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Turkey Confit


I did these turkey leg quarters last week and they’ve been in the basement fridge since then.  I finally brought them up today to finish them off for a nice Sunday dinner.I only had duck fat enough for one so I bought some cheap olive oil for the second one.  These have just spent four hours in a 275-ish oven and I’ve already lost track of which was which but I sorted them out today when they warmed back up a little.  I did do the green salt thing on both, letting them spend the night with a generous coating.DSC_1446You will want to brush most of it off but leave a little on because it’s delicious.  I found a few recipes online for the salt mix but most agree that fresh thyme and parsley should be part of it, tarragon, bay leaves, and green onions were also suggested.  This time I went with parsley, thyme, and sage.  A food processor makes short work of blending the kosher salt with the herbs.  Like mine, they can spend a week or more submerged in the oil.  When you are ready to eat them, let most of the fat drain off then brown them in a skillet on the stove top and then pop the skillet into the oven to warm through.DSC_1517I made more cranberry sauce to go with the turkey, and roasted some root veggies with honey and olive oil.  There’s a slab of Parmesan polenta under there, too.  These are absolutely the best turkey legs I’ve ever eaten.  The green salt was perfect and the meat came right away from the bones.

Thanksgiving Files: Spatchcock Turkey

Spatchcock Turkey finishSometimes the scariest part of the Thanksgiving Dinner is the worry that the turkey will not turn out properly – undercooked, overcooked, dry, flavorless – and ruin the whole meal. I’ve cooked in bags, roasted, braised, fried, deboned – about everything but brine. I’m not a fan of brining. And still every year I worry.

I tryout various new methods a few days before the big day, just to spice things up and make sure there are leftovers in my frig. This year I decided to try removing the backbone and flattening the bird, cooking it at a high temperature for a shorter cooking time. It seemed like it was pretty foolproof and stress free. My brother is going to prep one of his two turkeys similarly, but smoke it instead.

I put it together today so I could get the recipe up in time for your holiday.

BTW, my recommendation is to always get two smaller birds instead of one massive bird – you’ll have a much better outcome with shorter cooking times. Not to mention not having to worry about fitting a huge bird in the oven. We usually do an oven bird, then grill, smoke or fry another.

For this recipe, a good set of poultry shears makes quick work of removing the backbone. I prepped the bird yesterday, wrapped it up and refrigerated it. This gave me time to make a nice broth from the backbone, giblets and neck last night (see notes below) and make the cranberry sauce, because it’s always better the next day.

Spatchcock Turkey Prep

Roasted Spatchcock Turkey

  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons Kosher salt
  • 4 tablespoons dried sage
  • 1 tablespoon dried rosemary
  • 1 whole turkey (10-12 pounds)
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil

Rimmed baking sheet, rack

In a spice grinder or with a mortar and pestle, crush together pepper, salt, sage and rosemary and add to brown sugar. Set aside.

With a sharp knife or scissors, remove the back bone of the turkey, flip over and press down on the breast bone to break and flatten. I wasn’t quite strong enough, so I turned the bird over, scored the bone, flipped it back and tried again, this time it broke easily. I then trimmed off the wing tips. See my notes below on what to do with the back and wing tips.

Place the bird flat, breast side up, on the rack in the baking sheet. Rub with spice mix and let rest at room temperature for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Before cooking drizzle olive oil over turkey and roast for 1 hour or until the temperature of the thickest part of the breast reaches 160 degrees. Remove from the oven, tent with foil and let rest for 30 minutes (during this time the bird temperature will reach 165 degrees and thighs should be 175 degrees).

Carve and serve.

NOTES: I took the back, wing tips, neck and giblets, covered them with water and simmered them for about an hour. I then used the broth for both the stuffing and gravy. I also cooked the stuffing in the oven, in a baking dish, uncovered, with the turkey. They finished up about the same time.

The next time I make this, I would forego the metal rack and instead use a roasting pan and place the bird on a bed of carrots, celery and onion. With the shorter cooking time, the flavor could use the boost. I do feel this is a great technique for wood grilling or smoking.

More Recipes: We have a bunch, a peck, a bushel, of Thanksgiving recipes, including my favorite Upside-Down Cranberry Cake (here), No Boil Mashed Potatoes (here), and Non-Traditional Sides (here), click on this link for all the other recipes or search by name or ingredient in the search box at the bottom of the blog.

Have a safe and Happy Thanksgiving!  – TaMara



Really Quick Dinners: Pasta Rustica

Scrolling through my recipes looking for ones I pulled together by rummaging around the pantry, freezer and refrigerator and came up with this one. Quick, easy and versatile.

Pasta Rustica

  • 9 oz pkg. fresh linguine pasta
  • 4 Roma tomatoes
  • 1 green or red pepper
  • 4 green onions
  • ½ tbsp crushed garlic
  • 2 tsp dried basil
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • Optional: ¼ lb sliced pepperoni or ¼ lb cubed turkey

saucepan, large skillet

Fill saucepan with water and bring to a boil.

Chop tomatoes, pepper and green onions (use greens and whites).  Heat oil in skillet, add onions, garlic and pepper, sauté until onions are golden, careful not to let garlic burn.  Add pepperoni and turkey.  Let simmer on medium to low medium heat.

