Smoked Turkey + Garlic-Herb Dry Brine

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

Smoked Turkey Year 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.

Read More »

Beer Can Chicken

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

Half Beer Can Chicken Like 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.

Read More »

Grilled Dry-Aged Steak [Giveaway]

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

Grilled-Dry-Aged-Steak2 And 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.

Read More »

Parchment Roasted Potatoes

Jorge and I are in Charleston, South Carolina right now!!  So I’m going to keep this short today.

Parchment Roasted Potatoes My recipe for Parchment Roasted Potatoes is super easy and super tasty.  Petite fingerling potatoes are tossed with whole garlic cloves, rich olive oil, kosher salt, black pepper, and several sprigs of rosemary, thyme and sage.  This flavorful mix is then wrapped up in a parchment packet, and roasted until tender, creamy and just golden.  Roasting potatoes in parchment locks in the aromas of the garlic and herbs, infusing more flavor into the small spuds.  The dish is finished with a fresh scattering of chopped flat leaf parsley.

I first made these potatoes back in 2012, and I’ve been making them at least once a month ever since.  On a busy weeknight, I can prep the parchment packet by the time the oven preheats.  I can prepare the rest of the meal while the potatoes cook.  So simple!  Continue reading for the recipe.

Read More »

Beet and Turnip Gratin

Beets and turnips for Valentine’s Day?  Who would have thought?

Beet and Turnip Gratin To be honest, not me.  I had originally tested this recipe out as a new side dish for my Thanksgiving extravaganza.  It didn’t make the cut, because I already had so many other side dishes in the works, and there wasn’t enough space in the oven to prepare this blushing beauty.

My Beet and Turnip Gratin sat dormant in my photo archives until this past weekend when I was menu planning for Valentine’s Day.  Sitting at my computer struggling to find a VDay side dish, I suddenly remembered.  A vibrant mix of red, pink and yellow, this Beet and Turnip Gratin is equally tasty and beautiful.  Rich and earthy, the gratin is made with a variety of beets, turnips, shallots, garlic, thyme and chicken stock.  The skillet cooks covered until the vegetables start to soften, then uncovered until the top is just crisp and golden.  Finished with a flurry of chopped chive, my Beet and Turnip Gratin would pair nicely with beef, chicken, pork or fish.  Continue reading for the recipe.

Read More »

Zinfandel Short Ribs with Goat Cheese Polenta and Mixed Herb Gremolata

Zinfandel Short Ribs Can you even believe that Christmas is just 3 days away?  Where did the Holiday season go?  Well, I’ve managed to get most of my gift shopping done; however, I have yet to bake a single cookie or prepare any edible gifts for my coworkers.  AND I’m just finishing up all of my cards today.  Luckily they say “Happy Holidays”, so they are still relevant if they show up some time between Christmas and New Years ;).  I know you’re probably thinking: #firstworldproblems, but I have certain traditions I like to do each year, and it makes me a little sad if I don’t get to all of them.

This year, Jorge and I will be going up to LA on Christmas Eve to have dinner with his family, and then we’ll be driving back to SD on Christmas day.  Christmas dinner will be for just the two us.  Even though I’m not hosting a blowout party (like Thanksgiving), I still want to make our Christmas dinner special.

It’s during times like these when I need to prepare a standout meal with minimal effort, that I’m glad I have this Zinfandel Short Ribs recipe in my back pocket.  Zinfandel Short Ribs are fairly easy to prepare, the ingredients aren’t fussy, and the beef can be cooked a day in advance.  Goat Cheese Polenta and Mixed Herb Gremolata, the all-star accompaniments, come together easily an hour before dinner.  And really, who doesn’t love a good braised short rib?  Continue reading for the recipe.

Read More »

Roasted Garlic Oil

Roasted Garlic Oil

I’ve got a quick and easy recipe for you today:  Roasted Garlic Oil.  I started making garlic oil several years ago after watching a number of Nigella Express episodes.  That’s the series where she starts every. single. savory recipe with garlic oil and scissor-snipped scallion.  Although this seemingly forced simplicity bothered me at first (I don’t mind chopping garlic and onions), I decided to give garlic oil a try, because hey, I love the Nigella.  I mean really.  I could watch her all day long.

