November/December – Turkey 3 Ways

November/December – Turkey 3 Ways

My contribution for Thanksgiving and/or Christmas dinner is usually the turkey. Last year I cooked the turkey sous vide, this year I am trying a recipe using the slow cooker. I am not usually a big fan of the slow cooker, but it fits into the day’s schedule and the recipe sounds promising. There won’t be that many turkey eaters at the gathering, a half turkey breast will be enough. This one is stuffed under the skin with a flavorful garlic herb butter and my garden will provide all the herbs needed. The original recipe for Garlic Herb Slow Cooker Turkey Breast can be found on the blog RecipeTinEats, written by a blogger out of Australia. I will post the results and pictures in time for you to consider it for Christmas dinner, sorry about Thanksgiving.IMG_8468

Our local market doesn’t sell half bone-in turkey breasts (unlike in Australia where I understand they are common), so I purchased a whole turkey and had the butcher cut it in half. I split up the rest myself. I separated the legs and thighs from the breast, they will be cooked sous vide for turkey confit,. You can find the recipe for crisply turkey legs confit from the food lab here. They turn out tender, juicy and flavorful, I’ve made the recipe before but don’t have any pictures. I will remedy that when I fish them out of the freezer and prepare them. The remaining half breast I boned and froze for future dinners. I have cooked it still frozen, by sous vide. You can see my post here, based on the recipe from the food lab. Cook it still frozen?! Yes it works. Just add an additional half of the time to the total cooking time. For example, if the recipe calls for 4 hours, cook it sous vide for 6 at the same temperature.

The butcher was kind enough to cut the turkey in half, the rest I did myself. I divided one 18 pound turkey into:

  • 1 half-breast with wing (tip cut off) on the bone to cook for Thanksgiving in the slow cooker. It was just over 6 pounds.
  • 1 half-breast, boned and put into a vacuum sealed with some lemon confit slices, sage, rosemary and thyme. Popped in the freezer to sous vide at some future time.
  • 2 legs (leg and thigh) which I browned first in olive oil and vacuum sealed with lemon confit slices, sage, thyme, and rosemary. One leg per bag. I will cook them sous vide slowly over 24 hours in the manner of duck confit. I put those in the freezer as well.
  • bones from the boned out breast, neck, and giblets frozen for stock.

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    Turkey Stock Simmering

Boned Turkey Breast, Vacuum Sealed

Turkey Breast – Cooked Frozen and Sous Vide

 

Vacuum Packed Turkey Legs with Confit Lemons and Fresh Herbs

I carefully labeled everything with the contents and the date. From experience we have had many meals of ‘mystery’ meat or soup. At the original time I put the package in the freezer I was sure I would remember what was in it; if it was vegetarian or regular chili. But frequently the answer was no.

And how did the thighs turn out, cooked 24 hours sous vide at 149 degrees F?

IMG_8568

Is was juicy and tender, the juices were amazing. I used the meat in tacos and they were delicious, rivaling carnitas and much lower fat. I removed the skin but it could have been given a second crisping if you wanted.

That gave me at least 4 meals, probably more. The slow cooker breast will serve 6 people with leftovers. It weighed about 6 pounds with the bone.

The slow cooker turkey breast turned out tender but I thought it a little dry. It was easy and required little hands on time.

IMG_8469

Would I do this recipe again? I am not sure. I liked the texture of the sous vide turkey better and it was moister than the slow cooker recipe. But, the slow cooker recipe may just need some tweaking. Cooking it a little less than the suggested 6 hours might make the difference. If you try it, check the internal temperature after 5 hours. Unfortunately I was busy with other things at the 5 hour mark. Slow cookers vary in their cooking temperature so your own could take more or less time. Also, next time I think I would stuff the butter and seasonings under the skin (per the recipe) and let it rest in the fridge for a day or so.

The important part is that it was received well by the carnivores at the gathering, the gravy made up for any dryness. That was delicious.

After the holidays, turkeys frequently go on sale. It’s worth picking one up for the future. Ask your butcher to split it down the middle. Depending on your store and the kindness of your butcher, perhaps he or she would even cut off the legs for you. Or, with a sharp knife, you can do it yourself. I found poultry shears the best way to cut through the joint at the thigh. A whole turkey can be overwhelming, and you are not as likely to get tired of the leftovers if they are in smaller portions.

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving. The holidays are upon us!

