Sunday, December 19, 2010

POM Brined Turkey with White Wine Gravy

Turkey can be made for any holiday. Of course it gets made for Thanksgiving but many families make it for Christmas too. Last year I made it for New Years.

Brining a turkey is my preferred method. Don't get me wrong, I have been known for throwing a bird in the oven with little effort and the family loves it just the same, but if you are going for the gold medal, this is it in my family.

Brining a bird takes time. You need to have it defrosted one day earlier than you normally would. Making the brine takes about ten minutes. If you have a very small bird, you can get away with using the largest stock pot you can find. We did that the first year we brined. But if you are feeding a crowd, you need a larger container. I have heard of people using coolers but then you get into an issue of constantly worrying about the bird remaining cold. You still have to keep it refrigerated or the equivalent during the brining. I bought a plastic container from Smart & Final a couple years ago. They are not expensive. You could also double or triple up plastic bags and place in a bowl in case it leaks. The first year I heard about brining, it was from a girlfriend who placed hers in a trash bag. I guess anything works.

First thing first! Make the Brine!

4 cups of POM juice
1 bottle white wine
16 cups of water
1 cup of Kosher salt
1 Onion sliced
1 orange quartered
1 head of garlic cut in half
2 TB Peppercorns, smashed
a hand full of rosemary
a hand full of sage

4 ribs of celery
4 carrots
1 onion quartered
neck from the turkey and the gizzards
1/2 box of Turkey or Chicken Stock

Heat half the water (about 4 cups) up and dissolve the salt completely. Add the other half of the water (I like to add it as ice but whatever you want will work fine) POM, wine.

Mixture should not be warm now in any way. If it is, then walk away until it is cooled enough to put the turkey in it. (Warm water would start the process of cooking and somebody would end up sick.) Mix the remaining ingredients in the liquid and add turkey. REFRIGERATE FOR 24 HOURS at the most of the night before.
I buy this container of herbs. I just toss the whole thing in.
Put the turkey in breast side down. You want the breast to get as much brine as possible.
I don't even peel the onions.
Cut the garlic in half
Put the lid on and refrigerate!
When you are ready to cook, pull the bird out of the liquid and place onto a stack of paper towels.
Pat the entire bird dry. I will let it sit on my kitchen counter for up to 30 minutes. You really want it dry so you don't steam the bird.
Lets prepare the roasting pan! Place 4 ribs of celery, 4 carrots, 1 onion quartered, neck from the turkey and the gizzards on the bottom of your roasting pan. Pour 1/2 container of Turkey or Chicken Stock right over the vegetables.The vegetables and the drippings of the turkey will flavor the turkey stock making the most amazing liquid that you will thicken into gravy after the turkey is cooked!

Place the turkey in your roasting pan. Oil the outside of the bird with some oil. I am using olive oil but canola or vegetable would be fine. I used to use butter but I have found you get crisper skin if you don't. If you like using butter, then have at it! Salt and pepper the bird. Most birds come with the legs already trussed. If yours are not, take some kitchen twine and tie the legs together. I like to stuff the bird with the same herbs that was in the brine and an orange cut up. But frankly you could not stuff it with anything.
Roast 350 degrees for 15 minutes per pound. I like to baste the bird every hour. The ladies in my family would do it every 30 minutes and I find that it cools the oven down too much and lengthens the cooking time. Once per hour is perfect.If your bird is small and you only baste it once, don't freak! Its perfect. If you notice that the skin is getting too dark, tent some foil over it. We like the skin dark and crispy.I will have to fight the family away once I get the bird out. Everyone wants to grab skin. Vultures!!

Once your timer goes off and it should be done, take your meat thermometer and check the bird. I like the breast to say 160 and the thighs to say 175. Make sure that the thermometer does not tough a bone. If you are braver than me and check the meat at a lesser amount, great for you! I am afraid of undercooked turkey. These are the numbers I go by! I managed to get a bird with the pop up timer. This is really handy!
Place your bird either on your serving dish or the cutting board. I, personally toss the bird on the cutting board. Let it rest for 15 minutes. This means, DO NOT CUT IT YET!!
1 cup of white wine
3 TB butter
3 TB Wonder Flour
1/2 box Turkey or Chicken Stock

