Thanksgiving Roast Turkey Recipe

shutterstock_224254705This is my absolute favorite recipe for a moist, delicious roast turkey. The key is brining and roasting. I think you’ll love it too.

Roast Turkey
From Chef John Ash

 

Brine

2 cups packed brown sugar

1 cup pure maple syrup

¾ cup coarse salt

3 whole heads garlic, cloves separated and bruised

6 large bay leaves

1 ½ cups coarsely chopped unpeeled fresh ginger

2 teaspoons dried red chili flakes

1 ½ cups soy sauce

3 quarts water

 

Turkey

12 to 14 pound dressed fresh turkey

3 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped

5 celery stalks, roughly chopped

2 potatoes, roughly chopped

2 oranges, quartered

4 lemons, quartered

3 cups canned or homemade turkey or chicken stock

 

Gravy

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

White wine or brandy

2 cups canned or homemade turkey or chicken stock

Fresh herbs, such as thyme, rosemary, basil, oregano, and sage

Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

 

Method:

 

Combine all brine ingredients in a large enamel or stainless steel stockpot that is large enough to hold the brine and the turkey. Bring to a simmer, then remove from the heat and allow to cool thoroughly. Rinse the turkey well; remove the neck and giblets and save for stock or discard.

Submerge the turkey in the cooled brine. Be sure there is enough brine to cover the bird. In not, add water to cover. Refrigerate for at least 2 days and up to 4. Turn the bird in the brine twice a day.

Remove the bird from the brine and pay dry. Lightly brush the bird with olive oil and set aside for at least an hour before roasting. Preheat the oven to 450-degrees. Set the turkey in a roasting pan fitted with a V-shaped rack. Throw the chopped vegetables and citrus in the cavity. Add the chicken or turkey stock to the pan. Slip a flavored butter up under the skin of the turkey if you want.

Cook the turkey for 20 minutes and then reduce the heat to 350-degrees. Roast for 21/2 to 3 hours. It’s done when juice from the thigh runs clear and an instant-read thermometer reads 165-degrees in the thickest part of the thigh, not touching the bone.

Remove from the oven. Lift the turkey out of the pan and loosely tent with foil to keep warm. Don’t wrap tightly or the skin will lose its crispness. Let the turkey rest at least 25 minutes before carving.

To make the gravy: Pour off all fat from the roasting pan, leaving the delicious browned bits in the bottom. Make a roux by whisking the butter in the roasting pan over moderate heat with the flour. Continue to whisk for a couple of minutes. Add a splash of white wine or brandy and scrape up the browned bits. Add the stock and any herbs you like and continue to whisk and simmer for a few more minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve the gravy along side the carved meat.

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My Favorite Tailgate Burger: Pimento Cheeseburgers

Pimento cheese on a burger? It's surprisingly great.

Pimento cheese on a burger? It’s surprisingly great.

With the return of football, fall is tail gating time. With a portable grill there are all kinds of possibilites. Here is one of my favorites based upon the “Pate of the South”, Pimento Cheese.

We think of pimento cheese as classically Southern but actually it probably has its roots in the north. One of my favorite food websites, Serious Eats, has a lively discussion of the history of pimento cheese here. So for your next tailgate (or any time) try one of my favorite burgers: Pimento Cheeseburgers.
Makes 6

You’ll have some pimento cheese left over unless you really pile it on your burger. Not a bad thing . It keeps nicely refrigerate for up to a week. Though its definitely not traditional, I often put a little sweet pickle relish in my pimento cheese.

1 pound grated sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup good-quality mayonnaise
One 7-ounce jar pimentos, drained and finely chopped
Big pinch of cayenne and drops of hot sauce to taste
2-1/2 pounds 80% lean ground chuck
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 hamburger buns, preferably onion flavored
Slices of tomato and iceberg lettuce leaves

In a medium bowl mix together the cheese, mayonnaise, and pimientos. If you need additional mayonnaise to make it creamy, add a little bit at a time. Season to taste with the cayenne and hot sauce.

Divide the ground beef into 6 equal portions and shape into patties about 3/4 inch thick. Remember to put a slight indentation into the center of each patty. Season both sides of the burgers liberally with salt and pepper.

