Lets Talk Turkey


We’ve been successfully roasting turkeys for years. But were we in a rut? Maybe it was time to rethink our traditional methods. Brining produces great-tasting birds, but it’s a cumbersome process and not practical for those with limited refrigerator space. Deep-frying was out of the question: It’s too risky. There had to be an easier, less complicated approach.

Getting back to basics was anything but simple. We gathered and distilled dozens of approaches into general guidelines, then tested each of them on the same brand of supermarket turkey weighing 14 to 16 pounds. We tried stuffing butter under the skin or leaving it out, basting and not basting, varying the heat versus keeping it steady. We raised the heat, we lowered it. We positioned the bird right side up and upside down. We did everything; and then we pared down to nothing (no butter, no basting, no heat variation). The results astonished us. The turkey no one bet on turned out to be vastly better than the others, winning the beautiful skin and juicy white meat contest hands down. The method? The bird was simply seasoned with salt and pepper, then roasted in a 450ºF oven—no butter under the skin, no basting, no foil tent, just blasted . Skeptical, we tried it again. And again. It kept working. Attempts to improve on it were pointless. Plus, it cooked in record time, only about 1 3/4 to 2 1/2 hours for a 14- to 16-pound bird. (An important note: Starting with a clean oven prevents smoking at high heat. Clean your oven again after roasting because of splatter.) The high-heat method is nothing new. Cookbook author Barbara Kafka popularized it for chickens and turkeys in her 1995 book Roasting, in which she cranked her oven up to 500 degrees. We compromised on 450 degrees to get the benefits of high heat while lessening any risk of burning the pan juices. Harold McGee, food scientist and author of the newly revised On Food and Cooking, confirmed he’s had similarly fine results with the same method. He surmises that because the bird cooks faster at a higher temperature, the outer portions of the breast have less time to become overcooked before the deepest portions cook through.

If you’ve become enamored of brining, as we have, and want to continue, using this method, feel free; it will make for an even juicier, more flavorful bird. (But don’t use the pan juices for gravy; they’re too salty.) And if you’re in the mood for something less than basic but still delicious, try our cover turkey, which features the cross-cultural innovation of using miso to flavor and tenderize the meat. This, however, is a higher-heat followed by lower-heat method. The miso butter blackened the skin when subjected to constant high heat.


Fresh or frozen? Organic, conventional, or kosher? Whichever you select, we don’t think you’ll be disappointed. Using our basic method, we had uniformly good results.

Fresh: We’re partial to a fresh turkey. There’s no waiting for it to defrost—but that means there’s less flexibility as to when to buy it; the USDA recommends no more than 2 days in advance. Keep it on the coldest shelf of your refrigerator.

Frozen: We had consistently good results with a nationwide brand of frozen turkeys from the supermarket. Allow at least 3 but preferably 4 days to thaw the turkey in the refrigerator.

Organic versus conventional: Our past experience with organic turkeys was reconfirmed—the flavor was superior but the white meat was tough. If you go organic, you’ll need gravy. We are also fans of locally raised turkeys from small producers, as much for environmental and sustainability reasons as for flavor.

Kosher: We’ve recommended kosher birds for several years. Because koshering involves salting, we’ve found the birds to be comparable in juiciness and flavor to turkeys that we brined, which involves soaking the bird in a saltwater solution for 10 to 24 hours before roasting. Because they are minimally processed, however, they do require a significant amount of time for painstaking removal of stray feathers and quills.


Giblet stock: Do yourself a huge favor—make it the day before. The stock cooks longer (3 hours) than the fast-roasting turkey (roughly 2 hours) and no one wants to wait for the gravy. Plus, it’s always easier to lift solidified fat from a chilled stock than it is to skim it off a hot one. You can shave 2 1/4 hours off the cooking time by using a pressure cooker, and we found the pressure-cooked stock to have superior flavor. Begin by searching for the neck and the giblets—heart, gizzard (a digestive organ), and liver—which are usually tucked away inside the turkey. Often they are packed together in a pouch, but sometimes they’re loose, so check both cavities. Then remove the liver from the lineup. The remaining giblets provide the flavor base for the stock that will become your gravy; including the liver would only add bitterness. Instead, sauté it for a well-deserved cook’s treat, or dice it and sauté it to add to the stuffing.  See the rest of the recipe here Expert Advice: Lets Talk Turkey: 2000s Archive : gourmet.com.

