Sunday, December 25, 2011

A Turporken Christmas Miracle!

Much to my brother Seth's shigrin, I've rejected the name "Chiporkey" and gone with "Turporken" for the Christmas Eve creation I prepared for dinner last night. I wanted the name to relate to the more well-known "Turducken". So why not just make a Turducken you ask? Duck's are expensive, but most importantly, it's been done.

The Components:
First thing first, the stuffing. I've never been much of a stuffing guy, but the stuffing we used to put in the turkey sandwiches at Haddy's was pretty tasty. I decided I'd closely replicate that: baked some cornbread, rendered some bacon, sauteed red onion and celery in that bacon fat, combined all that with halved white grapes, chicken stock, thyme, rosemary, and sage. Stuffing done. Set aside.

Next up, I trimmed and seasoned a pork tenderloin, and wrapped it in bacon. Set aside.

Then, I pounded out a couple of chicken breasts. Set aside.

Then I had to get them bones outta that turkey! The idea is to separate the skin from the breast without tearing it, then remove the wings, cut the breasts off the carcass without removing them completely, then cut down the backbone, releasing the carcass from the meat. I failed at this task. I mistakenly removed the breasts completely. At that point, I knew I would just have to reassmble a Frankenturkey, as Jerry so eloquently put it. With the breasts off, I clipped the skin off (still in one whole piece), removed the leg quarters, and discarded the carcass. Then I deboned the leg quarters, leaving them in whole pieces of meat.

The Assembly:
Now it's time to assemble the beast. Lay out 5 pieces of butcher's twine parallel to each other on a board. Lay the boneless leg quarters, skin down, on top of the string, next to each other. Layer with stuffing. Next, the pounded chicken breasts. Stuffing. BACON-WRAPPED PORK TENDERLOIN. Stuffing. Turkey breasts. Pull the reserved piece of skin over the breasts. Tie it up! Put it in a pan, jam the wings in next to it, and it should look like this:

Plastic wrap it and see you in the morning! >> Morning. Oil and salt and pepper the top. It goes into a 300 degree oven for about 6 hours. When it comes out of the oven, it. looks. glorious!


I did not have my 10.5" Togiharu on me, so I went with the ol electric knife and man oh man.

All of the flavors of all of the animals combined was just delicious. Now, had I been able to keep the bird in tact, it would have held together a little nicer, but the flavors were on point.

This was my first meat amalgamation, but will not be my last!

PS. I got a sausage stuffer for Christmas and the BB&B gift card I got should get me a grinder. It's about to be on like Abe Froman (the Sausage King of Chicago).

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

"Live" Blog III: Big Finish

So my "live" blog turned into a midnight blog, an afternoon blog and a next day blog. Sorry about that. But, boy howdy was that a TASTY dinner! We started the evening off with some cheese, which is technically wrong - as the fat in the cheese will coat your tongue and mess with your taste of the meal, but I digress. A couple of the cheeses were tasty, but the one from France was stanky. Waaaayyy to stinky for us. Accompanying the cheese was a sort of "amuse-bouche" that my mom told me about: 1/3 of a jalapeño or fresno chili topped with, get this, peanut butter and drizzled with chocolate. What a bizarre sensation. Sweet, smooth, hot, crisp, all at the same time! A nice bottle of prosecco washed down the whole thing.

And as it turns out, the pork rinds worked out pretty good! The bourbon didn't come out to strong in the salt, but they were tasty just the same.

And now for the main event. The reason you're all here. The dinner:

Shaved Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Shallots

I trimmed the ends of the sprouts, and shaved them on the mandolin super thin. I rendered out some tasty bacon until it was crispy. When we had finished our cheese course, I fired up the pan with the bacon grease in it, added just a touch of duck fat, tossed in the shallots, and tossed in the sprouts. As soon as the sprouts became aromatic, I seasoned them with a touch of salt, added the bacon and plated them up. Tasty.

Guinness Braised Short Ribs with Caramelized Onion Risotto

Good gravy. I don't mind saying that this may be my best work yet. To get you up to speed, the risotto had been par cooked [sautéed a super fine diced onion in butter and oil and salt, added the carnaroli rice (superior to arborio) until it became fragrant, deglazed with white wine, then added stock one ladle at a time until it was one ladle short of done, and spread it on a sheet tray] so when it came time for dinner, Elliott got some more stock hot, added the cold risotto, caramelized onions, tons of butter and parm and stirred until it was the right consistency. That went on a platter.

