Monday, November 19, 2012

Continuing with "It's An Old New England Custom"

Chapter-To Serve Turkey and Cranberry Sauce

"Thanksgiving has, of course, always been the time par excellence for food in new England, with roast turkey the traditional piece de resistance of the feast. Even the puritans forgot their fear of sensualism at Thanksgiving, abandoning themselves with gusto to the pleasures of the table, though there were times when the country was a desert island for food, and the colonists, like castaways, were in no danger of overeating.
There seems, however, to have been an abundance of provender at the first Pilgrim Thanksgiving at Plymouth in 1621, which was not an affair of a single day, but lasted a whole week, and, contrary to what many persons think, was without any religious significance. It was simply a period of relaxation and recreation following the gathering of the first harvest.

Edward Winslow wrote to a friend in England on December 11, 1621, in which he said:

'Our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling that so we might after a special manner rejoice together after we had gathered the fruits of our labors. They four killed as much fowl as with a little help beside served the company about a week. At which time among other recreations we exercised our arms, many of the Indians coming amongst us, and among the rest their greatest king Massasoyt with some ninety mean, whom for three days we entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed five deer which they brought and bestow'd on our governor, and upon the captains and others.'
Since Governor Bradford mentioned that 'beside waterfoule there was great store of wild turkies' that fall, we may be certain that the men he sent out to make provision for the feast succeeded in bagging enough unsuspecting turkeys to make the tables groan.
Other writers of the period have told of the great flocks of wild turkey that inhabited the oak and chestnut forests of New England. So common were they that in the 1730's, dressed wild turkeys sold for only a penny and a half a pound in western Massachusetts. The price, of course, increased as the wild turkey population decreased , and by the close of the eighteenth century they were bringing fourpence per pound. In 1820, when these great game birds were rapidly vanishing, the price had risen to twelve and a half cents a pound and it became less common to see wild turkey wings used as hearth brushes in New England homes."

By the end of the eighteenth century the wild turkey of New England, which had been retreating steadily westward, reached the line of the Connecticut River, where they made their last stand. There were flocks of them in the Berkshires and the mountainous regions of Vermont and among the hills of the Connecticut Valley. In the lifetime of the writer's grandfather, there were still wild turkeys around Mount Holyoke and Mount Tom. During the winter of 1850-1851, the last one was shot on Mount Tom. A turkey killed on Mount Holyoke in 1863 is thought to have been a fugitive from a barnyard.
Before the wild species was exterminated, they sometimes visited their civilized relatives of the barnyard. In the mating season a wild turkey cock would fly in and strut and gobble and fight the domestic cock for the favors of the females. The wild gobbler always won, and in this way the domestic species was invigorated and kept up to scratch.

In the olden times the New England housewife never had to worry about the Thanksgiving turkey being too large to fit her oven because she cooked it over an open fire. Families were larger then, and big birds favored. But the oven problem brought about an annual Thanksgiving invocation just before the festival of 1945. This was the sale of split turkeys occasioned by the great number of extraordinarily large birds coming into the market. Raised to meet the requirements of the armed forces, these birds were released for civilian consumption as a result of the sudden end of the war.

Marketmen, knowing that many housewives had ovens too small to accommodate such whopping birds, split the oversize turkeys in two, and the housewives, agreeing that half a turkey was better than none, bought the bisected, although they were uncertain how to prepare half a bird for the table and were apprehensive that it might dry unduly while cooking. All apparently turned out well, but in the future smaller turkeys will probably be the rule.

Pie, especially pumpkin pie, was considered as essential to the old-fashioned New England Thanksgiving dinner as turkey and cranberry sauce.

A want of molasses with which to make pies was more than once the cause of a New England town postponing its observance of the day. Once at Newberry, Vermont, when the minister read the Thanksgiving proclamation, a worthy deacon, who was not unmindful of the earthly pleasure to be derived from a good dinner, rose and said that as there was no molasses in town and his boys had gone to Charlestown, New Hampshire, to get some, he would move that Thanksgiving be postponed a week.

When the boys did not return, the day was put off again, until finally the people fo Newberry had to go without their molasses, and, since there was no 'sweetnin', presumable also without the customary pumpkin pies. Once can only guess what happened to the boys. Similarly, at Colchester, Connecticut, the celebration of Thanksgiving was delayed a week beyond the appointed day because a sloop from New York with a hogshead of molasses for pies failed to arrive.
An amusing account of a public dinner given in 1714, at which bear meat and venison were eaten, has come down to us from the pen of the Rev. Lawrence Conant of Danvers, Massachusetts, who was evidently not averse to eating game that had been killed on the Sabbath.

'When ye services at ye meeting house were ended,' he wrote, 'ye council and other dignitaries were entertained at ye house of Mr. Epes, on ye hill near by, and we had a bountiful Thanksgiving dinner with bear's meat and venison, the last of which was a fine buck, shot in ye woods near by. Ye bear was killed in Lynn woods near Reading.
The First Church in Salem

After ye blessing was craved by Mr. Garrick of Wrentham, word came that ye buck was shot on ye Lord's day by Pequot, an Indian, who came to Mr. Epes with a lye in his moth like Ananias of old. Ye council therefore refused to eat ye venison, but it was afterward decided that Pequot should receive 40 stripes save one, for lying and profaning ye Lord's day, restore Mr. Epes ye cost of ye deer, and considering this a just and righteous sentence on ye sinful heathen, and that a blessing had been craved on ye meat, ye council all partook of it but Mr. Shepard, whose conscious was tender on ye point of ye venison.'

