Holiday Feed

My advice: Put a rub on it (for turkey or that pork loan), but skip all those expensive store bought concoctions - fresh and easy is best!

My advice: Put a rub on it (that is... turkey or that pork loan), but skip all those expensive store bought concoctions - fresh and easy is best!
My advice: Put a rub on it (for turkey or that pork loan), but skip all those expensive store bought concoctions - fresh and easy is best!

Super easy 15 minute tactic to remarkably increase flavor and appearance of your fowl or pork! Rubs are easy, easy, easy, so don't stress about this.  Feel free to add or subtract spices and herbs as you like, and make this your own.

Part of the reason I don't bother with spices when brining is because herbs and spices are much more effective as a rub. This rub will work with any poultry, or pork, whether smoked, barbecued, or roasted. I will use all, or almost all, of this rub recipe with one large turkey. However, I would generally use more rub when barbecuing and use some restraint with roasting.

I would also freeze any leftover rub I might have in a baggy for future use. Feel free to increase or decrease ingredient amounts to suit your tastes. Fresh herbs are best, but you can use dry herbs if that is what you have, but if at all possible use fresh rosemary (it makes a huge difference).

Ingredients

2 tablespoons paprika (smoked paprika is also very nice)

1 tablespoon black pepper

1 tablespoons chili powder

1 tablespoons ground sage, rubbed

2 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary

2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme leaves

Freshly chopped sage, thyme, and rosemary
Freshly chopped sage, thyme, and rosemary

 

2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage leaves

1 tablespoons dried basil leaves

1 tablespoon garlic powder

2 tablespoons dried parsley flakes

2 teaspoons salt (use only if you did not brine the meat)

Directions

Use ends that bend easy
Use ends that bend easily
  1. Pick you fresh herbs. You are looking for ends that bend easily, not stiff sticks. Wash herbs and dry with paper towel.
  2. Separate leaves from stems. It is okay to include very supple stem parts, but remove any stiff stems.
    Remove any stiff stems
    Remove any stiff stems
  3. Finally chop leaves. You may use a food processor if that is easier for you, but use the pulse option so you don't over chop and turn everything mushy.  Personally, I find hand chopping easiest.
Finally chop leaves
Finally chop leaves

4. Mix dry ingredients with freshly chopped leaves.

5. Coat your poultry, or pork with melted butter.

6. Spread your rub evenly over outside and inside of bird, or evenly coat pork.

Spread your rub evenly
Spread your rub evenly

7. Roast or barbecue as you prefer.

Remarkably flavorful golden brown turkey
Remarkably flavorful golden brown juicy turkey

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The Jam Scientist

My advice: brine your turkey (or that pork loan), but skip all those complicated recipes - easy is best!

My advice: brine your turkey, but skip all those complicated recipes - easy is best!
My advice: brine your turkey, but skip all those complicated recipes - easy is best!

Brining makes an enormous difference in succulence - no exaggeration!

Disclaimer - I have an opinion!

This does not need to be a big production or a big expense. You know me, I will write 1500 words about all the ways you can get apple sauce just the way you want it. I am not afraid of extra steps if it delivers a better product, but all things being equal, simple is best. Some people would consider it heresy to say this, but I do not recommend brining with anything but a salt solution. All the additives and spices I see recommended on the web just add cost, time, and stress with little benefit. Spices add little in a quick brining. Spices are best added later as a rub. Also, a salt solution discourages growth or microorganisms, so I don't want to dilute my solution with things like apple juice. I want the protection of the salt solution working for me without interference.  Also, I am not afraid to use sugar, but I don't want sugar where it is not needed. I want succulence not sweetness in my turkey, so I add no sugar.

Did I mention I don't bother with anything but salt in my brine?

Where are you going to brine that turkey?

One problem in brining a turkey is that it takes up a lot of fridge space. I use my canning pot to hold my turkey upright (breast first facing down), but I line the pot with a large food safe heavy duty plastic bag (such as turkey oven roasting bag) that I pull tight around the bird to cover as much of the bird as possible with brine.  You could use just a brine bag, but I would double the bag it for your protection. As long as the breast portion is covered in brine you will be in good shape, because the dark meat has more fat to protect it during cooking.

