Monthly Archives: January 2016

A Spatchcock Turkey Adventure

I know, the holidays are over.  Turkey Day is but a memory and holiday feasts are past. For many the thought of turkey has been put to rest for another year, but not in Mama D’s Kitchen. I was once again given a turkey at work and as the holidays played out I, didn’t have an opportunity to cook it, so the little fella sat in the freezer waiting for the time to be right to bring joy to the table.

That time came last weekend when a cold spell kept us indoors and something from the oven just seemed right. I’ve been intrigued by the idea of “spatchcocking” a turkey. It is somewhat of a trend these days and though it is not my style, I thought I’d take a brief ride on the bandwagon. Little did I know….

Spatchcocking is the act/art of removing the backbone from a fowl, breaking the breastbone and creating if not a poultry pancake, a relatively flat bird. This flat bird has the ability to brown on all skin surfaces and cook in record time. That is, once you have the backbone out. Poultry shears are the tool of choice to accomplish this. Alas, my poultry shears have disappeared. They were my mother’s, and as mothers will do, she created such fear that I might cut off a finger that I put them in a drawer or box somewhere to protect my digits from certain peril and thus lost track of them.

Not to fear (I thought), I had brand new kitchen shears and Papa D (complete with latex-free gloves) to take on the task. This would be quick and easy…not so much. Turkey bones are tough and the process feels a little like surgery gone terribly wrong. After a 30 minute wrestling match the backbone was out and off to the stock pot. Papa D cracked the breastbone with his gloved hands while standing on  a step stool for leverage (I’m  glad the online directions suggested that, and that I didn’t scoff at the suggestion). At last, the bird was laid out to meet its ultimate date with destiny.IMG_1080To make sure he would retain his innate moistness, I coated him with herb laced butter and olive oil, making sure that he was well lubed under the skin as well. Finally he was ready for the oven.IMG_1083An hour later he was beautifully golden and at the correct internal temperature. After a bit of a rest the bird was carved with the greatest of ease and became the star attraction of a wonderful meal. Will I do this again? Absolutely. Will I invest in poultry shears? Damn skippy.IMG_1100As with every turkey ever served there was an abundance of leftovers. There were sandwiches and salads and care packages to the children, and I still had enough left to create a casserole. I decided to make my version of Chicken Divan. This casserole from the 50’s features broccoli, and chicken in a creamy cheese laced sauce. I elaborated on the idea by switching the protein to turkey and adding mushrooms, garlic, and shallots to the sauce.IMG_1114Milk, turkey stock, and a touch of sherry were the liquid base of the sauce. Herbs de Provence and Dijon mustard bumped up the flavor and created a sauce that beautifully coated the broccoli and turkey.IMG_1121

A cheese laced panko crumb topping ensured that it would emerge from the oven golden and delicious. And it did.IMG_1126I made a casserole that served three generously. An odd number, I know, but it makes a lovely dinner for two and some lucky person gets a fabulous lunch the next day. If you have more mouths to feed, you can easily double this recipe.IMG_1129

Turkey Divan
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This is a rich and hearty casserole that works just as well with chicken.
Servings
3
Servings
3
Turkey Divan
Print Recipe
This is a rich and hearty casserole that works just as well with chicken.
Servings
3
Servings
3
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Blanch and shock the broccoli: Cook the florets in boiling salted water for about 1 minute. Remove to a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Drain well, pat dry, and place in a single layer in a baking dish that has been lightly coated with cooking spray.
  2. Layer the turkey on top of the broccoli.
  3. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter and olive oil together. Add the mushrooms. shallot, and garlic and cook stirring frequently until everything is soft and fragrant. This should take 5 - 7 minutes.
  4. Add the sherry to the pan and sprinkle the flour in as well. Whisk constantly to keep things smooth and allow to cook for 2 minutes. You will have a thick ball of stuff.
  5. Add the stock and milk a little at a time as you continue to whisk. The goal is to get all the liquid incorporated without creating lumps. Bring to a boil.
  6. Reduce the heat slightly and continue to cook and stir until the mixture thickens, about 4 - 5 minutes. Stir in the mustard and herbs. Remove the pan from the heat.
  7. Add about half of the grated Swiss cheese and stir until it melts Taste and add salt and pepper as needed. Pour the sauce over the broccoli and turkey.
  8. Combine the remaining Swiss Cheese with the Parmesan and panko crumbs. You can add a drizzle of olive oil if it seems too dry.
  9. Sprinkle the crumb mixture evenly over the casserole. Spray lightly with cooking spray and bake at 350 degrees for 30 -35 minutes. The crust should be golden and everything else should be bubbly.
  10. Allow to rest for 5 minutes or so before serving.
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The original Chicken Divan would make an equally delicious dish, and unless you have a whole turkey lying around just waiting to be given the ” spatchcock treatment”, it might be a more practical choice. (I bet it’s a whole lot easier, too.)