Add pasta to water while ingredients simmer in skillet.  Cook according to pkg. instructions.

Once pasta is al dente, add tomatoes to skillet, sauté 1-2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon or pasta spoon, transfer pasta to skillet, letting most of the water drain before transferring. There should be just enough water on the pasta to create a nice sauce. If it seems too dry, add a few spoonfuls of the pasta water. Stir and serve with grated Parmesan.


I Really Like Pizza Pie

DSC_0876 (1600x1060)Mrs J thought pizza would work for her dinner today.  We had all that turkey from yesterday’s project so we went with that for a topping.  White pizza sounded better with turkey than anything else so we went that route. DSC_0871 (1600x1060)I had good luck with the Prairie Gold flour the local Amish store carried so we went that way again, going half and half with white bread flour.  The dough recipe is not too involved: 1 cup PG flour, 1 cup bread flour, 1 cup warm water, 2 Tablespoons of olive oil, 2 teaspoons sugar, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 1 packet of instant yeast (2-1/4 t).  I let the bread machine make the dough while we made a trip to town.DSC_0873 (1600x1060)I like to brush the crust with olive oil but I had a little garlic butter left over so I warmed that, added a little oil, and brushed it on, sprinkling kosher salt after.  I gave it another coat halfway through baking when I opened the oven to spin the pan 180.  To a basic  white sauce I added provolone and Parmesan, folded in blanched broccoli and cubed turkey meat and spread that over the crust, adding thin sliced red onions, more turkey, and a good sprinkle of Parmesan atop everything before sliding it into a 375 oven.


DSC_9607 (1600x1060)We tried not to go overboard for the Xmas Day menu where we end up with tons of leftovers.  I think we did pretty well.  I did the turkey breasts in duck fat, just like the leg quarters we did here.  Alas, there’s no way to make modern day turkey breasts taste better than “just OK” but at least these weren’t dry.  The stuff just above the cranberry sauce was a new side for us – corn pudding.DSC_9598 (1600x1060)There are scores of recipes for this dish online, I didn’t follow any particular one.  Mine has bacon, onions, and chopped bell peppers along with whole and creamed corn.  I used Parmesan in it but most any cheese should work – cream cheese was often mentioned.  Jiffy cornbread mix is a popular ingredient but I just used my usual yellow corn meal.  DSC_9599 (1600x1060)St Francis got in a Maine Coon-ish kitty the other day from a fellow that is active in the rescue business but is having health issues and can’t keep up his regular pace.  He brought this boy in the other day with three other cats that the shelter had agreed to take off his hands.DSC01477 (1600x1060)Maine Coons are reputed to be most excellent pets and can grow pretty big.  The mane should grow quite long.  This fellow has just been neutered and is still woozy from the anesthetic.DSC_9611 (1600x1060)I’m sure turkey noodle soup was pretty commonly on the table for many this week.  It’s a good way to use up that leftover turkey.  I dropped a couple of eggs into the simmering soup to let them poach.  Worked great!  I did spoon some hot broth over the tops to help them along.DSC_9615 (1600x1060)Another way to use up that turkey!  I bought some canned biscuit dough on a whim the other day and one can didn’t have enough to cover.  I think if I do this again that I’ll par bake the biscuits separately before topping the filling so that the bottoms aren’t quite so doughy.  I took these off, flipped them over on a tray, and slid them under the broiler for a spell.  That went a long way to repair the initial error.DSC01442 (1600x1200)Here’s another shelter kitty.  Staff have named him George, he’s been with them for 5 or 6 months.  Adult cats don’t place as quickly as kittens.  Mrs J says he’s a good one, friendly and playful with the other cats.DSC_9581 (1600x1060)I’ll wrap this with a cheeseburger –  pickle, onion, mustard.  I jazzed the mustard with minced peppers and onion to where it’s more of a relish than plain mustard.  Sometimes all you want is a basic burger and fries.

Turkey Leg Confit

DSC_9582 [1600x1060]I finally found the time to gather all the parts I needed for my first go around with the confit method of cookery.  I’m not sure that’s quite the right term, confit is more a method of preservation than cooking.  Generally speaking, a food item is salted down for a day or two, then cooked at a low temperature while covered in fat.  Duck fat is all the rage in foodie circles but it can be done with most any any vegetable oil.  I’m using the duck fat I bought the other day with a couple of turkey legs that have spent the night marinating in garlic, thyme, and kosher salt.DSC_9587 [1600x1060]Brush off all the salt you can then cover with fat.  This quarter sized hotel pan was just right for this because it didn’t take a lot of fat to fully cover the legs.  I made a foil cover and cooked them at around 200 degrees for about 4 hours.  I was able to easily poke a skewer right through the legs.  They were showing 185 degrees on my digital temperature probe.DSC_9589 [1600x1060]I managed to get them out without them falling apart, mostly.  I gobbled down the pieces that came off, declaring then and there that the project was a success.  Yum!DSC_9590 [1600x1060]I served them up with smashed tiny golden potatoes and Brussels sprouts that were tossed with the handy duck fat and roasted.  I am a big fan of duck fat roasted stuff.  Where has it been all my life!  LOL

Braised Turkey Update

Braised turkey prep


I stashed away a frozen turkey just before Thanksgiving and when I had fully recovered from the family festivities, I decided I would try the braising method found here. I did not brine it first (I’ve made it no secret I do not understand brining – extra work and messy for not much reward IMHO).

