2009-11 Thanksgiving

Ed Note: Unless otherwise noted, AB is voicing over the
commentary to his on camera self.

Bird to the Last Drop

[AB is clearing off the Thanksgiving table]

    Ah, now here's a familiar scene: the post-Thanksgiving meal cleanup. That's right, getting rid of all of those bits and pieces that are no longer of any use. [takes away the turkey leftovers] I certainly hope you're not going to be throwing away all that meaty goodness! [puts it back] Yes, that meaty goodness. Say, how about we just walk the remains of that gobbler over to the stove, shall we?
    [at the stove] And just drop that [turkey carcass complete with all of the attached meat] down into your biggest pot and add two quarts of vegetable broth. [AB shakes his head like he doesn't have any] Oh, sure you do. It's over in the pantry. Go ahead. Go look. Go ahead. There you go. Of course, home made would be better, but the cartons will do just fine. The idea is to submerge as much of the turkey as possible, clamp on the lid, put the heat to medium and bring to a boil. Then you're going to want to reduce the heat and simmer for one hour.
    Now in the meantime, get yourself one nice large colander and another large pot. That'll do very, very nicely. Now when the bird is actually done, we will strain off all of the broth into the 2nd pot so that we don't have all of the knarly bits and pieces behind. That [carcass] has given up it's best. You can throw that away now.
    Now, we're going to start working on the soup proper by bringing this [broth] to a simmer and adding various and sundry ingredients. Such as half a cup of cooked long grain rice, some vegetables—say, a 10 ounce box of frozen veg medley will do just fine, as long as nobody is looking, of course. Then, of course, turkey, the leftovers: 2 cups, cubed or torn, whatever shape will do. Then some seasoning. Let's go with 2 teaspoons of dried thyme and one teaspoon of Old Bay seasoning or some other kind of boiled seafood type seasoning like that. Clamp on the lid, simmer for another 20 minutes and serve.

    The rich body comes from the dissolved connective tissue in the turkey bones and joints. And to think, you almost threw that goodness away. Shame on you.

Happy Holiday!
from the
Good Eats Gang

Brittle Me This


    Say, what's in the fancy tin? [AB opens the tin, and reveals that it is empty] Ooh, that's too bad. Isn't that the tin your Mom used to send every holiday full of tasty delectables? [AB nods] Well, that'll teach you to forget Mother's Day, huh? [AB starts to cry] Oh, buck up. Why not fill that with goodness your own self? No, it's not crazy talk. Look, do you have some vegetable oil, cayenne pepper, ground cinnamon, kosher salt, some sugar, water, and whole pumpkin seeds? Well, let's make pumpkin brittle, then, Candyman!
    [at the stovetop] Start by placing one pound, six ounces of sugar into a large saucepan, or better yet, a saucier. Then add 12 ounces of water. There you go. Now you're going to want to put that [saucepan] in a large cast-iron skillet, over high heat. Trust me. The skillet will act as a heat diffuser, and help to melt the sugar evenly. There, just slide it right under, and turn on the heat. Now, you're going to need to stir that, so get yourself a nice big spoon. Hmm, you know, metal is a conductor. It might suck enough heat out of the syrup surrounding it to initiate recrystallization of the dissolved sugar, and that would be a bad thing. Wood, on the other hand, is an insulator, which is why confectioneers have been stirring with it for centuries. Now, don't just stand there, get to work on those pumpkin seeds!
    [at the stovetop] Lube up a 10-inch skillet with a teaspoon of vegetable oil, and put that over medium-high heat. Then introduce seven ounces, by weight, of hulled pumpkin seeds, and toss to coat. And toast, until they become fragrant, and start to crackle. About four to five minutes.
    There, when they're nice and brown, time to add half a teaspoon each of kosher salt, cayenne pepper, and ground cinnamon. Very nice. Now just toss to combine. Now, if you've timed things right, your syrup should be boiling. So, stop stirring, clamp on the lid, and continue to boil for another three minutes. Then, remove the lid, reduce the heat to medium, and continue to cook until the mixture is light amber, about 25 more minutes.
    Well, your syrup is working, and your seeds are done. But what are you going to put that sticky goo on? [AB retrieves a sheet pan] Ahhh, a sheet pan. Well, what about the sticky part? [AB shows a silicone mat] Oooh, a silicone baking mat. Good thinking.
    Hey, better take a look at that syrup! [syrup has taken on an amber color] Now, in go the seeds [to the syrup], kill the heat, of course, and quickly stir in. Now this stuff is going to cool down quickly, so we have got to work fast. Go ahead and get that over to the mat. Go ahead. Go ahead! Get going! There, now pour it out. There you go. Now, just work with a silicone spatula, or a wooden spatula. Anything that doesn't conduct heat, and spread it out as quickly as you can. Come on, get on it! Just push it off to the corners. You want it nice and smooth and thin, or else you'll break your teeth on it, and that wouldn't be good eats.
    In half an hour, you'll have a nice solid sheet of brittle, which you can break up with just your finger [AB has chosen a large wooden mallet instead] ... hey, you don't need a ... you don't. Arrgh, you don't need to use a... Eh, oh well, I, I stand corrected. That worked pretty well after all. Just crunch into pieces. Folding the mat works, works pretty well.