 

November – Veggie Sausage Dressing with Raisins

November – Veggie Sausage Dressing with Raisins

This will be the first Thanksgiving that I am only making a vegetarian version of my regular dressing or stuffing recipe. You can see last year’s meat lovers sausage and raisin version here, definitely not vegetarian. In past years I have made two dressings, one with and one without the sausage. But this year the vegetarians at dinner will well outnumber the carnivores. It’s also the year I discovered LIghtlife Gimme Lean veggie sausage. It’s a good substitute for pork or turkey sausage, not perfect but acceptable. It’s lean and not as flavorful as regular bulk sausage. To counter that I’ll add extra seasonings and butter (this is not vegan) to make up the difference.

I am amazed at how far vegetarian food has come.

And how was it?

Veggie Sausage

Well, it was delicious! No one could tell the difference. This recipe is well worth the trouble of including in your vegetarian feast as a side. You could even stuff and bake a few halves of acorn squash as the Thanksgiving main course. Or, what about large portobello mushrooms? I think they would be good as well.

If you are making stuffing (inside your bird), stick with the regular meat version. Although as a thought, if you avoid pork and can’t find turkey sausage, this will work equally well as a stuffing.

This recipe is not vegan. I used parmesan broth (definitely not vegan) as a substitute for turkey or chicken stock. Parmesan broth is a very tasty broth made from the leftover rinds of parmesan cheese. Don’t throw them away! Store them in the freezer until you have enough to make this wonderful broth from them. A parmesan rind is a flavorful addition to a pot of minestrone soup, and then there is this wonderful vegetarian broth which tastes amazingly like chicken. One of our local delis even sells a package of them, left over from their own gratings. Check with your own gourmet deli and they may even give them away to you at no charge.

Some other options homemade vegetarian stock are instant vegetarian stock or magic mineral broth. If you use the instant vegetarian stock make sure you taste for salt before adding additional, it is quite salty.

Parmesan Rinds

If you don’t have any rinds or homemade vegetarian stock on hand, use a good quality commercial stock. Try to find one without an overwhelming carrot or celery flavor. Commercial vegetarian stocks vary greatly in quality. Some of them are awful. I found this Organic Imagine Vegetarian No Chicken Broth to be more than acceptable:

Vegetarian Stock

Raisin Cornbread Veggie Sausage Dressing:

  • 10 tablespoons of butter, divided plus more as needed
  • 1 pound of bulk vegetarian sausage
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 4 large stalks of celery, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon Herbs de Provence
  • 2 teaspoons poultry seasoning. See note 1.
  • Pinch or red pepper flakes
  • 4 fresh brioche rolls, hamburger or other soft bread (preferably a little stale), torn into large (3/4 inch) pieces. See note 2.
  • 8 oz. of cornbread, crumbled into large pieces, about 3/4 inch (you will want chunks rather than crumbs for texture and flavor)
  • 2 generous handfuls of golden or regular raisins
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper as needed
  • 1 cup or more of vegetarian stock, I used parmesan broth

Method:

  1. Melt the 5 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet.
  2. Add the onion and celery and sauté until beginning to soften, about 10 minutes.
  3. Add the sausage, crumbling it into small pieces as it browns.
  4. Add the Herbs de Provence, poultry seasoning and red pepper flakes to the pan.
  5. Add the second 5 tablespoons of butter and remove from the heat, allowing it to melt.
  6. Meanwhile tear the cornbread and brioche bread into 3/4 inch pieces in a large bowl, you don’t want them too small.
  7. Add the raisins and mix.
  8. While still warm, add the contents of the skillet to the large bowl and mix well. Taste for salt, you want it well seasoned.
  9. If the contents look dry (it depends on how much fat is in your sausage), add another 2 (or more) tablespoons of butter to the skillet to melt. Then add it to the bowl. Ma Barnes would add as much as a full stick of butter at this point.
  10. If baking immediately, pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees F.
  11. Spread the dressing in a casserole. Add the stock, you want the bread to be moist but not swimming. Cover with foil and bake for 35 minutes, then uncover and increase the heat to 400 degrees F. Bake for an additional 20 minutes to brown the top and crisp the edges (those charred bits are my favorite). Watch carefully so it doesn’t burn.
  12. If making ahead, set aside to cool. In my household that needs to be far away from the edge of the counter and out of reach of the dogs. Once cool you can refrigerate it for a day. Keep your last minute stress level down and prepare it the day before the holiday.
  13. When ready to bake, pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees F. Spread the dressing into a shallow casserole dish and add the stock. Cover with aluminum foil and bake until hot, about 45-50 minutes. Uncover, increase the heat to 400 degrees F and bake for another 20 minutes to crisp the top. Watch it carefully so it doesn’t burn although those charred crispy bits are my favorite.