This 15 minutes is perfect for making the gravy. Take your turkey roasting pan (If you are using an electric roasting pan that is fine, keep using the electric roasting pan) and put it onto the stove. You might as well make the gravy right in the same pan. Less clean up. Strain all the veggies and the turkey neck and giblets out of the pan. Keep the liquid. I like to put it all in a giant measuring bowl.
Take a spoon and skim off the fat on the top. You can toss all that fat. Over Medium high heat, take your empty roasting pan, and deglaze (which is a fancy word for removing the bits off the bottom of the pan) the pan with 1 cup of dry white wine. Make sure this is something you would enjoy drinking. If you do not drink wine, grab a bottle of Turning Leaf Pino Griggio. Its not too pricey and will work nicely.Scrape the bottom of the pan to loosen anything that stuck to it. I like to focus on the sides. This will take maybe 30 seconds. Now add all the liquids you placed in the measuring bowl from the roasting pan. Bring it back up to heat. While it is heating, take 3 TB butter (room temperature) and mix with 3 TB Wonder Flour. It will make a paste.Take that and put into the roasting pan. The liquid in the pan will melt the butter. Keep stirring. Remember that 1/2 box of Turkey or Chicken Stock you used in the bottom of the turkey pan? Have it handy. As the butter melts and the mixture thickens you will need to add the turkey stock. Lower the heat to low. It happens pretty fast and before you know it, you are adding the stock. Keep whisking it. It should be the perfect consistency. Taste and see if it needs salt and pepper. Mine always needs a tad. Serve!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Roasted Brussel Sprouts

Brussel Sprouts were not my favorite growing up. In fact I used to feed them to my grandmother's dog under the table. Babe would eat just about anything, including my much hated Brussel Sprouts. Now they are one of my favorite vegetables. You just need to dress them up a bit. They take well to the butter, garlic and wine that I am roasting them in. These are perfect for a Holiday meal. This so easy yet tastes so divine that you can easily fool your guests.

Roasted Brussel Sprouts
2 bags of Brussel Sprouts or about 4 cups
5 cloves of garlic minced
3/4 cup white wine
3 TB butter melted
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 lemon juiced
salt and pepper

You will need enough foil to completely cover a cookie sheet. I like to line the bottom for easy cleanup too.
Take the Brussels sprouts and slice in have from the stem. Toss on the foil lined cookie sheet.

Squeeze 1/2 lemon on the sprouts. This will keep them a nice vibrant green. Add the minced garlic, butter and pepper flakes to them.

Cover with the wine.

Seal up well and roast in a 350 oven for about 30 - 45 minutes.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Creamy Chicken Vegetable Soup

I grew up on soups. I lived a huge portion of my childhood in snow country. When it was cold, you wanted something that would warm you up. Now I live in the opposite of snow country and complain when the weather gets below 60 degrees. I am good for complaining. This soup will warm you whether it is snowing outside or just a little foggy. This soup is a favorite of mine because it reminds me of a pot pie. I topped with some puff pastry and savored each bite.

Creamy Chicken Vegetable Soup

1 1/2 cups chopped Carrots
1 1/2 cups chopped Celery
1 Onion chopped
1 cup Mushrooms sliced
2 cans of Cream of Chicken Soup
1 carton of chicken stock
2 cups chopped chicken
2 potatoes, peeled and chopped (set aside in water until ready to use)

I didn't have any leftover chicken so I cooked the chicken and set aside.

Get all your veggies together. Put 2 TB oil in the bottom of a soup pan. Saute carrots, celery and onions. Make sure you salt and pepper. You are not looking to completely cook. Add the mushrooms.

Add the two cans of cream of chicken soup.

Add the chicken stock and potatoesDo not add the water from the potatoes
Let simmer until the potatoes are cooked
Serve with your favorite rolls or some puff pastry

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Baked Pub Cheese

This is all Trader Joes fault. I am on a Blame Trader Joes rant. Have you tried their Pub Cheese? It is the death of me. I had it at a jewelry party a couple months ago. I made a complete ass out of myself ignoring the pretty jewelry and eating this cheese. I did buy a necklace so the night wasn't a complete failure.

When I buy this cheese, the family (or most of it) fights over it. It never lasts one sitting. So the next day I am left with a craving for it. I have devised my version which The Fireman has declared better than Trader Joe's. Take that Trader Joe's!!

This is perfect for 2-4 people. If you are serving more than that, I recommend you double the recipe and put in the large bread bowl.

1 sourdough bread bowl
1/2 cup mayo
1 cup Parmesan cheese grated
1 cup cheddar cheese grated
1/4 cup nacho sliced jalapeno peppers diced
1 TB diced Ortega Chili's diced

Lob off the top of the Sourdough bread and hallow it out, saving the inside for dipping.

Take the mayo, cheeses, and add the jalapenos, and chilis and mix well in a bowl.
I always have these in the house. I buy the large can knowing I will use it up during the week with quesadillas or rice.

I go easy on the mayo and use just enough to mix it all up. The more you use the thinner the dip will be which would be just fine too.

Fill the bread bowl up and place into a baking tin just in case it bubbles over. I keep these old disposable tins for stuff like this. I re use them until I have to toss them.
Bake in a preheated 350 oven for 30 minutes

Serve with the bread you saved or even tortilla chips

Have a steak knife ready, you will want to eat the bread too
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