    There you go. And pack into a tin, and send off back to your Mom, so that she won't be mad at you anymore. [AB objects] Go ahead, send it to your Mom. You'd better send that. You'd better, Mister, or you'll be sorry!

Happy Holiday!
from the
Good Eats Gang

Butternut Conundrum


[AB is sitting at the table, contemplating a butternut squash]

    With the coming of the holidays, the American cornucopia begins to fill with delightful seasonal offerings, which are gleefully snatched up for craft projects! [squash turns into crafty bunny head] Why? Because we just don't know how to cook them, do we?
    I mean, take this butternut squash. Do you know what to do with this? Do you? [AB appears to have an idea] Oh, well maybe you do.
    [at the countertop] First, we've got to get this thing broken down into parts. So, trim off the stem end. Then, using a large chef's knife, split the squash thusly [in half] using a wooden mallet or even a rolling pin. Just tap the back of the knife until it goes all the way through to the board. It's a lot safer than using arm power.
Then, get rid of the seeds. Just a regular table spoon will do the trick. Scoop it out. There you go. I'm sure these have a culinary use, but I can't think of one right now. So now, roll the halves over, and, using the same mallet method, break down into quarters. Very nice. There you have it.
    Now, once you've done this to both of your squashes, lay out the pieces on a half-sheet pan. Then, brush them down with two tablespoons of melted butter. No, that's not too much. Make sure you get all the little nooks and crannies.
Next, the seasoning. A little white pepper. Now remember, white pepper is actually the fully ripe version of black pepper, with the skin removed. It's a little stronger, a little more pungent. But don't worry, this soup can take it. It's going to take about a teaspoon of that product. Then, some salt. A full tablespoon will be used. That'll help to pull out some of the moisture inside the squash while it cooks.
    [at the oven] Now, into the middle of a 400-degree oven until it is nice and soft, and that is going to take about 30 to 35 minutes.
    [at the stovetop] Then, simply use a spoon or an ice cream scoop, and scrape off the flesh. Of course, you might want to wait until they cool down just a little bit, so you don't, you know, burn your fingers.
    Next, pour in three cups of either chicken or vegetable broth. Add to that, four tablespoons of your favorite honey and a teaspoon of fresh minced ginger. That is going to add a nice little background note to the soup. Now bring that to a simmer and then hit it with your stick blender, until it is nice and smooth. There.
    Then, bring half a cup of heavy cream to the party, along with however much salt you feel like adding. Perhaps a little bit more of that white pepper, which is tasty, and I like to finish with just a little bit of nutmeg. And of course, I would always use a fresh nutmeg, because they never go bad. Just grate that right in. We're talking, up to a quarter teaspoon will do. There. One more blending, just to combine the spices, and serve in your favorite mug or bowl.

    [at the dining table, AB is drinking his soup through a straw] You could garnish with a little bit of parmesan cheese, but it's up to you. Hey, a straw. That's a nice touch.

