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Fried Turkey

I know I’ve said this before, and I know I’ll say it again, but Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.  And I am not happy, friends, that my favorite holiday gets the short end of the stick every year.  On Saturday we went out to procure a turkey fryer so that we could have ourselves a fake Thanksgiving on Halloween.  As in, almost a month before Thanksgiving and not only did they have the dinkiest display of turkey fryers on the planet,  they had a GIANT Christmas display.  A MONTH BEFORE THANKSGIVING! When did we stop acknowledging this most delicious of holidays?!?

One of my favorite things about writing a food blog is fake Thanksgiving.  Because while I live for real Thanksgiving, it’s still a holiday.  Which means that it’s an event.  An event with amazing food, but an event nonetheless.  Fake Thanksgiving has all of the food but none of the kicking your sister out of your favorite chair so you can eat your 12th twice baked potato in peace-ness.  Or whatever.  My point is- all the glory, none of the tears.

This year we decided we would fry a turkey for fake Thanksgiving.  It was both absurdly easy and completely terrifying.  I don’t remember when it was that my father started frying turkeys, but it’s been a family tradition for quite some time now.  And the end result is something almost too delicious to describe.  It’s my ideally cooked turkey, and after last year’s absurdly defective situation I wanted this year to be perfect.  And it was.  The turkey, which had, upon entering the fryer, been brining for two days, was moist and juicy with the crispiest of skin.  It’s perfection.  Total and complete perfection.

The purpose of a brine is to make the turkey moister, but is something you should only do on fresh turkeys.  Inspired by the holiday favorite decoration of oranges studded with cloves, I brined the turkey with orange peels, whole cloves, bay leaves, orange juice, garlic, and brown sugar.  I was skeptical of whether the fried turkey would still taste like the brine but, amazingly, it did!  Worlds better than a marinade, I’ll never not brine a turkey again.

After two days in the brine, it was time to fry that baby (all 12 hunking pounds of it).  We heated the oil to 375, put the turkey on the hanger, and (very cautiously) dunked that bad boy.  And then it bubbled like crazy and I was getting concerned we’d become some All State commercial when it calmed down and simmered nicely for 40 minutes.  When it came out, perfectly cooked and smelling like heaven, I’ve never felt more gloriously triumphant.  And then we fried some oreos.

Fried Turkey from elena rosemond-hoerr on Vimeo.

Fried Turkey

Brine:

2 oranges

2 cups orange juice

2 gallons water

3/4 cup kosher salt

1/4 cup whole cloves

3 bay leaves

1 tbsp allspice berries

5 cloves garlic, chopped

1 cup brown sugar

Turkey:

1 12-15lb turkey

Oil to fill your fryer (peanut or canola)

A turkey frying kit, preferably.  A safe one.

Two days before you’d like to cook your turkey, combine the peel of two oranges, orange juice, water, salt, cloves, bay leaves, brown sugar, garlic, and allspice berries in a large pot.  Stir until salt and sugar have dissolved.  Bring to a boil and then let cool completely.  Submerge your turkey in the brine, cover, and let sit for two days.

When you’re ready to fry, heat your oil to 375.  Follow the instructions on your fryer.  Cook for 3 minutes per pound of turkey.  Remove from oil and allow to cool for 1 hour.

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Balsamic Mushrooms

This weekend I went to Charleston, SC to visit my bff Megan.  This week Megan is turning 25, and to mark this special occasion (and help prevent a quarter life crisis) I flew down on Friday and spent a long weekend taking in the beauty (and warmth) of the south.  Charleston is one of my favorite places with its history, culture, and charm.

After a weekend of eating (wonderfully) out, I told Megan that on Sunday I was going to teach her how to cook something.  Megan’s experience in the kitchen is limited, though I’ve been trying slowly to domesticate her over the years.  One of these days it’s going to stick.  So on Sunday we made brisket (recipe to come on iVillage this week), balsamic mushrooms, and tarheel pie.

While the brisket and pie were both delicious, these mushrooms stole the show.  Cooked over low heat for four hours in butter, balsamic vinegar, and red wine, they were so intensely flavored and delicious.  They were hands down the best mushrooms I’ve ever eaten and I love mushrooms.  They’ll have a place on my holiday table this year.

