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Damn. I had a lot of fun in this dusty, dirty, and sometimes muddy little patch. While the garden hibernates under a blanket of snow, I look forward to getting together with those who made it what it was to talk about the good times we had during our first season and to plan our adventures for the next one. I propose such a get-together over hot toddies. Or over cold drinks in a warm place.



My highlights:

New friends

New community connections

The overall transformation from derelict lot to fruitful garden

Salvaging of artifacts

Great yields

Many meals from the produce

Momentous meals at the garden with family and friends

Excercise

Limestone steps

Grass bench

Cinderblock rain barrel structure

Maggot the cat

Kenya the dog

Fourth of July

Snow

Knowing that we made a real effort to appreciate what we had while knowing that there are no guarantees for the future.

Links

Thought I should get around to creating some links. These are the blogs and resources that I have bookmarked for inspiration and reference. It’s a good start but not at all complete.

Dessert

 


Lemon and Ginger Bavarian

Originally uploaded by art and chel

Lemon and ginger Bavarian. Gingery crust, ricotta and lemon, candied lemon, lemon gelee.

 

 

 

Lemon and ginger Bavarian

I hope everybody had a pleasant and delicious Thanksgiving holiday. If your house is like ours, you’ve probably had your fill of turkey dinner leftovers and tried to get a little creative with them. Turkey and stuffing sandwiches, anyone? How about a Salvadoran Pane Con PavosCrispy stuffing with poached eggs for breakfast? Turkey tetrazzini?

I don’t like anything to go to waste. But I also try to make something really enjoyable with the leftovers rather than simply reheating and serving. The first thing that Chelsea and I enjoyed with the leftovers was a rich turkey soup made from the carcass, wings, leftover dark meat, and the confit juices from Darrin’s turkey legs, plus some gravy to add some more dimension to the soup. We still had some fresh kale salad and greens from the polytunnel, a little stuffing, and mashed potatoes to round out our pretty standard Thanksgiving leftovers meal.

The second leftovers meal was something to remember. Our friend Dave, currently of Minneapolis and an all-around connoisseur of fun and leftovers, was staying with us for the weekend, which meant that if we were going to prepare a dinner of leftovers at home, they had better be damn good leftovers. So, I got to work on a menu, which looked something like this:

Dave, not yet aware of the delicious leftovers

Roasted turkey carpaccio with curried green tomato chutney and homegrown lettuces

Turkey and brown rice bowl with Japanese garnishes

Leftover lemon and ginger Bavarian for dessert

If you remember from parts 1 and 2 of “Spatchcocked!” I lined the underside of the turkey breast skin with fresh leaves of sage and barded the breast with thin slices of pancetta. I was left with one-half turkey breast on Thanksgiving, which I removed intact from the turkey. For the carpaccio, I sliced the cold turkey breast as thinly as possible and fanned it out on a dinner plate. The fanned turkey looked pretty with the bits of sage and pancetta. When the turkey came to room temperature, I drizzled it with some extra virgin olive oil and fresh Meyer lemon juice, and seasoned with sel gris and fresh-cracked black pepper. In the center of the plate, I spooned some of my curried green tomato chutney. We enjoyed this turkey antipasto over fresh baby romaine leaves and mizuna lettuce from our winter polytunnel garden.

The brown rice bowl was as simple as can be, but incredibly satisfying. I’ll start by saying that turkey and brown rice are pleasingly complementary. They both have a certain earthiness that matches quite well. I began by boiling the brown rice in water and turkey broth with a turkey wing. When the rice was about 2/3 cooked, I added Darrin’s leftover shredded turkey confit. When the rice was fully cooked and rested, I poured it into a large mixing bowl and seasoned it with salt, pepper, ponzu, Meyer lemon zest, and rice wine vinegar. I dished the turkey rice into bowls and garnished with Japanese pickles and preserved seafoods/weeds, and accompanied them with fukake and hot sauces. Dave, a Korean American who lived for some time in Japan, thought the dish, in addition to being Japanese-inspired, was also Korean-inspired. I guess I must have really been trying to make him feel at home.

My spatchcocked Amish turkey was baptized by fire on Thanksgiving Day, and the result was glorious. I seasoned the bird one more time with sea salt and black pepper and let it come close to room temperature before roasting it in a 350 degree F. oven. I thought I would cover the breast with buttered parchment and foil ,but instead draped the breast with a butter-laden swatch of cheesecloth.

