Tuesday, November 29, 2011

White Turkey Chili

Seeing as how I don't really like turkey much in the first place, the job of eating most of the leftover turkey at our house fell on my husband's shoulders. So I took pity on the poor guy and jazzed it up into something new so he wouldn't get bored. Of course it's not a bad dish for people who don't like turkey either. There's so much other stuff going on in there to distract you, you might not even notice you're eating turkey at all. That might have worked on me if I hadn't actually cooked it.

Yield: 6 servings

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, diced (about 1 1/2 cups)
2 stalks celery, diced (about 1/2 cup)
3 medium poblano peppers (seeded & white ribs removed), finely diced (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, more to taste
2 (15.5-ounce) cans white beans such as cannelini, preferably low-sodium, drained and rinsed
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1 lb. cooked white meat turkey, chopped (about 4 cups)
1 (15.5-ounce) can hominy, drained and rinsed
sea salt to taste
1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
lime wedges for garnish

1.       Heat the oil in large pot or Dutch oven over moderate heat. Add the onion, celery and poblanos; cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are soft, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic, cumin, coriander and cayenne and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
2.       Add the white beans, broth and oregano. Cook, partially covered, stirring occasionally, for 25 minutes.
3.       Add the turkey, hominy and salt and more cayenne pepper, to taste, and continue cooking, uncovered, for 30 minutes or until liquid has reduced to desired consistency.
4.       Ladle into individual bowls and top each serving with 1 tablespoon yogurt and 1 1/2 teaspoons cilantro. Garnish with a lime wedge.

slightly adapted from Ellie Krieger
poblano peppers
onion, celery and poblanos
adding garlic and spices
adding beans, broth and oregano
adding turkey and hominy

Hominy are hulled corn kernels that have been stripped of
their bran and germ. It comes in white and yellow (I used white).
white turkey chili

My chili would have been whiter, but I ran out of
white meat, so I added some dark meat too.
topped with Greek yogurt, chopped
cilantro and a sprinkling of lime juice

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Chestnut Soup

This is not a giant spoon - just a small ramekin.
Last week I made roasted chestnuts and was inspired to look up new ways to use them. I was intrigued by this recipe because I had never considered making chestnuts into soup before. I don't think anyone else at the table had either. Judging by the worried expressions on their faces, I'd say expectations were fairly low. But everyone was pleasantly surprised by how unique and delightful it was. I just love a good underdog story.

Makes 8 cups (6-8 servings)

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
1/2 cup finely chopped carrot
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
3 fresh flat-leaf parsley sprigs
2 whole cloves
1 Turkish or 1/2 California bay leaf
6 cups homemade chicken stock (or low-sodium chicken broth)
1 (14- to 15-ounce) jar peeled cooked whole chestnuts, crumbled (3 cups)
1/4 cup Sercial Madeira
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1.      Melt butter in a large pot over low heat, then stir in celery, carrot, and onion. Cover pan with lid, then sweat vegetables for 15 minutes (to soften).
2.      Wrap parsley, cloves, and bay leaf in cheesecloth and tie into a bundle with string to make a bouquet garni.
3.      Add broth and bouquet garni to the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, 20 minutes. Add chestnuts and Madeira and simmer, covered, 3 minutes. Remove bouquet garni.
4.      Using an immersion blender, purée soup until smooth. Stir in cream, pepper, and salt to taste and reheat soup over moderate heat, stirring occasionally. Can be made 2 days ahead and cooled, uncovered, then chilled, covered.

slightly adapted from Gourmet, November 2003 (originally published November 1978)
celery, onion and carrot sweated
parsley, cloves and bay leaf on cheesecloth
bouquet garni
broth and bouquet garni added
adding crumbled chestnuts
ready to blend
stirring in the cream

It's just a small amount of cream (this is not a thick soup).

Friday, November 25, 2011

Deep-Fried Turkey with Creole Rub & Giblet Gravy

I should preface this post by saying I don't really like turkey much, so feel free to take anything on have to say on the matter with a huge grain of salt. But that being said, this was hands down the best turkey I've ever had. The skin was crispy and the inside was moist and juicy. And as you'll see in the video below, the frying was way cool. I actually ate a few slices outright (instead of breaking them into tiny pieces and camouflaging them in my stuffing and under my mashed potatoes).

 lowering the turkey into the hot oil
(I just love that sizzling sound, it's so satisfying.)

taking the turkey out of the fryer
(I was a little worried there for a minute that Chuck was
about to dump hot oil all over his feet, but he didn't.)


1 (12 lb.) turkey, giblets removed
approx. 2 gallons* oil (I used corn oil)

6 quarts hot water
3/4 pound kosher salt
1 pound dark brown sugar
5 pounds ice (or 10 cups cold water)

Creole Rub (Yield 1/2 cup):
25 bay leaves, crushed
3 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
3 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground pepper
2 teaspoons garlic powder
3 tablespoons Creole seasoning

*To determine the correct amount of oil, place the turkey in the pot or fryer; add water just until it barely covers the top of the turkey and is at least 4 to 5 inches below the top of the pot. This is the amount of oil you need for frying the turkey.