Happy Holidays from the Good Eats Gang

Deconstructing Turkey


[AB is sitting at the table, poised with carving tools about to carve a turkey]

    When last we saw our hero, he was about to slice into a juicy holiday bird: turkey, that is. The question is, does he have the right tools for the job? And what about his technique? Sure would be a shame to work that hard on something, only to have it look like it fell into the chipper, wouldn't it? Yes, so let's do this right.
    First, move that turkey off of that platter onto a cutting board, preferably lined with a clean kitchen towel. That will prevent sliding and scooting and unfortunate accidents. Vinyl or latex gloves will certainly enhance stability, and cleanliness. As for the tools, get rid of Granddad's carving set, and get yourself an honest to goodness carving knife, and a pair of spring-loaded tongs. Much easier to do surgery.
     Now, our first step is going to be to remove the entire breast lobe on one side of the keel bone. Simply cut a straight line, and then across where the wishbone would be. Then, cut the skin down the side of the thigh, and you should be able to remove one perfectly good lobe of breast meat. We'll be slicing that later on. Very nice job for a beginner.
       Repeat on the other side. Again, clean slices down the line of the keel bone, and then sweep down across that wishbone. Cutting through the skin on the thigh side is the hard part. And off it comes. [picks off a bit of the string that was used to truss the bird before cooking] A little bit of string, that's okay. We should floss every day!
       Now, when it comes to serving this, we want to go across the grain, into thin slices. That will make the tender turkey even more tender. So, thin slices, using the full length of the blade. There you go.
       Now, we return to the carcass and carefully remove the drumsticks. Just kind of pull them back so that the joint opens up. That's key. And then you can cut through quite easily. [demonstrating on other side] So: skin, pull back the joint, and then cut through. Very nice.
       Now, as far as getting the meat off of these [drumsticks], well, you can eat it Viking-style. Or you can just hold it upright, and slice down from one end towards the head of the bone. That way, you'll get most of the good meat, leaving a majority of the gristle behind. There you have it.
       [back at the carcass] Now, flip the bird over, so that its back is facing upwards, and basically treat the wings as you did the drumstick: cut through the skin, bend it back, and then cut through the joint. Those are delicious, or of course, you can use them in stock, which is very good as well.
       Now, we attack the thigh, cutting back towards you this time, and it's basically just like removing anything else. You want to cut through the meat, get to the joint, open up the joint, and cut through so that you get it off all in one piece.
       Now, boning the thigh can be a little bit tricky, because we've got this central bone that runs all the way through, from one end to the other. So we're basically going to slice out that bone. Just use the tip of your boning knife, and get down at it, exposing it for what it is—a pain. There you go. And then you can work your fingers in, and basically pull it away from the meat. Now, this should take all of the connective tissue with it. Flip over, so that the skin is up, and cut it pretty much the way that you did the breast meat, against the grain. It's going to fall apart more than the breast meat, but that's okay. This way, the skin stays intact. Yum.
       [back at the carcass] Okay, now we are going to basically roll the bird over, and remove whatever other scraps of the breast meat that we can get. And these, of course, can be used either in a hash, or in soups or what-not.

     The rest of this [meat]? Well, let's face it; this is really all about building the sandwiches. And with this carving method, it's easy as pie.

Happy Holiday!
from the
Good Eats Gang

Gravy Trainer


[AB is sitting proudly at the table with a carving knife
in one hand and a turkey in front of him]

    Hey, fellow. That's a nice looking turkey but ... Hey, hey, hey. You're not going to carve that right now, are you? Before you've made the you-know-what? Oh, come on. No gravy? For shame. Please, tell me you didn't wash the roasting pan. [shows him the pan] Oh, well thank goodness for that. Come on; let's hit the gravy.
    [at the range] Place that roasting pan over medium heat using two burners if the pan is big enough. Then as soon as it's hot, deglaze the bottom with 24 ounces of reduced or low-sodium chicken broth and 8 ounces of red wine. As the liquid boils and reduces, scrape the bottom to loosen and dissolve any flavorful bits that may be stuck there.
    Then, pour the liquid into a fat separator—also called a gravy separator—which is a device you really ought to have if gravy is something that you plan on making. It will allow the fat to separate out to the top where, of course, it naturally wants to go. And then you can pour out the flavorful liquid from below. Now since we're going to save that, we'll just pour that off into a waiting measuring cup. Watch out ... just ... yeah. There you go. There. You just have the fat. Of course, a little bit of the liquid will remain and that'll hiss when it hits the still hot pan. [he pours the fat back into the roasting pan] But that's okay. The fat goes into the pan.
    Now, as for the thickening agent, we will add one third of a cup of plain, old, all purpose flour. And you're going to want to whisk that like crazy. Now coating the flour granules with fat will keep the gravy from lumping and the heat will cook out that raw, cereal flavor. Got it? Alright, keep whisking until that mixture starts to smooth out and thicken just a little bit. Good. There.
    Now bring the reserved liquid into play and continue whisking. As that comes to a boil, those flour granules will gelatinize thus thickening the liquid. There you have it. Now, finish that up with a tablespoon of fresh herbs like thyme, rosemary or oregano or any combination thereof. Now remember, the gravy—which looks pretty good now, see—coats the back of a spoon. That's called nape, don't you know.
    Now this is going to go into a gravy boat. You'll probably want to pull it when it's still a little bit on the loose side. Because as it cools, it is going to thicken a little bit. But if you're really a gravy fan, you'll skip the gravy boat all together and simply go with a nice bit Thermos. Um, sure. You're, you're dining room will look a little bit like a construction site. But hey, that's the price of cuisine.

