Braised Lamb Shanks with Polenta

braised lamb with polenta

As a new cook, I thought this dish was spectacularly difficult and incredibly refined. I have kept it in my repertoire for many years and when I saw beautiful lamb shanks at the market recently, I pulled out this old friend. Although I now view it as a fairly simple recipe, it is nonetheless delicious and heartwarming.

Recipe for Lamb Shanks

6 lamb shanks

2 T olive oil

2 medium onions, chopped

3 large carrots, peeled and cut into rounds

10 minced garlic cloves

1 bottle of dry red wine

28 oz can of diced tomatoes with juices

14 oz can of chicken broth

14 oz can of beef broth

5 t chopped fresh rosemary

2 t chopped fresh thyme

2 t grated lemon peel

Season shanks with salt and pepper. Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium heat. Working in batches, add shanks to pot and cook until brown on all sides, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.

Add onions, carrots and garlic to pot and saute until golden, about 10 minutes. Sitr in all remaining ingredients. Return shanks to the pot, pressing down to submerge. Bring liquids to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low. Cover and simmer until meat is tender, about 2 hours.

Uncover pot and simmer until meat is very tender, about 30 minutes. Transfer shanks to platter and tent with foil. Boil juices until thickened, about 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and serve over shanks and polenta.

Recipe for Polenta

2 3/4 cups chicken broth

2 cups water

1 1/2 cups milk

3 minced garlic cloves

1 1/2 t chopped fresh rosemary

1/2 t salt

1 1/2 cups yellow cornmeal

8 T grated or shredded parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter 2 Q dish. Bring first 6 ingredients to boil in a heavy, large saucepan. Gradually add cornmeal, whisking until smooth. Reduce heat to low and cook until cornmeal is soft and the mixture is thick and creamy, stirring occasionally for about 12 minutes. Remove from heat and add 6 T parmesan cheese. Season with pepper.

Transfer to prepared dish. Sprinkle with 2 T parmesan over polenta. Bake until heated through and golden on top, about 30 minutes.

Vegan Morning Glory Muffins

I never met a muffin I didn’t like. I especially love Morning Glory Muffins, however I find most to be very dense and filling. So I was intrigued when I found a recipe for Vegan Morning Glory Muffins on Food 52 recently. They don’t contain any eggs and are sweetened with Date Paste which I was glad about because I have had a package of dates in my freezer for a while that I wanted to use. Since my husband is diabetic, I am also looking for alternative sweeteners that are natural. The first batch I made tasted great and we ate them all in about a week. They were so good I made another batch. What makes them so wonderful is that they are nice and light but still substantial like a good Morning Glory Muffin should be.

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Vegan Morning Glory Muffins
(From Food 52) Makes 1 dozen
•1 1/2 tablespoon flax meal
•1/4 cup warm water
•2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour or whole-wheat pastry flour
•2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
•2 teaspoons cinnamon, ground
•1 teaspoon salt
•1/2 cup raisins
•1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
•1 tablespoon grated ginger (or 1 teaspoon ginger, ground)
•1 cup date paste (See Recipe Below)
•1/2 cup organic sugar
•1 cup soy or almond milk
•6 tablespoons canola oil
•1 1/2 cup grated carrot
•1 small apple, grated

Preheat your oven to 350° F. Line 12 muffin tins with liners, or oil them lightly.
Mix the flax meal and warm water together; set the mixture aside to let it “gel.”
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flours, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Stir in the raisins, walnuts, and ginger.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the date paste, sugar if desired, non-dairy milk, and oil. Stir in the flax mixture.
Fold the wet ingredients into the dry ones until everything is well incorporated, and then fold in the carrot and apple.
Bake for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the muffins comes out clean. Allow them to cool before enjoying.

Date Paste
Makes 1 1/4 cups
1 cup medjool dates, pitted and packed
1 1/2 cups warm water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon (heaping) salt

Place the dates into a large bowl. Bring the water to a gentle boil, then pour it over the dates. Allow them to soak for 20 minutes (or up to an hour).
Drain the dates, reserving 1/2 cup of the soak water. Add them to a blender with the reserved water, the vanilla, and the salt. Blend till the mixture is totally smooth.
Date paste can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.