I had already strained out the braising liquid from the ribs and reduced that to a sauce. The ribs were being held warm in the crockpot. I got the sauce hot again and mounted it with a copious amount of butter. The ribs went into that, got glazed, and got put on top of the risotto - with more sauce on the side.

Natalie and Elliott had brought a lovely bottle of red that matched very well with the meal. It was a great time with great food and great friends.

See you for the Christmas Dinner Blog!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Live Blog II: Prep

It looks like the pork rinds are gonna be a game time decision. They're not quite dry yet. The anticipation mounts.

On the other hand, the prep has begun!

The Brussels sprouts are shaved.

The onions are caramelized.

The risotto is par cooked (because I don't want to spend 30 minutes stirring while my guests are here).

The bacon is rendered.

The short ribs are seared and in the crock pot with veal stock (bought the glace from Central Market), browned mirepoix, thyme, garlic, and Guinness.

We decided that we'd also need a salad, so I'm gonna whip up an old standby: herb spring mix with toasted almonds, orange supremes, goat cheese, and an orange and red wine vinaigrette. I've got the vinaigrette done and the orange supremed. Now it's lunch time for me, then some quick Christmas treats, a shower, and the big finish!

Live Blog I: Chicharones?

Arguably the most valuable technique I learned at Haddington's was how to make pork rinds from scratch*.

I've got a few pals coming over tomorrow night for dinner, and for months, I've been promising them a killer dining experience. Natalie loves short ribs. Check. Elliott loves risotto. Check. Saul and Melody LOVE pork. Check. So I'll be preparing for them Guinness Braised Short Ribs over Caramelized Onion Risotto with Bacon and Shallot Shaved Brussels Sprouts.

But then there's the matter of that piece of frozen pig skin that I removed from the pork picnic I smoked and pulled for Swine Operation. As previously mentioned, I learned how to make pork rinds at Haddy's. The skin gets boiled, the fat scraped, and then it gets dried (it's drying now). NOW, assuming it dries completely without the help of restaurant quality vent hoods, I should be able to just fry it up, salt it, and crunch it!

Whilst I'm experimenting, I figured, why not experiment with a flavored salt to sprinkle on the rinds? This is another technique we [briefly] used at Haddy's. Soak some salt in a liquid. Dry it. Grind it. Eat it. In this case, the liquid is bourbon.

I also knocked out a chicken stock for the risotto.

Stay tuned as the adventure continues!

*if this works, AND is as delicious as the ones we made at Haddy's, it will be my go to "show up at a party with a snack" snack.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Coriander Cod

In an attempt to eat somewhat healthier on as many occasions as possible, we decided to have fish for dinner. I wanted to mix it up a little from the standard salt and pepper baked fish with lemon. So, I pounded some coriander and peppercorns in the ol mortar and pestle and added lemon and lime zest. I rubbed all but 1 tbsp of the mixture on a lovely piece of Alaskan cod, sprinkled it with salt, and baked that for about 15 minutes at 350º.

Whilst (MIKE) the fish was baking away, I fired up a side of couscous and that's where the rest of the rub went, along with a nice knob of butter. Now, all I needed was something to nestle in between the bed of fluffy, coriander and citrus scented couscous, and bright, flaky cod. How about sautéed zucchini and squash ribbons with onion, garlic and chili flake? Okay! (just use a peeler to make super thin "ribbons" of squash and zucchini).

Now, as a general rule, I like my food "dry". That is to say that I prefer a lighter amount of dressing, or sauce, etc. However, at the behest of my lovely wife to ensure that this particular dish did not end up too dry, one last touch was necessary. I squeezed the lemon and lime into a small bowl, scraped the remnants out of the mortar and whisked that with some olive oil for a quick vinaigrette to drizzle over the top and around the plate.

It was quite delicious!

