Smoked Turkey + Garlic-Herb Dry Brine

I should start by saying that turkey isn’t really my thing.

Smoked TurkeyYear after year, I’ve failed miserably at making that perfect, picturesque Thanksgiving turkey.  The first Thanksgiving I hosted in 2009 (pre-Kitchen Konfidence) was the worst.  The night before Thanksgiving, I was fumbling around trying to wet brine a 22 pound turkey, salt water and turkey contamination splashing all about my kitchen.  The next day, I got the turkey out of the brine (hands burning from the salt), dried, and on to the roasting pan.  A roasting pan that I later realized was too big to fit in the oven.  At the time, I didn’t own a meat thermometer, so I kept the turkey (which was sitting cramped in a 9 x 13 baking dish) in the oven until it “looked good.”  I remember the smile on my face as I brought the glorious golden turkey to the table, and the disappointment that quickly followed as I started to carve.  The turkey was bone dry with the texture of powdery saw dust.

In 2010, I surveyed all my friends and family for the perfect Thanksgiving turkey recipe.  Results and processes were widely varied.  Bake the turkey in a bag.  Roast the turkey covered in cheese cloth and baste in butter every 15 minutes.  Deep fry the turkey.  Start in a high oven.  Start in a low oven.  Cook the turkey in parts.  Somehow, everyone was cooking their turkey perfectly except for me!  Overwhelmed by the options, I chose what I thought was the easiest suggestion, “cook the turkey in parts.”  After a significant struggle to actually get the turkey in parts, the finished bird was blasé at best.

The next  year, I cooked 2 smaller turkeys side-by-side, slathered in truffle butter and fresh herbs.  Results were juicy, but underwhelming.  I was expecting a WOW moment given the white truffle butter.  And in 2012, I reverted back to turkey in parts.  Uninspired, and a bit dry.

In 2013, everything changed.  Last year, I put Jorge in charge of making the turkey.  He prepared this Smoked Turkey, and the finished bird was incredible.  Juicy insides with a mouthwatering, smoky flavor.  Our Thanksgiving guests couldn’t stop raving about it.  Preparing the turkey on the grill also freed up some much-needed oven space.  We had such an awesome turkey experience last year, that I just had to share it with you all this year!  Continue reading for the recipe.

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Pumpkin Chicken Chili [Giveaway]

Today I’m giving away a gorgeous KitchenAid 4 Quart Cast Iron Pot PLUS I’m sharing an easy (and healthy!) recipe for Pumpkin Chicken Chili.

Pumpkin Chicken ChiliLet’s start with the chili. Freshly ground chicken thighs, skin and all, are sautéed with onions, bell pepper and garlic until fragrant and brown. Flavor and body are added by way of chile powder, red pepper flake, cumin, pumpkin beer, pumpkin purée, red beans and fire-roasted tomatoes. The chili is finished with a dollop of rich sour cream, cilantro, crunchy pumpkin seeds, and a squeeze of fresh lime juice. Made in just one pot, this comforting fall soup comes together in under an hour!  Rich, bold flavors.  Hearty, satisfying texture.  So.  Yum.  Continue reading for the recipe, and giveaway details.

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Beer Can Chicken

I’m not a big sports fan, but I sure do love game day/tailgating eats.

Half Beer Can ChickenLike this Beer Can Chicken.  Kosher salt, brown sugar, paprika, cayenne and black pepper get rubbed on first.  Then, the chicken takes a seat on a can filled with light beer, onion, garlic, lemon zest and thyme.  Cooked upright on the grill, this brazen bird gets infused with flavor from the inside out.  I like to serve simply with  lemon wedges.  And beer of course ;)

If you’d like to take this recipe on the go (to your next tailgating party), prep everything in advance for easy game day execution.  The bulk dry rub can be made a week in advance, and stored at room temperature.  Give your bird a rubdown at least one hour in advance, allowing the flavors to get into the meat.  The thyme, onion and garlic can be prepped and stored together; however, don’t zest the lemon in advance.  If not used immediately, the flavor of the lemon oils will diminish quickly after zesting.  Finally, when transporting chicken, make sure it’s well-wrapped in plastic and well-chilled on ice.  Continue reading for the recipe.

