Let the Brining Begin

November 24, 2010 § 2 Comments

As I walked through my kitchen door this evening I felt like a shop-a-holic.  The weight of my items were almost unbearable, and yet I found myself chuckling at the though of my spending habits.  My products were not boots, jewelry, body products, or any sort of typical merchandise.  The goods in my hands were mushrooms from the Mushroom Cap in Kennett Square; a fresh turkey with extra giblets and bacon on the side from the Country Butcher in Kennett Square; hazelnuts from Spring Run in Kennett; leeks, onions, sage, shallots, cider, and honey from Barnard’s.  Nothing could have made me happier than hauling my shopping bags into the kitchen and unloading my purchases.  I can completely understand how people become addicted to the feeling of new things.  Luckily for me my valuables tend to edible, so I always need more.

My Thanksgiving menu has blossomed into something I feel quite proud of.  Every flavor, from the woodsy mushrooms to the warm hazelnuts to the complexity of herbs, has meandered from one dish to the other.  And most dishes will be a compilation of recipes taken from articles in various magazines and basic knowledge.  I am a bit hesitant to be trying out new techniques and flavors with my usually quite traditionally palated family.  Although when it comes down to it, who could oppose bread pudding baked inside a pumpkin and drizzled with whiskey sauce, or wild mushroom, hazelnut, and olive bread stuffing? And roasting cranberries in red wine has got to outshine canned cranberry sauce, especially when they are mixed with spiced hazelnuts.  These are the dishes which I am fairly confident will be delicious; the bird is another story.  I hardly cook meat and a 14 pound turkey commands some loving care.  From all I have gathered, brining the gobbler will ensure a crackling layer atop a succulent frame, and just to go the extra mile I picked up some extra thick bacon to drape over the bird as he roasts provide some extra flavor and tenderness.  I mean, if I am going to eat meat it better be tender, juicy, and rich.

So tonight I brine and give the salt time to suck the juice fromt the body out to the skin.  The turkey will sit in a bath of citrusy salt for almost 36 hours and will be roasted Thursday morning.

Tomorrow I will roast the cranberries and toast the hazelnuts for the cranberry sauce as well as prepare the stock for the stuffing, basting, and gravy.

Thursday will be full of roasting, rotating, reducing.  The turkey will cook in my oven while I prepare the mushroom stuffing and pumpkin stuffed bread pudding.  Then everything will be transfered to my Grandmothers where the gravy will be made from the drippings from the turkey plus lots of extra innards, the stuffing will be baked, and the desert will be cooking while we indulge.

Recipes, regrets, and photos to come.  Please help me with any suggestions or comments!


I Like my Whiskey with a Side of Gater

November 23, 2010 § Leave a comment

Everything feels right upon walking into the dimly lit space filled with subtle laughter and the aroma of a southern kitchen.  Things get even better after reviewing the full page of bourbons, whiskeys, ryes, blends, and things which I can’t even begin to pretend to be familiar with.

Almost overwhelmed I settled on a glass of wine.  Although my previous Cooperage adventures had introduced me to some delicious whiskey cocktails, but for good reason I seem to not remember the exact ingredients.  Currently they are featuring a whiskey and cider concoction which struck my eye as well as their own exceptionally gingery take on the classic Jack Daniels and ginger ale which I sipped on, any more than a few sips would have been too sweet for my liking.  Once the drink situation was settled I was able to really absorb the atmosphere before the indulgence began.  Aligator bites fried to heavenly perfection which met their match when the indecent cornbread showed up that the table.  Interestingly, it is never really the flavor of aligator which entices me.  Usually it is the velvety texture suitable to be battered and fried or hidden in my favorite crawfish and gator gumbo at Half Moon in Kennett Square which makes the reptilian meat so alluring.  Anyway, while we were enjoying the gator a basket of quite possibly the best cornbread I have ever had the pleasure of tasting arrived at our table.  I have been fortunate enough to learn the secret to addictively sweet, spicy, salty, melt in you mouth perfection,  is a sinful amount of butter and a lingering hint of chili pepper.  At this point, I could be perfectly content with a meal of wine, gater, and cornbread.  Then we get the beer and cheese fondue, short rib sandwich, pear salad, and sweet potato fries.  Heaven help me.

Everything becomes a whirlwind of flavor.  The fries find their way to the fondue.  My fork finds its way to the short rib which finds its way to the fondue.  The goat cheese stuffed pear finds its way to my mouth.  Most things find their way to my shirt or chin on the journey from plate to mouth.  By the end of the meal all plates had been wiped clean and all palates had been completely satiated.  Despite the gluttony which had just ensued I found it impossible to deny myself of a post diner cheese. Actually, to be completely honest, I knew from the moment I sat down at the bar and glanced at the featured cheeses posted to the left of the array of liquor, that I would be consuming a gorgeous wedge of humbolt fog which had been daunting me with its tang of creamy love since our last encounter this summer. Cheese is one of the delicacies which I find are best when eaten alone, letting their personality shine through.  This particular hunk is the affectionate type which you always want around because they always make you feel delighted without any guilt.   That is exactly how to end a meal, beaming joyfully full of aligator, sweet potato, and goat cheese.  And already, I am thinking about how happy I will be after the smokey mountain benedict and complementary bloody mary for brunch.


The Curtis Center
669 Walnut Street, Philadelphia

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