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Archive for Meat & Poultry

FOOD FUN: Fried Chicken Sandwiches & New Combinations

Fried Chicken Sandwich

Chicken & Waffle Minis

Top: Trending now, the “gourmet” fried chicken sandwich. This one is from Shake Shack. Bottom: Hold the bun and do something special, like the fried chicken with micro corn muffins and honey butter (for the chicken, not the biscuits) at Honey Butter Fried Chicken | Chicago.

 

According to Flavor & The Menu, a trends magazine for chefs, a new wave of fried chicken is popping up from coast to coast.

Much of it is in the form of a gourmet fried chicken sandwich: brined, deftly seasoned, often with antibiotic-free chickens sourced from family farms. It’s a far cry from Chick-Fil-A.

“Gourmet” (our word) doesn’t refer to an elegant ambiance or fancy plating. Rather, it’s an approach to fried chicken that uses top ingredients, including interesting buns and condiments.

THE NEW TAKE ON FRIED CHICKEN

  • In Manhattan, food trendsetter David Chang has opened Fuku, with a focus on fried chicken sandwiches. For his Spicy Fried Chicken Sandwich, chicken thighs are marinated in habanero purée, coated in buttermilk, dredged in a spice blend, fried, then placed inside a steamed potato roll with pickles and Fuku butter (butter spiked with fermented chickpeas).
  • For a limited time, Shake Shack, with multiple locations in New York and elsewhere, is offering Chick’n Shack, a crispy hormone-free, antibiotic-free, cage-free chicken breast sandwich with lettuce, pickles and buttermilk mayonnaise on a potato roll (top photo).
  • Honey Butter Fried Chicken in Chicago double-batters buttermilk fried chicken and tops the crispy skin with smoked paprika salt. The chicken is served with honey butter to slather on the chicken, as well as teeny corn muffin bits (second photo).
  • At The Crack Shack in San Diego, fried chicken is served with global-accented sauces such as harissa chimichurri and kimchi barbecue. The sandwich is served on a house-baked English muffin.
  • At Birds & Bubbles on New York’s Lower East Side, the Chicken & Egg Biscuit is marinated in buttermilk and served with deviled egg sauce and a dill pickle. You can also have Birdies In A Blanket, a re-imagined approach to chicken and waffles. The chicken is coated in waffle batter before frying. Out of the fryer, it’s then sprinkled with powdered sugar and cinnamon. (What, no maple syrup?)
  • At Arlen’s Chicken in Evanston, Illinois, a bucket of small pieces of fried chicken comes with either potato tots or crispy biscuits and a choice of three sauces: honey butter, Sriracha honey or Oh So Hot (which includes Scotch bonnets, ghost peppers and red finger chiles). The sandwich version starts with a toasted housemade biscuit, topped with cheddar cheese, a fried chicken thigh, sauce, bread-and-butter pickles, lettuce and tomato. With deference to fried chicken lovers who still want something good-for-you, you can have your chicken and sauce served atop a green salad.
  •  
    Read the entire story at GetFlavor.com.

    Then, give some thought to your own perfect fried chicken sandwich or other “re-imagining.”

     
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Cabbage The New Kale

    Head Of Cabbage

    Head Of Red Cabbage

    Savoy Cabbage

    Bok Choy (White Cabbage)

    Head Of Napa Cabbage

    Top: Familiar green cabbage. Second: Purple cabbage (other varieties are red). Bottom: Savoy cabbage. Third: Savoy cabbage. Fourth: Bok choy or white cabbage. Photos courtesy Good Eggs | San Francisco. Bottom: Napa or Chinese cabbage. Photo courtesy MG Produce.

     

    St. Patrick’s Day evokes corned beef and cabbage—a dish the Irish learned in America, by the way, from immigrant Jews on New York’s Lower East Side. But we’d like to use the occasion for a plea:

    Make cabbage the new kale. Even if you’re not tired of trendy kale, we sure are.

    We’re turning back the clock. We were a cabbage lover before we ever heard of kale. Cole slaw and Nana’s stuffed cabbage were favorites while we were still in kindergarten. Next came sauerkraut on hot dogs and the braised red cabbage served with Sauerbraten, the German classic that marinates beef in vinegar or wine.

  • Cabbage is sharp and crunchy when served raw in salads and slaws. Unlike lettuce, it doesn’t wilt under dressing.
  • It becomes soft and suppple when braised over low heat, made into soup or cooked in casseroles. Heat brings out some sweetness.
  • It is both crisp and tender when grilled or added to stir-frys.
  • It plays well with other vegetables: brassicas, root vegetables, potatoes.
  •  
    CABBAGE VS. KALE

    Like kale, cabbage is a brassica (cruciferous vegetable), packed with anticarcinogen antioxidants.

    It even has fewer calories. Here’s a nutritional comparison.

    Eat This Not That highlights 10 greens that are healthier than kale. (This article, based on a report from the Centers For Disease Control [CDC], begs the question: When will chard become the next supergreen?)

    Finally, it’s a much more versatile ingredient, as you’ll discover when you keep reading.
     
    TYPES OF CABBAGE

    With these choices, it doesn’t get dull:

  • Bok choy/white cabbage, crisp, broad, white stems with a nutty nuance; tender, deep green leaves that taste not unlike spinach.
  • Green cabbage, ubiquitous, slightly peppery when raw.
  • Red/purple cabbage, slightly earthier than green cabbage.
  • Savoy cabbage, deeper green color, beautifully crinkled leaves, thinner leaves with mild flavor.
  • Napa† cabbage/Chinese cabbage, oblong shape with frilly, sweeter, softer leaves.
  •  
    You can use them interchangeably in recipes where the cabbage is chopped or sliced, like cole slaw or soup. The round heads are interchangeable, except when color or texture is important.

    While they do have different flavors, bok choy and napa cabbage are interchangeable in stir-fries and braises.

