Category Archives: Main Dish

Williamsburg Turkey Soup Redux

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As a young mother, thirty years or so ago I first made a recipe of Williamsburg Turkey Soup, most probably after Thanksgiving. Back then I always did my turkeys on a Weber Grill with soaked pecan shells poured over the coals, essentially creating a lightly smoked turkey. It was a delicious soup then, but when I pulled up the recipe the other day, I was surprised at how pedestrian the recipe looks to me now. Obviously, it was time for me to kick it up a notch. The original recipe is supposed to have come from the colonies and would probably have been done with a wild turkey. And seeing that they probably did hot have half and half back then, was likely made with cream. The rice probably was not white long grain, but an earthier wild or brown rice. Regardless, I made a big pot of wonderful soup and was able to render some extra turkey stock too.

Here is my Redux Version

Part one: Make turkey stock. I roasted a turkey last week and used only the white meat. I then placed the carcass with the dark meat in the smoker and smoked over maple wood for 12 hours. You do not have to smoke your turkey, but it sure makes for great soup and stock. You could also use a store bought smoked turkey for this. After the turkey was sufficiently smoked for flavor, I made the stock.

In a very large pot place chunks of carrot, celery & onions (about 2 cups each) into a pot. You do not need to peel them as they are only adding goodness to the stock. Add 20 (yes 20!) garlic cloves. Toss in a few stalks of  rosemary and thyme and one bay leaf. Place the carcass into the pot. If your pot is not large enough, you can break it apart a bit to fit. Cover with water and place on a LOW simmer for 12 hours. The stock should never be allowed to boil, just simmer.

Remove pot from the heat and allow to cool so that you can handle the turkey to remove meat. You may want to place it on a platter to cool. Remove and reserve the meat. Then filter everything over a large pot using a fine sieve. Pour the stock into containers to cool completely so that the fat will rise to the top. Your leftover veggies can be placed in compost or fed to the dogs in chunks. Discard all of the bones. I ended up with 8 cups of rich dark stock. Some of which was used in the soup. I grabbed all of the garlic cloves and saved them for the soup.

Part Two: The Soup

1 Cup of Butter (yes, you can use olive oil if you want to)
1 Cup of all purpose flour
4 small red onions or 8 shallots finely chopped
4 large carrots, peeled and finely chopped
3 ribs of cellery finely chopped
(note all of this chopping can be done in a food processor)
Reserved garlic from the stock, which can now be smashed and added to the soup
2 cups of fresh corn kernels (if not in season, use frozen)
1 small jar of pimentos (or roast a red pepper and chop)
1 1/2 cups of wild rice/brown rice blend (I use Lindeman’s Brand)
2 teaspoons of salt (I used smoked salt that I smoke while doing the turkey.)
1 tablespoon of fresh cracked pepper
3 quarts of turkey stock
3 sprigs of thyme (leaves pulled from stem)
2 cups of reserved turkey chopped
4 cups of cream or half and half if you are giving your arteries a break

 

  • Melt butter in the bottom of a large sop pot or dutch oven
  • Add flour and stir gently for about 5 minutes to form a light golden roux
  • Add onion, carrot, celery and garlic to roux and sir. Cooking over medium flame for 10-15 minutes, stirring often. The onions should be just starting to brown.
  • Add rice, corn, stock, salt, pepper, thyme, pimentos along with reserved turkey and stir all together. Simmer for about 30 minutes. Taste the rice and be sure that it is cooked through. Add the cream and stir. Cook on low flame till completely heated.  Taste and add more seasoning if you think it needs it.
This makes a huge pot of soup, but it freezes well if you are not feeding a crowd. I like to serve it with a few slices of Hawaiian Chiles on it along with fresh chopped parsley or thyme leaves. However, many people cannot take the heat of the chiles, so you might just want to serve chiles or siracha sauce on the side. It is delicious just as it is. It also might be good with some browned crispy thin slices of jamon or prosciutto on top.

Beer Braised Horseradish Meatballs

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Inspired by a post on my friend’s blog:He Cooks She Cooks about their meatballs, I developed this tweak using some twists of my own and some ingredients from the Spice and Tea Exchange of Charleston, where I work. I have provided links for these ingredients but you can make substitutions for them if you need to. These meatballs are made with the traditional meatloaf mix of beef, veal and pork, but you can use just beef and pork if you cannot find veal, or you can substitute ground turkey for the veal. They are mixed with lots of aromatics and interesting flavors and then braised in beer and chicken stock which also has lemon and hot peppers floating about. The sauce is a rich sour cream based horseradish sauce. It is easy to put together and I had a large container of meatballs left for another use. I made mine about 1 1/2 inches in size so that I can use the leftovers for appetizers.