    Now when it comes time to serve, some people pour directly onto the bird and carve. Some like it on the ... [AB clears the bird out of the way]  Hey. What are you doing there, fellow? [brings up the gravy thermos] No. No. Tell me you are not going to ... [brings up a shot glass] Oh, the humanity. No. I'm telling you as your cardiologist, you can't ... [downs the gravy] Oaaugghhh. That's a gravy aficionado.

Happy Holiday!
from the
Good Eats Gang

How Green Was My Casserole


    Once upon a time in 1955, a certain soup company invented a certain dish to be served at a certain holiday, using mostly foods found inside a certain sealed container. In fact, early recipes for green bean casserole called for the opening of not one, not two, not three, but four individual cans.
     Well, this is the 21st century, and modern foodists just don't roll that way anymore. So, let's do away with the cans and get to casserolin'!

     Step one: hot box to four seven five.

475°        12:16

    Then we face the topping. Slice two medium onions wafer thin, over a large mixing bowl. Then toss in a quarter cup of flour, two tablespoons of Japanese-style bread crumbs, and a teaspoon of kosher salt. Combine with your hands. Then, spread them out on a sheet pan that has been liberally lubed with non-stick spray. Slide that into the middle of the oven for 30 minutes, tossing with tongs every now and then, until golden brown and delicious.
     Meanwhile, bring a gallon of water to a boil in a large pot or stockpot, along with two tablespoons of kosher salt. Then, trim in half, a pound of fresh green beans, and cook in this water for five minutes. And you'd better count them.
     Carefully drain the beans into a colander, and then immediately dump them into a large bowl of ice water, to halt the cooking process. Once cool, drain yet again, and set aside for later use.
     Oh, and don't forget to toss those onions! If you don't do that, they're not going to brown right, and everything will be destroyed. There, good. Now back into the oven. Good.
     Now, melt two tablespoons—that's one ounce—of unsalted butter in a 12-inch cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add 12 ounces of mushrooms, along with one teaspoon of kosher salt. There you go. And about half a teaspoon of ground pepper. And I don't need to tell you that should be freshly ground. Now stir this occasionally, until the mushrooms begin to give up some of their liquid. Four to five minutes.
     Next, add two cloves of garlic, minced, and stir them in so that they won't burn. Follow that with a quarter teaspoon of freshly grated nutmeg. Very nice. Good.
     Now, sprinkle on two tablespoons of all-purpose flour, and cook exactly one minute. There. Now add a cup of chicken broth, and one cup of half-and-half. Now bring that to a bare boil, then reduce the heat, and simmer, stirring constantly until the mixture thickens. Six to eight minutes, give or take a minute or so.
     [AB looks at his watch] You know, that's the problem with you holiday cooks. You're always in such a big hurry. Just cook the food.
     Now, when the thickness is just as you see here, kill the heat, and stir in all of the green beans. That's going to come up pretty high up the sides, so be careful there. You're also going to want to stir in about a quarter of the onions, kind of a big handful. Just stir that in. That will give the casserole a nice consistency. Smooth off the top, and then add the rest of the onions, being sure to distribute them evenly across the surface. There you go. Very nice indeed.
     Now, when you got that done, slide into the oven, and bake about 15 minutes, or until bubbly. Oh, and you're going to need to drop the temperature down to 400 degrees, or it'll burn for sure.