If you don't have room in your fridge you can brine your turkey in a cooler generously filled with ice so the bird is covered top and bottom. If you live in a cold location (think Denver), and you have a cold garage (40°F or below), you could just brine the turkey in the garage.

 

Golden acorn logo!!! copy

 

Ingredients for brine:

  • 2 gallons water
  • 2 cups course salt without additives (kosher or sea), or 1 cup fine salt.  I use 1 cup fine canning salt. It has no additives and is more economical than kosher, but use what you have. One may also use regular table salt if needed.
  • If you feel you want to use sugar, one can add 1 cup sugar

 

Instructions:

  1. Plan ahead thaw your turkey, or buy a fresh bird.
  2. Before brining, remove the giblets and turkey neck etc. Your parts to be used for gravy need to be removed now so they don't get too salty. You can make gravy ahead of time if you like.
  3. Mix the brine solution: Heat 1 quart of water with half your salt (and sugar if using) in the microwave until warmed enough to dissolve the salt. Stir warm solution until the salt has dissolved. Then repeat with a second quart of warm water and the other half of the salt.
  4. Add 6 quarts (1 1/2 gallons) ice water (or water with ice cubes) to the warm brine solution in a large container to dilute it to the proper strength and chill it. I don't want warm brine encouraging microbiological growth. Also, brine should be cold before adding the turkey, or the meat will absorb too much salt.
  5. Pour the cold brine over the turkey and make especially sure the breast of the turkey is completely submerged. 
  6. Pull the food-grade plastic bag, or brining bag, around the bird to envelop it in brine and refrigerate or chill for 6 to 24 hours. As a rule of thumb, you should brine your turkey 30 to 60 minutes per pound. If you don't overdue the brining time you can brine a Butterball type of bird (self basting type). Notes about self basting type turkeys: Butterball type birds have been injected with a salt solution already. Less time is best with this type so you don't get them too salty. Stick with 30 - 45 minutes per pound. I will add that one of my best turkeys ever was a brined self basting type bird.
  7. When time is up rinse your bird and towel dry. To get a crunchy skin you need to start with dry skin. America's Test Kitchen suggests drying the skin further by leaving the uncovered bird in the fridge overnight to air dry.

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The Jam Scientist

Kitchen Hack: Super easy five minute tactic to take your ham up a notch

Kitchen Hack: Super easy three minute tactic to take your ham up a notch
Kitchen Hack: Super easy five minute tactic to take your ham up a notch.

 

Why settle for ordinary? Use this simple and quick tactic that works on any ham, be it spiral, canned, or bone-in to intensify flavor, add moisture, and presence to any ham.

  Golden acorn logo!

 

Ingredients:

Ham

Whole cloves (around 30)

(2) 8 ounce cans sliced pineapple

Toothpicks

 

Instructions:

  1. Open your cans of pineapple and reserve syrup. Arrange the pineapple over the ham somewhat evenly and secure them with toothpicks (leave them poking out so you can easily remove them).
    Arrange the pineapple and cloves over the ham somewhat evenly
    Arrange the pineapple and cloves over the ham somewhat evenly
  2. Poke the whole cloves into the ham even intervals (resist the temptation to over think this - no one will notice in the end).
    Poke the whole cloves into the ham somewhat even intervals
    Poke the whole cloves into the ham somewhat even intervals
  3. Bake ham per your package instructions.
  4. Make your glaze subsisting reserved pineapple syrup for liquid, add glaze and finish baking.
    Add glaze and finish baking.
    Add glaze and finish baking.

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The Jam Scientist

Easy three-step, gloriously rich and thick, do-ahead turkey gravy recipe that makes everything easier...

Easy three-step, gloriously rich and thick, do-ahead turkey gravy recipe makes everything easer...
Easy three-step, gloriously rich and thick, do-ahead turkey gravy recipe makes everything easier...

This gravy makes Thanksgiving day a breeze by making gloriously rich and thick gravy ahead of time by using turkey parts. This recipe is adapted from The Best of America's Test Kitchen, so you know its good! One may also add drippings from the roasted turkey on Thanksgiving Day if desired. It can be refrigerated up to three days, or frozen up to 3 months.

