Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Your Mom was wrong! Why dry is not stale

Hi all, sorry to say your mom (and mine!) were wrong on the main ingredient for stuffing. The key is to get DRY bread, not STALE bread.

Who wants to eat stale bread? Think about that bag of potato chips that were chewy instead of crispy and tasted a little flat. Well stale bread tastes worse than those.

Dry bread, when re-hydrated with turkey juices and chicken stock becomes really flavorful bread. Stale bread, when re-hydrated tastes like stale bread with chicken stock, not really the same.

I recommend drying your bread out the day of Thanksgiving. Hit your oven on 150° (or warm if it doesn't go that low) and spread your bread out on some tin foil or a baking sheet. The heat is enough to remove the water but not toast the bread. Fresh, tasty bread, now dry (in about 90 minutes or so...).

Some other tips include not using enriched bread (like white bread) which is made with eggs, it never really dries out anyway. Also, sweat, don't overcook the onions (leeks), garlic and celery for your stuffing, it can ruin the whole thing.

More to come, keep the questions coming...

TDay in Prison

Nick, @nick314

Thanks for the question and hello St. Louis. Well done for the red birds and big fan of SJax here!

The question is: $200, 162 inmates and Thanksgiving. Well, let me say that the reason I love Thanksgiving is because it is a holiday that crosses all social, religious and economic boundaries. People get a sense of calm and really good feeling about this holiday.

Your question is a tough one, but here it goes...

Right Now, you can get a 20 lb. Turkey for around $12 - I would get 11, so each turkey needs to feed about 14 hungry prisoners, not a lot of meat for each, but also not too bad.

(Spent $131, left $69)

Next Stuffing - let's go simple. White bread, onions and celery ( i am guessing you have salt and pepper at the prison). Enough to fill 11 Turkeys, plus some extra $16 ($53 left).

Cranberry Sauce - Can with rings, right? 30 cans, $16 ($37 left).

Potatoes - 20 lb bag at Costco is $4 right now - 6 Bags, plus milk & butter - $30 ($7 left)

Well, we have turkey, stuffing, potatoes and cranberry. What we need to spend the rest of the money on is a whole bunch of chicken stock to mix with the drippings from the turkey. Once we do this, we can add some corn starch or roux (again, I am counting on the prison to already have these) to thicken it up and get ourselves a very, very good gravy.

There you go, Thanksgiving for 162! Now they might have to drink water for this meal, but the memories and good feelings go a long way to making a difference.

Happy Thanksgiving


Clare Burre

In culinary school, I used to think of Clare Burre as my sweet (ficticious) French Aunt. I am quite sure she is a fantastic cook and perhaps used to send me $5 in a birthday card.

Alas, she is not my aunt, but clarified butter.

As chance would have it, I am also cooking on Friday (Bonus Blog Posts!) for another Thanksgiving and I am making hollandaise sauce for grilled asparagus. So, tonight I need to clarify some butter, don't worry, it is easy.

In a pan, add 2 pounds of butter and put on its lowest setting.

Over time, the butter will start to separate and fat will go to both the top and bottom. Start to skim off the top and discard fat as it hardens or turns to foam.

At the end, beware the fat on the bottom of the pan. Pour the gold liquid into another container being careful to to get the bottom fat. Let sit at room temp and it will stay liquid or refrigerate for later use.

That is it. You should always have some on hand for homemade mayo, salad dressing or hollandaise.

Brining Time

Time to brine everyone, wether you are doing a big Turkey, a small one or breasts like me, brining is the way to go. What you do with brining is to replace the water in the meat with flavor. Salt, pickling spice, pepper, brown sugar, etc. the recipies for brining are varied, but they all acomplish the same thing.

The salt acutally starts to draw the water out of the meat, but because it is submurged, what replaces that plain water is brine. This way, as your Turkey cooks tomorrow and the water reduces, flavor is what is left behind in the meat.

Mine is a plain brine, as follows:

Salt (kosher)
All Spice
Dried Ginger
Garlic Salt

2-hours is okay, 12 is great. Brine away, but remember to keep you turkey below 40° for safety!

Questions welcome, let's keep it going!


Live Blogging and Tweeting Thanksgiving!

Emulsified' first ever live blogging and Twitter Q&A starts tonight at 9:00 EST and continues through 3 tomorrow! Send your questions: @steveewhite And here by adding comments below!