Sunday, April 22, 2012

Turkey Breast Stock (Page 386)

RECIPE #1291

  • Date: Sunday, April 8, 2012 -- 1:30pm
  • Location: East Lansing, MI
  • Kitchen: Our House
  • Fellow Chefs: Chris and Mike
  • Dining Companions: Matty, Karen H, Dave, Brad, Deniz, Mike M, Teresa, Sami, Kendra, Watson
  • Recipe Rating: B

I would have made this recipe long ago, but it was a component of a crazy turkey concoction which I saved for the end of the project. So, this recipe ended up being one of the final three! It was a super simple recipe. Mike, Chris, and I threw the turkey bones leftover from the crazy turkey concoction (more on how those bones were acquired in the next post!) into a pot along with carrots, celery, onions, cloves, and water and we brought it to a simmer. Then we added peppercorns, thyme, bay leaf, and parsley stems. We simmered it until it had reduced a bit and them poured it through a fine-mesh sieve. That was all there was to it! This stock went into the sauce for the turkey dish. The sauce turned out excellent, but in order to rate this stock recipe I also tasted the stock on its own. The stock had a nice flavor to it, but it wasn't as rich or deeply flavorful as a typical turkey or chicken stock, and it had a thin mouthfeel. That was no doubt because a) it only simmered for an hour and a half, which is very little time for a stock, and b) I usually make turkey stock with carcasses from roasted turkeys, and this stock was made from the bones of raw turkey breasts. As one would expect, a cooked turkey carcass has a lot of additional flavor. That said, the flavor of this stock was good, although mild, and it was very quick and easy to make. The sauce that we made out of it was very tasty.

This recipe isn't online. 

Only 2 recipes left to go!

It only seemed right to finish off this project with a bang! So Easter weekend friends and family joined us from Indiana, Ohio, Virginia, England, Chicago... and we had a feast! It was a crazy, chaotic, exhausting, and wonderful weekend! First a quick breakdown of events starting with Thursday night.

Thursday evening:

5pm: Start the pork marinating for the bacon

7pm: Third trip to grocery store for supplies

8:30pm: Try desperately to fit groceries into the very-crowded refrigerator

9pm-Midnight: Alternate between cleaning the house and trying to get work done


9am - 1:30pm: Teach 3 classes (my 2 and one for my colleague Bob who was out of town)

2-3pm: Church for Good Friday

3-5pm: Frantic cleaning

5pm: Chris arrives (close friend from graduate school)

6pm: Make sushi rice salad for dinner

7pm: Mike arrives (another close friend from graduate school)

8-11pm: Go to broadway touring production of Les Miserables with Chris, Mike, and my special gentleman


9am - 11am: Cook breakfast, start prepping food with Chris, watch Mike and my special gentleman assemble special grill for bacon-smoking

11am - 7pm:  Smoke bacon! Check bacon ever 30 minutes or so for 8 hours. Try to find time to make it to Bed, Bath, and Beyond, Target, and Meijer for last minute supplies, within the 90 minute intervals between adding sawdust to the bacon smoker.

1pm: Lovely package arrives from France with candy and well-wishes for the weekend from our good friends Helen, Charles, and Clara, who are currently living in Paris.

3pm-6pm:  Stuff turkey with turkey (and bacon, pork, ham and pistachios). First step: deboning turkey breasts -- not as easy as it sounds. Try to ignore the fact that at some point there was raw turkey juice EVERYWHERE and I was pureeing turkey and bacon in the food processor. Yes, pureeing. Make turkey stock, Assemble nasty looking turkey concoction. Meanwhile, keep checking bacon.

3pm: Brad, Deniz, and Hannah arrive (my brother-in-law, m sister-in-law, and my niece) along with Hanby and Wellie (their dogs)

3:15pm: Watch hysterical interactions between our cats and their dogs  

4pm: Dave and Karen arrive (my in-laws)

6pm: Mike, Teresa, and Sami arrive (our good friends from my post-doc years in Indiana)

6:15pm: Realize that there is no way I am making dinner for all of these people given that a) the entire kitchen is covered in raw turkey juice and b) I am already exhausted.

6:20pm: Order pizza

7pm-midnight: Eat pizza, continue prepping and cooking for Sunday with babies, dogs, and cats underfoot, try to find space for everyone to sleep, play Apples to Apples.


7am: More cooking. Prep french toast, lentil salad, fruit, fritatta, sauce for turkey, etc, etc... Start cooking the crazy turkey concoction (which looked like huge grubs -- pictures forthcoming in later posts)

10-11:30am: Easter service at church with Karen and Mike 

11:30am - 1pm: Everyone frantically cooks or cleans or fries bacon or sets the table or hides Easter eggs, or... 

