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…is quite an ordeal, and we experienced our own first turkey-roasting this weekend.  We decided it would probably be a good idea to go ahead and have a faux thanksgiving dinner while it is just the two of us, so we could figure out the process with slightly less stress.  We stretched the meal over a couple of days to make plenty of sides, and our full menu included the turkey (of course), gravy, bacon green beans, rice and mushroom stuffing, scalloped potatoes, homemade cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie.   I am not going to lie to you.  If you have never roasted a turkey, it is not as easy as your mother (who has most likely been doing this for years) makes it look.  However.  This recipe for lemony roasted turkey from Rachael Ray is probably as easy as it gets, with absolutely incredible results!!

For Rachael’s amazing turkey you need:

  • 1 14-16 lb. turkey, rinsed/patted dry–save the giblets and neck to make stock
  • 4 tbsp. butter, at room temp.
  • 1 lemon, zested and halved
  • 2 onions, roots chopped off and halved with skin on
  • 2 tsp. thyme
  • salt and pepper

Here is where the fun begins…as turkey newbies, we fell into the typical trap of not allowing enough time for our very frozen bird to thaw.  Give it at least three days in the fridge!  We had to push our feast back a week, but it ended up working out.  On roasting day, cut off the first two joints of the wing, but leave the drumettes attached.  Keep the wings for your stock.  Let your turkey come up to room temperature in its roasting pan for about 2 hours.

When time gets close, aka 20 minutes out, start heating your oven to 400 with the bottom rack in the lowest position.  Meanwhile, mash together the butter and lemon zest.  Proceed to smear it all over your bird (we are talking Anne Burrell love-your-meat style), then squeeze all of the lemon juice over it.  Stuff 2 onion halves and the sliced lemon in the cavity, and the other 2 onion halves in the pan.  Sprinkle on the thyme and salt/pepper to taste.  Tie the legs of the turkey together, and pop the pan in the oven for an hour.

When the first hour is up, rotate the pan a half-turn, lower the heat to 350, and roast for another hour.  Then, after the second hour has passed, baste the turkey with the juices in the pan.  Continue to roast the turkey for another half hour or so, basting often, until a meat thermometer stuck into the inner thigh registers 150-155.  Once you reach the golden temperature, use tongs to pour any juices from the turkey cavity into the pan, and save all the drippings for some great gravy.  Let the bird rest at least 30 minutes before carving, and get to work on said gravy.

Well, before you make the gravy and while the turkey is a-roasting, make you own super-easy turkey stock.  Simply save the neck, wings, and giblets (not the liver), and toss them into a big pan along with a a quartered onion (skin on), one chopped celery rib, some parsley and thyme, 1/2 tsp. coarse salt,  1/4 tsp. whole black peppercorns, and 2 1/2 quarts water.  Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat, then knock the heat back to low, partially cover (pretty sure we forgot this step…), and simmer gently for 2 1/2 hours.  Strain off any solids and your stock is ready to go.

For the lemon cream gravy you need:

  • 2 1/2 cups pan drippings (if you don’t have enough, add some chicken stock)
  • zest of one lemon (use a vegetable peeler to peel into strips)
  • 4 cups of your homemade stock (or 2 cups chicken broth + 2 cups water)
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tsp. thyme
  • salt and pepper

I won’t lie: Schatzi made the gravy.  And it is so fantastic–it’s one of those things you will want to swim in…anyway.  Remember those onion halves from the roasting pan?  Chuck their skins and pour all of the drippings and solids from the roasting pan into a measuring cup.  Let the liquid settle (you can toss in some ice cubes to speed up the process), then skim off/discard any fat.  Return your 2 1/2 cups of drippings and solids and the lemon strips (+premade  stock if you need) to the roasting pan.

Put the flour in a bowl and gradually stir in 1 cup stock.  Slowly mix in 1/2 cup more stock.  Then, place the roasting pan over two burners on the stove over medium-high (Rachael, you are a genius.  Thanks for sparing me an extra dirty pan!).  Bring the drippings to a simmer, scraping up any browned bits as you go, then whisk in the flour paste mixture and return to a simmer while whisking constantly.  Slowly whisk in the remaining 2 1/2 cups of stock and bring to a boil, still whisking constantly, until the gravy is nice and thickened.  Season with salt and pepper, then whisk in the cream and thyme.  Discard the lemon zest strips, and the gravy is complete!

