11.25.2012

Turkey Gumbo - A Turkey leftover recipe!

Gumbo on a bed of brown rice. Yum!

By now many of you have already stuffed yourselves silly with turkey, pie, fruit, and stuffing, and there is still so much more laying around your house! We found this recipe from Emeril a few years ago and have been loving it ever since. My advice is do all the prep of onion's, peppers, sausage, and celery in advanced because when you add the cayenne and salt they will macerate and make the flavors richer. The roux will take from 45 min to an hour to make and you have to stand there while it is cooking.

A roux is basically equal parts flour and oil heated until it looks like a dark/milk chocolate brown. Most recipes will say it has to be dark chocolate but that is inaccurate. Rouxs are extremely easy to burn and while people like Alton Brown will say you can put them in the oven, I just stand over my stove and do the work there.

Roux Ingredients:

3/4 cup canola or vegetable oil
3/4 cup flour

Directions:
  1. Mix the flour and oil till there are a few lumps then heat on medium-low to low. Every stove is different but if your roux turns a weird grayish dark brown then you have to start over!
  2. Slowly stir the roux around the pot to keep the flour from sticking and burning. 
  3. This will take around 45-60 min to do. Look at photos below to get a better idea of when your roux is done!
Roux in the beginning
Roux a little darker


Roux almost there....
Roux Final



Veggies and roux: if vegetarian just add the turkey stock
Turkey Gumbo ingredients:

Roux recipe. See above
approx. 2 cups onions diced
approx. 1/2 cup celery sliced
1/2 cup green bell pepper (about half a pepper) chopped
1 tbls kosher salt
1 tsp cayenne
1 lb andouille or keilbasa chopped*
2 qts. turkey broth heated in pan**
3-5 cups reserved turkey meat chopped up.
1 tsp dried parsley
2-4 tsp cayenne (optional)
salt and pepper to taste

Veggies and andouille before the turkey stock
Directions:
  1. Prepare all celery, onions and peppers, place them in a bowl and add 1 tbls salt and 1 tsp cayenne. Set aside while you make the roux.
  2. Make the roux above.
  3. Once roux is finished add the celery, onions, and peppers to the roux and stir constantly on med-low heat until soft. Approx. 5 min.
  4. Add sausage and continually stir for another 5 min.
  5. Add heated turkey broth, stir and bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer, cover and let sit for 45-60 min.
  6. Stir in turkey meat, cayenne (optional), and parsley. Let simmer for another 15-20 min. Taste and add salt and pepper if necessary.
  7. Serve on a bed of rice with a nice ciabatta bread if available. 
Ready to simmer

Final product!


Cooks Notes: 
* You can avoid the sausage if that is your preference however keep in mind that you might be adding more salt to the gumbo to melt the flavors together.

** If you don't make your own turkey broth  (see link and go to cooks notes for directions) you can use canned low sodium chicken stock to substitute.

Making an awesome T-Day Turkey


Making a turkey doesn't have to be so strenuous and horrible. Honestly it is one of the simpler dishes to make at the holidays. Often people don't like turkey because the white meat is too dry and the meat is bland. If you add an herb butter rub to the meat then you will add not only flavor but keep the meat tender and moist.

I made this turkey for the last two thanksgivings and while my brother feels that I committed a crime by omitting the stuffing inside the turkey, I have never had any complaints. It is a simple recipe and makes great leftovers such as gumbo. Don't forget to keep the carcass and veggies for a turkey stock later!

Kris's butter spice rub for a approx. 18lbs turkey:

1 stick of butter softened
1 tbls approx. cumin
1 tbls approx. paprika
1 tbls approx. garlic powder
1 tbls approx. chili powder
pinch of kosher salt
fresh ground black pepper

Mix with hands until all the ingredients are combined.

For the Turkey you will need:
  1. 4 onions quartered
  2. 2 lemons quartered
  3. salt
  4. pepper
  5. Roasting pan lined with heavy duty foil (makes clean up a breeze!)