It all starts with a plan. When will you make the gravy? Here is my bare-bones Thanksgiving plan:

  • Up to a week before (if it is a large bird), or the weekend before Thanksgiving - defrost the turkey. If I am making fresh cranberry relish I do it now.
  • Tuesday - Make Gravy, remove the turkey giblets, neck, and wings and make stock. I often also add the backbone if I am butterflying the turkey. Many side dishes may be made now or Wednesday. 
  • Wednesday - Brine the turkey. I brine in a heave duty trash bag, pulled tight. If I don't have room in my fridge I use a cooler fill it with ice. Make pies.
  • Thursday - Roast or smoke turkey

For more timeline strategies see Cooks Illustrated Thanksgiving Cooking Timeline.

 

Okay we have our plan - now it's gravy making day!

  Golden acorn logo!!! copy

 

MAKES ABOUT 6 CUPS

Author: Adapted from The best of America's Test Kitchen a production of A La Carte Communications

Ingredients:

Reserved giblets, neck, tailpiece, wings, trimmed fat from turkey, and backbone (if butterflying turkey)

3 medium carrots cut into 1-inch pieces

2 rib celery, cut into 1-inch pieces

3 medium onions, chopped coarse

6 cloves garlic

2 tablespoons light oil (such as canola)

8 cups chicken stock or canned low-sodium chicken broth (Did I mention it needs to be low sodium?)

2 cups dry white wine or sherry (if you object to the wine replace with an equal amount of chicken broth with the addition of white wine vinegar at the rate of 1 tablespoon per cup of broth).

6 sprigs fresh thyme

1 small bunch fresh parley

1⁄2 cup all-purpose flour

Salt and ground black pepper

 

Instructions in Three Easy Steps

First let's make the stock.

  1. Heat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Place turkey trimmings, trimmed fat from turkey, and giblets, carrot, celery, onions, and garlic in plastic bag and add 2 tablespoons oil. Close bag and shake contents to coat.
  3. Turn out bag contents onto a large heavy roasting pan or broiler pan bottom.
  4. Roast, stirring every 10-15 minutes, until browned and crispy, 40 to 50 minutes.
    Browned and crispy
    Browned and crispy
  5. Remove pan from oven, and place over burners on high heat; add chicken stock and bring to boil, scraping up browned bits on bottom of pan with wooden spoon or spatula. 
    Simmer until reduced
    Simmer until reduced
  6. Transfer contents of pan to large saucepan. Remove liver, and discard (Spot, my Editorial and Procurement Assistant,  insists this need to be edited to read "cool and give to the home's loyal companion"). Add wine, 3 cups water, parley, and thyme; bring to boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer until reduced by half, about 1 1/2 hours.
  7. Strain stock with colander into large heat safe container. Cool to room temperature; cover, and refrigerate until fat congeals on surface, about 2 hours.

Next make the roux and gravy (this could be done the next day if you are busy)

  1.  Skim fat from stock; reserve fat for making the roux. Pour stock through fine-mesh strainer to remove remaining bits and discard. Bring stock to simmer in medium saucepan over medium-high heat.
  2. In second medium saucepan, heat reserved approximately 1/2 to 2/3 cup turkey fat over medium-high heat until bubbling; whisk in flour and cook, stirring continually, until combined and dark caramel-colored, about 2 minutes.
  3. Continuing to whisk constantly, gradually add hot stock; bring to boil, and then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring intermittently, until thickened, about 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. (Gravy can be refrigerated up to 3 days, or frozen up to 3 months).
    Gravy can be refrigerated up to 3 days
    Gravy can be refrigerated up to 3 days

On the Celebration Day

After turkey comes out of oven, rejoice that most of your work is already done! Heat gravy over medium heat until hot and assess its thickness. If gravy is thick one may add some pan drippings to thin out.

 

 

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The Jam Scientist

Apricot-Almond Chutney (Alternatives to Canned Cranberry Relish Continued)

Apricot-Almond Chutney
Apricot-Almond Chutney

This is great chutney without the smoked addition, but with smoked fruit and veg it will knock your socks off!  Yes, smoking adds that much flavor and complexity. This is absolutely my, and The Professor's, favorite chutney!!!  Either way, straight or smoked, everyone will consider you to be a domestic goddess.

 

Time out!  What is a CHUTNEY?

Chutney is a sauce or relish that often has both sweet and sour ingredients, such as fruits and herbs, often with spices or other seasoning.
 

