Sunday, November 30, 2008

Deconstructed Turkey

I had Thanksgiving dinner over at my Brother Jamie's house and he did a great job smoking a Turkey on his WSM. But, not cooking a Turkey on Thanksgiving left me feeling a bit empty inside so I went to the market and bought a discounted 14lb hen. The way I like to smoke a Turkey is to separate the back, leg quarters and breast. Back is used for stock, leg quarters smoked low and slow to 180* internal, and the breast cooked to 155* internal. I think these are the ideal internal temps for these bird parts which is impossible to acheive if the bird is whole. Breast and leg quarters bathed in a simple brine overnight. For the stock I roasted the back and wing tips to get a dark color and flavor... I even used some of the last herbs from our herb garden... Pics:

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

An approach to Thanksgiving Turkey

From team-mate John Delpha

The Turkey is presently sitting in a brine of cider vinegar, salt, sugar, apples, onions, sage, peppercorns and bay leaves. Tomorrow evening I will strap it to the roof of my car and drive 220 miles at roughly 70mph to Essex, Vt attempting to air dry the skin as much as possible. Thursday morning I will inject that thing with a combo of turkey stock, butter and salt. Then I will rub butter, herbs and garlic under and over the skin. I will put it in a 375 degree con oven for 45 minutes then turn it down to 300 degrees until a get 138 degree reading on the breast and 148 degree reading on the thigh. I'm hoping for sheer turkey glass crispness on the skin...

Results Thursday evening...

Monday, November 24, 2008

"Pork Chops"

Cleaning out the freezer this weekend, I found a Kurabota pork shoulder.  Being sick of BBQ flavors I decided to make "Pork Chops".  I hate your typical overly lean, flavorless, supermarket pork loin chops.  There is tons of flavor in a pork butt, here is how I turn a butt into 'pork chops'...
  • A simple dry rub of salt, black pepper, red pepper, and granulated garlic
  • I cook on the Big Green Egg at 275* for 8 hrs or until internal temp is in the 190's with a couple chunks of apple wood
  • The cooking cook be done in a home oven on a roasting pan and rack (without the apple wood of course)
  • I let the finished pork butt cool to room temp and then into the fridge overnight
  • Slice the cold pork shoulder into 1" thick slices
  • Make a pan gravy: 
  • Roux (2T Butter, 2T Flour)  + 1/2Cup chicken broth, 1/2Cup apple cider, a couple springs of thyme, s&p to taste, simmer to thicken
  • Gentle warm the slices in the pan gravy and serve

Monday, November 17, 2008

Hens, Finished

Well things didnt turn out as well as I hoped. I simply cooked the guinea hen 'ballotine' too long. Internal temps were in the 160's, this meat was very lean and I should of pulled in the 150's. The flavor was great but the meat was dry. Ah well, part of becoming a better Cook is making mistakes.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Hens, Day 1

I processed the hens yesterday. The meat and flavor seems like a cross between a turkey and a duck. Today I'll pound the breast into cutlets, fill with the forcemeat, roll and probably wrap em up in bacon. I may be too lazy to fire up the Big Green Egg so I may cook on the stove. I'll use the Guinea Hen stock - which came out nice and gelatinous - for a finishing sauce and when making some risotto. I also have some golden beets and trumpet mushrooms on hand. I think I'll need to stop at the wine shop today for a nice bottle of Pinot Noir.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Guinea Hens

A friend of mine gave me three Guinea Hens he recently slaughtered so it looks like a weekend cooking project is in order. Guinea Hen meat can be tough so I'm thinking about the following method:

  • Bone all the meat
  • Make a stock with the roasted carcass bones
  • Grind the dark meat into a porchetta style sausage meat (garlic, fennel, rosemary)
  • Pound the breast meat into a thin cutlet, and roll up with the forcemeat
  • Wrap in the skin, truss and slow roast on the Big Green Egg
  • Make a gravy with the stock
I'll report back over the weekend with the results

Friday, November 7, 2008

Chicken, Not BBQ

John Delpha sourced some fantastic naturally raised hens for the Jack Daniels contest. After processing for the contest a few of the breasts went into the freezer. Pulled em out last night and the ingredients included salt, black pepper, red pepper, olive oil, butter, lemon and tabasco. Served with garlicky fries and a salad. Man, there is such an amazing difference between this chicken and the stuff in the supermarket.