Cottage Ham

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Waste Not, Want Not: Cottage Ham! I’ve made this dense cottage ham three different ways: slow-cooker, stove-top, and oven-bake. The best results came when I used the Le Creuset cast iron enameled Dutch oven.* It seemed to distribute the heat more evenly. The ham was fork-tender, moist, and juicy. Because the pan locks in the moisture, you can keep it warm in the oven until dinner time by reducing the oven temperature after the first three hours. Any leftover cooking water can be used as a soup base the following day.

COTTAGE HAM

Ingredients:

2 pound smoked shoulder butt

8-10 black peppercorns

1 tablespoon brown sugar

4 bay leaves

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Rinse cottage ham to remove excess salt. Place cottage ham in a 3.5-quart Dutch oven. Add enough water to fill 2 inches above ham. Add black peppercorns, brown sugar, and bay leaves. Cover with lid. Bake cottage ham two hours. Check water level to keep the pan from going dry. If it does, add a little more water. The absorption allows the ham to be fork-tender, not chewy. Bake one hour longer, if necessary. The ham is done when the internal temperature is 160°. Serve with potatoes and vegetables of choice.

*I receive no recompense for mentioning this product.

Pan-Seared Pork Carnitas

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Something to Savor: Pan-Seared Pork Carnitas! What if I told you this recipe will give you the crunch of bacon and the tenderness of a roast? And what if I also told you there’s no shame in eating a plate of tender, super-crispy meat without tortillas and refried beans on the side? (It’s true. I actually had these pork carnitas for breakfast one day.) If you’ve ever ordered this house special in a Mexican restaurant, I challenge you to give it a try. I simply threw all the ingredients together before I went to bed and let the slow cooker do its magic overnight. The next morning, the aromas will drive you crazy! Be creative. Have tacos, tostadas, nachos, or simply eat them as is. I did, without regrets. Mmmmm.

PAN-SEARED PORK CARNITAS

Ingredients:

7-pound pork shoulder, bone-in

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon oregano

2 teaspoons cumin powder

1 tablespoon Hawaiian Rub*

1 teaspoon garlic powder

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 onion, chopped

1/4 cup pickled jalapeño peppers, sliced

3/4 cup orange juice

1/4 cup vinegar

Fresh lime

Fresh cilantro

Instructions:

Rinse and dry pork shoulder. Pat dry. Cover with olive oil. Rub in oregano, cumin powder, Hawaiian Rub, garlic powder, kosher salt, and black pepper. Place the pork shoulder, fatty side up, in a slow-cooker. Add chopped onion and jalapeño slices. Mix together orange juice and vinegar. Pour over all. Cover. Cook on Low for 10 hours. When done, the meat will be very tender. Remove the roast from the slow cooker. Let it rest for 10 minutes. Shred the meat using two forks, allowing some pieces to remain in bite-size chunks. Strain the juices into a medium size saucepan. Discard solids. Warm the drippings over medium heat to skim off the fat. Set aside. To serve, warm an iron skillet over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon vegetable oil. Place shredded pork in the skillet and drizzle in a ladle of juices. Avoid overcrowding. Use a screen lid cover to eliminate splatters. Let the juices evaporate for 2-3 minutes so the bottom of the pork appears charred and crusty. Carefully turn over the pork pieces to cook golden brown. Overcooking will reduce tenderness and juiciness. Remove pork from skillet. Take a lime wedge and squeeze fresh lime juice over all. Garnish with cilantro. Leftovers may be divided into storage containers. Pour the juice equally over the pulled pork in each container. Freezing is also an option.

*Available through Salty Wahine Gourmet Hawaiian Sea Salts. I receive no recompense for promoting their product.

English Pot Roast

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Food for Sharing: English Pot Roast! Simplify the evening meal. Let the crockpot do the cooking. By adding wine and herbs to the natural meat juices, the slow cooker locks in moisture which tenderizes the roast. Throw everything together, cover, and do something else. Without realizing it, you may find yourself imagining all sorts of ways to serve up the tantalizing leftovers. Utilize the pan drippings for a made-from-scratch gravy or savory soup stock. No matter how you serve it up, the results are Win, Win!

