Semi-Boneless Grilled Leg Quarters with Lime Dressing

August 2, 2015

About a month ago I made these 5-star Grilled Leg Quarters with Lime Dressing. They were easy to make and had amazing flavor. The only drawback was that the bone-in chicken was a little difficult to eat. Then I remembered back to last Thanksgiving’s deconstructed turkey thighs about how deliciously easy a semi-boneless leg quarter was to eat. Today I applied that same technique to chicken leg quarters. The technique opens up a slit on the inside of the thigh, leaving the skin in tact. Use a boning knife to carefully shave the meat away from the thigh bone; once exposed, cut through the leg/thigh joint to remove the thigh bone. Leave the drumstick bone-in. Finally, stuff the thigh and truss it together again using bamboo skewer and kitchen twine.

Best dollar I ever spent

Best $1.15 I ever spent

The results were spectacular, and the deboning/stuffing technique really elevated the presentation of the chicken. Stuffing the thigh made the flavor much more intense. While I gave it 5-stars as a bone-in, the recipe as I cooked it today was an out-of-the-park home run.

Comments:

  1. I adjusted the recipe below so that I would have more paste to marinade the chicken. The original recipe called for just a few teaspoons of spices; without any lime or cilantro.
  2. I would suggest trying the deboning/stuffing technique at least once. It adds about 20 minutes to the preparation time, but really transforms the meal into something very special.

Rating: 5 stars.
Cost: $4.50.
How much work? Medium.
How big of a mess?  Low/Medium.
Start time 5:00 PM. Ready at 6:15 PM.

Chris Kimball’s original recipe is here. My descriptions of how I prepare it are given below:

4 chicken leg quarters (about 3-pounds)
8 garlic cloves, minced
1-1/2 tablespoon kosher salt
1-1/2 tablespoon sugar
1 Tablespoon grated lime zest plus 3 tablespoons juice
1 Tablespoon plus 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
4 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano (2 teaspoon of dried oregano)

  1. Peel garlic cloves. Mince garlic or press into a small bowl. Add kosher salt, sugar, lime zest, 1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, cumin, black pepper, and cayenne; mix to form a paste. Set aside 2 Tablespoons of garlic paste in a small bowl (I re-used the same small bowl), whisking together 1/4 cup of olive cup oil, lime juice, which you will use in Step 8 to make the dressing.
  2. Leaving drumsticks attached to thighs. Remove any remnants of the backbone exposing the top of the thigh bone (probably need a chef’s knife for that). Using a boning knife follow the line of fat that follows the thigh bone, cutting into the thigh along the entire length of the thigh bone. Use the boning knife to shave down along the thigh bone until you reach the thigh/leg joint. Cut through the joint and discard the thigh bone.
  3. Trim away and extra skin and fat, pat dry using paper towels. Arrange on a cutting board with the skin-side up. Make 2 deep, parallel, diagonal cuts into each leg quarter: 1 across drumstick, 1 across joint. Each cut should reach the bone. Flip the chicken over and make 1 diagonal slash across the back of the drumstick.
  4. Rub paste from Step 1 into chicken, and allow to marinade in the refrigerator for between 1 and 24 hours.
  5. Completely open up the top and bottom vents of your charcoal grill, and ignite a chimney start willed with 6 quarts of charcoal. Allow to ignite for 20-to-25 minutes until the top-most coals are partially covered with fine gray ash. Create a 2-level fire, by emptying two-thirds of coals over one half of the grill, and the remaining one-third of coal on the other half.
  6. Put the cooking grate in place, cover and pre-heat for 5 minutes. Clean the grill, and dip paper towels in vegetable oil and wipe.
  7. Arrange chicken with the skin-side upward on the cooler side of the grill. Cover and allow to brown for 11 to 12 minutes. Flip the chicken, cover, and continue to cook for 8 to 10 minutes until the internal temperature reaches 165-degrees.
  8. Without flipping (skin-side still down) slide the chicken to the hotter side of the grill and cook for 3 to 5 minutes until the skin becomes nicely brown. Flip chicken and cook for about 3 more minutes; until the chicken, measured at the leg joint, becomes 175-degrees. As the pieces come up to temperature, remove them to a serving platter and tent them with aluminum foil and allow to rest for 5 to 10 minutes.
  9. Meanwhile, finish preparing the sauce by chopping 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro and 2 teaspoons of chopped fresh oregano. Add into the bowl and mix. Pour half the dressing over the chicken and pass the remaining dressing separately.