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How to Pan-Sear a Steak

Warm It.
Before your meat cooks, it must warm. Even if you like your meat rare, it’s basic steak-cooking wisdom to start with a room temperature piece of meat to ensure the thing cooks evenly and predictably. Oh, and while you’re watching your meat lose its chill, heat your oven to 400 degrees.

Season It.
Get your cast-iron skillet (
Gilt MAN Essential #10, by the way) good and hot, and salt the hell out of the steak (“like you’d salt a sidewalk in New York in the winter,” Chang writes). Then throw on some—but slightly less—freshly ground pepper.

Sear It.
The following times are for a steak at least an inch thick, around two pounds in weight. With a hot pan and steady heart, throw your meat on the pan. Then leave it alone. Be attentive but hands off, like a good father at the playground. After two minutes, the meat should separate easily from the pan. Once it does, flip it. Do something else for two minutes. Anything but poking, prodding and jostling. After your second two minutes, lift the steak with tongs, then stand it up in the pan, fat side down—sizzling—for 30 seconds.

Bake It.
Put the pan, containing the steak, into the oven. Do something else for eight minutes. Stretching is always good. Crack a cold beer if you have one.

Baste It.
Put a mitt on your hand. (Trust us, you’ll only forget to do this once.) Take the pan from the oven and put it over a low heat. Add 4 tablespoons of unsalted butter, some thyme, a shallot, and three cloves of garlic. Tilt the pan—with mitted hand—at a 45-degree angle. Using a spoon, pour the butter pooled at the bottom of the pan onto the steak. You should now be salivating. That’s fine. Just don’t do it over the steak. Instead, keep basting. Do this for two or three minutes. Poke your steak. If it feels like the flesh from the web of your thumb when you’re making a gentle fist—you know the kind, like when someone’s a jerk-off and you illustrate that with a certain hand motion—it’s medium rare. Now would be a good time to take it off the heat and put it onto a plate. Cooking a nice steak any further is a sign of insufficient moral fiber.

Rest It.
Sometimes cooking a steak is like dating a girl in college, when she’s great but you’re immature and not ready to settle down. Sometimes, that is, you have to walk away and let it rest. Thankfully, steaks don’t go on to date other people. Don’t worry, after ten minutes, your steak will still be there and the juices will have been absorbed by the meat. And you two can finally get down to business.

Slice It.
Cut the meat from the bone. Cut your steak into half inch thick slices. Put these slices onto a plate. Gently reheat the pan and pour some of the fat/butter/garlic deliciousness over your steak.

Eat it.
Self-explanatory, but best done with gusto.

Adapted from the Momofuku Cookbook, by David Chang and Peter Meehan, $40.

How to Pan-Sear a Steak | Gilt MANual.

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Salted Cookbook Review

Click Here to Get Mark Bitterman’s Steak Tartare Recipe >>

It’s hard to imagine a more comprehensive book about salt than Salted: A Manifesto on the World’s Most Essential Mineral, with Recipes (October 12, Ten Speed Press) by Mark Bitterman, the salt purveyor at the Meadow, an artisanal-product shop in Portland, Oregon. At 320 pages, it’s as much cookbook as textbook, divided into three large sections: a history of saltmaking (“The Life of Salt”), a reference guide covering over 150 varieties, and some tips on how to salt your foods as well as some starter recipes.

I only know two things about salt: recipes usually call for the “sea salt” kind, and always, always put it on steak. The latter Bitterman confirms in his introduction, the former he debunks, sort of: What’s often marketed as sea salt, Bitterman says, is really misclassified earth-mined crystals (take that, Morton). There are, according to the book’s classification, seven major types of artisanal salt: fleur de sel, sel gris, traditional salt, flake salt, shio, rock salt, unconventional salt, and modified salt (whatever that means). Though Bitterman claims to learn about several new salts a week, he includes detailed information on just about every one you could imagine, including flavor profiles and suggested food pairings.

To better understand Bitterman’s obsession with salt, I took the book to a local supermarket and checked out what kinds of artisanal salts were available. They had a few on hand, including several brands of fleur de sel and Himalayan pink. But I chose the Maldon, an $8 English flake salt that seemed versatile enough — Bitterman recommends it with raw vegetables but says it’s good “almost anywhere else.” He also says it’s “harsh” and “minerally,” which is true: When you take it out of the box, the flakes look almost impossibly big and rocky. They taste a little abrasive but not unpleasant. This is salt you notice — great for throwing on food, not so great for licking with tequila shots.