1.      Brine the turkey: Place the hot water, kosher salt and brown sugar into a 5-gallon upright drink cooler and stir until the salt and sugar dissolve completely. Add the ice or water and stir until the mixture is cool. Gently lower the turkey into the container. If necessary, weigh down the bird to ensure that it is fully immersed in the brine. Cover and set in a cool dry place for 8 to 16 hours.
2.      Make the rub: In a small bowl, mix together the bay leaves, thyme, oregano, pepper, garlic powder and Creole seasoning.
3.      Fry the turkey: Remove the turkey from the brine and pat dry (be thorough, water and oil don’t mix). Rub the turkey all over with the rub (inside and out). Allow to sit at room temperature for 45 minutes to 1 hour before frying.
4.      Fill the fryer with oil. Bring the temperature to 350º F. (if using a traditional turkey fryer, check out Alton Brown's suggestions about starting at 250º F.) Slowly lower the turkey into the oil.
5.      After 40 minutes, check the temperature of the turkey using a probe thermometer. Once the breast reaches 160º F., carefully lift from the oil (hold it over the oil to allow the excess to drip off). Cover with aluminum foil and allow to rest for a minimum of 30 minutes prior to carving. The bird will reach an internal temperature of 170º F. due to carry over cooking.

Brine and other turkey frying instructions adapted from: Alton Brown and briansbelly.com
Dry rub from: allrecipes.com by HEBEGEBE  

brining the turkey

I decided to use one of those really gigantic brining bags.
Unfortunately it had a hole, and all the brine went everywhere
and there was a lot of cursing, followed by a lot of cleaning
and more brine making. So I switched to a 2-gallon ziploc bag
(two of them actually...I wasn't taking any chances).
I could just barely jam the turkey in there, but it did fit.
I'm getting pissed off all over again just thinking about it.
turkey dried
rubbing the turkey

You'll notice my bay leaves aren't crushed all that finely.
My spice grinder died mid-grind, so I switched to the old
mortar and pestle, but that was as fine as I could get it.
Right about now I was feeling like this turkey was cursed.
rubbed turkey
our indoor turkey fryer

It says in the instructions not to use it outside, but I figure
they write that just so some dumb ass doesn't use it in the rain.
lowering the turkey into the fryer
turkey sizzling away

Peanut oil is highly recommended, but since my daughter
is allergic, I went with corn. I would have preferred
refined coconut or safflower maybe, but I didn't think ahead
and couldn't find such a large quantity last minute.
fried turkey (and no one got burned)...phew, no curse after all.
carving the turkey

I know the skin looks like leather, but it was crispy and so flavorful.
This video shows how moist and juicy the turkey breast was. 


turkey giblets (removed from inside turkey)
4 cups chicken stock or turkey stock
4 large sprigs fresh thyme (or other fresh herb)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper

1.      Bring the giblets, herbs and stock to a boil in a medium saucepan. Cover and simmer for 1 hour. Strain through a fine mesh strainer. Can be made 2 days ahead and kept covered in refrigerator.
2.      In medium saucepan over moderately low heat, melt butter, then whisk in flour and cook, whisking constantly, until smooth, approximately 2 minutes. Gradually whisk in the giblet stock, then raise heat to moderately high and boil, uncovered, until thickened, about 8 minutes.
3.      Season with salt and pepper to taste.

straining the giblets

When you're frying a turkey, you obviously don't have any
pan drippings for gravy, so using the giblets is a nice
way to get that essence de turkey.

making the roux
stock added and thickening

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Cranberry Sauce with Port and Dried Figs

I just had to squeeze this recipe in under the wire, on the off chance that you haven't settled on a cranberry sauce recipe for tomorrow yet. This is so scrumptious. It's sweet and tart of course, like all cranberry sauces, but oh so much more. It's rich from the port and balsamic vinegar and slightly peppery. And then there's the subtle rosemary undertones. Definitely the most complex cranberry sauce I've ever made (and yet still so simple, you've got to love that). But if you are going to make it for tomorrow, DO IT NOW! Run out and get the ingredients immediately so it has time to sit overnight in the fridge and let the flavors meld. And you should probably double it...you won't be sorry (unless of course you're reading this the day after Thanksgiving).

Makes about 3 1/2 cups

1 2/3 cups ruby Port
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
8 dried black Mission figs, stemmed, chopped
1 6-inch-long sprig fresh rosemary
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
12 ounces fresh cranberries
3/4 cup sugar

1.      Combine the Port, vinegar, brown sugar, figs, rosemary and black pepper in a medium saucepan. Bring to boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat to low and simmer 10 minutes. Discard rosemary.

2.      Mix in cranberries and 3/4 cup sugar. Cook over medium heat until liquid is slightly reduced and berries burst, stirring occasionally, about 6 minutes. Cool.

3.      Transfer sauce to bowl; chill until cold. Can be prepared 1 week ahead. Cover and keep refrigerated.

Bon Appétit, November 2001
fresh cranberries
dried mission figs
dried mission figs, stemmed and chopped
port wine
port, balsamic vinegar, brown sugar, figs, rosemary and black pepper
adding cranberries and sugar
almost done
I let mine go a little longer than intended, but that only breaks down
the cranberries a little more, it doesn't compromise the flavor at all.

Serving Suggestion: If you're planning on serving cheese and crackers as hors d'oeuvres, add a small bowl of this to your cheese plate and garnish the tray with some halved figs and rosemary sprigs. Mmmm.