    Then serve to an eager and grateful planet. And don't forget to brag about how you "kicked the can." But in a good way.

Happy Holiday!
from the
Good Eats Gang

Jiggly, Wiggly, Ring of Goodness


[AB is at the table, looking sad, with Thanksgiving dishes all around him]

    Say, do you ever notice how Thanksgiving always seems drab, flavorless and kind of completely un-fun? Well, you know, it could be what you're eating. I know that that doesn't look very much fun. [cuts to a non-descript entree] And as for that turkey, well, who carved that out of wood. [cuts to a very dry turkey] You know what you need? Cranberry sauce, straight from the loving grip of mom's can opener. [a plate appears with cylinder of cranberry sauce straight from the can] Go ahead, take a bite, take a bite, take a bite. Go ahead, go ahead, go ahead. Ooooo. Doesn't exactly tickle your sophisticated adult taste buds, does it? Well, that's okay. You can take matters into your own hands. Say hello to an American original, the cranberry! Available fresh most of the year and frozen all the time. Let's get cooking.
    [at the range] Combine a cup of honey with a quarter cup each of freshly squeezed orange juice—very nice—and cranberry juice. [begins to pour cranberry cocktail] No, no, no! No! Not cocktail! A hundred percent pure cranberry juice. Gosh, I've got to tell you everything. There you go. A quarter cup. That's right. Get it in there. There. Now bring that to a simmer over medium low heat and cook for 5 minutes. There. Now time for the cranberries. Four cups and fresh would be best. Add those to the pot and cook for 15 minutes stirring often.
    Now, I know what you're thinking. You're thinking you need to add gelatin. Well, don't. Because the natural pectins inside the berries along with the sugars in the honey will create a perfectly good gel, thank you very much.
    Now when the berries burst and the mixture begins to thicken, remove from the heat and simply pour into a three cup mold of your choice. Nice selection on the ring. This you will refrigerate over night.

    When it's fully set, turn the mold out, fill with yummy cottage cheese, if you like, and serve. Just like the holidays of old, only delicious.

Happy Holiday!
from the
Good Eats Gang

Mashed Potatoes of the Third Kind


[AB is creating a Close Encounters of the Third Kind mashed potato mountain]

    So, enjoying those holiday mashed potatoes? Mmmm. Taste good, do they? [his facial expression says otherwise] But, I don't understand. You said .... Oh, I see. Pasty and gummy enough to build a mountain. You know why? Well, when most people mash or whip potatoes, they end up unleashing an oozy, gummy, glueyness that's not too appealing. You want to make some you can actually eat? Well, then come on! Yes, now!
    [in the kitchen] First step is the right potatoes. Now any Idaho, Russet-style will do the trick. But I like Yukon Golds. So take 2 pounds of these, and peel them and then cut them into uniform half inch pieces. Then, move these to a 4 quart sauce pan and cover with about an inch of cold water. Crank the heat to high and cover.
    [after it comes to a boil] Then, remove the lid and decrease the heat to maintain a simmer. Continue to cook until the potatoes can easily be crushed with a pair of tongs. You're pretty good with the tongs, aren't you? Yeah, well, now drain those potatoes before they overcook!
     And then get the pot back over here on the stovetop. There. Now add 1 stick of butter cut into small pieces, and you want to add one half cub of heavy cream along with some salt. That's right, a teaspoon of kosher salt. And a quarter teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper. Just grind that right in. Go ahead and bring that to a simmer over low heat.
    Now the spuds. What do you got to mash those things with. [and array of gadgets pops up around AB] Uh, huh. I see. Yes, all very nice indeed. But those are the kind of things that get you in trouble. What you really need is a food mill. And if you can find one with exchangeable dies, you'll want to use the one with the smallest holes. Now just place that right over the pot, add about a quarter of the potato parts and crank away. You know, this wouldn't seem like so much work if you got some exercise every now and then. There. Now once you've got all of the potatoes milled in, just stir to combine with the creamy goodness. But don't over work them. Just stir to combine.

    [back at the table] There. Now those mashed potatoes are so good, you might want to skip the turkey, the dressing, the sweet potatoes, Aunt Vera's congealed carrot salad ... Well, you get the point.

