Monthly Archives: September 2011

How To Deep Fry A Turkey (And Anything Else)

 

The element of danger always adds to the excitement of any cooking project.

Meat Marinade Injector

Every year, usually around Thanksgiving time, one of your local television stations will trot out this video of some idiot attempting to burn his house down with a turkey fryer.

It’s never the same geniuses at work here, but, the scene is similar in every one. It generally involves people standing on a wooden porch, with a turkey fryer that is filled to the very brim with boiling peanut oil. A turkey (probably frozen), is then plunged into the simmering fat sending it over the top of the pot and onto the propane fed flames below. The next thing you know the porch is engulfed in a fireball and your family is watching the football game from the ER waiting room instead of the couch.

Just for the record, my Dad has seen this video too.

My first attempt at deep frying a turkey came about ten years ago. It was Christmas Day and I had just gotten a new toy to play with. My folks were coming for dinner, so, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to take my brand new fryer for a spin.

Deep fried turkeys are easy enough to make. I injected mine with a little marinade, seasoned it inside and out with some salt and pepper and was ready to cook. The one page instruction sheet that came with the fryer had the recipe. Nothing fancy here.

When it came time to heat the oil, I could tell that my Dad was a little nervous. He asked me if I had seen “the video”. I asked him if this was the video of the previously mentioned rocket scientists attempting to reduce their home to ashes. He said it was. I was tempted to make a crack about my IQ being somewhat above room temperature, but, I thought better of it. Instead, I would prove it.

With my Dad (and Son) in tow, we went out to light the burner. I had placed the fryer out in our stone driveway, far enough from the house to avert any calamity that he was sure awaited us. It didn’t seem to help.

I knew I needed something to ease my Dad’s mind. I had a plan.

I pulled a chair from my garage, placed it a full twenty feet from the pre-heating oil pot and asked him to sit there. In his hand I placed an appliance that I knew he could operate. A fire extinguisher. Shiny, red and recently charged.

There my Father sat for the next hour and a half. At the ready. Extinguisher perfectly aimed just in case flames came shooting from our soon to be holiday dinner. He was ready if called upon. As luck would have it, there was no need to pull the pin. Disaster was averted, dinner was served.

Deep Fried Turkey, Image by ukanda

Chef Reece Williams is out with a brand new cookbook that is sure to delight anyone who has a turkey fryer tucked away in their garage. The Ultimate Turkey Fryer Cookbook is loaded with 150 creative and mouthwatering ways for you to use that cooker. And, ways that I had never thought of.

It contains some great general tips on frying all kinds of things. A list of the standard equipment you’ll need is also pretty handy. There are detailed instructions on the proper way to injection marinate a variety of things.

Here are some of my favorites from Reece’s book.

  • Fried Dill Pickles
  • Cajun Fried Turkey
  • Whole Fried Pork Tenderloin
  • Crusted Veal Cordon Bleu
  • Chicken Fried Venison Cutlets
  • Fried Jambalaya Cakes
  • Fried Ice Cream

This is my only complaint. Chef Williams has his own line of marinades. And, it seems that this book was published in part to help sell those products. I’m sure his marinades are great and I have no problem with him trying to peddle them. It seems like a good vehicle for that.

But, a large percentage of the recipes in the book call for using one of Chef Williams products. The book does not include recipes for them and there are no recommendations for substitutions. This leaves the cook in a bind. It would have been nice to suggest some alternate seasonings and marinade options. Something like, “if you don’t have Chef Williams Super Duper Marinade, try a little…” At least you would be able to make the dish without having to go online for supplies.

That being said, this is still a nice addition to your cookbook collection. It’s loaded with unique and interesting recipes that are easy to execute and contain a minimum of ingredients. It’s a huge step up from the one sheet recipe “book” that comes with most fryers. There’s some great food photography too.

The Bottom Line: If you’re like me, you’ll break out the The Ultimate Turkey Fryer Cookbook and look for reasons to use the turkey fryer that just sitting around doing nothing. Some creative recipes and super helpful frying information make it a nice addition to your collection.

BUY IT- The Ultimate Turkey Fryer Cookbook: Over 150 Recipes for Frying Just About Anything

Author: Reece Williams
Paperback: 192 pages
Publisher: Skyhorse Publishing
ISBN-10: 161608181‘

BUY THIS BOOK

Bobby Flay Brings “American” Brasserie Food To Your Table

There’s a sense of satisfaction that comes with getting something right that could have gone horribly wrong.

