Grilling My Free Turkey From Winn Dixie

I walked in my local Winn-Dixie and saw a great offer: Now through 11/21/18 you get a free Thanksgiving turkey when you get a no cost flu shot. As I had been planning to get a vaccine anyway, I headed over to the pharmacist and got a jab and my coupon. Because my health insurance covers annual flu vaccines, I walked out with a 10lb bird for absolutely no cost.

I decided to cook it on the grill. The only way I was going to fit the bird on my Weber was if I spatchcocked it first. A bonus for cutting out the backbone and pressing it flat it it cut down the cooking time. By putting the legs closest to the coals, it also makes sure the white meat and dark meat reach 165 degrees F at the close to the same time.

I cut the backbone and wings off and added them and the neck to a pot with 3 quarts of water, a quartered onion, 3 stalks of celery and 2 carrots, broken in half. After about two hours of simmering, I strained out the solids and had around two quarts stock, perfect for making gravy.

I took a picture at an hour and then forgot to take another. Trust me, it looked prettier in person when done and tasted marvelous – juicy and flavorful.

Grilled Spatchcocked Turkey

1 10-12lb turkey
1 stick butter, softened
2 teaspoons dried rosemary
2 teaspoons dried thyme
2 teaspoons rubbed sage
1 teaspoon coarse salt
salt and pepper to taste

To spatchcock the turkey, use poultry shears to cut out the backbone. Flip the bird over and press down to snap the breastbone. Set aside the backbone and neck (and I also cut off the wings, as they tend to get dry and burn) to make a stock.

Mix half the herbs with the softened butter. Divide butter mixture in half. Gently lift the skin up and work half the butter over each breast. Massage it around for good coverage. Sprinkle both sides of the turkey with remaining herb mixture. Place the bird in the refrigerator, breast side down overnight to dry out the skin.

Pull the turkey out of the refrigerator about an hour before ready to grill. Coat with olive oil.

Build an indirect fire and place a wood chunk on the coals to smoke. Place a drip pan on the cool side and replace the grill. Set the turkey on the grill, bone side down and with legs closest to the coals. Grill for 60-90 minutes depending on the weight of the bird. Safe temperature is 165 degrees F. If you check it and find any parts getting too brown, cover those areas with aluminum foil.

Once turkey has been grilled to golden perfection, remove to a carving board and tent with foil. Let rest at least 15 minutes and as long as thirty while you make the gravy.

You need two cups of liquid for the gravy. I usually pour about 1/2 cup of stock in the pan with the drippings and use that to help loosen all the brown bits. I pour it in a two cup measuring cup and skim off the fat. I then fill the rest of the measuring cup with stock.

Turkey Gravy

1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick)
1/4 cup all purpose flour
Pan drippings and stock to make two cups
salt and pepper to taste

Melt butter in a large heavy skillet. Whisk in the flour and stir until well coated. Keep stirring until lightly brown and the flour taste has been cooked out, about 5 minutes.

Slowly whisk in the liquid, adding only small amounts in at a time and stirring until incorporated and lump free. Once all the liquid is added, continue to stir and cook until bubbly. Reduce heat to low. Let thicken and then begin to season.

Should you get it too salty, you can add more stock, stir well and let thicken again. This is why I recommend not seasoning until the gravy has thickened.

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Sticky Sesame Drumsticks From the Slow Cooker

I bought a 10 pound bag of leg quarters and butchered the contents – grilling the thighs and setting the drumsticks aside for dinner during the week. I decided to use the slow cooker so it would cook while I’m at work. When I came home, I just had a few more things to do (make rice, thicken sauce, etc) to get it on the table. Further, the slow cooker gave time for the connective tissue in the drumstick to melt away to make for falling off the bone, tender meat.

It took me a few times to get this recipe ready for posting – I originally left the skin on and it came out rubbery, even after I put it under the broiler. This version delivers tender, well flavored chicken that is reminiscent of take-away, sesame chicken.

Because I was using the chicken from a 10lb bag, I doubled the marinade (but not the sauce) to ensure plenty of flavor. If you’re using less than 10 drumsticks, just use the recipe as written below.

Don’t worry if you have leftovers – it makes really terrific chicken salad!

Sticky Sesame Drumsticks

4-6 drumsticks

Marinade:
1/4 cup honey
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon sesame oil

Cooking Sauce:
1/4 cup honey
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
1 teaspoon Sriracha chili sauce, optional

Whisk together the honey, soy sauce, garlic and oil. Remove the skin from the drumsticks and place them in a zip top bag and add the marinade. Massage the marinade into the meat and place in the refrigerator overnight.