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Roasted Brussel Sprouts

brussel-sprouts

This is my favorite way to cook brussel sprouts. It brings out the flavor of the sprouts without being mushy. The secret to getting perfectly roasted brussel sprouts however is to blanch them for 30 seconds before roasting. This sets the color and results in beautiful little orbs of goodness.

Roasted Brussel Sprouts w/ bacon onion jam

1 lb. of brussel sprouts (rinse and pull off outer leaves)
4 qts. of boiling water
Blanch the brussel sprouts for 30 seconds and then plunge into a bowl of ice water to set the color, let cool.
Cut large brussel sprouts in half, leave small ones whole
Put brussel sprouts onto roasting pan
Sprinkle with olive oil, salt and pepper, use your hands to get olive oil all over the sprouts and make sure they are cut side down on the pan.
Roast in 400 degree oven until golden brown.
When done put in serving bowl and mix in bacon onion jam
Can be served warm or at room temperature

Bacon Onion Jam

INGREDIENTS

¾ pound slab bacon, diced into cubes
4 medium-size white or Spanish onions, peeled and diced
1 ½ teaspoons mustard seed
2 ½ tablespoons dark brown sugar
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

PREPARATION

Set a Dutch oven or heavy pot over medium heat, and add the bacon. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the fat is completely rendered and the bacon has started to crisp, approximately 12 to 15 minutes.
Drain all but 1 tablespoon of the fat from the pot, and add the onions, mustard seed, brown sugar, vinegar and 3 tablespoons of water. Stir to combine, then cover the pot, lower the heat and allow the mixture to cook undisturbed for 15 or 20 minutes. Remove the top, stir again and then partly cover the pot. Allow the mixture to cook until most of the liquid is gone and the onions have achieved a dark brown jamminess, approximately 60 to 70 minutes. (Add a little more water as needed.)
Taste the jam, and add salt and pepper if necessary.
Remove mixture from heat, and allow to cool slightly. Spoon the jam into a jar or bowl, then allow to cool completely. Store, covered, in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Delicious Roast Chicken

This is the best roast chicken recipe I have ever tried. It comes from The Canal House and it’s really based on a few simple techniques. I’m not sure I will every try another roast chicken recipe – I will just work on variations from this.

1 T kosher salt

1 whole approximately 4 lb chicken, giblets reserved for another use (I use organic)

1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted

Rinse chicken. Rub salt all over chicken and place in a resealable plastic bag. I double bag mine for insurance against messy leaks! Place breast side up in the refrigerator for 8 hours and up to 2 days. This dry brining technique works with other meats as well (turkey, pork) and I first discovered it from Judy Rodgers of Zuni Cafe in San Francisco.

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Arrange oven rack in upper third of oven. Preheat to 500 degrees. Set a wire roasting rack in a large roasting pan. Pat the chicken dry, but do not rinse. Place the chicken in the rack, breast side up. Loosely tie the legs together with kitchen twine and tuck the wings under. Brush the chicken all over with butter. Pour 1 cup of water into the pan.

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Roast the chicken, brushing with butter after 15 minutes, until the skin is light golden brown – about 30 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees. Remove the chicken, brush with butter and let it rest for 15 – 20 minutes.

Return the chicken to the oven, adding more water to the pan if it is dry and roast, basting with butter about every 10 minutes – until the skin is golden brown and a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh registers 165 degrees. This will take approximately 30 to 45 minutes, depending on the size of the chicken. Let chicken rest for 20 minutes. Carve and serve with pan juices.

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Enjoy the moist and delicious rewards of your efforts – Yum !!

Note: you may want to turn on your overhead fan while the chicken is cooking in the first phase at 500 degrees. Smoke alarms will thank you.

Tamales

Living in southern California with it’s sizable Hispanic population, tamales have become synonymous with the holidays and especially Christmas. I’ve often heard stories of families gathered around the kitchen making these unique pouches of goodness while laughing, singing and sharing memories on Christmas Eve.

Here is a recipe for very tasty little tamales that I adapted from Sunset magazine. Because it is a labor-intensive process, I have added shortcuts along the way to reduce the time required. There are two filling variations here.

