Tuesday, November 29, 2011

"Cheat" turducken

A couple of years ago, I made a Turducken. No no no, you don't understand... I MADE it... 3 stuffings from scratch, 3 birds, deboned... it was a feat that took 3 days and cost a bunch of money. It was worth it... I fed a good lot of friends, and felt like I climbed a culinary mountain. I am asked if I will ever do it again. I might, but not for years.

A little while after the epic Turducken, Feast, a local food magazine here in St. Louis, posted local chef Cassie Vire's version of a Turducken. Much simpler than an actual Turducken, she used the turkey breast, duck breast and some chicken sausage and made a roulade. Ummm... brilliant. It's been in the back of my mind since I saw it, so when I had the opportunity to cook Thanksgiving for my friends this year, I knew this "Cheat" would be the main course.

I hesitate to post Thanksgiving so soon after Thanksgiving... you are all done with that, right? But this was so yummy and relatively easy to make, I wouldn't hesitate to make it for dinner parties all fall and winter long! It's not as heavy as a traditional Turducken, in that it uses the leaner meats and no stuffing. Plus, it's so fun, and neat to see come together. It'll impress your guests, for sure.

I adjusted the recipe and steps a bit, as reflected below. Not much, though. I had trouble with my turkey breast. I unwrapped it and it was bundled in a net. I think it was meant to be cooked in that net. When I took the net off I found that the meat was in several mangled pieces... not ideal for rolling. In Cassie's recipe, you roll the duck and chicken up in the turkey breast, then wrap it all in bacon. Since my turkey was useless for holding together, I put the mat of bacon down first, and used that to keep everything together. It didn't turn out as pretty or tight as hers, but still, neato! She also browned hers in a skillet first. I was not secure in the construction of mine, so I skipped this step, figuring the less I moved it, the better. It cooked fine this way... maybe not as crunchy as hers.

Cassie Vire's Cheat Turducken

1 boneless, skinless turkey breast, brined, patted dry
2 boneless, skinless wild duck breasts, soaked in milk overnight, patted dry
2 Tbsp ground sage
1 Tbsp dried thyme
2 Tbsp fresh thyme
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 chicken-apple sausages
12-16 slices bacon
butcher's twine

Preheat oven to 325°F. Place turkey breast on a large cutting board and cover with a large piece of plastic wrap. Using a meat mallet, gently pound the turkey to an even ¼-inch thickness. Do the same with the duck breasts.

Lay out the bacon on a sheet of plastic wrap or foil, slightly overlapping, so that you have "mat" of bacon as wide as the flattened breasts. Place the flattened turkey breast on top of the bacon, centered. Place the flattened duck breasts on top of the turkey, and the chicken sausages on top of the duck. Carefully, using the plastic wrap or foil and the bacon, roll everything up into a roulade. Once rolled, carefully tie up with Butchers twine to secure.

Bake on a roasting rack in a casserole dish or roasting pan for about 90 minutes, until the internal temp reaches 165º when tested with a meat thermometer. Let rest for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.
Related posts from the Archives and Elsewhere:

Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Ham and Sage Butter (also served this at Friendsgiving)
Parsnip Gratin (and this!)
Listen to Stewed STL's interview with Cassie Vires
Food Blog Mafia's Christmas
Skank Ham featuring Jive Turkey (and another)

Monday, November 21, 2011

osso buco dinner party!

My good buddy Kelly got a new stove. To celebrate and christen the new appliance, she had some friends over for a dinner party. I love going over to Kelly's to help cook fun stuff (see: Paella, pretzels, pork buns, for example). We chose Osso Buco for this party.

Kelly did most of the research and shopping... mostly I just came over and chopped a bunch of stuff up. So why am I posting about it? Because I was able to get Mario Batali to help!! Okay, I asked him for tips on twitter and he answered... which, honestly, he does for hundreds of lucky tweeters a day. But still... when Mario Batali.... one of my favorite famous chefs ever... @'d me on twitter?! What a thrill!!

The funny part of this story is that, when you look up Mario's recipe for Osso Buco, both online and in his cookbook, it calls for cooking it in the oven... against his own advice? What gives, Batali?! We couldn't ignore his twitter advice, so we went with the stove top method.

I brought my wind-up Mario toy to "help" in the kitchen. He was a flipping inspiration:

  • Osso Buco with Gremolata
  • -1/2 cup flour
  • - 4 pieces veal shank with bone
  • - salt & pepper
  • - 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • - 3 tablespoons butter
  • - 1 onion, chopped
  • - 1/2 cup celery, chopped
  • - 1/2 cup carrots, chopped
  • - 4 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • - 3 tablespoons fresh Italian parsley, finely chopped
  • - 1 cup dry white wine
  • - 2 chicken stock
  • - 16 oz bottle of good tomato sauce


  • - Zest of 1 lemon, plus some of the juice
  • - Zest of 1 orange, plus some of the juice
  • - 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • - handful of Italian parsley, chopped fine
  • - salt & pepper

Season flour with salt and pepper. Dredge the veal shanks in the mixture and shake off excess. Heat oil and butter in a dutch oven. Brown the veal shanks on all sides, being careful to keep the marrow in the bones. Remove and set aside.

