We had one of those frozen turkeys leftover from the holidays and decided to free up some freezer room. It thawed in the basement fridge for a couple of days and then spent a few hours simmering it in a big pot with lots of veggies because we wanted a nice stock to come out of the effort. I had dumplings in mind. I made a half recipe, using only 1 cup of flour, rolled the dough very thin, and let it air dry for a couple of hours. The dumplings nearly disappeared in the pot they were so thin! Mrs J said she would need a few crackers, disappointed that the dumpling were so scarce. I have to say, though, that the broth was great – thick and tasty!We had plenty of broth left and, lest it go to waste, I boiled some wide egg noodles in a separate pot to add in lieu of more dumplings. They were good, not dumpling good, but they sufficed.
I rolled out my gas grill for the season and grilled a couple of burgers to get into the swing of it. Gah! It won’t be long until the grass it high enough that I can’t put off mowing. I wonder what this season will bring. Last year it rained so much that the grass was always high and wet – I smoked the PTO belts that drive the blades. Hate it when that happens.
Porchetta is as much a cooking technique as it is a particular recipe. This one uses a pork belly but can be done by butterflying a pork butt or tenderloin. The pork belly came from the butcher as a slab about 10 inches by 22, I cut this in half so I was working with a piece 10″ x 11″.The first step is to score it like so – it helps the herbs and spices gain penetration. I sprinkled kosher salt liberally on the slab and followed that with fresh grinds of pepper.Next came black peppercorns and fennel seeds that were toasted in a dry pan, ground in a spice mill, then added to a dozen or more garlic cloves in a little food processor. They were whirled about to mince the garlic and then spread on the meat, the fresh herbs were processed to a paste and spread along with the garlic mixture, followed by the zest of 2 lemons. I wish my patio herb garden had survived, I had to go to town for the herbs: rosemary, chives, sage. I also bought a fennel bulb for the fronds to add to the other herbs.Last thing, before it spent the night in the fridge, was to rub it with salt and baking powder in a ratio of 1 tbs salt to 1 tsp of baking powder. This is to help crisp the skin. Ta Da! This was cooked in a 300 degree oven for about 4 hours, then taken out to drain the fats off. While it’s out, crank the oven to 500 and return the pork roll to really blister the skin, it wants to be crispy! Watch it closely, it will brown really fast in that screaming hot oven.I mentioned that I bought a fennel bulb just for the fronds but I hate to waste a food item and so tried a braised fennel recipe. First, slice the bulb into about 1/2″ slices long ways, and brown both sides in a little oil. Add chicken stock and water to the pan, sprinkle on salt and pepper, cover, and simmer until tender – another 15-20 minutes.Serve the fennel with fresh parmesan and garnish with more of the fronds.
Amazon tempted me with one of their lightning deals on some silicone muffin trays. I’m pretty easy. These corn muffins from smittenkitchen looked like a good way to test drive them.The method was interesting, 1/2 cup of cornmeal was simmered in the milk until it started to look like porridge, then cooled slightly in a bowl in which the rest of the ingredients were added in their turn. The cup of sour cream was a nice touch.Two eggs were the last of the wet ingredients added before the dry mixture was folded in.The resulting batter was pretty stiff. The cookie dough scoop worked great in portioning between the dozen cups. It wasn’t the perfect size so I did have to top off the cups by eye.I’m not sure how long these were in because I forgot to set a timer. These passed the toothpick test.Mmm… red beans cooked with a smoked ham hock – a perfect way to enjoy these perfect corn muffins.
Made the tomato soup from a big can of those San Marzano tomatoes. I found a couple of 280z. cans in the bargain basket at Kroger a while back and this last one sat in the cupboard till I had this flash of inspiration.
Mince a carrot and half an onion and sweat them down in butter in a sauce pan. Sprinkle a bit of flour on the veggies and stir for a minute, then add chicken stock and a can of tomatoes. Season with celery salt, a pinch each of nutmeg, ground cloves, and black pepper and bring to a simmer for half an hour or so. Let cool a bit, then puree in a blender or with a stick blender. I like the stick blender because it’s easier to clean up. Add more chicken stock if it looks too thick. Some folks like to add cream right before serving but I never did eat it that way.
I was 6 hours into a crockpot beef and vegetable run when my mind was changed by the memory of those delicious chicken dumplins. I put back the veggies and several ladles of gravy for a dish TBNL.
The soup is a plain potato soup – no cheese or cream, I made it small to eliminate leftovers, there are three peeled red potatoes, half a medium onion, thyme, rosemary, salt and pepper in chicken broth. The potatoes were diced small to hasten cooking and I used a potato masher to help it along. Bring to a boil and simmer for an hour.
I had a turkey breast that made a couple of plates worth of sliced turkey with dressing, mashed potatoes with gravy, and cranberry sauce, and still had enough for a turkey salad. It has mayo, green bell pepper, Spanish olives, celery, and the other half of the onion from the soup.