Thanksgiving did not immediately become a fixed annual festival in new England after the first Pilgrim observance, but it made headway steadily. It proved popular because it was a substitute for the festival of Christmas, which the Puritans had banished. It was as if they said, 'If we can't have Christmas, we will have our own feast.' The idea of a Thanksgiving Day for the Lord's bounties gradually spread throughout the country until this old New England custom became a national one."

Pink Memories

Ever since I can remember, my mother made Divinity. She called it Divinity Fudge, while others in the family called it Divinity Candy or just Divinity. It was strictly white with little flavor other than that of sweetened meringue. But while I was growing up, that was enough. We didn’t have our choice of candies at the drop of a dime during my adolescence, so any sweet treat was a delight.
As many of you now know, I strongly advocate Breast Cancer Awareness and I am happy to be at the Susan G. Komen’s beck-and-call when it comes to publicizing awareness, hence my pink chef’s coat. Every year during the Holidays, I tenderly think of my mother, and the sad struggle she must have lived with, not only because of the physical pain of her breast cancer, but the emotional toil of knowing she wouldn’t be there for her children, as they aged, learned and grew. Thinking of your children living their lives without your physical presence must be a trial that seems to know no resolve.

Even though our smiles are quick to produce while thinking of how she made these confections and the smile she had when watching us devour them, it just as quickly fades when we look up and don’t see her there. Even now, I would give the world to take a bite, move my eyes to the left or to the right and tell Mom, “thanks”.
So with a warm embrace and nostalgic memories, here are two Yanked recipes for Divinity in honor of those struggling. I invite all those to make these confections in honor of breast cancer awareness and the memories of those who have and continue to struggle.
I am going to give you two recipes, one for the children to enjoy and one for the adults. Since I changed the original divinity recipe to make it easier for everyone to make them, and in honor of these memories, let’s call them…..

Holiday Memories
Gives you 25 Memories

3 egg whites
1/8 t. salt
4 T. raspberry or strawberry gelatin
3/4 c. sugar
1/2 t. apple cider vinegar
2 peppermint bars or canes, crushed

Preheat oven to 250 degrees F. Beat egg whites with salt until soft peaks form. Add gelatin, vinegar and sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks form. By hand, gently mix in the crushed peppermints. Spoon or pipe into small circular mounds on a cookie sheet covered in parchment paper. I used a baggy with the corner cut out. Bake at 225 degrees for 60 minutes, turn oven off and allow to sit for an additional 20 minutes. Remove from oven and allow cookies to cool completely.

Cranberry Memories

Gives you 25 Memories

3 egg whites
1/2 t. apple cider vinegar
1/8 t. salt
3/4 c. sugar
1 c. dried cranberries, chopped
3-4 drops red food coloring

Preheat the oven to 225 degrees F. Line cookie sheets with aluminum foil or parchment paper.
In a large glass or metal bowl, whip egg whites, vinegar and salt to soft peaks. Gradually add sugar while continuing to whip until stiff peaks form, about 5 minutes. Add 3 drops red food coloring and beat a few seconds longer, or until it is all pink. You may need to add a drop more. Fold in the chopped cranberries. Drop by heaping teaspoonfuls, or use a piping bag or a baggies with the corner cut out, one inch apart onto the prepared cookie sheets. Bake for 60 minutes in oven, turn off heat and let sit in oven 20 minutes. Cool on baking sheets.

Let’s remember our loved ones and remember that the cure is near. Make your own Memories.

Friday, November 16, 2012

A Baked Ham 'Must Have'

"I Could Have Had A....."

Don't be banging the side of your head this year and say that phrase to yourself when you are preparing a spread for the Holidays. This recipe is a must and has always graced our table since time long forgotten. As you have noticed, I have used quatre épices in this recipe. Don't fret however if you can't find these in the store, I am going to show you how to make your own. This is a spice blend that is used mainly in France and Middle Eastern kitchens for savory dishes, soups and sausages. As I have been working with W.A. Bean and Sons sausages as of late for promotional purposes, I opted to add this aromatic mixture to a great side dish for your Holidays. The name literally means "four spices" and usually contains a mix of your choice of ground pepper, cloves, nutmeg and ginger. I wanted to leave out pepper of any sort here and opt for allspice, but by all means, add the same amount of black or white pepper in lieu of allspice. You may replace the ginger with cinnamon if preferred as well, just measure these spices in equal amounts for the recipe.

Instead of grabbing that can of pineapple to lay on your ham this season, try this great alternative for your Holiday center[piece. I think you will find it a fantastic alternative and more friends and family willing to try it. Another great addition is drizzling maple syrup over your pineapple before roasting.

Roasted and Glazed Pineapple

1 ripe pineapple, about 4 lbs.
1/4 c. peanut or vegetable oil
2 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. powdered sugar
1 t. quatre épices*

Put 4 c. water into a pan and add all the ingredients. Slowly bring to a boil over gentle heat, stirring occasionally. Simmer over medium heat to reduce by three-quarters, to make a thick syrup. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 350° F. Using a serrated knife, cut a 1 1/4-inch slice from the top, removing the leafy fronds, and a 3/4-inch slice from the base of the pineapple to enable it to stand upright.
Now working from top to bottom and following the curve of the fruit, remove the peel. To remove the little black “eyes,” simply use the tip of a knife3 and extract.
Heat the oil in a large skillet(or one that will take the whole fruit) until very hot, then add the pineapple and lightly color all over. Transfer the pineapple to a roasting dish, standing it upright. Baste the pineapple with the reduced syrup and roast in the oven for 35 to 40 minutes, depending on the ripeness of the fruit, basting it every 5 minutes or so with the syrup, and keeping it upright. Let the roasted pineapple stand for 10 to 15 minutes before serving, basting from time to time with the syrup. To serve, lie the pineapple on its side and cut into slices and arrange in a serving dish and serve warm.

