Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Turkey & Dumplings Recipe

Last year I was introduced to what may possibly be the most comforting dish on the planet: Turkey & Dumplings. As you may know from my previous post on Turkey & Dumplings, I first had this Southern-inspired dish on my most recent birthday at the Toronto restaurant Omaw, and was totally taken by the fantastic contrast of flavours and textures represented in the dish. 

Chris and I promptly tried to recreate the dish in our own kitchen, and it turned out so ridiculously incredible! Of course, because we were playing around so much with the dish on our first go at making it, we weren't able to record a clear breakdown of the recipe. Alas, with such an amazing response from everyone on the photo that I posted of our Turkey & Dumplings copycat recipe, we had to give it another go, but this time carefully recording every step. 
So with that, I bring you our version of Turkey & Dumplings, a must-make recipe for any comfort-food lover! Last time we made this dish, we were lucky to have leftover Thanksgiving turkey on hand, so this time we decided to roast off some fresh turkey thighs, so that we could make this dish all year round. Thank you to The New York Times for providing a killer method for making roasted turkey pieces that taste like they came off of a whole-roasted bird! You can find our slightly modified recipe for roasted turkey thighs below as well. 

Tip: Save the turkey skin after roasting and fry into crispy chips to use as a garnish! 

8 cups chicken stock (preferably homemade)
1 medium onion, small dice
2 stalks celery, small dice
2 medium carrots, small dice
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup fresh or frozen corn niblets
1 Tbsp. fresh thyme, leaves picked
3 Tbsp butter
3 Tbsp flour
3/4 cup roasted or smoked ham, diced
2 bay leaves
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 medium/large parmesan rind
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp. sour cream
about 2 cups shredded roasted turkey meat (dark meat) *see recipe below for roasting turkey thighs
kosher salt and pepper to season
Beurre Manie 
1 Tbsp. flour
1 Tbsp. cold butter
Dumplings (Tyler Florence Recipe)
2 cups flour
1/2 Tbsp baking powder 
1/2 tsp kosher salt
2 eggs
3/4 buttermilk

  1. Set a large dutch oven on the stove set to medium heat.
  2. In a separate medium pot, heat stock to medium heat. 
  3. Add onion to dutch oven and heat. Add carrots and celery and sweat. Season with salt and pepper. Add corn, garlic, and thyme and cook until fragrant (about 30-seconds to 1-minute).
  4. Add 3 Tbsp. butter and melt. Add flour and stir to make a roux. Cook for about 1-minute.
  5. Slowly begin adding in the stock, one ladle at a time, while stirring to incorporate. 
  6. Add in ham, bay leaves, cayenne, and parmesan rind. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce to a low, and simmer for 30-minutes. 
  7. Remove bay leaves. Add in grated parmesan cheese and sour cream. Taste and season as needed with salt and pepper. If mouthfeel is off and the soup is too thin, prepare a Beurre Manie. 
  8. To make a Beurre Manie: combine 1 Tbsp. flour with 1 Tbsp. cold butter and smoosh together with the back of a spoon. If you want, get right in there and smoosh it together with your fingers to form a paste. Drop the paste bit by bit into your soup and stir in. 
  9. Make Dumplings. In a medium bowl, whisk together dry ingredients. In a small bowl, lightly beat together eggs with buttermilk. Fold wet ingredients into dry ingredients. If it feels too tough, add in another few tablespoons of milk. Drop spoonfuls of batter directly into the soup. Simmer for 10-15-minutes, flipping part way through. 
  10. Stir in turkey and any drippings (you may also add in the garlic and onion that was roasted with the turkey thighs). Cook 5 minutes. Serve immediately. 
Roasted Turkey Thighs
(Slightly adapted from The New York Times)
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 Tbsp. fresh thyme leaves
2 turkey thighs, washed & dried
salt and pepper to season
rosemary salt (optional)
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 celery stalks, roughly chopped
1 medium carrot, roughly chopped
1 medium onion, quartered
4 garlic cloves, whole 
4 thyme sprigs

  1. Preheat oven to 450ºF. 
  2. Stir together butter and thyme leaves and rub all over turkey pieces, making sure to get some underneath the turkey skin.
  3. Season generously with salt and pepper, and rosemary salt (if you have any!). 
  4. Toss celery, carrot, onion, and garlic with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. 
  5. Place thighs in a medium roasting dish or baking pan and tuck the celery, carrot, onion, garlic, and thyme sprigs around the meat. 
  6. Roast for 30-minutes. Reduce heat to 325ºF and roast for an additional 15-20-minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 165ºF, while basting occasionally with accumulated juices. 
  7. Remove from oven and tent with tin foil for 30-minutes. Separate the meat from the bones and shred with 2 forks. Set aside in fridge until ready to use. 
Listening To

Monday, January 16, 2017

Italian-Inspired Potato Hash

With 2017 well into it's first month, it comes as no surprise that myself, along with seemingly everybody else on social media, is trying to go into the new year with a fresh and healthy perspective. While I have zero interest in eliminating anything from my diet, what I am trying to focus on this year is being more conscious about including fresh and healthy ingredients into every meal, with a big emphasis on balance. I'm never going to give up pastries, cheese, and cured meats, so I have to accept that if I want to make those types of foods apart of my life, I have to be able to compromise by balancing them out with the good stuff. This means lots more fruits and veg, whole grains, pulses, and most definitely a lot more colour! 