ENGLISH POT ROAST

Ingredients:

2 1/2 pound boneless English beef roast

1 cup dry red wine

10 ounce can beef consommé, undiluted

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon seasoned salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1 tablespoon Herbs de Provence

Instructions:

Place the beef roast in the bottom of a slow cooker. Mix red wine, beef consommé, and balsamic vinegar to blend. Pour over the English roast. Sprinkle seasonings evenly over roast. Cover and turn on low heat setting. Cook 8 hours until fork tender. Serve with potatoes and vegetables for a well-balanced meal.

Juicy Roast Turkey

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Start Smart: Juicy Roast Turkey! There’s nothing worse than dry-as-dust turkey, around the holidays. Watch your guests if they keep asking you to pass the gravy. Today I’m going to give you a few tips to keep that from happening. You can thank me when it’s your turn to host the holiday meal. Number one: Truss loosely, or not at all. The secret is to allow heat to get to all sides of the legs. Cooking the turkey until the legs are done may result in overcooking the breast meat. Number two: Don’t overcook. The timetable on the package is an estimate. Always use a meat thermometer, even if the turkey comes with a pop-up version. Always. Number three: (and this one is the hardest for me) Let the turkey “rest” before carving. I’m talking 20-30 minutes. Evidently, during the roasting process, the oven heat forces all the juices to the center of the turkey. When you allow it to “rest”, after it’s done, the juices seep back into the cavities and make the turkey moist. It’s definitely worth the wait.

JUICY ROAST TURKEY

Ingredients:

10-15 pound turkey, thawed

1/2 cup butter

1 lemon, juiced and zested

1 teaspoon thyme

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 350°. Wash the turkey, pat dry, and transfer to a roasting pan with a roasting rack. Stuff the turkey as desired. Otherwise, salt and pepper the inside of the cavity. In a small saucepan, warm the butter over low heat. Add the lemon juice, zest, and thyme. Brush the outside of the turkey with the butter mixture. Insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh, avoiding the bone. Cover the roaster with the lid. Transfer pan to oven. Bake for two hours, basting the turkey every half hour. This insures even browning of the skin. Remove lid and roast turkey an additional 1 1/2 hours, continuing to baste at half hour intervals. When the meat thermometer reads 185°, remove the turkey from the oven. Transfer it to a cutting board; cover with foil. Let it rest for half an hour. This makes carving easier and produces a juicy roast turkey.

Perfect Pot Roast

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Fab Foodstuff: Perfect Pot Roast! Today all chefs get the day off from cooking. Seriously. This one-pot meal will turn out perfectly, as long as you ignore it. Use a slow-cooker or a Dutch Baker in a low temperature oven. I actually begin with a frozen chuck roast and forget about it, that is until the savory aromas lightly waft throughout the house. The liquid turns into a pleasant au jus or can be thickened into gravy. Personally, I ladle the juice into a food storage container to use as a sauce for beef carnitas, but that’s another story. Leftovers promise delicious options.

PERFECT POT ROAST

Ingredients:

3-4 pound chuck roast, frozen

3/4 cup vinegar

3/4 cup orange juice

1/2 cup butter, melted

1/4 cup kosher salt (or less)

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 tablespoon oregano

1 pound baby carrots

3-4 white potatoes, skin on, quartered

2-3 sprigs thyme

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 275°. Place frozen roast in Dutch Baker. Combine vinegar, orange juice, and melted butter. Pour over roast. Sprinkle roast with kosher salt, garlic powder, and oregano. Lay thyme sprigs across the top of the meat. Put the lid on the Dutch Baker and bake for 4 hours. Then add carrots and cut-up potatoes to the pot. Reduce oven temperature to 185°. Bake 4 hours longer. The roast is fall-apart tender and ready to serve.

Roasted Turkey Breast

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Appetizers to Desserts: Roasted Turkey Breast! Life just got a little easier. Instead of cooking an entire holiday bird, it is just as rewarding to roast a turkey breast. You still get the herb seasonings and butter-basted juicy portions, along with drippings for a savory pan gravy, without all the time and effort. It’s simple, economical, and carves up nicely. One more reason to serve turkey for any occasion.

