Archives for the month of: November, 2011

So here’s the deal: in part being the obsessive planner I am, with a splash of those holiday feelings of love and goodwill towards others, I decided to host 20 people at my house for a “Friendsgiving.”   For those who do not know, a “Friendsgiving” is that special time of year where everything that is done on real Thanksgiving, mainly the excessive consumption of brown/orange colored food, occurs minus the family drama and the something-always-goes-wrong traveling.  But  for what “Friendsgiving” lacks it certainly makes up for in lots, and I mean lots, of drinking.  That, and perhaps a beautiful neighbor boy scrubbing up some dishes in nothing but his skivvies…though that story is for another time.

fast-motion turkey

As the host I decided that it was my duty to make the turkey.  That’s right, a young 20-something professional with a terrible stove and pretty janky kitchen in general decided that she would join the ranks of her foremothers and fathers (yes I can be PG) and make herself a mother f-ing turkey.  The challenge is on!

This entire process was purely experimental in that I took my mother’s turkey recipe and added a few ingredients to make it my own.  As you will notice in the pictures, which were taken by my lovely friend and neighbor Ani who’s delicious brunch I wrote about back in August, I did it all.  I pulled out the gizzard, cute off the excessive skin around the turkey’s bottom, washed the cavity, slit the skin so that the seasoning can go in, and all the other carnage aspects of cooking a turkey all by my gosh darn self.

pulling out that ole gizzard

And now for the recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 1 turkey (Mine was 14.5 pounds and NOT frozen.  If you use a frozen turkey be sure to account for de-thawing time that can take up to a week).
  • One roaster pan (I used a disposable one)
  • One V-Rack.
  • Meat thermometer.
  • Turkey baster.
  • 2 chopped apples (I chose to use honey crisp)
  • 2 chopped peeled oranges
  • 2 chopped pears
  • 2 cups paprika
  • 2 cups dried minced onion
  • 2 cups minced garlic
  • 1 cup Old Bay seasoning
  • 2 chopped celery stalks
  • 2 cups fresh sage (not chopped)
  • 2 cups fresh rosemary (not chopped)
  • 2 cups fresh thyme (not chopped)
  • 2 cups fresh oregano (not chopped)
  • 1 cup fresh basil (not chopped)

fruitful bounty

Procedure – Prepping the Turkey:

  1. Turn your oven on to 450 degrees to really heat it up.
  2. Throw on a pair of clean rubber gloves that you will never use ever again.
  3. Remove the turkey from its bag in your sink.  Trust me with this, there will be a good amount of blood and/or other enjoyable liquids along side your turkey.
  4. While the turkey is in the sink, stick you hand in the hole between its legs (yes, the turkey’s anus) and pull out the gizzard.  GROW A PAIR AND DO IT!
    1. You can save the gizzard to cook other things like soups and gravy, but I threw it out.  It was just that gross.
  5. Rinse off the turkey skin (but do NOT remove it) and empty cavity with water.
  6. Cut off the excessive skin around the turkey’s neck and butt hole.
  7. Put your turkey right side up (meaning the breast is facing up, on a clean/covered surface.  I used aluminum foil on my kitchen counter.

just cut it right on off

Procedure – Seasoning the Turkey:

  1. Take a deep breath because the gross part is over.
  2. In a bowl, mix together the paprika, dried minced onion, minced garlic, and old bay.
  3. Slowly add water to the mixture so that it becomes “muddy” and easy to slather.  I had to mix in water a few times throughout the slathering process.
  4. Cut some slits between the turkey skin and the turkey meat.  I did this anroung the wings, legs, and on the breast
  5. Slather, and I really mean slather, on some of the muddy seasoning mixture under the skin.  The amount used is based of your taste and preference.  Personally, I used about half of the mixture.
  6. Take the rest of the mixture and slather it onto of the turkey’s skin.  Really get it on there.
  7. If you have any of the mixture left, slather the rest inside the turkey’s cavity.
  8. Time to stuff!  Stuff as much of the fruit, celery and fresh herbs inside the cavity of the turkey.  Make sure that you get at least some of every type of fruit and herb in there.