With this healthy perspective fresh in my mind, I've been trying to come up with new and exciting dinner options that will allow me to carry through my new diet goals (note that I say the word 'diet' as as in "the food and drink regularly provided or consumed," not in the restrictive sense of the word). As usual, my starting place for creating almost every recipe is by taking a look through my fridge and pantry. With some leftover pancetta and a bag full of mini Blushing Belle potatoes, the idea of a dinnertime hash came to mind. Wanting to stray from a lot of the potato hash recipes I found online, I took the pancetta as my spark for creating a unified theme to the dish. My hash would be Italian-Inspired! By adding in a cubanelle pepper, roasted cherry tomatoes, cannellini beans, and pesto, suddenly my potato hash took on the flavours of one of my favourite types of cuisine. Hearty, comforting, and full of flavour, the hash turned out delicious, and also was fantastic warmed up again the next day as a leftover breakfast. 
A hash is a great starting point for intermediate cooks who are looking to feel more confident and have more freedom in the kitchen. This is a great dish for practicing your knife skills, as well as developing your flavour palate. Play around with my recipe. Sub-in ingredients that you have in your fridge. Don't have cubanelle peppers but you do have a red pepper pepper lying around? Use that! Maybe you prefer sundried tomato pesto to a basil one? Sub that in! Play around with seasoning each aspect of this dish so you can start to learn how to taste and season as you go. If you don't use pinch bowls, start! Feeling your spices as you add them in will give you a better feel for exactly how much you're adding, and will overall make you a much better cook. If you don't already use kosher salt and are still using table table salt, this is also a great time to make that switch. Coarse kosher salt allows you to really feel the grains between your fingers, once again, allowing you to get a better sense of how much you're adding.

1 dry pint cherry tomatoes
1/4 medium onion, sliced
1 Tbsp olive oil
1.5 lb Blushing Bell Mini Potatoes, diced
1/4 cup pancetta, diced
1/4 medium onion, diced
1 cubanelle pepper, seeds removed and diced
1/2 cup canned cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
4 Tbsp basil pesto (I used a homemade basil and walnut pesto, but you can use what you have!)
salt and pepper
eggs for serving

  1. Preheat oven to 400ºF.
  2. Toss together tomatoes with sliced onion and season generously with salt and pepper. Spread evenly on a baking sheet and bake until charred and wrinkly, about 10-15 minutes. Set aside.
  3. While tomatoes are cooking, prepare potatoes. Add potatoes to a large pot and fill with enough water to cover potatoes by at least 1-inch. Generously salt water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer, and cook for 5-minutes. Drain immediately. Set aside.
  4. In a large skillet set to medium heat, add pancetta and cook until fat has rendered and pancetta is crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon to set aside to drain on paper towels.
  5. Add diced onion and sweat. Add cubanelle pepper and cook until slightly softened. Add cannellini beans and cook, stirring occasionally until heated through. Season with salt and pepper.
  6. Stir in prepared roasted tomatoes, sliced onion, and pancetta.
  7. Gently stir in the potatoes and pesto, being careful not to break up the potatoes too much. Season as needed with salt and pepper. 
  8. Serve immediately, with each serving topped with a freshly fried (or poached!) egg. 
Listening To:

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Perfecting Potato Latkes (Updated)

Every Chanukah is a new opportunity to step up your potato latke game. Though each year my latkes get a little better, it wasn't until this year that they just may have reached the point of perfection. I'm not going to bore you with my history of eating and making latkes, I'm just going to get right to the point and tell you straight up my tips and tricks for creating potato latke excellence. 

Start With A Great Latke Recipe As Your Guide
I personally think that Bon Appétit has a fantastic recipe for potato latkes that I like to use as a general guide. It's really hard to list exact ingredient amounts for latkes, because it all depends on the size and flavour of your potatoes. Use the recipe as a rough guide for which ingredients to use and how much you should use of each one. I don't bother with measuring my ingredients anymore, I just go by sight and memory, and after you make your first batch, that's all you'll ever need too. While Bon Appétit's recipe is great, I adjusted it slightly by mincing my onion, and doing 2 Tbsp plain breadcrumbs, and 2 Tbsp panko breadcrumbs, instead of the grated onion and 1/4 cup plain breadcrumbs listed in their recipe. Check out their recipe and method here

Start With The Right Potatoes
Step one to making the ultimate latkes is using the correct potatoes. Though my dear love, Ina Garten likes to use a combo of both Yukon Gold and Russets, it has been in my experience to always go for all Russets. I have to admit, that the only times that I've strayed from Russet potatoes, I've gone pure Yukon Gold, so perhaps Ina knows something I don't, and maybe (maaaaybe) next year I'll give her method a try. Russets tend to be the favourite for potato latkes thanks to their high-starch, and low-moisture content, which is key in achieving a crisp latke. 