Modern Succotash with Poblano, Bacon, and Cilantro

June 8, 2015

Of course I’ve heard of succotash, but it wasn’t until the latest issue of Cook’s Illustrated that I really knew what it was; a corn and bean side dish. While Chris Kimball published this basic recipe (using butter beans); I made a variation that included bacon, poblano and cilantro. It was very quick and easy to make; almost all the effort was in preparing the vegetables. I was surprised at how delicious this simple side dish was; both my two sons loved it. The flavors were fresh, and rest of the flavors offered great depth. 4-1/2 stars.

I never knew what succotash was; until current issue of Cook's Illustrated

I never knew what succotash was; until current issue of Cook’s Illustrated

Comments:

  1. Chris Kimball warns against using frozen or canned corn in this dish. After tasting the dish, I see how important the freshness is to the success of the recipe. While I agree, that also means that this is a very seasonal dish. I read that it is traditionally served around thanksgiving in New England; a time of year when there is no fresh corn.

Rating: 4-stars.
Cost: $5.
How much work? Low/Medium.
How big of a mess? Low/Medium.
Start: 5:30 PM. End time: 6:00 PM.

The original Cook’s Illustrated recipe is here. The recipe as I cooked it today is as follows:

15-oz can pinto beans, reserving 2 tablespoons liquid
2 teaspoons lime juice
2 slices bacon
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 small onion
1/2 poblano chile
Salt and pepper
2 garlic cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
3 cups kernels cut from 4 ears corn
2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro

  1. In a small bowl, mix together 2 tablespoons of liquid from beans with the 2 teaspoons lime juice. Set aside. Rinse the rinse beans and drain in a colander. Cut off kernels from ears of corn, and set aside with rinsed beans. Finely chop your onion, and cut your 1/2 poblano into 1/4″ pieces. Peel and mince your two garlic cloves.
  2. Chop bacon and cook in a 12″ non-stick skillet over medium-high burner for 5 to 7 minutes. Once crispy, use a slotted spoon to remove bacon to a paper-towel lines plate and set aside.
  3. Add 2 tablespoons butter to skillet with the bacon fat, add chopped onion, diced poblano, and 1/2 teaspoon salt to skillet. Saute vegetables for 4 to 5 minutes under they begin to brown. Add minced garlic and 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander; cook for 30 seconds.
  4. Turn down burner to medium; add corn kernels and rinsed beans. Cook for 4 minutes; until corn and beans have cooked. Add bean liquid/lime mixture and cook for 1 minute.
  5. Remove skillet from burner; mix in minced cilantro and adjust salt and pepper according to your taste. Sprinkle with crispy bacon and serve.

DSC_0002-002


Christmas Menu

December 25, 2014

Growing the main course of my Christmas dinners was always turkey, but later in life I felt that its was a repetitive waste; given Thanksgiving was less than a month ago. Since becoming a father I have tried to give my kids much richer culinary traditions. I hope whatever traditions you have in your home, that everyone has a very Merry Christmas, surrounded by people they love. The food is, after all, just icing on the cake.

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas

This year the Christmas menu has a bit of a French flair. As I publish the results in the upcoming week, I will update these links from Chris Kimball’s original recipes to point to my results.

Baguette. This simple requires a few things that I don’t have, like a special canvas, lame as diastatic malt powder. I will make do without.
Onion Soup. 5 hours in the making, but delicious and I was able to make it two days ago.
Blanched Green Beans with Rosemary-Thyme Aioli.
Pommes Anna. Beautifully decorative potato cake.
Boeuf à la mode. A French beef roast
Apple Tart. A beautiful rendition on an American Pie. A work of art.

 


No-Knead Artisan Dinner Rolls

December 4, 2014

I wanted to make delicious dinner rolls for Thanksgiving, but wanted a recipe that would work within the tight oven schedule of Thanksgiving day. So for this special dinner I combined recipes and techniques from a few different breads that I have made in the past (see here, here and here). I included a biga for great depth of flavor; which I started on Monday night. On Tuesday night, I made a wet dough so that I wouldn’t have to knead it by hand, since my KitchenAid mixer broke a few years ago (see “Autolyse”). After a few hours rising, I refrigerated the dough to stop the yeast from rising. When dealing with a wet doughs they are much easier to handle when chilled. Because dinner rolls take a bit of handling, the 36-hours in the refrigerator made the shaping process easy. Overall, the rolls were delicious. However, the subtitles added by the biga are largely overpowered by the small amount of rye and wheat flour. 4-stars.