The remaining sides will follow…but wow.  This turkey was incredible.  Juicy, and so full of flavor.  Don’t even get me started on that gravy!!!

*sc

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Gnocchi…

…is one of the most wonderful foods on this planet, period.  Make it into mac and cheese, and you have a little (who am I kidding, HUGE) plate of sheer delicious joy.

For gnocchi mac you need:

  • 1 pound purchased or homemade gnocchi
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 2 tsp. garlic
  • 1 Tbsp. flour
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup shredded Gruyere cheese
  • 1/4 cup shredded Fontina cheese
  • Salt and white pepper, to taste
  • Parmesan cheese, for garnish
  • Basil, for garnish

This is a surprisingly simple recipe, too!  One of the most wonderful things about gnocchi is how quickly it cooks.  So, start here, by bringing a large pot of water to a boil.  Salt it, and throw in the gnocchi until they begin to float, which only takes about 2 minutes.  Drain the delicious dumplings and place them in a small (1 1/2 quart) baking dish that’s been greased and heat the oven to 375.

While you’re waiting for the water to boil, melt the butter over medium heat in a saucepan. Add the garlic and cook just until it becomes fragrant, then whisk in the flour until it bubbles.  Whisk in the milk and dijon, and continue stirring until the sauce thickens, about 3 minutes.  Then, add the cheese by handfuls, stirring until each addition is completely melted.  Season the delicious cheese sauce with your salt and pepper, then pour over the gnocchi.  Top with a bit of parmesan and pop the dish into the oven for about 20 minutes, until bubbly and slightly browned.

Garnish with basil and be prepared…

…to go to Food Heaven.  I could not be more serious.  Once you make this (and you must, it is not optional), you will never want to return to regular mac and cheese with plain old cheddar and elbow noodles (that is, unless you are eating my aunt’s crockpot mac and cheese, which will also get you in to Food Heaven).  FORGET making mac and cheese out of a box ever again–this stuff is too delicious AND easy.  Try me.

*sc

Saturday morning…

…still means a delicious breakfast in our place.  When pawing through our freezer to see what needed to be used in this week’s set of menus, I came upon a leftover sheet of puff pastry (from that delicious chicken pot pie!), and decided it was time to break it out.  So,this morning, we made a delicious danish that could not have been easier.  You would never guess these didn’t come straight from your favorite bakery, either.

For this easy homemade danish you need:

  • 1 sheet puff pastry, thawed
  • your favorite jam
  • cream cheese, softened
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 tbsp. flour
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. sugar
  • vanilla

Start by cutting your puff pastry sheet into 4 equal squares and heating the oven to 375.  Then, combine the egg, sugar, flour, and a dash of vanilla.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Spoon about a tablespoon each of cream cheese and jam on half of each pastry sheet square.  Schatzi found a delicious pumpkin butter that we used.  Fold the other half of pastry over, sealing and crimping with a fork.  Then, brush each pastry rectangle with the egg mixture.  Bake the danish until golden, 15-20 minutes.

Let the danish sit and cool for a few minutes, if you can.  They are delicious right out of the oven, but if you can wait just a few minutes, they get a bit crispier and of course are easier to eat when the filling isn’t piping hot!

Clearly, we couldn’t wait to eat them.  They are absolutely scrumptious!

*sc

…is Julia Child’s fancy way of saying chicken simmered with cream and onions.  Or, as Schatzi I like to call it, Heaven in a bowl.  You may think that’s an exaggeration, but trust me.  This creamy, comforting chicken is absolute perfection.  Julia Child is famous for a reason, you know…and this dish (with a few modifications) is actually one of her easier ones.

For Julia’s delicious French chicken you need:

  • 2 1/2 to 3 lbs. chicken, cubed
  • 3 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. white pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. curry powder
  • 1/3 cup cognac
  • 3 cups whipping cream
  • more salt and white pepper
  • a few drops of lemon juice
  • 3-4 more Tbsp. whipping cream
  • parsley

Now, a person will feel practically sacrilegious to modify a Julia Child recipe, but even on the weekend, we don’t have time to cut up and bone an entire chicken…so, we just bought the prescribed amount of chicken breasts and chopped them into bite-sized chunks.  It worked beautifully, and made this dish beyond easy…sorry, Julia.  Anyway, start by thoroughly drying your meat, however you choose to go about acquiring it.  She’s not kidding when she tells you meat won’t cook properly unless it is dry.  While you’re doing that, melt the butter in a large casserole (Dutch oven) over medium-high heat.  Add the chicken (don’t move it around a lot in the pan!) and cook 3-4 minutes, flipping once, until the chicken looks a bit puffy and the outsides are white.  Remove the chicken to a plate and set aside.  Also, start to boil the 3 cups of whipping cream.