Beer Braised Horseradish Meatballs

Ingredients

Meatballs

  • 2 pounds of meatball mix using beef, pork and veal or just beef and pork
  • 1/3 cup extra strong horseradish
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup extra fine panko or bread crumbs
  • 1 cup finely diced onion (I used a purple onion)
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped parsley
  • 1/4 cup dried shallots reconstituted and strained
  • 2 tablespoons chopped dill weed
  • 4 Tablespoons Spice and Tea Exchange Sweet Onion Sugar
  • 1/4 cup Feta Cheese Powder
  • 1/4 cup Vic’s Garlic Fix (you can substitute minced garlic)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Optional: 1/3 cup toasted pine nuts
  • 1/4 cup of butter and 1/8 cup of olive oil for browning

Braising Liquid

  • 1 bottle of beer (I used a light amber)
  • 1 1/2 cups of good chicken stock
  • juice and peel of one lemon
  • 4 hot peppers (serrano)
  • one bay leaf

Sauce

  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup braising liquid
  • 1/4 cup horseradish
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
  • lemon  pepper to taste
  • salt to taste

Method: 

  • In a large bowl, mix all of the meatball ingredients together till they are finely blended
  • Make into golf ball sized meatballs
  • Place on a tray on parchment paper and chill for one hour
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Make braising liquid and simmer in a Dutch oven
  • In a large skillet, melt butter and olive oil and brown the meatballs in batches. When they are all browned place in the hot braising liquid, cover and braise in the oven for 30 minutes

When the meatballs are finished, remove them from the oven and allow to cool slightly. Make the sauce, in a frying pan and add the warmed meatballs. Serve over noodles or rice or put toothpicks on them and serve the sauce on the side.

 

Tacos al Pastor

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One of my all time favorite Mexican foods is a street food, Tacos al Pastor or literally “tacos de trompo” . It started in Puebla Mexico, where many middle eastern immigrants came and sold their own rotisserie meat, the doner kabob.  Now, all over Mexico they have stands where the pork and pineapple that have been marinating are stacked on a huge skewer and cooked in a vertical rotisserie and then the meat and pineapple is shaved off and served on a tortilla with onions, cojita and cilantro.

When I lived in Chicago I could just go to the Carceneria and buy however much I wanted of the velvety red marinated pork and pineapple and take it home and make the tacos straight away. Here in South Carolina it takes a little more work to produce the meal… but the results are outstanding. If you too like this dish, or want to try it, you can, no matter where you live. The first thing you will need is annatto, or if you live in a place with Hispanic groceries, you can buy the achiote paste commercially made. I have always been able to buy the paste, but here in Charleston…. no soap, so I learned to make my own.

It is easy and I actually like it better than the commercial paste. I froze the extra paste in a ZipLock bag. Annatto is the seed of the achiote tree and is used in Hispanic & Caribbean cooking for color and flavor. I work at the Spice and Tea Exchange of Charleston and we sell annotto, so that was easy for me. If you cannot find it near you,  we also sell it on our website. Once you have the paste made, then you make the marinade. Because of  the pineapple juice in the marinade, you do not want the meat to marinate more than 4-6 hours. Then you cook the slices of meat and pineapple and serve them the same way I described above. I usually serve them with lime slices and sometimes crema (Mexican table cream).

Tacos Al Pastor

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup pineapple juice
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil, plus more for cooking, or home rendered pork lard
  • One 1-ounce package achiote paste (or make your own, see recipe below)
  • 1 tablespoon adobo sauce
  • 4 chipotles in adobo sauce (you can also freeze what is left in the can for another time)
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • Pinch sea salt
  • 2 pounds boneless pork butt, sliced into 1/2-inch-thick slices, then into 1/2-inch-wide strips and then in 1/2 inch chunks
  • 12 fresh 6-inch white corn tortillas
  • 1 red onion, 1/4-inch dice
  • 1/2 a fresh pineapple, peeled, cored, 1/2-inch dice (0r you can use chunky canned pineapple)
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves coarsely chopped
  • Cotija cheese, crumbled, for serving
  • Hot sauce, creama and lime quarters


Method:

Puree 3/4 cup of the pineapple juice, the vegetable oil or lard, achiote paste, adobo sauce, chipotles, garlic and salt in a food processor. Mix the pineapple juice mixture with the pork in a freezer bag and move around to coat. Marinate the pork in the fridge, 1 to 3 hours.

