"It IS all about the TASTE"
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  • Gratin Dauphinois aux Lardons


    My holiday dinner is fast approaching and I need to start “perfecting” side dishes. This one can serve as a side or with an increase in the bacon content and the addition of a salad, fresh bread and butter, could serve as a full entree’.

    Crisp and creamy potatoes, golden crust, tender sweet onions, thick hunks of salty bacon, and a hint of garlic, (roasted for even more of a taste sensation and smooth cheese, what is not to like.

    Gratin is a widely used culinary technique in food preparation in which an ingredient is topped with a browned crust, often using breadcrumbs, grated cheese, egg and/or butter . Gratin originated in French cuisine and is usually prepared in a shallow dish of some kind. A gratin is baked or broiled to form a golden crust on top and is traditionally served in its baking dish.

    Potatoes gratiné is one of the most common of gratins and is known by various names including gratin dauphinois, scalloped potatoes, potatoes au gratin or au gratin potatoes, pommes de terre au gratin, or a potato bake.

    A gratin containing potatoes, cheese, and some kind of meat such as bacon, is often popular at ski restaurants during the season since it is savory, high in calories and relatively easy to cook and keep warm for an hour or more.

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  • Horseradish Creamed Spinach


    With my annual holiday dinner approaching, and with the menu of Prime Rib, I need a steak house side.

    A favorite steak house side is creamed spinach, but not the miserable gluey, slimey boiled crap with milk that some people try to pass off as creamed spinach, but the real thing… The rich and creamy melt in your mouth, not glue your tongue to the roof of your mouth, style of creamed spinach. But again with the rogue chef twist for an extra burst of flavor.

    For this event, I will forgo the usual addition of Bacon and make this a vegetarian dish, but we all are aware I really want that RogueChef Kicker, so maybe some horseradish?

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  • Dry Age Prime Rib


    It is close to my annual holiday dinner and as always, it will have an entree of dry aged prime rib. This means it is time to review the how-to, why-to, and why-not’s of this technique.

    These particular pieces of meat has been “hanging” or aging in my “meat locker” under close to ideal conditions for six days. Ideal conditions mean that the temperature is maintained constantly between 36 and 38 Fahrenheit, the humidity must be fairly low, and there must be a good air flow around all sides of the meat. That’s why they call it “hanging” they suspend the meat so that it is well exposed to the air.

    The following things must happen in order for a piece of beef to age properly.

    1. Bacterial action takes place inside the meat that breaks down some of the tissues for greater tenderness.
    2. Moisture weight loss must occur, at least 10% of pre-hanging weight and preferably 15% to 18%.
    3. A dry, hard, blackened crust should become visible on the exposed surfaces of the meat.

    But if you are brave and bold, it is possible to age your own beef if you can achieve the conditions of steady temperature, a dry environment and free and constant air flow. A large refrigerator that was used for no other purpose than to hang beef could be fitted with a meat hook, a fan, a vent to circulate air to the outside and a humidity gauge. The main trick to perform here is to control the humidity, which is why you absolutely need to retrofit the fridge with a fan and a vent, which are options you won’t find pre-installed.

    The two primary points of aging beef are water loss to concentrate the flavor and bacterial action to tenderize the tissue. The kinds of bacteria that act on meat in a squishy wet environment are more often toxic than benign, and no dessication can take place in the wet, sealed-off environment. This is why some folks say you can not dry age in a refrigerator. To this I have but two words to say, “FROST FREE”, frost free refrigerators keep a fairly low humidity level to avoid … Frost..

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  • Meatless Monday – Fruit Cake Cookies

    These really are the essanse of the holiday season, spicy, bright and loaded with dried / candied fruit as befits the season.

    Wikipedia says:

    Fruitcake (or fruit cake) is a cake made with chopped candied fruit and/or dried fruit, nuts, and spices, and (optionally) soaked in spirits. In the United Kingdom, certain rich versions may be iced and decorated. Fruitcakes are often served in celebration of weddings and Christmas.