Delicious dinner rolls without kneading

Delicious dinner rolls without kneading

Because I was pulling this recipe from a lot of different places, I tested out the recipe a week prior to Thanksgiving. But the rolls were too small; perhaps because of beer, which I have noticed tends to retard rising. I abandon that recipe, and came up the this recipe to solve the problems that I had encountered.

Comment:

  1. Yay! I finally ordered a new KitchenAid standing mixer. It had gone on sale for $225 at Target.com. The difference between their Professional and Artisan series is the steel gears of the professional series are more durable when making a lot of dough.
  2. My test batch of dinner rolls from last week also reminded me how quickly they became hard; within just a few hours. Unless you are going to eat them right away, you must keep them wrapped in plastic.
  3. If using a separate container for rising, do not attempt to do the mixing and rising directly in the same container. It is impossible to properly mix the dough anyplace other than a regular bowl.
  4. The recipe yielded too much dough, so next time I will cut down on the recipe by about 15%.

Rating: 4-stars.
Cost: $1.25 for 16 rolls.
How much work? Low/Medium.
How big of a mess?  Low/Medium.
Started: 10:30AM pm Ready:  12:00.

The recipes from which I developed today’s bread are here, here and here. The final descriptions of how I prepared the bread are given below:

Biga Ingredients:
1 cup all-purpose flour (5 ounces)
1/4 teaspoon instant or rapid-rise yeast
1/2 cup water (4 ounces)

  1. Make the biga the night before baking the bread; combine flour, yeast, and water in medium bowl. Use a wooden spoon to stir for 1 minute until the mix appears uniform.
  2. Use plastic wrap to cover and allow to stand overnight at room temperature. If you kitchen is much below 70-degrees, then you can use a slightly warmed oven (but turned off) which will ensure there is sufficient warmth.

Dough Ingredients:
2-cups water, preferably non-chlorinated spring water.
1 tablespoon granulated yeast
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1-ounce rye flour
1-ounce whole wheat flour
3-1/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

  1. Preheat 2-cups water to 100-degrees; about 45 seconds in the microwave. Add yeast and kosher salt to warm water, allowing it to hydrate while measuring out the flours.
  2. Add biga to a large bowl. Place bowl on a kitchen scale and zero out; you want to add a total of 22-3/4 ounces of flour. Add rye and whole wheat flour. Add all-purpose for a total of 22-3/4 ounces. Mix until combined, but without kneading. Empty the dough into a 4-quart container and let sit at room temperature until it has almost doubled in size; between 2 to 4 hours. Put container in refrigerator until ready to use. The dough is very wet, so allowing it to cool completely will make it easier to work with.
  3. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and sprinkle evenly with a very thin coat of flour.
  4. Carefully remove dough from bowl onto a lightly floured surface. Cut the dough in half with a bench scrape or chef’s knife and carefully stretch each piece into a 24”-long cylinder. Cut each cylinder into quarters; then cut each piece into two (yielding a total of 16 evenly-sized pieces).
  5. If you slightly squished the cylinder as you made each cut, restore its roundness. Put 8 pieces of dough in each cake pan with the cut-side up; placing one piece of dough in the center and the other seven pieces like the spokes of a wheel.
  6. Set an oven rack to the middle of your oven and pre-heat to 500-degrees. Cover pans with plastic wrap and allow the rolls to rise for about 30 minutes until they have double in size. You can also test it because the dough will spring back if you gently press with your finger.
  7. Discard plastic wrap and lightly spray the rolls with water. Bake for 10 minutes until the rolls are brown. Turn the oven down to 400-degrees. Remove rolls and turn them out onto a rimmed baking sheet. After 5 or 10 minutes the rolls will have cool enough to handle, pull them apart and place on baking sheet. Bake at 400-degrees for 10 to 15 minutes; rotating the pan half-way through baking. They should have a deeply golden crust, and sound hollow if you tap their bottoms.
  8. Allow to cook on a wire rack for 30 minutes to an hour before serving.