Note 1: Check that any commercial poultry seasoning in the your pantry is fresh. Ground spices lose their potency quickly. My own was old and the grocery store was out of that particular mix. You can make your own poultry seasoning, here is the recipe:

  • 2 teaspoons ground sage
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons ground thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried marjoram
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely ground black pepper

Note 2: Don’t use all cornbread. You need the regular bread to absorb the liquid. The cornbread should not be predominant.

Finished baked Dressing

I have not received any remuneration from the commercial products mentioned in this post. The recommendations come only from my own experience.

November – A Glut of Lemons

November – A Glut of Lemons

I am enjoying a glut of Meyer lemons from the container tree on my deck. This is a common situation in California when many homes have backyard trees. I hate to waste them and am always looking for new ways to preserve the bounty. These lemons are small (probably because the tree is root bound…it has been in the same half wine barrel for 5 years) but very numerous. And the tree is in flower again (Meyer lemon trees will produce almost all year-long) I want to send the tree’s energy to the new maturing lemons, so I harvested most of them. Starting in March I will trim out the middle branches to let in more light and fertilize it. But I don’t necessarily want to encourage a lot of new growth right now in case we get a freeze.

Meyer Lemons

The next question is always, what to do with them? They won’t last forever. I already have several jars of salted preserved lemons in the pantry, so I didn’t want to do that again. I use them for salad dressing instead of vinegar but there are still a lot left in the bowl.

So, I decided to do something new and make lemon confit with some of them, candy a few, and with the rest make an Indian Lemon Fermented Pickle. I’ve made a version of the lemon pickle before, but this one looked easier and a little different.

You don’t have to use Meyer lemons for these recipes, regular grocery store lemons will work as well. However, try to buy organic ones without the wax coating. If you don’t have any choice, be sure and scrub them well in warm water to remove the wax.

All three of these would make good holiday gifting.

Meyer Lemon Confit

Wash and dry your lemons (as many as you want), slice them about 1/4 inch thick and remove any seeds, add them to a saucepan. Cover with olive oil and bring to a slow simmer. Turn down the heat (you should only see a bubble rise now and then) and simmer them on the low heat for 60 to 90 minutes. Cool and put them in clean jars, cover with the lemon olive oil. You can use the lemon infused oil in salads or for finishing vegetables, pulse the slices with the oil to make a lovely super lemony salad dressing, top fish or chicken with the slices before baking, marinate fish or chicken with chopped lemons and the oil, a multitude of uses.

Lemons slowly cooking in olive oil

 

Confit Meyer Lemons in Olive Oil

These are some turkey legs that I will sous vide for turkey confit.

Flavoring for Turkey, Lemon Confit, Rosemary, Thyme and Sage Leaves

Candied Meyer Lemon Slices

  • Slice several Meyer lemons thinly, removing any seeds.
  • Combine 1 cup of water with 1 cup of cane sugar in a saucepan, bring to a boil.
  • Add the lemon slices and turn down the heat to a slow simmer.
  • Simmer until the edges turn translucent, about 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Remove to a parchment or wax paper lined pan and allow to cool.
  • Refrigerate.

Candied Meyer Lemon Slices

And the uses are numerous! Use them to sweeten your tea, add them to muffins when baking, top a lemon tea cake with a few slices, and what about adding a slice to your cocktail? It makes an amazing lemon drop. The lemon syrup can be strained and used in cocktails, glaze a chicken or fish, make a version of lemonade with mineral or soda water…

A couple of years ago I made fermented Meyer lemon pickles with Indian 5-spices. I wanted something slightly simpler this year. I found the recipe for Spiced Indian Fermented Pickles on the blog Fermenting for Foodies. 

