Turkey Day Prep: Stock

TurkeyStockI have been cooking Thanksgiving dinner for my own family for the past 25 years, or so, and have never attempted to make home made stock.  I never saw my Grandpa (THE Thanksgiving GURU in our family) make his own stock, as far as I knew, canned stock was the only stock there was. #1970sCannedFoodKid 

This year, since I’m trying to keep the meal as clean (read: uncanned) as I can this year to try and keep close to my Keto goals, I thought I’d try to make my own stock ahead of time and put it in the freezer to have for basting the bird and making the (Not Keto) stuffing and gravy.

The biggest hassle with making turkey stock is the fact that you have to make a whole turkey first to have a turkey carcass on hand.  I did find a way around this: I use turkey thighs, because I like the moister dark thigh meat, which I buy at my local grocery store, in this case, the Gelson’s a couple of miles from my house.  I like the upscale Gelson’s Market because it offers antibiotic-free, fresh, organic, and kosher (if that is important to you) turkeys and turkey pieces.

While not an all day process, it is a two part process.  First you have to cook the turkey parts and then you can make the stock.  Luckily the pressure cooker makes both parts easy.

Pressure Cooker Turkey ThighsEasy-Roasted-Turkey-Thighs-3-688x1032

  • 4 turkey thighs
  • 4 TBLS olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, peeled, and chopped into large chunks
  • 4-6 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
  • Zatarain’s Creole Seasoning
  • salt and pepper (if not using the Creole seasoning)
  • 24 oz low sodium chicken or vegetable stock
  1. Set your pressure cooker to the “Brown” setting
  2. Add 1-2 TBLS olive oil to the pressure cooker.
  3. Season your thighs liberally.  I prefer to use Creole seasoning but you can use salt and pepper.
  4. Brown your thighs, two at a time, on all sides.  Make sure that the skin side is a deep, golden brown to ensure that the fat is rendered and the flavor is sealed into the meat.  Remove the browned thighs and set aside.
  5. Slip the skin off of the thighs and return to the pressure cooker to render as much of the fat into the pot as possible.
  6. Add the rest of the olive oil and the chopped onion. Saute the onion for about 5 minutes and then add the garlic.  Cook for another 2 to 3 minutes.
  7. Add the thighs back to the pot. Stir the onion and garlic up onto the chicken then season with salt & pepper, add the red wine vinegar and the stock.
  8. Lock the lid and cook on high pressure for one hour.  When cooking is finished, allow to return back to pressure naturally (about 30 minutes).
  9. Remove thighs from pressure cooker and put on plate for removal of meat from the bones.  Leave everything else in the pot.

**To Use Thighs For Stock:  The meat will easily shred right off the bone, but don’t worry, plenty remains to flavor the broth.  Store the shredded thigh meat in a covered container or zip bag to use in sandwiches, add to soup or eat in other meals.

Continue Preparing the Stock

  • bones from cooked turkey thighs (retained from recipe above)
  • 1/2 cup chopped turkey thigh (from recipe above)
  • 2 stalks celery, roughly cut into about 1″ pieces
  • 2 carrots, scrubbed and roughly cut into about 1″ pieces
  • 2 Bay leaves
  • 5 sprigs fresh parsley
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole peppercorns
  • 2 tsp pink Himalayan Sea Salt (you can use any sea salt – I like this one)
  • 3 cups water
  1. Add the skin, bones, chopped meat, celery, carrot, bay leaves, parsley, thyme, peppercorns, and salt to the vegetables and cooking liquid already in the pressure cooker pot, then add water.
  2. Pressure cook on high for 60 minutes.
  3. Let the pressure come down naturally – about 30 minutes.
  4. Scoop the bones and vegetables out of the pot with a slotted spoon and discard.
  5. Strain the stock through a fine mesh strainer and discard the solids.
  6. After the stock is completely cooled, I portioned it into quart-sized zip lock freezer bags.  It can be frozen for up to 3 months.