Julia Child’s Deconstructed Turkey

November 29, 2014

When cooking chicken lately, I have been cooking and enjoying dark meat for its deeper flavor and more forgiving texture. Yet, one weakness of my usual turkey recipes is getting the breast to correctly cook (to 160-degrees) without sacrificing the dark meat. I rarely time the flip correctly. So when I saw this episode on America’s Test Kitchen last month, I was amazed and happy to see how it showcased the dark meat. By separating the turkey into three major pieces, some of the most fundamental Thanksgiving issues are solved. (1) Getting the dark meat cooked properly without overcooking the white meat. (2) getting real turkey drippings into the stuffing. As a bonus, this method cooks the turkey in about half the time, freeing up my oven to cook rolls, pies, and gravy the rest of the day. There are a few issues (discussed below), but overall this technique provides a delicious turkey. It was the best dark meat I’ve ever eaten. Chris Kimball agrees, saying “this is now my new, absolute favorite.” 4-1/2 stars. I hope you all had a delicious Thanksgiving.

Most beautiful dark meat ever

Most beautiful dark meat ever

Start the day/evening before, taking care of most of the prep work. Cut the turkey into three major parts, (1) breast/wings, then (2) cut off each leg/thigh quarter. I misread the instructions and started to cut off just the leg; not the entire leg quarter (i.e. including the thigh), but realized my mistake before I did any damage beyond the skin. The recipe only brines the breast/wings. It salts/seasons the leg quarters separately.

What makes this recipe truly unique is removing the thighbones, then trussing the thighs up using skewers and string. This step makes the dark meat the absolute best part of the entire evening. I was hesitant to break the tradition of roasting a whole turkey, but with my guests arriving just before dinner this year, it was a great opportunity to give this recipe a try. Mostly because Chris Kimball says it is based upon Julia Child’s recipe.

Issues / Comments:

  1. Cutting off leg quarters, not just legs. As I mentioned above, I almost cut off just the legs in step 2. The recipe calls for me to remove the “leg quarter”.
  2. Because the wings overhanged my 12″ skillet, the juices dripped down to the oven floor and filled the house with smoke. My solution is that I recommend putting a foil-lined baking sheet below the skillet to catch the juices. If it starts to smoke you can just swap it out for new foil. Fortunately, my guests had not yet arrived.
  3. I was surprised that it took me a full hour to deconstruct and prepare the turkey, most of the time was separating the leg quarters. The back was pretty easy to remove using kitchen shears.
  4. The recipe calls for a 12-to-15-pound turkey. I bought a 19-pounder because of the number of guests, but my turkey took double the time to cook than stated in the recipe. In the end, we ate an hour late, but only because I cut the resting time down (more than I should have).
  5. While Chris Kimball tries to have the white and dark meat ready at the same time, it was not the case. The dark meat took longer, but that gave the breast an extra 10-to-15 minutes to rest. The beautiful thing about this recipe is that I was able to remove the white meat while the dark meat came up to temperature.

Rating: 4-1/2 star.
Cost: $19.  ($10 of which was by 19-lb turkey)
How much work? Medium/High.
How big of a mess?  Low.
Start time 1 PM. Dinner time 6 PM.

The original Cook’s Illustrated recipe is here.  The recipe as I cooked it for this Thanksgiving is as follows:

The Eventing Before Thanksgiving:
12-to-15-pound turkey
1 teaspoon plus 2 tablespoons minced fresh sage
Salt and pepper
Wooden skewers
1-1/2 pounds hearty white sandwich bread (e.g. Arnold’s or Pepperidge Farms)