Add onion, celery, carrots, garlic, and parsley to the pan and cook until softened. Season with salt and pepper. Turn the heat to high, add the wine, scraping the bottom to deglaze. Return the shanks to the pan, add the stock and tomato sauce. Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for about 1 1/2 hours or until the meat is tender, basting a few times during cooking. Remove the lid and simmer for 10 minutes to reduce the sauce a bit.

For gremolata, combine all ingredients together in a bowl. Spoon over Osso Buco to serve. Serve with Polenta, made creamy with heavy cream and shredded romano or parmesan cheese.

This was both Kelly and my first time cooking Osso Buco. It's a classic dish... which always makes me nervous. But it was so simple to make! It allowed us plenty of time to enjoy our awesome friends. It turned out to be quite a party.... laughing 'til we cried, too much delicious wine (thanks, Kyle!!), good conversation, and of course, good, soul-satisfying food.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

autumn superfoods curried quinoa

I've gained some weight lately. It wouldn't bother me, but it seems a beer belly drains a lot of of my energy. So, I'm back on the workout wagon. I don't do dieting (don't deny me the delicious foods I want, dagnabbit!), but I have been keeping an eye on portion size, and how nutritious my meals are. Since my main goal is to have more energy, I am always on the lookout for "Super Foods" (dooo dooo do dooooo *triumphant trumpet*).

Super Foods are those with lots of good stuff packed into them... vitamins, nutrients, fiber and junk. Greens, whole grains, beans, orange stuff, salmon, nuts (giggle), blueberries, garlic (yay!).... the lists around the Internet vary, but you can get a good idea. I went and got a bunch of these super foods, ones appropriate to the season... kale, butternut squash, chick peas, quinoa... and put 'em all together in one giant batch of food so that I can eat for lunches for the rest of the week.

Since I was making so much, it had to be good, and something I wouldn't get sick of eating for a few days. I've been craving Indian food big time since the weather has started getting colder, so I used curry powder to give this dish lots of comforting, bold flavor.

Seriously, this recipe is tasty and filling, but makes ALOT. It's easy to cut in half, though.

Autumn Superfoods Curried Quinoa

-2 lbs. butternut squash, peeled, seeded & cut into 1-inch cubes
-2 15 oz. cans chick peas, rinsed & drained
-5 cloves garlic, minced
-3 shallots, chopped fine
-3 Tablespoon spicy curry powder, divided
-2 teaspoons cumin
-1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
-1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
-1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
-1/2 teaspoon coriander
-2 Tablespoons olive oil
-salt & pepper
-2 bunches kale, washed and chopped
-3 or 4 cups chicken stock
-2 cups uncooked quinoa, rinsed
-1/2 cup raw pepitas, toasted (plus more for garnish)
-shredded carrot for serving
-Greek yogurt for serving

Preheat oven to 450ºF. In a large glass casserole dish, toss the squash, chick peas, garlic and shallot with 2 tablespoons of the curry powder, the rest of the spices, salt & pepper and the olive oil. Cook in oven for 30-40 minutes, stirring twice during roasting.

Meanwhile, cook the kale in the chicken stock with a bit of salt for flavor. Bring kale and stock to a simmer, stirring and pushing down the kale so that it wilts evenly. Once it has all wilted, let it cook for about 10 minutes at a simmer. Drain, reserving the cooking liquid. Cook the quinoa according to directions of the package, using the kale cooking liquid and added water, with 1 Tablespoon of curry powder.

Once everything is cooked, fold it all together, including the pepitas, in a big bowl or pot until well combined. Serve with a dollop of yogurt and some shredded carrots.

Super food posts from the archives!
Sesame Chickpea Tofu Stirfry
Curried Chickpea Salad
Sesame Edamame Salad
Cashew Curry
Penne with Roasted Tomatoes and Beans
Miso Salmon with Daikon Slaw
Salad with Salmon and Potatoes
Radish Garbanzo Salad
Edamame Burgers with Wasabi Slaw
Salmon with Cilantro Gremolata

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

apple cider chicken stew

I think it might finally be upon us. After a mild fall, the leaves are almost all changed now, and the air is getting colder. Time for roasting chickens and drinking cider and making soups and stews. This is a combo of all 3 of those things! I roasted a chicken over the weekend, and made some stock from it's bones. I also had some apple cider in the fridge that needed to be used. Chicken, chicken stock, cider. Sounds like a soup or stew to me. I went with stew... it's heartier and feels more like a meal to me. This was a tasty way to warm up and settle into November.