*An equal measure of allspice,a mixture of ground cloves, nutmeg, and ginger(or cinnamon)

The Yankee Chef and Durgin Park

Missed But Not Forgotten

This is a dish I had forgotten about for so long, I almost forgot how to make it. Although this is only the second time I have used lobster in it, I found myself needing to share this delightfully festive dish. My grandfather made this each and every Holiday for each and every Thanksgiving menu at his restaurant. Although The Yankee Chef believes the origins lay somewhere around Kentucky, us Yankee's have been using corn and lobster since we first set foot on these shores, so if you don't mind, I claim this superb accompaniment to your table as Yankee!

The Yankee Chef and Durgin Park

A friend of mine, Melicia Philips is the Executive Chef at Durgin Park, next to Faneuil Hall, in Boston. We have been staying in touch as of late and I asked her for a recipe she wouldn't mind sharing with my readers. It worked out kind of funny because I had just gotten done with my own version of a Corn Pudding when she forwarded me hers. Far be it from me to outdo Chef Melicia or Durgin Park, nor would I even attempt to, so I included both our recipes in this column. I am blessed to be able to call her friend, and even more blessed that she has agreed to write a review for my cookbook. So without me further entertaining you with gloat, here are both recipes that have been part of our Yankee heritage for as long as us Yankees have been here in New England.

New England Shore Corn Pudding
The combination of lobster and corn just pairs two naturally sweet items so well together, I think you will find yourself making this within a week of Thanksgiving. Just remember, serve this as a side dish along with either soup, bread or the main course. You can even heighten the flavor by roasting cleaned ears of corn in the oven first for 20 minutes on 400-degrees F. Remove, let cool enough to handle and then remove the corn kernels, making this New England Shore Roasted Corn Pudding.

4 c. cooked lobster meat, chopped
4 ears of corn*, silk and husk removed.
2 c. half-and-half
4 strips bacon, chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, minced
4 scallions or green onions, sliced thinly
6 eggs
1/4 c. flour
1 t. salt
1 t. sugar
1 c. shredded Monterey jack cheese

Preheat oven to 350-degrees F. Coat eight 8 oz. ramekins or one shallow 2-quart casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray. Remove corn kernels from each ear using a sharp knife. Holding ear of corn with the stem up(it is easier if you cut off the tip of the ear so that it stands up more securely)run the knife from top to bottom over a plate. In the bowl of a food processor or blender, puree half the corn with 1/2 c. half and half.
In a large skillet, cook bacon over medium-high heat until almost crisp: drain fat. Add remaining corn kernels, sweet pepper and scallion; saute for 5 minutes. In bowl, whisk remaining half-and-half, eggs, flour, salt and sugar. Stir in lobster, pureed corn, sauteed vegetables and cheese. Divide among ramekins or pour into large casserole. Set individual casseroles or large casserole in baking pan and place in oven; pour hot water into baking pan to 1-inch. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or 5-10 minutes longer for large casserole dish, or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Let stand for 15 minutes before serving.

*Take the easy route if you wish. Use one(15 oz.) can of whole kernel corn-drained or the equivalent in frozen corn.

Chef Melicia's New England Corn Custard

2 c fresh corn kernels
2 c cream(heavy is best)
3 eggs
2 egg yolks
Salt and pepper to taste
Nutmeg, to taste
Cayenne, to taste
Curry powder, to taste

Butter 15 small ramekins.Mix all ingredients together well and fill each ramekin equally with custard. Cover with foil and bake in water bath at 350 degrees F until set. Remove from water bath, let rest 5 minutes. Run a butter knife around the inside edge and invert onto a plate.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

You Just Have To Read This

Sorry everyone, I just couldn't think of an eye catching title for this blog post. I suppose I could have said, "Stuffings vs. Dressings" or " The History of Stuffing" or "Stuffing Recipes", but I don't think those would have done it. So please accept my apology and I hope you still read through and try one of these great side dishes.

Stuffing or Dressing?

The difference between the two is simple. Do you say "ta-ta", "toodly-oo" or "See ya' later", "Bye" as your departure phrase? Do you say "I am famished"? Or is it more like " I'm so hungry my back bone is touching my belly button"?
Originally known as farce, which means 'to stuff', it was also known as "sauce" up until the 18th century. For centuries, the word stuffing, farce and sauce was universally used without a problem. Then sometime in the 19th century, the rich, upper class societies in Europe thought that these words were too vulgar and 'lower class' to be used in the proper denotation of this, much enjoyed, bread dish. So what did they do? Well, they started calling it Dressing of course.
What I am trying to say is, the only difference between the words stuffing and dressing is how fancy you want to sound. Some chefs will tell you that stuffing is the product you stuff the turkey with while dressing is baked in a pan, separate from the poultry. If that is what you prefer, then I am all for it. But having said stuffing my entire life, as have the first and second Yankee Chefs, I find no need to differentiate the two words.
Thanksgiving by Doris Lee, 1935

So with meaningless banter out of the way, allow me to offer some great tasting, homemade STUFFINGS that truly brings many levels of taste and texture to the table. Now let's eat supper....suppah.....dinner....whatever! Let's just take

No matter how you make your stuffing, keep a few basics in mind:

In general, plan on 3/4 cup to 1 cup cooked stuffing per person.
To give your stuffing casserole a crisp crust and a moist interior, bake it covered at first, but remove the cover and bake an additional 10 to 15 minutes.I prefer it cooked without a cover the entire time.
If you have any leftover stuffing, promptly cover and refrigerate. Use it up within two days. Freezing isn't recommended.

