Thanksgiving Dinner: The Starter

Every meal should have a beginning, a middle and end, just like a good story. The appetizer sets the mood and expectations for what’s to come. Consider it foreplay. You want it to make an impression, to tease but not overshadow.

When I thought about the components for this meal, I knew I wanted to incorporate the ‘traditional’ Thanksgiving ingredients. I also knew I would need to befriend the sweet potato, it’s not one of my favorites. You may recall another post where sweet potato was the star, but dressed in different wardrobe. That’s how I trick myself into liking it.

When I thought about a starter for this meal and considered using sweet potatoes, I wanted to remove most of that barely there sweetness and stay away from the common spices paired with it. The addition of chorizo made this soup even more savory and hearty. This soup is delicious! AND light AND easy. You should definitely try it. You can make the components for the cream ahead of time, then reheat and put it together just before serving.

Sweet Potato Cream with Chorizo
serves 6-8

3-4 medium sweet potatoes
1 bay leaf
2 cloves garlic, peeled
Chicken stock or water
Sea salt
1 tsp cumin
Crema fresca or creme fraiche

For the chorizo:
1 large onion, chopped
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tsps balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp sherry or wine
8 ozs Mexican chorizo
Sea salt
Sugar
Black pepper

Peel and chop the potatoes before putting them in a medium saucepan with the stock/water, bay leaf, garlic and salt. Boil and cook until tender. Allow them to cool in the boiling liquid before running through a blender. The sweet potatoes will be very dense, you may need to add additional water in order to puree.

To prepare the chorizo: cook the onions in the oil over medium high heat until softened and the onions begin to turn golden. Add the balsamic vinegar and sherry, cook until it evaporates.

Add the chorizo into the onion mixture, making sure to break it apart so it is a crumble. Chorizo should be thoroughly cooked, but keep the temperature at medium to avoid burning it. Add a couple tablespoons of water and cover with a tight-fitting lid, lower the temperature and allow it to cook for about 10 minutes. Adjust the seasonings as necessary, if you find it to be too tart, add a pinch of sugar. Allow it to cool. Remove the excess fat once it cools down.

To assemble: Pour the hot soup into a bowl, drizzle with cream, then drop a dollop of chorizo in the center.

Enjoy! Check out the rest of this meal here.

Cookingly yours,
Anamaris

Who moved my turkey?

I’ve not made it yet, but I’ve been thinking about it. I can tell you that there has been some turkey action in my kitchen already. AND I will make a pre-Thanksgiving turkey turkey. It will be loved and cajoled with lots of goodness, but it doesn’t happen until later today, soooo. No post until tomorrow. Howevah (that’s a fancy Southern-drawl but) be sure to come around tomorrow, I hope to have something so sensational you’ll be happy you came.

All of this turkeypalooza is for your benefit. Yep. I do it all for you, my bloggies. I know what you’re thinking. You don’t get to eat any of it, but you could if you made it, which is why this is for you.

This post will give you a couple of ideas for the upcoming festivities. If you’ve never made turkey before, or don’t know how to spicy it up, I hope these ideas will spark the turkey fire in you.

I must first admit that I am, in fact, a briner. I am. When it comes to turkey, the birds are so large and just not fatty enough, that brining seems to be the best way to guarantee juicy plumpness. So I brine. And every year I add something new to the basic brine. But today I thought you could hear from a real Chef. I found this on CHOW yesterday, and though he doesn’t offer up a specific recipe, Michael Chiarello explains the process beautifully. I seem to be having some linking issues…, but this is the shortened link: http://bit.ly/bRwiWI

Brining does wonders for turkey, here’s what I did last year: http://wp.me/pFzw3-5V

Let’s talk a little about what I’ve been up to the last few weeks. I roasted a turkey breast. This was a little test run for the way in which I was roasting it. Wanna see?

Turkey Breast with Mexican Chorizo

 I started out with a 4ish pound chicken breast, it still had bones and skin. When brining, you decide what to flavor with, the only must haves are water, salt and sugar. Remember to exaggerate the seasonings, it will all be diluted by the water. I added 2 pkts of Sazon, salt, herbs d’Provence, some Jugo Maggi and let it hang out for about an hour.