Lightly oil the grill racks. Preheat your grill using all burners set on high and with the lid closed for 10 minutes. Place the burgers on the grill and lower the heat to medium. Grill for about 4 minutes. Turn the patties and continue grilling until they reach desired doneness, about 3 additional minutes for medium rare and 6 – 7 minutes for medium-well. During the last 2 minutes of cooking time, toast the buns, cut side down. At the last minute before taking the hamburgers off the grill, put a generous dollop of pimiento cheese on each burger. Take the buns from the grill and place on a platter. Place tomato slices and lettuce on each bun and top with a burger and the bun top. Enjoy immediately and don’t forget the wine!.
John Ash © 2014

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Can a GMO save our oceans?

Many of us have strong opinions about GMO’s (genetically modified organisms) and I confess I’ve been one that has been concerned about their development and use. But this article about a genetically modified yeast that can help save marine life is fascinating and provocative, and made me rethink my opposition to all GMO’s.

Let me know your opinion.

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The Best Grilled Cheese

Serves 4

I recently saw a recipe from Chef Gabrielle Hamilton of the famous Prune restaurant in Manhattan that reminded me of the same thing my Grandmother did many years ago.  The secret to the best and fastest grilled cheese you’ll ever have is:  Mayonnaise!  It won’t burn as easily as butter and the end result is crisp and delicious.  Try it with a chilled glass of your favorite white wine. You’ll be amazed!

 

8 1/2-inch thick slices of good rustic bread

1-1/2 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1/2 cup mayonnaise

8 ounces shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese

 

Brush 4 of the bread slices with mustard and top with the cheese.  Place the remaining 4 slices of bread on top and spread with half the mayonnaise.

Heat a large non -stick frying pan or griddle over medium heat until hot, about 3 minutes.  Place the sandwiches mayonnaise side down in the pan and cook until the bottoms are golden brown and the cheese is starting to melt, about 4 minutes.  Spread the remaining half of the mayonnaise on top of the sandwiches, turn over and cook until the second sides are golden brown and the cheese completely melted, another 4 minutes or so.  You may have to do this in batches.  If so heat your oven to 275 degrees and place cooked sandwiches in the oven to keep warm while you finish the rest.

Let the sandwiches cool for a minute or two before cutting in half.

 

John Ash © 2014

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Perfect Burgers for Father’s Day

Grilling hamburgers is the best way to cook them in my opinion.

Grilling hamburgers is the best way to cook them in my opinion.

In recent years burgers have moved up from just being fast food faire to ultra chic and hip with top chefs creating all kinds of exotically flavored and constructed burgers including using outrageously expensive Kobe or Wagyu beef, stuffing them with Foie gras, wild mushrooms, truffles, the meat from braised short ribs or beef cheeks and more. I confess I’m one who likes mine in a simpler vein.

First we should probably define what a Burger or Hamburger is and where they came from. It all begin with a little history. According to Alan Davidson in his wonderful encyclopedic book The Oxford Companion to Food (Oxford University Press 1999), the word “hamburger” has a relatively short history and first showed up in print around 1890. Cooked, flavored patties of meat however date a long way back and appear in many cuisines. It’s thought that the port of Hamburg in Germany and its Hamburg Steak, enjoyed by sailors there who introduced it to others in their travels, is probably the birth place for burgers as we know them today. Their fate was sealed when”hamburgers” served in a bun were introduced at the St. Louis World Fair of 1904 and the rest is history as they say!

Here are some of my tips for making a great burger.

6 Secrets for a Great Grilled Beef Burger

1. The right meat and fat content is critical. I prefer ground sirloin or chuck with 15 to 20 % fat. The old axiom “fat is flavor” really applies here and fat is also what keeps the meat juicy. More fat however doesn’t necessarily make it better. I’ve tried burgers made with 25 and 30% fat and though delicious and juicy, at the end they left a greasy mouth feel. Ideally meat should be freshly ground and if you have a store with a kind butcher ask him or her to do that for you. Alternately you can grind your own.

2. Mix in whatever seasonings you are using very gently. Like pie dough, the more you handle the meat the tougher your burger. Loosely mix to incorporate seasonings and the gently but firmly form the patties. Wetting your hands will help too to prevent them from getting sticky and helps the meat to come together faster.