  • Bok choy is white-stemmed with dark green leaves; napa cabbage is pale green with crinkly leaves.
  • Napa cabbage has a very mild flavor along with a peppery kick. Bok choy has a stronger flavor, similar to green cabbage.
  •  
    WAYS TO USE CABBAGE

    For starters:

  • Baked cabbage chips (recipe)
  • Casseroles
  • Lettuce cup substitute
  • Sandwich wraps
  • Sauerkraut
  • Sides
  • Slaws
  • Soups and stews
  • Stuffed cabbage
  •  
    Emeril’s favorite cabbage recipe has bacon and is simmered in beer.

    We’d love to know your favorite cabbage recipe.

    _______________________________
    *The Brassica family of cruciferous vegetables includes arugula, bok choy, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage, horseradish/wasabi, kale, kohlrabi, mustard, rapeseed/canola, rapini, rutabaga and turnips, among others.

    †Here, “napa” does not refer to California’s Napa Valley. The word originates from a Japanese term that refers to the leaves of vegetables that are edible. The variety originated near Beijing, China.

     

     
    RECIPE: THAI STEAK SALAD WITH RED CABBAGE

    In addition to Thai salads with cabbage and stuffed cabbage, we now regularly make cabbage wraps.

    Thanks to Quinciple, a weekly curated delivery of farmer’s market produce, for this recipe.

    Ingredients For 1-3 Servings‡

  • 1 sirloin steak
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Juice of 1 lime (2 tablespoons)
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • ½ shallot, minced
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup red or purple cabbage, thinly sliced
  • ¼ pound baby greens
  • ¼ cup mixed fresh cilantro and mint leaves
  • 2 tablespoons peanuts, chopped
  •  
    Preparation

    1. SEASON the steak generously on both sides with salt and pepper. In a large skillet with just a few drops of oil in it, sear the steak on each side for 2 to 3 minutes, or longer for more well-done beef. Sirloin tastes best when cooked hot and fast to medium rare. Let the steak cool while you prepare the rest of the salad.

    2. WHISK together the juice from the lime, the soy sauce, fish sauce, shallot and olive oil. Taste and adjust the seasoning.

    3. SLICE the steak thinly. Toss the greens and cabbage with the dressing. Divide the salad between two plates and top with the steak. Garnish with the mint, cilantro and peanuts.

     

    Thai Steak Salad

    Cabbage Wrap Sandwiches

    Top photo: Thai Steak Salad with red cabbage from Quinciple. Bottom: Savoy cabbage wraps, served with spicy peanut dipping sauce. Here’s the recipe from AHouseInTheHills.com.

     
    __________________________
    ‡Depending on whether you plan to serve the salad as a first course or a main.

      

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    RECIPE: Cajun Chicken Salad

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    Chunky Chicken Salad

    Top: Cajun Chicken Salad on a Martin’s
    potato roll. Bottom: Martin prefers a
    food-processor blended chicken salad, which
    is so creamy it can be used as a spread. We
    prefer chunky chicken salad.

     

    Our favorite chicken salad recipe includes sliced grapes and almonds and dried cherries or cranberries in a curry mayonnaise.

    But we headed south (metaphorically speaking to try this recipe, from Martin’s Famous Pastry, a spicy, meaty departure from our sweeter recipe.

    This Cajun Chicken Salad adds popular Creole ingredients like spicy andouille sausage, onions, celery, sundried tomatoes, and seasoning, to minced chicken to create a dish full of flavor.

    Martin’s, which sells potato rolls, used their product for a sandwich. We couldn’t get hold odf the rolls, so we put the chicken salad on a bed of mesclun.

     
    RECIPE: CAJUN CHICKEN SALAD SANDWICH

    Ingredients For 4 Sandwiches

  • 3-4 cups cooked chicken, minced into small pieces
  • 1/3 pound smoked andouille sausage
  • 1/2 cup onions, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 4 green onion tops, finely chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup apple, finely chopped
  • 1 handful sundried tomatoes, chopped small
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Creole seasoning, to taste (recipe below)
  • 4 Martin’s Sandwich Potato Rolls or other roll/bread
  • Butter lettuce or other pliable lettuce
  • Optional: Provolone cheese slices
  • Optional: Dijon or other spicy mustard
  • Optional: mesclun or other greens (instead of the bread)
  • Preparation

    1. SAUTÉ the chopped onions and sausage in butter until the onions are soft and translucent.

    2. COMBINE the chopped chicken, sausage and sautéed onions in a food processor and blend to the desired consistency; or simply combine them in a mixing bowl. Add the other ingredients and then season to taste.

    3. SERVE on a roll with lettuce, cheese and mustard on the side; or on a bed of greens.
     
    RECIPE: CREOLE SEASONING

    If you don’t have Creole seasoning, it’s easy to make your own. This recipe makes much more than you need for the chicken salad, but you can cut it down or use the extra in other recipes, from eggs to burgers.
     
    Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup paprika
  • 3 tablespoons dried oregano
  • 3 tablespoons ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons dried basil
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon granulated onion
  • 4 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 4 teaspoons granulated garlic
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE all the spices in a bowl, and stir to combine.

    2. STORE in an airtight container away from light and heat, but use as quickly as possible.

     

    WHAT IS ANDOUILLE SAUSAGE?

    Andouille (pronounced on-DOO-wee) is a smoked, spicy pork sausage, originally from France. It was brought to Louisiana by the French immigrants and Acadian (French Canadian) exiles, whose cuisines would merge to create much of Louisiana Creole fare.

    The sausage is made using coarsely-ground pork from a smoked Boston shoulder roast, along with garlic, pepper, onions, wine, and other seasonings. Once the casing is stuffed, the sausage is smoked again.

    FOOD TRIVIA: Like the word ganache, which means imbecile in French (here’s the story), the word andouille also designates an imbecile.
     