  1. Remove the neck and giblets and set aside in a large Dutch oven, which will be used along with back and thigh bones to make the gravy.
  2. Put turkey breast-side-up on a cutting board. Tuck the wing back just to get it out-of-the-way. Remove the thighs/legs by cutting through the skin around the quarters where it attaches to breast. Cut away the top of the meat until your knife reaches the hip bone. Bend the entire leg quarter back so that the bone pops out of the hip socket, then you can continue to cut the meat away and remove entire quarter.
  3. To take out the thigh bone, use the tip of your knife to cut along the length of the thigh. Cut around the tip of the bone and work your knife underneath the bone to expose the joint between thigh and leg. Cut through the cartilage and remove thighbone; adding bones to your pot for the gravy. Repeat to remove the second leg quarter.
  4. Rub interior of each thigh with ½ teaspoon sage, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper.
  5. Poke 2 or 3 skewers through skin/meat to close up the thigh where your removed the thigh bone. Wrap some kitchen twine around the wooden skewers to tightly close the thigh into a nice, round piece of boneless meat. Set on a large plate, cover, and refrigerate for 6 to 12 hours until ready to cook.
  6. Trim away and discard any excess skin from around the neck.
  7. To remove the back bone from the breast, flip the turkey over breast-side-down. Use kitchen shears to cut through ribs (following vertical line of fat where breast meets back) until you can’t cut anymore. You’ve reach the bone near the wing joint. Repeat on other side of backbone.
  8. Use a little force to bend the back-section away from the breast, and the shoulder joint should pop out of the socket. Cut between the bonds to separate the back from the breast, and add the back to the pot for making gravy.
  9. Dissolve 3/4-cup salt into 6 quarts of cold water in a large container (I used a large stock pot). Submerge in brine, cover and refrigerate for 6 to 12 hours until ready to cook.
  10. Cut bread into 1/2-inch cubes (including the crust). Spread on-top 2 rimmed baking sheets and bake at 300-degrees from 25 to 30 minutes until it becomes dry and lightly browned. Stir a few times during baking and empty into the largest bowl you own.

Thanksgiving Day:
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons minced fresh sage
3 onions, chopped fine
6 celery ribs, minced
1 cup dried cranberries
4 large eggs, beaten

  1. An hour before you are ready to start cooking turkey, begin baking the bones reserved gravy.
  2. Pre-heat oven temperature to 425-degrees, and set two over racks to the lowest and second lowest positions.
  3. Remove the breast from brine and pat dry using paper towels (leaving the leg quarters in refrigerator for now). Tuck the wings behind back.
  4. Finely chop 3 onions.
  5. Melt down butter in 12″ non-stick oven-safe skillet over medium heat. Add onions and cook for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they have softened and are just beginning to brown. Meanwhile, mince 2 tablespoons of fresh sage and 6 celery ribs.
  6. Add minced celery and sage to skillet, plus 1-1/2 teaspoons pepper. Continue to cook for 3 to 5 minutes until celery is slightly softened. Empty vegetables into your large bowl with the bread cubes.
  7. Use paper towels to wipe out skillet. Brush surface of breast with 2 teaspoons vegetable oil and set turkey breast with the skin-side-down into skillet. Roast at 425-degrees for 30 minutes. Place a foil-lined baking sheet on the rack below turkey to catch any drippings.
  8. Meanwhile, add cranberries and beaten eggs to bread mixture and toss to combine (mixture will be dry). Empty stuffing to 16″x13″ roasting pan, then use a rubber spatula to form an even 12″x10″ rectangle. The turkey will be set on-top of stuffing to protect it and prevent it from burning.
  9. Remove the breast from the oven and use paper towels to pat up the hot juices from the top of the breast. Use wads to paper towels to flip over and set over two-thirds of stuffing.
  10. Brush leg quarters with 1 teaspoon vegetable oil and arrange over the remaining stuffing. Lightly season lets and breasts with salt.
  11. Use your rubber spatula to tuck and exposed stuffing under the turkey, so that it is almost entire covered.
  12. Bake for 30 minutes at 425-degrees.
  13. Reduce oven to 350-degrees and continue cooking for between 40 minutes and 2 hours; until breast registers 160 to 165 degrees and  thighs registers 175 to 180 degrees.
  14. Empty onto a cutting board as each individual piece attains the proper temperature. Allow to rest for 30 minutes before carving. While turkey rests, use a spatula to stir stuffing and scrape up any browned bits. Evenly rearrange stuffing over the entire roasting pan and keep warm in the tured-off-oven.
  15. Before serving, adjust seasoning of the stuffing with salt and pepper to taste. Arrange the stuffing in center of large serving platter.
  16. Remove skewers and twine from leg quarters. Carve and serve.
The breast also roasted up wonderfully moist.

The breast also roasted up wonderfully moist.


