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Archive for Meat & Poultry

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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    RECIPE: Chicken Chili Bake with Chipotle Cheddar Biscuits

    chicken chili chipotle cornbread

    Here’s a hearty chili and chicken dish for
    game day. We made extra biscuits. Who can
    resist Cheddar Chipotle Buttermilk Biscuits?

     

    We’re having a small group over tomorrow to watch the New York City Marathon, and are making the same recipe that was popular with them last year.

    We’re doubling the recipe, so we can have leftovers and because fights almost broke out over the Chipotle Cheddar Buttermilk Biscuits.

    RECIPE: CHICKEN CHILI BAKE WITH CHIPOTLE CHEDDAR BISCUITS

    Ingredients For 4-6 Servings
     
    For The Chili

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 4 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1-1/2 cups crushed tomatoes
  • 1-1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 can (15 ounces) pinto beans
  • For The Biscuits

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, cut in small cubes
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1-1/2 cups (6 ounces) Wisconsin cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 2 tablespoons chipotles in adobo, any seeds removed, chopped and patted dry
  •  

    Preparation

    1. MAKE the chili: In a deep cast iron skillet or Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper. When the pan is hot, brown the chicken on both sides, about 4 to 5 minutes per side. (You may need to do this in 2 batches–do not overcrowd the pan.) Transfer the chicken to a plate and set aside.

    2. DISCARD all but 1 tablespoon of oil from the pan and return it to medium heat. Add the onions and cook until they begin to soften, 5 to 6 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute. Add the chili powder and cumin, mix to combine and cook 1 minute. Add the crushed tomatoes and chicken broth.

    3. INCREASE the heat to medium-high and bring to a simmer. Return the thighs to the pan and nestle them in the tomato sauce mixture. Reduce the heat to low; cover and simmer 35 to 40 minutes.

    While chicken simmers, prepare the biscuit dough.

     

    Cheddar Jalapeno Biscuits

    We served the extra biscuits with honey butter. Here’s the recipe. Photo courtesy McCormick.

     

    Preparation

    4. HEAT the oven to 450°F. In large bowl, the whisk flour, salt and baking powder. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender or 2 knives until the mixture is crumbly. Add the buttermilk and cheese; stir until just combined. Fold in the chopped chipotles.

    5. TURN the dough onto a floured work surface. Flatten and gently fold the dough over onto itself 5 or 6 times. Press into an 8-inch circle, about 1-inch thick. With a floured biscuit cutter or cookie cutter (about 2.75-inch diameter), cut the biscuits. Press the dough scraps together and cut additional biscuits.

    6. REMOVE the chicken thighs when they have reached 165°F internal temperature on a meat thermometer. Place on a cutting board to cool slightly.

    7. ADD the beans to the tomato sauce mixture and keep the pan over low heat. Remove the skin and bones from the chicken and shred the meat using two forks. Return the shredded meat to the pan and mix well. Top the chili mixture with the biscuits so that they barely touch. Place the pan in othe ven and bake 20 minutes or until the biscuits are golden brown.

    If you are baking extra biscuits, bake them on a parchment-topped baking sheet.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Pumpkin Soup, In A Pumpkin Or Not

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01_data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/pumpkin stew cristinaferrare 230

    Pumpkin Soup Recipe

    TOP PHOTO: Pumpkin soup in a pumpkin
    terrine. Photo courtesy Cristina Ferrare.
    BOTTOM PHOTO: Pumpkin soup in a real
    pumpkin. Photo by G.M. Vozd | IST.

     

    When was the last time you had pumpkin soup? It seems to have been supplanted by its cousins, acorn squash soup and butternut squash soup.

    The multi-purpose fruit was introduced by the Native Americans to American colonists, who turned it into soups, sides, desserts and beer.

    You can make pumpkin soup a Halloween tradition. Serve it from a scooped-out pumpkin, invest in a pumpkin tureen, or simply serve it from the pot.

    Pumpkin soup is adaptable to different flavors, from anise to chile, curry, and just about any spice on the shelf.

  • Gordon Ramsay tops his with wild mushrooms and shaved Parmesan.
  • A pumpkin-beef soup celebrated the Independence of Haiti in 1803.
  • In Southeast Asia, chunks of pumpkin are served in a clear broth with ground pork, scallions and cilantro.
  • Here are three pumpkin soup recipes we’ve published previously, along with instructions to turn a pumpkin into a tureen.
  •  
    The recipe below is from Cristina Ferrare, host of Hallmark Channel’s The Home and Family Show. She flavors the soup with pumpkin pie spices and suggests multiple garnishes so each diner can customize his or her soup. And she uses cream cheese instead of cream, for an even richer soup.

    Whether for sophisticated palates or to warm up the kids prior to trick-or-treating, make pumpkin soup part of your Halloween tradition.
     
    Trivia: The word pumpkin comes from the Greek pepõn, large melon. The word soup derives from Late Latin suppa, “bread soaked in broth,” from Proto-Germanic sup, “to take liquid.” For many people, yesterdy’s bread soaked in broth was the main meal of the day and also the derivation of “supper.”

