Ina Herb Turkey Breast

In preparation for the Thanksgiving holiday, I have been testing some turkey breast recipes from Food Network’s website. Earlier today I posted a review of a Guy Fieri recipe. The other one I tried out was Ina Garten’s (the Barefoot Contessa) Herb-Roasted Turkey Breast. This a simple turkey breast that is easy to make without too much fuss. It does not just a brine, just some seasoning directly on the meat right before cooking.

Click here to find the full recipe on Food Network’s website.

Here are my cooking note for this recipe:

Ina Herb Whole Turkey Breast

1. Usually I start in a blazing hot oven and then reduce the temperature. I decided to follow her instructions and go with the lower temperature of 325 for the duration of the cooking. And turned out perfectly fine.

2. I usually all the ingredients with exception of the white wine in the bottom of the roasting pan. She uses the wine to mix with the pan juices to ladle over the turkey when served. My turkey breast was plenty moist, so it is necessary, but if you want that extra flavor by all means go ahead.

3. I am glad that she calls for you to put the seasonings directly on the meat underneath the skin. I don’t usually eat the skin, so the flavor is going directly on what I do eat. If you look at the picture above you can see the herb mixture underneath the skin. Gets your mouth watering, huh?

4. I like the addition of ground mustard to the herb paste. It’s doesn’t stand out but just adds another dimension of flavor. I always have it on hand to add to my macaroni & cheese.

5. One thing I do not understand if all these Food Network chef (Guy said the same thing) say check the turkey with an instant read thermometer. This is the perfect reason to use a probe thermometer. Alton Brown has been recommending it for years. No having to try to position an instant read and then leaving a hole in the meat for liquids to drain out. A probe stays in there until after the meat has rested, so not juices will flow out. Also when you use an instant read you are opening the oven, decreasing the temperature and increasing the cooking time.

This turkey breast was amazing. I hit the perfect temperature of 165. The meat was very moist. I usually brine my turkey and this was just as moist. The only difference with the brine was the flavor of the brine was found in every bite of meat. The flavor of the herb mixture is just on the outside of the meat, so you need to cut it on a diagonal to get a taste in each slice.

I made this twice and both times came out equally as good. It’s an easy to make turkey breast for those going for just white meat this Thanksgiving.

Mulling Spiced Cranberry Sauce

in Dessert Side Dishes

Mulling Spiced Cranberry Sauce

One of my favorite parts of the Thanksgiving meal has always been the cranberry sauce. I spend years eating that stuff, straight from the can. As I grew older I learned how to make it myself. It’s so incredibly easy. Once I mastered the basic sauce, I have had a chance to play around with it. First I replaced making it with water, because let’s face water brings no additional flavor to the party. A nice strong ginger ale does. The ginger ale gave it a mild kick of ginger as well as the carbonation seem to improve the texture. I have also used orange juice which is a classic combination. I wasn’t ready to leave well alone. Last year I experimented with using mulling spices to make my cranberry sauce. I was inspired by a post shared by Frieda’s Specialty Produce on their facebook page. I was amazed at how that turned out. The spices add a wonderful dimension of flavor that elevates the sauce from ordinary to extraordinary. I just had to do it for the blog this year.

What are in Mulling Spices
While mulling spice blends can vary they normally include cloves, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, or orange peel. Star anise pods are sometimes included, even fenugreek. They are a combination of spices that really bring me into these cooler days, particulary since the weather here in Michigan decided to jump ahead about 8 weeks! Most often they are found in hot cider, a good choice. Going outside the boxes, I decided to brew some in some water, extract those flavor, and add it to my cranberry sauce. You can buy mulling spices at any grocery store. I recommend Frieda’s blend if you can find it.

The best thing about this sauce is that you can surprise your guests on Thanksgiving. The sauce doesn’t appear to be anything different by just looking at it. Once that get that first taste they will know you have done something, I almost guarantee it will be something that they will love.

If you need to make a double batch, just make sure to double everything. For best consistency the water and sugar need to be in a 1:1 ratio. If somehow you have leftovers (which I highly doubt) you can try make Cranberry BBQ Turkey Sliders the next day. It’s a Giada recipe and one of her best in my opinion.

Mulling Spices Cranberry Sauce
 
Ingredients
  • 12 oz fresh cranberries
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 heaping tablespoon mulling spices
Instructions
  1. Bring the water and mulling spices to a boil in a large pan. Once you reach a boil, remove from the heat. Allow the spices to seep for 30 minutes. Strain out the spices.
  2. Add the sugar and bring back to a boil. Add the cranberries.
  3. Turn the heat down until the mixture is boiling gently. If you let the mixture boil too hard you may get burned.
  4. Let it boil for 10 minutes. You can check if the sauce is done by putting a little dab on a plate and placing it in the freezer. Wait one mintue. If it's firm then it's done.
  5. If you wish to make whole cranberry sauce, just pour it into a bowl.
  6. For jellied sauce: push the mixture through a sieve to strain out the skins. This will produce a sauce just like from a can.