Turkey with Apricot Chestnut Stuffing

No-stick cooking spray
1 loaf (16 oz.) sourdough bread, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/3 c. butter or margarine
3 onions, chopped (about 1-1/2 c.)
1-1/2 c. chopped celery
4 t. poultry seasoning
1 t. salt
2-1/2 c. coarsely chopped chestnuts*
1-1/2 c. chopped dried apricots
1/2 c. raisins
2 c. chicken broth
1 turkey(16 lbs.), thawed if frozen

Preheat oven to 350° F. Spray large shallow baking pan with no- stick cooking spray; spread bread cubes onto bottom of pan. Bake 15 minutes, or until lightly toasted, stirring once. Set aside.
Melt butter in large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and celery; cook and stir 5 minutes, or until vegetables are crisp-tender. Stir in poultry seasoning and salt. Place bread cubes, vegetables, chestnuts, apricots and raisins in large bowl; mix lightly. Add broth; mix well.
Reduce oven to 325° F. Remove neck and giblets from body and neck cavities of turkey; refrigerate for another use or discard. Drain juices from turkey. Fill neck cavity with some stuffing. Fill body cavity with remaining stuffing. Place turkey, breast up, on roasting rack. Place small pieces of aluminum foil over skin of neck cavity and over stuffing at body cavity opening to prevent overbrowning during roasting. If you have any extra stuffing, bake in separate pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray. You should add and extra 1/4 c. broth as well. Bake covered at 325° F for 30 minutes or until hot.
Roast turkey 4-1/2 hours, or until meat thermometer reaches 160° F when inserted in center of stuffing and reaches 180° F when inserted in deep in thigh, covering breast and top of drumsticks with aluminum foil after 3 hours to prevent overcooking breast. Let turkey stand 15 minutes before removing stuffing and carving.

Sausage Cornbread Stuffing with Giblet Gravy

1 box (8.5-oz.) cornbread mix
1 lb. ground Italian sausage
1 1/2 c. chopped celery
1/2 c. chopped green onions
2 T. poultry seasoning
1 1/2 c. chicken broth

Remove the gizzards and neck from turkey. Cut the wings at the second joint(this includes the wing tips) and place them in a bowl: set aside for gravy.Prepare cornbread from mix, according to package directions. Cool completely in pan. While cornbread bakes, brown sausage in a medium skillet over medium heat. Stir sausage frequently while browning to break up any large clumps.
Crumble cooled cornbread into small pieces and lay on a baking sheet to air dry. In a bowl, combine cornbread, cooked sausage, celery, and green onions. Add poultry seasoning and broth. Mix well; stuff inside turkey cavities.
While your turkey is roasting, prepare gravy:

Phenomenal Pan Gravy

Reserved gizzards, neck and wings
2 carrots, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
6 c. water
2 c. chicken stock
1 1/2 c. turkey drippings from roasted turkey
1/4 c. flour
2 T. tomato paste
2 T. red currant or grape jelly
Salt and black pepper to taste

Make sure you are roasting your turkey in a high-sided roasting pan, at least 2 inches. Place the giblets, turkey neck, and clipped turkey wing tips into a large saucepan with the carrots, celery, water, and chicken stock. Bring to a boil over medium heat, skim off any foam that forms on the top, reduce heat to low, and simmer the stock for 3 hours. Strain the stock*, skim off the fat, and set aside. There should be about 4 c. of stock. If not, simply add enough chicken broth to make 4 cups.
Skim off and discard all but 1/4 c. of the fat from the drippings in the roasting pan, and place the roasting pan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour, then cook and stir the flour mixture 1 minute. Whisk in the stock and tomato paste; bring to a boil, simmer for 5 minutes, then whisk in the red currant jelly. Simmer for 10 more minutes. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.

*Know what The Yankee Chef does? I take the vegetables from the stock(just the vegetables) and puree them in my blender or food processor. I then add them back into the strained stock. It has great flavor and a robust texture.

Apple Walnut Stuffing

1 1/2 c. chopped celery
1 c. chopped onion
1/2 c. butter or margarine
1 1/2 c. chicken broth
3/4 c. regular or sparkling apple cider
1 lb. bread cubes
1 T. poultry seasoning
2 c. chopped, peeled apple
1 c. chopped walnuts
1 c. dried cranberries

In a large skillet over medium heat, cook celery and onion in butter or margarine until tender, about 5 minutes. Add chicken broth and heat for 2 minutes. In a large bowl, combine the remaining ingredients, add celery mixture, and mix well. Loosely stuff turkey just before roasting. Place remaining stuffing in a greased baking dish and bake at 325º F for 30 minutes, or until thoroughly heated.

Here are some ideas to play around with:

Hot Bourbon Stuffing - Add some bourbon and chili powder for a punch.
Spicy Southwestern Stuffing - Add some chopped green chilies and whole kernel corn to your cornbread stuffing.
Mediterranean Stuffing - The addition of black olives, artichoke hearts, red wine and sundried tomatoes to your rice stuffing is a great alternative.
Italian stuffing - Parmesan cheese, squeezed spinach, oregano, basil, and white wine added to bread stuffing is super tasty.
Mexican stuffing - Add garlic, red mole and chayote squash for the WOW factor.
Hawaiian stuffing - Rice stuffing with coconut milk, macadamia nuts and pineapple.

Another great idea that helps control the portions is to bake individual stuffing portions in muffin tins. Not only will it give you an accurate count but the entire serving will be crisp all around.