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Tomato Confit Pasta

With just 3 fresh ingredients and minimal effort, you can have a plate of this seasonal pasta on the table in under 1 hour.

Tomato Confit PastaI know the word confit may conjure up some feelings of worry and anxiety, but I assure you, the process couldn’t be easier.  The term confit is typically associated with meat (especially duck), but can also be applied to fruits and vegetables.  Confit simply means to cook something in fat at a low temperature for a longer period of time.

Here, I’m tossing cooked pasta with slow-roasted tomato confit and chopped fresh basil.  To make the tomato confit, simply toss cherry tomatoes, garlic and basil in olive oil, and slow-roast for 45 minutes.  The resulting tomatoes will soften and blister, releasing some of their juices on to the pan.  The tomatoes and juices will have a wonderfully concentrated tomato flavor.  The pasta cooks up while the tomatoes are in the oven, keeping cook time to a minimum.  For best results, give this recipe a try while tomatoes are in season.  Continue reading for the recipe.

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Grilled Dry-Aged Steak [Giveaway]

I’m giving away some beef today.  Are you ready for this?

Grilled-Dry-Aged-Steak2And not just any beef.  I’m giving away a WestRidge Big Steaks package, including two Boneless Ribeye Steaks, and two T-Bone Steaks.  We’ll get to the giveaway details in just a bit.  First, let’s talk MEAT.  WestRidge Beef specializes in high-quality, dry-aged, antibiotic-free, hormone-free beef products.  Raised outdoors in a stress-free environment, their cattle are fed only natural products like grass, grain and hay.  I’m giving you these details, because they all have a major positive impact on flavor.  I got to sample a number of different steaks from WestRidge, and they are all so, so delicious.

This recipe for Grilled Dry-Aged Steak features two of WestRidge’s beautiful t-bones.  These steaks are dry-aged for 21 days, concentrating the flavor (as a result of moisture loss), tenderizing the meat, and adding rich notes of nuttiness and umami.  The dry-aging process also modifies the aroma of the steak, amping up the beefiness while adding a funky note similar to blue cheese.  I should also mention that these steaks are reddish-brown, rather than the bright, vibrant red you see with supermarket steaks.

Seasoned simply with flaky sea salt, these dry-aged t-bones are quickly seared on a screaming hot grill, adding savory flavors of caramelization, smoke and char.  The steaks then rest for 10 minutes in a golden butter bath infused with garlic, rosemary and thyme.  I need to tell you that these are some of the best damn steak I’ve ever had.  Tender, juicy and incredibly flavorful.  Once you learn this technique, you’ll want to cook all of your steaks this way moving forward.  Continue reading for the recipe plus a WestRidge Beef giveaway.

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Grilled Tri-Tip with Green Garlic Salsa Verde

I’ve got some exciting news to share!

Grilled Tri Tip with Salsa VerdeFor the next few months, I’m partnering with the new Jimbo’s… Naturally! located at Westfield Horton Plaza on some seriously tasty and organic recipes.  Jimbo’s… Naturally! is a local San Diego business that focuses on high quality organic and natural food.  Their new location at Westfield Horton Plaza is a beauty!  In addition to a juice bar, deli, and bakery, they’ve got a sizable selection of organic produce.  The green garlic I discovered in the produce department was the inspiration for this Italian salsa verde.