3. Make patties a little thinner in the center. I shoot for something like 1 inch on the edges and about 3/4 inch in the center. As the meat shrinks during cooking they’ll even out and the meat also will cook more evenly.

4. Keep the patties cold until you are ready to grill them. This keeps the fat firm and helps it stay in the meat adding flavor and juice which is what we are aiming for.

5. Cook on relatively high heat. Obviously make sure your grill is hot, clean and well oiled to prevent the burgers from sticking. Remember too that the hood is your friend. Open the vents so that the fire stays hot but put the lid on while cooking. This provides an even heat and takes advantage of the convection of the heat rising and circulating around the meat. Note: I’m in favor of grilling as opposed to cooking beef burgers in a pan. If you don’t want to fire up your grill however, a ridged grill pan on your stove top is an acceptable alternative.

6. Turn the burgers just once. Resist the temptation to constantly turn them. The more you turn the more you are likely to toughen and dry out the meat. Also if you turn too soon the burgers are more likely to stick to the grill. Never press on the burgers while they are cooking. The juices you squeeze out are where the flavor and moisture is.

Enjoy!

 

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Food and Love and Oysters on the Half Shell

CU- oysters on the half shellFood and Love:  The two seem to have always been connected in an intimate dance of the senses.  Do you ever think about it and wonder why the two are so intertwined?  For many of us, the most memorable (and sensuous) times of our lives have often been around food and wine.  Friends, lovers and the dining table are all folded in together like some great soufflé.

For all of recorded history, claims have been made that certain foods increase sexual potency and desire.  I’ve never found a complete listing of these, but there must be hundreds.  The Chinese tout shark fin and birds nest (real ones) soups.  The Scottish swear by haggis, a mixture of minced sheep innards mixed with oatmeal and spices and then stuffed into a sheep’s stomach and boiled for 4 hours (Scots obviously have a different sense of sensuality!).  The Aztecs include cocoa and chocolate (which interestingly were forbidden to their women), The Greeks revered pine nuts according to Ovid, Pliny mentioned hippopotamus snout and hyena eyes and every culture seems to have used oysters.  Additionally, caviar, snails and the eggs, glands and genitals of all kinds of birds, animals and fish are said to provide special powers.  Even prunes were so highly regarded as an aphrodisiac in Elizabethan times that they were freely served in brothels. Wine of course has always been included in the mix.

In the garden, apples, asparagus, figs, bananas, cucumbers, leeks, peppers, tomatoes, avocadoes have all been attributed with special sexual potentials at one time or another.  The obvious connection being that many of them resemble human genitalia.  Herbs and edible flowers including roses, lavender, catnip, passion flower, saffron, savory and ginseng root have been celebrated for their special powers.

Anthropologist Peter Farb observed that the association between food and sex has existed since man started walking upright.  Eating brings couples into close proximity in a situation that does not call for defensive tactics.  When you think about it, eating can bind a couple more effectively than sex simply because people eat more often and predictably than they have sexual relations.

M.F.K. Fisher notes in her wonderful little book An Alphabet for Gourmets that gastronomy has always been connected with its sister art of love.  Passion and sex is the “come-and-go, the preening and the prancing, the final triumph or defeat, of two people who know enough, subconsciously or not, to woo with food as well as flattery”.

Here is a recipe for one of the most famous aphrodisiacs– oysters!  Enjoy them with someone special.  For Valentine’s Day, or any other romantic occasion.

Oysters on the Half Shell

Oysters can be little intimidating to open an oyster but there are all kinds of videos on the web to make the task easy. Classically oysters are served raw on the half shell with a little mignonette sauce which refers in French to “black pepper”. I’ve also included below a delicious alternative concocted by the folks at Hog Island Oyster Company on Tomales Bay in Northern California, my favorite source for oysters. Place the oysters on a bed of coarse salt or crushed ice to keep them from tipping and losing their delicious liquor. This is delicious with 2011 Sonoma Cutrer Russian River Ranches Chardonnay.