good and slathered

Procedure – The Tale of the Turkey and the Oven

  1. Put the rest of the fruit in the roaster pan.
  2. Place the v-rack inside the roaster pan on top of the fruit.
  3. Carefully pick up your turkey and place it upside down (breast side down) on the v rack.
  4. Put the rest of the fresh herbs around the turkey and in any nooks and crannies you can find.
  5. Put the meat thermometer deep into the thigh of the turkey facing towards the breast.  Make sure that it does not touch any bone.
  6. Cover the turkey with tin foil.
  7. Set the oven down to 350 degrees.
  8. Place the turkey in the oven and set your timer for 3 hours.
  9. After three hours, carefully lift up the cover and use the turkey baster to take the juices developing on the bottom of the roaster pan and squeeze them on top of the turkey.  Do this hourly after those first three hours.
  10. In order to cook a turkey, the temperature of the meat thermometer needs to reach 180 degrees.  Depending on your stove, size of bird, etc. this cooking can take 5 hours or, like mine, take 8 hours.  Cooking a turkey is a project so just make sure you leave enough time for the bird to cook!

this is why we throw out the rubber gloves

Overall, the “Friendsgiving” was a phenomenal success and all guests left intoxicated and with full bellies!

– Lauren

Note: I don’t use the name “brussels” sprouts. Like most non-assholes, I refer to them as “brussel” sprouts. Being a stickler for grammatical precision, however, I will refer to the sprouts using their correct name. Feel free to ignore the unnecessary and pompous “s.”

Many people aren’t down with the cabbage-y funk of brussels sprouts. Personally, I can admit that they are among the acquired tastes of the vegetable world, but my beloved sprouts are by no means the gnarliest motherfucker in the produce section (I’m looking at you, horseradish). Like most non-leafy members of the Brassica family (broccoli, cauliflower, romanesco), I most often roast my brussels sprouts in a hot oven with little more than some olive oil, kosher salt, and fresh black pepper. And that’s really a fine way to enjoy your cabbage. However, I opted for a more flavorful stove-top approach that I first enjoyed at Momofuku, one of my favorite downtown restaurants.

All that is really needed for this application, aside from brussels sprouts and seasonings, is some sort of bacon. Everyone knows that bacon just makes everything better, Jews and Muslims included. I opted for pancetta, but anything cured, fatty, and/or smoked will do nicely.

Size really doesn't matter, in this case. It's all yummy.

Halved and whole, green and fresh.

Start by trimming off the stem end from your sprouts and then halve them lengthwise (tiny sprouts can just be left whole). There will be some stray leaves that will come off, but don’t throw them away! They crisp up very nicely in the pan, so just set them aside in a pile. With that done, dice your pork into bite-sized pieces and put it into a cold pan, wide as you can get, and put it over medium heat. The trick here is to slowly render the fat out of the pork. Just keep them moving every few minutes and everything should be fine. The pieces should not really brown for a few minutes, essentially until there is a fair amount of fat in the pan. The French call this process confit. I call it fucking delicious.

It's like sex, only better. And fattier, I guess, but that depends on the sex.

Little bits may get brown and dark on the bottom of the pan, but that's where all of the flavor is.

After your bacon product has indeed become crisp and has given up all of the wonderful fat that it can, take the pan off of the heat and remove the pieces, reserving them for later. Still without any heat, put the sprouts cut-side down into the fat. Return the pan to the heat and allow to cook, still over medium, for about 5 minutes or so. Check them often for browning, as you do not want a lot of color for this initial cooking.

For further reading, please see "2 Live Crew"

How does that Ludacris lyric go? "Face down, ass up," right?

Once all of the sprouts have taken a bit of goldenness, go ahead and just toss them up in the pan, adding a bit of kosher salt and freshly-ground black pepper if you like, and keep ’em cooking. This is also the time to add any other herbs/spices that may tickle your fancy. I love it when my fancy gets tickled. However, I didn’t add anything else. The pancetta was enough this time. Once they’ve taken as much color as you want, go ahead and plate with the reserved bacon bits.

Getting so sexy right now.

Not too browned yet, but just right for flipping and tossing. Also, apologies for the blurriness.