Wild Rice Stuffing with Grapes and Hazelnuts

2 cans (28-30 oz. total) chicken broth
1 c. wild rice
4 slices bacon, diced
2 onions, chopped (1 1/2 c.)
1 c. chopped celery
1 1/2 c. button mushrooms, sliced
1 t. minced garlic in oil
1 t. chopped, fresh thyme
1/4 t. salt
1/4 t. black pepper
1 c. shelled hazelnuts, coarsely chopped*
2 c. seedless grapes

In heavy saucepan, bring chicken broth to a boil. Add wild rice and stir. Cover pan and reduce heat to low. Let simmer for one hour, until rice is tender and has popped open. Meanwhile, cook bacon in skillet over medium until almost crisp. Add onions to bacon pan along with celery, mushrooms, garlic, thyme and salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat for 5 to 7 minutes, until onions are translucent. Remove from heat and fold in hazelnuts and grapes. Add rice with any remaining liquid in pan to vegetable mixture and toss well to combine.
Stuffing may be used to fill turkey, game hens, or chicken. Stuffing may also be baked separately in a casserole dish covered with foil; bake at 350°F for 20 to 30 minutes until hot throughout.

* If you would like to toast hazelnuts, place in 350°F oven for 9 to 12 minutes. Rub in a clean dishtowel to remove skins.

Pure Holiday Stuffing

1 loaf dried white bread*
1 c. cooked white rice
1/2 sleeve saltines, crushed
1/2 lb. ground sausage
1 c. chopped celery
1/2 c. chopped, green onion
3 c. chicken stock
Salt and black pepper to taste
1 t. dried sage
1 T. poultry seasoning
2 eggs, beaten
2 T. butter or margarine, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Crumble oven-dried bread into a large bowl. Add rice and saltines. Cook sausage in a large skillet over medium heat until it starts to brown. Add celery and onion and saute until transparent, 8 to 10 minutes. Pour over bread and rice mixture. Add stock and mix well. Add salt, pepper, sage, and poultry seasoning. Mix well. Add the beaten eggs and melted butter. Mix well. Pour stuffing into a greased pan and bake until cooked through and golden brown, about 45 minutes.

*Place bread on counter overnight or place in a 200-degree F oven for 1 hour.

Hazelnut Sage Stuffing

1 (1 lb.) loaf multigrain bread, cubed
1/4 c. olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 bulb fennel, chopped
2 t. minced garlic in oil
4 T. rubbed sage
1 lb. button or Cremini mushrooms, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
1-1/2 c. vegetable stock
2 eggs
1/2 c. chopped hazelnuts

Preheat your oven to 250 degrees F. Spread the bread cubes over a cookie sheet and toast them in the oven for 10-15 minutes, or until they're light brown and slightly crisp on the outside. Set the bread aside and turn the oven temperature up to 350 degrees F.
Heat the oil in a sauté pan over medium heat and cook the onion, fennel and garlic until they're slightly translucent, about five to seven minutes. Add the sage and mushrooms and cook everything down for 10 minutes, or until the veggies are at about half of their original volume. Season with salt and pepper to taste as you go. Add the bread cubes to a large bowl and mix in the cooked vegetable mixture, and mix together well. Add the vegetable stock and two eggs over the bread mixture and stir everything one more time. You want it moist but not soggy. The eggs should coat everything. Spread the stuffing into a 9 x 13-inch dish and sprinkle the hazelnuts over the entire casserole. Bake the stuffing for 15-20 minutes, or until the bread is nicely toasted on top and moist in the middle.

I am saving the best for last. This time honored classic stuffing has been on our tables for many, many generations. Because oysters have been used as food in New England for centuries because of our location to the ocean, oyster heaps have been documented to have existed even previous to clam shell heaps. It was a "pick up" food, as lobsters were during our Puritan ear. All one had to do was bend over and either pick up a lobster or pry off an oyster off any beach along our shores. AS early as the mid-1600s, oysters were used as "sauces"(stuffings) for rabbit, fowl and fish.

I have taken the classic Oyster Stuffing and given it boost, in the style of Oysters Rockefeller. So with that in mind, go ahead and call it Oyster Dressing if you want.

Yankee Oyster "Dressing"

8 oz. fresh spinach, stems cut off
1 1/2 c. corn bread stuffing mix
1 lb. container of oysters, undrained
4 hard boiled eggs, peeled
Cooking spray
1/2 c. chopped onion
1/2 c. chopped bell pepper
3 c. cooked wild rice
1/2 c. chicken broth
1/2 c. sliced green onions
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. black pepper
Parmesan cheese, to taste

Preheat oven to 350-degrees F. Blanch the washed, and still wet, spinach in a microwavable bowl for about one minute or until just soft. Squeeze out the excess liquid, coarsely chop. Prepare cornbread mix according to package directions, omitting fat and set aside. Drain oysters in a colander over a bowl, reserving 1/2 c. oyster liquid. Slice eggs in half lengthwise, discard yolks and finely chop the egg whites.
Heat a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium heat. Add chopped onion, bell pepper and cook 3 minutes or until tender, stirring frequently. Stir in oysters and cook 2 minutes. Stir in prepared stuffing, oyster liquid, egg whites, wild rice and remaining ingredients including spinach. Add Parmesan cheese to your desire. Spread dressing in an 8-inch square baking dish coated with cooking spray. Bake 30 minutes or until thoroughly heated.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Turkey 101(and Pork too)

Having whetted my taste buds with W.A.Bean and Son's smoked products, I feel compelled to tell you that this chef will be enjoying Bean's Smoked Whole Turkey this year. I know many of you are hesitant about changing turkeys in mid-stream, and I fully understand you stubborn lot, us Yankees don't sell our soul easily. But at least give it a try sometime. The Smoked Whole Turkey and Turkey Breasts(along with individual chickens)are fully cooked. All you have to do is tightly cover with foil and bake. I will give you the instructions and tips below. The only drawback is that I wouldn't recommend stuffing the bird itself before baking. The smoky flavor will immerse itself throughout the stuffing and it's nice to have those different flavors melding together instead of one through.
If you don't care to change right now, Bean's also offers whole turkeys for sale and their price is aligned with all the supermarkets, and you know they are as fresh as you are going to get.
Let me give you some insight and recipes for you and your culinary adventure regardless of where you get your turkey this year.