**Tip – If you use glass jars make sure to leave about an inch of head room or your jar could break when it freezes. #ThisGirlLovesToEat

 

 

 

Vanilla Bean Whipped Sweet Potatoes

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For those of us hosting big family meals, at just over a month before Thanksgiving, we’ve officially reached the “almost the holidays” panic time.  That time when we revisit what we did last year to determine:

  • What dishes served had the most leftovers
  • What dishes got rave reviews
  • What dishes had no leftovers (for adjusting amount prepared)
  • What dishes were too much effort and underwhelmed

It’s also the time when we take a look at new recipes that we might want to add to this year’s menu, which means we get to make our families Guinea pigs for the next few weeks while we’re trying them out.

I already have one sweet potato recipe that my family loves, but this one (from the December 2005 issue of Food & Wine Magazine) looks pretty good, it’s easy, serves 10 – 12, and can be made the day before which frees up time on the big day, another bonus.

vbwhippedsweetpotatoes

Vanilla Bean Whipped Sweet Potatoes

  • 4 pounds medium sweet potatoes
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 4 TBLS unsalted butter
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, slit lengthwise, seeds scraped
  • kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat the oven to 400° F.

Poke the sweet potatoes several times with a fork and bake for about 35 minutes, or until tender.  Let cool slightly, then peel and transfer them to a food processor (I actually use my stand mixer). Puree until fairly smooth.

In a small saucepan, combine the cream with the butter and the vanilla bean and seeds. Bring to a simmer. Remove the vanilla bean.

With the processor (or stand mixer) on, carefully pour the vanilla cream into the sweet potatoes and process until smooth. Season the sweet potato puree with salt and pepper, transfer to a bowl and serve.

I’d definitely consider doubling this recipe to make sure there were plenty of leftovers for piling on a turkey sandwich or frying up as sweet potato pancakes. #ThisGirlLovesToEat

Brown Butter & Toffee Chocolate Chip Cookies

BBToffe ChocChipCookies

I was cleaning out the drawers in my kitchen today, a task I hate and do only when I notice crumbs in the silverware divider (HOW IN THE WORLD DO CRUMBS GET INTO THE SILVERWARE DIVIDER WHEN THE SILVERWARE IS CLEAN?), and found a recipe I’d printed out last year but never made.  Truth be told, there were dozens of recipe print-outs, torn out magazine pages, a few cooking magazines, some torn off box tops with recipes and a few odd labels with the same.

After washing out the divider and putting everything, except all of the recipes, back into the drawers I was drawn back to this recipe and put it squarely on top of the pile to be made next.  #ThisGirlLovesToEat

There are a lot of things to like about these cookies, but one or two that could be cons for some:

  • They don’t pretend to skimp on calories or fat
  • They aren’t your run-of-the-mill chocolate chip cookies
  • They have buttery toffee in them
  • They call for chocolate discs instead of normal chips
  • Salt is a featured flavor
  • Con 1: They require extra time to prepare
  • Con 2: The ingredients cost more than everyday chocolate chip cookies
  • Con 3: The recipe makes fewer than 2 dozen cookies – cost per cookie is definitely special occasion or want to impress someone level

It’s really important you know how to make brown butter, so I went to America’s Test Kitchen to get a video to help us all out:

Brown Butter & Toffee Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
  • ⅓ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 chocolate toffee bars (Heath or Skor), chopped into ¼-inch pieces
  • 1½ cups chocolate wafers (disks, pistoles, fèves; preferably 72% cacao)
  • Flaky sea salt
    Cook butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring often, until it foams, then browns, 5–8 minutes. Scrape into a large bowl and let cool slightly.

    Meanwhile, whisk flour, baking soda, and kosher salt in a medium bowl.

    Add brown sugar and granulated sugar to browned butter. Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat until incorporated, about 1 minute. Add eggs and vanilla and beat until mixture lightens and begins to thicken, about 30 seconds. Reduce mixer speed to low; add dry ingredients and beat just to combine. Mix in toffee pieces and chocolate wafers with a wooden spoon or a rubber spatula. Let dough sit at room temperature at least 30 minutes to allow the flour to hydrate. Dough will look very loose at first, but will thicken as it sits.

    Place a rack in middle of oven; preheat to 375°. Using a 1½-oz. ice cream scoop, portion out 10 balls of dough and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet, spacing about 3″ apart (you can also form dough into ping pong–sized balls with your hands). Do not flatten; cookies will spread as they bake. Sprinkle with sea salt.

    Bake cookies until edges are golden brown and firm but centers are still soft, 9–11 minutes. Let cool on baking sheets 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely. Repeat with remaining dough and a fresh parchment-lined baking sheet to make 10 more cookies.