My garlic oil experimentation had simple beginnings.  Simmer some garlic in olive oil for a short time, steep, strain, done!  Over the years, I’ve tweaked my process, amping up the flavor with toasted black peppercorns and fresh thyme.  I also upped the cooking time and temperature to avoid that whole botulism thing.  The resulting Roasted Garlic Oil is incredibly fragrant and flavorful.

If a recipe calls for chopped/minced garlic, I still like to use chopped/minced garlic.  This infused oil comes in handy when my time is short, and I am looking to add a subtle garlic flavor to my recipe.  For example, I’ll often use this Roasted Garlic Oil when I’m cooking eggs in the morning.  Even I couldn’t imagine chopping garlic at 6am.  I also like to use this oil in a vinaigrette quickly shaken up before work.  Add 2 tablespoons Roasted Garlic Oil to a jar with a scant tablespoon of sherry vinegar, a dab of Dijon, 2 pinches of salt and lots of black pepper.  Cap, shake, done.  But really, you could use this oil in any way you’d like.  So simple.  So versatile.  Continue reading for the recipe (plus an animated gif!).

Read More »

Caramelized Garlic Tart

Caramelized 40 Clove Garlic Tart

A golden round of puff pastry is filled with a tangy goat cheese custard and 40 cloves of garlic caramelized in a mixture of balsamic vinegar, thyme and rosemary.  In other words, heaven.  Several weeks ago, I was on quite the tart binge, and too be honest, this one is my favorite.  Well, my favorite savory tart at least.

The filling for this tart is a bit involved, but you can certainly make the caramelized garlic mixture in advance.  You can actually make this entire tart in advance and rewarm when needed.  Packed with bold flavor, this Caramelized Garlic Tart would fit perfectly in any brunch spread, or could be eaten for dinner with a light, acidic salad.  If you love garlic as much as I do, then you will surely go crazy for this tart.  So yum.  Continue reading for the recipe.

Read More »

Chicken Stock Recipe

Celery, Carrots, Dried Shiitakes, Onion and Garlic

Today I’m going to share illustrated step-by-step instructions on how to make the most amazing chicken stock you’ll ever have.  I decided to go into great detail with this recipe because it really is a game-changer.  I made the transition from canned stock to homemade last year and I’ll never turn back.  Use stock as a flavorful base to soups, sauces, risottos and grains (just to name a few).  If you start with a super tasty stock, your end result is almost guaranteed to be delicious.

A few notes about this recipe:  The amount of steps may seem a bit daunting, but really, the process breaks down into four easy techniques – prep, caramelize, simmer, strain.  Simply spend a few hours (mainly unattended) on a Sunday afternoon making this recipe and you’ll have flavorful stock at your fingertips for a month.  I should also mention that I don’t add salt to my stock.  I prefer to salt whatever the stock is going into.  Continue reading for a comprehensive guide to my homemade chicken stock.

Read More »

Brine Recipe

Brined Pork Chops

Do you know what I really hate?  Dry pork.  And dry chicken.  I always find it so disappointing when I slice into a beautifully golden piece of meat to find an abrasive assault of coarse saw dust.  I’m sure we’ve all been there.  So the question is, what’s a fool-proof way to prepare tender pork or chicken?  The answer… this brine :)  A brine is essentially a solution made of salt and water.  Meat is soaked in the brine for several hours allowing salt to penetrate throughout.  Brining both seasons the meat and causes it to absorb water, ensuring that the final result is both flavorful and juicy.

Made with kosher salt, onion, garlic, thyme, bay, lemon and black pepper, this Brine Recipe infuses some major flavor and moisture into any cut of pork, chicken or turkey.  Also, the process really couldn’t be easier.  Prepare the brine in under 15 minutes, let the meat soak for 2 to 3 hours, dry, rest, then cook any way you like (roast, fry, grill, saute).  Seriously give this a try.  It’s life changing.  Continue reading for the recipe.  Also, I’ve announced the winners of the Bella Sun Luci Sun-Dried Tomato prize packs giveaway.

Read More »