Homemade Chocolate Syrup

November 21, 2014

I’m in the middle of my Thanksgiving preparations and don’t really have time to figure out how to make homemade chocolate syrup. But I have a few good reasons why I made time. First, my squeeze bottle of Hershey’s “Genuine Chocolate Flavored” syrup has been empty for a couple of weeks, and I feel bad because my son has been eating ice cream that clearly needed chocolate syrup. Second and more important, I had examined the ingredient list (in an effort to answer the question: what does “Genuine Chocolate Flavor” really mean?), and was very disappointed with Hershey’s choice of ingredients. It’s as if they had purposefully tried to use the worst possible ingredients. The first two ingredients are: (1) high fructose corn syrup, and (2) corn syrup. Really, using just regular corn syrup was too difficult. This homemade recipe uses regular sugar, and I omitted the other chemicals and artificial flavors. Finally, instead of using real vanilla Hersey’s uses “Vanillin”, so they are obviously using imitation vanilla made from a wood pulp waste product.

Delicious Ice Cream definitely needs chocolate syrup

Delicious Ice Cream definitely needs chocolate syrup

Comments:

  1. Hershey’s isn’t tricking us by calling it “Genuine Chocolate Flavor”, as I had assumed. Chocolate includes both Cocoa powder and Cocoa butter, whereas chocolate syrup includes only cocoa powder. It is a non-fat product (a good thing) and thus by excluding the Cocoa butter, Hershey’s cannot call it Chocolate. Hence the phrase “Genuine Chocolate Flavor”.
  2. Many people suggest using Dutch-processed cocoa, but I just used whatever I had in my kitchen, which was Hersey’s. Hershey’s is natural cocoa powder; not Dutch processed.
  3. This recipe yields 18-ounces of chocolate syrup. I re-used the same Hershey’s syrup squeeze bottle, but eventually I imagine that I will just use a regular squeeze bottle. Also you can use regular mason jars.
  4. The recipe continues to be non-fat, which means that there is no cocoa butter in any of the ingredients. That could change depending up what type of cocoa powder you use.

Rating: 4-star.
Cost: $1.15 for 18-ounces of syrup.
How much work? Low.
How big of a mess?  Low.
Start time 5 PM. Dinner time 5:10 PM.

While Chris Kimball does have a recipe to make chocolate syrup, I wanted a replacement for Hershey’s that has a stable shelf life. Chris Kimball uses dairy (heavy cream and butter) which means that it must be used within a short period of time. Today’s recipe is based upon Alton Brown’s cocoa syrup recipe.

1 cups water
1-1/3 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 cups cocoa powder (2-5/8 ounces)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  1. Mix sugar, water, corn syrup, and kosher salt in medium-sized pot and bring up to a boil. Whisk in cocoa powder and continue mixing until it is dissolved. Boil for 1 minute, and remove from burner.
  2. Stir in vanilla extract. Allow to cool to room temperature. You can either strain into squeeze bottles: in case you have a lot of solids that could plug up your bottle.
  3. Store in refrigerator. While the recipe will appear to be too runny, it will thicken when it cools to refrigerator temperature.

Turkey Caesar Salad Wraps

December 2, 2012

I have a problem every year in the days following Thanksgiving. I have tons of leftovers, but my residual full-ness from the Thanksgiving feast lasts longer that I feel comfortable keeping the leftovers in my refrigerator (Experts say to keep leftover turkey for 2 days). So I made a Caesar Salad Wrap and added some diced turkey to use up the last of the leftovers. The combination was perfect and gave a little variety to the turkey filled Thanksgiving weekend.  I know this post is 1 week too late for this year (but I’m a little bit behind with posting my recipes, so maybe keep this in mind for next year).

Light dinner on a full stomach

Light dinner on a full stomach

Comments:

  1. I made the full amount of Caesar salad dressing, but only made enough salad today to make 3 wraps. I used the rest of the dressing the following day to make a serve a small salad along with dinner.

Wraps:
2 ounces finely grated Parmesan cheese (about 1 cup)
2-1/2 romaine hearts
6 burrito-sized tortillas
leftover turkey

  1. Make salad dressing according to the recipe below.
  2. Rip the romaine into 3/4″ pieces; then rinse and dry in a salad spinner. Grate up to 1 cup of Parmesan cheese (I grated 1/2-cup because only ate half the dressing today).
  3. Dice leftover turkey into 1/2″-cubes.
  4. Add romaine lettuce to a large bowl and add the desired amount of dressing. Toss until the lettuce is evenly coating. Add croutons, grated cheese and diced turkey, then mix gently.
  5. Add salad and evenly distribute croutons and turkey filling and wrap tightly.

