Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Cider Brined Turkey!

With Thanksgiving upon us, I have received many emails about the best practices for turkey. Turkey is a very lean meat. And while that is great for your waistline, it can mean trouble for the taste and texture of your holiday bird.

Here are some tips for keeping your turkey juicy and flavorful. I've also provided my favorite brining recipe!

* Do it breast down. Yeah, that's what I said. Let your bird roast breast side down for the first two hours. This will allow some of the fat and brine in the bird to pool in the white meat, which is the dryest part of the bird.

* Baste! The skin of the turkey can dry out and become bitter. Basting will cool the surface of the skin and provide moisture.

* Tie it up. Tying the legs of your turkey together may seem like an insignificant detail, but this step is really important. The thigh meat is the most tender area of the bird and it will start to pull away from the bird if left hanging. Not only will this make your bird less pretty to look at, but it will allow precious moisture to cook away.

* Rub it down. Seasoning your turkey is a fruitless effort if you are just going to wash it all away when you baste. Rub your turkey with seasonings under the skin instead. You'll be amazed at the difference in flavor.

* Brine, Brine, Brine! Brining your turkey will allow the bird to become engorged with flavorful liquid. So even after you've been cooking that turkey for hours, there will still be enough liquid in there for a tender, juicy texture.

Cider Brined Turkey


½ gallon apple cider
1 quart hard cider
1 quart chicken broth
1 gallon ice water
2 cups sea salt
½ cup light brown sugar
1 tablespoon black pepper
2 tablespoons oregano
2 tablespoons rosemary
2 tablespoons thyme
1 tablespoon ground cloves

In a large pot, heat broth, apple cider, hard cider, sugar and salt until sugar and salt dissolve. Do not boil it!

Remove from heat and add remaining seasonings. Let steep for 5 minutes. Add ice water and allow brine to reach room temperature.

Soak 10-12 pound turkey in brine for at least 8 hours.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Cranberry Walnut Tart

Thanksgiving is upon us and that means it is time to take advantage of all of the seasonal goodies this time of year offers. Cranberries are an excellent anti-oxidant and they add a tangy kick to baked goods. Pairing them with sweet, velvety walnuts is a great way to showcase the flavors of fall. Add this dessert to your Thanksgiving menu and wait for the compliments to come pouring in. ;) Enjoy!

Cranberry Walnut Tart


1 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
6 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
4-5 tbsps cold water

1 cup flour
1 1/2 cup sugar, granulated
2 eggs, beaten
12 tbsps unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 tsp Grand Marnier or other orange flavored liqeuor
1 1/2 cups walnuts
2 1/2 cups cranberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large mixer or bowl, combine flour and salt. Then cut in butter. Add water one tablespoon at a time, mixing well between each.

Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate while you make the filling.

In a large bowl, combine flour and sugar. Add eggs and butter and mix well. Add Grand Marnier, walnuts and cranberries and combine well.

Roll out dough and place in 9" pie pan. Pour filling into crust and fold edges up and over the top. Make sure to leave an opening at the top for steam to escape.

Bake for 30 - 40 minutes or until golden brown. Let it rest for about 20 minutes before serving.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Video Post: Classic Chicken Marsala

Classic Chicken Marsala


2 chicken breasts, halved
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup marsala wine
1/4 cup yellow onion, diced
2 -3 cups mushrooms, sliced
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup unbleached flour
2 -3 cups egg noodles

Melt 2 tbsps butter in a large pan. In a shallow bowl, combine flour, thyme, garlic powder, salt and black pepper.

Dredge chicken in flour mixture and add to hot pan. Saute on medium heat until golden brown, about 4 minutes on each side.

Boil egg noodles and strain.

Remove chicken from pan and transfer to skillet in warm oven. Add remaining butter to hot pan. Add onion and saute until almost transparent. Add mushrooms and saute until browned. Slowly add wine and chicken stock. Simmer for 8 - 10 minutes.

Add chicken back to pan and simmer another 4 -5 minutes.

Serve chicken over noodles and pour sauce on top.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Italian Wedding Soup

Today’s post is a Guest Post by the lovely and talented Jennifer Currie. Jennifer lives in Maryland with her husband and their daughter. She is a true food enthusiast in many ways. Welcome the crisp Fall weather by enjoy her amazing soup and remember to share the love. ~ Jennifer Griffith

I could eat soup every day and at any time of day. And sometimes I do! There's just nothing like a steaming hot bowl of savory, soulful, comforting love! So as this time of year approaches, I can't wait to bust out my big red pot and go to town on whatever ingredients happen to be swirling around in my head to make my all time favorite comfort food: SOUP!

One of my absolute favorite soups is Italian Wedding; it's so hearty and flavorful. It's also versatile and super simple to make. You can make it with turkey, beef, pasta or beans. This recipe has two of my favorite ingredients; meatballs and dark greens. I have been on a really big Bison kick lately, so I chose to make these meatballs with this delicious meat.

Bison is much leaner than beef and has a full flavor that will add a little richness to your broth. My favorite greens to use in this soup are Kale, preferably Dino Kale, but you could certainly use whatever green you like. Try Escarole, Swiss Chard, or Spinach. Dark greens are a great source of antioxidants, so you can't go wrong.

I think most people who have had this soup before have had it with some kind of small pasta like Ditalini or a pearl pasta like Israeli Cous cous. I like to use Cannellini Beans. I just think beans and greens go hand in hand.

Editor’s note: Wouldn’t Beans & Greens be a great name for a restaurant? J

I guarantee after you make this soup, you'll love it and whoever you feed it to will love you for it. And man, is it a great cure for a cold, blustery day! Enjoy!

Italian Wedding Soup


64 ounces chicken broth
1 1/2 cups carrot, diced
1/2 cup onion, diced
1 cup celery, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
28 ounces cannellini beans (2, 14 ounce cans)
1 pound kale, chopped
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 parmesan or romano cheese rind
1 large bay leaf
salt & pepper to taste

For meatballs:

1 pound ground bison
1 egg
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 - 3/4 cup breadcrumbs
1/4 - 1/2 cup parmesan or romano cheese

Coat a large pot with extra virgin olive oil and heat over medium high heat. Add onion, crushed red pepper flakes, and a pinch of salt and cook until translucent. Next add garlic, celery, and carrots and saute for about 5 minutes. Add chicken broth and bay leaf and bring to a boil. And the Parmesan/Romano rind,  basil, & another pinch of both salt and pepper, reduce to a simmer and put the lid on.

While all those flavors are combining  in your pot, you're going to make your meatballs.
In a large bowl, combine bison, egg, parsley, garlic, and salt and pepper. While combining, add the cheese and breadcrumbs a little at a time. You want to make sure everything is well-combined, but still moist. Make sure you don't work the meat too much or it will become tough. The meatballs should be the size that you would achieve by using a melon-baller. If you have one, great. If not, that's fine. Just use a small spoon to help you measure out the melon-ball-sized meatballs.

Once the meatballs are all rolled out, give that soup a good stir and take out the cheese rind and bay leaf. Then, add the cannellini beans. Bring the soup back up to a boil and start adding the meatballs into the broth. Let the meatballs cook for about 5 minutes (they'll start to float). This is when youre going to add the kale and cook for just another couple of minutes. When the kale begins to wilt into the soup and all of your delicious little meatballs are floating around, the soup is done...well, just about. Turn off the heat. Ladle your servings into bowls and garnish w/freshly chopped Italian parsley and grated parmesan or romano cheese.