Posts Tagged ‘Alton Brown’

Feastmas 2012!

November 4, 2012

It’s a little late, but I decided to do another Thanksgiving countdown this year. Just like last year, I’m going to write a Thanksgiving related blog post everyday until Thanksgiving Day. I was going to start on November 1st but this bitch of a storm named Sandy knocked out my power for almost a week.

About this time last year I had at least half of the articles already written and queued up for posting on WordPress because I was so busy with school and other responsibilities and I probably wouldn’t be able to post every day. This time I’m just winging it (no pun intended) and hoping for the best. However, with my luck, the power will probably go out again. I hear there is supposed to be a Nor’easter coming this Tuesday. What fun! The countdown can be a success or a failure. Who knows, but after spending almost a week in the dark, I think I’m allowed to be an ass. And so it begins.

This subject was supposed to be posted on November 2nd. That day is officially National Deviled Egg day and that’s what I’m gonna talk about. I feel weird using that date name because seriously, who comes up with these special days? They’re not holidays. Schools don’t close nor do the post office. Are we really that bored that we have to celebrate random things all the time? I suppose so, otherwise I wouldn’t be writing a Thanksgiving Day countdown. Maybe someone will create a  Piña Colada with Bacardi Day. I’ll keep my fingers crossed.

In any case, I had my first taste of deviled eggs (or eggs mimosa) a few years ago when my wife was hosting for Thanksgiving. I’ve definitely heard of them and was surprised when my wife served them as an appetizer while my friend and I were playing Gears of War. What an awesome combo, huh? I was eager to try them since I never had them and they were delicious. They’re not hard to make either, which means you can make them whenever you want. They’re not a dish that is specifically tied to Thanksgiving, but it just makes the day that much sweeter.

Finally, I found a YouTube video on what mistakes to avoid and tips to make the deviled eggs come out perfect. The chef was on a season of Top Chef but I don’t recognize her because I’m mostly a Food Network person. I enjoy Alton Brown giving interesting but pointless facts about food. But his tips on food prep are usually awesome. He’s the reason that I started to brine my turkeys and I never looked back after that, as I mentioned somewhere in last year’s countdown.

Since Thanksgiving comes early this year (November 22nd), that helps me out because I covered a lot of topics last year and I had a hell of a time coming up with new subjects this time. It’s hard to branch outside the box from turkey and stuffing, but I think I did a good job with my brainstorming. Let the gluttony begin!

Stuffing!

November 4, 2011

I am happy to talk about stuffing today because it is my favorite dish for Thanksgiving. I know many others proclaim Turkey to be king of the holiday and it probably is, but I loved stuffing my whole life and I would eat mounds of it that special Thursday and deep into the weekend. The side dish can be prepared many ways and I want to look into a few ways it can be served.

Now, some may call me crazy, but my favorite stuffing brand is Stove Top. From past conversations I’ve had, either you love it or hate it. I think Stove Top has a certain blend of spices that I can’t get enough of.

Don't hate, playa!

Of course I don’t eat it plain out of the box. I add extra ingredients to the mix; some that are mentioned on the website and some that I learned from my mother. My usual mix that I add to the stuffing is chopped apples, celery, and sliced breakfast sausage. If I’m feeling adventurous, I’ll add a handful of Craisins to the mix. Craisins is basically dried out cranberries and look like red raisins. Really, I’m getting hungry just thinking about it.

Makes a good snack as well!

For those who don’t like Stove Top (perish the thought), either they make stuffing with bread at home, or they buy the bagged stuffing with the bread cubes inside. I’ve had this before and it’s definitely good, but I just prefer the boxed kind. It’s probably because I grew up eating it. I’m sure if my mother only made bagged stuffing, I would go crazy for that kind. My wife made stuffing with just bread, chicken broth, and bullion cubes and it wasn’t bad either. I can mess with something different occasionally. I found a stuffing recipe for the bagged kind and I’ll give it a shot sometime soon.

I'm sure it has it's merits

Also, while writing this blog post, I found out that stuffing only has that name when it is cooked inside the turkey. If it is made outside the turkey, then it’s called dressing. I have no idea why and I can only speculate that it was just called that by people who lived in the Wild West. You know, the strange folk who used to have shooting duels and rode around in that hot-ass sun.

Although I used to eat stuffing because my mom used to put it in the bird, I feel safer making it outside the turkey. Alton Brown, the host of Good Eats says it’s bad to cook it in the turkey because to get rid of possible salmonella, the bird has to cook longer and possibly dry out. Since Alton gave me the idea to brine turkey and it always comes out wonderful, I will take his word (and my endorsement check). However, you could always precook the stuffing and then stuff the turkey. Either way is probably fine.

drinkOne last thing; Swanson had a promotion in 2010 called The Great Stuffing Debate. It was basically sharing how you make your stuffing (or dressing), and there was a prize of $500. I don’t know how I did not hear about it, but I’m kicking myself for missing it. I went to the website but at the time of this writing (October 2011), Swanson already took it down. It’s possible that they may do it again so be on the lookout for it. If anything, you could get some awesome recipes out of it. Do you have custom stuffing ingredients? Leave a comment below.

See you tomorrow and eat up!

Let’s Talk Turkey!

November 3, 2011

Most people love Turkey and it’s one of the first things that come to mind when one speaks of Thanksgiving. I’ve read somewhere that over eighty percent of Americans eat turkey on the holiday. Some people call Thanksgiving, “Turkey Day.” It’s a cute alternative but that definition only defines one aspect of this holiday, and I believe that this day means so much more.

Anyway, my family always made turkey and my mother would make a seasoning liquid and would rub it into the bird. Then she (or my father) would cover the turkey in that oven bag that’s found in supermarkets and would keep an eye on that thermometer button that pops up when it’s done. Of course, this process usually dries the turkey because the pop up button does not take the temp of the entire bird.

Don't trust it!

My wife did the bag and button process until we saw an Alton Brown special about Thanksgiving. We learned that a brine is much better and having a meat thermometer keeps the turkey from drying out.

Totally worth the money.

A brine is a bunch of seasonings in a water mix. We let the bird soak in it overnight inside of a cooler with ice so that it doesn’t go bad. Every time we did this, the white meat came out so juicy that the liquid squirts out as if you were eating a Gushers fruit snack. It’s delicious every time.

My wife carves the turkey in the kitchen and then brings out the meat in a large plate. I don’t understand why some people opt to carve the turkey at the dinner table. It’s traditional, but that is such a time consuming task when everyone is sitting at the table, ready to eat. My mouth would be watering so much that I would need a damn spittoon next to me. Personally I think it’s best to have everything ready and then serve it up once everyone is seated.

Although I love turkey, I think it is kind of weird how much we celebrate the bird we eat in living form. The Tom Turkey float has been in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade for more years than I care to count. Benjamin Franklin even wanted the turkey to be the national bird instead of the bald eagle. That is some strange dedication and simultaneous mixed messages. However, I totally participate in the irony. I would be upset if the Tom Turkey float was removed as others would be. As scary as that flapping robot is, it’s our scary flapping robot, and I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Classic!

Finally, my wife and I have been using a turkey recipe that we found on the Food Network. This is the recipe that uses the brine. We tried it a few years ago and we’re never looked back. It is probably the best turkey I’ve ever had. You can find the recipe here and I would recommend trying it at least once, even if it’s not Thanksgiving. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised (and pleasantly plump).

See you tomorrow!