     
    *All squash are native to the Andes and Mesoamerica. They are members of the gourd family, Cucurbitaceae, and the genus Cucurbita. Pumpkin, acorn and summer squash belong to Curbita pepo; butternut squash is Curbita moschata; hubbard squash and buttercup squash belong to Curbita maxima. Curbita is Latin for “gourd.” Who said taxonomy is dull?
     
    RECIPE: PUMPKIN SOUP WITH CUSTOM GARNISHES

    Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 2 medium yellow onions, thinly sliced
  • 4 scallions, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon dry sherry
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1 can (29 ounces) pure pumpkin
  • 1 quart homemade chicken stock or store-bought chicken broth
  • 1 package (8 ounces) regular or low-fat cream cheese, cut into small pieces, divided
  •  
    Garnishes

    Use as many of these as you like:

  • Sour cream or plain Greek yogurt
  • 4 scallions, finely chopped
  • 1 small jalapeño, sliced thin (remove seeds and pith for less heat)
  • 1/4 cup pomegranate seeds
  • Olive, pumpkin or walnut oil for drizzling
  • 1/4 cup toasted pumpkin seeds (recipe below)
  • Croutons
  •  

    Preparation

    1. HEAT a saucepan or stockpot over medium-high heat until hot. Add the olive oil, then quickly add the onions and scallions. Stir.

    2. TURN the heat down to medium. Sauté until the onions start to caramelize, about 10 to 12 minutes. Stir in the sherry. Add the cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, salt, cayenne and pumpkin, and mix well.

    3. ADD the chicken stock and stir until all of the ingredients are well blended.

    4. LOWER the heat and simmer for 20 minutes, until the soup starts to thicken slightly. If the soup is too thick, add more chicken stock or water, a half cup at a time. Turn off the heat.

    5. FILL a blender halfway with the soup and half of the cream cheese, and blend unit smooth. Pour into the soup pot. Continue the process with the rest of the soup and cream cheese until everything has been blended.

    6. PLACE the soup pot back on the stove and heat through. Serve piping hot, garnished with a dollop of sour cream, finely chopped scallions, chopped jalapeño and pomegranate seeds; a drizzle of olive, pumpkin or walnut oil; and the pumpkin seeds (recipe below).
     

    RECIPE: ROASTED PUMPKIN SEEDS

    This recipe is adapted from one from Elise on SimplyRecipes.com. You can see the step-by-step process with photos.

    With Elise’s technique, first boiling the seeds in salted water allows salt to permeate the seeds, not just coat the outside. If they’re properly toasted and are from small to medium size pumpkins, she notes, they can be eaten shells and all.

    Ingredients

  • Raw pumpkin seeds
  • Water
  • Salt
  • Olive oil
  •  

    Pumpkins

    roasted-pumpkin-seeds-elise-simplyrecipes-230

    Carve the pumpkin, roast the seeds. Top photo courtesy Starling Farms. Bottom hoto courtesy Elise | Simply Recipes.

     
    Preparation

    1. USE a strong metal spoon to scrape the seeds and strings from the inside of the pumpkin. Place in a colander and run under water to rinse and separate the seeds.

     
    2. MEASURE the pumpkin seeds in a cup measure. Place the seeds in a medium saucepan. Add 2 cups of water and 1 tablespoon of salt to the pan for every half cup of pumpkin seeds. Add more salt if you would like your seeds to be saltier.

    3. BRING the salted water and pumpkin seeds to a boil. Let simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and drain.

    4. PREHEAT the oven to 400°F. Toss the seeds in oil and spread out in a single layer in a baking pan or rimmed baking sheet.

    5. BAKE on the top rack until the seeds begin to brown, 5-20 minutes, depending on the size of the seeds (small pumpkin seeds may toast in 5 minutes, large pumpkin seeds may take up to 20 minutes). Keep an eye on the pumpkin seeds so they don’t get over-toasted. When lightly browned…

    6. REMOVE the pan from the oven and let cool on a rack until ready to serve. Test to see if you enjoy the seeds whole. If not, crack to remove the inner seeds.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Celeriac, Celery Root, A Root By Any Name

    Celeriac, Celery Root

    Celery Root

    TOP PHOTO: It’s not a beauty, but you’ll be hooked by its delicious, distinctive flavor. Photo courtesy The Chef’s Garden. BOTTOM PHOTO: Use the tops as garnish and in salads, soup stocks and stir frys. Courtesy Good Eggs |San Francisco.

     

    If you were asked to name root vegetables, you probably would overlook celery root, even though it has “root” in its name.

    Celery root is a large, gnarled globe—perhaps the least attractive item in the produce section.

    But peel away the skin and you’ll discover creamy flesh like a parsnip’s, to which it is related. Its botanical family, Apiaceae—commonly known as the carrot or parsley family—includes numerous* well-known vegetables. While not a relative, it can be cooked in the same way as potatoes.