Preparation of a 16-18 lbs turkey:
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees
  2. Cut and quarter 2-3 onions and spread them in the roasting pan so that it evenly covers the bottom.
  3. Remove the neck and liver from inside the cavity and butt. Save the neck for stock if you like but discard the liver.
  4. Rinse the inside and outside of turkey with COLD running water. Then take paper towels and pat the inside and outside dry. 
  5. Salt and pepper the inside of the cavity and place on the bed of onions.
  6. Take a small paring knife and cut delicately the thin membrane between the breast and skin on each side the turkey breast bone. 
  7. Use your fingers and scoop the butter rub under the skin and spread as evenly as possible until majority of breast is covered. Don't be stingy!
  8. With the remaining butter spread it evenly over the skin, thighs and wings if possible.
  9. Stuff the cavity with one quartered onion and the lemons. place the legs back in the plastic holder.
Before entering the oven

Cooking the Turkey: 

After cooking at 450 for 15 min cover with foil.
  1. Place in the oven at 450 for 15 minutes.
  2. Take the turkey out and cover the wing tips and place a heavy duty foil cover over the breast meat only and long enough that it covers the back.
  3. Place a electric meat thermometer in a meaty part of the turkey (usually between the thigh and breast) halfway in. You will need to visualize it and try not to hit the bone.
  4. Put back in the oven and reduce the heat to 350 degrees. Set the temp for 161 degrees.
    • You don't actually need to cook a turkey to 165 because once you take it out, it will keep cooking for an hour after. Also make sure that even if the temp reads 161, you check another meaty part of the turkey. I suggest the back part of the breast, put the thermometer in half way again. If the temp drops  put it back in the oven. If not then remove the thermometer proceed to the next step.
  5. After the turkey reaches 161 take out remove the breast and wing foil and cover the whole bird with a larger piece of foil and let sit for 1 hour. 
  6. This will be a good time to put all your sides in the 350 oven to warm up.
  7. Carve up and enjoy!
Cooks notes:
Remove a lot of meat from the bones, keep the carcass and reserve the onions and lemons from the pan. Place all of that in a large stock pot with some more onions, celery, carrots, and whatever other odd pieces of veggies you have around throw in some salt and pepper. Fill the pan up with water so that it covers the contents. Bring to a boil and then reduce to simmer all day or night. Strain the broth through a mesh strainer into another large bowl. Cool the stock and let it sit for 6 hours in the fridge. Take out and skim off all the fat. Store in freezer bags and you now have homemade fantastic turkey stock!


11.17.2012

Chicken Cacciatore (a Skype cooking date)

So if you were all wondering, Kris and I totally admit to miss having each other around as each other's sous chefs. Like whoa. Cooking by yourself is hard! I always have questions, that I feel like I need to defer to Kris to! I can't be using Google all the time, are you kidding me?

Anyways, Kris and I have tried to remedy this by cooking together once a month via Skype. I've begun telling people about this and have gotten the response of, "Aww!! That's so cute!!!" To which I respond, "Iiiii KNOW, RIGHT?!?!?!?!"

Yeah. For the month we've decided to make chicken cacciatore, in which Kris provided the recipe.


Say hi to the camera!
Ingredients:

1/4c Flour
Salt and Pepper
3-4 lbs of chicken pieces (Kris advised using some chicken thighs but she also said that you could use an assortment)
Ooh, it's all steamy still!
2 tbls olive oil
10 oz mushrooms sliced
1 large bell pepper chopped
2 medium onions chopped
4-6 garlic cloves minced
3/4 cup red wine
3/4 cup low sodium chicken stock
1 (28oz) can crushed tomatoes
1 (15.4 oz) can of diced tomatoes
4 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp dried Thyme
2 tsp dried Rosemary
1/3 fresh basil chopped

You will also need a large stock pot.