This method is fairly easy to do. You need to have a sharp knife to separate the leg/thighs from the bird and I also removed the backbone and wings before cooking to use for soup stock.

I can’t say that it was any better or worse than the cooking in a bag method, but it did make the best gravy ever. So I might do it again.


Moar Turkey!

DSC_9493 (1600x1060)I nearly dropped the whole stock pot last night while carrying it down to the basement fridge.  I did slop a pint or so out onto the stairs but they cleaned up well enough, just bare wood – no carpet.  I brought it back up this afternoon and ladled out portions to freeze, and brought the rest to a boil for the dumplings.  Simple rolled dumplings: flour, salt, baking powder, lard, and milk enough to moisten.  These could have spent more time simmering but they were close enough done to eat.  I stirred in a can of cream of celery soup just to get that can out of the pantry.  I bought it long ago for an abandoned project, long enough ago I don’t remember what I had intended for it.

Mmm… Mini Pot Pies

DSC_9487 (1600x1060)Mrs J makes a killer pie crust using the butter recipe.  We like these with crusts on the bottom, too.  I bought some 6″ anodized aluminum pie pans a while ago and these pies came right out of them without greasing the pan,  Lots of butter in the crust.DSC_9481 (1600x1060)Sometimes I mix the fillings with the white sauce, these were assembled in layers – veggies then meat then sauce, then the same again.DSC_9482 (1600x1060)I cooked a white sauce with a little nutmeg and a teaspoon of dry mustard.  It seemed lacking so I turned it into a mornay sauce by grating in a few ounces of Parmesan.  It would have been a little better with more half and half, these came out a bit drier than I like.DSC_9483 (1600x1060)Top them with another crust and seal the rims with a fork, trim the excess dough, then give them an egg wash.  This wash was a whole egg beaten with a dollop of dairy.DSC_9484 (1600x1060)Pop them into a 350 oven until they get some nice color, about 30 minutes.

Friday Recipe Exchange: Preparing for Thanksgiving

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Cornbread Stuffing Photo by JeffreyW

Bixby and I are hitting the road for the holiday, as long as the weather stays nice. I’m planning on arriving early so I can help with prep, because I like love to cook. Bixby is growing fast and you can see his latest photo here, along with a quick update. I hope he does as well in the car as he did last trip.

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, next to 4th of July. Food, family, friends…and leftovers. I compiled some favorite recipes for tonight’s recipe exchange.

JefferyW makes Cornbread Stuffing,  part 1 here and part 2 here.

Roasted Butternut Apple Soup makes a great starter, recipe here.

I think I’m going to volunteer for mashed potato duty this year so I can make these again, a lost recipe found, Hearty Garlic Mashed Potatoes, link here. I made them years ago and then completely forgot about the recipe.

And this recipe is the reason I think I get invited to many holiday gatherings, my Cranberry Upside Down Cake, click here.

Since my brother is cooking again this year, we’ll probably have deep fried turkey, which is ok by me, as long as I’m not cooking it. I have a real fear of deep frying anything, which is why all the deep fried recipes on the blog are from JeffreyW. I will still cook a turkey, though, because, leftovers. This year I’m going to try the braising method from America’s Test Kitchen’s Braised Turkey technique, link here, minus the brining.

Not sure how you want to cook your turkey this year? I’ve listed some ideas from people smarter than I am: turkey four different ways, here.

What’s on the menu for your Thanksgiving this year? Do you have a must-have recipe for your holiday dinner?

I’m not a fan of traditional candied sweet potatoes, so tonight’s featured recipes are some non-traditional styles of recipes for sweet potatoes.

Cajun Sweet Potatoes

  • 4 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup butter,  melted
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tsp Cajun seasoning
  • ¼ tsp cumin (opt)

Covered casserole dish, well-greased

Steamer and saucepan

In saucepan, add water, steamer and sweet potatoes. Steam until you can easily stick a fork in them. They don’t need to be completely soft. About 10-15 minutes. Add sweet potatoes to casserole dish. Combine oil, butter and spices. Pour evenly over potatoes. Cover and bake at 375 degrees for 25-30 minutes until potatoes are soft. You can adjust cooking time if you prefer your firmer or softer potatoes.

Sweet Potatoes w/Apples

  • 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled & cubed
  • ¼ cup water
  • 2 apples, cored & sliced
  • 8 oz can sliced pineapple (including liquid)
  • 2 tsp butter
  • ½ cup orange juice
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp salt

2 qt casserole dish, greased

Add ingredients to casserole dish. Stir gently and bake at 375 degrees for 40-50 minutes, uncovered, until apples and potatoes are very soft. Cover if it begins to brown too much

That’s it for this week. No recipe exchange next week I hope you have a safe and happy Thanksgiving.   – TaMara



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