Classic French Mignonette
2/3 cup good quality champagne or white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons peeled and finely diced shallot
2 teaspoons or more fresh cracked black pepper

Combine ingredients in a glass or stainless bowl, cover and refrigerate for at least an hour before serving. Will keep for several days in the refrigerator.

Hog Wash
(Adapted from Hog Island Oyster Company)

1/2 cup natural rice vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon peeled and finely diced shallot
2 teaspoons seeded and finely diced Jalapeno pepper, or to taste
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro

Stir first 5 ingredients together until sugar dissolves. Stir in cilantro just before serving.

 

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Korean Fried Chicken Wings

Korean Chicken Wings- Chef John Ash- Culinary Birds

Try this twist on an American Classic for the Super Bowl, or for any other party!

According to the National Chicken Council, Americans will consume 1.25 billion chicken wings during this year’s Super Bowl! Chicken wings became a staple in America in 1964 at the Anchor Bar in Buffalo, New York. The story goes that a group of friends arrived at the bar late one evening and the only food the owner, Teresa Bellissimo, could find were the chicken wings, which were usually used to makes stock. She grabbed them, deep fried them, and whipped up a spicy sauce to coat them, and a legend was born.

What are they? They are unbreaded wings deep fried until the skin is crispy, then tossed with a simple sauce of butter or margarine, hot pepper sauce, and vinegar. Sometimes a little garlic powder, celery salt, and other spices are added. According to Buffalo residents, they are always served with carrot and celery stikcs, a blue cheese dressing, and, of course, a cold beer to cool the hot sauce and chase it all down.

Here is a recipe for a fun twist on this American classic. Korean Fried Chicken Wings use gojujang, a chili paste that is indispensable in the Korean kitchen. It is made by combining red chili peppers, glutinous rice powder, and soybean paste. Note that in this recipe, I fry the wings twice for a nice, crispy texture. This recipe is also published in my latest cookbook, Culinary Birds.

Korean Fried Chicken Wings
Canola or other vegetable oil for frying
3 tablespoons pressed, fresh garlic
2 ½ -inch piece of ginger, peeled and finely minced
5 tablespoons soy sauce
6 tablespoons gojujang
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 ½ tablespoons toasted sesame oil
¼ cup honey
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/3 cup rice flour
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup cornstarch
16 chicken wings, tips removed and saved for stock (about 1 ¾ pounds)
¼ cup green onions, sliced on the bias

Heat 2 inches of canola oil in a 5-quart pot over medium-high heat until a deep-fry thermometer registers 360 degrees.
Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, make a gojujang sauce. Combine the garlic, ginger, soy sauce, gojujang, vinegar, sesame oil, honey and lime juice. Bring to a simmer over moderate heat and adjust the seasonings to taste. Keep warm.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flours and cornstarch. Add 1 cup of water and stir to combine. Add the chicken and turn several times to coat thoroughly. Working in batches, fry the chicken in the hot oil until golden, 6 to 8 minutes. Drain on paper towels. Return the oil to 350 degrees. Fry the chicken until extra crisp, 6 to 8 minutes more. Drain again. Toss the chicken in with the sauce, top with green onions, and serve hot.

 

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CHUTNEY RECIPES

 

Chutney is a condiment we often associate with Indian cuisine. But this condiment has now gone global and offers a punch of flavor that pairs so well with roasted and smoked meats, adds a new dimension to a cheese and charcuterie platter, and sweeter versions can be spread onto a bagel or French toast.

Here are some of my favorite chutney recipes. Give them a try and let me know what you think!

BLUEBERRY RED WINE CHUTNEY
Makes about 1-1/2 cups

This interesting chutney is great with roasted pork, lamb and game meats such as venison. It’s also delicious on French toast, waffles and as an accompaniment to cheeses such as aged cheddars and a topper for good cream cheese on a toasted bagel! If possible try to find wild blueberries or huckleberries. They are much smaller, have a better texture and lots more flavor. In my market I find a great IQF wild blueberry from Jasper Wyman & Son in Maine, www.wymans.com.

2 ½ cups hearty red wine

2/3 cup sugar

1 whole cinnamon stick, broken into 3 or 4 pieces

2 one x two-inch strips of orange zest

1/2 cup fresh orange juice

2 teaspoons dried lavender flowers

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

12 ounces wild blueberries, fresh or frozen (3 cups)

Add the first 7 ingredients to a deep saucepan, bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer partially covered for 15 minutes. Strain and discard spices, return to pan along with blueberries and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 3 minutes or so being careful to preserve the whole berry shape.