Happy Holiday!
from the
Good Eats Gang

Rescue Ramekins

    {AB is frosting small, store-bought, doughnuts] Why look, it's another home cook doing a little holiday treat making. Whatchata got there? [becoming more aghast] You got some, you got some little, little chocolate glazed doughnuts and aerosol cheese? Heeh. And powdered sugar. Heh. What's the occasion? [pulls out a note, right] Oh. And I bet you forgot to make dessert. Well, why don't we take something a little bit more seasonal. Maybe, you know, a pumpkin mousse? [points at his watch] Oh, don't worry. You've got plenty of time. Meet me at the mixer.


    [at the counter] And bring with you a cup of cold, heavy, whipping cream. Now we're going to want to bring that to medium peaks and you're going to want to start the machine off kind of slow so it doesn't sling the stuff all over the room.
    Now, while that is working, get another large mixing bowl and add a 15 ounce can of pumpkin purée with a third of a cup of milk. There you go. Now, grab yourself a whisk and just work on that until it is nice and smooth. There you go. Now, add 1 3.4-ounce box of pumpkin-spiced flavored instant pudding mix. Well, not the box, actually, the powder that's inside. There you go. And add to that, a teaspoon of vanilla extract. Then whisk that until it is nice and smooth. And go slow, or that powder will go everywhere.
    All right. Time to check on the whipped cream. Remember, we're looking for medium peaks, not stiff peaks. So ... yeah, that looks pretty good. All right. Good. Get it off there. Come on. Let's go, let's go, let's go.
    Just dump that right on top of the pumpkin mixture. Don't be shy. Get it on there. Mom's waiting. Come on, come on, come on. That's good. Okay, now just stir it in until it is nice and homogenized. Now you could spoon that into single serving custard cups, or ramekins, and refrigerate for 4 hours or until it is fully set. So, I guess, actually, you did need a little bit more time.

    [at the table] Serve chilled with a sprinkling of of cinnamon or, hey, spiced nuts would be good, too. Or you could ... add ... that aerosol cheese back ... I guess. Happy holidays.

Happy Holiday!
from the
Good Eats Gang

S.O.H.D.S. and You


[AB is in character during this short as Dr. Milkybottom:
lab coat, tussled hair, huge glasses, mustache, pipe]

    Hello. I'm Dr. Xavier Milkybottom, director of the Beard Home for the Culinary Insane. Did you know that each year some 5 million American cooks are stricken by Sudden Onset Holiday Disorganization Syndrome such that any time during the holiday season whenever guests, groceries and high expectations come together. [mumbles] ... in science the treatment options are iffy at best. Your best bet to keeping this mind melting medical monster out of your head is proper preparation.
    For instance, consider making more room in your refrigerator by temporarily moving useless items into a cooler which you keep chilled with 2 or 3 pint sized water bottles which you cleverly keep frozen in your freezer at all times. Coolers, of course, can also be used as warmers with the addition of a common heating pad set to high. Perfect, even for the big bird itself.
    Now counter space: always a premium during the holidays. If you're planning to feed a group, you might want to consider using tape to divide up your counter space. That way you can provide a zone for things like cool beverages and, and baked goods.
    Now, holiday cookery also reeks havoc on sanitation as you reach for raw poultries and then salads and then breads, etc. Going with a pair of latex or vinyl gloves can help keep CDC examiners from your door without having to wash off your hands every 13.8 seconds. Simply pull it off to revel a perfectly clean hand. I never truss or carve without one. Ha, ha.
    And now, the most important holiday organizational tip of all: make other people do all of the work for you. When guests ask, "What shall we bring?" Be ready with a list of possibilities such as cooked goose and, and, of course, macaroni salad, and cases of '57 Burgundy which are always welcome. That way, you can concentrate on 1 or 2 signature dishes of your own ... or not, if you catch my drift. Heh, heh.
    We here at the Beard Home for the Culinary Insane hope that you'll find these tips useful in the battle of SOHDS, Sudden Onset Disorganization Holliday Syndrome [sic] or something like that. Remember, when you take that afternoon Thanksgiving stroll, you don't want to be wearing one of these getups, now do you?

