Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Cook your Turkey BREAST SIDE DOWN

Cooking the bird "upside down" ... it's not as pretty a presentation - but it makes for much tastier white meat!

This is a post I first did last year for chicken. Today it's about turkey! (so pretend that is a picture of a turkey, and not chicken in a dutch oven).

Actually, turkey is where it began. My mom always cooked the turkey upside down. Upside down, and in a brown paper bag. This is the way I always do it too, because I know it always turns out perfect. The only thing I've added to the overall preparation is that now I'll brine the birds as well. Triple threat!

Does the chicken in this pot look odd at all? It's because it's upside down. Breast side down instead of the way we're used to seeing it - breast side up. My mom always did this with the holiday turkeys, so why not do it with chicken.

1 Whole chicken - drop it into an oven safe dish that you have a lid for. Add a generous amount of salt and pepper. You could stop there and add only a bit of olive oil, but I also like to add a good sprinkling of onion powder & garlic powder, a little paprika, and a little dried oregano. Drizzle a good amount of olive oil over it, then rub it all in real good.

I cook it uncovered at 375 for about 30 minutes, then turn it down to 325, cover it and slow cook it for another 2 hours. It really renders the juices, and creates a very rich, dark carmel-like sauce. Add desired vegetables, a little water (1 cup) and white wine (1 cup) in the last 45 min. When done, the liquid will be reduced down to a thick goo and you'll have a yummy sauce for drizzling over the chicken.

OK, so here is what happens. The breast meat is sitting at the bottom of the pot, drenched in all the juices and fat and it just drinks it up. Like I said, not as pretty - but so much tastier.

Taken right out of the pot - juicy and moist. If you cut this piece of breast meat in half, you'll see the gorgeous caramel colored juice in-between each and every fiber. Go ahead, click on the picture to supersize it... you know you want to.

Saturday, November 21, 2009


So, let's take a poll: Is there anyone here who doesn't like fatty, melt in your mouth pork?

I didn't think so.

Pork, when slow cooked and allowed to just get all tender and juicy, is just one of my most favorite things in the whole. wide. world.

Pork belly is now starting to pop up in fancy restaurants as appetizers and sometimes it's good, sometimes it isn't. To be really good, it has to be slow cooked, like ribs, so the fat is still intact, but as soon as you take a bite it just melts like butter. I happen to looooooove Charlie Palmer's version of pork belly.

This is my version.....

Pork belly is basically unsmoked bacon. I got mine at the Asian market. It's not salty, not cured at all. And, it had the rind. You can take the rind off, but why would you want to? It cooks up so crispy it'll rattle your brain when you eat it. "Cracklins" is what they call it in the south. Soooo yummy!

With all this fat, this is best as an appetizer type dish, rather than a main dish, so I cut it in smaller pieces, each serving is about 2 ounces. Salt each side generously and place into a 325 oven. I like to use a grill pan so the fat has somewhere to go, and the pork doesn't confit in it's own fat. You're looking for tender ... not crispy. Well, the rind can be crispy, but that should be the only part.

If your rind is on, you need to score it before cooking because it contracts quite a bit, and it will totally jack-up the look of your piece of pork belly. And do this the way you want to cut it, because after it cooks, you can not cut through it.

I put my pork in the oven, at 325, for about an hour. But ovens vary, so check yours after about 40 minutes. You're looking for tender pork, and the fat all crispy at the edges - yet almost liquid inside. Crispy is OK, but if you cook it too long it will melt too much fat away and then it'll just be tender, lean pork. Sorta missing the point of the whole "equal parts of meat/fat" thing.

Since it is not salty, I like to add some flakey sea salt or even rock salt on the portions, then I drizzle the plate with agave nectar. If you haven't had agave nectar, it's very good - similar to honey and even a little bit like maple syrup. It's a great sweet & salty thing :)