Now, I am guessing that if you stick with Julia’s method, you can plow ahead to step two and add the onions.  However, I needed to drain a bit of the cooking liquid from my pre-cut chicken and melt a bit more butter in my pot, first.  Once your pot is satisfactory, add the onions (I chopped, she thinly slices).  Pop a lid on the pot and cook over lowered heat until the onions are tender (but not browned), 4-5 minutes.  Add the chicken back to your pot, covering and cooking again for about 10 minutes, until the chicken puffs even more.  Only turn it once.

Next, add the curry powder, salt, and pepper to the chicken.  Raise the heat and add the cognac to deglaze the pan, boiling the liquid rapidly until it is almost completely gone.  Pour in the hot cream, continue simmering and make sure the chicken has been coated with the cream.  Return the lid to the pot and let the mixture simmer for 30 minutes.  Honestly, my chicken was already pretty well cooked, so I only let it simmer for about 10 minutes.  Here, all you need is for the chicken’s juices to run clear when pricked.  At this stage, if your cream looks curdled and lumpy, not to worry!  Julia will fix it.

Put the chicken and most of the onion on a platter again.  If there is any, skim the fat off the sauce and bring the cream to a quick bubble.  Stir it until it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.  Then, add a few drops of lemon juice and season it with more salt and pepper to taste.  If it still looks a bit lumpy, take the sauce off the heat and stir in those few extra tablespoons of cream–all fixed!  Serve a bowl of luscious chicken smothered in sauce and a hint of parsley.

Words do not describe the amazing taste of cognac and cream mixed together.  Neither of us had ever tasted it until this dish, but there is something about it that just makes me think of the holidays (which start NEXT month?!); I think it is just the comfort and rich smell and taste of it.  If you are reading this, you must make it.  Or, come visit us and we will make it for you.  We get to keep any chance of leftovers, though…

Bon appetit!

*sc

Chicken pot pie…

…makes my mouth water at the mere thought of it.  Has it really been almost 8 months since I was last helping clog the Internet with a delicious recipe I dug up somewhere?  At the encouragement of my mom, I decided to jump back in and occasionally update good old SC when a recipe is just too good to keep to myself.   So, here it is: an incredibly easy, yummy chicken pot pie–no pictures for this post though, as it is all gobbled up!

For this simple pie with great reward you need:

  • 1 lb. ground chicken
  • 2 Tbsp.  Italian Dressing
  • 2 cups frozen mixed vegetables
  • A couple pinches of crushed red pepper
  • Freshly cracked pepper
  • 1 can creamof chicken soup
  • 1/4 lb. (4 oz.) VELVEETA, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
  • 1 egg, beaten

The original recipe call for a pound of chicken breasts, cut into chunks.  I typically prefer to cook with ground chicken, as I think it is much easier (and faster!) and I prefer the texture.  Heat a skillet over medium high heat and add the chicken tossed with the salad dressing.  While the meat is cooking, heat the oven to 400.

When the meat is fully cooked, stir in the mixed vegetables, soup,  pepper seasonings, and Velveeta.   Pour the mixture into a greased 9-inch baking dish.  Place the sheet of puff pastry on top, pressing it closely to the sides and top of the mixture to form a good seal.  Cut a few slits into the pastry and brush the top with egg to give it that beautiful golden coloring when the pie is baked.  Place the dish on a cookie sheet (in case of spills!) , pop it into the oven, and bake for about 20 minutes, or until the pastry is golden brown.

Let the chicken pot pie rest for 5 minutes, then dig in and enjoy.  This dish literally comes together in minutes with the help of the soup and puff pastry.  It will absolutely delight your (and your family’s!) taste buds.  With Fall practically here, and Winter trudging along behind, put this on your list of must-tries.

bien manger!

*sc

Welsh Rarebit…

…is not something we have always been familiar with, and that is a crying shame!  We were introduced to it recently with these delicious burgers (which are sans rabbit!) and I daresay we could live off of the sauce on these ginormous works of burger genius.