Place the chicken drumsticks in the slow cooker and discard the marinade. Combine all the cooking sauce ingredients together and pour over the drumsticks. Set the slow cooker on low for 3 to 5 hours or until chicken is cooked to 165 degrees F. If you’re around, about midway through cooking, turn the chicken to coat with more sauce.

When the chicken is done, pour the sauce into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Simmer until thickened. Baste chicken and serve the remaining sauce at the table.

I served this with white rice and a spinach salad with grated carrots.

Asian inspired Spinach Salad Dressing

3 tablespoons minced onions
3 tablespoons neutral vegetable oil
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar (use white vinegar if you don’t have rice wine vinegar)
2 tablespoons finely grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoon ketchup
1 tablespoon light soy sauce (if you don’t have light, omit the salt later in the recipe)
1 clove garlic, minced
1⁄4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper

Whirl everything together in a blender at least four hours (and up to 5 days) before using for the flavors to meld together. Pour over baby spinach leaves and grated carrot and toss. Store any remaining in an airtight container.

Thanks to my guinea pigs, Michelle, Charlotte, Linda and Robert, for coming over and helping me refine this recipe and eat all the food!

Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole

I like chicken Cordon Bleu but I don’t like all the steps that go to making it. That’s why this casserole is so good – no pounding chicken, no making filling, dredging, breading, frying. In fact, with the cheese sauce covering everything, this might actually be better than traditional. You can even make it easier by buying already cooked chicken. You’d need about 3 cups of cooked chicken.

This is a recipe that can be made ahead – make it and put it in the casserole dish and you can refrigerate it until ready to cook. Add in time to take in account that it is going from cold.

Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole

2 tablespoons olive oil
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
salt and pepper, to taste
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter
1 medium onion, chopped
1/3 cup flour
2 cups whole milk
1 1/2 cup cooked ham, diced
2 cups Swiss cheese, grated
10-20 Ritz crackers, crumbled

Preheat oven to 350.

Heat oil in cast iron skillet. Cut chicken breasts into strips and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Brown all sides in the skillet, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat to a plate. Wipe out the pan.

Melt butter in the skillet. Sauté the onions until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the flour and cook for 5 minutes more, stirring constantly. Add the milk in several small batches – whisking well after each addition to make sure there are no lumps in the sauce. Bring sauce to a simmer. Add all but a half cup of cheese to the pan and stir to melt.

Cube chicken. Add it and the ham to the skillet and stir to combine. Spoon it into a casserole dish.

Add remaining cheese to crumbled crackers. Mix with your fingers and then sprinkle over the top of the casserole.

Bake uncovered for 30-45 minutes, depending on how deep your casserole dish is. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Pecan Cream Chicken and Mushrooms

We had more mushrooms and cream and this time we upped the flavor on chicken. Giving the pecans a whirl in the food processor to chop them fine made it so every bite tasted nutty.

Pecan Cream Chicken and Mushrooms

Pecan Cream:
3/4 cup coarsely chopped pecans, toasted
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup heavy cream

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 teaspoon olive oil, more as needed
Salt & pepper to taste

Sauce:
1 tablespoon sherry or another deglazing liquid (water, broth, wine)
1 teaspoon olive oil, as needed
1 small onion, finely chopped
½ pound mushrooms, sliced
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves, finely chopped

Prepare pecan cream by grinding pecans in a food processor, scraping down the sides of bowl as needed. Add water and cream and salt to taste; process until combined, scraping sides of bowl as needed. Set aside.

Pound chicken to ¼ inch thickness to promote even cooking. Sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper to taste. Heat olive oil a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add half the chicken; sauté about 5 minutes per each side or until cooked through. Cook the chicken in 2 batches, adding more oil if needed for second batch. Set aside cooked chicken on a clean plate, keep warm.

Add sherry or other deglazing liquid to pan and stir up any browned bits. Add oil if necessary and sauté the onions for 5 minutes to soften. Add mushrooms and cook over medium heat for 4 to 6 minutes or until mushrooms are tender and starting to brown. Add fresh rosemary to the pan. Stir in pecan cream; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and add chicken back to pan. Simmer for about 5 minutes until reduced slightly.

Place rice among serving plates. Add the chicken and then place a spoonful of the mushroom pecan sauce on top. Garnish with a pinch of chopped pecans if desired.