    CAJUN VS. CREOLE: THE DIFFERENCE

    Cajun and Creole are not the same, although people removed from Louisiana often use them without distinction.

  • Creole referred to people who were born to settlers in French Colonial Louisiana, specifically in New Orleans. In the 18th century, Creoles were the descendants of the French and Spanish upper class that ruled the city.
  •  

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01_data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/Andouille beauty wiki 230

    Andouille sausage joins the chicken in this chicken salad recipe (photo Eva K | Wikimedia).

  • Cajuns, on the other hand, emigrated from the Acadia region of Canada, which consisted of present-day New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia. They settled in the swampy region of Louisiana that is today known as Acadiana; their name in French, les Acadians, became shortened in the vernacular as Cajun.
  •  
    Some people think of Creole cuisine as “city food” and Cajun cuisine as “country food.” But to eyeball the dish and tell its provenance, here’s a simple trick:

    Creole cuisine uses tomatoes and Cajun food typically does not. That’s how to quickly distinguish a Cajun gumbo or jambalaya from a Creole gumbo or jambalaya.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Beef-Buying Tips (What To Ask The Butcher)

    Grilled Bone In Strip Steak

    Lookin’ good: a bone-in strip steak. Photo
    courtesy Remington’s | Chicago.

     

    We recently were taken to dinner at Michael Jordan’s The Steak House N.Y.C., located on the lovely balcony of historic Grand Central Terminal in the heart of Manhattan.

    We wondered if Executive Chef Cenobio Canalizo would give us some advice on the most important considerations when buying steaks and roasts to cook at home. It’s a big expense, and we want to spend our money wisely.

    He kindly provided us with these…
     
    6 QUESTIONS TO ASK YOUR BUTCHER WHEN BUYING FINE BEEF

    1. Is it wet aged or dry aged?

    Dry-aged beef has a roasted, nutty flavor, while wet-aged beef can taste slightly metallic. Wet-aged beef lacks the depth of flavor of dry-aged, but it can be more tender.

    Chef Canalizo says most chefs will agree that dry-aged has the preferred flavor; it’s also more expensive.

     

    In wet aging, the muscle (beef) rests in a plastic bag in a refrigerated room. With dry-aged, it hangs to age in the air. When you see the word “aged” followed by a given amount of time, and there is no reference to wet or dry, you can safely assume that it is wet-aged beef.
     
    2. How long was the beef aged?

    Chef Canalizo prefers 21 days of aging. Longer is not always better, he advises. Aging actually causes the meat to decay (a tenderizing process). With too much aging, beef can develop a moldy smell and taste.

    All beef needs at least 3 weeks to start to tenderize. Naturally raised beef needs more than 6 weeks because the animals are more mature when they are processed. The reason most supermarket beef is tougher is because it is not sufficiently aged. (Aging = time = more expense.)
     
    3. Is it corn-fed or grass-fed beef?

    What a steer eats can have a major effect on the nutrient composition of the beef. Grass-fed beef usually contains less total fat than grain-fed beef. Thus, gram for gram, grass-fed beef contains fewer calories.

    According to AuthorityNutrition.com, while grass-fed beef may contain slightly less total fat than grain-fed beef, equally valuable is that it contains a lot more Omega-3 fatty acids and CLA (conjugated linoleic acid), another fatty acid. Both are very beneficial nutrients.

     

    4. How much fat has been trimmed?

    Chef Canalizo recommends leaving a quarter inch of fat on top of the steak for flavor.

    Many people choose cuts with less fat and less marbling. Marbling is the intermingling or dispersion of fat within the lean, and is a prized feature (that’s why Kobe and Wagyu are the most prized beef in the world).

    The fat adds flavor and helps to tenderize the meat. Also, much of it is “cooked out” before the beef is served.
     
    5. How many ounces is it with the bone?

    Chef Canalizo recommends 14 ounces (bone included) per guest. You should request cuts that are closest to the bone. The meat is sweeter and there’s more flavor.

     

    Roast Beerf

    Our mom’s special occasion go-to dish: a roast beef. She insisted on USDA Prime, and became friendly with a top butcher. Photo courtesy Niman Ranch.

     
    6. What’s the grade/quality of the meat?

    From top down, the grades of beef are USDA Prime, USDA Choice and USDA Select. Additional grades, not available for consumer purchase, are Standard, Commercial, Utility, Cutter and Canner. These latter grades are used in anything from canned chili to pet food.

    According to the United States Department of Agriculture, a quality grade is a composite evaluation of factors that affect palatability of meat (tenderness, juiciness and flavor).

    These factors include carcass maturity, firmness, texture and color of the lean, and the amount and distribution of marbling within the lean.

    Beef is graded in two ways: quality grades for tenderness, juiciness and flavor; and yield grades for the amount of usable lean meat on the carcass.

    While only the quality grade is important to you as the buyer, you should note that in the yield grade, only 3% of all beef produced in the U.S. is USDA Prime. It’s sold only at top butcher shops and top steak restaurants like Michael Jordan’s.

    If you’re not going for USDA Prime, be sure you’re getting USDA Choice, not USDA Select.

      

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    FOOD FUN: “Stonehenge” Beef Carpaccio

    Stonehenge Beef Carpaccio

    Garden Beef Carpaccio From All'Onda

    Turn beef carpaccio into an homage to
    Stonehenge. Photos courtesy All’Onda | NYC.

     

    We’re starting the new year of Food Fun with this eye-catching, low calorie treat.

    We love the eye appeal of the food at All’Onda in New York City. Take this “Stonehenge” Beef Carpaccio. Cut beets are arranged in a circle in an homage to the giant standing stones of Stonehenge.

    Carpaccio (car-POTCH-yo) is a very popular first course in Italy. Paper-thin slices of beef tenderloin are topped with arugula and shaved cheese, traditionally Parmigiano-Reggiano, and a drizzle of olive oil. On top of those basics, the cook can add anything that he/she likes.