Speaking of the holidays, this is the official kick off of Thanksgiving 2010 recipe season. Starting today, over the next few weeks, I’ll be bringing you this year’s Thanksgiving recipes.  I’ll also post links to our tried and true holiday favorites.  In other news, I was the featured blogger on A Bloggable Life yesterday.  It’s a nice little feature that, I’ll admit, I really opened myself up for.  I’d love to hear what you think.  And, of course, be sure to wish Miss Margaret Elizabeth Patrylick a happy 25th birthday.  She needs your good thoughts, girl is a hot mess.

Balsamic Mushrooms

2 lbs button mushrooms

1/2 bottle red wine (merlot)

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar

1 stick butter

1 tbsp salt

1 tsp pepper

1 tbsp cumin

In a deep dish combine mushrooms, wine, vinegar, cubed butter, salt, pepper, and cumin.  Cook at 315 for 4 hours, stirring occasionally.

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Braised Short Ribs over Creamy Grits

Sometimes we get very lucky and have the opportunity to host someone very important to us.  This past weekend it was our old college professor, George Ciscle.  Dan and I participated in many years worth of George’s signature program, the Exhibition Development Seminar.  It was in this class, in fact, where we met.  Actually, technically speaking, it was in this class where on the first day I spent the better half of the first hour admiring his forearms as George talked about how the course is incredibly difficult and everyone should leave, etc etc etc.  Then, on the break, I showed Dan my compass in line at MICA’s Cafe Doris.  That’s not a euphemism.  I really did show him my compass.  It was new.  And awesome.

Is it starting to add up why it took three years for us to actually start dating?  Anyhoo, we were lucky enough to host George and his husband Rick for dinner on Friday and it was, well, awesome.  We laughed and ate and caught up and told stories, it was a wonderful evening.  And in the background, along with a simple arugula salad and a pitcher of sangria that only I drank (it was delicious, by the way), were these short ribs.  Braised in red wine and served over cheesy, creamy, scrumptious grits.

Fall, to me, means a lot of things.  It means scarves and jackets and boots and pumpkin lattes, but it also means the beginning of serious meat season.  While we eat a fair amount of meat in the summer it’s always something light, refreshing.  Fall and winter is the time for stews and braises, foods that require your oven staying on for hours.  Food that you eat while wearing a sweater or with your fuzzy socks on.  Or is that just me?  Fuzzy socks, ftw!

Braised Short Ribs over Creamy Grits

 

Ribs:

8-10 beef short ribs

1 bottle red wine

4 cups vegetable or beef stock

1 tsp allspice berries

1 tsp peppercorns

1 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp dried basil

1 tbsp fresh rosemary

1 tbsp garlic powder

1 bay leaf

1 tbsp salt

1 stick butter

 

Grits:

2 cups milk

1 cup vegetable or beef stock

1 cup yellow corn grits

1 lb cremini mushrooms

4 shallots

1 tbsp butter

1 tbsp bacon fat

1/2 cup heavy cream

1 cup gruyere cheese, grated

1 cup extra sharp white cheddar cheese, grated

Salt & pepper

Juice of 1 lemon

Green onions

 

The night before you’d like to serve this, marinate your meat in 1/2 bottle wine and half of all the herbs/spices.  Refrigerate overnight.

 

4 hours before you’d like to serve this, take the meat out of the marinade and pat each side down.  Melt 1/2 stick butter in a medium size pot.  Salt & pepper ribs and brown them for about 30 seconds per side, in the butter.  When they’re all browned put them into the pot.  Cover with remaining wine, stock, butter, and the rest of the herbs.  Cover and cook at 375 for 3 1/2 hours.

 

To make the grits bring the milk and stock to a low boil.  Stir in grits.  Stir until thickened and remove from heat.  Stir in cheese and cream.

 

In a medium size pan melt your butter and bacon fat.  Slice your shallots and cook over low/medium heat until brown.  Set aside.  Slice mushrooms and add them to the pan (adding more butter if necessary).  Cook until brown.  Stir mushrooms and shallots into the grits, along with the lemon juice.

 

Arrange short ribs on top of the grits on the plate and top with green onion.

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