Indian Spiced Lemon Pickle

Spiced Indian Fermented Meyer Lemon Pickle

  • 1 lb. of lemons
  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp fenugreek powder or 1/2 tsp whole seeds (see note 1)
  • 1 tsp yellow mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons sunflower or canola oil
  1. Wash the lemons well, removing any wax coating if necessary.
  2. Add them to a saucepan with the turmeric and cover with water. Slowly bring to a boil and simmer for 8 minutes.
  3. Drain well and allow to cool, then cut each lemon into 6-8 wedges, depending on size. Remove any seeds. Do this over a bowl as they may be very juicy.
  4. Sprinkle the lemons with salt and pack into a sterilized jar with a tight-fitting lid. A 1 quart canning jar is perfect.
  5. Allow to ferment at room temperature for a week, turning the jar over every day.
  6. After a week (a few days extra won’t hurt), toast the spices.
  7. Add the mustard seeds and fenugreek seeds to a dry skillet (I use a small cast iron one) and heat until you start to smell the spices and they turn slightly brown. Add the chili powder to the skillet and toss together. Remove from the heat immediately (the chili powder will easily burn).
  8. Once cool, grind the spices in a mortar and pestle or spice grinder.
  9. Put the lemons in a bowl, add the spices and toss to mix.
  10. Add them back into the fermenting jar and cover with the oil.
  11. Store in the fridge. They will keep for 6 months.

Note 1: If you are using fenugreek powder, add it with the chili powder.

Serve with rice and yogurt or with any food that needs a flavor boost.

Mustard and Fenugreek seeds

Indian Spiced Lemon Pickle

I am taking these suggestions to Fiesta Friday #252 to share with Angie and the gang. This weeks co-hosts are Alex @ Turks Who Eat and Zeba @ Food For The Soul

Be sure to click on the link to read all the interesting posts for holiday food, gifts and crafts. And, add your own link to the party. If you want to be considered for “post of the week” be sure to credit Fiesta Friday, Alex, Zeba and Angie in your post.

I hope you all had a fabulous Thanksgiving.

 

October – Black Bean Chili in the Electric Pressure Cooker

October – Black Bean Chili in the Electric Pressure Cooker

I could have called this Instant Pot Black Bean Chili, that brand of electric pressure cooker has taken the internet and Pinterest by storm. But my electric pressure cooker is not an Instant Pot, although it works exactly like one. I got it before the craze hit, and it sat in the garage for several years, sadly unused. I was still terrified by the memories of my mothers old pressure cooker sizzling on top of the stove. I was afraid it was going to blow up at any moment, as children she gave us so many warnings to stay away from it. That fear has dissipated, modern electric pots are much safer. But I pull it out mainly for soups and stews, cold weather foods. During the summer it goes back into storage. I just can’t get behind all the Instant Pot recipes on Pinterest that don’t actually save you any time. I’d rather cook things on the stove, grill, or in the oven. There are additional flavors added with those methods. Why go through the trouble of pulling it out of the cupboard and having it take up space on your countertop? Just my rant.

But, beans are a different story and this recipe is a definite time saver. Why? Because you cook the dried black beans from scratch along with the chili. That’s right, no soaking. The whole thing, start to finish, takes an hour. You end up with both perfectly cooked black beans and a delicious chili. Now that is time saving! Even better, it is vegetarian, vegan, gluten free and delicious. All good, eh?

Personally I think this is a perfect meal for Halloween night.

I combined and modified two recipes into one for this dish. The first comes from A Pinch of Yum for instant pot pumpkin walnut chili and the second from Well Plated for Instant Pot Black Beans.

This recipe makes a lot, well over two quarts, so you will have plenty to share or stick in your freezer for nights you don’t want to cook. I love having that kind of meal insurance.

The Pinch of Yum recipe calls for adding 2 or 3 14-ounce cans of black beans at the end. 1 can of black beans is about 2 1/2 cups; 1 pound of dried black beans makes about 5 – 6 1/2 cups of cooked black beans. So I used 1 pound of black beans from the start, adjusting the liquid measurements. Well Plated called for 3 cups of water or broth to a pound of black beans. Using that recipe I found the beans were cooked perfectly, but a little dry to my taste. I wanted something more soupy. Adding a little extra liquid to the Pinch of Yum chili recipe adjusted for that.

There were some other modifications, I left out the bulgur wheat and the pumpkin in the Pinch of Yum recipe; mainly because I wanted something gluten free and didn’t have a can of pumpkin in the pantry (I may try that next time). Feel free to add a 14-ounce can of pumpkin puree at the end, please let me know how and if you like it. Everything is coming up pumpkin in October and November.

I did add the chopped walnuts for texture, they add a meatiness as well as extra protein to the chili. You only need to a salad for this to be a complete meal. Do use some of the recommended finishing options though.

So here goes!