Strain and place blueberries in an attractive jar with a lid. Return juices to pan and over high heat reduce liquid to about 3/4 cup (12 minutes or so). Pour reduced syrup over blueberries, cool and cover. Store in refrigerator for up to 8 weeks.

 

FIG LIME CHUTNEY
Makes about 2 cups

This is a simple chutney with amazing flavor. It’s wonderful as an accompaniment to cheeses and I often use it to stuff a pork loin roast. Try adding some toasted chopped walnuts or hazelnuts too. I also use the same approach to make a smooth jam to make the best fig newtons you’ve ever had (and also to spread on toast or bagels, etc.). Just leave out the ginger, shallots and chile and puree it instead of leaving it chunky.

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 tablespoons finely chopped, peeled ginger

1/4 cup finely chopped shallots

Big pinch red chile flakes

3/4 pound dried calmyrna figs, cut in large dice

3/4 cup white wine

1/3 cup sugar, or to taste

3/4 cup port or sweet marsala wine

1/3 cup fresh lime juice (from 3 large limes)

In a sauce pan heat the oil over moderate heat and sauté the ginger, shallots and chile until soft but not brown. Add the rest of the ingredients and continue to cook and gently stir until mixture is thick but figs still retain their shape, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and cool. Store covered in refrigerator for up to a month or for long term storage can using the water-bath process.

 

FRESH CRANBERRY RELISH WITH TANGERINE AND MINT
Makes about 3 cups

This fresh, uncooked relish is excellent with roast turkey and also ham, pork, and game. Try it with smoked meats and sausages too!

12 ounces (3 heaping cups) fresh or frozen cranberries

2 unpeeled mandarins or tangerines, scrubbed

1/4 cup lightly packed fresh mint leaves

1-1/4 cups sugar, or to taste

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 – 2 tablespoons Grand Marnier or other orange liqueur

1/2 cup chopped, lightly toasted walnuts (optional)

Wash and pick over the cranberries. Cut the tangerines into eighths, peel and all, and remove and discard any seeds. Place all of the ingredients (except walnuts) in a food processor and chop relatively finely in short bursts. Be careful not to over process, you still want some texture. Taste for sweetness and add more sugar if desired. Stir in walnuts just before serving, if using. Store covered in refrigerator for up to 5 days. Can also be frozen.

 

FRESH GREEN CHUTNEY
Makes 3/4 cup

Great with grilled lamb and chicken and as a topping for rice crackers or crispy Indian pappadam.

1 (1-inch) piece peeled fresh ginger
3 scallions (white and green parts), cut into large pieces
1 cup packed fresh mint (leaves and some stems)
1 cup packed fresh cilantro (leaves and some stems)
1/4 cup plain yogurt
1 jalapeno, stemmed (ribs and seeds removed if you don’t want it too hot)
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 to 2 tablespoons water, optional

With the machine running, drop ginger into the bowl of a food processor and process until coarsely chopped. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, and then add scallions, mint, cilantro, yogurt, jalapeno, lime juice, and salt. Process to a textured paste similar in consistency to pesto, adding water to adjust the consistency, if desired.

 

FRESH PEACH CHUTNEY
Makes a generous 2 cups

1/2 cup cider vinegar

1/2 cup dry white wine

1/2 cup loosely packed brown sugar

1/2 cup sweet red pepper, seeded, diced 1/4 inch

1/2 white onion, peeled and diced, about 1/2 cup

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste

1/3 cup golden raisins

1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic

2 tablespoons finely chopped ginger

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 pounds firm, fresh peaches, blanched to remove the skin, pit removed, and cut into 1/2 inch dice
Put the vinegar and sugar into a non-reactive pot, place over medium heat and bring to a boil. Add the red pepper, onion, red pepper flakes, raisins, garlic, ginger, salt and simmer for 6 minutes or so. Add the peaches and simmer an additional 5 minutes or until softened but not mushy. Drain peaches, set aside and return liquid to the pan. Reduce over high heat until syrupy, 3 – 5 minutes.