Let's start with how much meat per person:

Now with the thawing of the bird.

For thawing in the refrigerator:

For thawing in cold water:

Cooking Fresh or Frozen Whole Turkey

Preheat your oven to 325-degrees F. This is the optimum temperature for cooking turkey because it doesn't significantly alter the cooking time(as opposed to 350-degrees F.) and it helps to keep the skin from browning. Remove your turkey from the package and drain very well. Place the turkey on a rack in a high-sided(at least 2-inches) roasting pan.
As for the wings. There just is no need to fold the wings back and tie them. some chefs will tell you this stabilizes the turkey while others tell you it keeps the wing tips from burning. How about a raise of hands here, who eats the tips of the wings? Thought so.....
If you aren't basting with your own marinade, then you can brush the skin with oil if you want, but I find this to be just a complete waste of time. They say it helps the skin from drying out. All I know, is that everyone I know loves to eat the skin when it IS dried out and crispy. I do, however, advocate covering the drumsticks and thighs with tin foil when the turkey is about 3/4 of the way through with cooking. Being I am a dark meat kind of guy, I am turned off by dry leg or thigh meat when I sit down to the table. I am one of the very few who enjoys that large turkey leg on my plate but most of the time, the cook pays no heed to this part of the turkey, giving me a dried up ol' leg that's chewier than Charlie Chaplins shoe.

Insert oven-safe meat thermometer deep into the lower part of the thigh muscle but not touching the bone. When thigh is up to temperature and if turkey is stuffed, move thermometer to center of stuffing. Stuffing should be 165 degrees F when done.

Use this roasting schedule as a guide and start checking for doneness about 30 minutes before end of recommended cooking times. Lift roasted turkey onto platter with turkey lifter if you have one and discard lifter. If not, use very sturdy spaghetti forks. Before removing stuffing and carving, let your turkey stand 15 minutes to allow juices to set. Your turkey is done when the meat thermometer reaches the following temperatures:

180 degrees F deep in the thigh. At this temperature juices should be clear, not reddish pink, when thigh muscle is pierced deeply.

165 degrees F in the center of the stuffing, if turkey is stuffed.

Net Weight (lb.) Unstuffed (hrs.) Stuffed (hrs.)

4½ to 7 2 to 2½ 2¼ to 2¾
7 to 9 2½ to 3 2¾ to 3½
9 to 18 3 to 3½ 3¾ to 4½
18 to 22 3½ to 4 4½ to 5
22 to 24 4 to 4½ 5 to 5½
24 to 30 4½ to 5 5½ to 6¼

(Bean's Whole Smoked Turkeys run in at 8-10 lbs.)

Now for the Fully Cooked, Smoked Whole Turkeys I mentioned in my long-winded intro.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Remove wrapper. DO NOT STUFF. Follow the directions as listed above for Cooking Fresh or Frozen Whole Turkey. Place your turkey in the pre-heated oven at 325 degrees F and heat until hot (140 degrees F).

For Smoked Turkey: Cover pan completely with foil for the entire cooking time. Use the roasting schedule below as a guide and start checking for doneness about 30 minutes before end of recommended cooking times. Your turkey is done when the meat thermometer reaches 140 degrees deep in the thigh. Carve and serve immediately.

Net Weight (lb.) Smoked Thawed (hrs.)

8 to 10 1¼ to 1¾
10 to 16 1½ to 2
16 to 18 2 to 2½

Whole Turkey Breast

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Remove whole breast from bag. Drain juices and pat dry with clean paper towels. Place prepared breast, skin side up, on a flat roasting rack in a 2-inch deep roasting pan. Do not add water to pan. Roast uncovered according to time guidelines below or until meat thermometer in thickest part of muscle reaches 170 degrees F. If breast is stuffed, center of stuffing should be 165 degrees F.
Roasting time will vary from guidelines above if turkey is covered or placed in an oven-cooking bag.

Size (lb.) Time

3 to 5½ 1½ to 2¼
5½ to 9 2¼ to 2¾

You may roast your whole turkey breast from a frozen state as well. In that case:
Roast skin side down, uncovered, on a flat rack in a 2-inch deep open roasting pan at 325 degrees F for the first hour. Let breast stand 10 minutes before carving.

Size (lb.) Unstuffed (hrs.)

3 to 5½ 3 to 3¾
5½ to 9 3¾ to 4½

Fully Cooked Smoked Whole Turkey Breast

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Remove whole breast from bag. DO NOT STUFF. Cover pan with foil and place in oven. Heat until warm. Carve and serve immediately.

Size (lb.) Baked (hrs.) Smoked (hrs.)

4 to 7 1½ to 1¾ 1¼ to 1¾

(Bean's Smoked Turkey Breast weighs in about 3-4 lbs.)

Lest we forget Pork

Porks' cooking times have changed so many times over the years, it is hard for the consumer to keep up. Because today's pork is so lean, overcooking is detrimental to this great white meat. The Dept. of Agriculture now recommends cooking pork roasts, tenderloins and chops to an internal temperature of 145-degrees F. Allow it to rest for 3 minutes before cutting into this savory loin. this reference is for a 350-degree F oven.

For Bone-In and Boneless Pork Loin Roast, cook for 20 minutes to the lb. for a 2-5 lb. roast, or 145-degrees F.
Crown Roast, cook for 12 minutes to the lb..

