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.