Remove from the heat, add peaches back in and allow to cool for 10 minutes in the pot. Serve at room temperature. Transfer any remaining to a clean container and refrigerate, covered, for up to one week.

 

MANGO PICKLES
Makes 1 quart

This is a delicious condiment for grilled meats and fishes or as an accompaniment to rice and curry dishes. Try a little mango pickle with a smoked cheddar cheese, it’s delicious! The same approach works well with other fruits such as firm ripe peaches, plums or fuyu persimmons.

3/4 cup sugar

3/4 cup white wine vinegar

3/4 cup water

1/4 pound peeled, whole shallots (cut in half lengthwise if large)

2 small red serrano or jalapeno chilies, cut in half and seeded

8 quarter size slices of fresh peeled ginger

1 teaspoon whole coriander seed

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 large firm ripe mangoes (2 pounds)

In a small non-reactive saucepan, dissolve the sugar, vinegar and water over moderate heat. Add the shallots, chilies, ginger, coriander seed and salt and simmer partially covered for 7-8 minutes or until shallots are just tender.

Meanwhile, peel and cut mangoes into large 1 inch cubes, discarding the seed. Place fruit in a clean, sterilized 1 quart jar and pour the vinegar mixture over.

Cover and refrigerate up to 1 month.

 

MISO WALNUT CHUTNEY
Makes about 1 cup

This is a simple little condiment that I first had in Japan. It was served it a fresh cucumber “boat” with chilled sake. Delicious!

1/2 cup miso (white if you like it milder, red if you like it stronger)

1/4 cup mirin

2 tablespoons sugar

3 tablespoons sake

2/3 cup toasted walnuts, finely chopped

Hot pepper sesame oil

In a small saucepan combine the miso, mirin, sugar and sake and cook over low heat for 3 – 4 minutes stirring constantly to dissolve the sugar and drive the alcohol off the mirin and sake. Remove from heat and stir in the walnuts and drops of hot pepper sesame oil to taste (about 1/4 teaspoon or so).

To serve with cucumber: Split an English or Armenian cucumber in half and scoop out the seeds with the point of a teaspoon. Cut into 2 inch sections and spoon a little of the chutney into each. Top with a walnut piece or half, if desired.

 

OLIVE CHUTNEY
Makes about 1-1/2 cups

This brings together 3 of the basic flavors: salt, sweet and sour in an interesting way. We don’t usually thing of olives in a sweet environment but like any other black fruit they can be interesting. I’m using oil cured olives here which can vary widely in terms of their saltiness. You’ll want to taste and decide how salty you might like the end product. In the recipe below I’m doing a preliminary blanch of the olives to help remove salt. You may need to do it twice or even three times if the olives are especially salty. One of my favorite accompaniments for the cheese plate.

3/4 pound oil cured olives (generous 2 cups)

1 cup brown sugar

2/3 cup dry white wine

2 tablespoons honey

2 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest (use a microplane)

2 teaspoons finely minced fresh rosemary

Lemon juice to taste

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

With the flat side of a cook’s knife gently smash the olives and remove and discard pits. Cut olive in half and add to a small sauce pan and cover with water. Bring to a boil then drain. Return olives to pan along with brown sugar, wine and honey and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Uncover and cook over moderate heat until mixture thickens. Stir in zest, rosemary, drops of lemon juice and black pepper to taste. Cool, cover and stored refrigerated for up to one month.

 

PINEAPPLE ALMOND CHUTNEY
Makes about 1 quart

This is my favorite chutney to serve with baked ham. Like most other chutneys it needs to sit for a few days for the flavors to blend and mellow. It will keep in the refrigerator up to 6 months or can be water bath canned (10 minutes) and stored at room temperature for up to a year.

