Friday, December 31, 2010

Christmas Dinner

Turkey. Turkey. Only turkey.

There was supposed to be a jelly roll. But this turkey took 6 hours from start to finish. That's a lot for Christmas Day. So the rolling of the jelly is for another time.

To ensure it's juiciness (or something) the turkey is brined in very salty vegetable broth. 1 3/4 cups of salt to be precise.

Unfortunately the turkey did not completely fit in the stockpot, so when we pulled him out the brine... Most of him was white but the parts thats stuck out were a scary looking reddish-tan. Ah well.

So we stuffed him with Chestnut Stuffing. Chestnuts. So tasty but completely ridiculous. You must score them, then boil them, peel them, chop them and then finally mix them with bread cubes, celery, onion, and three cups of chopped parsley.

Not even half of the stuffing fit in Mr. Turkey. And anyhow, I'm not to sure about this stuffing thing. Once it's cooked and you take it out of the bird it's a bit...soggy. I suppose some people prefer it that way-but I like the bread cubes to be slightly crispy.

The Gravy

Apparently, you should never see the law or sausages being made. To this list there is just one thing I want to add. Anything you eat that contains or is made with giblets.

First the stock. Yes, gravy stock. Made with giblets.

I almost thought I wasn't going to make it. Giblets are scary. Really. Scary. I was about to decide just to use the turkey neck, which yes, seems sort of odd, but I am familiar with turkey necks. I am not familiar with strange...purple things. (Which I later learned were the heart and the liver.)

Eventually I used only the neck and something pink and unidentifiable, and I am sure if I knew what it was, it would make me feel ill. But I don't and I didn't so I just tossed it in the saucepan along with aromatic vegetables and herbs and boiled it.

But then I had to take it out and chop it, which did make me feel ill. Because of the smell. It was a funny smell, like stew meat, but-different. Fairly disgusting.

Now I made roux. I cooked flour with an equal amount of the most intense smelling pan drippings ever. Really. It smelled of turkey, chestnuts, bread, onion, and even garlic, although there wasn't actually any garlic in it. It was slightly ridiculous.

And now we wisk in the giblet-stock, (which has had the giblets removed), the pan drippings and-the giblets. Again. I reduced it until it was slightly thicker than heavy cream and finally strained into a gravy boat.

Ta Da!

Finally it was all together and we ate it. I'm afraid I did not enjoy it as much as my family because I had, you know, seen it being made. It was amazing nontheless. There were so many flavors layered in it, it was overwhelming. A portion could keep you going for hours, but somehow my brothers managed to eat third helpings.

Monday, December 6, 2010


Pan Seared Strip Steak with Mustard Cream Sauce is not very complicated. Except what is a strip steak?

Well it is also a Kansas City Strip, a shell steak, and a New York Strip. Once you figure this out, much is possible.

Once I figured that out, I could continue making my lunch.

Pan searing is fast. The butter hisses and the steak browns with alarming speed. I was attempting to cook it to medium rare-ish, but in my fear of undercooked meat it turned out more medium well done.

I do not like mustard. But for some reason it tastes ridiculously good in salad dressing and pan sauce.

While  the steak is resting, you add a bit of white wine to the juices and it spatters and bubbles for 20 second and then you end up with what looks like less pan juice than you had before.  But you end up with a reasonable amount once you add mustard and heavy cream.

I served this with Garlic and Rosemary Mashed Potatoes (do you know the difference between potato puree and mashed potatoes?) and (ahhh!) Creamed Spinach.

There is this skill that some people have where they can have everything cooked, hot, and ready at the same time. Unfortunately,  I do not.

In the end the steak was room temperature, slightly tough and absolutely delicious, the creamed spinach was piping hot and...not bad (I hate cooked spinach), and the mashed potatoes were hot and yummy.

A sort of success.


OK, So What ARE Bonito Flakes?


Bonito flakes are made out of boiled, smoked, sun dried, fresh bonito, a type of small tuna. It is one of 3 ingredients in dashi, a type of soup stock used in Japanese miso soup. The only other things in dashi are kombu (kelp), and water.

After searching a Japanese food store from top to bottom twice, there were still no bonito flakes to be found. Instead we got some fish sauce and dried flounder and hoped it would work.

Once we took the ingredients home, however, I read the back of the bag of dried flounder, which said it needed to be kept frozen (sort of defeats the point of drying it), which it had not been at the store.


There was no actually fish in the dashi, just some fish sauce.

But I had what I hoped would be a good enough substitute for the making of miso soup.

Miso soup is so good. Its basically nothing but water and soy beans prepared in various enigmatic ways and perhaps some seaweed.

But a long story short, the miso soup was good, and according to my mother, the extra step of making dashi added something, something I am not sure I could taste. Ah well.