1pm: Kendra, Watson, and Georgina arrive

1pm-4pm: Easter brunch! Eating the last recipes from the project! Story-telling about past Book triumphs and disasters! Champagne drinking! Egg hunt!

4pm: Mike, Brad, Deniz, Hannah, Hanby, and Wellie leave

4pm - Midnight: Hanging out with remaining company, playing at the park, playing board games, cleaning, etc...


7am: Awake again, getting ready for the day.

8am: Cook breakfast for Chris, Mike, Teresa, Sami, Karen, and Dave

10am: Throw out all houseguests (except Chris who stayed all week) and head to work for a very long day, which included teaching, office hours, seminars, and meetings until 9pm. Eat both lunch and dinner at my desk. Feel very thankful for the delicious leftovers.

9pm - midnight: Come home from work. Sit on couch with a glass of white wine and a basket of Easter candy, exhausted. 

And now, a few pictures! My in-laws with my niece Hannah, who is looking excited about her very first Easter:


Me on Easter making caramelized onion, tomato, basil frittatas, shortly before we ate:

My special gentleman, looking very serious as he cooks:

Chris with a pan of baked French Toast, and Mike rinsing off something:

The table, complete with champagne glasses. Thanks to Kendra and Deniz for bringing champagne! There was definitely cause for celebration as we ate the last three Book recipes!

A few food pictures. Here are the frittatas:

... and lentil salad, bacon, fruit, grilled brussels sprouts...

...and grilled asparagus, French toast, and turkey ballotine. There was a lot of food!

After we ate we had an egg hunt in the backyard! Here's Hannah, working on the easiest egg hunt ever:

And after the egg hunt, there was candy-eating! Sami may have had a few pieces of chocolate:

By that point, I was tired! Here I am sitting down to take a little rest with my niece:

I wasn't the only one who was worn out. Here's my brother-in-law Brad with Hanby:

Sami was pretty sleepy too...

In summary: the weekend was CRAZY! And exhausting. But it was tremendous fun, and there were definitely some moments over the weekend that were absolutely perfect (e.g. 4 PhDs trying to figure out how to use a chimney starter to get the charcoal ready for the bacon smoking. I laughed so hard I cried). The weekend was certainly chaotic, but it felt right to have a big crowd in the kitchen at all times. It was a team effort, as so much of this project has been. More details about the turkey and the bacon are forthcoming in the next couple posts, as well as more thoughts about the end of the project!

Special thanks to Deniz and Georgina who took many of the pictures above! And an enormous thank-you to everyone who came to cook and eat the last project recipes! It was wonderful having you with us.

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Fresh Ham with Cracklings and Pan Gravy (Page 496)

RECIPE #1290

  • Date: Saturday, December 31, 2011 -- 7pm
  • Location: Westerville, OH
  • Kitchen: Dave and Karen's House
  • Fellow Chef: Matty
  • Dining Companions: Dave, Karen H, Brad, Deniz, Wes, Lorna, Eddie, Evelyn, and Jinx
  • Recipe Rating: A-
I would have made this recipe long ago, as it sounded AWESOME, but I had some trouble finding fresh ham. Fresh ham is an uncured bone-in leg of pork. So it is the cut of meat that ham is made from, but unlike ham it is not cured. This recipe called for an 8-10 pound fresh ham (shank-end leg of pork with skin on). I started keeping my eyes open for this cut of meat a year or two ago, but I never came across one. And sadly the local butcher shop wouldn't order it for me. My usual online meat purveyor doesn't carry this cut either. Eventually I found a place online that sold them. The choices: an 11 pound ham, or a 22 pound ham. Clearly 11 pounds seemed like the way to go for this recipe. It arrived just before Christmas, and I put it in the freezer and then transported it frozen to my in-laws' house in Ohio. I planned to make this for dinner a few days after Christmas and I let it thaw in the refrigerator for an appropriate number of days to thaw an 11-pound piece of meat. It was only when I took it out of the fridge to cook it that I realized that although I had ordered an 11-pound piece of meat, and paid for an 11-pound piece of meat, they had sent me an 18-pound piece of meat. Probably I should have noticed that early (it did seem pretty heavy!) but I did not. So not only was it still partially frozen, but I didn't have nearly enough time before dinner to cook it. So I braised some beef for dinner that night instead, and this piece of meat got rescheduled for New Year's Eve dinner. By then the meat was thawed and I started cooking it early in the day!