 

Ingredients

  • 3/4 to 1 pound of brussels sprouts
  • 1/2 pound (approximately) of bacon product (anything fatty, no lean shit here!)
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly-ground black pepper
  • Olive oil (if needed)
  • Additional seasonings / finishing touches (see below)

Procedure

  1. Trim any excess root from the ends of the brussels sprouts and remove any outer leaves that are dirty or loose.
  2. Halve any sprouts that are larger than a modest bite themselves. Smaller ones can remain intact. Reserve any leaves that come apart as well
  3. Dice the bacon into bite-sized pieces. Add to a cold pan (larger is better) and put over medium heat.
  4. Render the fat from the bacon, moving the pieces around frequently to prevent premature browning. The whole process should take about 15 minutes or so.
  5. Remove bacon pieces after they are browned and fat has been rendered into pan. Reserve for later. Take the pan off of the heat.
  6. Place sprouts cut-side down into the pan (still off of  the heat), adding any spare leaves and whole small sprouts as well. Return to medium heat.
  7. Toss after sprouts have taken some color on one side, about 5 minutes. Continue cooking until they are tender and have browned to your preference. Note: sprouts can take the heat. The darker they get, the deeper (and admittedly, funkier) their flavor becomes.
  8. Finish with reserved bacon pieces.

    Also works well when eaten cold for breakfast. I've tried it. I recommend it.

    The richness of the pork fat and the green cabbage funk of the sprouts get alone very nicely, indeed.

This application is really quite flexible. Depending on what kind of bacon you use and what kind of flavor profile you’re looking for, you can easily go from unadorned to flavor-specific. Try it with pancetta, some crushed red pepper flakes, and a finishing splash of balsamic or sherry vinegar. Or use some extra smokey thick-cut bacon and add a bit of ground cumin or smoked paprika. It’s a good dish to get weird on. Creativity loves cured pork.

– Max.

 

This post will be a short one. My go-to pasta salad is, admittedly, not an original production. I was compelled to back-engineer it after having a similar dish during a catered lunch in 2009 that was held in honor of someone who I didn’t know who was retiring from a position at an organization that gave me an internship that I had just started. Run-on sentence? Maybe. However, the original salad was so incredibly delicious that after eating two servings, I found myself hoarding an entire plate of it in my cubicle after the party, feverishly dissecting and analyzing the ingredient list so that I could somehow possess its power.

However, after only three variations, I managed to essentially piece the original dish together. The ingredient list is deceptively small, the actual preparation is very easy, and this salad is honestly the easiest go-to recipe I have. So easy, I didn’t even take any pictures. It doesn’t really need any pictures, outside of the finished product. Just follow the directions. You won’t be disappointed, I promise.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound of orzo
  • 2 – 3 carrots, peeled
  • 1 large apple (firm and tart, granny smith never goes wrong)
  • Handful of curly parsley (DO NOT substitute with flat-leaf parsley in this case)
  • 2/3 cup (approx.) of cashews, either whole or pieces
  • 1/2 cup (approx.) of dried cranberries
  • 2 – 3 tablespoons of butter
  • 1 – 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • Kosher salt

Procedure

  1. Boil orzo in a large pot of salted water. Because the pasta is so small, it should only take about 5 minutes or so.
  2. Mix the butter and olive oil with the cooked orzo well. Allow the pasta to cool while you prepare the remaining ingredients.
  3. Grate the peeled carrots with a medium-sized grater (larger than what you would use for your parmesan, but the actual size isn’t terribly important).
  4. Dice the apple into relatively small pieces, but like the carrots, size is approximate.
  5. Finely mince the parsley, small as you can make it. Curly parsley will essentially fall apart after you mince it enough, which is important, because you want small pieces! Flat-leaf parsley just gets all sticky and gross.
  6. Toss the parsley, carrot, apple, cashews, and cranberries with the cooled orzo.

 

Interracial love begets the best offspring.

Daddy was pasta and mommy was rice. Or the other way around. Either way, orzo is so fucking multicultural.

This in, in my humble opinion, a great example of a perfect salad. Simple ingredients come together and make something so much more than the sum of themselves.

– Max.

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