Preheat a cast-iron skillet or grill to medium-high heat. *Note: if you are doing this on a grill, leave the meat in strips and then chop after cooking. Lightly oil the skillet and add the tortillas, toasting, about 30 seconds per side. Remove the tortillas and store in a towel to keep warm.

Raise the heat under the skillet to high and add 1 tablespoon vegetable oil or lard. Remove the pork from the bag and wipe off any excess pineapple juice mixture. Cook the pork in batches, until charred and cooked through.

Remove the pork from the skillet. Add half of the onions and the fresh pineapple and quickly cook until lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Add the remaining 1/4 cup pineapple juice and the chopped pork back to the skillet with the juices.

Place the pork, pineapple and onion mixture in the tortillas. Top with the remaining onions, cilantro, cotija and hot sauce.

Home made Achiote Paste

Ingredients

    • 6 tablespoons annatto seeds
    • 1 tablespoon toasted cumin seeds
    • 1 tablespoon toasted coriander seeds
    • 1 tablespoon toasted black pepper corns
    • 5 allspice berries (these can also be toasted)
    • 1 teaspoon sea salt (I use smoked salt)
    • A pinch of nutmeg
    • 6  whole cloves
    • 6 garlic cloves
    • Juice & zest of 3 limes or lemons
    • Enough olive oil to make the paste (about 1/4 cup)

Directions

  1. Put all spices and dry ingredients into a spice grinder, and grind until you have a fine powder.
  2. Take the powder and put it into the  bowl of a food processor and add the garlic, lemon juice, zest and the olive oil 1 tablespoon at a time until you get a thick paste which binds together, in a putty like consistency.
  3. Separate into Tablespoon size portions and freeze individually.
  4. When you want to use it, you can mix the TB size portion with 10 cloves of garlic crushed, and 1/2 cup of 50/50 orange juice & lemon juice and marinate pork or chicken overnight.
  5. Some recipes say to add tequila, but that is an Americanization of this Yucatecan specialty. However, I have done it and it is good.

*NOTE* Annato seeds are very, very hard, and are difficult to grind with a mortar and pestle, use the grinder or it won’t make a paste. They DO, and WILL stain your grinder, and anything you happen to spill it on, be careful. You can double, or multiply this recipe as you wish, and I usually make enough for a year’s worth at a time. It freezes well.

Pesto: Summer’s Gift

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There are few things that can compare to home made pesto. It evokes the essence of the garden, all of that basil and garlic… but it also has a richness and depth because of very good olive oil, lots of Parmigiano Reggiano and most importantly pine nuts and pistachios! As my basil plants dictate (it takes ARMFULLS of basil), I make a big batch and freeze it. It does keep well in the refrigerator too, at least 6 weeks.  I never use a recipe, but I paid attention this time to the amounts so you too could make some of the best “green sauce” in the world. If you have a smaller amount of basil, you can divide this recipe. Just remember to taste the pesto for balance and seasonings. It should have a little tang to it and also be rich and slightly crunchy. Some people use other nuts, such as walnuts, but I promise nothing can compare with the combination of pine nuts and pistachios. The are expensive, but really worth it in this instance. And a little pesto can go a long way too! 

Ingredients:  

1 1/2 cups pine nuts

1 1/2 cups pistachios

16 cups of basil leaves and flowers if you have them. I sometimes add parsley and arugula to the mix, but the predominate flavor needs to be basil. 

Zest and juice of three large lemons

3 heads (not teeth, full heads) of garlic, skinned and cut into chunks

1 1/2 -2 cups of good olive oil you judge when the consistency is ideal

2 tablespoons smoked sea salt (non smoked is fine too)

3 tablespoons fresh cracked pepper

1 tablespoon raw sugar

1-2 tablespoons crushed red pepper

3 cups freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano (you can do this in the food processor ahead)

 

You will need a food processor for this. If you do not have one, a blender works, but you will have to do it in smaller batches. I have a very large Cusinart, so I do a big batch at one time. 

Method: 

Get all ingredients in place. Toast the nuts in a dry skillet. Do not crowd them too much. I did two batches for this recipe. 

While the nuts are cooling, fill the processor bowl with basil, slightly packed, but not too tight. You should have some basil left over, this will go in after the first part is ground. 

Add the salt, pepper, red pepper, 1 cup of olive oil, garlic, all of the lemon zest and juice. Pulse till the basil is reduced in volume, add the rest of the basil and more oil. The oil and the lemon juice allow the basil to be ground down into a paste. The lemon juice is used for flavor, but also to keep the pesto bright green. Add all of the nuts and process again, adding olive oil as needed to make the paste. Add the cheese and more olive oil as needed. It should be a thick paste, but one that easily drops from a spoon. Once you have it all ground up, taste, add more seasoning if you need it. 