    So consider what else you’d like to include in your own carpaccio. How about baby spinach, pieces of blood orange, capers or caperberries, cherry or grape tomatoes, gourmet sprouts, onions/green onions/chives, and for those who are blessed financially, white truffles in season (the season is now). The chef at All’Onda chose baby beets and you can, too.
     
    For an outside-the-box surf-and-turf, top the beef with anchovies, caviar (salmon caviar is nice and affordable, wasabi tobiko has hot wasabi flavor and a great crunch) or thinly-sliced raw scallops.

    The dressing can be fine olive oil or herb-infused oil (basil or rosemary are best) with a slice of lemon or lime. It could be a vinaigrette; or it could be something fusion. We like ponzu sauce, which we used in our re-creation of this recipe.

    Serve the carpaccio with sliced baguette or crusty sourdough, plain or toasted, along with a peppermill.

     

    RECIPE: STONEHENGE CARPACCIO

    Total preparation time is 2 hours 35 minutes, of which two hours is chilling time in the freezer. The biggest challenge you’ll have is slicing the beef thinly and evenly. Sharpen that knife!

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 10 ounces beef tenderloin*
  • 2-3 cups handfuls baby arugula (substitute baby spinach)
  • EVOO (we used basil-infused) or balsamic vinaigrette
  • Baby beets in red and yellow, sliced to stand up
  • Kosher salt
  • Minced chives and/or small capers
  • Shaved Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese†
  •  
    ___________________________________________
    *Get the the tip end of the loin, which is narrower and a better shape for carpaccio.

    †American “Romano” cheese is a mild cheese not related to Italian Peorino Romano, which is salty and flavorful like Parmigiano-Reggiano. See our Cheese Glossary for more information.

     

    Preparation

    1. FREEZE the beef briefly to make it easier to cut. Cloak it tightly with plastic wrap and place it in the freezer for 2 hours. Chill the plates in the refrigerator.

    2. REMOVE the beef from the freezer and thinly slice it into pieces approximately 1/8″ to 1/4″ thick. Lay out sheets of plastic wrap and place each slice onto the wrap as you slice it. Top the slices with another piece of plastic wrap and gently pound the meat with a mallet until the slices are paper thin.

    3. DIVIDE the beef onto the four plates, creating a neat circle or other artful layout. Toss the greens lightly in the balsamic vinaigrette. Arrange the beets into “Stonehenge.” pepper and/or

    4. TOP with the shaved cheese and serve, passing the peppermill and the bread.
     

    CARPACCIO VS. CRUDO

    Sometimes we see “Tuna Carpaccio” or other seafood carpaccio (octopus, salmon, scallops, etc.) on a menu. That’s incorrect; feel free to point it out to the chef. (Seriously: We once had to tell a two-star chef, via our waiter, that his menu featured bison, not buffalo).

     

    Carpaccio Recipe

    Don’t want to create Stonehenge? The same ingredients make a conventional beef carpaccio. This one, from Firenze Osteria, is slightly less conventional: It substitutes aïoli—garlic mayonnaise—for the olive oil.

     
    Just because they’re acclaimed doesn’t mean that they’re correct.)

    Carpaccio is raw beef filet, typically sirloin; crudo is the term for raw fish or seafood. Crudo is analogous to sashimi or tiradito, but the fish is cut differently.

    While crudo has been eaten for millennia*, carpaccio is a modern dish, created in Venice in 1963, at the time of an exhibition dedicated to Venetian painter Vittore Carpaccio (1465-1526).

    The carpaccio dish was based on the Piedmont speciality, carne cruda all’albese, created by Giuseppe Cipriani, founder of Harry’s Bar in Venice. Using fine Piedmontese beef (Piemontese in Italian), he originally prepared it for a countess whose doctors had recommended that she eat raw meat!
     
    _________________________________________
    ‡From the earliest times, fishermen have eaten their catch on board, with a bit of salt and/or citrus. Before man learned to make fire, some 350,000 years ago, the catch was de facto eaten raw. Here’s a list of raw fish dishes.

      

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    RECIPE: Frizzled Ham & Brussels Sprouts

    Here’s what to do with the leftover Christmas ham: Add it to lots of good-for-you cruciferous vegetables. We think that the ideal pairing is Brussels sprouts.

    The recipe is from PorkBeInspired.com, the consumer website of the National Pork Board.

    You can serve it as a main or a side.
     
    WHAT IS FRIZZLED HAM?

    Frizzle means to fry or grill with a sizzling noise. Frizzling is a technique used to crisp strips of cold cuts—bologna, ham, roast beef, turkey roll, etc.—in a frying pan. The crisped slices curl up like bacon (and you can substitute bacon for other frizzled meats).

    Frizzled meat can be added to scrambled eggs and omelets, sandwiches, grains, vegetables, salads, as a soup garnish, etc.

    RECIPE: SHAVED BRUSSELS SPROUTS WITH FRIZZLED HAM

    Prep time is 30 minutes; cook time is 20 minutes plus 10 minutes resting time.

    Ingredients For 8 Side Servings

      Brussels Sprouts With Frizzled Ham

    When you frizzle ham, you cook it like bacon. Photo courtesy PorkBeInspired.com.

  • 6 slices ham, (about 3 ounces), cut in half, then cut crosswise into 1/4-inch strips
  • 1-3/4 pounds Brussels sprouts, ends trimmed, outer leaves removed as needed
  • 1 large orange, zested and juiced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 cups shallots† (8 to 10), thinly sliced
  • 6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts (substitute pistachio nuts)
  • 2 teaspoons white balsamic vinegar or white wine vinegar
  • Salt and pepper
  •  

    *The highly nutritious, anti-carcinogen Brassicaceae family of vegetables is also called the Cruciferous family, from cruciferae, New Latin for “cross-bearing.” The flowers of these vegetables consist of four petals in the shape of a cross. The family includes arugula, bok choy, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, horseradish, kale, kohlrabi, mizuna, mustard, radish, rapeseed/canola, rapini (broccoli rabe), rutabaga, tatsoi and turnips. Eat up!
     
