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The 1960s called: It Wants Its Stupid Songs Back | Main | Gun Thread: Forget All That Extra Cautious Stuff From Last Week [Weasel]
November 25, 2018

Food Thread: Just Wing It!

yum yum yum.jpg

One of the things that makes cooking fun for me has been the realization (after only about 35 years -- yeah, I'm slow) that except for certain specific kinds of cooking, recipes are templates that should be shifted around and coaxed and manipulated to fit the current conditions; otherwise known as variables.

Those variables are ambient temperature (I just rotisseried a pork roast in 20 degree temperatures, and that's radically different than doing it in the summer), moisture content of the ingredients, humidity in the kitchen, accuracy of the oven thermostat, type of cooking vessel and a thousand other things.

How to manage all of these variables and still stay sane? Well, in this case the end justifies the means. All that matters is what ends up on the plate, so whatever works to get you there is just fine.

I'll give you a simple example. I asked shiv-master-Bluebell for her Brussels Sprouts with Bacon recipe. Now, it's not a ferociously complicated dish no matter what, but I was curious how she made it, and also bounced an idea off her, which she promptly and correctly shot down. Anyway, she said 15 minutes on a sheet pan at 400 degrees. Makes sense, but the sprouts had spent a few days in a high humidity vegetable drawer, so they were quite well hydrated. 15 minutes just didn't cut it! And how did I know this? I looked at them. I knew what the final product needed to look like, not because I had made her recipe before, but because I had an image in my mind's eye. That was the end, and how I got there didn't matter much. The sprouts were still firm and bright green and not browned enough for my taste, so I bumped the temperature up and cooked them another few minutes, until I got what I wanted.

Something similar happened with my sausage stuffing recipe. I made it, and boy oh boy there sure was a lot of sausage! So I made some more corn bread to add, but now it needed some onions and celery and other stuff, and it looked a bit dry (humidity!) so I added some stock, and what the hell, let's try it with egg, so I whipped three eggs into even more stock and mixed everything together and Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah it tasted great.

My point? Why no...I have no point other than cooking is an inexact process and if you just focus on the goal and not worry too much about how you got there everything will be just wonderful.

And the photo? Nope, it has nothing to do with anything, other than it sure does look good.


******

One of you lunatics did it!

Yes, that is long-time commenter "McGyver," whose wife decided to go for the platinum membership!

MWturkey.jpg

I am in awe of the insanity, the dementedness, the sheer....I have no idea....that would drive someone to do this. And do it well!

MWturkey2.jpg

Wow. Not only did Mrs. McGyver -- also known as The Kitchen Witch, so check out her website -- take this craziness to completion, she wrote a pretty damned good recipe to boot!

How to microwave a turkey
(Serves those brave enough to eat it)

  • 1 (7 to 12 pound) turkey (consider microwave size)
  • ½ gallon apple cider
  • 1 cup salt
  • A couple sprigs each of thyme, sage, and rosemary
  • 10 peppercorns
  • 1 ½ gallons cold water
  • ½ stick butter
  • 2 -3 tablespoons Kitchen bouquet
  • Seasoning of your choice (garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper, etc.)
  • Other needed items: brining bag, kitchen twine, turkey sized oven bag

    Note: plan ahead, turkey needs to brine 24 hours before cooking.

    In a large pot heat up the half gallon of apple cider with the salt and fresh herbs over medium high. Cook until salt dissolves. Remove from heat and let cool completely.

    Prepare the turkey by removing all innards (check both ends). Place brining bag in sink, add turkey, pour brine into bag and add other 1 ½ gallons of water. Seal tightly. Place in a pan or pot (in case of leaks). Refrigerate 24 hours, turning once after 12 hours or so. If you don’t have room in your fridge, place in a cooler with ice or here in Montana just put it outside if it’s not too cold.

    Drain the brine from the turkey. Place turkey on a rimmed baking sheet and pat dry with paper towels. Tie kitchen twine around the wings and the legs (this prevents the bird from getting too big to turn in the microwave).

    Place butter in microwave for 30 to 60 seconds to melt. Stir in kitchen bouquet and seasoning. With a pastry brush paint mixture all over turkey. Place turkey in oven bag and seal. Trim off any excess on the top with scissors and snip 4 to 6 small holes around the top for ventilation.

    Place turkey on a turntable in microwave. Cook for 7 to 9 minutes for every pound. I did this at 15 minutes increments. Manually turn turkey every 15 minutes if your microwave does not have rotating base or if the turkey is too large to rotate automatically.

    Check temperature with a quick read thermometer starting at the 30-minute mark. Remove from microwave and place in a rimmed pan when breast reaches 175°F. Let rest for 1 hour in sealed bag (it will finish cooking.

    Carefully open bag by cutting top with a pair of scissors. Remove turkey to cutting board for carving. We gathered up the bag and cut one corner off to save the juices for gravy (do this over the sink).

And here is the incontrovertible proof that it was indeed edible.

MWturkeyproof.jpg

[McGyver's kid; "Thing 2"]

******

From long-time commenter and all-around great cook artisanal'ette comes a link to Canada's Anna Olson for Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies. It's a pretty standard recipe except for the addition of corn starch, which she claims will keep the cookies moist and chewy on the inside and crisp on the outside. She also recommends chilling the dough so the cookies don't spread too much, but I sometimes like to bake chocolate chip cookies so they come out nice and flat and crispy. Try it both ways and see which you like best!
******


Way too much work! But I would definitely try one at a restaurant.


******

handkneadsourdough.jpg

I warned you...I will continue to obsess over souirdough bread until my A1C goes off the charts or I get bored. Anyway, this one was baked in a Dutch oven and proofed in a brotform...one of those wicker baskets that all the cool kids use.

******

I made a pecan pie for Thanksgiving, but at the last minute decided to toss some chopped dark chocolate in along with the toasted (a twist I will be using from now on!) pecans . It worked out really, really well, so anyone out there who has extra pecans and needs something to do with them should ghive it a try. I added about four ounces of good quality bittersweet chocolate just before I filled the pie crust.

chocolatepecan2.jpg

Sorry, that last contorted piece is for me. I think whoever was cutting the pie had been drinking a bit.

******

Food and cooking tips, Haggis, young wild pigs, Scotch Eggs, thick and fluffy pita and good tomatoes that aren't square, pale pink and covered with Mestizo E.coli: cbd dot aoshq at gmail dot com. Any advocacy of French Toast with syrup will result in disciplinary action up to and including being nuked from orbit.

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