On New Year's Eve, I started by pricking the skin and then scoring the skin down the entire length of the ham. I rubbed the ham with oil, salt, thyme, sage, pepper, and dry mustard. I roasted the ham for a while, then poured a half a bottle of beer over it. I roasted it some more, then poured more beer on it. I continued to roast it until it reached about 155 degrees. When I took it out of the oven it looked like this:

I pulled the crispy skin off the pork and cut it into pieces. Then I seasoned the cracklings with salt and baked them some more until they were super crispy! Meanwhile, I made gravy from the pan juices, using flour, beef stock, mustard, sage, thyme, sugar, cider vinegar, salt, and pepper. I trimmed the fat off the ham and sliced it. I then served it with the gravy and the cracklings.

This pork was tasty. The meat was moist and flavorful, and the gravy complemented it very well. The cracklings were the star of the dish (or at least they were the aspect of the dish that my brother-in-law Wes went on and on about during dinner!). My special gentleman has a name for items like this: fatty, crispy, flavorful nuggets, often coming from the skin of some kind of animal. He calls them super bacon. This was super bacon to the extreme. The skin was extremely crispy and intensely flavorful. It was not a light snack, and I could only eat a few small pieces of it, but several people at the table were really chowing down on the cracklings. They were something pretty special. Overall this was a nice pork preparation, and a fun way to prepare and serve an unusual cut of pork.

The recipe is here.

Only 3 recipes left to go!

This was the last recipe in the Beef, Veal, Pork, and Lamb section of The Book! With 126 recipes in it, this was the second longest section. There were many amazing recipes in this section, so it is hard to narrow it down to just 5. But in no particular order, here are my 5 favorites:
  • Georgian Pork Stew -- I love braised meat (love it!) and braised pork may well be my favorite. So it's no surprise that I was completely taken by this stew, which melded braised pork with fantastic flavors from spices such as fenugreek, savory, turmeric, coriander, etc... Yum!!
  • Lamb Chops with Mustard Sauce and Fried Capers -- Just this afternoon I was at the butcher shop and the person in front of me was buying lamb chops. I thought longingly of this recipe and considered ditching my previous plans and buying some lamb chops for myself too! The lamb chops in this recipe were cooked perfectly and the sauce was crazy delicious. The fried capers added a perfect little crunch and brine.
  • Braised Lamb Shanks with White Beans -- This recipe might well make my top 10 list for the entire book! These lamb shanks braised in red wine were absolutely perfect, and the white beans were incredibly tasty. I originally made this for just Chris and my special gentleman when we were living in Berkeley, but last Easter I used this recipe to braise lamb shanks for about 20 people and they were enjoyed by all.
  • Salt-Fried Rib-Eye Steak -- I have very fond memories of the first time we made this. It was when I lived in Bloomington, Indiana. The apartment completely filled with smoke and we feared that our dinner was ruined. But that's just the way it goes with this recipe. It produces an incredible amount of smoke and the steak comes out perfect! Totally worth it!
  • Chinese-Hawaiian "Barbequed" Ribs -- I made these ribs in Boston one summer evening, for dinner with Mike, Rach, and my special gentleman. The ribs came out tender and delicious and drenched in an incredibly tasty sauce. We sat around the table, laughing and licking our fingers. It was a lovely evening with tasty food!
I am sad to see this section go. It was so fun eating all of this meat! I was a vegetarian for 10 years and now I look back on it and wonder how I did it. I love meat! I was eating my lunch during my office hours one day last week and one of my students asked me if I am vegetarian (because my lunch had tofu in it). I laughed out loud (and then felt bad because she actually is vegetarian). But I truly can't imagine being a vegetarian again.

Well, this is the 19th section that I have finished from The Book. I only have 2 sections (3 recipes!) left to go! I am happy to announce that I now have a plan for finishing this project. It's true, I have been moving at a snail's pace on these last few recipes. Partly it has been because I have been busy. But much more than that, it was just not knowing the right way to mark the end of the project. It seemed sad just to finish it off by eating the last few recipes at home with only my special gentleman. In the end I decided to plan a celebration! So, I am cooking the last three recipes next weekend. Some special guests (including Chris, Mike, Paul, Dave, Karen, Brad, Deniz, Hannah, Mike M, Teresa, and Sami) are traveling to East Lansing to be a part of the festivities. We are going to smoke bacon and stuff turkey with turkey. Then on Easter we will eat the last three recipes (and a bunch of other food!) joined by some friends of ours from East Lansing. I am very excited! I am sure the weekend will be chaotic and fun, which seems like an appropriate way to finish off this project, which has been such a part of my life for so many years. I am so glad that some of our friends are able to travel to Michigan to be here for the end of the project. I am honored and delighted!