Turkey

Hi everyone, my friends at ButcherBox are offering a deal that I thought would interest you – for today (November 1st) only, they’re offering a free turkey plus $10 off any new signups with their program. The turkey is 10-14lbs, all-natural, and animal welfare certified — and will ship right to your home in time for Thanksgiving.

We’ve been using ButcherBox for several years now. They ship monthly curated boxes of 100% grass-fed beef, free-range organic chicken, heritage breed pork, and wild sockeye salmon. You can customize the box for specific types of meat (like an all-beef box), or even customize which cuts you want to receive. Each box ranges from 9-14 lbs, which is enough to feed my family of four for at least a week (but often more). I like the program because we can decide whether to be surprised with new cuts of meat that challenge us to come up with new creations, or fall back on our favorite cuts — all conveniently shipped to our door.

Click here to sign up, and be sure to enter the code “TURKEY10” to get an additional $10 off. The turkey deal will be available until November 15th, but the $10 off code will only work today (November 1st).

Wondering what to do with the turkey when it arrives? I have you covered with my Simple Roast Turkey recipe (also featured in The Heritage Cookbook).

Looking for accompaniments? Check these out:
Cranberry Sauce
Basic Mashed Potatoes
Devilish Eggs
New Brunswick-style Potato Stuffing

Hi everyone, being that it’s a holiday week, I thought it would be a nice idea to share some of my favorite holiday-friendly roasts and vegetable accompaniments.

Honey and Citrus Glazed Ham
Maple and Bourbon Glazed Pork Loin
Roasted Leg of Lamb
Roast Duck with Winter Vegetables
Roast NY Strip Loin
Simple Roast Turkey

Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Oven Roasted Jerusalem Artichokes
Winter Slaw
Skillet Roasted Winter Vegetables
Roasted Asparagus with Bearnaise Sauce
Roasted Cabbage Steaks

Hope you folks have a great holiday weekend – we’ll be keeping it quiet here in Virginia as I keep plugging away at the manuscript for my new cookbook. See you next week!

Around this time every year, my Perfect Smoked Turkey starts making the rounds, and for good reason – it’s relatively simple (with a little practice), and comes out great every time. But sometimes, with so many other things on your plate during Thanksgiving, the idea of tackling a new smoked turkey recipe can be daunting; lots of folks have told me that they would like to try the recipe, but never manage to get to it. So for everyone else, here is how I oven-roast my turkeys.

There’s really not much to this recipe, and that’s the point. This recipe uses a couple handy techniques first discovered by kitchen wizard J. Kenji López-Alt over at Serious Eats: start with a dry brine, then roast the turkey over a hot baking stone.

For the dry brine, you simply rub the turkey all over with kosher salt, pepper, baking soda, and cream of tartar and leave it in the fridge overnight. Baking soda and cream of tartar (which paired together in a 1:2 ratio create baking powder) help to raise the skin’s pH, which more efficiently breaks down its proteins to create a crispier skin.

Placing your baking sheet directly on a hot baking stone will give the lower, dark meat a head start in roasting, so that both parts reach their optimal temperature at the same time: 150F for breasts, 165F for legs and thighs.

When it comes to stuffing the bird, I prefer to use just a few aromatics to fill the oven with delicious aromas without inhibiting air circulation…

…and that’s about it. This simple recipe will give you a chance to focus on other dishes on the big day, like Cranberry Sauce, Basic Mashed Potatoes, Devilish Eggs, or New Brunswick-style Potato Stuffing.

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The weather is starting to cool down, so it’s time to share one of the many soups in my repertoire.

Caldo Xóchitl is a simple chicken soup from Mexico, a carryover of traditional, pre-Columbian fare, when soup (and corn) were dietary staples in the region. The word Xóchitl itself means “flower” in the Nahuatl (Aztec) language, but the original meaning behind this name is lost to history. I’ve read that this soup may have originally coincided with the daysign Xóchitl in the Aztec and Maya calendars; think of it like the astrological or Chinese zodiac signs, based off a specific day of the year that is governed by the goddess Xochiquetzal. Another, perhaps more practical theory is that squash blossoms may have simply been added to the soup when in season.

While chicken is more commonly served in this soup today, chickens were likely first introduced after Columbus’ voyage to the Americas in 1492 (there is some evidence that there were chickens in South America, via Polynesia, but that debate rages on). Either way, turkeys were available, so if you’re up for it, use turkey meat instead. We’re going to season the soup broth with a few New World spices, to give just a hint of depth to the recipe.