 

Guy Fieri’s Foolproof Turkey Breast

in Turkey

Guy Foolproof Turkey Breast

Our family is a whole turkey kind of family. We like our white meat and we like our dark meat. I know other out there would just like to stick with the white meat, so they opt for a turkey breast. In order not to exclude those blog readers who are white meat only and to take advantage of a sale, I picked up a couple frozen turkey breasts.

I wanted to try a couple recipes off of Food Network’s website. Guy Fieri’s Foolproof Turkey Breast was one of the ones I wanted to give a go. It’s a bold statement to call anything foolproof. But what can I say Guy Fieri is a bold guy (sorry I could not stop myself with the bad pun…expect more of them!) What make this recipe unique, at least for this guy (me, not Mr. Fieri) is that is includes both a brine and a rub. This is also the first brine I have done that uses molasses.

For the recipe, visit Food Network’s website.

Here are my notes from preparing this turkey breast.

1. The recipe calls for a whole turkey and for you or your butcher to remove the legs and wings. Of course you could just start with a bone-in turkey breast as I did. If a whole turkey is cheaper than why not. You will have the wings and legs for later use.

2. I used all the ingredients as he said, except I was out of onion powder. The sage I used from my garden. It had already been dried. I then just rubbed the leaves in a strainer.

3. I realize the brine was going to be more than I need to completely submerge the turkey. So I pour it out of the pot once it had completely cooled. I added the turkey breast and then poured enough brine to cover it. I place the rest of the brine in a plastic bag and placed it in the freezer to use for the next time I want to brine some poultry.

4. Guy calls for the turkey to be in it’s brine for 12 hours. This is where you have to time it right, so you also have to allow the rub to sit on the turkey for 4 hours – for a total of 16 hours inactive time. If you want your turkey ready to go in the oven at 3pm, then you need to start the soak at 11pm, the previous day. Don’t feel stuck to these times. If you need to shorten the time, you can do so by a little, and I don’t think it will make a huge difference. I end up going a little short of the 4 hours for the rub to sit.

5. Guy starts the turkey off at high temperature to brown it and then lower it for evening cooking. He says to flip it over after roasting at 425. I did not think that was necessary. If the breast starts to get too brown you can always tent it with foil. I did not like the idea of trying to flip that thing mid-cooking. Mine turns out perfectly fine, didn’t even need to tent it.

6. Guy says to check the temperature with an instant read thermometer. I used a probe. It just goes right in the bird and you just wait until you hit the right temperature. Then you don’t have to keep opening the door up, losing heat, and making the turkey take longer to cook.

Closing Comments
The turkey breast came out moist and flavorful. The brine added flavor to the interior of the meat. The rub didn’t bring as much flavor punch as I would have liked. Next time I would put it directly on the meat, not the skin, since we don’t really eat the skin in our family, but if you do, by all means follow Guy’s instructions. One thing I will tell you it was a lot easier to brine a turkey breast than it is to brine a whole turkey!

Why Use a Ricer for Mashed Potatoes

in Side Dishes

Why Potato Ricer

Mashed potatoes are as much a part of the American Thanksgiving experience as the turkey itself. While I have been spending time talking turkey with you, I have neglected to take about the mashed spud yet. It’s time for that to change.

Have you come across a mashed potato recipe that calls for a ricer? Did you think that this is some old fashion gadget that you find buried in the bottom of your grandma’s utilize drawer? Is it this a tool worthy of being passed down to the next generation.

Why Use a Ricer for Mashed Potatoes
I was given a ricer for Christmas one year, not sure what I was going to do with it. When I saw Alton Brown call for one in a recipe for Whipped Yukon Gold potatoes I was excited to try out. After I did I found out why this tool is so useful, it helps produce outstanding mashed potatoes. A food as comforting as mashed potatoes, make a ricer not just an ordinary kitchen tool, but dare I say a stress reducer! Forget the therapy sesssions, buy a ricer!

What Does a Ricer Do?
If you ever made mashed potatoes that turn out gummy – a ricer is the key tool to prevent this from happening. The reason is happens is that the starch in the potatoes are swollen, ready to burst. If you agitate the potatoes too much they will explode – thus gummy potatoes. A ricer helps break the potatoes into small bites. The starch in the potatoes will not swell up into huge chunks if you break them down into tiny piece. Then all you need is to get the potatoes a quick wipe with a hand mixer to smooth them out and you will have light and fluffy potatoes that are anything but gummy.

Other Uses
While mashed potatoes are the best reason to get a ricer there are others. You can use them for sweet potatoes and squash. I heard one person uses them to dry out their cooked spinach. You could use it to make apple or tomato sauce, to remove the skins or seeds, though I find a food mill works better for sauces. Could be useful for making baby food.

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