Based on what I'm guessing I'll get for Christmas, I should have some cool new stuff to share soon. Stay tuned!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Green Chili Stew.0

So I had some leftover green chili stew from the other day (that I had left in the crockpot over night) that was just sitting there, looking lonely. What to do? How about throw a chicken breast in the ol George Foreman, chop that up and toss it in with that stew, wrap that up and put it in a low oven for a couple of hours? But then, what to do with that concoction? Well, lets use some of the masa that we put in that stew to make corn tortillas, top it with shredded cabbage, diced tomatoes and shredded pepper jack to make delicious

Green Chili Chicken and Pork Tacos:

A true leftover treat! I've got a few special products in the works for the next couple of weeks. Hopefully some of them will come to fruition! Stay tuned.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Evergreen Chili Pork Stew

Today, we decided to start some Shaffer Family Christmas Traditions. It started with a drive out to the Elgin Christmas Tree Farm, where we cut down our own tree (with my fingers crossed that I'm not allergic SPOILER ALERT: I'm not). We got the tree set up, then paused the decorating to get dinner started.

I hammered out a quick chicken stock. While it was simmering, I browned off some cubed pork shoulder roast and tossed it into the crockpot. Then browned off some onions and garlic, added masa flour and got that nice and toasty. All the while I had some Hatch chilies (saved in the freezer since late summer) roasting in the oven with a couple of jalapeños. I then deglazed the onion/masa mix with some stock and added that to the pork. The chilies got stemmed and seeded and pureed and added to the crockpot. Simmer.

Back to the tree. I've never strung popcorn and hung it on a tree before, so I decided to do that. For about 30 minutes. It's quite a task, but it did make it on to the tree along with plenty of orange and white ornaments. While we trimmed the ol tenenbaum, we fired up "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation" - classic! You can head over to my facebook page to see how the tree turned out. Just the right amount of school pride, class, and tinsel if you ask me!

Right about the time we finished that, the stew was done!

Garnished with pepper jack, tortilla strips and fresh cilantro, it was quite nice. There was a decent heat that built as you ate it. The pork could have gone just a little longer. SOLUTION: It's now back in the crockpot on low until I wake up tomorrow. Should be almost disintegrated into the broth by morning. Yum.

So "Shaffer Tree Day" has now been cemented into our book o traditions. Cut down a real tree, decorate it, simmer a green chili pork stew, and watch a Christmas movie. Gitty up jingle horse, pick up your feet!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Tastedbuds Got Runover by an Antelope

I learned two things today. 1: Do not try to coordinate 12 people from 2 cities to eat at 1 restaurant on South Congress (especially when 10 of those people have never been to said restaurant (especially when said restaurant has a less than conventional style of seating and taking your order)). 2: Antelope is delicious.

My pops and stepmom were heading back to Prosper (North of Dallas) today from SA and I thought I'd be a good little food tour guide and have them meet us (me and the Mrs. + Seth and Lucy) at Hopdoddy for a burger. Six people would not have been a challenge. I get the call when they're half way up, that they are bringing 6 more people. Woohoo. In the end, it worked out and we got tables near each other and everyone had a spectacular time and loved the food. So that's all that matters.

Now to the subject at hand - Broken Spoke Antelope

Antelope patty with an ancho chili mocha spice rub, roasted garlic aioli, tobacco onion strings, tomato, spinach, and cherry-rosemary chutney (ordered it on the side and promptly slathered my burger in it).

This thing was absolutely killer. The antelope had a slight game tinge to it (which I like) and all of the flavors were complimentary. The spice rub was not overpowering, the onions added a nice texture, and the chutney had a nice sweetness/earthiness thing going. Overall, probably my second favorite burger that I've had there. I mean, how can you top the "Terlingua"? It's a Frito pie on top of a burger!!!!

I can't wait to go back and continue my quest to conquer their whole menu - excluding of course the turkey, veggie, and seafood options - those ain't burgers ;)

ALSO - stay tuned for the upcoming venison blog. My brother-in-law Tobes McGobes shot TWO doe yesterday and they are currently being processed for backstrap, ground, jerky, and 1 hind quarter. Those will make some tasty viddles, y'all!

Monday, November 21, 2011

A Triumphant Return

My my my. Hello there, old friends. Since we last got together, I've gotten married, graduated culinary school, been promoted to Sous Chef of Haddington's, left Haddington's, and become the Concept Chef of a fast casual concept on campus called VERTS.