Freeze in containers the size that you are likely to be using it. I find that about 1 cup servings are good for two people. This is great on pasta, pizza, fresh mozzarella, ricotta, crostini, chicken, steak and even on scrambled eggs.  I also like to dip bread sticks in it. However, my favorite way to eat it is over pasta. 

Best Fried Chicken EVER: French Laundry Style

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This is the first fried chicken I have had since moving to Charleston. Nothing says the south quite like fried chicken with mashed potatoes and gravy. Thomas Keller of the French Laundry  fame serves this chicken at Ad Hoc every Tuesday. This is quite simply the best fried chicken ever. I have tweaked it a bit from the original recipe after making it a few times. Less bay leaves, added peppers, fresh turmeric, honey in the buttermilk and some other changes. The brine maintains texture and flavors the chicken. It is delicious hot or cold. The buttermilk and honey impart a tang and sweetness. The coating fries perfectly if you maintain the temperature of the oil.
You need to start this ahead of time, it takes two days to make. The first 24 hours is brining in the refrigerator, but the active time for frying the chicken is no longer than any other recipe of fried chicken.
In my house it is for special occasions, as each piece is about 500-700 calories depending on if you eat the skin (and WHY wouldn’t you?).

For the Brine:

1 gallon water
1c kosher salt
1/2cup of honey
1/2 cup raw sugar
2 bay leaves
2 heads of garlic cut in half
¼ cup yellow mustard seeds
1 finger of fresh turmeric grated (2 Tablespoons of ground turmeric if you cannot find fresh)
1 small hand full of whole black peppercorns
2 large stalks of lemon grass bruised
5 large rosemary sprigs
1 bunch thyme
1 bunch parsley
Zest, juice and rind of 3 Meyer lemons
5 habanero chiles cut in half
4-6 # of chicken parts (Split breasts are quite large these days, so if you find yours extra large, use a cleaver and cut each breast in half)

For Frying:
6c flour
3T garlic salt
5T onion powder
2 T paprika
4t cayenne
1T fresh black pepper
2t kosher salt (I use smoked Hawaiian salt)
6c buttermilk
1/2 cup of honey
12c peanut oil (or freshly rendered lard)

Method:

Place all of the brine ingredients in a large pot and heat till the sugar and honey melt. Remove from stove and allow to cool. To speed this process up, you can use ¾ gallon of water and then add 4 cups of ice cubes after cooking.
When completely cool add chicken parts. Refrigerate for 12-24 hours.
Mix together the honey and buttermilk.
Buttermilk Bath
Remove the chicken from the brine and pat dry with paper towels
Add to the honey and buttermilk and allow to soak for at least one hour and up to 12 hours.
Heat the oil/lard in a very large deep pot to 300˚, try to maintain this heat during cooking, do not let the oil get too hot.
Mix together the flour and seasonings in a large pan.
One piece at a time, take each chicken piece out of the buttermilk mixture, coat with flour, shake off excess and then dunk again in the buttermilk and coat again in flour.

Set the chicken pieces on a large baking sheet lined with waxed paper. Allow the chicken to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes to one hour.

Start frying, two to three pieces at a time, do not crowd the chicken. It would be even better to do it one piece at a time so the oil maintains the 300˚ temperature, but that is time consuming. Use a candy thermometer to maintain the temperature as close to 300˚ as possible. When the chicken is golden brown (about 12 minutes for legs and thighs, 7 minutes for ½ breasts) use an instant read thermometer to check doneness. It should read 160 ˚. Remove and place on a sheet pan in a warming oven no warmer than 120 degrees.

 

Serve while warm.

Grilled Corn and Lobster Chowder

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It is the peak of summer. Time for lobster and corn on the cob. While both are abundant, I decided to make a Chowder on a rainy summer day. It is not hard at all. I used lobster tails that I found on sale and some claws I had frozen for this, but usually I use live lobsters. I always save the shells for stock. This makes enough for 6 servings and reheats well.

Ingredients: 

  • 2 (1 1/2-pound) cooked lobsters, cracked and split (reserve shells) Boil in Spice and Tea Exchange Crab and Shrimp Boil
  • 4 ears corn

For the stock:

  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
  • 2  yellow onions finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup sherry
  • 1 teaspoon sweet smoked paprika
  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup dry vermouth

For the chowder:

Method:

  • Remove the meat from the shells of the lobsters. Cut the meat into large cubes and place them in a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.
  • Reserve the shells and all the juices that collect.
  • Grill the corn by removing the stocks and silk, spray lightly with olive oil. Grill on medium heat for 2 minutes on each side.
  • Allow the corn to cool, then cut the corn kernels from the cobs and set aside, reserving the cobs for stock. I use a great corn cutter made by OXO. It really works well. There are not a lot of gadgets that impress me, but this one does.