A New Year…A New Project…A New Pasta

We are already a week into the new year. I’ve decided that I want to challenge myself to be more mindful of the food I create this year. I know that every dish that I make doesn’t need to have its own moment as the star of a post, but I thought that I would try to catalog each dish that I create with a picture and a brief description. I will admit that this is partly to help me keep track of what I make, my memory, after all, isn’t getting any younger. You need have no fear of being overwhelmed with posts because I will only be sharing some of them in detail.  Bear with me this first week, I’ll share several of the plates that graced our table and yes, there will be a recipe (just one) at the end.

We started the year off with what I think was a wonderful NYE dinner. Yes it was technically 2015, but I wanted to set the tone for the coming year and no it does not mean that we will eat like this on a regular basis. We had Surf, and Turf, and Turf.IMG_0998

A small lobster tail, a bacon wrapped filet, and a lamb chop all were grilled to perfection by Papa D. Proscuitto wrapped asparagus and sautéed grape tomatoes completed the plate. We said goodbye to the old year with full and happy stomachs….

With the meat feast behind us we entered into the new year. Continuing on the theme of healthy vegetable forward meals, I turned 8 ounces of pork into  colorful kabobs that  were as tasty as they were healthy. Peppers, onions, yellow squash, and potatoes were marinated and grilled before they came to rest on a bed of sautéed spinach.IMG_1012

I plan to keep “Meatless Mondays” on the menu. I may even throw in a Meatless Wednesday or IMG_1033Thursday from time to time. Our first Monday Minus Meat was a pasta dish that featured Artichokes and Cannellini Beans with Whole Wheat Rotini. I started with a can of whole artichoke hearts. I prefer these because they hold together better than the quartered variety and you can cut them to the size that works for you. In this case, I quartered them (ironic, huh?) before I browned them in a skillet with olive oil. Frozen hearts are another good option, but unless you are near a Trader Joe’s, you may not find them. Of course, if you can find fresh baby artichokes that would be wonderful…I didn’t have any luck with that, either, but I did have the can of hearts in the pantry.

Mama D’s Trinity went into the pan. This time the onions were red and the garlic was sliced. I cut all the grape tomatoes that I had in half and added them to the pan along with the drained and rinsed beans. I added a generous splash of vegetable stock to keep everything lubricated. The sauce would later be bulked up with a cup of the pasta water. I added some red pepper flakes and fresh parsley to seal the deal. Then I let it rain Pecorino Romano Cheese.IMG_1043

This dish will feed two lavishly with enough left over  for someone to have a nice lunch the next day.IMG_1045

Pasta with Artichokes and Cannellini Beans
Print Recipe
Servings
3
Servings
3
Pasta with Artichokes and Cannellini Beans
Print Recipe
Servings
3
Servings
3
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Cook the pasta according to the package directions minus a minute or 2. While the pasta is cooking, make the sauce.
  2. Add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil to a hot skillet. Place the artichoke hearts in a single layer in the pan. Cook until lightly brown, turning as needed, 4-5 minutes. Remove from the pan and set aside.
  3. Add the remaining olive oil to the pan and add the onions and garlic. Cook a few minutes until they soften and smell wonderful.
  4. Add the beans and tomatoes and toss to combine. Add the vegetable stock and cook for 4 minutes or so. If the mixture seems dry, add a little more stock.
  5. Return the Artichokes to the skillet. When the pasta is cooked, reserve one cup of the pasta water. Drain the pasta and add to the skillet.
  6. Add the pasta water, parsley and pepper flakes to the skillet along with the cheese. Toss everything to combine and allow to cook for another few minutes until the cheese has melted.
  7. Serve with more cheese to add at the table.
Recipe Notes

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The new year will hold many new adventures and many of them will happen in the kitchen. There will hopefully be a little travel, a lot of family time, and of course, lots of love.