XM: [pulls up a patient in straight-jacket and face mask] Ha, ha, now be a good bird and get back in the cage.

    Have a good day.

Happy Holiday!
from the
Good Eats Gang

The Nut Before Christmas


[AB is sitting at the table looking at a long piece of paper]

    Hey, fella. Working on your holiday gift giving list? Woof. Yeah, that's a lot of names. But ... [begins to open his wallet and pulls out just a couple of dollars] What? Oh, not too many Presidents. Well, two ideas that are cheap leap to mind. Good Eats and Feasting on Asphalt DVDs or spiced nuts. [shakes his head to the spiced nuts and pushes for the DVDs] No? You like the DVDs? DVDs ... no I say spiced nuts win! Now you have to go make them. Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha.
    [at the range] Don't worry. It's easy. Just put a large cast-iron skillet over medium heat and add about a pound of fresh pecan halves. Just toss them around, 4 to 5 minutes or until they start to brown. Then add 4 tablespoons—that's half a stick of unsalted butter.
    Now when that melts, time to bring on the spices: a ½ teaspoon each of cayenne pepper, salt, cumin—still talking half a teaspoon here—dried orange peel—it's in the spice section, don't worry—and cinnamon. There you have it. Then we've got to add a little bit of sugar to the party. We're going to go with 2 tablespoons of packed dark brown sugar and a quarter cup of packed light brown sugar. Last but not least, 2 tablespoons of water. And there will be some hissing. And just stir that together until everything has dissolved and the mixture thickens just a bit.
    Then pour everything out onto parchment paper and separate the nuts as best you can. Cool completely and then bag up for gift giving.

    [at the table] You should get about 4 bags per batch. [AB is counting out 4 nuts into a very small bag] Wow, you're not broke, you just cheap.

Happy Holiday!
from the
Good Eats Gang

Truss Fund


[AB is sitting at the table with a cooked turkey that wasn't
properly trussed, it's appendages sprayed out at all angles]

Hey, is that a, is that a turkey? [becomes sarcastic] Oh, no. No, no. Let me guess. It's a modern sculpture. Oh, don't tell me. Don't tell me. Poultry: Descending Staircase. Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha. No. Well, you know, sometime a bird looks better and roasts better if a cook shows a little restraint. [confused] Restraint? [gets it] Yeah, now your thinking.
    All right. Trussing begins with a clean bird pointed away from you. [drumsticks pointing at you, breast side up] Now I like to use just a cotton or even a linen twine. But for the sake of demonstration, today we'll be using a big, 12-foot long piece of purple tent rope.
    Now, make a loop right in the middle of this rope and hook that over the little nub where the, uh, well, the turkey's head used to be installed. Yeah, the neck. There you go. Just right over it. That's going to be our main anchor point. Now bring the rope down either side of the breast and then tie into a nice, tight surgeon's knot, okay? Right there, nice and tight. Now making it tight is going to help to kind of push the breast up into a nice kind of baloon-y shape. Ah, yeah. That's exactly what you want.
    Now, I realize some of you have never tied surgeon's knot before. So, here's how it goes. It starts like a regular half knot [ed: overhand knot] like tying your shoe, only you're going to add another loop [sic, twist or tuck], see? Go through it again. There. You've got a kind of double pass. Now the rest of the knot finishes just like a normal [overhand] knot. There you go. Kind of a nice, uh ... I think they call that a half-hitch in the Boy Scouts. [sic, no they don't, see below] There you go. So before you tighten it, it would look something like this. When you tighten it, it looks, well, something like that. It won't slip and it'll never let go.*
    So, once you've got that done, take one of the lines and hook it around one side of the bird's leg and up around the [opposite] breast again. Repeat that on the other side. So again, around the legs, crossing, and back up towards the breast. Now when you pull tight, it's going to pull one drumstick over the other. There. Just like that.
    Now the rope goes up and around and right into the nubbits, those little things that stick out on the side of the wings. Now flip over—don't worry , it won't come apart—and make another half surgeon's knot. [aka, double overhand knot] Remember, not just one pass or half-hitch, [ed: *sigh*] but a double. Now draw that up tight. And don't worry, it won't slip. Now bring the line up—or rather, down—towards the back end of the bird, flip again and tie with, yes, with another surgeon's knot right over the legs. There's one half-knot. And then one final knot.
    Now once you've got It done, you're finished. Just trim up that line and you've got yourself a nice compact shape that will never let go or fall apart. Of course, this compact shape will help to guarantee even cooking and eventually simple carving. You don't have to worry about removing the string because it will come off as you make your slices.