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Make The Filling: Roasted Poblano Chile and Cheese

1 1/2 pounds poblano chiles

kosher salt

18 oz monterey jack cheese

Cover a cooking sheet with foil and broil the chiles in the oven until blackened all over, about 10 minutes. Turn frequently while broiling. Place the chiles in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap to steam for 20 minutes.

Peel skin off the chiles, stem and seed them. Slice into 1/2” strips, about 3” long. Season with salt.

Cut cheese into slices approximately 3” long and 1/2” wide.

Note: for a shortcut, buy mild green chiles already prepared in a can.

Make The Filling: Chicken and Green Tomatillo Salsa

Chicken:

1 1/2 white onions, quartered

4 large garlic cloves, crushed

1 t kosher salt

3 lbs chicken breast, with skin and bones

2 bay leaves

Salsa:

11 firm tomatillos, husked, stemmed and rinsed in warm water to remove stickiness

2 to 3 jalapeno chiles, stemmed and halved lengthwise (optional: remove seeds for milder flavor or use fewer chiles)

3/4 cup roughly chopped cilantro, stems and leaves

1 t kosher salt

1/4 t pepper

Poach chicken: put onions, garlic, salt and 4 cups water in a large pot and bring to a boil. Add chicken and bay leaves and lower heat to a simmer. Cook chicken, partly covered until no longer pink inside, about 20 to 25 minutes. When chicken is cool, tear into bite size pieces, discarding skin.

Remove bay leaf from pot. Add tomatillos and jalapenos and cook, covered over medium heat until tomatillos are soft, about 10 to 12 minutes. Drain tomatillo mixture, saving the broth to make the tamale dough. Transfer the tomatillo mixture to a blender. Add cilantro, salt and pepper. Blend until smooth.

Bring salsa to a simmer in a saucepan. Add chicken and simmer together for about 5 minutes to meld flavors. Season with salt and pepper.

Note: you can substitute cooked chicken breast and store bought salsa verde to save time.

Make The Tamale Dough

3/4 lb pork lard

5 cups masa harina (Maseca)

2 t baking powder

4 t kosher salt

4 1/2 cups hot chicken broth

Make dough: whip lard on low speed of a mixer with the whisk attachment, gradually increasing speed to high, until lard is fluffy like frosting, about 5 minutes. Whisk masa harina, baking powder and salt in a bowl. With mixer on low, add 1/3 masa mixture to the lard, incorporating fully. Scrape bowl and add another 1/3 masa mixture. Slowly add broth to the lard/masa mixture. Beat in remaining masa mixture one spoonful at a time until dough is soft and fluffy without being sticky (you may not need to use all of the masa mixture). Test the dough by rolling a small ball of it over the back of your hand to see if it rolls easily without sticking. Cover the dough with a damp kitchen towel and rest between 10 minutes and up to 1 hour, or chill up to 2 days.

Fill The Tamales

8 oz dried cornhusks (50 to 60)

Soak cornhusks by submerging them in hot water, weighted down with the lid of a pan for about 30 minutes.

Place 4 upturned ramekins in the bottom of a tall stockpot and set a steamer basket on top. Pour water in the bottom to about 1 1/2” but below the steamer basket level.

Drain cornhusks and pat dry. If you are not using them immediately, chill them in resealable plastic bags for up to 2 days.

Set a cornhusk, smooth side up, on a work surface. Spoon about 2+ T of dough onto the wide top of husk and smear over top half of husk, leaving a 1” border from top and sides. Add 1-2 T of filling down the center of the dough (or 2 chiles and 1 piece of cheese for the chile cheese tamales). Bring the sides of the husk to meet over the filling, then fold both sides of the filling in the same direction. Turn tamale seam side up and fold the narrow bottom of the tamale up to close it.

Set the tamales, open side up in the steamer, packing them loosely. Cover the pot with foil and a tight fitting lid. Bring the water to a boil and then reduce heat to maintain a steady low boil. Check the water at 30 minutes, adding more as necessary. The tamales should be done at about 1 hour, when they separate easily from the husk but are still somewhat soft (open one to check). Remove pot from heat and let tamales cool in pot for about 20 minutes to firm up.

Serve with salsa of your choice, though they are delicious on their own.

Tamales can be stored in the refrigerator or freezer. To reheat, place them on a plate with a damp paper towel over them and plastic wrap covering the plate. Microwave them on high for approximately 1 to 2 minutes if frozen, less if not. Adjust time according to your specific microwave.