Enough about me though, I've been thinking about returning for quite some time, but I didn't want to return with a simple steak dinner or a shrimp pasta. I wanted to come back big. Now what could be big enough to bring a man back from an 8 month hiatus?


You remember Operation from when you were a kid, right? The red light, the crazy hair? Well Greg replaced that poor sick man with a pig! SIX preparations of pork from different parts of the pig were necessary to pull this off. And what better event than the last tailgate of the season? The feast was plentiful and grand!

Let's start from the business end:
Comes from the butt end of the pig. (BONUS FACT: Pork butt is not from the actual butt of the pig, it's the shoulder!) Generally cured and smoked and turned into a spiral cut holiday favorite, or little Timmy's lunch. We went the latter route. Mini ham and swiss sandwiches on country white bread served with your choice of mayo or country style Dijon.

They come from the rib area of the pig ;) and when properly prepared, they are delicious! Even Hungry Todd Rungy agrees!

Here it is. The moment you've been waiting for. Luke's Famous Rib Recipe is about to be released into the world. Better copy this down, because I may rethink this and delete it. I drizzled these baby back beauties with blackstrap molasses, then rubbed em down with dark brown sugar, salt and pepper. Smoked em for 2 hours, then wrapped em in foil and smoked em for 3 more hours. Dericious.


This is the front leg shoulder of the pig and, as you can see, it goes by many names. The particular style I used was a bone-in picnic. This comes with skin on it - which I happily removed, and froze to later make chicharones with (pork rinds). The end game with this bad boy was tacos with pickled red onions, cilantro and lime, so I went slightly South-of-the-border withe the rub: Adobo seasoning, chili powder, and cumin. Now this little fella (8 pounder) made it's way onto the smoker at 7am. And it sat there until 330pm when I wrapped it in foil. That's not quite a thousand words, so here's this:

Now, I was expecting to feed about 25 people, which turned into about 45-50 people. So when feeding that many people, I had to go with wafer thin chops. A pig sin, I know, but I fixed that real quick. Brown sugar bourbon butter. (which, btw, can be put on steaks, chicken, ice cream, pancakes, waffles, bananas, whatever)

The tenderloin can be a fickle beast. It's super easy to dry out. That's why it's most commonly found marinated. I went with a rub. I rubbed it the night before to let the flavors soak in. And what, pray tell, did I rub it with? How about coffee (Cafe Du Monde), pecans, salt, and pepper? Oh yea. Tasty. Hungry Todd Rungy proudly displays the 1.5 hour smoked beauty right here:

I feel like I may be forgetting something...... hmmmmmm........ what could it be........... mmmmmmmBACON?
Oh sweet, smoky, salty, delicious bacon. I procured from Central Market a couple pieces of pork belly. Now, they were not the most super awesomest choice cuts of belly I'd ever seen, but they did just fine. I rubbed these babies down with basic dry cure - Kosher salt, sugar, and pink salt - plus honey and minced jalapeños and placed them in a gallon ziploc. I flipped them every other day for a week. Then, on game day, smoked them to 155º, chilled them, sliced them, and grilled them. Faaaaannnnnnntastic!!!!

Overall, thanks to Greg's hard work, and that magical animal, your friend and mine, the Grand Ol Swine, the tailgate was a hit! Now, the game didn't exactly go our way, but the sooners lost, so the day ended with a bright spot.

We even got HookEm to join in on the fun!

In addition to Greg, I'd like to thank Hungry Todd Rungy for stopping by, and Josh for the great pics! This should be the beginning of my return to blogging. Stay tuned!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Laissez les bon temps rouler

Last weekend, eight buddies and I got in a van and headed to New Orleans to bid adieu to our pal Josh's bachelorosity. It was four days of things I can mostly not speak of. So here's what we ate:

Café Du Monde Beignets and Café Au Lait

Absolutely delicious, melt in your mouth, fried "donuts" COVERED in pow pow sug sug and a chickory coffee with milk. I missed out on this last year when we were in NOLA so I had to get there this time and I did and it was good.