ROASTED TURKEY BREAST

Ingredients:

5-pound bone-in turkey breast, thawed

1/8 teaspoon parsley

1/8 teaspoon thyme

1/8 teaspoon rosemary

1/8 teaspoon sage

1/8 teaspoon white pepper

1 teaspoon sea salt

2 tablespoons butter, softened

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 325°. Place turkey breast side up in a roaster. Insert meat thermometer so the tip is at the thickest part of the breast meat. Brush the bird with butter. Sprinkle seasonings over all. Add enough water to cover the bottom of the pan. Do not use a lid. Every hour, baste the breast with butter or pan drippings. Turkey is done when the thermometer reads 185°, approximately 2 1/2 hours. There is no substitute for a meat thermometer for determining the doneness of a turkey, in my opinion. Remove from oven and allow it to stand for 15-20 minutes before carving. The skin will be crisp and the breast meat will be moist.

Wrapped-in-Bacon Roast Turkey

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Food Whisperer: Wrapped-in-Bacon Roast Turkey! Bacon-lovers unite. With the holidays looming on the horizon, this main dish is perfect for those who turn their nose up at Mr. Turkey. By wrapping applewood smoked bacon around the outside of the bird, the inside meat stays moist and a little bit salty while the outside gets crispy. No basting required. I was able to weave the bacon strips on a sheet of waxed paper therefore making it easier to cover the turkey breast. It sounds weird, but rub a little butter on the turkey skin first. It actually helps the bacon stay in place. As it bakes, the house begins to smell amazing. You know you want it.

WRAPPED-IN-BACON ROAST TURKEY

Ingredients:

7-8 pound turkey breast, thawed

1 pound thick-cut applewood smoked bacon, sliced

1 yellow onion, quartered

Butter for rubbing

Rosemary sprigs for garnish

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Place turkey breast, breast-side up, in a shallow roasting pan. Tuck the onions quarters in the cavity of the breast. Brush turkey with butter. Add one cup water to the bottom of the pan. This keeps the bacon from shrinking while creating steam for a crispier skin. Place the woven bacon onto the turkey breast by flipping the waxed paper over it. Peel back and tuck the bacon edges around the breast to cover it evenly. The butter will help move it into place. Bake 3-3 1/2 hours. If the bacon becomes too golden-brown before the turkey is fully cooked, cover it with a loose tent of aluminum foil. Turkey is done when a meat thermometer registers at least 165° in the deepest part of the breast. Remove from oven and allow the cooked breast to stand 20-30 minutes. This allows the juices to settle and makes carving easier. To keep the bacon intact, cut through the bacon first before carving the breast beneath. Transfer to a platter with onions and rosemary sprigs.

Upright Pot Pie

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Joy of Eating: Upright Pot Pie! Do you ever have those nights when you can’t decide what to cook for dinner? You look in the refrigerator and all you see are leftovers? Again? Well, I had made a beef pot roast earlier in the week, so all the ingredients were on hand to make individual servings of pot pies. Obviously, if you don’t have mashed potatoes and gravy on hand, you can improvise. Keep it upright by filling custard dishes with single servings and then top them off with crescent roll pastry sheets. It requires very little effort, but the taste is home cooking at its best.

UPRIGHT POT PIE

Ingredients:

2 cups beef pot roast, chunks

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/3 cup onion, chopped

1 cup brown gravy

1/2 cup frozen mixed vegetables, thawed

Crescent rolls

1/2 cup baby carrots

1 cup mashed potatoes

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 375°. In a large skillet, sauté onion in olive oil over medium heat. Add beef and stir. Reduce heat and gradually add gravy and mixed vegetables. Spoon mixture in ungreased single serving custard cups. Transfer cups to a baking sheet, in case they bubble over while baking. Remove dough from tube. Do not separate into triangles. Place one square over each custard dish. Press lightly around edges. Bake for 15-20 minutes until crust is golden brown. Serve with mashed potatoes and baby carrots.

Dining Outside the Home: Hukilau Lanai in Kapaa, Kauai

Dining Outside the Home: Hukilau Lanai in Kapaa, Kauai. On an island surrounded by water in the middle of the Pacific, people are still known to step away from fresh seafood in search of a prime cut of beef. The chefs at Hukilau Lanai understand that craving and aim to please. Their dinner menu offers a main course of perfectly tender Prime Rib au Jus seasoned in Hawaiian sea salt and spices. Whether it’s sliced pink and rare or medium-well, it does not disappoint. A small portion of fat around the edge adds amazing flavor to the beef while it’s cooking. Slice it off or indulge yourself. Drizzle or dip the simple pan sauce (au jus) made from natural juices and slather with a dab of horseradish. Mmmm. If you get the craving, remember to go early. Because prime rib must be roasted slowly, once it’s cut and served, it’s gone for the night.