    †If you don’t have shallots, substitute sweet onions. You want mild onion flavor in this recipe.

     

    Brussels Sprouts

    You can shave Brussels sprouts in a food
    processor or with a mandoline. Photo
    courtesy Domesticate-Me.com. Check out their
    Shaved Brussels Sprouts & Cauliflower
    Salad recipe.

     

    Preparation

    1. SLICE the Brussels sprouts in batches, placing them in the feed tube of a food processor fitted with a thin slicing disk. If you don’t have a food processor with a thin slicing disk or a mandoline, thinly slice the Brussels sprouts by hand.

    2. ZEST the orange, then squeeze the juice, measuring out 1/4 cup for the recipe (save any remaining juice for another use). Set the Brussels sprouts, orange zest and orange juice aside.

    3. WARM the olive oil in a large saucepan or small stockpot over medium heat. Add the ham and cook, stirring occasionally, until crisped and golden, 3 to 4 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer ham to a plate and set aside.

    4. ADD the butter to the pan and melt over medium heat. Add the shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, until almost translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, for 1 minute.

     

    5. STIR in the Brussels sprouts; then stir in the orange zest and orange juice. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the Brussels sprouts are tender, about 8 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the pine nuts and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper.

    6. TRANSFER the Brussels sprouts to a serving bowl, top with the ham and serve.
      

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    GIFTS: Gourmet Food

    We taste thousands of products a year, and a few always stand out as “great for the holiday gift list.” Here’s the first of this year’s gourmet food gift lists. We also have a chocolate gift list, a stocking stuffer gift list, and others to come (spirits, food books and more).

    CARNIVORE CLUB: THE BEST ARTISAN MEATS

    For foodies or meat lovers, Carnivore Club finds the most exceptional cured meats and packages them a gift box with an introduction to the artisan and ways to serve the items. The club delivery can be monthly, quarterly, bi-annually or just once.

    Each box has 4-6 selections of handcrafted meat, a total weight of approximately 18 to 28 ounces. Past selections have included meats as varied as biltong, duck breast prosciutto, Iberico ham, ‘nduja, water buffalo braesola and wild boar sausage.

    Products are curated by a team of meat lovers dedicated to “finding the greatest artisans on the planet, and sharing their best creations with our members.”

    Satisfy someone’s inner carnivore at CarnivoreClub.co (yes, it’s co, not com).
     
     
    DEAN’S SWEETS: CHOCOLATE CHRISTMAS TREES

    Dean Bingham gets credit for the most creative chocolate Christmas trees this year: hand-stacked blocks of 70% cacao dark chocolate or 32% cacao milk chocolate that create the tree. The nonpareils add a Christmas lights effect.

    The artisan chocolates are all natural and are made in a nut-free facility. The large tree is 5.5” tall x 5.5” wide at the base (1 pound, 7 ounces of chocolate) is $29.50; small tree is 3.5” tall x 3.5” wide (7.5 ounces of chocolate, $17.50).

    Get your tree(s) at DeansSweets.com.
     
     
    E-CREAMERY: PERSONALIZED ICE CREAM PINTS

    eCreamery sells top quality artisan ice cream; but the real differentiator is the ability to create custom labels for each individual pints. Sure, you can leave the flavor as the title on the pint, e.g. Banana Toffee Praline Crunch or Chipotle Maple Bacon Ice Cream.

    But you can also personalize it: Peace & Joy From The Hofstadter Family, Amy & Sheldon’s Holiday Cheer, and so on. There are:

  • Nine holiday flavors, including the two previously mentioned plus Candy Cane Swirl, Gingerbread Cookie Swirl and others.
  • Twenty year-round flavors—the basics plus Chocolate Cake & Brownie Bites, Chocolate Malt Ball and Sea Salt Caramel.
  • There are five sorbets that are dairy free and vegan.
  •  
    Including overnight shipping in ice, four pints are $84.99, eight pints are $139.99 at eCreamery.com. BUT WAIT: There’s a savings of $15 off plus free shipping with code SweetNY15, through January 31, 2016 (shipped to one address).

    It still may be the most expensive ice cream you’ve ever bought, but it also will be among the most memorable.
     
     
    4505 MEATS: BACON-LACED HOT DOGS

    There are many recipes that call for wrapping a sausage with a strip of bacon. 4505 Meats of San Francisco saves you the trouble: Bacon is embedded in its hot dogs.

    These creative sausage makers have loaded uncured hot dogs with uncured bacon, a recipe guaranteed to wow. A 3-pound package of 16 dogs is $33.00 plus shipping at 4505Meats.com.

       

    Carnivore Club

    Chocolate Christmas Tree

    eCreamery Holiday Pints

    Bacon Hot Dogs  at 4505 Meats

    TOP PHOTO: A past box from Carnivore Club, featuring the charcuterie from Charlito’s Cocina. SECOND PHOTO: Chocolate Christmas tree from Dean’s Sweets. THIRD PHOTO: Bacon Hot Dogs from 4505 Meats. BOTTOM PHOTO: The finest ice cream with labels customized by you, from eCreamery.

     

     

    Robert Lambert White Fruitcake

    Savannah Bee Whipped Honey With Cinnamon

    Tonnino Ventresca Tuna

    Valrhona Hot Chocolate Mix

    TOP PHOTO: A deluxe fruitcake from Robert Lambert. SECOND PHOTO: Whipped Honey With Cinnamon From Savannah Bee. THIRD PHOTO: Tonnino’s Ventresca Tuna, made from sashimi-quality tuna loins. BOTTOM PHOTO: Valrhona Hot Chocolate at Sur La Table.