Commander's Palace

This is Brian and Shane drinking 25¢ martinis. Yep. Friday's at lunch at Commander's Palace is 25¢ martinis. There's a four limit, but who are we kidding? Who needs more than 4? And now to the food:

1-1-1 Soups

From the top clockwise: Crawfish Bisque, Turtle Soup, Roasted Duck and Andouille Sausage Gumbo. The bisque was different than I've had before in that it was much darker and more savory than the ones I've had, but it was also better than ones I've had before. The turtle soup (my original choice until the sampler was offered) was great. I'd never had turtle before this and it was tasty, but the sherry that they added table side really overwhelmed the rest of the soup. The gumbo was killer. It had pieces of bacon and chunks of roasted duck and andouille sausage throughout. It was super thick and rich. Each of these was really good, but the gumbo took the top prize for sure.

Cochon de lait

Literally translates to "pig in milk". Figuratively translates to "scrumptrulescent". A big ol onion ring with Cajun boudin inside, topped with smoky pulled pork, served with a whiskey reduction. The pork? Tender. The boudin? Tasty. The whiskey reduction? Totally made the dish. I definitely won the battle of the lunch entrees.

Pralines and Ice Cream

Homemade ice cream, whipped cream, candied pecans, cookie bowl and praline sauce. This was Shane's dessert. Really, really good stuff.

Creole Bread Pudding Soufflé

Joels dessert was pretty good. The soufflé arrives to the table nice and warm. They pop the top and fill it with warm whiskey cream. Very tasty, but a little eggy.

Strawberry Shortcake

The season's first strawberries, mascerated in sugar, served with chantilly cream and buttermilk biscuits (that were still warm!!!). It was great. In my opinion, I won both entrée and dessert courses. Overall, Commander's Palace was great!

After lunch, we went across the street to a cemetery. In New Orleans, the underground water level is so high, that they bury people above ground in mausoleums. It was crazy! There were people buried there from the 1800's. There were people buried there from World War's I & II. While we were there, a guy came to pay his respects and started playing the bagpipes. It was really cool and really somber at the same time. A really cool experience.

I was going to regale you of tales of Butcher (this place we ate at that cures their own meat), but I'm tired and going to bed. I'll save that story for another day. Until then, good eats!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


So another awesome perk of the Technique Café is that it's one person's job to make pizza every day. One meat and one veggie (I know, I know). I haven't technically been on pizza until today, but I've already made a four pies. I only have 2 pictures though; so I'll tell you about the first two, and then show you the two I made today.

Green Pie

pesto | goat cheese | ricotta | mushrooms | arugula

Chorizza (see what I did there?)
chorizo | red onion | roasted poblano | jack cheese

Mediterranean Veggie
artichoke | kalamatta olive | caper | roasted red pepper| goat cheese | feta

Philly Chizzasteak (see what I did there?)
seared flank steak | onion | bell pepper | mushroom | metric ton of mozzarella

Turns out I've got a bit of a gift when it comes to making killer pies. Tomorrow I'm using today's special to make:

Pulled Pork Pizza
pulled pork | chipotle orange bbq sauce | cheddar | pickled red onion | cilantro

and I'm gonna make:

White Pizza
ricotta | mozzerella | goat cheese | feta | garlic parmesan cream sauce

We're also gonna make ramen from scratch. Yea. Suck on that!! LITERALLY!!!! Stay tuned for more!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Less Than A Month...

...Hey! It's been less than a month since my last blog. So there's that.... Let's play some serious catch up.

Garde Manger
After the Christmas break, I started one of the two classes that I signed up at LCB for, Garde Manger (gahr mahn-zjay). I was SUPER PUMPED!!! Sausage making and charcuterie? What more could a boy ask for? Instead, we spent 9 days making mirror presentations, 4 days making salads and sandwiches, and we made mayonnaise 6 times by hand. I did learn stuff. No question. Over all though, it was kind of disappointing. That's a bummer, but I'll get over it. I did do this cool stuff though:

Mystery Basket

For our final in this class, we had to do a "Mystery Basket". We were giving a random collection of items and made to make a soup, an appetizer, entree and dessert. I was given advice from a former student to not get creative, just stick with the regular stuff that we've learned in school. So I threw down a clear vegetable soup and bacon-wrapped scallops over grilled asparagus for my soup and app. I banged out braised veal shank with whipped potatoes and hericot vert for my entree. And then I got a little crazy with dessert.