BUY IT! - Bobby Flay's Bar Americain Cookbook: Celebrate America's Great Flavors

I’ve been noticing lately that too many things have become unnecessarily complex. Complicated without reason. More difficult than they need to be and happy about it. I find a lot of cookbooks to be that way. A seemingly simple dish is suddenly transformed into a colossal pain in the ass just after you’ve diced the first stalk of celery. Sound familiar?

Thankfully, this isn’t one of those things. This thing is easy. It’s simple, but, at the same time elegant enough to be enjoyed by those outside of your immediate family. It’s one of those things that when it’s completed you still have enough strength to lift your own fork. A pleasure.

We all know Bobby Flay, Not personally of course, but, through the magic of food television. Whether he’s challenging a Memphis BBQ whiz to a pulled pork “Throwdown” or doing some old school outdoor grillin’ with Jack McDavid, Bobby always makes it look easy.

Almost every cookbook out these days seems to have a theme. It appears to be tougher than ever to release a cookbook that encompasses a whole range of styles and types of dishes. Most of these new releases have a “plot”. They’ve become specialized. And, Bobby’s new book is no different. American Brasserie cuisine.

Bar Americain, is one of his most recent restaurant ventures. It’s a hybrid of sorts. A French brasserie look with distinctly American food. A great combination if it’s done right. And, as you would imagine, it is. The book, Bobby Flay’s Bar Americain Cookbook: Celebrate America’s Great Flavors, aims to bring that same cuisine right into your home. And, it succeeds.

It’s packed with over one hundred recipes and an equal amount of mouthwatering food images. These are broken down into the customary and usual parts. Starting with cocktails and ending somewhere around dessert. It manages to catch everything in between. There is even a nifty little brunch chapter towards the back.

Crumbled Blue Cheese

I’m going to give the Boston Lettuce Salad a whirl. It looks pretty amazing. It has bacon, a poached egg and buttermilk blue cheese dressing. How could this be anything but delicious?

Now when you check out the ingredient list and then the directions, you’re going to say, “are you joking”, this looks like a bear. Not so. Most of the recipes in this book look WAY more difficult then they actually are to prepare. The recipes seem to be a touch detailed. I think it stems from an effort to be complete and make sure that you have the best chance for a successful outcome. Those aren’t bad intentions. But, trust me, you can make any of these dishes.

Blender

Oh, did I forget to mention that you’re going to need a blender? You’re going to need a blender.

I made the Buttermilk-Blue Cheese Dressing and the White Wine Vinaigrette in the morning, so it would be easy to put it all together for a casual lunch (I also cooked the bacon ahead).

Perfectly Cooked Bacon

Here’s How To Do It

BUTTERMILK-BLUE CHEESE DRESSING
Ingredients
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup sour crème
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
2 oz. Maytag blue cheese, crumbled
Kosher salt & fresh ground black pepper

Method
Place the first three ingredients in a blender. Blend until thoroughly combined. With the motor still running, slowly add the blue cheese. Blend until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.

WHITE WINE VINAIGRETTE
Ingredients
3 Tbsp. white wine vinegar
1 1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. honey
1/3 cup canola oil
Kosher salt & fresh ground black pepper

Method
Whisk together the first three ingredients. Season with salt and pepper. Slowly whisk in the oil until emulsified.

OK, neither of those first two things are that tough right. Both of the above can be made a day ahead and stored in the refrigerator. I recommend that. It makes for less hassle when you’re constructing the final dish.

BOSTON LETTUCE SALAD
Ingredients
1/4 lb. thick cut bacon, cut crosswise into 1/4 inch strips
1 Tbsp. white wine vinegar
4 large eggs
Kosher salt & fresh ground black pepper
1 head Boston lettuce, leaves separated
3 radishes, thin sliced
2 oz. Maytag blue cheese, crumbled
2 Tbsp. fresh chives, chopped fine

Method
In a medium pan cooked the bacon over medium heat until golden brown and the fat has been rendered. About 10 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel to drain and cool.

To poach the eggs, bring 1 quart of water and the vinegar to a simmer in a deep sauté pan. Break the eggs, one at a time into a ramekin or small dish and carefully slide the eggs into the water. Simmer until the whites are set, but, the yolks are still runny. About 3 minutes. Transfer cooked eggs to a paper towel to drain.

Put a large dollop of the buttermilk-blue cheese dressing in the center of a large dinner plate. Place the lettuce leaves in a large bowl and toss with half of the white wine vinaigrette. Season with salt and pepper. Arrange lettuce leaves on top of blue cheese dressing.

Place an egg on top of the arranged lettuce. Place bacon and radishes on the plates and drizzle with a little more of the white wine vinaigrette. Add the blue cheese crumbles and chives.

Plate and serve to your soon to be happy guests.