The book uses Maldon in a butter leaf salad, but that seemed boring, so instead I substituted it in the steak tartare recipe. Making the tartare is easy enough: The hardest part is slicing up the beef tenderloin into small pieces (uncooked steak can be a little difficult to cut). After mixing in a dollop of Dijon, some Worcestershire sauce, and pepper, you form the beef into small mounds on plates and serve it with a few accompaniments: a raw egg yolk on top, chopped onions and chives, anchovies and capers mashed in olive oil and sherry vinegar, more mustard, and of course, salt. The whole process takes about half an hour. Mix it all together with a fork and serve on toast.

The tartare was great: acidic, fresh, crunchy. But while it tasted like lots of things — mustard, vinegar, egg yolk — least of them was salt. The Maldon gets a little lost among all the other strong ingredients. It’d work better on a simply cooked New York strip, or some roasted vegetables. It makes sense that most of the other recipes stick to just a few ingredients — the book is great as an introduction (albeit a somewhat overwhelming one) to the many kinds of salt out there, but it’s not necessarily the best way to prepare dinner.

As an experiment, I also tried sprinkling the salt on some asparagus with olive oil and lemon juice and throwing it in the oven on 350 degrees for about ten minutes. Roasted asparagus makes the perfect salt dish, as it turns out: It’s simple, fresh, and it doesn’t need much. The harshness of the Maldon, with the lightness of the vegetables and lemon, was just about perfect.

Read more: http://www.esquire.com/blogs/food-for-men/salted-cookbook-review-092410#ixzz10gEsBEpG

Salted Cookbook Review – Mark Bitterman Salt Recipe Review – Esquire.

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Recipes from Chef Rick Bayless – Rick Bayless | Frontera

Slow-Roasted Pork Carnitas

Carnitas de Puerco

Makes 1 3/4 to 2  pounds finished carnitas, serving 6

Recipe from Season 7 of Mexico – One Plate at a Time


4 pounds bone-in pork shoulder roast, cut into 1 1/2- to 2-inch slabs



1.   Moist cooking.   Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Cut each slab of pork in half and lay the pieces in a baking dish (they should fit into a 13 x 9-inch baking dish without being crowded).  Liberally sprinkle with salt (about 1 teaspoon) on all sides.  Pour 1/3 cup water around the meat, cover tightly with foil, and bake for 1 hour.

2.   Dry cooking.   Raise the oven temperature to 450 degrees.  Uncover the meat and cook until the liquid has completely reduced and only the rendered fat remains, about 30 minutes.  Now, roast, carefully turning the meat every 7 or 8 minutes, until lightly browned, about 20 minutes longer.  Break the meat into large pieces and serve on a warm platter, sprinkled with salt.

via Recipes from Chef Rick Bayless – Rick Bayless | Frontera.

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Summer Iced Coffee

No one seems to understand why iced coffee costs so much more than the regular stuff. Sure, some theories exist: that it’s more labor-intensive, that plastic cups are more expensive than paper ones. But on an unseasonably warm spring day recently—when people were lined up out the door of the Starbucks across from my office, waiting to buy iced coffees that cost 30 percent more than hot ones—another idea occurred to me. Namely, that coffee chains and convenience stores had converged on a simple truth: Like flip-flops and sundresses, iced coffee is one of the undeniable pleasures of summer. And regardless of how high the price, people will just pay more for it.

Well, coffee barons, your days of ripping us off are officially over. Making iced coffee from scratch requires less effort than brewing it hot, and if you do it right, you’ll produce a smoother, richer, less bitter concoction than anything you’ll find in stores. The secret is to steep low and slow: Put your coffee grounds into a stainless-steel pot or a French press and leave them in cold water overnight. The coffee flavor seeps into the cold water, so you get none of the bitterness that often accompanies brewing beans at high temperatures. You end up with a concentrated mixture so dark and potent it’s practically opaque. If you make a large batch of the concentrate, you can leave some at home for the mornings and take a pitcher with you to work, where you’ll be the envy of co-workers still paying that extra cash for inferior brew.

Here’s how I do it:

• Pour about a third of a pound of freshly ground coffee into a 48-ounce French press.* (This makes a much stronger coffee concentrate than some recipes, but I prefer it that way; you can always weaken a strong concentrate by adding water.)

• Fill the press with cold water and stir to wet the coffee grounds.

