Note to self: the week after Easter and Passover, you can find great deals on ham, turkey and brisket!
I indulged and purchased a whole turkey at the Wedge Coop~ raised by Larry Schultz. For those of you that host Thanksgiving, you know that $1.99/lb is not the best deal for a turkey… but I’ll pay that knowing that my turkey was raised in Minnesota on a family farm, fed a balanced diet, have not been given antibiotics or hormones, and are free-range (vs caged). I think that the approach comes through in the taste and appreciation of the meal!
I am getting good at this roasting birds thing. Since the turkey was frozen, I thawed it on Monday in a lightly salted brine with lemons, garlic, bay leaves, peppercorns and sugar.
Yesterday, I made a paste of olive oil, fresh sage (minced), a bit of kosher salt and pepper, and put that under the skin of the breast as well as all over the flesh of the bird. Put some quartered onions, garlic cloves and lemon wedges in the cavity and tied the legs together. With the oven at convection roast/325 degrees, the 13# turkey was done in less than three hours and the house smelled delicious.
My rhubarb in the garden is already going crazy, so instead of serving the turkey with a cranberry something, I made a rhubarb chutney- think chai seasonings, simple syrup, fresh ginger and dried currants. A perfect accompaniment to the turkey. To pull the plate together, I roasted butternut squash and covered the whole thing with some maple pan gravy.
When reheating turkey, you don’t want it to dry out… the gravy helps. I microwave, covered to keep the moisture in. Or cover with foil and put in a 225 degree oven to rewarm, uncovering for the last couple minutes to re-crisp the skin.
Homemade Lasagna is on the menu!
So many of you make my day when I get a cute comment or text or facebook post… and it’s often miss Madonna from Bloomington. I can count on Madonna for great feedback on my meals, and have learned that she and her John are not much for spicy heat, cucumbers, kale or reheated fish fillet. Sometimes I get a surprise phone call from Madonna to tell me how much they’ve enjoyed something I made. JACKPOT!
This inexplicable riff on lasagna is one of those calls I got about a month ago. There are two layers… the green layer, which I wanted to taste fresh, spring-like, and herbacious… is edamame, ricotta, garlic chives, and some firm tofu to add protein. The red layer is a blend of fresh tomatoes (skinned and pureed) and roasted red pepper. The noodles are homemade and the cheeses are mozz & parm. I finished the sauce layers while the lasagna dried (on my window rack!) and served the finished product with homemade bread.
Veggie Rice Bean burritos with Chihuahua Quesadilla melting cheese
I adapted a Cooking Light recipe to make some burritos. Let me just admit that I am not a professional burrito roller, and heavily depended on the foil to hold the yummy grilled zucchini, rice, caramelized onions and corn, grape tomatoes and cremini mushrooms together. As a result I reheated mine in the oven so I could eat it right out of the foil. The tortilla is so yummy, made of sprouted wheat (which is nuttier in flavor, easier to digest, and whose vitamins and minerals are more easily assimilated into the body).
A note about the brisket…
I bought a small 1# beef brisket just for Neighbor Dave and me (enough for a dinner meal plus a lunch for each of us). I got a recipe from “the other Jen”- my pal who is saying goodbye to her cube view and saying hello to a yacht in the bay and culinary school! The recipe called for beer, onion soup packets, beef consomme paste, espresso powder, garlic herb seasoning, and brown sugar.
Since I only have two of the six ingredients listed (guess which ones!) I interpreted what was going on there….
- liquid for low-and-slow braise cooking.
- flavor, and lots of it… onion, espresso, garlic, herbs, beef stock (consomme paste is a reduction of a clear, gelatinous beef stock)
- Sugar for caramelization.
I decided to sear off the brisket after seasoning with salt and pepper. After both sides were nice and brown, I set the brisket aside and deglazed the dutch oven with red wine (instead of beer, because it was already open.) Then I added quartered onion, celery and carrot to the pan and put the brisket in. I coated the top of the brisket with minced garlic, brown sugar and added a bit of coffee to the liquid. Covered the pan and put in a 225 degree oven for 4 hours.
Result: the brisket was a bit dry. (??) Not sure if I let it go too long, or not long enough… but I’d want it to be juicier next time.
Oh, and roasted celery isn’t my favorite texture. Neighbor Dave’s either. It wasn’t our favorite meal, but now it’s a challenge for me to figure out! I should probably follow Johnny Slots’ advice next time and smoke it instead.