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Note: although this is an involved process, it is a joyful one – especially in the creation of the tamale dough and the filling and folding of the tamales. And the results are better than any tamale I have ever tasted – proving what we already know: that nothing beats homemade, and that love can be shared through the food we prepare. Enjoy.

It’s Soup Time

Last week it rained in Los Angeles. A rare occurrence since we are in the throes of a severe drought. I love the rain and I love to make soups when it rains. So I made two soups I have never made before from my favorite cooking resource America’s Test Kitchen. The first one is a creamy cauliflower soup made without cream. A very simple soup with a few ingredients, low in calories and low Weight Watcher points. The second one was a wild rice and mushroom soup. A flavorful and filling soup that is great with crusty bread.

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Creamy Cauliflower Soup

INGREDIENTS

1 head cauliflower (2 pounds)
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
1 leek, white and light green parts only, halved lengthwise, sliced thin, and washed thoroughly
1 small onion, halved and sliced thin
Salt and pepper
4 1/2 – 5 cups water
1/2 teaspoon sherry vinegar
3 tablespoons minced fresh chives

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Pull off outer leaves of cauliflower and trim stem. Using paring knife, cut around core to remove; thinly slice core and reserve. Cut heaping 1 cup of 1/2-inch florets from head of cauliflower; set aside. Cut remaining cauliflower crosswise into 1/2-inch thick slices.

2. Melt 3 tablespoons butter in large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add leek, onion, and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt; cook, stirring frequently, until leek and onion are softened but not browned, about 7 minutes.

3. Increase heat to medium-high; add 4 1/2 cups water, sliced core, and half of sliced cauliflower; and bring to simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer gently for 15 minutes. Add remaining sliced cauliflower, return to simmer, and continue to cook until cauliflower is tender and crumbles easily, 15 to 20 minutes longer.

4. While soup simmers, melt remaining 5 tablespoons butter in 8-inch skillet over medium heat. Add reserved florets and cook, stirring frequently, until florets are golden brown and butter is browned and imparts nutty aroma, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and use slotted spoon to transfer florets to small bowl. Toss florets with vinegar and season with salt to taste. Pour browned butter in skillet into small bowl and reserve for garnishing.

5. Process soup in blender until smooth, about 45 seconds. Rinse out pan. Return pureed soup to pan and return to simmer over medium heat, adjusting consistency with remaining water as needed (soup should have thick, velvety texture but should be thin enough to settle with flat surface after being stirred) and seasoning with salt to taste. Serve, garnishing individual bowls with browned florets, drizzle of browned butter, and chives and seasoning with pepper to taste.

cauliflower-soup

Wild Rice and Mushroom Soup

INGREDIENTS

1/4 ounce dried shiitake mushrooms, rinsed
4 1/4 cups water
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1 garlic clove, peeled, plus 4 cloves, minced
Salt and pepper
1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 cup wild rice
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 pound cremini mushrooms, trimmed and sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 onion, chopped fine
1 teaspoon tomato paste
2/3 cup dry sherry
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup minced fresh chives
1/4 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Grind shiitake mushrooms in spice grinder until finely ground (you should have about 3 tablespoons).

2. Bring 4 cups water, thyme, bay leaf, garlic clove, ¾ teaspoon salt, and baking soda to boil in medium saucepan over high heat. Add rice and return to boil. Cover saucepan, transfer to oven, and bake until rice is tender, 35 to 50 minutes. Strain rice through fine-mesh strainer set in 4-cup liquid measuring cup; discard thyme, bay leaf, and garlic. Add enough water to reserved cooking liquid to measure 3 cups.

3. Melt butter in Dutch oven over high heat. Add cremini mushrooms, onion, minced garlic, tomato paste, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are browned and dark fond develops on bottom of pot, 15 minutes. Add sherry, scraping up any browned bits, and cook until reduced and pot is almost dry, about 2 minutes. Add ground shiitake mushrooms, reserved rice cooking liquid, broth, and soy sauce and bring to boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, until onion and mushrooms are tender, about 15 minutes.