    Do Ahead: Cookie dough can be made 3 days ahead; cover and chill. Let dough come to room temperature before baking.

Pairing Dessert with Wine

dessertwines

It’s no secret that I love food and wine, but even I have to admit that sometimes the wine you drink with dinner may not be the same wine that you want to keep drinking when it comes time for dessert.

Generally, it’s not a bad idea to follow the rule: the darker the dessert the darker the wine.  If you don’t feel secure with a rule that is so non-specific, there are a few other taste guidelines according to the different dessert types:

  • Custard and Vanilla
  • Fruit and Spice
  • Caramels and Chocolate

Custard and Vanillacremebrulee

When your dessert is based around the light, mild, buttery flavors found in most custard based desserts you want your wines to have the same basic flavor profiles.  So, if you are serving a vanilla custard, pudding, flan, crème brûlée, tart or pie, you’ll want to serve a white wine like a late-harvest Riesling, or a sparkling wine like an Asti Spumanti or demi-sec Champagne.  This Vanilla Crème Brûlée from The New York Times is #FastAndEasy and needs only 5 ingredients!

Vanilla Crème Brûlée

  • 2 cups heavy or light cream, or half-and-half
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • teaspoon salt
  • 5 egg yolks
  • ½ cup sugar, more for topping

Heat oven to 325 degrees. In a saucepan, combine cream, vanilla bean and salt and cook over low heat just until hot. Let sit for a few minutes, then discard vanilla bean. (If using vanilla extract, add it now.)

In a bowl, beat yolks and sugar together until light. Stir about a quarter of the cream into this mixture, then pour sugar-egg mixture into cream and stir. Pour into four 6-ounce ramekins and place ramekins in a baking dish; fill dish with boiling water halfway up the sides of the dishes. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until centers are barely set. Cool completely. Refrigerate for several hours and up to a couple of days.

When ready to serve, top each custard with about a teaspoon of sugar in a thin layer. Place ramekins in a broiler 2 to 3 inches from heat source. Turn on broiler. Cook until sugar melts and browns or even blackens a bit, about 5 minutes. Serve within two hours.

Most crème brûlée recipes need a torch, but this one is simpler & safer: it uses your oven’s broiler to get the crackly top.

**TIP: Make sure the custard sets for several hours in the refrigerator before brûléeing the top so you don’t end up with soupy custard.

vanillaspicedpoachedpearFruit and Spice

When your dessert is fruit based with a spicy profile, like those with apple, pear, pumpkin or cinnamon in them, you’ll want to lean toward white wines that have more character to them.   In this case you’ll want to consider Pink or Rosé Champagne, Sauternes, or late-harvest Gewirtztraminer.

Caramels and Chocolates

When your dessert is rich and full of any of the flavors across the chocolate spectrum turtlebrownies1(except white chocolate) or has the gooey richness of caramel’s toffee goodness, then the wines you’re looking for will be Red.  Late-harvest Pinot Noir, Banyuls, Grenache, Australian Shiraz, Port (the classic chocolate pairing), and Grappa all are excellent pairings for these rich dessert choices.  #ThisGirlLovesToEat

 

 

Goodnight Charlie’s Hot Chicken Tacos

Food & Wine June 2018 Travel: Honky Tonk/ David Keck Hot Chicken TacosOnce he achieved the wine world’s most coveted initials behind his name, M.S. (Master Sommelier), instead of heading off to some five-star fancy pants restaurant to show the upwardly mobile out to impress their friends, or those with more money than sense, his incredible wine knowledge, Jeff Keck opened up a HONKY TONK, yes, a Honky Tonk in Houston!  That doesn’t mean he’s stepped away from his love of wine, indeed, far from it.