For the stock:

  • Melt the butter in a stockpot or Dutch oven large enough to hold all the lobster shells and corncobs.
  • Add the onion and cook over medium-low heat for 7 minutes, until translucent but not browned, stirring occasionally.
  • Add the sherry and paprika and cook for 1 minute.
  • Add the milk, cream, wine, lobster shells and their juices, and corn cobs and bring to a simmer. Partially cover the pot and simmer the stock over the lowest heat for 30 minutes.

For the chowder:

  • In another stockpot place the shallots, celery and butter or olive oil. Stir until slightly translucent.
  • Add the potatoes, corn kernels, salt, and pepper to the same pot and saute for 5 minutes.
  • Add the flour and stir in and add a ladle full of the stock.
  • Remove the largest pieces of lobster shell and the corn cobs with tongs and discard.
  • Place a strainer over the soup pot and carefully pour the stock into the pot with the potatoes and corn.
  • Simmer over low heat for 15 minutes, until the potatoes are tender. Add the cooked lobster, the chives,  and the sherry and season to taste. Heat gently and serve hot.

Ancho and Brown Sugar Crusted Smoked Corned Beef

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I made one of these for St. Patricks Day, but there were no leftovers! And I am a woman that loves a good Ruben Sandwich. So when I noticed that the corned beefs were on sale , I just had to buy another. I have a Digital Bradley Smoker which is one of my favorite pieces of cooking equipment. This is my second one, my first one was not digital, I bought it 12 years ago before they came out with the digital model. But you can do this with any smoker that does not place the food directly above the heat.

Make your rub:

2/3 cup brown sugar

1/3 cup dried Ancho chile powder

1 tablespoon salt

1 tablespoon crushed black pepper

1 tablespoon mustard seeds slightly crushed

1 Tablespoon fennel slightly crushed

Open your package of corned beef (or of course you can make your own easily, but that is another post) Pour the juice from the package into a dutch oven and reserve.

Apply the rub to the meat and place in smoker on low heat  for 4 hours.

Place the meat in the dutch oven and add 1 onion sliced and one pound of carrots cut up. Add liquid (beer or water) till it almost touches the top of the corned beef.

Bake at 350 for two hours.

Remove and let rest on a cutting board for 10 minutes. Slice and plate. I like to serve this with Champ (mashed potatoes with cream and chives).

Next comes the Rubens for tonight’s dinner!

Week Night Dinner: Chicken Piccata

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So easy, so delicious and made with just a few simple ingredients. I served it with pasta as the extra sauce goes perfectly with it. We had a salad as a final course. I buy boneless breasts on sale and freeze. I  always have  lemons and capers on hand. and of course you can do this with veal or pork cutlets too.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 large boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 tsp granulated garlic
  • fresh cracked pepper ~ or Lemon Garlic Pepper
  • crushed red pepper to taste
  • 4 Tbsp olive oil
  • 6 Tbsp butter
  • 1/2 dry white wine or dry vermouth
  • 3 Tbsp lemon juice (I used Meyer)
  • 1/2 cup brined capers
  • 1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley

METHOD

  • Put the chicken breasts between two pieces of waxed paper and pound them with a meat hammer to about 1/4-inch thickness. Cut them up into pieces a little smaller than the palm of your hand.
  • Put the cheese and a bit of parsley into a mini processor and process till the cheese is about the size of couscous.
  • Mix together  flour, salt, peppers, and grated Parmesan.  Dredge the chicken in the flour mixture, until well coated. *Note some people like a thicker coating, if you do dredge in plain flour first, then in an egg wash and finally in the cheese and flour mixture. I like mine lightly breaded.
  •  Heat olive oil and butter in a large skillet on medium high heat. Add half of the chicken pieces, do not crowd the pan. Brown well on each side, about 3 minutes per side. Remove the chicken from the pan and reserve to an oven proof pan. Place in a warming drawer or a 300 degree oven. Cook the remaining chicken pieces,  remove from pan. Keep warm in the oven while you prepare the sauce.
  • On medium/low heat. Add the wine & lemon juice to the pan and stir to deglaze and loosen. Add capers to the pan. Reduce the sauce by half.
  • Plate the chicken and serve with the sauce poured over the chicken. Garnish with remaining parsley. Use extra sauce on pasta and toss.
  • If you have left over breading, you can toast it on a silpat and use it as a topping for other things.