cream Mashed Potatoes.  One year, we switched gears and tried a different potato recipe, and there was an absolute revolt within the family! 

In addition to being yummy, this dish also has the benefit of being able to be prepped ahead and then popped in the oven at the proper time – a definite plus when you’re pulling together a menu for lots of folks.   

So, here it is – try it at your own risk.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you that it can be highly addictive!  

8-10 medium russet potatoes
2 tspns salt or less
1 egg
4 Tbspns butter
3/4 cup Pet milk
3/4 cup grated cheddar
1 cup whipping cream
1/2 tspn salt 

Boil peeled potatoes and mash.  Add salt, egg, butter & milk (last). Beat.  Butter 2 quart casserole and add potatoes.  Top potatoes with cheddar cheese.  Whip the cream and add on top.  Cook in the oven at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. 
As noted above, I’ve made this ahead of time and stored in the fridge.  Allow more cooking time.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Thirsty Thursday: Wonderful Beaujolais -- Perfect with Turkey

At the strike of midnight on the third Thursday of each November (which happens to be TODAY), France celebrates the debut of the Beaujolais Nouveau wine.  Meaning young wine (just 6 weeks old), Beaujolais Nouveau comes from a region of France south imageof Burgundy.  For more scoop on these French festivities, you can visit http://joobili.com/beaujolais_nouveau_festival_beaujeu_10421/

At Sharon’s house, some form of Beaujolais is our customary pairing with Thanksgiving turkey – usually a Beaujolais-Village. 
Beaujolais is made only from the Gamay grape (some California wines call their version Gamay Beaujolais, but they don’t use the same grape variety as what’s grown in France and it tastes quite different) and is required to be harvested by hand.  

Beaujolais Nouveau has a fresh, fruity quality and is meant to be drunk young – for average vintages, it should be consumed by the following May after its release. 
Regular or standard Beaujolais is made from grapes that are grown on the plains of the region.  It’s difficult to ensure quality in this variety of Beaujolais. When buying standard Beaujolais, consider the vintage. Buy only one to two year old Beaujolais and consume within a few months.

Beaujolais-imageVillage comes from the fruit harvested from one of 35 designated villages.  These are generally well-made and can age a bit if it was a particularly good vintage – about 2-3 years.   Reliable and affordable producers include DuBoeuf and Louis Jadot
The last and best category is Cru Beaujolais.  There are 10 in this category.  It will cost you more, but some of these are absolutely amazing and, in some cases, will remind you of a red Burgundy.  

Beaujolais should be served slightly cool – about 55 degrees. 
Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Mid-Week Meal -- Shawarma with Couscous

We love Sunset magazine www.sunset.com as each issue always is full of great tips on cooking, decorating and traveling in the West.  This month, I tried their Shawarma Lamb with Couscous Salad recipe -- it was easy, fast and oh so tasty.  You could easily sub sirloin beef for the lamb.  I've done a few tweaks to the original recipe just because we're big fans of caramelized onions in our house.  

photo courtesy of Sunset Magazine and www.myrecipes.com
Serves 4

1 ½ c. chicken broth, divided
1 c. couscous (or one box and follow package instructions)
¼ c. olive oil, divided
Zest and juice of two lemons, divided
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1 medium carrot, shredded (with veggie peeler or grater)
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 ½ pounds lamb steak or sirloin, thinly sliced
2 t. cumin
½ t. cayenne
Salt and pepper
½ c. Greek yogurt

Cook couscous according to package instructions, using chicken broth as liquid. After it sits for five minutes, uncover, fluff with a fork, and add 2 T. oil and zest and juice of one lemon.

In a large sauté pan, heat the other 2 T. oil over medium heat, and sauté the onion until they begin to caramelize, about 7 minutes.  Add in the carrot and continue to sauté until all are browned – about 5 minutes more.  Add in the garlic, meat, cumin, cayenne and salt and pepper (about 1 t. each).  Stir and cook until meat is cooked and browned, about 5 minutes.  Add in the ½ c. chicken stock and bring to boil.  Reduce liquid, about 2 minutes. Stir in couscous.  Top with parsley if you wish.  Serve with Greek yogurt mixed with the remaining zest and lemon juice.
Monday, November 7, 2011

Menu Ideas for Thanksgiving: Sweet Potato Puffs

November is here and it’s time to start thinking about the Thanksgiving menu.  Our family, like most, has their favorite dishes.  But, we usually try to add something new to the mix each year.  If you want to do the same, check in with us over the next  couple of weeks as we present a series of menu ideas for Thanksgiving.  

First up – a recipe from my friend Sylvia’s mom, Susan, who served this dish during her recent visit to St. Louis.  It’s called Sweet Potato Puffs.  One of the things that makes it interesting – and tasty – is the use of peaches in it.  

Sweet Potato Puffs
2 cups mashed sweet fresh sweet potatoes
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
1/3 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
Dash ground ginger
2 Tablespoons margarine or butter
6 canned peach halves
Combine all but the peaches and whip until fluffy. Arrange peaches face up in a greased baking dish; pile each with potato mixture. Dot with additional margarine if desired; and bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. Makes 6 servings. 
When Susan made this, she just placed peaches face down on the bottom of the dish and covered all of them with the potatoes rather than trying for individual servings. 
Thursday, November 3, 2011

Thirsty Thursday -- Travis Nass of Rancho Pinot Talks Fall Flavors

Inasmuch as we love coming up with fun drink ideas for Thirsty Thursday each week, we realized that we weren't experts in this field and we knew plenty of folks who were.  So, we turned to ace bartender Travis Nass of Rancho Pinot restaurant in Scottsdale, Ariz. www.ranchopinot.com to give us his forecast of what spirits he'll be working with this fall.

Travis hinted at some autumnal libations that will include his new faves -- walnut liqueur and allspice liqueur.  We can only imagine that starting off a fine meal.

A spirit we don't talk about much here on FeedingFrenzy is gin....simply because Barb has always thought that it reminded her of sucking on a pine tree. However, her hubby is a huge gin fan and has a bottle of Bombay Sapphire in the freezer at all times. According to Travis, there is a whole new line of gins out that may just change the minds of anti-gin drinkers like me. Nolet's Finest Gin (http://www.noletsgin.com/) now produces Nolet's Silver.  Their website calls it a "floral and fruit-forward gin and expresses the essence of three coveted ingredients: Turkish Rose, white peach and raspberry." The site goes on to state that the newest generation of the family business wanted to create a "modern twist" on a classic.  I'm bold enough to state that I bet Travis will come up with something intriguing enough that even this gin-shy drinker will try.

So, what's your go-to gin drink?
Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Warm Soup for a Cold Winter's Day

Okay, so it was 91 degrees in Phoenix yesterday when I made this hearty soup, but I wanted to pretend it was fall. For those of you who received freak snowstorms this week, or who are expecting chilling temps this weekend (our high Sunda will be 65 --brrr!), this awesome soup from our friends at Relish Magazine will warm you right up.


We tweaked the recipe a bit, by adding three sliced garlic cloves, and a bit of dried rosemary. We also didn't have a ham hock in the freezer (really, we typically do!) so we used a bit of pork belly we let "melt" in the slow cooker before adding in the rest of the ingredients. We also added some salt since we didn't have the ham hock to deliver that taste.

When serving, we added a drizzle of olive oil on top.  Can't wait for the leftovers for lunch today! A big thanks to Relish for always providing such stellar recipes and meal ideas!