Directions:

  1. Remove chicken from packaging rinse and then pat dry with paper towels and set aside in a bowl.
  2. In a dish combine flour with salt and pepper. Dredged the chicken through the mix, shake excess flour and set aside.
  3. In a large stock pan, place oil on a med-high heat. Place chicken skin side down in batches. Don't over crowd. Cook for approx. 5 min then flip and repeat. Remove from pan once done and drain. Finish the rest.
  4. In same pot saute onions first for about 1-2 min and then add the garlic and cook until the onions are translucent. Add mushrooms and peppers; cook until tender about 3 min.
  5. Add wine and simmer until reduced by half. You might have to lower the temp.
  6. Add broth and tomatoes. Return the chicken to the pan and make sure they are submerged. Cook on simmer for 40 minutes.
  7. Add Oregano, Basil, Rosemary and Thyme and simmer for 20 min more.
  8. Serve with crusty Italian bread.

The end result!

11.07.2012

Fried Mozzarella Cheese Sandwiches

That's right....the best cheese sandwich ever....

When I first saw this recipe, my mind exploded with its sheer simplicity and genius. For anyone who doesn't know, I am an AVID *slightly obsessed is more accurate* fan of cheese. I used to find myself making quesadillas or grilled cheese sandwiches two or three times a week because 1) its easy and 2) they are delicious.

So a natural next step for me was to make grilled cheese and then FRY it...I mean really...it was the next step. I have seen this recipe crop up in italian cookbooks and all under different names. In Lidia's Favorite Recipes it came with a sauce and thus we had a winner. I did omit the anchovies as I didn't care for them however you can add them if you like.

Sandwich Ingredients:

1 loaf of Italian Pane bread slices cut 1/2 inch thick
12 oz Fresh Mozzarella sliced 1/4 inch thick (Must be Fresh!)
Flour
Canola or vegetable oil for frying
Two large eggs
2 tablespoons fat free half n' half (or skim milk)

Sauce Ingredients:

2 tbls extra-virgin olive oil
5 cloves of garlic chopped
3 tbls drained tiny capers
2 tbls unsalted butter
1/2 cup white wine
2 tbls lemon juice

Directions:
* Heat the oil for frying first: Use a Large fry pan and fill it with a half inch deep of oil. Heat on medium to medium high. By the time you are ready to fry the sandwiches it should be hot*

1. Make the sauce. Heat olive oil in a 8" fry pan over medium heat.
2. Add garlic and cook until sizzling and fragrant but not browned. This should take less than a min.
3. Add the capers and butter and wait until the butter is all melted then add the white wine and lemon juice.
4. Bring the sauce to an energetic simmer (adjust heat if necessary) and let it cook for 6-7 minutes to reduce by half. Turn the heat way down to keep warm.
5. Pour flour into a shallow bowl and mix the milk and eggs in another shallow bowl and place them side by side.
6. Take 8 slices of bread and line them up. Place enough mozzarella on 4 of the slices taking care to NOT go over the edge. Place the other 4 to make the sandwiches.
7. Seal each side with toothpick taking care to make them visible so you can pull them out before eating.
A Nice Golden Brown
8. Test the oil with the crust of some extra bread. It should brown in 1 minute. If it doesn't wait a little bit longer.
9. Coat the sandwiches on all sides in the flour** and then the egg mixture
10. Once the oil is ready carefully place to Sandwiches in the oil and let them cook for about 1 min and 30 secs. They should be a golden brown. Flip them with tongs and cook them for another 1.30. Place the sandwiches on a plate with paper towels so they drain. Repeat.
11. Bring the sauce back to a simmer. Remove toothpicks from sandwiches, cut up and enjoy!

Cooks Notes:
*One slice and a half worked for me but it depends on how large your bread is.
** You can prepare the sandwiches up to the flour point and put them in the fridge. Then when you have company you can do the last bit with the egg mixture and frying for guests.

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