     

    ROBERT LAMBERT: ARTISAN FRUITCAKES

    Robert Lambert has long been a great food artisan, who uses the bounty of local California heirloom fruits and nuts to make his creations. He crafts our favorite fruitcakes, pricey but worth it, orchestrating a memorable symphony of flavors unlike anything you’ve ever imagined.

    There’s a white fruitcake and a dark fruitcake; the difference is the mix of hand-candied luxury fruits and the spirits.

  • White Artisan Fruitcake has light-colored fruits: golden raisins, candied bergamot, coconuy, Rangpur lime, Meyer lemon peel, blood orange peel, Buddha’s hand citron and candied young ginger all contribute. Nuts include almonds, Brazil nuts, pecans and walnuts. Each cake is soaked in the fine French cognac, infused with herbs and spices, topped with a California bay leaf and candied white grapefruit peel star.
  • Dark Artisan Fruitcake has dark fruits: dates, prunes and dark raisins, hazelnuts, pecans and walnuts. The cake has a touch of molasses and brown sugar, the spices are cardamom, cinnamon and nutmeg. The cake is soaked in his favorite 10-year-old Ficklin port.
  •  
    The one pound fruitcakes are $55 each, or any two in a gift tin for $100, at RobertLambert.com.
     
    SAVANNAH BEE: ARTISAN HONEY

    Our favorite honey producer, Savannah Bee spins together crystallized honey and aromatic cinnamon, forming an irresistible and spreadable Whipped Honey With Cinnamon. There are two sizes: a 12-ounce jar ($16.55) and a pair of two 3-ounce jars ($6.50).

    Another favorite holiday gift is Winter White Honey. From the Idaho Rockies, it is creamy, smooth and spreadable with natural finishing notes of cinnamon. This white-hued honey with a bright red label is available in the 12-ounce jars ($12.50) and two three-ounce minis ($12).

    For the honey connoisseur—or anyone with a refined palate—Sourwood Honey Gold Reserve is the honey gift. The sourwood trees in the Appalachian Mountains blossom only in “vintage” years, when there’s plentiful sun and rain.

    The flavor of sourwood honey is big and complex with hints of maple and spice. With a large jar, there’s enough to spare for basting grilled chicken or pork tenderloin, as well as lavish in tea and on pancakes. Sizes range from 3-ounce minis to 80-ounce jumbos, $12 to $92. The popular 12-ounce size is available with an optional pump—no dripping honey.

    For an even more special gift, the Sourwood Reserve packages 20 ounces of honey in an elegant tall flute and equally elegant packaging, $120. The company owner, one of the world’s great artisan honey experts, it “calls arguably the best in the world.”

     
    TONNINO: TOP QUALITY TUNA IN JARS

    Some people buy the best of everything. In the case of tuna, that’s Tonnino tuna, so lovely it’s packaged in a see-through jar.

    Our local gourmet stores sell it for $8 to $10 jar, but on Amazon it’s just $5.99. “Just $5.99” may still have sticker shock for those who wait for sales of supermarket brands for 99¢, but for gifting, think outside the can!

    The large fillets stand tall in jars, very different from what’s packed into cans. And the flavor must be tasted! Even our brother, who waits for the 99¢ sales, acknowledged as much. We now have solved the problem of what to get the tuna lover and the health-focused.

    Tonnino varieties include Tuna Fillets With Capers And Garlic In Olive Oil, With Garlic In Olive Oil, With Jalapeño In Olive Oil, With Lemon And Pepper In Olive Oil, With Oregano In Olive Oil, In Olive Oil (plain) and In Spring Water.

    The top of the line is Ventresca, “the royalty of our gourmet jarred tuna.” It’s hand filleted from a small section of the tuna’s underbelly (sushi eaters, think toro).

    Even the olive oil is delicious! A jar in every flavor is a special gift. See more at Tonnino.com.
     
     
    VALRHONA: GOURMET HOT CHOCOLATE

    The first hot chocolate mix from master chocolatier Valrhona, one of the world’s great chocolate producers and the name for fine chocolate in France. A perfect blend of the finest cocoa powder and dark chocolate chips, it makes a rich, chocolaty, marvelous cup of hot chocolate. Exclusively at Sur La Table, a 12-ounce tin red and silver tin is $21.95.

    You can package it with Peppermint Cocoa Stirrers and Marshmallow Snowman Beverage Topper marshmallows for a more elaborate gift. Or, go whole-hog with a set of Peppermint Stripe Mugs.

    Find it at SurLaTable.com. Orders over $59 ship free with code SHIPFREE.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Duck Bacon

    Duck Bacon

    You’ll absolutely love it: duck bacon from
    D’Artagnan.

     

    As a follow up to our article on ways to use duck fat, here’s how we use duck bacon.

    We love duck bacon. It has a wonderful flavor and is actually much leaner than pork bacon. It also leaves a less pervasive aroma to cling to our apartment’s air.

    Treat yourself to some. It also makes a nice gift for people who like to cook and enjoy pork bacon or roast duck.

    Duck bacon is sold by D’Artagnan in eight-ounce packages for $14.99, with a price break for a six-pack. Unopened packages can be kept in the fridge for eight weeks, or frozen.

    WHAT IS DUCK BACON?

    Duck bacon is thinly sliced smoked duck breast, made from Moulard duck breast (called magret de canard on menus and in recipes—see the different types of ducks).

     
    The breast is rubbed with salt and sugar, smoked over applewood and thinly sliced into strips. The bacon is fully cooked during smoking, and only needs to be tossed into a hot pan and fried until crisp.

    The slices are somewhat smaller than pork bacon strips, but they are thick and meaty with a rich, smoky flavor.