The most surprising part of the spatchcocked and roasted turkey was the incredibly short cooking time. I didn’t time it exactly, but if you have a convection oven, plan on anywhere from 1 hour and 20 minutes to 1 and a half hours! I’m glad that I had a probe in the turkey the entire tim, otherwise I may not have come back to check it for at least an hour and a half. Because I seasoned the turkey the day before and left it uncovered in the fridge, the skin dried out quite nicely and the bird began to brown in the oven almost immediately. I placed some loose-fitting pieces of foil over the thighs during the last 15 minutes or so of roasting. After the bird came out of the oven, a nice long rest on top of the roasting vegetables and herbs underneath a tent of foil yielded one of the moistest and well-seasoned turkeys I’ve ever roasted.

The saltimbocca effect was subtle, with thin whisps of pancetta still clinging to the breast and hints of sage that had permeated the meat. The Marsala wine in the gravy added a touch of sweetness to the meat. I would recommend this method for a slightly left-of-traditional Thanksgiving but also for pan-roasted turkey cutlets or brined, whole-roasted halves of turkey breast for sandwiches or a meal any day of the year.

While unique turkey preparations may be considered non-traditional for Thanksgiving, most people do not consider turkey in general, short of the turkey burger or deli sandwich, as a traditional protein choice. Give the best turkey you can get the same treatment that you would a piece of veal or guinea fowl, and I’m sure you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the results!


Spatchcocked Turkey

Originally uploaded by art and chel

I really had a hankering for a different kind of turkey this year. Something boldly seasoned, piquant, tangy, or Mexican-inspired. Alas, Chelsea would have to make her traditional stuffing that she’s been making since she was a little girl, and we weren’t sure if our guests would be up for the diversion. And quite frankly, I wanted to “keep it simple.” Ultimately, I decided on something in between exotic (if you consider a loosely Roman interpretation at all exotic) and traditional, and between medium and simple on the skill-o-meter.

The result is turkey saltimbocca. Last I checked, saltimbocca, which means “to jump in the mouth” or something like that, may hail from Rome, where there probably aren’t many turkeys, especially Amish ones, but there are plenty of sage and dried-cured pork products. San Francisco’s Zuni Cafe isn’t necessarily Roman-inspired, but it is Italian-inspired and that is where I became entranced by a perfect rendition of saltimbocca in which a perfect leaf of sage was pinned to the breast of a guinea fowl like a feathery-brooch, wrapped in a toga-like veil of prosciutto and gently seared. A simple pan jus provided just enough sauce to accompany this delectably rich and herbaceous dish.

My turkey, inspired by the saltimbocca preparation, is just left of traditional. First, the turkey has been spatchcocked which believe it or not, has nothing to do with medieval torture or execution. It simply means that the turkey’s backbone has been cut out. This is done by holding the legs of the turkey straight up and chopping, straight down, on either side of the spine with a cleaver and removing the backbone. Then, by pressing down on the inside of the breastbone, you crack it, flattening the turkey. This method results in a turkey that takes up less space in your oven and cooks faster.

The breast skin has been loosened and underneath it, the naked flesh has been rubbed with an herbaceous seasoning and lined with fresh sage leaves. The outside of the turkey skin has also been seasoned, and the top of the breast has been cloaked with thin slices of pancetta, an Italian-style cured and rolled pork belly. The breast has been tied with butcher’s twine to slightly form the meat and to help in holding the pancetta to the breast. When the turkey roasts, it will have a sheet of parchment and foil covering it for most of the roasting time. Toward that last 30 minutes or so of cooking time, the parchment and foil will be removed and the skin will be crisped.

I have prepared a turkey stock from the backbone, neckbone, pope’s nose, and giblets from the turkey, and will use that to prepare a gravy after the turkey comes out of the oven. The gravy will be enhanced with a splash of dry Marsala wine for that little left-of-traditional touch. I’ll let you know how it turns out!

This is a typical holiday spread that my mom would engineer for family get togethers. I would help my mom prep for these meals and really got excited about cooking during this time. It was also a dinner like this, maybe even this one, where my uncle Mark said to me, “You should become a chef.” It took me many years before I realized that “becoming a chef” was as legitimate an option as any other profession. I didn’t grow up in the chef as celebrity age or in an environment where my family and I knew chefs. Alas, I became a full-time student of food and a professional chef, and hope to inspire people through my cooking, the same way that my mom inspired me, and to encourage others to follow their passions the same way that my uncle suggested I follow mine.

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