This is a continuation of my first post about Alternatives to Canned Cranberry Relish, if you would like to see my first post click here.

This is not a canning recipe. In the future I would like to develop it further with an eye toward canning, but it was designed for a fresh batch.

If you would like to print the recipe without all the pictures please click Download Apricot-Almond Chutney

 

Golden acorn logo!!! copy

Apricot-Almond Chutney

Source: Adapted from Chef Stephen Pyles, Star Canyon, Dallas, Texas

 

Servings: 12

Preparation time: 10 minutes, plus 1 hour soaking wood chips if smoking

Cooking time: 35 minutes, plus 30 minutes if smoking

 

Ingredients:

11 ounces dried apricots, diced 1 1/2 cup (if at all possible smoke them - optional)

1 small onion, thinly sliced or chopped (if at all possible smoke it - optional)

1  1/4 cup water

1 cup red wine vinegar

1 cup brown sugar

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 teaspoon fresh ginger (peeled and diced very finely)

1 fresh ripe pear (peeled, cored, and diced into small pieces)

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons chopped cilantro (add at end)

1/2 cup blanched sliced almonds, toasted and coarsely chopped (add at end)

 

Instructions:

Optional smoking
Optional smoking- lower heat
  1. Optional smoking, place your apricots and onion in a pie tin with holes poked in the bottom to
    Smoking apricots after a BBQ.  Roll wood chips in aluminum foil.
    Smoking apricots after a BBQ. Roll wood chips in aluminum foil.
    allow the smoke to pass through and put it on the grill. Soak any flavor of wood chips (I used hickory wood chips) in cold water for at least an hour, and then roll them on a sheet of aluminum foil with multiple larger holes poked in the foil and put to the side of low charcoals on the bottom of the grill. I like to smoke ingredients after a BBQ so the coals will be manageable.  Just be sure to lower heat. Smoke the dried apricots and onion for 20-30 minutes.
  2. After smoking, Bring apricots and water to a boil in a small saucepan over Medium-High heat. Boil about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally until apricots soften and 2 tablespoons liquid remain.
  3. Add remaining ingredients, except almonds and cilantro to the pan. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to low and simmer 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Meanwhile, lightly toast your almonds on a cookie sheet in a 350˚ degree oven for 3-4 minutes (watching all the while like a hawk). When slightly brown remove almonds quickly from heat.
  5. After simmering mixture, remove from heat and stir in almonds and cilantro. Serve as an accompaniment to sliced pork, beef roasts or poultry (especially if smoked). Extra chutney may be safely stored, covered, in the refrigerator for two weeks, or freeze.

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The Jam Scientist

Alternatives to Canned Cranberry Relish

Kick the cranberry sauce in the tin can to the side. I never like it anyway. Here are few of my favorite alternatives...

To see the second post about alternatives to tin can cranberry sauce, click Apricot-Almond Chutney.

 

Author: Fresh Cranberry Orange Relish from Ocean Spray®

Fresh Cranberry Orange Relish
Fresh Cranberry Orange Relish

Ingredients:

1 unpeeled orange, cut into eighths and seeded
1 12-ounce package cranberries, rinsed and drained
3/4-1 cup sugar

Directions:

Place half the cranberries and half the orange slices in food processor container. Process until mixture is evenly chopped. Transfer to a bowl. Repeat with remaining cranberries and orange slices. Stir in sugar. Store in refrigerator or freezer.

Makes about 3 cups.

NOTE: May also be prepared in a food grinder.

 

I think I will go a little English this year and also add a conserve to the table:

Tart Honeycrisp Apple Cranberry/Cherry Conserve (click for recipe)

Tart Honeycrisp Apple Cranberry/Cherry Conserve - Just in time for the holidays
Tart Honeycrisp Apple Cranberry/Cherry Conserve - Just in time for the holidays


Cranberries have a rather strong flavor for children's sensitive tastes. This one is kid friendly, but does introduce a sophisticated combination:

Canned Cranberry Spiced Applesauce (click for recipe)

http://www.bestlittlejamhouse.com/.a/6a01b8d2238f49970c01b8d2346b20970c-pi
Canned Cranberry Spiced Applesauce - hands down absolutely the best applesauce I have ever eaten

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The Jam Scientist