    All-natural duck bacon comes from humanely-raised ducks. The product is labeled “uncured” per the USDA, because it has no added nitrates or nitrites.

     

    WAYS TO USE DUCK BACON

    Duck bacon is delicious in any recipe that calls for regular bacon.

     
    Duck Bacon At Breakfast

  • Serve with eggs or the pancake-waffle-French toast group.
  •  
    Duck Bacon At Lunch

  • Top salads.
  • Add to sandwiches (our favorite is this Foie Gras Club Sandwich (recipe).
  • Use in quiche and other savory tarts/pies.
  •  
    Duck Bacon At Dinner

  • Make luxury burgers or sliders: Wagyu beef, foie gras and duck bacon.
  • Add to Brussels sprouts and green beans recipes.
  • Garnish sautéed vegetables.
  • Serve with fish and seafood: scallops, shrimp and lobster.
  • Enhance any poultry or meat recipe.
  •  

    Brussels Sprouts With Duck Bacon

    Crispy Brussels sprouts with duck bacon at Distilled NY.

     
    And save the rendered duck bacon fat to sauté potatoes or vegetables.
     
    THE USDA CALLS IT “IMITATION BACON”

    According to the Food Standards of the USDA, the term “bacon” designates the cured belly of a swine carcass. If meat from another portion of the carcass is used, the product name must be qualified to identify the portion—for example, pork shoulder bacon.

    And if another animal is used instead of the swine?

    Meat from other animals, such as cattle, chicken, duck, lamb, goat or turkey—and from vegetarian sources like seitan—may also be cut, cured, or otherwise prepared to resemble bacon. It may even be referred to as “bacon.”

    But according to the USDA, it isn’t. Unless it’s from a pig, it’s “imitation bacon” and should be labeled as such. Alternatively, it can be called “crispy smoked duck strips” or any word other than bacon.

    Another of our favorite products, Schmacon beef bacon, calls itself “uncured smoked beef strips.”

    Come on, USDA, change those standards. Your way is much more confusing to the consumers you’re supposed to be protecting.

      

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    FOOD FUN: The “Holiday Bird” Turkey Burger

    Last year’s seasonal special at Umami Burger was the Pumpkin Spice Latte Burger.

    The burger patty was first topped with aïoli (garlic mayonnaise), followed by:

  • Kabocha tempura, the kabocha standing in for pumpkin
  • Spiced mascarpone cheese
  • Coffee glaze
  •  
    This year, a fan favorite, the Holiday Bird turkey burger, returns. It’s both “an entire holiday meal with each savory bite,” and “everything but the apple pie.”

    Here’s what’s in-between the bun:

  • Turkey burger patty
  • Cornbread stuffing patty
  • Turkey gravy
  • Ginger-cranberry chutney
  • Spiced Japanese yams
  • Fried sage leaf
  •  
    The Holiday Bird is available at all Umami Burger locations throughout the holiday season.

    For each burger sold, one dollar will be donated to Meals On Wheels America, which supports more than 5,000 community-based senior nutrition programs nationwide.

    If there’s no Umami Burger near you, nothing’s stopping you from re-creating it at home, perhaps with a side of sweet potato fries in addition to those spiced yams.

     

    pumpkin-spice-latte-burger-230

    Holiday Bird Burger at Umami Burger

    TOP PHOTO: The 2014 Pumpkin Spice Latte Burger. BOTTOM PHOTO: The 2015 Holiday Bird Burger. Photos courtesy Umami Burger.

     

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Thanksgiving Turkey Varieties

    broad-breasted-white-porterturkeys-230

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01 data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/larryprice natwildturkeyfed 230

    TOP PHOTO: Broad Breasted White,
    America’s supermarket turkey. Photo
    courtesy Porter Turkeys. BOTTOM PHOTO:
    What the Pilgrims ate: the original wild
    turkey, a streamlined physique. Photo by
    Larry Price | National Wild Turkey
    Federation.

     

    The turkey is a native American bird. As everyone who went to grade school here knows, it was enjoyed by the Pilgrims and their Wampanoag Native American neighbors at a dinner at the Plimouth Plantation, Massachusetts in 1621.

    (Plimouth is how the Pilgrims spelled it. In the 17th century, there was no standardization of spelling. The modern town is spellled Plymouth, but the historical site retains its original spelling.)

    A celebration of the settlers’ first harvest, this harvest feast was later called “The First Thanksgiving” by 18th-century scholars. The name stuck. Check out more about it below.

    Fast forward almost 400 years, and we’re consuming 400 million turkeys a year. Ninety-nine percent of them are Broad Breasted Whites, a breed with short legs and a huge breast, bred to meet Americans’ overwhelming taste for white meat.

    As much as we gobble up those big birds, there’s been rumbling that they’re dry, tasteless, and bear no relation whatsoever to that enjoyed by our forefathers (or even our grandparents).

    Is that true? We share our notes from a tasting test in the next section. But the choices become confusing, and we’ve addressed them: heirloom versus heritage, wild versus heirloom, and supermarket turkey versus the world.
     
    HERITAGE TURKEYS

    More than 10 breeds are classified as heritage turkeys: Auburn, Buff, Black, Bourbon Red, Narragansett, Royal Palm, Slate, Standard Bronze and Midget White. These were bred long ago from the original wild turkey.

    Much of the ancient breeding stock survived on family farms, kept as show birds, consumed by the farm families and available in tiny quantities in the locale.

    But it’s not all deliciousness in Heritage Turkeyland. According to LivestockConservancy.org, the Jersey Buff and Midget White are on the critical extinction list; the Narragansett is on the Threatened list; and the Bourbon Red, Royal Palm, Slate and Standard Bronze are on the Watch list. However…

     
    Over the past two decades, as heritage breeds have been “reclaimed” by chefs, expansion of certain heritage breeds has ensured that there’s enough heritage turkey for everyone who wants one.