I served this with rice although pasta would work well, too.

Herbes de Provence Pork Chops with Mushrooms

Tired of the same old pork chops? Switch things up a bit by using Herbes de Provence. I used store bought but it is easy to make up your own blend – see here or here. The chops were browned in a skillet and then braised in a hot oven with a sauce of chicken stock and wine. That sauce was added to the skillet with mushrooms and cream and those lovely herbes and reduced down to deliciousness.

Mushrooms in cream sauce are delectable anyway but once you’ve had them Herbes de Provence, you’ll wonder why anyone would have them any other way.

Herbes de Provence Pork Chops with Mushrooms

2 tablespoons olive oil
4 thick cut pork chops
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup white wine
1/2 pound mushrooms
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup cream
1 tablespoon Herbes de Provence

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Heat oil in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle pork with salt and pepper. Add pork to the skillet and brown, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer the pork to a baking dish. Add the chicken stock and white wine to the skillet. Boil until reduced by half, scraping up browned bits, about 10 minutes. Pour over the pork. Bake pork chops until they reach an internal temperature of 145 degrees F, about 25 minutes.

Clean and slice the mushrooms. Heat butter in the pork skillet. Add mushrooms to the skillet and sauté until softened. Remove skillet from heat until pork is done.

Transfer pork chops to serving plates. Pour sauce from baking dish into skillet with mushrooms and heat over medium high heat. Whisk the cream and Herbes de Provence into the sauce and bring to a boil. Simmer until thickened. Spoon mushrooms and sauce over the pork chops.

I served the pork chops with applesauce and a baked sweet potato.

 

 

Breakfast Corn Muffins

I wanted something different for breakfast and I had been thinking about corn muffins recently. I decided to make a mash up that would have a hit of protein but still have corn flavor. These ended up tasting a little like cornbread stuffing (not a bad thing at all). They also freeze really well and can be rewarmed in a microwave.

Breakfast Corn Muffins

1 lb bulk breakfast sausage
1 small onion (1 cup)
2 ribs celery (1 cup)
½ green bell pepper (1/2 cup)
1 teaspoon sage
1 cup yellow corn meal
1 cup all purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup sour cream
2 eggs
1/4 cup corn kernels, fresh, frozen or canned (optional)

 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Brown sausage over medium heat. Add celery, onion and bell pepper and sauté until softened. Remove skillet from heat. Stir in sage.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together corn meal, all purpose flour, baking powder and salt.

In a separate bowl, whisk together milk, chicken broth, sour cream, eggs and corn kernels. Add to the corn meal mix and stir to combine. Fold in meat mixture.

Using a ¼ cup measure, fill buttered muffin tins with the mix. Bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Pickle Schnitzel

Pickle juice makes a wonderful brine for grilled chicken but I also love it with breaded cutlets, better known in my family as schnitzel. The soak in the pickle brine doesn’t make the chicken or pork taste like pickles, it adds a salty tang and leaves the meat super tender and juicy when pan fried. Just don’t soak it for too long (1 hour is sufficient) or it will get overly salty.

Chicken schnitzel

I mix my bread crumbs with an equal amount of cracker meal so that my schnitzel has a good crunch, especially when warmed up the next day for sandwiches. Who needs to go to a fast food restaurant anymore?

Pork schnitzel

I use boneless pork loin and the relatively short cooking time means that this low fat cut doesn’t get overcooked. I wait for the whole loin to go on sale and have the butcher cut it in 3/4 inch pieces for me.

2 large chicken breasts or boneless pork loin
1 cup pickle juice
½ cup all-purpose flour
1 egg, beaten with one teaspoon olive oil
1 cup breadcrumbs (or in combination with cracker meal)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Cover meat with plastic wrap and pound to about ¼ inch thickness. Place pounded meat in a zip top bag and pour pickle juice on top. Seal and toss in juice and refrigerate for 1 hour.

When the meat is ready, remove from pickle juice and dry well. Place the flour, egg beaten with a little olive oil and breadcrumbs/cracker meal each in separate shallow bowls. Season the flour with the salt and black pepper.

Coat each cutlet in flour and shake off excess. Then dip in the beaten egg before dredging in the breadcrumbs/cracker meal. Place on a wire rack in the refrigerator while the oil heats.

Bring about ½ inch oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat to 375 degrees F. Fry in oil about 3-5 minutes per side or until golden brown.

Blot on a paper towel and serve hot with lemon wedges.