Tag Archives: Serious Eats

Is It Too Late To Talk About Thanksgiving?

It might be late, but who needs a holiday for turkey, stuffing, and pie?

The Turkey

If you remember last year, I de-boned a whole turkey to make a turkey roll, after practicing with a couple of chickens. It was a good skill to learn and have in my apron pocket, but I decided to go with something even easier this year—the spatchcocked turkey. You might recall when I spatchcocked a chicken to cook on the grill. Well, it’s the same simple process with a turkey—cut out the backbone with kitchen/poultry shears and press the whole thing flat, so it all cooks at the same time without overcooking the breast.

It did mean that I needed to buy some more kitchen equipment, which I’m always glad to do. I bought the extra large 15″ x 21″ x 1″ baking sheet (from Nordic Ware®) and a 14″ x 20″ stainless steel rack that fits exactly into it. Even though I’m only cooking a small 12 lb. turkey this time, the sheet will be big enough for larger ones in the future. The rack sits up enough to allow room for carrots, celery, and onion beneath the bird to flavor the juices that drip down, although I skipped that because I made the stock for gravy on the day I started the brining process with the backbone and giblets. I also picked up the extra long heavy duty aluminum foil to line the pan, because, why make a hot mess on its first voyage?

Here are the instructions for dry brining, and here are the instructions for the roasting day, both from Serious Eats. This might be my favorite new way to cook a turkey. It cooks in just a little over an hour at 450° and everything comes out juicy, including the breasts without the usual drying out to get the thighs done. Cutting up the turkey for serving is very easy—I’m long over the need to present a whole stuffed bird and try to carve it at the table; I’d much rather present the serving platter.

After dinner, I made turkey stock in the slow cooker with the carcass and drumsticks (we don’t really care for those), letting it cook on low overnight. You can let the slow cooker go for as long as 24 hours when making stock. The next morning I packaged the rich stock in quart containers for the freezer.

The Dressing

I almost called it stuffing, which would be technically incorrect. You can’t really stuff a flattened bird. 🙄

For me, the dressing is the most important dish on the Thanksgiving table, then gravy, then pie, then bird, then potatoes, in that order. I picked up 2 half-pound bâtards (short baguettes) last week and put them in the freezer. I’m making a simple dressing with roughly-torn croutons, onion, celery,  sage, and parsley, lots of butter and stock, like this one from Epicurious, but without the other herbs. This dressing recipe includes beaten eggs, which makes the stuffing kind of a savory bread pudding—I recommend it. We ate every bit over a couple of days. I might have nibbled into one corner before dinner, as you can see in the pic.

The Pie

It’s been a long time since I didn’t make pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving, but with my husband’s lactose intolerance, the custard and whipped cream just seemed like more than I wanted to deal with in terms of substitution, so apple it is. I’ll be making that on Wednesday and trying out the concept of macerating the apples beforehand and then cooking the resulting juices into a syrup. The process is described here, another recipe from Epicurious. The juices from the apples cook up into a very nice syrup with a strong apple juice flavor, and the pie filling is not overcooked, as sometimes happen when you cook the filling in advance, apples and all. I did follow the linked recipe pretty closely, but I did not want to fool around with our expectations by adding Chinese five spice powder—I just used cinnamon.

 

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Carne Asada with Skirt Steak, Pt. 2

Finishing up the Carne Asada I started this morning with the previous post’s salsa marinade, I moved to the grill just before dinner. My almost-1 lb of skirt steak made four small pieces, which I grilled over very hot direct heat on a charcoal grill, 2 minutes per side.

I had been worried about getting a nice char, but it was pretty easy, maybe because of the good salsa marinade, or maybe just because I carefully followed the suggestions in the Serious Eats recipe—and gave a wink and a nod to the summer rain gods to hold off a little. We were impressed with our first skirt steak and ate it all up in tortillas with more of the salsa, lettuce, and guacamole. I just hope our grocery will have skirt steak more often.

Wow! Crispy, juicy, spicy. Thanks to Serious Eats for this recipe.

Carne Asada with Skirt Steak, Pt. 1

Yes, I finally found skirt steak at the grocery, so I’m trying out the Serious Eats recipe, mostly because the marinade/salsa looks so tasty. Luckily there are just two of us and the little under-1 lb package will do. Even at that small size, it was $18, though, so I don’t want to make any mistakes.

I made few changes to the salsa:

  • I only used dried ancho chiles, 5 of them, instead of the two kinds in the original
  • I added two roasted jalapenos from our garden
  • I did not use canned chipotle peppers
  • I did not have, nor want fish sauce, so I added a 3rd tablespoon of soy sauce
  • Neither did I have the coriander seed, so I just skipped that
  • And mostly, I didn’t do all the juicing of fresh fruit nor the toasting and grinding of seeds—I didn’t even chop my own cilantro!

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I’ll be back later to show how it all worked out on the grill—that’s the part I’m worried about, that cooking with the lid off won’t give me the char I want before the meat’s too done. In the meantime, here’s the sauce, with my variations:

Carne Asada Salsa

  • Servings: 2 cups
  • Difficulty: easy
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See the original recipe here: http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2015/09/carne-asada-food-lab-recipe-kenji.html

Ingredients
  • 5 whole dried ancho chilies, stems and seeds removed
  • 2 roasted jalapeno peppers, peeled and seeded
  • 3/4 cup orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 6 medium cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup cilantro paste—solves dealing with the disgusting smell of cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • Kosher salt
Preparation
  1. Place dried ancho chilies on a plate and microwave until pliable, about 20-30 seconds. I didn’t know how this would work out, because I only ever reconstitute dried peppers to use in chili or to make enchilada sauce. I always strain the reconstituted, blended chiles, so I was concerned about the pepper skins, but they blended up nicely.
  2. Transfer to a blender with the rest of the ingredients, except the salt.
  3. Blend for 1-2 minutes until smooth, scraping down the sides of the blender jar to get all the bits.
  4. Transfer the salsa to two bowls, one to eat later as a dressing, the other for the marinade.
  5. Add 2 teaspoons kosher salt to the marinade, dip meat portions in the sauce, then pour all into a sealable bag. Seal and refrigerate for about 3 hours.
  6. Add salt to taste to the remaining salsa and refrigerate.