Apple Cider Chicken Stew

-4 strips bacon
-1 large yellow onion, chopped
-8 small carrots, chopped (about 2 cups)
-4 stalks celery, chopped (leaves finely minced)
-3 cloves garlic, grated
-1 thumb-sized piece ginger, grated
-3 Yukon Gold postatoes, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch-ish pieces
-2 red potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch-ish pieces
-1/2 teaspoon white pepper
-1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
-1/2 teaspoon coriander
-dash of fresh-grated nutmeg
-2 cups apple cider
-about 6 cups chicken stock
-2 cups cooked chicken, shredded or chopped
-1 Tablespoon Butter
-2 Tablespoons flour
-1 bunch flat-leaf parsley, chopped
-juice from 1 lemon
-toasted walnuts for garnish

In a dutch oven, cook the bacon until crisp. Remove and set aside on paper towels. Cook the onions in the bacon grease until soft and the edges start to caramelize. Add the carrots, celery, garlic, ginger and spices. Cook until the vegetables just start to soften.

Add the potatoes and season with a good pinch of salt. Cook, stirring often, until the potatoes start to soften and everything starts to brown. Add the apple cider, stirring, making sure to scrape the browned goodness from the bottom of the pan. Cook at a simmer for about 5 minutes.

Add the chicken stock, bring to a boil, turn heat down to a simmer, add the chicken, and simmer for at least 45 minutes, until potatoes are soft and the flavor is rich. Add salt to taste.

Make a roux in a separate pan by cooking the flour and butter together, stirring constantly so it doesn't burn, until it is a nice light brown color. Add to stew and stir until well-combined. Bring to a boil for a minute, then simmer for another 5 or so until the stew is thickened.

Turn off heat and add parsley and lemon juice just before serving. Garnish with crumbled bacon and toasted walnuts.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

st. paul sandwiches

I follow up a post about how to take better food photos with... this weird blob? Yup. I gotta keep you on your toes, readers... this joint is a roller coaster! So what's the weird blob pictured above? It's my attempt at a homemade St. Paul Sandwich. For those of you not from St. Louis, let me explain. A St. Paul sandwich is an egg foo young patty, but instead of putting mysterious brown gravy on it, you put it on some wonder bread with mayo, tomatoes and pickles.

While the exact origins of The St. Paul sandwich are sketchy, it is definitely a St. Louis, MO thing. Should we be proud of this? Eh. We'll take the blame. Add it to the list of other questionable foods we are known for: provel "cheese", toasted ravioli, pork steaks with Maull's (the inventor is from my Hometown!), gooey butter cake. I say "questionable," but all these items have a special place in the hearts of all STL natives, including me. Be a cynic if you want, but this kind of food culture is great for a city! It unites people and gives them something uniquely their own.

In college, I worked a couple summers at a Chinese buffet/take out place. I got the job because I would walk to this place at least once a week for my pork fried rice and crab rangoon... I was a regular. Working there opened my eyes to the realities of Asian cuisine... namely the fact that American Chinese take out has very little to do with authentic Chinese food. In fact the people I worked for were Vietnamese, and they ate completely different food from what they cooked for the business. They ate MUCH better food. I loved it!

The St. Paul Sandwich? Not authentic Asian cuisine. I was never a fan... mainly because of the mayo and because, well, it's just such a monstrosity. A grossly overcooked omelet, soggy white bread, sad tomatoes and lettuce. I actually remember a lot of people ordering their St. Pauls with Egg Foo Young gravy ON THEM. Too bad that was before This is Why You're Fat existed.

So when my friend tweeted that he had his first St. Paul sandwich, and loved it, and was encouraging others to try it, I proposed that I make them all home made ones. I feel better about my friends at least eating something home made, even if it is the mutant St. Paul.

It's been years since I've seen one made, but I remembered it being pretty simple... scrambled egg, meat, beansprouts and onions all go together in a hot wok with oil and are fried until they are brown discs which can either be smothered in gravy or put on bread (or both, apparently). When I did some recipe research, I basically came across the same description. It really is that simple! Too simple to even write a recipe for.

Here's how you make a St. Paul Sandwich:

-Thinly slice raw chicken breast or pork. marinate it briefly in soy sauce, rice vinegar and sriracha while you prep other components.

-Cook your meat of choice and set it aside.

-In same pan quickly stir-fry garlic, chopped onions, shredded carrots with some soy sauce and oil. Add lots of bean sprouts and cook until everything is just soft. Set aside.

-Scramble some eggs... figure a bit less than 2 per sandwich.

-Fill a ladle halfway up with meat and vegetables, then fill the rest with scrambled egg.

-Ladle into a hot skillet and let fry until browned, then flip and cook the other side. I used a small skillet so it made a nice 5-inch circle. If you don't have one you will have to use your spatula to keep the egg patty nice and compact.

-Put cooked patty on white bread and top with tomato slices, pickles, mayo and lettuce.