Thursday, November 1, 2012

A Fistful of Glazes

W.A. Bean's Famous Spiral-sliced Ham-

Many of you are unfamiliar with pre-sliced ham and I find that those of you who do know about them, don't take into consideration that you can flavor and glaze this ham just as you do any other ham. In fact, Bean's Spiral Sliced Ham takes on any flavor and glaze much better than an unsliced ham. The seasonings and basting liquids seep in to each and every slice, giving you the most flavorful dinner ham you have ever had. Let me give you a little detail on this remarkable product.

Bean's Spiral Sliced Ham is a precooked ham that has been sliced by spiral cutting in order to make it convenient for serving the ham slices. Pre-slicing in this manner allows the ham to be cut into sections, if so desired, with each section being sliced and ready to serve. Spiral cutting is a process that is accomplished by making one continuous cut around the ham, starting at one end and moving consistently around the ham to the opposite end, creating slices that have the same thickness throughout.

Spirally sliced ham have enjoyed considerable popularity, primarily because consumers find it convenient to be able to quickly and easily remove the precut slices at the point of use. The meat is sliced about a core that remains intact in order to retain the slices attached to the meat without falling off or folding over. At the same time, the individual slices can be easily detached for consumption.

When meat having a bone is spirally sliced, as W.A. Bean's is, the bone which remains in place at the center provides ample support from end to end while the meat is being sliced using suitable machinery. However, in a boneless pre-sliced ham that may find elsewhere, support for the meat is a problem during spirally slicing. Typically, the meat is held in a slicing machine on a rotating base and is clamped from above by a chuck device that rotates with the meat in the manner of an idler member. In the absence of a support as the bone gives, boneless meat that is sliced in this fashion tends to twist from top to bottom due to the drag applied by the cutting blade.

W.A. Bean's Spiral Sliced Ham is hardwood smoked using their own custom smoking process that ensures a deeper, more robust dining experience. It is always fully cooked with no water added. Finding a 16-20 lb. presliced ham along with a half size at 7-10 lbs. at W.A. Bean's, makes this affordable for anyone who wishes to enjoy the great taste of a sugar cured, honey glazed ham during the Holidays or any time of year.
What does all this mean to you? Well just heat and serve is the answer. But we would like to give you other alternatives and ideas to make your 'Ham Day'(there really ought to be a day set aside for this extraordinary ham)even more special. Enjoy these recipes for glazes that turns an already great tasting ham to an exceptional centerpiece that family and friends will be nagging you for the recipe for many years to come.
All glaze recipes are tailored for a 7-10 lb. half Spiral-Sliced Ham, but can be doubled to accommodate a whole Spiral Sliced ham. Simply place your ham on a rack and set it in a high sided, large oven baking pan and glaze with any number of the given recipes below. Coat your ham with the glaze chosen and start cooking in a 375-degree F oven for 1 1/2 hours, basing every so often for a beautifully scented ham. If you would like a crisp crust(and who doesn't ?), during the last half hour, raise the temperature to 425-degtrees F and continue basting until done. If you see that your ham is crisp enough for you, omit the increased oven temperature. You may want to add 4 c. water to the bottom of the pan if you notice that you have no liquid in the bottom of the pan before and during cooking.
Remember one thing though, something many of you forget. Any basting juice leftover in the bottom of the pan is usually dumped. Don't you dare! Simply strain and reserve this glaze in a bowl for those who want more dipping sauce, I know I do.
Another pointer, if you see your ham browning too fast, loosely tent a piece of tin foil over the top of your ham.

By the way, why stop with ham? Use any of these bastes for your Holiday Turkey

or Pork Roast

Maple and Orange Marmalade Glaze

2 c. real maple syrup, your choice of grade
1 c. orange marmalade
1/2 c. orange juice
2 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. black pepper
1/2 t. ground cloves

Combine syrup, marmalade, juice, ground cinnamon, pepper and cloves in a small bowl to make a glaze.

Root Beer Glaze

Four 12 oz. bottles root beer, birch beer or sarsparilla
1/2 c. orange juice
1 c. brown sugar
1 t. dry mustard
1 t. grated orange zest
2 t. minced garlic in oil
8 whole cloves
1/2-1 t. red pepper flakes (depending on how spicy you want it)

In a small saucepan, combine root beer, orange juice, brown sugar, zest, mustard, garlic, cloves and pepper flakes over medium heat. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook the mixture until it has reduced by almost half and has become syrupy; about 20 minutes.

Brown Sugar Glaze

2 c. brown sugar
1 t. dried mustard or 1 t. prepared mustard
1/4 t. cinnamon
1/2 c. vinegar
1/2 c. apple juice

Mix all ingredients well and spread over ham.

Scented Honey Glaze

2 c. honey
1/2 c. c. butter or margarine
1/2 c.. dark corn syrup
3/4 t. dry mustard
1/4 c. orange juice

Combine all ingredients in a small sauce pan. Cook over medium heat and bring to a full boil, stirring frequently. Reduce heat and cook one minute.

Dijon Pineapple Glaze

1 c. firmly packed brown sugar
3/4 c. maple syrup
1/4 c. Dijon mustard
1 (20 oz.) can crushed pineapple in juice

Combine all ingredients well.

Orange Glazed Ham

1 jar (10 oz.) orange marmalade
2 c. orange juice
1 T. prepared mustard
1/2 t. ground cloves
1/2 t. ground ginger
1/4 c. raisins

Mix all ingredients together except raisins. Baste ham with 3/4 glaze, adding raisins to remaining quarter of glaze to baste with during the last half hour.

Jack Daniel's Glazed Ham

1 c. brown sugar, firmly packed
1 c. Jack Daniel's Tennessee Whiskey
1 T. grated orange peel
1/8 t. ground cloves
1/4 t. ground allspice

Simmer a mixture of the brown sugar, Jack Daniel's whiskey, orange peel, cloves, and allspice over medium low heat for about 15 minutes, or until slightly thickened.

Beer Glaze

1 1/2 c. beer, stout is preferred
1 c. brown sugar
1 t. dry mustard
2 t. red wine vinegar

Mix all together and start basting.

Cranberry Orange Glaze

1-1/4 c. firmly packed brown sugar
1 c. cranberry juice cocktail
1/4 c. real maple syrup
2 T. cider vinegar
1 t. grated orange peel
1-1/2 T. prepared mustard
2 T. butter or margarine
Fresh cranberries and orange slices for garnish

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan, mixing well. Bring to a boil, and cook 1 minute.

Apple Cider Glaze

2 c. apple cider
1 c. honey
1/2 c. cider vinegar
1/4 c. Dijon mustard
1 T. butter or margarine
2 t. chili powder
1/4 t. each of ground cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg

In a large saucepan, combine the cider, honey, vinegar and mustard; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in the butter, chili powder and spices.

Apple Butter Glaze
You can make your own Apple Butter(below) or buy premade.

Apple Butter:

5 lbs. Macintosh apples, quartered (not peeled)
4 c. apple juice
2 c. brown sugar
1 t. ground cinnamon
1/2 t. grated nutmeg
Juice of 1 lemon

Ham Glaze:

1 garlic head, halved
2 c. apple butter
1/2 c. honey
1/4 c. Dijon mustard
4 cups water

For the apple butter: In a large pot, combine the apples with the apple juice. Cook on low heat until the apples are tender, about 45 minutes. Remove from heat and puree in a blender or food processor. Pour the puree back in the stockpot. Bring to a simmer and add the brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and lemon juice. Cook on low heat for about 1 1/2 hours until it's reduced by half and thickens up, stirring regularly and skimming the surface if necessary. Remove from heat and let cool.
In a bowl, combine the apple butter, honey, and Dijon mustard. Brush ham with apple butter mixture. Pour 4 c.water in the bottom of the pan. Place in the oven and cook, making sure to baste it with the sauce every 15 minutes during cooking process. Will you have Apple Butter leftover? You bet! Enjoy it spread on toast, muffins or keep it for the next Holiday.

Maple Apple Glaze

2 c. apple juice
1/2 c. real maple syrup
3 cinnamon sticks
1 T. whole cloves

Combine apple juice, syrup, cinnamon and cloves in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Discard cinnamon sticks and cloves.

Apricot Glaze

1 c. packed brown sugar
3 T. dried mustard
1 c. apricot preserves

Combine brown sugar and mustard; rub over surface of ham. Place ham in oven and bake for 1 hour. During the last hour, spoon preserves of ham and continue to finish baking .

Apricot Brandy Glaze

1 c. apricot preserves
3 T. brandy (not brandy flavoring)
1 T. corn starch (premixed in 1/4 cup water)
1 c. orange juice
3 T. brown sugar
2 t. Dijon mustard

In a sauce pan, whisk orange juice, apricot preserves, brown sugar and corn starch mixture until well combined. Cook over medium low heat until slightly thickened, stirring frequently. Add mustard and brandy, whisk. Continue cooking over low heat 1 minute. Remove from heat.

Fruit Glaze

1 pineapple (3-4 lbs.), peeled
1/2 c. packed brown sugar
1 c. orange juice
1/2 t. dried ginger
1/8 t. cayenne pepper
3/4 c. packed dried apricots
1/4 c. dried cranberries
Water, if needed

Cut pineapple lengthwise into quarters; cut out and discard core. Cut each piece crosswise into 1/2-1/3-inch-thick slices. Cut each slice in quarters. Place in 12-inch skillet and add sugar, ginger, and cayenne. Cook on medium heat for 15 minutes or until pineapple is tender and liquid is syrupy, stirring often. Combine this with the remainder of ingredients in a bowl and combine. In batches, puree mixture in a food processor or blender, stopping when it is still a little chunky or to the consistency you prefer.

Coca Cola Glaze

12 oz. can Coke or other Cola
1 c. brown sugar
1 c. pineapple or orange juice
1/2 t. cinnamon
Pinch ground cloves
1 T. butter or margarine
Raisins, optional

Mix the ingredients for the glaze in a small saucepan and heat over Medium heat until sugar is melted and ingredients are blended. The glaze should be syrupy-thick. If too thin or runny, add more brown sugar and continue cooking until reduced more. If too thick, add more Coke.

Sweet-Hot Plum Glaze

1 c. plum preserves
1 c. orange juice
2 T. lemon or lime juice
1 T. yellow mustard
1 T. maple syrup
1 t. dried ginger
1 t. dried crushed red or cayenne pepper

Stir together all ingredients in a saucepan over medium-high heat; bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer, stirring constantly, 5 minutes or until preserves are melted and mixture is blended.

Plum-Ginger Glaze

2 jars (12 to 13 oz. each) plum preserves or preserves of your choice
2 T. lime juice
1 T. grated lime peel
1 T. Dijon mustard
2 t. grated fresh ginger root
3/4 t. black pepper

Combine the ingredients in a saucepan; bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat

Cherry Glaze

1 (12 oz.) jar cherry preserves
1/4 c. red wine vinegar
2 T. corn syrup
1/4 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. nutmeg
1/4 t. ground cloves
1/3 c. slivered almonds, toasted*
3 T. water

Combine cherry preserves, vinegar, corn syrup. cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves in medium saucepan. Cook and stir until boiling. Reduce heat. Simmer 2 minutes. Stir in almonds. Reserve 3/4 c. for serving with ham.
*To toast nuts: Place almonds in dry nonstick skillet; cook over medium heat, shaking pan until nuts are lightly browned.