Black Bean Chili

Ingredients:

  • 1 28-ounce can of chopped fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 poblamo peppers chopped
  • 1 red pepper chopped
  • 2 chipotle peppers in adobo, chopped
  • 2 cups of walnuts, chopped
  • 1 cup of red lentils
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon of dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon of chili powder, mild (or hot if that’s how you like it)
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 pound of dried black beans
  • 8 cups of water

Method: 

  1. Rinse and pick over the black beans to make sure there are no small stones, drain.
  2. Dump everything in your pressure cooker and give it a stir.
  3. Set it to cook for 35 minutes once you get to high pressure.
  4. Let it release naturally for 25 minutes.
  5. Then release the rest of the steam.

Thin it out with extra water if it seems too thick. Check for salt.

Be sure to dress up the chili and finish it with shredded cheese, avocado, lime wedges, sour cream or plain yogurt, chopped cilantro, crumbled tortilla chips. Let your imagination go wild.

That’s all!

 

Black Bean Chili

Black Bean Chili

Black Bean Chili

This week I am co-hosting Fiesta Friday on Angie’s website. My partner co-host is Deb at Pantry Portfolio. 

Come join in the fun by checking out the posts by a group of talented cooks, gardeners and crafters. And please add your own, read the instructions for posting in order to be considered for the picks of the week.

Have a wonderful weekend everyone and thank you for reading.

August – Salad Soup

August – Salad Soup

This hot, muggy, humid, uncomfortable month in parts of the U.S. has birthed a number of recipes for Greek salad. All of them are delicious and cooling, taking advantage of perfect seasonal tomatoes and cucumbers. This soup is a version of gazpacho, but very similar to a Greek salad. It uses many of the same ingredients and is a light, cold lunch on a hot day. Even better, it is easy…very easy. And, you can modify the recipe to use what you have on hand.

I call this recipe Greek or Mexican (you decide) salad in a soupy bowl of goodness, but without the dressing (only a drizzle of olive oil at the end, which is completely optional). It has healthy vitamins from all those vegetables, and healthy fat from the addition of avocado. You could up the protein by adding a sprinkling of feta or fresh goat cheese, or pour it over a scoop of cottage cheese. Make it spicy, or not. Got some leftover salsa in the fridge? Go for it. What about some crispy tortilla chips sprinkled on top (my husband’s favorite). It would then be a Mexican Salad Soup…you could even add a handful of corn kernels. Leftover grilled corn, you are on! And if you are adding tortilla chips a dollop of sour cream would be yummy. The options are endless.

Greek Salad Soup

This soup is even better the second day, and even better the day after that. It is my idea of a perfect lunch on a warm day. The vegetables give it a satisfying crunch and mouth appeal, the avocado is a touch of richness to fill you up. This season I keep a large bowl in the fridge to snack on or for a quick meal. Serve it instead of a salad with your dinner, it would make an appetite wetting first course with some crisp bread or flatbread.

To save time, I used V-8 juice as the base. It’s an idea my cousin in Tennessee introduced me to when we visited last June. Because I am a fan of spicy food, I added a small can of spicy V-8 to about 3 cups of regular V-8. But it is completely up to you and your own taste.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups of V-8 juice
  • 1 small can of spicy V-8 juice (optional)
  • 1 red pepper, diced into cubes about 1/4″
  • 1 green or orange pepper, diced into cubes about 1/4″
  • 1 large cucumber, peeled if necessary, diced into cubes about 1/4″
  • 1 large tomato, seeded and diced into cubes about 1/4″
  • 4-5 scallions, sliced thinly
  • 1 avocado, halved and diced
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley (for Greek Soup) or cilantro (for Mexican)
  • salt to taste (I found it didn’t need any)
  • drizzle of olive oil to serve (optional)

Avocado ready to add

Method:

  • Combine all the ingredients and chill for at least 2 hours (better overnight).

That is all, can you believe it! It couldn’t be easier.

Salad Soup

This is a light, healthy, and quick lunch.

Salad Soup

You could serve it instead of a salad, maybe as a first course for dinner. What about small cups for folks to eat while they wait for you to grill dinner outside? It’s could easily be a walk-around the garden soup.

Salad Soup

Even better, it is vegetarian and vegan and gluten free. You won’t have to worry about dietary restrictions.

I think the folks in the midwest and south, where it is sweltering at the end of summer, will enjoy this refreshing soup. I’m taking it to share on Fiesta Friday #237 hosted by Angie. This weeks co-hosts are Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook and Diann @ Of Goats and Greens

Come on over to read about the other delicious things going on around the world. Please add your own link after reading the guidelines. Hope you are enjoying the weekend.