Because of the diverse nature of the many different restaurants and chefs Brian Henry has worked under he is highly proficient at a wide range of cuisines.

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Posts Tagged ‘turkey’

Gastronomically yours,

October 4th, 2017

Stuffed Acorns

In the coming days many or our refrigerators will become a stockpile of ingredients and provisions that are necessary to prepare Thanksgiving dinner and sustain family and friends over a long weekend that is centered around being thankful and consuming food. With all of the flurry of activity, visiting and eating Looking in your refrigerator the days after the weekend may be akin to an archaeological dig as you unearth all of the remnants of the previous day’s or week’s meals. It’s like an adult version of waking up after a college party and trying to chronologically piece together the recent events of your life. We tend to go a bit overboard with holidays dedicated to feasting which rules with sovereignty like no other.

Acorn Squash Harvest

Presence of mind and the simple understanding that eating is a bodily function, not an Olympic event may assist us in transitioning ourselves and warding off symptoms of withdrawal. Cold turkey is archetypical as a Thanksgiving leftover, which ends up being reincarnated in sandwiches, soups, stews and the ever foreboding casserole for a few days after its sole intended feast. These culinary creations often become littered with bits of ham, mashed potatoes, stuffing, or cranberry sauce found sitting in the refrigerator, next to the turkey covered with torn bits of foil and plastic wrap.

Sometime next week you may be forced to make sense out of the leftovers piled precariously in your fridge, garage or out of desperation for food salvation on the back deck. The fate of your leftovers depends on when the food was prepared, how it was served, how long it sat out on the kitchen counter without being refrigerated and how you reheat them. Ultimately it is best not to produce so much food that you have leftovers. If your left-overs were left out on the counter for more than four hours, they are no longer leftovers, they are garbage. If your leftovers were properly stored in the refrigerator and cooled down to an internal temperature of 4°C or colder within 4 hours then you can reheat and serve them but only once. So do not pull out all of the food for leftovers and reheat them, just use what you need. When reheating your leftovers make sure that they reach an internal temperature of 74°C and discard the food if it does not reach that temperature within 2 hours and most importantly never add reheated food to fresh food.

If you haven’t already I suggest you need to purchase a reliable kitchen thermometer and learn how to store, use and calibrate it properly. Use it for more accurate cooking results and as a tool in assisting you to serve safe and healthy foods to your family and friends.
If you are cooking for a small gathering maybe rethink Thanksgiving Dinner and try something like the following recipe.

Turkey Stuffed Acorns
Ingredients:
2 acorn squash, small ones
6 oz. ground turkey
1 yellow onion, minced
½ cup minced red bell pepper

1 clove garlic, minced
2 tsp Mexican Kitchen Cartel
1 cup diced tomatoes
1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
Method:
Cut the squash in half, lengthways, discard the seeds and bake the squash cut side down on a parchment lined baking sheet at 375°F until tender, about 30 minutes.
Separately cook the ground turkey in a large, preheated fry pan or skillet, over medium heat until lightly browned. Stir in the onion, bell pepper, garlic, chili powder and cumin. Continue stirring and cooking the mixture until it becomes very aromatic. Finally stir in the tomatoes and beans. Reduce heat to low and let the mixture simmer, covered, for 10-15 minutes. Season mixture to taste with salt, pepper and some hot sauce.
Once the squash are cooked, turn them over and fill them with the ground turkey mixture and top with cheese. Return filled squash to the oven and bake for another 5-10 minutes until the cheese is melted. Serve immediately.

Mexican Kitchen Cartel from The Spice co. naturally

 

Gastronomically yours,

October 7th, 2016

Going Cold Turkey

 

Looking in your refrigerator the days after Thanksgiving may be akin to an archaeological dig as you unearth all of the remnants of the previous day’s or week’s meals. It’s like an adult version of waking up after a college party and trying to chronologically piece together the recent events of your life. We tend to go a bit overboard with holidays and Thanksgiving rules with sovereignty like no other.

Coming down from any holiday is  a crash for some and to finish the binge a la cold turkey can be a rough ride. Trying to make sense out of the leftovers piled precariously in your fridge, garage or out of desperation for food salvation on the back deck can be a daunting task.