4. Whisk cornstarch and remaining ¼ cup water in small bowl. Stir cornstarch slurry into soup, return to simmer, and cook until thickened, about 2 minutes. Remove pot from heat and stir in cooked rice, cream, chives, and lemon zest. At this point should be fairly thick so thin it out with some additional hot water until it is a soup consistency. Cover and let stand for 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve.

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Changing It Up

Every year for the last 20 years I made my Thanksgiving dressing the same way. It was a recipe for Chestnut Dressing I got from my Mother and if I dared vary it in any way, I received disappointing looks and disparaging remarks from my Mom. Sadly my Mom is no longer with us but I finally felt liberated enough to try something new this year with my holiday dressing. I decided to try a sausage cornbread dressing. I used turkey andouille sausage and It includes toasted pecans and dried cherries. All flavors I love so how bad could it be all together. I made a batch of browned butter cornbread to use as the base the week before Thanksgiving so the cornbread had a chance to become stale. The results were great. A very sophisticated dressing with a nice crumb and good seasoning from the sausage. Not sure I am making the same dressing next year but it was fun to change it up & experiment with a new taste.

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Sausage Cornbread Dressing
(recipe adapted from bon appetit Magazine)

¾ cup (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces, divided, plus more
¼ cup white wine vinegar
½ cup dried tart cherries
10 cups coarsely crumbled cornbread, preferably homemade, dried out overnight
⅓ cup coarsely chopped pecans
¼ cup olive oil
1 pound turkey sausage, casings removed
2 medium onions, chopped
4 celery stalks, chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh sage
2 large eggs
3 cups turkey stock or low-sodium chicken broth, divided
¼ cup finely chopped fresh parsley

Preheat oven to 400°

Butter a shallow 3-qt. baking dish and a sheet of foil

Bring vinegar and 2 Tbsp. water to a boil in a small saucepan; remove from heat and add cherries. Let sit until cherries are plump, 15–20 minutes.

Meanwhile, spread out cornbread on a rimmed baking sheet and toast until golden brown, 10–15 minutes. Let cool. Place in a very large bowl.

Drain cherries, reserving soaking liquid, and add cherries to bowl with cornbread (do not mix).

Reduce oven temperature to 350°. Toast pecans on a clean rimmed baking sheet, tossing once, until fragrant and slightly darkened, 8–10 minutes. Let cool; add to bowl.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Cook turkey sausage, stirring occasionally and breaking into small pieces with a spoon, until browned and cooked through, 8–10 minutes. Transfer to bowl.
Add onions and celery to skillet, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring often, until onions are golden brown and soft, 10–12 minutes. Add garlic and sage; cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Transfer to bowl.

Reduce heat to medium and cook reserved cherry soaking liquid in skillet, scraping up any browned bits, until almost all evaporated, about 1 minute. Add ½ cup butter; cook, stirring, until melted. Drizzle over bread mixture.

Whisk eggs and 2 cups stock in a medium bowl; pour over cornbread mixture. Add parsley, season with salt and pepper, and gently toss, adding more stock ¼-cupful at a time as needed (you may not use it all), until combined and cornbread is hydrated. Mix carefully to avoid breaking cornbread into crumbs.

Transfer to prepared dish and dot with remaining ¼ cup butter.

Cover with buttered foil; bake until a paring knife inserted into the center comes out hot, 30–35 minutes. Increase oven temperature to 450°. Uncover and bake until top is golden brown and crisp, 20–25 minutes. Let sit 10 minutes before serving.
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Apple Crisp

I have made this delicious Apple Crisp more than any other dessert I know. And last Thanksgiving, I realized it was the perfect addition to our meal – seasonal, loved by all, and best of all – EASY.

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5 large apples of your choice (I like Granny Smith or another tart variety)

1 t cinnamon

1/4 t fresh ground nutmeg

1/2 c water

1 T fresh lemon juice

1 c brown sugar

3/4 c flour

1/2 c butter, cup into small cubes

Peel and slice the apples into a buttered pie plate or 9” square baking pan. Sprinkle with the spices. Pour lemon juice and water over the apples. In a bowl, mix sugar and flour, then work in the butter to make a crumbly mixture. Spread over the fruit. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 1 hour, until the fruit is tender and the crust is lightly brown. Serve with vanilla ice cream for an added treat. Tastes great at warm or at room temperature, or warmed up the next day.

