Tag Archives: broth

Another Turkey Day Trial including Butter Broth

21 Nov


It’s always fun this time of year to watch all the Thanksgiving shows and read the magazines and ogle at all the lovely decorations that publishers set up probably back in July while sweating their you-know-whats off.  It definitely gives people the sense – the feeling – that something special is in the air.  And if a show or a magazine actually inspires someone to recreate the look, or the dish, or the decoration, then they’ve done their job.

And each year it seems like there is some fad or idea that weaves its way through our nation.  Some of those things have stuck around (surprisingly, I can’t believe people are still deep frying whole turkeys), and some thankfully fade (no MSG-injected birds, please).

This year, it seems the stuffed turkey breast roulade is the thing to make. I did this a couple of years ago for a Friendsgiving, and it was beautiful once cooked, sliced, and plated.  If you are one of those people that can’t look into the cavity of a turkey without gagging, let alone stick your arm up in that thing, then the roulade is for you.  Compared to a whole 16 pounder, the roulade takes much less time to cook, and with the right amount of butter, seasoning, and herbs, it still makes the house smell delicious.

Even with all that being said, it’s still not my favorite way to cook turkey.

My parents used to joke when I was little that I needed a divided cafeteria tray for my Thanksgiving meal.  Sometimes, I would have three plates in front of me – my dinner plate, salad/relish plate, and a bread plate – all because I didn’t like my food to touch.  Can you believe that?  Me.  With Thanksgiving food OCD.  The gravy could not and would not touch anything but the mashed potatoes.  And putting veggies even close to the turkey?  Ludicrous.  I would eat the cranberry sauce last (I still do that), and would always take more stuffing then I could finish.

When it comes to stuffing and roulading a turkey breast, it’s fun and all, but too much Thanksgiving food touching.

My secret it out.

To balance my vulnerability here, I’ll provide a little bit of fairness to this strange squabble (and mind you, this is a blog, so there really isn’t an argument unless you call this arguing with myself, in which case there are some other issues at hand besides food touching).  People love white meat, especially turkey white meat.  Now, these people may change their mind once they try one of those big ol’ turkey legs from a cart at Disneyland, but I digress.  The thing with turkey breast is that they are bland, especially without a bone.  Thus, all the fuss around the stuffing, and the butter, herbs and spices – sometimes possibly a brine – that are needed to make a Thanksgiving turkey a tasty treat.

So for this part of the Turkey Day Trials, I thought about what could keep a turkey breast tasty, after the cooking, without stuffing it.  Whether you are a bone-in or boneless fan, stuffed or plain Jane, something just had to work for all stages and styles of turkey breast to make it the easiest to cook yet tastiest to eat.   Then, the Sage Butter Broth was born.


I’ve used the trick of pouring a bit of chicken broth over cooked turkey to help it keep moist.  But what about all of the flavor that everyone loves on the outside (or inside, if stuffed) of the bird?  With that in mind, I made a butter broth.  Yes, you read that correctly.  Butter.  Broth.  And you heard it here first, folks.

I made the Sage Butter Broth by whisking 1 cup of low sodium chicken broth, a good 1/2 tsp of sea salt, a large sprig of sage and ½ a stick of unsalted butter together over medium-low heat in a sauce pan.  After the mixture had emulsified into one and was fragrant with sage, I poured it over the cooked (and rested) sliced turkey breast.

I had cooked my turkey breast (I always use bone-in) simply with some salt, white pepper and butter, but it was that Sage Butter Broth alone that made the turkey so flavorful and juicy.  I even kept it a secret from my family – I mean, taste-testers.  It was my dad – I mean, the tall man at the table that said it first, “This turkey is so juicy.”

So now, it’s decided that the Sage Butter Broth will be on the ever-so-most-important back burner this Thanksgiving.  Making all the meat herby and buttery and juicy and delicious!



Oh, you all are so, so lucky.  The hubs cooks again!  Maybe my Turkey Day Trials have started to rub off on people because Rob has created another fantastic addition to our Thanksgiving table: Grilled Acorn Squash (I asked him if he would want to write a blurb, but he politely declined, so I’ll do my best to recreate his masterpiece).  For all you grillers out there, he halved an acorn squash then seasoned it with olive oil and s&p.  He cooked it flesh-side down first (about 10 minutes), then flipped it, all on indirect heat (he says that detail is important).  After about 20 more minutes, the squash was tender and ready for a make-shift glaze of butter, brown sugar, bourbon, maple syrup, and lemon juice.  After glazing the flesh of the squash, he left it to caramelize for about 5 more minutes, then cut it into fourths and plated it.  These grilled squash are legit.  They are not-your-standard-pilgrim-yeah-Squanto-only-wishes-he-thought-of-this DELICIOUS.  Enjoy!