Caesar Salad Dressing:
1 large clove garlic
3 tablespoons Lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
6 anchovy fillets
2 large egg yolks
5 tablespoons canola oil
5 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon pepper

  1. Peel garlic cloves. Press directly into a small bowl, and add lemon juice and allow to stand for 10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, minced the anchovies and use a fork to mash to form a paste.
  3. Add Worcestershire sauce, minced anchovies, and 2 egg yolks into garlic/lemon juice mixture. Whisk until it is combined.
  4. While whisking constantly, slowly pour the canola oil and olive oil into the bowl. Whisk until the dressing has become fully emulsified. Finally, whisk in 1/2 teaspoon pepper.

Matt’s First Pumpkin Pie

November 29, 2011

Nobody in the family has every loved pumpkin pie more than my oldest son, Matt. This year, at age 12, he was in charge of making the pumpkin pie for the fist time. For him it was a labor of love, and the pie turned out fantastic. We took his pie to a friends’ house for Thanksgiving dinner and it quickly disappeared, while a store-bought pie sitting nearby was barely touched. 5-stars on his first attempt.

Deservedly proud of his first pumpkin pie.

In general, Matt followed the King Arthur recipe. Because my son loves traditional pumpkin pie, I have been hesitant to made Chris Kimball’s pie, which includes 1-cup of candied yams and 1/4-cup of maple syrup. Chris Kimball does have a more traditional recipe from 1993, which is here, except that I am no longer in charge of the pumpkin pie.

Rating: 5-stars.
Cost: $3.50.
How much work? Low.
How big of a mess?  Low.
Start time 11:00 AM. Ready at 11:10 AM.

King Arthur’s original recipe is here. The descriptions of Matt prepared his pie today are given below:

1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar (3-1/8 oz)
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
3 large eggs
15-oz can pumpkin
1-1/4 cups evaporated milk

  1. Whisk together the granulated and brown sugar, flour, salt, and spices in a large bowl.
  2. Whisk together the eggs, pumpkin, and evaporated milk together in a medium bowl.
  3. Whisk the egg mixture into the dry ingredients, and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate the mixture overnight to allow the flavors to combine. However if you want to serve the pie tonight, then waiting overnight is not absolutely required.
  4. Set an oven rack to middle position. Pre-heat to 400-degrees.
  5. When the oven reaches 400-degrees, place the pie crust on a foil-lined baking sheet, and pour filling into the unbaked pie shell.
  6. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until an instant-read thermometer inserted in center of the pie reads 175-degrees. The filling should be set about 2″ in from the edge, and the center should still be a bit shaky. The center will finish cooking from the residual heat of the pie. If you wait until the center is completely set, the proteins in the eggs will seize and the center will crack.
  7. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack for 2 to 3 hours.

Perfectly cooked with no cracks.


Cranberry-Orange Sauce

November 27, 2011

As a kid I never knew that the sweet/tart flavor of cranberry sauce would perfectly complement my lean, mild turkey. That’s because every year of my childhood there was a mysterious gelatinous red log that sat, untouched, on our Thanksgiving table. How could it indefinitely retain it’s perfect canned shape? As an adult I now understand the “how”, but will never “why” people still buy that stuff. As a child I never ate the congealed red goo growing up, so now as a parent would never pass on such an absurd “tradition” to my own children. Why would I spend 6 hours making a Turkey, and then not spend 15 or 20 minutes on fresh cranberry sauce.

No cranberry flavored Jell-O in my house.

Comments:

  1. Ocean Spray supplies 75% of the total world-wide market of cranberries, but has a 100% monopoly on the supermarket supply of cranberries in my area. The lack of competition has resulted in inferior berries. I usually have to throw away up to 1/4 of the bag, because they sell unripe berries intermixed with ripe one. The monopoly means that I have no alternative.

Rating: 4-stars.
Cost: $2.20 for 2-1/4 cups.
How much work? Low.
How big of a mess?  Low.
Start time 1:00 PM. Ready at 1:25 PM.

Chris Kimball’s original recipe is here. The descriptions of how I prepared the recipe today are given below:

1 cup sugar (7-1/2 ounces)
3/4-cup water
1 tablespoon grated orange zest, from 2 oranges.
1/4 teaspoon salt
12-oz bag cranberries.
2 tablespoons orange Triple Sec or Grand Marnier

  1. Picked through your cranberries and discard those that are not ripe. Wash in cold water.
  2. In a medium saucepan set over high heat, bring water, sugar, orange zest, and salt to boil. Stir occasionally while the sugar dissolves.
  3. Add washed cranberries to pan, return the mixture to a boil over medium burner for 5 minutes, without stirring.
  4. Reduce to medium/low heat and simmer until about two-thirds of berries have popped open and sauce thickens, about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Remove from heat and stir in the Triple Sec.
  6. Place in serving bowl and allow to cool to room temperature. You can make cranberry sauce up to 7 days ahead; but be sure to allow  to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving.