Presence of mind and the simple understanding that eating is a bodily function, not an Olympic event may assist us in transitioning ourselves and warding off symptoms of withdrawal. Cold turkey is archetypal as a Thanksgiving leftover, which ends up being reincarnated in sandwiches, soups, stews and the ever foreboding casserole for a few days after its sole intended feast. These culinary creations often become littered with bits of ham, mashed potatoes, stuffing, or cranberry sauce found sitting in the refrigerator, next to the turkey covered with torn bits of foil and plastic wrap.

The fate of your leftovers depends on when the food was prepared, how it was served, how long it sat out on the kitchen counter without being refrigerated and how you reheat them. Ultimately it is best not to produce so much food that you have leftovers. If your left-overs were left out on the counter for more than four hours, they are no longer leftovers, they are garbage. If your leftovers were properly stored in the refrigerator and cooled down to an internal temperature of 4°C or colder within 4 hours then you can reheat and serve them but only once. So do not pull out all of the food for leftovers and reheat them, just use what you need. When reheating your leftovers make sure that they reach an internal temperature of 74°C and discard the food if it does not reach that temperature within 2 hours and most importantly never add reheated food to fresh food.

Get a reliable kitchen thermometer and learn how to store, use and calibrate it properly. Use it for more accurate cooking results and as a tool in assisting you to serve safe and healthy foods to your family and friends.

 

Roasted Stuffed Squash

 

Ingredients:

1 butternut squash

Cooking oil

Stuffing

Salt and pepper to taste

Cheese

 

Method:

Cut the butternut squash in half, and scoop out the seeds and discard. Brush the squash with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper then roast it on a parchment lined baking sheet at 350°f for 20 minutes or until the squash becomes soft. Scoop out most of the cooked squash flesh, leaving a shell around the edge. Mash the cooked squash with the leftover stuffing until evenly incorporated and then spoon the mixture back into the squash shells. Sprinkle with some grated cheese and bake the squash for another 20-25 minutes and it reaches an internal temperature of 74°C. Yields will vary depending on amount of people vs leftovers.

 

 

 

Turkey Pot Pie

 

Ingredients:

1/2 pkg frozen rolled butter puff pastry, thawed

1 egg, beaten

2 tbsp. butter

1 onion, diced

1 rib celery, diced

2 cups acorn squash, peeled and cubed

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

2 cups chicken stock or white wine

3 cups shredded cooked turkey, white and dark meat

1 tsp. dried sage

1 pinch nutmeg

2 cups fresh baby spinach coarsely chopped

1/2 cup 10% cream or milk

Salt and pepper to taste

 

Method:

On a parchment line baking sheet, unroll the pastry and cut it into 4 equally sized pieces. Brush the pastry with the beaten egg and then bake them at 400°F until puffed and golden, about 15 minutes. Set aside to cool.

In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat and stir in the onion, celery, and squash. Cook the vegetables until the squash is tender. Next stir in the flour and let it cook while continuously stirring for  a minute or so. Gradually stir in the stock and bring the mixture to a gentle boil. Reduce heat let the sauce simmer until it has thickened. Stir in all remaining ingredients and serve once all ingredients are heated through. Season with salt and pepper, ladle into bowls; top with the cooked puff pastry. Feeds 4

 

Gastronomically yours,

October 10th, 2015
Photo credit uberpeople,net

Photo credit uberpeople.net and whishafriend.com

 

 

Poultry is a collective term used to describe any bird that is domesticated and destined for human consumption. Of these a certain breed of grouse more commonly known as turkey are the only breed of poultry native to the Western Hemisphere. Our domesticated turkey is directly related to our wild turkeys.

Hunting down a turkey for Thanksgiving has never been easier, as most people simply drive to the grocery store and choose from a bin of frozen carcasses that make sounds similar to those heard at a bowling alley as they bang together while we dig through them looking for our own special turkey. Some of us may even have to dodge a few wild turkeys on our journey to and from the grocers.

