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Twice Baked Potatoes

For better or for worse, I love the potato. Such a versatile food that can be mashed, roasted, fried, baked.  They’re delicious in everything from soups to pizza, bread to shoestring fries, the perfect starchy blank slate for pretty much any meal.  And, like green beans and pecan pie, they’re a staple on every holiday table.  This year, for Thanksgiving 2010, we’re taking them twiced baked.  In my humble opinion, twice baked is one of the best ways to eat a potato.  Combining everything delicious about a baked potato, mashed potato, and potato skins, this dish is often the main course in our post-Holiday binge.

Though this is only the third recipe of this year’s Thanksgiving line up, you can now enjoy our entire “Guide to Holiday Eating.”  Miles bigger, broader, and more varied than last year’s roundup, this list will have you covered throughout the eating season!  Also, I can now be found writing monthly as the “Southern Food Expert” (a title I did not award myself) on Menuism.  My first post, about the difference between barbeque and cookout, went up last week and had some, well, interesting responses.  Finally in the news category, you’ll notice that Biscuits & Such is undergoing some changes in appearance.  We (Dan) will be slowly modifying the way the site looks.  We’d (I’d) love feedback/suggestions, etc.  We’re so excited for the end result!  And with that, I’m off to take more painkillers, recover from having my (completely sideways and impacted) wisdom tooth out, and work on my tshirt quilt.  I’ll leave you with a picture of the adorable, ADORABLE, birdies my dear Emilie and I made this weekend.

Twice Baked Potato

(serves 8)

4 russet potatoes

1 cup mayonaisse

1 stick butter (room temperature)

Salt & pepper to taste

1 cup cheddar cheese

1 lb bacon

Bake your potatoes for 2 hours in a 350 oven.  Remove and let cool.

Cook bacon and let cool.

Gently scoop the insides of the potatoes out, leaving the skin in tact.  Whip the potatoes, mayonnaise, butter, and salt & pepper together.  Scoop the mashed potatoes back into skins.  Sprinkle with bacon and shredded cheese.  Bake for another 20 minutes at 350.  Serve!

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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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