    We grew up in an era and in a town with a wealth of old school French restaurants, presenting the cuisine of Escoffier and other seminal French chefs. Our favorite appetizer was céleri remoulade, a classic French first course.

    To make it, the raw celery root knob is peeled and julienned (cut into matchsticks). It is then dressed with rémoulade sauce, a homemade mayonnaise flavored with Dijon mustard. It was served to us in a lettuce cup, sometimes atop greens. Think of a gourmet cousin of cole slaw. We couldn’t get enough of it.

    Here’s a video recipe for céleri remoulade.
     
    A ROOT BY ANY OTHER NAME

    Called céleri in French and celeriac in English, the vegetable is also called celery root, knob celery and turnip-rooted celery. It can be eaten raw or cooked.

    Apium graveolens var. Rapaceum has a crisp, apple-like texture with bright white flesh. The firm, juicy flesh has a mild herbaceous quality with celery-like undertones. Celery root can be a non-starch substitute for potatoes: mashed, French-fried and almost any other way.

    Celery root is available year-round, with a peak season in late fall and winter. Nutritionally, it is an excellent source of dietary fiber and potassium, with significant amounts of vitamins B6 and C. It has just 66 calories per cup.

    One of the oldest root vegetables in recorded history, it grew wild in the Mediterranean Basin and in Northern Europe, but was considered difficult to grow. Farmers worked to master it, and it became culinarily important during the Middle Ages.

     

    Celeriac developed from the same wild plant as the familiar long-stalk green celery, but you’d never know from looking at them that they are kin. Over the millennia, different strains of the plants were developed for different reasons, some focusing on the root, others on the stems or leaves.

     
    *Some other cousins include angelica, anise, caraway, celery, chervil, coriander/cilantro, cumin, dill, fennel, lovage and sea holly.

     
    RECIPE: CRISPY CHICKEN THIGHS WITH MASHED CELERY ROOT

    Thanks to Good Eggs, the finest grocery purveyor in San Francisco, for this recipe.

     

    Ingredients For 2 Servings

  • 4 large chicken thighs (more for bigger appetites or leftovers)
  • 1 pound celery root
  • 1 bunch of Lacinato kale† ‡, de-stemmed and roughly chopped
  • Handful** of chives, dill or tarragon, chopped
  • Handful of parsley, roughly chopped
  • Spoonful of salted butter
  • Squeeze of lemon or a splash of red wine vinegar
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  •  
    †Tired of kale? Substitute broccoli rabe (rapini), collard greens, kohlrabi leaves, mustard greens, red cabbage or Swiss chard.

    ‡There are more than 50 varieties of kale, of which four are most often found in the U.S. Curly kale is the variety typically found in grocery stores. You may have to hit farmers markets or specialty produce stores for the others: lacinato kale (also called black kale, dinosaur kale, and Tuscan kale, among other names), redbor kale (ornamental kale, which is equally edible) and red Russian kale.

     

    Mashed Celery Root

    Crispy chicken thighs, creamy mashed celery root and good-for-you greens. Photo courtesy Good Eggs | San Francisco.

     
    **We don’t love vague measurements like a bit, a handful, a spoonful, a smidge. They’re imprecise and subjective. The best explanation is that the exact quantity isn’t important: Use more or less as you like. Write down how much you use when you add the ingredient, and then note afterward how much you’d use the next time you make the recipe.

    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 400°F with an oven-safe pan inside (cast iron, french oven or deep fry pan). Fill a large pot about half way full with water for the stove top, add a handful of salt and turn the heat to high. Salt and pepper the chicken thighs liberally.

    2. PREP the celery root by slicing off the top and bottom and peeling off the fibrous outer skin. Cut into 1 inch chunks and add to the pot of water. Bring to a boil and cook for 15 minutes. When the oven is hot…

    3. REMOVE the pan and add the chicken thighs, skin side down. Place the pan back in the oven for 25-30 minutes, then gently test for doneness by pricking with a small, sharp knife. They’re done when the chicken juices run clear. TIP: For extra crispy skin, preheat a cast iron skillet in the oven instead of a baking pan—and be prepared to remove it with silicon oven mitts or pot holders.

    4. CHECK the celery root for doneness; it’s finished when the cubes are tender. Drain and place the cubes in a mixing bowl along with the butter, herbs, salt and pepper. Using a fork or the back of a spoon, mash all of the ingredients together until you have your preferred consistency of mashed potatoes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

    5. REMOVE the finished chicken from the pan. Pour off about half the pan drippings, add the kale and toss with tongs, making sure the greens are coated in the drippings. Return the pan with the kale to the oven for about 5-7 minutes to cook the kale quickly. Once the kale is done, dress it with a squeeze of lemon and serve alongside the chicken and celery root.

    NOTE: Like an apple, celery root will discover with prolonged exposure to air. To serve it raw, blanched briefly in acidic water (with lemon juice).

      

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