For Rachael’s Welsh Rarebit you need:

  • 2 pounds ground beef sirloin, patted dry
  • About 3 tablespoons worcestershire sauce
  • A handful parsley, finely chopped
  • Lots of sea salt and coarse black pepper
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
  • 2 tablespoons butter, plus some softened butter for toast
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 4 slices 1-inch-thick  white bread
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1/2 cup stout beer, such as Guinness
  • 2 to 3 dashes hot sauce, such as Tabasco
  • 1 teaspoon ground mustard
  • 1 cup grated extra-sharp yellow cheddar cheese
  • 2 eggs, beaten

Heat a big skillet over medium-high.  Combine the meat, Worcestershire, parsley, salt, and pepper.  Shape the meat into a huge loaf and score it into four portions and form four HUGE “patties”, making them thinner in the center.  Drizzle the loaves (this is not a mere patty, people) with some oil and set aside.

Preheat the broiler and start making the sauce.  Melt two tablespoons of butter in a saucepan over medium heat.  Then, add the onion, garlic, salt, and pepper, and cook until soft, about 10 minutes.  Meanwhile, toast both sides of the bread in the broiler, then butter it.

Add the loaves to your hot skillet and cook for about 8 minutes, turning once.  While they are cooking, sprinkle the flour into your saucepan and cook for a minute.  Then, change the heat to low and stir in the beer, hot sauce, and mustard.  Using a figure 8 pattern, stir in the cheese until completely melted.  Stir in the eggs to thicken for 3-4 minutes, and the sauce is complete.

Place a burger on top of a piece of toast and slather it with sauce.  Place the burger under the broiler to toast for a couple of minutes, and enjoy.

Now this is a burger to write home about.  If you can eat a whole one in a sitting, we are impressed, as we (even Schatzi!) had trouble finishing one of these delicious creations.  And, really, this sauce is absolutely luscious.

*sc

Timbale…

…was completely foreign to us: we had never heard of it until I found an intriguing recipe for it in this month’s issue of Food Network Magazine.  This month focuses on the brilliance of Italian food, and this recipe is a perfect example of just how wonderful the country’s cuisine is.  A timbale is apparently a food that involves cooking cheese, meat, and pasta in a mold typically used for desserts.  Hence, this particular version looks like a cake made of rice and stuffed with a luxurious sausage filling.

For Sausage-and-Rice Timbale you need:

  • Kosher salt
  • 2 1/2 cups arborio rice
  • 3 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3/4 lb. Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil, torn
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 4 tbsp. breadcrumbs
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups pecorino romano cheese, grated
  • 2 oz. provolone slices

Bring a pot of water to a boil and salt it.  Add the rice, reduce the heat and simmer for 12-15 minutes, until the rice is tender.  Stir the pot occasionally while you make the filling.  When the rice is finished, spread it out on a baking sheet to cool.

Preheat the oven to 450 and put a baking sheet on the middle rack.  Melt 2 tbsp. butter in a large skillet over medium-high and add the onion.  Cook about 8 minutes, until soft, then add the sausage and cook until it is browned, breaking it up as it cooks.  Add the basil to the sausage mixture as well as the garlic and tomato paste.  Cook until the tomato paste browns, about 4 minutes.  Mix in the chicken broth and deglaze the pan, scraping up any bits off the bottom.  Continue to cook the sauce until it is thickened, about 15 minutes.

Grease the bottom and sides of an 8″ springform pan with butter.  Coat the bottom with the breadcrumbs, tapping to remove any of the excess.  Mix the eggs and all but 3 tbsp. of cheese.  Put the cooled rice in a large bowl and stir in the egg mixture to combine.  Place about 2/3 of the rice mixture in the prepared pan.  Using moist fingers, press the rice onto the bottom of the pan and up the sides, making a 1/2″-thick layer.  Layer on the provolone slices.

Top the provolone with 3/4 of the sausage filling.

Then, pat the rest of the rice on top to cover the filling and top with the rest of the pecorino.  Put the pan on the baking sheet in the oven and bake the timbale for about 20 minutes, until golden.  Transfer to a rack to cool for 5 minutes.

Run a knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the “cake”, then remove the side of the pan.  Serve a slice of timbale with the remaining filling alongside.

We were so excited to try this recipe and were definitely not disappointed–it is super fun (and downright easy) to make, and is delicious!

*sc