To showcase some of the products found at Jimbo’s… Naturally!, I put together this recipe for Grilled Tri-Tip with Green Garlic Salsa Verde.  Organic, grass-fed beef tri-tip is quickly marinated in a sharp blend of garlic, rosemary, lemon and olive oil.  The roast is then placed on a searing hot charcoal grill to develop a wonderfully charred, caramelized crust, and finished over indirect heat to keep the center tender and juicy.  After a brief rest, the tri-tip is sliced against the grain, and served with a Green Garlic Salsa Verde.  This vibrant condiment is made with fresh parsley, garlic, red chile, capers, lemon and olive oil.  Bright, fresh flavors permeate both the beef and the sauce, making them a perfect combination for any summer barbecue.  Continue reading for the recipe.

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Jorge’s Bacon Cheeseburgers

Ok so I have a fun little treat for you all today.

Jorge's Bacon CheeseburgerIf you weren’t already aware, my sweet, adorable boyfriend is Jorge.  One might think that because I am a food blogger, I do all the cooking in the relationship; however, that is not the case here.  Jorge loves to cook as well, and today, I’m sharing one of his best recipes for Bacon Cheeseburgers.

His burgers start with a mix of freshly ground beef chuck, short rib and bacon.  Sharp cheddar cheese is then worked directly into the burger blend, allowing the cheesy tang to permeate the burger.  These handcrafted patties are then thrown on a hot charcoal grill where they get wonderfully charred.  As the burgers cook, the bits of cheese throughout get all melty and gooey.  Stacked between a toasted brioche bun, this bacon cheeseburger is finished with our favorite toppings: butter lettuce, heirloom tomato, red onion, pickles, mayo, mustard and ketchup.  Let.  me.  tell.  you.  This burger is ridiculously delicious.  Each bite is incredibly juicy with big, bold flavors that can easily stand up to all of the toppings.  This is your burger for summer 2014.  Continue reading for the recipe plus some comments from Jorge!

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Carne Asada

April is one of my favorite months in San Diego.

Carne Asada Tacos

Often characterized by its warm to hot days, and crisp, vibrant sunsets, April in SD is just beautiful.  It’s like a taste of summer months in advance.  I take every opportunity I can get to engage in backyard grilling, drink cocktails as the sun dips into the Pacific, and escape to the beaches on Coronado for an afternoon getaway.

Recently, I’ve been obsessed with making my own Carne Asada.  Spanish for “grilled meat,” Carne Asada is a traditional Mexican dish, and recipes can vary greatly from region to region.  After asking several of my Mexican friends and co-workers how their families prepare Carne Asada, I came up with my own method, using different parts from each family recipe.  Thin steaks are marinated in a flavorful bath of garlic, jalapeno, cilantro, spices, citrus, vinegar, olive oil and Mexican beer for 4 to 8 hours.  The marinated beef is then thrown onto a searing hot grill, and cooked until tender and smoky.  The finished meat is incredibly flavorful with a bold citrus punch.  Continue reading for the recipe.

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Rustic Gnocchi with Sage Brown Butter Sauce

Rustic Gnocchi

Tender potato dumplings flecked with bits of browned butter, red pepper confetti, Parmesan cheese and crispy fried sage leaves.  My Rustic Gnocchi with Sage Brown Butter Sauce is pure comfort food.

Growing up, I used to love to eat gnocchi tossed with melted butter and grated Parmesan.  The light, squishy texture is what I remember most.  Fueled by nostalgia, I’ve attempted to make gnocchi at home many times over the years.  Sometimes with fantastic results.  Other times, not so much.  The deceivingly simply ingredient list (potato, flour, egg, salt) may lead you to believe that this is an easy recipe.  But this is not an easy recipe.  Nor is it a hard one.  Mastering the art of gnocchi-making simply takes practice.  You may fail on your first attempt, but I urge you to keep trying.  It’s all worth it once you take that first bite of pillowy potato deliciousness.  Continue reading for the recipe.

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Top 10 Recipes from 2013

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Sandwiches

Before I dive into a fresh batch of recipes for 2014, I wanted to take a moment to share the most popular Kitchen Konfidence posts in 2013.  The list below is ranked based on view counts from Google Analytics.  I always love taking these delicious trips down memory lane :)  So many tasty moments.  Did your favorites make the Top 10?

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