30 October 2009

'Tis the season (for roasts and soup)

I tried to be clever, I really did.

The weather has finally shed the last of the hot, humid lackluster "summer" here in Boston - a summer that I frankly don't really remember. It happens when you frequent airports regularly enough to know the waitstaff and flight attendants (slight over exaggeration, but only slightly).

The fall is by far my favorite time of year, with winter being a close second. Growing up in the closest thing Western NY has to the tundra, you either accept the snow and grow a fondness for it, or start crafting your escape plan to the Carolinas or Florida as soon as you pass basic word recognition in elementary school. I was one of the former, as you can tell.

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays, one that I'll actually be hosting here in my little Brookline apartment this year and more importantly cooking for my out of town family. So when I saw a 1/2 bone in turkey breast at the supermarket, I plopped one in my basket and thought I'd start the turkey season a bit early. Heck, why not.

The prep was simple. Rough chop up some onions, and lay in the bottom of the pan with carrots and celery to make a rack. Mix together melted butter, garlic, (some people even call for mayo ... which seems interesting) and some herbs and rub under the skin and over the bird. Pour a little bit of stock over so there's some liquid in the pan, and into the oven it goes.

After 2 1/2 hours or so (I googled temperatures by pound), this was the result.

And ... it was perfectly cooked. Even after my jetlagged self fell asleep sitting up before 9 pm. Thank god for kitchen timers.

I had a craving for one of my favorite cranberry dressings, as well, so I started to toss ingredients into the food processor. A friend had brought two different dressings to a big Boston-based Thanksgiving we had in 2006 (and made a 23-lb bird, to boot) - one the traditional jam like cooked down version, and the other this delightful, fresh cranberry and orange relish. Just wasn't right calling it a "dressing".

Cranberry-Orange Relish

1/2 - 3/4 bag of fresh cranberries
1 orange, with rind, chopped into small pieces (unless you have a beast of a food processor)
2 TB of sugar
1/2 cup (or more to taste) of chopped walnuts

Put into food processor. Turn it on. And look, you're done :)

The result should be tart, a little bit but not too sweet, and finely chopped. This is perfect for turkey sandwiches, adding to yogurt, hell - I even put on top of cranberry chocolate chip pancakes (oh heck yes).

I had saved a roasted chicken carcass in my freezer (ah, travel. Thank god for pre-roasted things at the supermarket) to make stock, and after picking at the turkey here, decided to combine them both to make the monster pot of all pots of stock.

I followed Elise's Mom's recipe for stock, including a few other things to just plain clean out the fridge.

So in went Mr. Chicken Carcass, the turkey bones with a bit of meat still attached (I had plenty, so a little lost was fine to me), an onion, carrots, celery, peppercorns, 2 bay leaves, a mushroom bouillon (more on this magic ingredient from Italy later), and water to cover. I even added some leftover red wine, mushroom and bacon gravy (from operation pork schnitzel) just for kicks. Bring to a boil, then simmer uncovered for 4+ hours. Strain and there you go. Sometimes it needs a bit more salt or some other missing ingredient.

Added benefit, the smell that perfumes your house. This was almost reason enough to make. :) Soup recipes to come in the next post.

1 comment:

Steph said...

wowsa! homemade stock... that's impressive :)

and i always refer to the both cranberries as sauces, altho i don't think that quite fits #2 either... and you're right, so delish w/ yogurt for breakfast. mmmm. i've been thinking abt making a batch recently too...