BOOM! Lemon sorbet, strawberry coulis, brunoise strawberry, and candied lemon zest in a tuile cookie bowl. Yowzers. I nailed it.

ICE SHARK!!!!!!!
Also too, this. ICE SHARK!!!! We did melon carving and ice carving the second to last week of class. This was supposed to be a dolphin, but Greg and I saw a shark, so we made it a shark. So there.

Technique Café
After Garde Manger, we moved on to the café at the school. FINALLY, we are allowed to be creative and we are left to just make food and work a line. Like this:

My pal Law needed some help with his special and then wasn't able to make it to class, so I was left to execute it. Blackened tilapia tacos with black bean pico de gallo, cholula aioli, cabbage and cilantro, served with cilantro lime rice. Not only did it sell out before 1 o'clock, but the Chief of Chefs and Executive Chef of Restaurants from the school came to the back and complimented me on this dish. Yea. That actually happened.

We also made braised veal cheeks with horseradish mashed potatoes, spinach, and honey-glazed carrots. Real good stuff.

Hopdoddy Burger Bar
If you live in Austin, and you are not eating at Hopdoddy Burger Bar on a regular basis, why not? It's great. They make their own buns. The grind their own meat. They make the ice cream that they make shakes out of. This here burger on the left is the "Terlingua". It's got Fritos, chili, and cheddar. It's delicious.

Larry's 59th
Summer's dad, Larry's, birthday was last week. So Summer and her mom decided to throw him a party today. We drove to good ol' Browntown to cater that party. Here's what we made:

Chicken Teriyaki

I marinated chicken tenders overnight in homemade teriyaki sauce. Today, we broiled them in a nice hot oven; glazed them again with teriyaki sauce; and topped them at service with sriracha aioli, pickled red onions, and cilantro. Not a HUGE hit with the sunday school crowd, but I thought they were killer.

Fruit Tray

Not a lot special here about the fruit tray, except the canteloupe carving I did there. Larry's been teaching drama and speech at Brownwood High School for like 30 years, so I carved the drama masks in to a melon.

Chicken Fried Steak on a Stick

Yep. No, you're not at the Texas State Fair. You're sitting at your computer reading my blog. I breaded cube steak strips in seasoned flour, then egg wash, then Japanese bread crumbs yesterday. Today, I fried em and served them with cream gravy. All the deliciousness of CFS with no fork necessary. Delicious. Handy. Genius.

That's about it for now. Hopefully, it will keep you held over until the next..... whenever that may be. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


It's been a hhhwhile, I know. What with the holidays and working 60 hours at the new restaurant + 25 hours of school..... I've been sleeping and cooking. That's it (and mostly the latter). Definitely come check out Haddington's as soon as you get a chance, there's some KILLER grub, an amazing wine list (mostly old world European wines), some really creative cocktails, and a great beer list, but we'll talk about that later.

Tonight, I'm going to regale you with tales of Technique Restaurant at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts - the fine dining restaurant at school. Five courses. $15. You read that right. There are five categories on the menu: Soup, Small Plates, Salad, Entrees, Dessert. You choose one from 2-7 items in each section. I had the Shrimp Bisque - great; the Lobster Endive Salad - really great; the Spinach Salad with Pancetta vinaigrette and "poached egg" - the egg was overcooked, so no runny yolk :( ; the Braised Short Rib with Celery Root Puree, Brussels Sprouts, and Spaetzle - excellent (except the spaetzle, I don't think spaetzle can be good); and finished with the Poached Pears and Butter Pecan ice cream - yowzers. Not only was the value ridiculous, but the food was REALLY good! Other plates that hit the table for my dining companions included Shrimp Scampi Crostinis, Caesar Salad, the Technique Salad, Filet Mignon with Sauce Béarnaise, Pumpkin Créme Brulee, a Trio of Profiteroles and Apple Pie with Vanilla ice cream. Everything was stellar. I highly recommend checking this place out. The food is really good and the prices won't empty your wallet.

Hopefully I'll be back on the blog wagon regularly. Stay tuned!