Serves 4

Boston Lettuce Salad

Recipe adapted from Boston Lettuce Salad, Bobby Flay, Stephanie Banyas and Sally Jackson , Bobby Flay’s Bar Americain Cookbook: Celebrate America’s Great Flavors, Clarkson Potter

TIP: Getting the cooked poached egg off of the paper towel is a little tricky. I used a slotted spoon to remove each of the eggs from the water. I made sure that they were drained well before placing the egg on top of the salad. This seemed to work great and no watery mess on the lettuce.

The Bottom Line: The marketplace is flooded with cookbooks by celebrity chefs and wannabe celebrity chefs. So much so that it’s sometimes hard to tell the gold from the rust. Bobby’s new book is gold. It contains lots of tempting recipes that you’ll be dying to try. Don’t be intimidated by directions that are more than one paragraph long. In reality, theses dishes are easier to make than they appear to be in print.

BUY IT!: Bobby Flay's Bar Americain Cookbook: Celebrate America's Great Flavors

BUY IT!: Bobby Flay's Bar Americain Cookbook: Celebrate America's Great Flavors

Authors: Bobby Flay, Stephanie Banyas and Sally Jackson
Hardcover: 272 pages
Publisher: Clarkson Potter (September 20, 2011)
ISBN-10: 0307461386

Thyme For Some Simple Rice

Thyme, thyme, thyme is on my side…

BUY IT - $7 A Meal Cookbook

The side dish. ah yes. It’s not ordinarily the star of the meal, but, it shouldn’t be forgettable either. A fine line, no doubt. I’m always looking for something different that can be made easily and quickly, yet still be a great second banana. I found that very thing in a not so likely source.

Enter The Giant $7 A Meal Cookbook. Billed as “701 inexpensive meals the whole family will love”. Chef Susan Irby, aka The Bikini Chef, has assembled a collection of recipes that she says will feed a family of four for less than seven dollars. In today’s economy that’s a big deal.

Since I don’t have a family of four, I was more interested in how these recipes stacked up from the standpoint of taste, rather than using thriftiness as a measuring stick. I mean after all, it’s fantastic that you could serve your family a meal that only costs $1.75 per person, but, if they can’t choke it down, then what’s the point?

I was going to grill some fish for dinner. So, I was looking for something to partner with it. Rice is always a perfect choice. How about some Long-Grain Rice with Fresh Thyme. That sounds like it has the potential to be a great accompaniment to the seafood.

You’re going to need some fresh thyme.

Fresh Thyme

This is an easy dish to make. So, no matter how complicated your main course is, preparing it won’t make your life miserable. We’ve all been through this drill. You see a dish. It looks easy enough in print. You start cooking. And then wham! You’re in over your head and there’s nothing you can do about it. Insert your own four letter words here. Thankfully, this rice dish doesn’t fall into that category. No surprises.

Choose any type of long grain rice that suits your taste. I chose Basmati.

Basmati Rice

All you need is a little celery, onion and garlic and you pretty much have it. Not a ton of ingredients or steps.

Here’s How To Do It

Ingredients
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 celery ribs, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. fresh thyme, leaves chopped (stems removed)
1 bay leaf
2½ cups water
1 cup long grain rice, uncooked

Method
In a large saucepan heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add in the onions, celery, garlic and thyme. Sauté until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the bay leaf and the water. Bring the contents of the pan to a boil. Once boiling, add the rice. Reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer about 20 minutes or until all of the water is absorbed and the rice is tender. Take out the bay leaf and serve.

Serves 6

Fresh Thyme

Recipe adapted from Long-Grain Rice with Fresh Thyme, Susan Irby, The Giant $7 a Meal Cookbook, Adams Media

Making this dish is an ideal fit for grilled fish. That final twenty minute cooking time buddies up nicely to the time it takes to grill your fish. One of the potential downsides of preparing some side dishes is that you may need some assistance. Someone to help stir, flip or drain. With this easy dish you can go it alone.

The Bottom Line:

The Giant $7 A Meal Cookbook has tons of recipes that are relatively easy for any home cook to pull off without much trouble. There are not a lot of complicated dishes that leave you wondering if you can actually do this or not. There’s lots of variety and most of the recipes have a reasonable cooking and prep time. That means if you’re a busy working family and someone has to come home from a long day and still cook dinner, you won’t be eating at midnight. This is also the ideal book for that “what can I make with what I’ve got in the fridge” night.

BUY IT! - The Giant $7 a Meal Cookbook: 701 Inexpensive Meals the Whole Family Will Love

BUY THIS BOOK

Author: Susan Irby
Paperback: 512 pages
Publisher: Adams Media (November 18, 2010)
ISBN-10: 1440506353