Friday, November 26, 2010

This year's turkey, turkey brine and all

The flash on my camera is still broken, the sun had already set on Thanksgiving day, and I didn't have any fancy schmancy lighting available. I have no idea what happened to the piece of paper on which I wrote the specifics of the turkey brine I made and used this time around.


So, pardon me whilst I provide very little in the way of details. I started preparing the brine Wednesday morning. I used roughly 4 cups of kosher salt (I actually didn't have 4 cups left, so I substituted sea salt) and a heck of a lot of water. Enough to fill this pot all the way up to the top. I was dealing with a SIXTEEN POUND BIRD, not like the 10-12 pounder from last year.

Brought the water to nearly to a boil and made sure the salt dissolved. Then added parsley flakes and rubbed sage to the pot, let the liquid cool to room temperature, & my husband helped with the next step. He bagged the bird and the liquid in a huge, brand spanking new (unused) trash bag. Actually, I had him double bag the stuff; didn't want any accidents on the floor. Cleared a tupperware container, so we could surround the garbage bags housing the turkey and brine in ice. Poultry needs to stay cool, to avoid spoiling.

This year, unlike last year, there was no snow on the ground. Though we couldn't pack the turkey with snow, temps outside were plenty cold enough to keep our poultry company.

Thursday morning, my husband and I busily prepared many ingredients for both cooking the turkey and making chicken pot pie. I'll let you guess which is which. Just kidding on that last bit. Some potatoes, carrots, celery, and green onions went into baking the turkey. Also added freshly ground pepper, some apple cider vinegar, and brown sugar. I placed slivers of unmelted (straight out of the refrigerator) butter on the top of the turkey.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees (oven should be preheated as vegetables are being cut).

Cover turkey baking vessel. I baked the turkey for nearly 6 hours. Checked the internal turkey temperature (avoiding hitting the bone, of course) around half way through the bake time.

Can't tell from this photograph (STUPID broken flash), but the top of the turkey was golden brown. VERY exciting, considering this didn't happen last year. Juicy. Meat was falling off the bone by barely touching the meat.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Chicken pot pie, with a Lily twist


Chicken Pot Pie, with a Lily Twist

Throughout my life, from time to time, some of my departures from the what's been considered as normal practice has been considered significant or quite different. I'm not just talking about food. On the topic of food, this is one of those deviations. That signature pie crust that sits on top of chicken pot pie is missing is this unique recipe of mine. But, I am not worried, and I believe this is a tasteful change. Using Panko instead of the pie crust is my signature stamp on this creation.

Want the recipe? Please keep in mind that when it comes to providing recipes, I'm horrendous about remembering exactly how much I used of most any given ingredient. I use my senses to cook, so when I cook something, I never cook it the same exact way twice.

  • family size of chicken tenders (this happened to be on sale at one of the grocery stores I frequent) - 3.24 lbs - tendons cut off, cut into small pieces
  • 1 bundle of celery - leaves taken off, rinsed, and cut into thin slices
  • 1 small package of mini carrots - quartered
  • 2 red onions - diced
  • 6 cloves of garlic - diced
  • 6 red potatoes - washed (I left the skin on) and cut into small squares
  • 1/3 c. of butter
  • a bit of olive oil
  • parsley flakes (several tbsp)
  • a bit of soy sauce
  • a bit of Worcestershire sauce
  • sea salt
  • pepper, from a pepper mill
  • approx. 1/2 c. of frozen corn
  • chicken broth (1-3 cups? sorry, I really am not sure) - cooking the chicken tenders will draw a decent amount of broth
  • milk (2-4 cups? again, sorry about the really rough estimate)
  • Panko bread crumbs - 1/2 to 2/3 of a package


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

1. I first caramelized the red onions. On low heat, I cooked diced red onions with a bit of olive oil, until the onions were more transparent. I added a bit of salt towards the end.

Leaving behind the juices & oil (in the pan), I set the onions aside.

2. Then I dumped in the cut chicken tenders. Somewhere in the cooking process, I added sea salt, a bit of soy sauce, and a bit of Worcestershire sauce for flavor. Once the chicken was almost thoroughly cooked (remember the dish is going to bake in the oven, so we don't want the chicken dry), leaving the juice behind in the pan, I set the chicken aside.

3. Into the pan, dump all (except the Panko) the other (uncooked) ingredients into the pan: diced garlic, chopped celery, chopped red potatoes, chopped carrots, milk, chicken broth. I also added a bit of salt, parsley flakes, ground pepper flakes from a mill, and the butter.

Let this stuff cook (let is be a bit bubbly) for at least 10 minutes. I might have let it simmer for 20 minutes; my husband doesn't appreciate crunchy cooked carrots.

4. Dish as much as you can into a large pan. I love my Pampered Chef stoneware*. Be careful to not let the juice get too close to the top of the pan or you'll have a very decorated oven to clean! I let mine heap, such that it slopes downwards and doesn't fill to the rim of the container.

5. Cover the top with Panko.

6. After the oven has been preheated to 400 degrees, bake for approximately 50 minutes.

Here's the finished product. Bon Appetit.

Swordfish delight


The day before yesterday, in the name of or justification of taking care by nourishing, I made two main dishes: swordfish, which my husband and I (our girls also enjoyed the fruits of my labor) had for lunch; and chicken pot pie. I had taken the girls on my crazy three story grocery marathon run and found out the swordfish was on sale. This was about $3 less a pound than usual. I couldn't resist. By how quickly it was devoured by the four of us, I can say it was a good buy.
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