Butter Grilled Turkey Breasts

I’ve been wanting a fairly simple recipe for boneless, skinless turkey breasts so I can slice them for lunch meat. I wandered through my cookbooks and the interwebs and came up with a hybrid.

My local grocery store had a sale on bone-in turkey breasts for President’s Day, so I bought one, removed the bones (which I used to make stock) and was just left with the breasts to play with. You can add additional herbs – rosemary would be a nice touch but I wanted to keep things plain. I also didn’t want to brine so I used a dry rub of salt.

The turkey came out moist and delicious. The smoke added a subtle flavor and the turkey sandwiches were excellent. Of course, the added avocado helped there!

Thanks to Michelle and Stacey for being my taste testers.

Butter Grilled Turkey Breasts

5-7 lb turkey breasts
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 stick butter, softened

1 deep grill pan

Remove bones and skin. Sprinkle with salt and cover in plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator for 12-48 hours. Reserve bones to make stock.

Prepare grill for indirect cooking. Soak hickory or other wood chips for smoke flavor. Remove turkey from the fridge and discard wrapping. Slather with softened butter and set in the grill pan. Place any remaining butter on top of the breasts.

Put the grill pan on the grill on the side away from the coals with the thickest part of the turkey breasts closest to the fire. Cover the grill with the vent over the meat so the smoke swirls around the turkey before escaping.

Cook for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, basting occasionally with the butter and meat juices. Turkey is done when it reaches 165 degrees F. There is very little carryover as there are no bones, so you want it to hit that temp before removing. You can place it on the grill grates over the coals for a final touch if you want grill marks on it but that isn’t essential.

Let rest for at least 10 minutes before slicing.

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Rotisserie Standing Rib Roast

For my Mom’s birthday, we had a standing rib roast that we cooked using the rotisserie on Dad’s Weber charcoal grill. We were serving six, so we bought one that was a little over 8 lbs (3 ribs). We needed some leftovers for steak sandwiches!

For a side, after we pulled the meat off, I put the rack on the grill and smoke warmed twice baked potatoes. We used an extra set of ribs from the butcher to make a beef stock in the slow cooker and used that plus the meat juices to create an au jus.

Rotisserie Prime Rib Roast

6-8 lb rib roast
kosher salt
olive oil

Season the rib roast with 2 tablespoons of kosher salt and let sit in the refrigerator, uncovered, 24 hours before you are ready to cook. Remove from fridge 4 hours before grilling.

Rub the roast with olive oil and sprinkle salt on the meat, leaving the fat cap unsalted.

Run the rotisserie skewer through the center of the meat. Secure with the forks once it is balanced. Prepare your grill for indirect cooking and medium high heat. Place a drip pan down. Use chunks or chips of seasoned wood for smoke. I chose hickory.

Place the rotisserie on the grill and start the motor. Let it turn for one to two hours or until the internal temperature of the meat (not hitting bone or skewer) reaches 120 degrees F for rare. It takes about 10-15 minutes per pound. Ours was done in 90 minutes.

Using heavy gloves, remove the spit from the grill and then the spit from the meat. Let rest for at least 10 minutes. Add the drippings to your gravy or au jus.

Grilled Chicken for Remembrance and Courage

As we close out 2018, I’ve been thinking back about the past year. It has been quite a yeasty time – personally, politically, environmentally and even culinarily. We’ve lost some powerful voices but have also seen many new champions step up to answer the challenges facing us.

In the spirit of endings and new beginnings, I decided to make a grilled chicken recipe to celebrate the art of constructive remembering and helping gird our loins to face another year. As the flower folks tell us: rosemary for remembrance and thyme for courage.

So, my New Year’s wish is for you to have the hindsight to know where you’ve been, the foresight to know where you’re going and the insight to know when you’ve gone too far.

Rosemary Thyme Gilled Chicken

8 bone in chicken thighs

4 black tea bags (I used Lemon Lift)
1/2 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1 tablespoon peppercorns

1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves, minced
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Make 1 quart of strong tea by steeping tea bags for 15 minutes. Add in salt, brown sugar and peppercorns and stir until salt and sugar have dissolved. Add in 1 quart of ice and stir until all the ice has melted. Pour over the chicken and brine the chicken overnight in the fridge.

Rinse the chicken and store in the fridge until an hour before you set up your grill.

In a small bowl, use a fork to mash together the rosemary, butter, thyme, garlic, zest, and salt and pepper, until combined well. Use your hands to smear the butter mixture all over the brined chicken. Melt the remaining butter.

Over a grill set for indirect cooking, place the chicken skin side down. Cook for 15 minutes before flipping the chicken so the skin is up. Baste the chicken with the butter mixture. Continue grilling for 45 minutes more or until it registers 170 degrees F. Baste after 30 minutes and again as you pull the meat off the grill.

 

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.

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.