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Every time I make a pot of these greens, it feels like cheating. I make them pretty often for potlucks and gatherings, and everyone always wants to know “my secret”, as if there is some special, sneaky method to make this dish work. The truth is I simply make the dish as it had been made throughout history – with smoked, lesser cuts like ham hocks or neck bones, some liquid, and a bit of cider vinegar – and let the flavors develop on their own time. But I think that in today’s age of canned greens, crock-pot greens, or greens made with bacon (the worst!), people’s expectations of how greens taste have changed. Instead of knowing how greens should taste, we’ve become content with how they typically taste. I think of it like how a quality, handmade cheeseburger runs laps around a Big Mac.

So this week’s recipe will definitely be making it into my upcoming cookbook, and only slightly tweaked from when I first published it in The Ancestral Table, because not much has changed when it comes to these classic flavors. Many recipes you find will insist you add sugar to the greens, to take away some of the bitterness of the greens, or the tanginess of the vinegar, and I disagree; since greens are typically part of a whole meal, I let the other dishes complement the sharp flavor of the greens – that way you’re encouraged to have a little greens with every bite. Our favorite accompaniments to these greens are something with a crunch texture, like Seasoned Southern Fried Chicken, and something with a mild flavor, like Mashed Potatoes.

Here’s my writeup from The Ancestral Table: Greens were popular in the early American South when slaves were forced to survive on kitchen scraps like the tops of vegetables and undesirable pork parts, like ham hocks, necks, and feet. Today, the dish has been refined and remains a favorite in many Southern kitchens. In fact, collard greens are the state vegetable of South Carolina.

This recipe is unlike many typical greens recipes, which often add pork or bacon pieces in small portions or as an afterthought; this dish celebrates the savory nature of pork by using both broth and a significant amount of pork. If you aren’t able to find smoked ham hocks or neck bones, unsmoked varieties will do—just be sure to add 2 tsp. liquid smoke when adding the greens to the pot. Alternatively, you can buy smoked turkey necks or smoked turkey wings.

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I know what you’re thinking. “But Russ, it just turned October, and you’re already posting about Thanksgiving turkey!” While that’s true, there’s a simple explanation: if you want to celebrate Thanksgiving this year with a wholesome, happy, and pastured turkey, you’re going to need to contact a local farmer and pre-order it soon. As in, right away. So this recipe serves as both a reminder to pre-order a turkey soon, and a guide on what to do with the bird when you get it. I’ve been smoking chickens and turkeys for a while, but I’ve been lousy at sharing my results. So this is my definitive guide on how to get a great smoked turkey, using either a gas or charcoal grill. I love smoking turkeys because the flavor is awesome, but also because it frees up valuable oven space on what tends to be a hectic day.

The common turkey we eat today is a domesticated descendant of the wild turkeys originally found in North America. When Europeans first saw turkeys, they incorrectly thought they were a form of guineafowl, which was sometimes called “turkey fowl” because back in the day they were imported into Europe through Turkey. The name “turkey” stuck with this bird afterwards. Interestingly, many European countries (including France, Italy, Ukraine, Poland, and Russia) call the bird a derivative of “India” or “Indies” because of a similar confusion with guineafowl (which was also imported from India), or possibly because the New World was often thought to be part of Asia during the European Renaissance.

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Like most of the Paleo world, I caught wind of Joshua at Slim Palate a few months back when he revealed that not only is he a teenager, but he lost over 100 lbs during his journey to find health and fitness. Incredible story aside, I immediately respected his photography and sense of style (I can’t imagine what my sense of “style” was at age 17!); he’s got an elegant eye that shows up in his pictures.

After a bit of chatting, I offered to do a recipe swap, where we recreate one of each other’s recipes, with allowance for tweaks. I chose to do one of his earlier recipes, Chipotle Dijon Turkey Meatballs, while he made a stunning rendition of my Rogan Josh recipe. My take on his original recipe is pretty faithful, but I added a creamy sauce on the side, modeled after the cream sauce typically found in traditional-style fish tacos.

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Note: I’ve tweaked this recipe over the years, and HERE is my definitive method/recipe.

For Thanksgiving this year I tried my hand at roasting a turkey on the grill. The resulting bird was crispy on the outside and juicy and tender on the inside, and only took a few minutes longer than roasting it in the oven. Also, adding woods chips imparts an authentic smokey flavor that really made the turkey stand out on the Thanksgiving table. Lastly, it frees up the oven for other endeavors!

Also, when grilling a turkey (or roasting it in the oven, for that matter), you want to use a v-rack (often called a roasting rack). We just started using one recently and it’s amazing how evenly it cooks the bird, since it allows air to circulate around the entire turkey. Depending on how your grill plates run, though, the v-rack may fall through the plates; to prevent this, put the v-rack on a grill pan.

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