    Does that mean you should reach for the Butterball and forget heritage breeds? Not at all!
     
    TURKEY VARIETIES FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION

    Thanks to Whole Foods for helping to explain these choices. All of Whole Foods Markets’ turkeys come from farms that have been certified by the third-party verified 5-Step Animal Welfare Rating System. They are raised with no antibiotics, no added hormones and no animal bi-products in their feed.

  • Classic Antibiotic-Free Turkeys. These are Broad Breasted Whites (see top photo above) raised with no antibiotics. They are the perennial customer favorite at Whole Foods Markets. “They offer a trifecta of flavor, quality and value,” says Whole Foods.
  • Organic Turkeys. In addition to being raised without the use of antibiotics, organic turkeys are raised on farms that have been certified organic according to USDA Organic Standards (only certified organic feed, processing and packaging allowed).
  • Heritage Turkeys. These birds are raised slowly and traditionally. They’re old breeds with a more robust turkey flavor, and are typically a bit smaller (usually up to 14 pounds) than classic antibiotic free birds. One reason for their smaller size is that, unlike the majority of today’s commercial breeds, heritage turkeys are single breasted like their wild ancestor.
  •  
    WHAT ABOUT THE BUTTERBALL?

    Our mother was a Butterball loyalist, and made terrific turkey with moist breast meat, using her various techniques that included brining and covering the breast with foil. If you want an ultra moist turkey, but don’t want to do the brining at home, buy a hand-brined bird that’s ready to roast. (NOTE: Remember not to stuff a brined bird because the stuffing will be too salty.)

    A few years ago, we were invited to a tasting of different roast turkeys at a prominent culinary school. Except for the Butterball, which was frozen, the birds were fresh.

    We liked Butterball the best! Here are our tasting notes, with the counsel that it isn’t truly scientific since we didn’t repeat the test. And, birds from different farms could easily yield different results.

  • Organic Turkey. The white meat was pebbly, papery. The dark meat was pink, moist, very tasty.
  • Butterball Turkey. The meatiest breast and drumsticks. Excellent texture and taste, a very “birdy” flavor (what we have come to recognize as great turkey flavor) and classic white meat. The dark meat is darker in color and a little chewier than the organic turkey, but a lovely, pure, excellent flavor. The interesting thing about this bird is that the white meat and dark meat flavors are not at extremes: White meat lovers should enjoy the dark meat, and dark meat lovers should enjoy the white meat. Note that Butterball is a brand, and not all Broad Breasted White turkeys are branded.
  • Heritage Bourbon Red Turkey. A smaller, broad breast with lots of breast meat but smaller drumsticks. The meat was chewy all over without a lot of flavor. The dark meat is very dark; moist but just too chewy with no other payoff.
  • Heritage Standard Bronze Turkey. The meat was chewy, but not as chewy as the Heritage Bourbon Red. The dark meat was moist, the white meat O.K.
  • Wild Turkey. This scrawny, elongated bird looks like a champion marathon runner (see the photo above). There was almost no meat on the upper breast, but it had big thighs. Surprisingly, both white and dark meat were very tender. I wish it had more “birdy” flavor.
  •  
    The next two varieties were included in our taste test; but to be fair, they were at the end of the tasting, and we were all turkeyed out. We were stuffed and predisposed not to like anything else.

  • Heirloom Turkey. Dating back to the early 1920s-1930s, heirloom turkeys were bred to strike a balance between the wild, robust flavor of the heritage breeds, and the mild flavor then (and still) preferred by consumers. They were bred to be double breasted, to provide more white meat than heritage turkeys.
  • Kosher Turkeys. Rabbinical inspectors check each bird to ensure that it is of the highest quality and processed in accordance with the kosher standards of cleanliness, purity and wholesomeness. You can find both conventional and organic kosher birds. TIP: Hold the salt! Kosher turkeys have already been salted. And don’t brine or you’ll have an overly salty bird.
  •  
    So what should you do? The decision is yours. You can go with what you enjoyed last year, or try something new.

    Tip: If you’re feeding a large group or want white meat leftovers, pick up an extra organic turkey breast to make sure you have plenty of white meat to go around.

     

     

    THE REAL THANKSGIVING FACTS

    It is a little-known fact that the three-day feast celebrated by the Pilgrims and Wampanoag natives, which we purportedly replicate on the fourth Thursday of each November, was never again repeated in Plimouth Plantation; nor was it deemed by the colonists to be a “Thanksgiving feast.”

    In fact, days of thanksgiving observed by the Pilgrims were devoted to prayer, not feasting. So we are not replicating the Pilgrims’ Thanksgiving Day each year.

    That term was bestowed by academics researching the topic in the 18th century.

    We know that in 1621, the governor of Plimoth Plantation sent four men fowling, and “they four in one day shot as much fowl.” Perhaps it was turkey, perhaps duck, which was also plentiful in the area. The one written record dies not specify.

    We also know that the native Wampanoag guests killed five deer. About ninety of them attended, and the feast lasted for three days.
     
    A Treasure Trove Of Thanksgiving History

    There’s much to know about the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag People that we never learned in school. But Scholastic.com has the best site we’ve seen on the history of Thanksgiving. We love it!

    If people are waiting around for dinner, send them here.

    President Abraham Lincoln declared the first national Thanksgiving Day in 1863, and created the holiday observed since on the fourth Thursday of November.

     

    iGourmet-roast-turkey-platter-230sq

    nat-turkey-fed-kumquats-cranberries

    Platter garnishing ideas: TOP PHOTO. Add some veggies to the plater. We raw prefer cherry tomatoes and baby pattypan squash, which add color, don’t take away from the cooked fare and can be enjoyed the next day. Photo courtesy iGourmet. BOTTOM PHOTO: Keep it simple with kumquats and whole uncooked cranberries. Photo courtesy National Turkey Federation.

      

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