1 large pineapple (4-1/2 pounds or so)

1/3 cup candied ginger, coarsely chopped

3/4 cup cider vinegar

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 large bay leaf

1 2-inch piece cinnamon stick

2 teaspoons mustard seeds, preferably black

2 teaspoons coriander seed

1/2 teaspoon each whole allspice and cumin seed

1 teaspoon each fennel seed and whole black peppercorns

1/3 cup raisins

1 – ¼ cups blanched slivered almonds

2 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest

Peel, core and cut the pineapple into 1/2-inch cubes. Mix the pineapple, ginger, vinegar, sugar, salt, red pepper, bay leaf, cinnamon stick and mustard seeds together in a large non-aluminum saucepan. With a small piece of well-rinsed cheesecloth, tie the coriander, allspice, cumin, fennel, and black peppercorns together and add to the rest of the ingredients.

Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer uncovered, stirring often, for 25 – 30 minutes until fruit has softened but still retains its shape. Stir in the raisins and almonds and continue to cook for another 5 minutes or so. Off heat, stir in zest. Cool, remove and discard the spice bag, bay leaf and cinnamon stick. Cover and refrigerate for up to a month. Return to room temperature when serving.

 

WINTER FRUIT CHUTNEY
Makes about 1 quart

This chutney is a delicious accompaniment to smoked and roasted meats and poultry dishes and as an accompaniment to cheese.

1- 750ml bottle of dry white wine such as Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay

3/4 cup sugar

3 whole star anise

2 bay leaves

1 tablespoon coriander seed, slightly crushed

1 tablespoon black peppercorns, slightly crushed

1 cup raisins (preferably golden, unbleached)

3/4 pound assorted dried fruits such as apricots, cherries, mangoes and/or figs coarsely chopped

3 tablespoons minced candied ginger

1 large tart fresh apple, peeled, cored and cut into 1 inch chunks

3 tablespoons fresh lime or lemon juice

Add wine, sugar and spices to a non-aluminum pan and simmer uncovered over moderate heat for 10 minutes. Off heat and let it cool. Strain discarding spices. You should have about 2-1/2 cups strained liquid. Return liquid to pan and add raisins, dried fruits and candied ginger and simmer covered for 5 minutes. Add the fresh apples and simmer gently until they are just tender, about 3 minutes. Off heat and cool. Stir in lime juice.

Store covered in the refrigerator for several weeks. Serve at room temperature for best flavor.

John Ash © 2013

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My Latest Cookbook: Culinary Birds

CulinaryBirds- cover 2-11-13It’s here! My latest cookbook project has been released just in time for the holidays!

For more than 7,000 years, poultry has been a mainstay of the human diet. It is the most consumed animal protein around the world and there are endless, delicious ways to prepare poultry. Culinary Birds explores a number of traditions including staples of the American table such as the many variations of roast turkey, and just about everyone’s favorite-fried chicken!

Even other countries have their delicious versions of fried chicken. Below I have included a recipe from Culinary Birds that offers a Japanese twist on this beloved dish.  Culinary Birds is available on Amazon.com and at bookstores throughout the country. I hope you’ll pick up a copy and ask me to sign it at one of the many events I have planned in the next few months. I’d love to meet you!

JAPANESE FRIED CHICKEN
Serves 4

Known as Kara-age this is a classic nibble sold all over Japan and especially at Izakayas, the Japanese bars that dot Tokyo’s nighttime foodscape. Instead of the thick flour based batters that have come from America, this chicken is traditionally marinated, dusted with potato starch and then beautifully and crisply fried. Its got everything you’d want in a bar snack: crispy, juicy, and salty.

1 pound boneless skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of excess fat
3 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoon mirin

1 tablespoon sake (optional)
2 cloves garlic, finely minced or pressed through garlic press
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger

Vegetable oil for frying
3/4 cup potato or corn starch
Kosher or sea salt
1 lemon, cut into wedges

Cut the chicken into 2-inch pieces. Combine the soy sauce, mirin, sake, garlic, and ginger in a small bowl, add the chicken and gently stir to coat the chicken. Marinate refrigerated for 30 minutes or so.

Add vegetable oil to a heavy, deep skillet to a depth of 1 inch or so. Heat to 360 degrees. Remove chicken from the marinade and dredge them in the potato starch, shaking to remove excess. Add chicken pieces in batches if necessary to the hot oil and cook turning occasionally until brown and crisp, about 5 minutes. Drain chicken pieces on paper towels and season immediately with salt. Serve with lemon wedges to squeeze over.