More people are choosing to have fresh turkeys for their thankful feast which leaves one having to consider the age and sex of their birds as determining factors in how they will taste. An older large male or tom turkey is preferred to young toms as young toms have a tougher somewhat stringy texture whereas the opposite applies for females as the older hens make for tougher birds.

Wild or not, Canadian’s will prepare an estimated 4.5 million turkeys this year for Thanksgiving. These birds will have an average weight of 15 pounds which means that we as a nation will satiate our appetites with about 34 000 tons of turkey in the coming week.

Most of this turkey will be purchased frozen and need to be thawed before cooking. The safest way to thaw poultry is in the refrigerator in a drip proof tray, preferably done on the bottom shelf. A frozen turkey requires just over 4 hours per pound to thaw, more accurately that average sized 15 pound turkey will need 67 hours to thaw.

If you are reading this and trying to do the math on when you should start thawing your turkey, today is the day to start defrosting your bird if you want it thawed properly in time for cooking your Thanksgiving feast on Sunday.

When preparing your turkey for roasting, gently loosen its skin away from the body without removing it. Rub the turkey with your choice of seasonings under the skin so that the flavor goes into the flesh during the cooking process, as seasoning the skin only makes for tastier skin.

There is much debate and discussion as to how to cook a turkey so that it yields the juiciest results. These include but are not limited to roasting turkeys upside down, slathering turkeys with butter, deep frying your turkey, or cooking them with or without stuffing them. They all work just fine and are only differentiated by personal taste.

To ensure your bird is cooked to perfection I suggest you take the following into consideration, the average sized 15 pound turkey will take approximately 3 hours to cook at 350°f covered or uncovered in the oven. I cannot stress this next point enough, so please take my advice and purchase a meat thermometer and check your bird periodically during the last hour of cooking. Your bird is done when it reaches an internal temperature of 185°f and to reach this temperature without your turkey drying out you should cook your bird to an internal temperature of 175°f, pull the turkey from the oven and let it rest for 15- 20 minutes before slicing it as the carry over cooking time will allow it to rise up to the desired 185°f.

Remove it from the oven and let it rest for a minimum of twenty minutes before carving.

I urge you not to cook your stuffing inside the turkey, I know that this defeats the purpose of calling it stuffing but a stuffed 15 pound bird will require an additional hour of cooking time, plus it will eliminate the possibility of food poisoning associated with improperly cooked stuffed foods.

Cooking your stuffing in a casserole dish is no different than cooking it in the bird, other than you will need to add some extra onions or mushrooms to it to raise the moisture content to keep it from drying out.

Have a Happy and food safe Thanksgiving this year.

NOW AVAILABLE from The Spice Co. Humble Pie

NOW AVAILABLE from The Spice Co. Humble Pie

Turkey is often blamed for making us lethargic after Christmas dinner. Considering that turkey contains the essential amino acid L-tryptophan which our bodies can metabolize into serotonin and melatonin, which induce a calming effect on our minds and bodies giving it a sleep inducing effect.

To be effective L-tryptophan needs to be taken on an empty stomach and it must be consumed without protein or other amino acids in order to make you drowsy. L-tryptophan is also present in pork, chicken, and cheese in similar concentrations as found in turkey. As with turkey, other amino acids are present in these foods besides tryptophan, and the amount of protein in them cancels out any chemical induced sleepiness.

Fats also take a lot of energy to digest and slow down our digestive system causing our bodies to redirect blood to your digestive system to tackle the heavy workload. Since we have less blood flow elsewhere, we feel less energetic after eating a meal rich in fats.

In short it’s not the turkey that makes us sleepy. It’s the carbohydrate and fatty foods that we often eat with turkey combined with a couple of glasses of holiday cheer to the meal which depresses our nervous system you are guaranteed to slip into gastronomic coma. Many of us find the holiday’s stressful; the most relaxing part of all the merriment is likely to be the meal. No matter what you may have been doing throughout the day, Christmas dinner gives us the opportunity to finally sit back and relax. Often this feeling of relaxation combined with elation which carries over after the meal.