While getting his other wine-themed businesses and restaurants off the ground nearby, Goodnight Charlie’s serves up gourmet Texas fare with lots of Bourbon, Beer, Vodka, and davidkeckfelipericcioyes, some wine too.  There’s even a #RhinestoneCowboySpecial – a bottle of tête de cuvée Champagne and 12 tacos, prepared by his business partner, and chef, Felipe Riccio.  As the recipe below shows, they’re far from your run-of-the-mill street tacos.  I love Nashville Hot Chicken, so these should be right up my alley! #ThisGirlLovesToEat

Goodnight Charlie’s Hot Chicken Tacos

Chicken

  • 6 cups warm water
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup plus 5 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
  • 1 1/2 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 3 1/2 cups cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (about 6 3/8 ounces)
  • 5 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons coarse yellow cornmeal
  • 2 tablespoons onion powder
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 2 cups whole buttermilk

Stir together 6 cups warm water, sugar, and 1/2 cup salt in a large, lidded container until dissolved. Let cool. Place chicken in brine; cover and chill 8 hours.

Drain chicken, and discard brine. Whisk together cornstarch, flour, chili powder, cornmeal, onion powder, garlic powder, and 4 teaspoons salt in a large bowl. Place buttermilk in a separate bowl. Working in small batches, dredge chicken pieces in cornstarch mixture, dip in buttermilk, and dredge again in cornstarch mixture. Place coated chicken pieces in a fine wire-mesh strainer, and shake off excess flour mixture. Place chicken in a single layer on 2 wire racks on rimmed baking sheets, and let stand 15 minutes.

Spiced Oil

  • 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 cup grape seed oil, plus more for frying

Stir together cayenne, brown sugar, onion powder, and garlic powder in a small bowl. Heat 1 cup grapeseed oil in a medium skillet over medium-high until hot, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat, and add spice mixture to oil, stirring to combine. Let cool 10 minutes. Transfer to a large heatproof bowl.

Preheat oven to 200°F. Heat 1 inch of grape seed oil in a large, heavy, high-sided skillet over medium-high to 360°F. Working in 3 batches, fry chicken, turning occasionally, until crispy and cooked through, 4 to 5 minutes.

Transfer to bowl with spiced oil; toss to coat. Lift chicken from bowl; place on a wire rack set in a rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Transfer baking sheet to preheated oven to keep warm. Repeat procedure 2 times with remaining chicken and remaining 1 teaspoon salt.

Braised Greens

  • 4 ounces fresh Mexican Chorizo, casings removed
  • 1 cup chopped yellow onion
  • 2 tablespoons diced jalapeño
  • 1 (12-ounce) bunch collard greens, stemmed and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

Place Chorizo, onion, and jalapeño in a large skillet over medium. Cook, stirring occasionally, until Chorizo is crumbled and browned and onions are softened, 8 to 10 minutes. Add greens and 1 teaspoon salt; cover and cook until tender, 3 to 4 minutes, stirring once halfway through. Stir in vinegar. Remove from heat.

Additional Ingredients

  • 24 (6-inch) yellow corn tortillas, warmed
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped bread-and-butter pickle chips

Divide braised greens and fried chicken among warm tortillas. Top with pickles.

Serve alongside a couple of ice cold beers, or, if you’re feeling fancy, do it #GoodnightCharliesStyle and pop open a bottle of Champagne. #GirlsGoneWine

Pumpkin Gingerbread

pumpkingingerbreadI’m not a big pumpkin spice anything girl, but I am a big fan of pumpkin pie and just about any bread or muffin that has pumpkin in it.  I am not, however, a big fan of the amount of fat that usually accompanies those recipes and look for any way I can to trim that aspect down so I can enjoy more of those seasonal treats.

On this first day of October, it may have been 90° and muggy in the shade where I live, but I’m kicking off my fall baking (well after dark) with this recipe for pumpkin gingerbread with no added fat.

Pumpkin Gingerbread

  • 3 Cups sugar
  • 1 Cup applesauce or banana puree
  • 4 eggs
  • 2/3 Cup water
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground allspice
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • 3+1/2 Cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1+1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1-15oz can pumpkin puree

Preheat oven to 350° F (175° C). Lightly grease two 9×5 inch loaf pans.

In a large mixing bowl, combine sugar, applesauce or banana puree, and eggs; beat until smooth. Add water and beat until well blended. Stir in pumpkin, ginger, allspice cinnamon, and clove.

In medium bowl, combine flour, soda, salt, and baking powder. Add dry ingredients to pumpkin mixture and blend just until all ingredients are mixed. Divide batter between prepared pans.

Bake in preheated oven until toothpick comes out clean, about 1 hour.  Cool loaves completely on wire racks.  Store wrapped in refrigerator.

#ThisGirlLovesToEat