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Note: this can be made a day ahead and stored in the refrigerator until ready to bake. Ideally, keep the components separate in ziplock bags (peeled apples, crumble mixture) and assemble before baking.

Thanksgiving Potato Gratin

A dish that my family “expects” every Thanksgiving is this Potato Gratin. What makes it uniquely delicious is that is uses chicken broth instead of cream. Now we wouldn’t have it any other way!

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3 lbs russet potatoes, peeled and sliced thinly (about 1/8 to 1/4”)

1/2 tsp salt, or more if desired

1/8 + tsp freshly ground nutmeg

8 oz Gruyere cheese, shredded

14 oz chicken broth

2 T unsalted butter

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Grease a 9 x 13 baking dish. Gently toss potatoes with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Layer one-third of the potatoes in the dish. Sprinkle with one-third of the cheese. Repeat layers two more times. Cover the potatoes with the chicken broth. Dot with butter (optional). Bake uncovered for 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to 375 degrees. Bake one hour until the top is golden and crusty. Serves 8.

To make ahead: assemble and par bake – the first 15 minutes and another 15 to 30 minutes. Cover and refrigerate. Bake the remainder of the cooking time before serving, checking and adding any additional time as need to heat through.

Wet vs. Dry Brining

turkey

I have been brining my turkey for the last 20 years. I first learned about the magic of brining from America’s Test Kitchen which was then an advocate for wet brining because it flavors the turkey and breaks down some of the proteins, allowing the turkey to retain more moisture. If I followed their instructions to the letter, my turkeys always came out well seasoned and moist. If I didn’t measure the appropriate amount of salt and just poured it in the water bath willy nilly, my turkey came out too salty and if I varied the brine with additional ingredients other than salt like sugar or apple juice, my turkey didn’t come out as moist or flavorful. The process of wet brining was challenging as well. Where do you store your turkey in gallons of salted water for 8-10 hours? I solved that by putting it in a clean insulated cooler with ice and stored it in a cool place overnight. Then I discovered Dry Brining from an article in the Los Angeles Times written by Russ Parsons, the food editor. His contention was that wet brining resulted in an over salted and spongy turkey and required an enormous amount of salt.

So for the last five years, I have been dry brining my turkeys with fantastic results, however I find the storage issue for the turkey to be a little more challenging than the wet brine. The dry brine requires the salted turkey to stay in the refrigerator three days and the salt to be massaged into the bird periodically throughout the three days. (I have skipped this step many times without any noticeable consequences.) I have also modified my brining time to 24 to 48 hours ahead of time and to include a few herbs and some vegetables and fruit stuffed into the cavity, resulting in a much more flavorful bird. The dry brine only requires 4 tablespoons of Kosher salt and because of this, the drippings from the cooked bird are perfectly seasoned to add to your gravy.

Whichever brining method you choose, I encourage you to try it this Holiday season and see what a difference it makes to your turkey.

Recipe for Wet Brine

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INGREDIENTS
• 1 ¼ cups salt
• 1 ¼ cups sugar
• 2 bay leaves
• 1 medium onion, peeled and halved
• 2 cloves
• 1 10- to 12-pound turkey, washed, giblets removed
PREPARATION
Place salt, sugar and 1 quart hot water in a large deep pot and whisk until salt and sugar crystals dissolve. Whisk in 4 quarts cold water. Pin bay leaves to onion halves with cloves and add them to brine. Let mixture cool to room temperature.

Add turkey, placing a large heavy pot or sealed zip-top bag filled with cold water on top to keep bird submerged. Place pot in refrigerator and marinate overnight. Roast or smoke turkey as you wish.

Recipe for Dry Brine

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INGREDIENTS
1/2 c. good kosher salt
1 T. fresh thyme finely minced
1 T. fresh rosemary or sage finely minced
1 t black pepper
PREPARATION
Create a space in your refrigerator to accommodate the turkey. Place the turkey in a roasting pan or 1/2 sheet pan. The turkey needs to be thoroughly defrosted and dry. Evenly rub the salt/herb mixture over the turkey. Place the turkey in your refrigerator, covered loosely with parchment or wax paper. The idea is for the turkey to air dry overnight, so don’t wrap in plastic. You can leave the turkey in the dry brine for up to 48 hours but it really isn’t necessary.