 

 

 

 

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Beef Tagliata- A Recipe to Remember

Beef Tagliata- a recipe to remember!  Ed Aiona/Chef John Ash

Beef Tagliata- a recipe to remember! Photo Credit: Ed Aiona/Chef John Ash

One of my favorite things about food and cooking is the way it forms a connection with all of us. The communal enjoyment of tastes and flavors while sharing it with friends can be a lasting memory.

Case in point, a few years ago while participating in a cooking demo and chef discussion at Epcot Center in Orlando, I met Bill Orben, who was a writer for the Orlando Business Journal at the time. The recipe I made that day was a Grilled Beef Tagliata, and Bill says it has become a family favorite in his house.

“With some tweaks of my own, (I left out the capers because my family is not a really big fan), it is one of those dishes we likely will fix at least once a month.

My son, who was 22 at the time, attended the event at Epcot with me, and it has become a favorite in his household as well. Although he calls me each time he prepares it, asking me how long he should leave the balsamic vinegar on the stove to reduce.

The dish, served with a simple side of roasted new potatoes, is enjoyed by anyone I serve it to. I’ve cooked it at my home in Kissimmee, Fla., at my sister-in-law’s in Chattanooga, Tenn., with friends in Austin, Texas, and at a beach condo in Cape Canaveral, Fla.

I have thought about the experience of cooking with you and recently came across your card and the original recipe and thought I would send you a note to let you know how much your dish is appreciated. When me and my son get together and jointly prepare the dish, we both think back to those memories of cooking with you.”

I was really touched by this thoughtful letter, and really happy to know that recipe has become a staple for Bill Orben and his family. It is one I love too. Here is a copy of the recipe, in case you’d like to try it for your family.

GRILLED BEEF TAGLIATA WITH ROSEMARY, CAPERS AND LEMONS
Serves 6

This is one of those very simple dishes that epitomizes the best of Italian cooking to my mind – - perfectly grilled meat, spicy greens all bathed in a fragrant flavorful oil. Like all Italian recipes there are infinite variations. Tagliata comes from the Italian tagliare, which means “carved” or “cut”. It’s a technique in which the meat is cut into thin slices which produces a lot more surface area to drizzle on seasoned oils or condiments. The cheese is an important component in the overall flavor and texture of the dish.

2/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons fragrant extra virgin olive oil
6 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary leaves
2 teaspoons cracked black pepper
1 ½ pounds New York strip steak or sirloin, about 2 inches thick, excess fat removed
Salt & freshly ground black pepper
6 cups lightly packed tender young arugula
Reduced Balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons Fried capers
Lemon wedges

Prepare a charcoal fire or preheat a gas or stovetop grill. In a small saucepan over low heat, cook 2/3 cup of the olive oil and the garlic until the garlic is lightly browned and beginning to crisp. Take the pan off the heat, stir in the rosemary and cracked pepper. Set aside and keep warm.

Rub the steak liberally with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and season liberally with the salt and pepper. Grill the steak over high heat until rare to medium rare. (If you do this on a stovetop with a ridged grill pan, you’ll need plenty of ventilation!). Transfer the steak to a cutting board and let it rest for 5 minutes or so. This allows the juices to “retreat” back into the meat and redistribute themselves.

Spread the arugula on a serving platter. Slice the steak thinly across the grain. Arrange the meat on top of the arugula and pour the warm seasoned oil over the meat. Drizzle with Reduced Balsamic Vinegar and scatter Fried Capers over all. Serve with lemon wedges.

Reduced Balsamic Vinegar
Here it is, the moment you’ve all been waiting for and a useful restaurant trick well worth knowing. Boil some balsamic vinegar, uncovered, over high heat, until it is reduced by a little more than half—say 60 percent. As it cools, it will thicken into a syrup that can be drizzled over all manner of things. Its advantage over straight-out-of-the-bottle balsamic is that in this state, it “stays put.” It can be stored at room temperature almost indefinitely.

Fried Capers
When capers are fried, they take on a different flavor and texture that I really like. Drain the capers well, pat dry with paper towels, and then fry them in small batches in about ¼ inch of hot olive oil until the buds begin to open and are lightly browned and crisp. Drain on paper towels. Can be done a few hours in advance.

 

 

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