Should I even start off by saying: “I know it’s been a while, yada yada yada…” I feel like every time I actually get around to posting something, it’s always “a while.” So I’m just gonna skip that formality, and know that you love me anyway, even though I’m not cramming your inboxes on a daily basis.
Anyway, I’ve been really busy with real life that I haven’t had much time to sit down and yammer away, however that doesn’t mean I haven’t been busy in the kitchen. So i figured, I’ll just pop by for a bit, and say hi, and kind of update you with what’s going on around El Casa del Fogel for this thanksgiving.
The tale of Thanksgiving 2011 started with me deciding kind of last minute to throw together a meal with some friends, and found me going to Trader Joe’s for the turkey, and luckily grabbed literally the last one. The fowl weighed in at a healthy 15.5 lbs, and was happy with it’s lot in it’s after-life to be coming home with me.
If you remember from last year, I really like the method I saw on seriouseats for cooking the turkey in parts, and if you’re not sure why, you can read all about it by clicking these shiny letters. Yesterday, I put on my most serious butcher face, and went to town on the boyd, and separated legs, and wings from the carcass, removed the skin, and cut away each breast, leaving me with a good ole pile o’ bones.
Now some people might see trash, but I see stock. To clarify, stock is basically “flavored water.” You can have chicken, turkey, beef, veal, vegetable, or sock stock, whatever flavor you’re going for. And in it’s most simple form, it’s literally just water plus “(insert name of stock here)“, that’s it, everything else is added for flavor, but isn’t essential to make it a stock. It would taste pretty bad if there wasn’t salt and pepper, and while we’re at it, let’s add a classical pairing of onion, carrot, and celery (also known as a mirepoix), but with out that it would still be a stock. The best part of the animal to make stock with are the bones, because of all of the connective tissue on it, which gives us gelatin, which lends body to stocks, plus any additional meat you want in there. Also, while it’s totally fine to take raw bones, cover with water and let it cook, roasting the bones before hand, will deepen the flavor.
So I took the scraps of turkey, and roasted them at 450 for about 30 minutes. I then covered with water, following Michael Ruhlman’s ratio of 3parts water to 2 parts bones. Added salt, whole peppercorns, 2 bay leaves, and put it in the oven on the lowest setting (it was about 190 on the oven thermometer) and left it there for about 8 hours.
I then strained it, and put it back in the pot with some onions and carrots, and let it cook on medium high for another 20 minutes. I then strained that, allowed it to cool, and put it in the fridge. By the way, as disgusting as this is, I collected all of the pan drippings and stored it in the fridge. Oh and I also made the cranberry relish (cranberries, water, brown sugar, ginger, freshly ground allspice and cloves, and let it simmer away until thickened).
Before and after pictures of the turkey fat…Kind of gross, but in all honesty, it’s actually healthier than butter/margarine, so there.
Tuesday night, I took my bread, cut off the crusts, and cubed it. Placed it in a 400 degree oven for around 10 minutes to toast them, to use for stuffing, and for the dessert…more on that in a bit.
Today, I decided to make the butternut squash soup, the gravy, stuffing, and prep the turkey for tomorrow. Gravy in it’s simplest form is a roux, which is fat + flour, with stock. The stock I already had, and for the fat, I used the now congealed turkey fat from yesterday. I weighed out about 20 ounces of fat, and melted it, and added 30 ounces of flour (all weighed), and once the roux was nice and nutty, added the turkey stock, and simmered down until it was thick.
To make the stuffing, I sautéed onions, celery, and mushrooms in –you guessed it- more turkey shmaltz, added it to the bread, mixed in three eggs, parsley, and added enough stock that it was just saturated, and was nice and mushy. I baked it in the oven for about 15 minutes (I only wanted to cook it half way through), and took it out.
I also used the stock to make the butternut squash soup. I sauteed onions and garlic, with a little cumin seed and red pepper flakes, added the cubed butternut squash, 4 cups water, and 2 cups turkey stock, let it simmer down now, and blended it up with one of those immersion blenders; yeah a “zhuzher.”
Then to prep the breast of the turkey, I took the skin laid it out, and placed one turkey breast on it, then spread some stuffing on it, and then placed the other breast on top of it. Wrapped it up in the skin, and tied it all up.
It’s going to be phenomenal.
For the dessert, I plan on making Pecan, bourbon, and butterscotch bread pudding (from this month’s Bon Appetit), but probably with out the poppy seeds, because I’m not 1000 years old, along with some ice cream, and guess what? it’s also going to be phenomenal, I can tell already.
Well that’s it, hope you enjoy your thanksgiving, and even though I’ve been a little lazy with writing up these here posts, I hope you still have that warm and fuzzy place for me in your life. And if you really need some more Kosher Gastronome in your life, you can come over to the cool side, and look me up on twitter (@koshrgastronome), or even on facebook (http://www.facebook.com/TheKosherGastronome), I sometimes say funny stuff. It’s true.