Old-Fashioned Roast Turkey

November 25, 2011

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving. While I ate dinner at a friends’ house, I still ended up cooking my 22-lb turkey. Though a little miscommunication meant that we didn’t have gravy, fortunately we did have cranberry sauce. While Chris Kimball has quite a few recipes for Roasted Turkey, they all boil down to one basic choice; to brine, or not to brine. Brining will help to ensure the chicken is moist and flavorful, but at the expense of a crispy skin. Because I wanted a beautifully roasted bird, I chose not to brine.

Roasted our 22-lb turkey at home, then brought to friends' house.

Chris Kimball’s secret to perfectly rendered skin requires two extra steps. First, loosen then skin from the breast and legs. Use your fingers to work skin free, taking extra care not to tear the skin. Using kosher salt under the skin performs the same basic function as brining, but won’t turn the skin flabby. Second, while the turkey is roasting breast side down, line the back with sliced salt pork. The salt pork will provide constant basting during the initial few hours of cooking, and provides some extra flavor. This falls under the theory that bacon makes everything better.

Final results were 4-stars. The meat was a little dry, mostly because of the logistics of finishing the turkey at 4pm, for a 6pm dinner. But it was flavorful, and the skin was perfectly crisp. However, I have noticed that the Thanksgiving crowd is generally a very forgiving bunch. The festive mood glosses over any imperfections, and by dinnertime a few glasses of wine makes everyone even happier.

Rating: 4-stars.
Cost: $1.50, because the turkey was free.
How much work? Low/Medium.
How big of a mess?  Low/Medium.
Start time 11:00 AM. Ready at 4:00 PM.

Chris Kimball’s original recipe is here. The descriptions of how I prepared the recipe today are given below:

Plenty of turkey for everyone

1 turkey (22 pounds),
3 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
12-oz salt pork

  1. One or two days before your dinner, remove the giblets and neck and set aside for making the gravy. Use your fingers to separate the skin from the turkey meat on the breast, legs, thighs, and back. Be careful not to tear the skin. Evenly rub 1 tablespoon kosher salt inside the cavity, 1-1/2 teaspoons under the skin of each breast, and 1-1/2 teaspoons under skin of each leg.
  2. Use plastic wrap to tightly cover the turkey. Place on rimmed baking sheet and put on lowest rack of refrigerator for between 24 to 48 hours.
  3. Combine 2 teaspoons kosher salt and 2 teaspoons of baking powder in a small bowl. Unwrap turkey and use paper towels to dry inside/outside of turkey.
  4. Use a metal skewer to poke the fat deposits 5 times for each breast and and each thighs; a total of 20 times.
  5. Sprinkle the entire skin with the salt/baking powder mixture and use your hands to work into skin. Fold the wings back and tuck underneath the turkey.
  6. If you are going to stuff the turkey, line the cavity with cheesecloth and put 4 to 5 cups of stuffing inside, then tie the cheesecloth closed using kitchen twine. Also, use kitchen twine to tie the legs.
  7. Remove the rind from your salt pork, rinse and cut into 1/4″-thick slices. Place the turkey breast-side-down in a V-rack, and lay the slices of salt pork over the back of entire turkey.
  8. Roast at 325-degrees for between 2 and 4 hours; depending upon the size of your turkey; until an instant-read thermometer reads 130-degrees in the thickest part of the breast.
  9. Remove from oven and increase oven to 450-degrees. Discard the spend salt pork, and pour the drippings from the roasting pan into a fat separator, which you can use for the gravy.
  10. Use clean kitchen towels or wads of paper towels to flip the turkey. Cut twine binding legs and remove stuffing bag.
  11. Return the turkey to oven and cook for between 45 minutes and 1-1/2 hours until the breast registers 160-degrees, and the thigh registers 175-degrees. Rotate the pan halfway through cooking. When the skin turns golden brown and crisp, transfer to a carving board and let rest for 30 minutes.
  12. Carve turkey and serve.

%d bloggers like this: