It’s brine time with Chef Daria

The holidays are upon us. And undoubtedly you will be enjoying some of your favorite foods.

daria-favorites-picmonkey-collage

A few of Chef Daria’s favorite Thanksgiving entrees. Left top: Herb brined turkey. Left bottom: cornbread dressing. Right top: candied yams. Right bottom: macaroni and cheese.

Everyone gets a  little nervous when making the holiday turkey.  While your family and guests are sitting around the dinner table admiring the glistening bird, their secret prayer is always this: please don’t let this turkey be tasteless and dry.

It’s a tall order to be sure.

While the star of your holiday dinner may be the turkey, it should not be a lame duck.

Well there’s good news. The hue and cry of the masses – well your family – has been heard.

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Left: simple brine and herb butter ingredients. Right: brined turkey

Los Angeles based Chef Daria Le Sassier of Le Sassier Catering  is back with a recipe for making your bird moist, tender and flavorful by brining. Brining? Yes and it is easier than you think. This ancient method not only hydrates the turkey, but it infuses the most subtle flavor. See Chef Daria’s quick video on how to brine a turkey and her brine recipe below. You can do it – yes you can!

Brine Ingredients
2 cups kosher salt
1 cup packed brown sugar
5 fresh sage leaves
2 fresh thyme sprigs
2 fresh rosemary sprigs
3 cloves garlic
2 quarts of water
2 quarts cold water
2 large turkey size oven roasting bags
14 to 16 pound turkey

Method
In a large kettle, combine the salt, brown sugar, sage, thyme, rosemary, peeled garlic cloves and 2 quarts of water. Bring to a boil. Cook and stir until salt and sugar are dissolved. Remove from the heat.

Add the cold water to cool the bring liquid to room temperature.

Place the turkey-size oven roasting bag inside a second roasting bag. Add the turkey. Carefully pour the cooled brine into the bag. Squeeze out as much air as possible. Seal the bags. Turn and rotate the turkey to coat. Place turkey in a roasting pan and place in the refrigerator for 12-24 hours. Make sure you turn the bag several times while it marinades.

After 12-12 hours, drain the brining liquid, remove turkey from the bag and rinse it. Pat it dry.

With your fingers, carefully loosen the skin from the turkey breast. Rub half of the herb butter under the skin. Then rub the remaining herb butter over the turkey skin.

With the breast side up, place turkey on a rack in a roasting pan. Bake at 450 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes. Then reduce the heat to 325 degrees Fahrenheit for 3.25 hours to 3.45 hours or until the food thermometer reaches 180 degrees Fahrenheit. Make sure to baste the turkey throughout cooking process with pan drippings.

When done, remove from the oven, cover with foil and let rest 20 minutes before serving.

Herb Butter Ingredients
2 cups butter, soften
½ cup olive cup oil
1 cup packed fresh parsley sprigs, roughly chopped
1/3 cup fresh sage leaves, roughly chopped
1/3 cup fresh rosemary leaves, roughly chopped

Method
In a small bowl, combine softened butter, olive oil and chopped herbs. Use a fork to mix together until well combined. Cover and put in the refrigerator for 15 to 30 minutes, until firm but not hard.

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5 tips to keep you stewing

Stew in pot

Simmer ready Turkey Tenderloin Stew

It’s just a pot of stew, right?

Not so fast.

That pot of vegetables and meat that slowly simmers in a savory stock transforms itself into a masterpiece of humble beginnings and epic ends.

It is imbued with pomp and personality. It is comprised of creativity and resourcefulness.  And it is reflective of the composer’s emotions and experience, virtue and values.

Yes, a stew is more than a stew

A stew is an often a magical and sometimes imaginative concoction of ingredients that bond harmoniously.  Yet, a stew is always stalwart even in the presence of the most delicate ingredients. And no two are ever alike because each individual pot is a personification of the moment and the marrow in which it is made.

A pot of stew is like bushel of love in a bowl.  Pare that bowl of stew with a generous portion of homemade corn bread or a hearty artisan roll, and you may just fall in love or get someone to fall in love with you. It’s shamefully clear, I love waxing stewfully about stews. With all that said, lets get down to simmering business.

Tips for making your stew anew

With the fall of the year upon us, chances are you will be making a pot of stew or two or three before the daffodils bloom in spring.

In making a stew, there are no rules – let your imagination be your guide. However, from my years of stew making, I’d like to share a few “stew tips” with you.

  1. Get to first base. The first step in making any stew is to create a base packed with flavor. I like starting out with a combination of ingredients like onions, garlic, shallots, celery and bell pepper sautéed in some kind of oil or fat like  butter, olive oil, or Grapeseed oil. Sometimes I infuse extra richness by adding a little sesame oil or lard.
  2. Stock it up. Whether you use chicken, beef, vegetable or seafood stock, elevate the favor by adding a little wine, beer, pumpkin puree, vegetable juice, clam juice or even fruit juice to your taste. I often deglaze my sauté pan with wine (white or red) or beer (craft or flavored). Sometimes I pour a little directly in the stock as well. I recently made a tomato based Italian stew and added a little orange juice; it was a great flavor enhancer.
  3. Use a few unusual suspects. We know the usual suspect when it comes to making stews, but try a few unusual suspects like yams, white sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts, turnips, rutabagas, roasted beets to mention a few. When the usual and unusual suspects cozy up in a simmering pot, they give your stew an amazing “one off” depth of richness that is surprisingly good.
  4. No naked proteins. Now that I have your attention, the point here is to always season then brown proteins like beef, pork, chicken and lamb in oil or fat before adding them to your pot.  If you are making an all root vegetable stew, the same rule applies. Color equals flavor and the more color you get on the meat, the more flavorful your stew will be. When you brown that seasoned protein, you sear that seasoning right into the flesh. For a quick seafood stew, I browned shrimp and rockfish at high heat in a little Grapeseed oil before I added them to the stew. The color and flavor was awesome.
  5. Get fresh with herbs. Using fresh herbs gives your stew a freshness and brightness that dried herbs don’t deliver. Sure you have to use more of them, but it is so worth the effort. Some herbs are great for simmer and some are good for finishing. Try finishing your chicken stew with a little fresh mint or simmer a little fresh tarragon in your next beef stew.

Easy Turkey Tenderloin Stew 

click on arrow below to view video

Ingredients
1 ½ – 2 pounds turkey tenderloin
1 pound baby Yukon potatoes cut in 1 inch pieces
2 medium white sweet potatoes cut in 1 inch pieces
2 medium zucchini cut in 1 inch pieces
2 medium carrots, sliced
1 cup chopped onion
3 cloves chopped garlic
½ cup white wine
1 – 2 tablespoons fresh thyme
7 cups chicken stock
1 ~ 15 ounce can fire roasted corn
Salt
Pepper
Red pepper flakes
Grapeseed oil
Flour

Method

  1. Cut your turkey tenderloin into chucks and generously season them with salt and pepper.
  2. Lightly coat the chunks in flour.
  3. Add a few tablespoon of Grapeseed oil to a skillet and heat. Add turkey tenderloin chunks and brown until almost done. Remove from heat and add to a stock pot.
  4. Add a little more Grapeseed oil to that same skillet if needed, heat to medium and sauté your onions and garlic about a minute then deglaze the pan with white wine and add to stock pot.
  5. To stock pot add cut white sweet potatoes, Yukon potatoes and zucchini , sliced carrots, fresh thyme leaves, 2 teaspoons of salt, ¼ teaspoon black and red pepper flakes, and canned corn.
  6. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer 1 hour. Serve with corn bread or dinner rolls.

Tip:  For added thickness, place 1 cup of stew stock and 2 tablespoons of corn starch in a blender. Place your hand on top of the blender lid to prevent it from dislodging. Mix well. Stir the thickened mixture into stew.

 

No prohibition here – just a new perennial favorite

bacon graphicBacon is not the enemy.

Sweet potatoes are not annuals.

These are facts.

Actually, these could be used as slogans on message clothing. I would particularly like that.

Sweet potatoes and yams are the perfect food. My mom would tell you it was my first food. Have you ever looked at their nutritional value? They are high in potassium, low in fat, high in vitamin A, and they have water soluble fiber. But sadly, sweet potatoes and yams are essentially sidelined and dismissed pretty much the entire year. Continue reading

Orange is the new mashed

Move over Mr. Potato Head. There’s a tastier tuber taking over this town.

Sweet potatoes are back with a sizzle. Whether fried or flambé they are rustling russets and leaving them spinning on the cutting board.

These beautiful on the inside, rustic on the outside potatoes are hallowed to me. They were the very first food my mom feed me when I was 6 months old. Mom said she would wrap a sweet potato in alumni foil and bake it in the oven until it was soft. Then she said she would scoop out the center, mix it with a  little Pet Evaporated Milk and that was my din din. She said I loved it. Continue reading