A Fungus Among Us

20 Apr

While I am thoroughly enjoying expanding my palette and cooking technique with Oregon’s abundance of fresh fruit and veg, there is one thing I’ve had a hinkering for that hasn’t gone away: authentic Asian flavors.  I think the craving started when my sister-in-law mentioned Chinese take-out to me, and it’s been stuck in my head (and wanting to be in my belly) since then.  There is something so unique and immediately recognizable about the sweet and salty, spicy and tangy, heat-engulfed-wok-fired food that just can’t be satiated by any other flavor.

Southern California has some amazing Asian restaurants, one of my favorites being a fast-food French/Vietnamese joint that constantly has a line out the door.  Their food is always incredibly fresh, delicious, and has that distinctive Vietnamese flavor with classic French technique that makes every bite worth the wait.  My students would come to school with bags of sandwiches and pastries from this restaurant and would have to wave off the flock of other children almost flying towards them to do “tradesies,” ditching their own bento boxes full of homemade and very authentic Lo Mein and Kimchi.  Having this craving while being hundreds of miles away really only made the craving worse.

So at 6:00pm last Sunday night, after fighting the onset of an I’m-going-to-take-over-your-immune-system-the-minute-you-least-except-it cold, I got off my butt to tackle my umami flavored craving.  In this case, it was the Mushroom Dumplings nestled in a rich broth that did the trick.

One ingredient that is hunted and harvested year-round in these parts also happens to be one of my favorites: mushrooms.  While shroom and truffle hunting has become the newest trendy food fad recently, it’s been around in the culinary world for decades.  With our cool, moist, climate those little fungis grow, well, like a fungus.

Our last trip to Eugene to our favorite little local and gourmet food shop yielded two full bags of fresh Shiitakes and giant Portabellas.  Last week I used the Shiitakes in an easy butter and white wine braised warm mushroom salad, so Sunday night was left with the biggest, meatiest, deepest flavored mushroom of the non-poisonous mushroom world.  While you may think my Shiitakes would have been better in this Asian inspired dish, you may be correct in thinking towards tradition.  But, I wanted the depth that Portabellas impart, and their sturdiness to hold up and give a rich flavor to my broth, so I ditched tradition… (and it’s what I had ready to use!).

So between sneezing fits, and hand-washing, I brushed, de-stemmed, de-gilled, and chopped my mushrooms, and lovingly threw them into my favorite pot with sauteed onions and garlic.  The best thing about this dish is the dumpling filling comes from the same veg used to make the stock.  So the layers of the same flavor vary from fresh and bright (inside the dumpling), to dark and rich (within the broth).  I also find the repetitive folding and assembling of dumplings quite therapeutic (until I get over-zealous and over-fill one, thus causing a blowout of pureed mushroom filling to spill out on the board.  That was not so therapeutic).

Despite the deep mushroom flavor, this meal is quite light, and will definitely satisfy any umami cravings.  The recipe below is how I make it – meaning, spicy (Rob’s spice level is not quite the same as mine, and while he grumbled about his “mouth on fire,” he still ate the whole bowl).  If you don’t care for spiciness, lessen the amount of Sriracha sauce used.  Otherwise, get your chopstick fingers back in shape, slurp up, and enjoy!

Mushroom Dumplings in Mushroom Sauce (serves 4) 

  • 4 large Portabella mushrooms, cleaned, stems and gills removed, and roughly chopped 
  • 1/2 large white onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 c low sodium chicken broth (or use veggie stock for an even more earthy flavor) 
  • 4 c water
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tsp Sriracha sauce
  • juice 1/2 a lemon
  • about 5-6 basil leaves
  • 1 small package of wonton wrappers (about 24) 
  • 1 c shelled, cooked, edamame (optional) 
  • 5 ice cubes
  • vegetable oil
  • s&p 

In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, saute the onion and garlic in the vegetable oil.  Season with a pinch of s&p.  Add the mushrooms, 1 tbsp of soy sauce, Sriracha, and lemon juice.  Season with a bit more pepper.  Saute until softened, about 5 minutes.  Transfer 3/4 of the veg mixture to a food processor, and let sit and cool for a minute before processing. 

Add liquids and the rest of the soy sauce and the basil leaves, and bring the pot to a boil.  Bring down to a simmer, cover, and simmer for about 45 minutes.  

Meanwhile, process mushrooms until almost smooth (it should look the texture of a chunky pesto, not a smooth puree).  To assemble the dumplings, put 1 tsp of mushroom filling in the center of a wonton wrapper, and wet the edges with water-wet fingertips.  Fold the opposite corners over and crimp/fold edges together to close (make sure there are no air bubbles).  Really, you can make whatever shape – even a ravioli shape – just make sure they are closed tightly.  In a large hot pan with a thin layer of vegetable oil, quickly pan-fry the dumplings.  When the wontons just turn translucent, add 5 ice cubes to the pan and cover, to steam the dumplings.  Remove dumplings from pan and transfer to a plate. 

To finish the broth, strain out the solids (the leftover mushrooms, onion, garlic, and basil) and return to the pot.  Add in the edamame, if using, and cook for a quick 2-3, just to heat them through.  

Place 5-6 dumplings in a shallow bowl, and pour over some of the mushroom broth.  


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