Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmas Dinner, Part One – My Never Fail Chowder, My First Ever Brined Turkey (Breast) À La Sunny

Plus My Colossal Mistake

AND An Approximation Of

Em’s Wonderful Hors D’Oeuvres

Let’s start with those snacks. This is Em’s recipe.

Photo/ Sugar Plum

Here’s mine.

Fig and Prosciutto Tartlets

About 1/3 cup fig preserves (like this one)

15 slices brie

15 1-ish inch pieces prosciutto

15 phyllo tart shells

Spoon a bit of fig preserves in the bottom of each tart shell then top with a slice of brie. Cover with a square of prosciutto. Place in a preheated 375° F oven and bake for 5 minutes.

Note: Someone else assembled these, for which I was very grateful. However, she was really mingy with the brie. My slices would have been bigger.

I made a corn version of this soup last year.

Scallop and Clam Chowder (serves 6)

1 onion, chopped

2 carrots, diced

1 tsp. unsalted butter

1 can chopped clams

clam juice, milk and cream

1 large red potato, peeled and diced

6 sea scallops or ½ lb. baby scallops

Soften onions and carrots in butter until completely translucent. Drain canned clams into measuring pitcher. Set aside clams.

Add clam juice, milk and a little cream to make up to 4 cups. (I usually buy a bottle or two of clam juice, add a few spoonfuls of cream and make up the rest with milk.) Add potato and bring to the boil. Lower heat, cover and simmer 15 minutes.

Add clams and scallops. Simmer for 5 minutes, just until scallops are cooked and soup is hot.

Variation: For Corn and Clam Chowder, add 1 cup of corn - fresh, frozen or canned – with the clams and leave out the scallops.

Ever since I saw this show of Sunny’s, I thought about brining a turkey. On Christmas Eve, I went looking for a boneless turkey breast, but I guess I waited too long. I could only find a breast on the bone, so I bought one and boned it myself. (Go me!)

Thank goodness, Sunny mentioned removing the tenderloins and saving them for another day. I had such a hard time rolling the breast, that it would have been even more difficult with those things in it.

On Christmas Eve night, I used Sunny’s recipe as a general guide and made her brine and put the turkey breast in. I refrigerated it until the next afternoon.

I took out the breast and rinsed it under cold water and dried it. Rinsing poultry is usually not advised. All it does is to spray raw poultry water around the kitchen, which is never a good idea. But, in this case, I was rinsing off the salty brine.

I pounded the turkey breast a bit in an effort to even it out and make rolling it up easier. I added the stuffing – this recipe (not Sunny’s) with whole wheat bread, instead of cornbread - and attempted to roll it up.

It just wasn’t cooperating.

Finally, with brute force I wrested the thing into a roll and tied it up. Sunny said to use plastic wrap to help get it into a roll. Most of the stuffing had been squeezed out, so I cooked it separately in a buttered dish, covered, for 40 minutes.

As per Sunny’s directions, I seared the breast and then cooked it in a 375° F oven for about an hour and 20 minutes. I started with a 6 pound bone-in, turkey breast. I have no idea how much the boned breast weighed.

I allowed it to rest and, again, I was grateful for help, this time from H, and I let him slice it, which he did while I wasn’t looking! Big mistake! Did he think he was slicing a jelly roll or maybe a beef tenderloin?!! He made each slice an inch thick! Oh well, here’s what it looked like with the other things I served.

Letting H slice the turkey was a small mistake compared to my next one, which, I admit, not everyone thought was a mistake. When I took out the turkey breast, I had all these nice dark drippings in the bottom of the pan.

They looked so flavor-licious that I decided to pour in my-frozen-from-Thanksgiving gravy with some saved turkey stock and deglaze the pan. I strained it all and came up with a beautiful dark rich colored gravy. I tasted it. OOPS! I forgot about brining the turkey and having the drippings taste salty...really salty!

I decided not to say anything and see if anyone else noticed. My son LOVED the gravy, no one else said anything until I said, “Don’t you think it’s too salty?” They did, but were being unusually restrained. Dumb me.

I forgot that that was one of my reasons for avoiding brining in the first place. (The other one is that the turkey is too salty to stuff. It’s hard to tell if THAT was a problem with THIS breast, because I cooked most of the stuffing separately.)

Anyway, it was good, very moist and flavorful, but I will never use brined drippings again. And I’m glad I saw Sunny rolling up her turkey breast. I would have had even more trouble if I hadn’t seen her do it.


The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

So you finally brined. Wow. I never noticed my brined drippings being too salty, but you are a bit more salt sensitive than I am.

I had a heck of a time trying to roll stuffing up inside a turkey breast. I'm glad I'm not the only one.

I want your soup bowl!

DebCarol said...

I think it is great that you tried Sunny's Brined Turkey. For me that is the fun of the Holidays - have alot of your traditional dishes, but mix things up by doing one or two things different. I loved that your son like the salty gravy and that everyone else thought it was salty but didn't say anything. I am a salt craver (not good for me I know), so I would have been on your son's side. Everything else looked to die for and loved the nod to Em !!! She is my second favorite blogger :^)

Emily said...

Yay! I'm honored that I was the influence behind your appetizers. Um, I'd rather have yours. Mmm prosciutto. Too bad about that stingy daughter of yours. ;)

Well, I think you know that I would have loved the gravy. The more salt the better!