Grate Your Potatoes
Though everyone has their preference, I love a nice lacy, grated potato for my latkes. I adore the texture and think that it delivers the best crispness on the outside, while still leaving the interior of the pancake soft and tender. Grating by hand is fine if you're doing only one or two potatoes, but any more and you may never want to make latkes ever again. I recommend lugging out your food processor to do do the work for you. Swap in the grating attachment and see how quickly your potatoes are grated! Dare I say, it's a "grate" tool! (I can't stop with the dad jokes!)

Add Onion
While I'm sure there are polarizing thoughts on whether to add onion to your latkes or not, I find them essential! I love the flavour that the onion adds to the rather bland potatoes, making them a more savoury side dish, which I think complements the sweet apple sauce topping wonderfully! I used to grate my onion in as well, but I found that they taste all the better when the onion is invisible. I mince mine up super fine so they blend right into the lacy potato shreds, adding their flavour without compromising on texture, or risking someone getting a big chunk of onion in their pancake. 

Squeeze Out The Liquid
This is likely THE most essential step in making the ultimate potato latkes. I mean it when I say DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP! Don't even try to. There are no short cuts. As soon as my potatoes are grated and my minced onion in stirred in, I pour everything into a clean kitchen towel with a bowl resting underneath and squeeze the hell out of that stuff! Squeeze, and squeeze, and squeeze until hardly anymore liquid comes out. Then carefully open up your towel, stir around the contents, and guess what?....You squeeze, and squeeze, and squeeze again! I like to place a bowl underneath to catch all of the starchy potato liquid. After a few minutes the natural starch from the potato liquid will fall to the bottom of the bowl, allowing you to pour out the water and add the thick starch back into your potatoes. I like to do this to help my potato mixture hold together in the pan, as well as ensure my latkes are as crisp as possible. 

Season & Bind
Once your shredded potatoes are squeezed out as much as possible, it's time to season and bind everything together. In a small bowl, whisk together eggs (I do 2-3 for every five potatoes), some baking powder, and some breadcrumbs (I like to do half regular breadcrumbs, and half panko) and combine it into your potato and onion mixture. You want the mixture to be moist but not soupy at all. If it's not moistened enough from the egg, it won't hold together, and with too much egg, you've got yourself a weird omelette/latke hybrid. In terms of seasoning, I start with a couple of large pinches of salt and pepper, and then fry off a test latke to taste. If needed, I will season once again, and continue with the rest of the pancakes. 

Flavour Your Oil
This was one step that I was so excited to add to my latkes this year. Previously, I have only used vegetable oil for frying my latkes, but couldn't resist picking up a container of duck fat from St. Lawrence Market to aid in flavouring the plain vegetable oil. While schmaltz (chicken fat) is traditionally used, duck fat sounded oh-so-luxurious and was what I found first. The duck fat not only gave my latkes even more flavour, they also helped to crisp them up even more. 

Your Cast Iron Is Your Friend
While no, it's not absolutely essential to use a big, heavy cast iron pan to fry your potato latkes, I find that it makes a world of a difference! As soon as I started frying my latkes in a cast iron, my latkes when from "novice" to "expert." I will never go back to my regular All-Clad's or nonstick for frying latkes, ever! 

Keep 'em Warm
Because frying up batches of potato latkes is quite tedious and time consuming, I keep my oven preheated to 325ºF, with a baking sheet set inside, so I can place my fried and drained latkes to keep them warm and crisp. Before I place any latkes in the oven, I'm sure to take them straight from the cast iron to a prepared wire rack set over a paper-towel-lined baking sheet. This allows any excess oil to drain off. 

Serve Immediately!
I don't care what you say, latkes DO NOT taste the same the next day. Sure, they may still be incredibly tasty, but they sure ain't the brilliant and crispy pancakes that you made the day before. It's all about the texture. Latkes are meant to be served right away! So as soon as you're done frying up all of your shredded potatoes, get those babies on the table! After spending so much time on your feet in the kitchen, frying up batch upon batch of latkes, while your clothes and furniture soak up the smell, you owe it to yourself to serve them as they were intended to taste. I like to make extra so I can eat some immediately, and then have more for leftovers throughout the week. 

Have any other questions or concerns about making potato latkes? Leave me a comment here or tweet me: @thisgingerrose.

Listening To