• Place the French-press lid over the coffee (don’t press the plunger) and leave at room temperature for at least 12 hours. The longer you leave it, the stronger the brew.

• Press down the plunger, pour the concentrated coffee into a pitcher, and place in the refrigerator.

• Dilute each serving of coffee 1-to-1 with ice-cold water (use more water if the coffee’s too strong), pour over ice, and serve with milk and sugar.

* If you don’t have a large French press, just put the coffee in a stainless-steel pot and pour the water over it. Use half a pound of coffee to half a gallon (64 ounces) of water. After 12 to 24 hours, pour the concentrate between 2 pots, dumping out the residual grounds after each pour until there’s very little sediment remaining. Then, to remove the finest grounds, pour the coffee through cheesecloth or a sieve before it goes into the fridge.

Read More http://www.gq.com/how-to/eat-and-drink/200906/how-to-make-iced-coffee-at-home#ixzz0wLYayoFi

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In Search of Perfection

I love this book.  Really good TV show, very polished and technical cook book with anecdotes and interesting situations to arrive at the final destination, culinary perfection.  The steak that takes 18 hours to cook.  Awesome.

In Search of Perfection.

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The Technique: Impossibly Moist Roast Chicken with Melted Onions: The Q: GQ

Real food. Simple secrets from the pros. By Adam Rapoport

If you’ve ever made roast chicken, you know the problem: The breast meat cooks more quickly than the legs. So you’re left with either moist white meat and undercooked dark meat or a juicy thigh and a dry breast.

You need to level the playing field and get all those pieces cooking at the same speed. I got this recipe from my friend Mitchell Davis. He’s not a professional chef—and I mean that in a good way. He doesn’t have a team of cooks at his disposal, but he still managed to crank out three great cookbooks from a tiny New York apartment kitchen with a twenty-one-inch stove. And though he can deftly prepare all sorts of highfalutin stuff, what he does best is the kind of hearty, homey, not-exactly-low-cal dishes that he grew up eating.

The trick to his roast chicken is how he starts it off: in a covered pot at a low temperature. This creates a pressure-cooker situation, so the meat essentially steams through, cooking evenly. It’s similar to the technique you’d use on short ribs to achieve that falling-apart tenderness. And that’s how this recipe turns out; the meat comes off the bone with the slightest tug.

While it’s roasting, the bird sits on a bed of onions, which absorb its drippings, turning them sweet, salty, and luscious. I like to think of them as the icing on the cake. Because icing is great and all, you first have to nail the cake itself.

Impossibly Moist Roast Chicken with Melted Onions

1 Chicken, about 4 pounds

2 Large onions, peeled and chopped


1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees; set the rack at the bottom third.

2. Rinse the chicken and pat it dry. Take the neck and all that other good stuff out of the cavity, and place the bird in a not-too-big roasting pan with the chopped onions. It should fit relatively snuggly in the pan; this helps prevent the onions from burning or drying out.

3. Generously salt the bird all over, using more salt than you think you need. “It’s not like you’re salting something at the table,” Davis says. “As my mother would always say: Salt it like the road.”

4. Place the bird breast-side down on the onions (this way, the juices run into the breast as the chicken cooks, making it juicier). Cover it tightly with foil or the pot’s lid.

5. Put the chicken in the oven and cook it covered for 40 minutes.

6. Turn the temperature up to about 400 degrees and remove the top. Cook for about 15 minutes more, till the skin begins to brown.

7. Remove the pot from the oven, and with two large spoons (one inserted into the cavity), flip the bird over. Place it back in the oven and roast it for 20 to 30 minutes more, or until the skin is golden and crispy— all told, about one hour and 20 to 30 minutes.

8. Remove the pan from the oven. Tilt the bird so the cavity’s juices run into the onions. Place the chicken on a plate, cover it loosely with aluminum foil, and let it rest.

9. Place the roasting pan on the stovetop over medium heat and simmer the onions till they take on the color of applesauce (the ones above aren’t quite there yet), stirring occasionally. If they begin to stick to the bottom of the pan, pour in a little water and scrape the pan.

10. At this point, you can carve the bird and serve it with the melted onions. But really, the longer the bird sits, the better and moister and tastier it gets. It doesn’t have to be hot; room temperature is great. Make it a couple of hours before dinner, and serve it whenever you’re ready. Don’t expect any leftovers.

— Adam Rapoport

via The Technique: Impossibly Moist Roast Chicken with Melted Onions: The Q: GQ.

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