With New Years Eve celebrations yet to be endured we may want to rethink our dinner choices if we wish to stay up and ring in the New Year. This week’s recipe is easy to prepare and after indulging in some healthier fare this New Year’s, you’ll have plenty of room on your resolution list for future healthier choices. Locally lamb is available at a number of our local butcher shops.

 

Herb encrusted lamb with Lentils

Ingredients

2 tablespoons Panko breadcrumbs

2 teaspoons olive oil, divided

1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary, divided

1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, divided

2 lamb racks Frenched and trimmed

3 teaspoons grainy Dijon mustard

2 shallots, minced

1 1/3 cups cooked lentils

1 Granny Smith apple, finely chopped

1 celery stalk minced

3/4 cup chicken stock or water

2 teaspoons cider vinegar

Method:

Preheat oven to 450°F.

In a small mixing bowl combine the breadcrumbs, 1 teaspoon of oil, 1/2 teaspoon rosemary, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper and set aside. In an oven proof sauté pan heat the remaining oil over medium-high heat. Once the pan is hot, sear the lamb evenly until browned. Coat the seared lamb racks with the mustard. Coat the mustard with the breadcrumb mixture. Roast lamb in the oven for about 15-20 minutes for rare lamb. Remove lamb from oven and let it rest for 5 minutes.

While the lamb is roasting, heat the sauté pan that you seared the racks in over a medium-high heat. Add shallots, and the remaining rosemary, salt and pepper and cook, stirring constantly, for about one minute. Stir in lentils, apple, celery, chicken stock, vinegar and the remaining mustard; bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally, cooking it until the apples start to soften.

To serve, slice lamb racks between the bones and serve over lentil mixture.

Kick Ass Cajun delivers a great tasting Cajun seasoning that is balanced with an east to swallow heat!

Kick Ass Cajun delivers a great tasting Cajun seasoning that is balanced with an east to swallow heat!

TURKEY RANT

Hold the Turkey!

Ah yes! The festive season of over indulgence is upon us once again. Say good-bye to your diet and workout routines and bring on the Turkey Dinner, the home baked goodies and all of the vices that give us those hallucinations of sugared plums dancing in our heads.

On average the North American continent consumes over 280 million turkeys annually. Over Christmas we will consume over 30 million of these birds totalling in excess of 450 million pounds of turkey. No wonder we say gobble-gobble. Only tom turkeys gobble as the ladies just cluck.

In my career as a chef I have probably prepared almost 30 000 individual turkey dinners. By the time Thanksgiving had passed I’d become revolted by the thought of eating more turkey, by the time Christmas arrives I’ll begin to develop an irritating twitch around my left eye. The smell of turkey bones being simmered down into mud coloured stock to create an entire week’s worth of turkey noodle-a la king-lasagne-soup is bordering on postal-worker retaliation a la chef.

For some reason the movie Silence of the Lambs keeps flashing in my mind while writing this article. I need to silence out the sounds of the millions of turkeys in my mind.

Silence of the Turkeys. Yes that’s it! I need to silence the turkeys. Writing can be so therapeutic.

Realistically though I should be more thankful for turkey dinners, seeing as Benjamin Franklin proposed to have the turkey as the United States official bird instead of the Bald Eagle. Benjamin felt that the Bald Eagle had a “bad moral character”.

Besides “Turkey Dinner” sounds better to say than “Bald Eagle Dinner” and I think I’d rather wake up in cold sweats with the sounds of gobbling turkeys ringing in my head instead of screaming eagles. Somehow “Silence of the Bald Eagles” doesn’t fly with me, then again neither can a domesticated turkey.

The first sit down meal on the moon was at a table for two. Mr. Armstrong and Mr. Aldrin dined on roast turkey with all the trimmings out of handy little foil pouches. Big Bird’s costume was made from dyed turkey feathers. A turkey yields about 3 500 feathers Oh yeah I almost forgot to mention that Turkey bacon is just plain wrong to me but then again it sounds better than Bald Eagle bacon.

Reggae Rub! Perfect for the Jerk in your life!

Reggae Rub! Perfect for the Jerk in your life!

 

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Chef Brian for Hire
The Spice Co.