    Typical American fruitcakes are rich in fruit and nuts.

    Mail-order fruitcakes in America began in 1913. Some well-known American bakers of fruitcake include Collin Street Bakery in Corsicana, Texas and The Claxton Bakery in Claxton, Georgia. Both Collin Street and Claxton are southern companies with access to cheap nuts, for which the expression “nutty as a fruitcake” was derived in 1935.[3] Commercial fruitcakes are often sold from catalogs by charities as a fund raiser.

    Most American mass-produced fruitcakes are alcohol-free, but traditional recipes are saturated with liqueurs or brandy and covered in powdered sugar, both of which prevent mold. Brandy- or wine-soaked linens can be used to store the fruitcakes, and some people feel that fruitcakes improve with age.

    These cookies will have a proliferation of dried and candied fruit, roasted and toasted nuts, and of course good bourbon and candied cherries on the top.

    Fruit used in these can be any and all of these, Dark sweet cherries, Pineapple tidbits, Dried figs, Dried peaches, Dried apples, Chopped dates, Dried apricots, Golden raisins, Dried currants, all of which can be chopped finely and macerated in a liquor for an extra taste kick.

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  • Turkey Casserole

    Well I am back at the lair, and looking at the wreckage of the Bad Wolf Turkey Dinner. There is a lot of wreckage, and a bit of food left. I just need to to fit it into a palatable dish.

    This is not going to be one of the set recipes, more like a I have this, this and this, how do I stretch one more meal out of these leftovers. Truly recession food.

    Maybe a hash, but I’ve done that, maybe a stew / gumbo, but that has also been done… Leafing through my recipes, I find a Shepard’s pie. A beef stew casserole covered with mashed potatoes and baked.. Now if I do the same with a turkey stew … Maybe a Leftover Casserole?

    If I pick off the meat left on the carcass, (Mostly very flavorful, dark meat), add the carrots, peas, and Perl onions left from the side dishes, then moisten this with left over gravy, then heat through, I’ll have a very nice stew. Kind of a turkey joins forces with the sides to once again provide you with a true food coma.

    I’ll take one of my baking dishes, butter and pack in a crust of stuffing, ladle in my stew and cover with the reheated mashies, add a shaving of cheese from the cheese platter and toss it all in to bake for 20 minutes @ 500, or until the gravy starts to bubble and the potatoes brown once again…

    If one is more Pub centric, spooning the stew into pie crusts, and baking is also a delicious option.

  • Roast Turkey


    Roasting Prep

    To prepare the turkey for roasting, first remove the giblets! You may also wish to use the giblets in your gravy or stuffing. Next, rinse the bird inside and out. (YOU DID BRINE IT ?) Pat dry with paper towels.

    If you are stuffing the bird, (I STRONGLY RECOMMEND NOT), stuff it loosely, allowing about ½ to ¾ cup stuffing per pound of turkey.

    Brush the skin with melted butter or oil. Tie drum sticks together with string. Lastly, insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh. The thermometer should point towards the body, and should not touch the bone.

    • Place the bird on a rack in a roasting pan, and into a preheated 350 degree F oven. Use the following chart to estimate the time required for baking.
    • Bake until the skin is a light golden color, and then cover loosely with a foil tent. During the last 45 minutes of baking, remove the foil tent to brown the skin.

    Roasting Times

    Bird Weight Time (Unstuffed)
    10-18 3-3.5 hours
    15-22 3.5-4 hours
    22-24 4-4.5 hours
    24-29 4.5-5 hours

    Done / Resting

    The only reliable test for doneness is the temperature of the meat, not the color of the skin, and not the timer. The turkey is done when the thigh meat reaches an internal temperature of 175 degrees F, and when the breast meat reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees F.

    If your turkey has been stuffed, it is important to check the temperature of the dressing. The stuffing should be 165 degrees F. (I recommend that stuffing be cooked and served to the side.)

    When the turkey is done, remove from the oven and allow to stand for 20 minutes. This resting time allows the juices to redistribute throughout the meat.