    Now, mentioning carving: we;;. that'll have to wait for our next episode. [Deconstructing Turkey, above]

Happy Holiday!
from the
Good Eats Gang

*Um, I don't know where to start on AB's knot nomenclature. Since he mentioned the Boy Scouts and I'm in the Scouting program, I feel responsible setting straight AB's knotty terminology.
    A surgeon's knot is a type of "bend". A bend knot is used to join two ends of ropein this case, two ends of the same rope. He also should have said that it's like the start of a shoe-tying knot but with and extra twist or tuck instead of an extra loop. He never made a "loop" in his demonstration.
    A "half knot" is something completely different. AB was meaning to say that it's half of the shoe-tying knot.
     A "hitch" is a knot that is tied to an object like a pole or part of a ship. Yes, a half-hitch is an overhand knot after it's tied around a pole. But it would have been more correct if he had called it an overhand knot.
    When AB turns the bird over and says to make another surgeon's knot, what he is in fact making is a double overhand knot. It only becomes a surgeon's knot when you make the additional overhand knot to finish it. But, a half-surgeon's knot would is technically correct.
     With that being said, the surgeon's knot is a fantastic knot to know and use. The extra twist puts more of the rope in contact with the other rope and keeps it from slipping. It's so named because it is, in fact, used by surgeon's. But it can be used in tying shoes, gift wrapping and any other place where you tie overhand knots.

We'll Hash It Out in the Morning


[AB is in his PJs with a blanket over his back drooped over a
bland breakfast bowl, he's startled when the talking starts]

    Hey there, fellow. What's you having for breakfast this cold post-Thanksgiving morning? What's you got? You've got some yummy cold cereal there. Wow. I guess you don't have any Turkey Day leftovers in that old chill chest of yours. [indicates that he does] Okay. Well then I guess you just like cold, drippy cereal on chilly winter mornings. [indicates that he doesn't] Well then let's get cooking!
    [at the counter] You know, "hash" comes from the French hacher meaning to cut up. So there's going to be some slicing and dicing to get started. So, chop up half a red bell pepper. Follow that with half an onion. Then mince half a jalapeño and cube up 2 cups worth of leftover turkey.
    Alright. Grab yourself a nice big skillet—iron would be good—and put it over medium-high heat and cook 8 ounces of the breakfast sausage of your choice for about 2 to 3 minutes. Then add the onion, the peppers, the jalapeños and cook until soft. Now, if you happen to have a cup and a half of cubed, cooked, red potatoes on hand, now would be the time to add them as well. Good. Now go ahead and turn that heat to high.
    Alright. So far, so good. Now how about those beans? Oh, I didn't mention the one and a half cups of black beans, cooked? Well, you know, you can use canned. It's okay. Go, go, go get those. I know that you've got them. Fantastic. Good. Black beans. Now just open that up and dump them right on in. [ed note: although he says to just open the can and dump them in, the visual seems to show beans that have been drained and rinsed] There. Very good.
    Oh, do you have any left over corn bread? You know, like, the excellent corn bread pudding from the classic Good Eats episode, Romancing The Bird? Fantastic. Then take about 2 cups of that and dump it right on in. Nice big cubes. And of course, last but not least, we'll need that turkey meat. Now just keep cooking until it's all warmed through.
    [shows some cayenne powder] Well, sure. A dash of cayenne would be just fine as would a little bit more [sic, this is the first time he's indicated to add some] kosher salt just to finish things up. Maybe a quarter teaspoon. Black pepper? Fine. That's what you want. You can do black pepper. Heck, it's morning. That'll wake you up. There. I think we're just about ready to eat.

    [at the table] Turkey hash: the perfect after-Thanksgiving breakfast ... or lunch, or dinner. Heck, it makes a great snack, too. Happy holidays.

Happy Holiday!
from the
Good Eats Gang

Transcribed by Michael Roberts and Michael Menninger
Proofread by Michael Menninger and Michael Roberts

Hit Counter

Last Edited on 08/27/2010