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
10-15 pound turkey, thawed
1/2 cup butter
1 lemon, juiced and zested
1 teaspoon thyme
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.
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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
1/2 cup baby carrots
1 cup mashed potatoes
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. 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.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Simple Sensations: Kalua Pork Roast! This special blend of herbs is a tribute to warm, tropical summer nights. The term, “Kalua”, is Hawaiian for slow cooked. I have put this frozen roast in the oven and let flavors blend all day long for an exotic taste that will have your senses wondering if you’ve been transported to a private paradise. The extra meals provided are a bonus that will have others showering you with praise in the days following.
KALUA PORK ROAST
4 pound boneless pork butt roast
1 tablespoon Red Hawaiian Alaea Sea Salt*
1 teaspoon Mrs. Dash garlic and herb seasoning
2 cups apple juice
2 cups apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon liquid smoke
1 bottle beer
Set oven to 275°. Place frozen pork roast in a covered roaster, fat side up. Pour apple juice and apple cider vinegar over roast. Next apply liquid smoke. Finish by sprinkling the Alaea sea salt and Mrs. Dash herb blend over the pork. Make sure the lid is on securely. You will begin to smell the heavenly aroma as it slowly cooks. Five hours later, check the roast, as the liquid will absorb. I discovered some roasters allow the liquid to evaporate a little sooner than I expected. I have found Le Creuset to be very reliable. If the roast needs more liquid, pour a bottle of beer over it. Keep it covered and slowly cook it at least another three hours. I have let it cook for ten hours total without a problem. It is so fork-tender you will be amazed. And the drippings can be used for gravy or barbecue sauce.
*Available through Salty Wahine Gourmet Hawaiian Sea Salts. (I receive no recompense for promoting their product.)
A Kalua pig roast is as common in the Hawaiian Islands as an American hot dog is at a baseball game. A big difference on the islands is the time-consuming preparation required using an underground oven, or imu, for the pig roast. Patience is key. Slow cooking is the secret to rich, moist, tender pork with just the right amount of smoky taste that cannot be duplicated. To be fortunate enough to watch the ceremonial process is a privilege few tourists afford. After two hours the lava rocks are hot enough for the entire pig, which is wrapped in chicken wire, to be placed in the imu by two sturdy men. Taro, sweet potatoes, and ulu breadfruit are tucked around the pig before banana leaves and wet burlap completely encase it. A canvas tarp becomes the next covering. Last, but not least, dirt is used like the lid on a pot. Set the timer. The pig will roast underground for eight hours, saturating all the flavors. Once the multiple layers are removed, the tender pork is shredded and the luau begins. Aloha!
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Beef au Jus!Talk about a no-brainer. This is a great meal when you have no time. I pop a frozen beef roast into my Le Creuset covered roaster first thing in the morning and let it slow cook all day long. By the time I return, the mouth-watering aroma greets me at the door. Then all I have to do is add peeled potatoes, baby carrots, and some red wine. A nice French Bordeaux adds richness and balance. Go ahead and pour a glass for yourself and relax! An hour later, dinner is served. Bon Appétit!
BEEF AU JUS
3 lb. Beef Roast
1 can Beef Consommé
Herbs de Provence
4 Idaho Potatoes
1 lb. bag of Baby Carrots
1/2 lb. fresh Mushrooms
1 cup Dry Red Wine
Put frozen beef roast, herbs de Provence seasoning, and one can of beef consommé into a covered roaster. Set oven to 285 °. Let it slow cook for 6-8 hours. The meat will be juicy and fork-tender. Add peeled and cut-up potatoes, baby carrots, and sliced mushrooms. Pour one cup of dry red wine over all. Cover. Bake for one hour, or until tender. Serve with crusty bread and dip into the “au jus”. It’s so delicious, you’ll be tempted to drink it!
***Option: The potatoes may be mashed with butter and milk. Leave a few lumps for texture. Top with “au jus”.