Preheated the oven to 325 and pulled out the chorizo from the casing and flattened it for easier handling. Removed the breast from the brine, dried it with paper towels and began to loosen the skin so I could squish the chorizo in. I added chorizo everywhere I could. Then drizzled the skin with olive oil and used toothpicks to secure the skin to the meat.

In the oven it went for close to 2 hours. I checked it after 80 minutes or so and based on the thermometer, it wasn’t quite ready. I would say just over 1-1/2 hours would’ve done it. At any rate, you want the internal temperature to read 185.

Remove the toothpicks, cover with foil and let it rest for 10 minutes or so. Remove from the bone and slice. You’ll end up with something that looks like this.

This was excellent. We paired with bacony sweet potatoes. Heaaaaaaven!

This would be a great way to make your bird, depending on the size of it, you’d probably need about 2 packets of chorizo (approx 1/2 lb).

Cookingly yours,
Anamaris

Huevos Benedictinos

Huevos Benedictinos

Do you like Eggs Benedict? If you do, you will love this one; I’ve given the traditional recipe a Mexican twist. Instead of English muffins, I used puff pastry shells. I’ve replaced the bacon and hollandaise sauce with chorizo and creamy salsa.

Ingredients
6 Pepperidge Farm puff pastry shells
Prepared Chorizo
Creamy salsa
Queso Fresco

I will break down the process for each layer. Here’s how:

For the chorizo:
10 oz Mexican chorizo (pork or beef will work)
½ cp onion, finely diced
1 small potato, finely cubed (about ½ cp)
2 tbsp salsa
3 tbsp water

Place a medium-sized skillet over medium high heat, add the chorizo and stir to break it up. Once it begins to render its fat, stir in the onions and cook until they begin to turn translucent. Add the potatoes, salsa and water. Stir it all in, lower the heat to medium low and cover with a lid. Stir it occasionally until the potatoes are fork tender. Set aside, but keep warm.

For the salsa:
This step is optional, if you don’t want to make your own salsa, just add cream to your favorite brand.

 8 Roma tomatoes, halved and seeded
2 – 3 serrano peppers, halved
2 cloves garlic, peeled and halved
½ medium onion, quartered
½ cp cilantro, coarsely chopped
½ tsp cumin powder
½ tsp sugar
Âľ tsp salt
2 tbsp olive oil

Add 1 tbsp of the oil to a skillet and place over high heat. When it begins to smoke, add the tomatoes, peppers, garlic, and onion. You want to char and smoke the vegetables, but keep a close watch on them or they’ll burn. Try to get some color on both sides, then remove from the heat and put it all into your blender. Add the rest of the ingredients and puree until all veggies are a mush.

Pour the salsa back into your skillet—you can add about ½ cp water to the blender to remove all the salsa bits—allow the salsa to cook over medium low temperature for about 10 minutes. This will yield about 3 cps of salsa, it will keep in the fridge for about a month.

Measure out Âľ cp of the salsa (you can also use your favorite salsa instead of making it yourself) and add ÂĽ cp of crema fresca or whipping cream. Stir it in and keep it warm. Set aside.

For the puff pastry:

Preheat oven to 400 and bake shells according to package instructions. Once baked, removed the tops and set aside.

For the poached eggs:
6 eggs, at room temperature
6-7 cps water
1 tsp salt
1 ½ tsp vinegar (I used sherry vinegar)
12” deep saucepan
Slotted spoon

I watched this video and realized I needed not fear the poaching process; this was the best video I watched.

Add the water, salt and vinegar to the pan and bring it to a boil. Once it boils, reduce heat so that the water is at a low simmer. Break the eggs and put each one into a small container, like a cup (one egg per cup).

Now is time to play with your water. Using that slotted spoon, create a swirl in the water. The centrifugal force will help the egg whites swirl onto themselves and make your eggs pretty. Now quickly drop one egg at a time right in the center of the water funnel. The whites will wrap around the yolk and will begin to float as the yolk is done. Here’s the thing. I measured the water temp to about 170-175 and I do like my yolks soft, it took about 5-6 minutes to get them just right. You can cook them longer if you’d rather have a harder yolk. Use the spoon to remove the eggs from the water, let some of that excess water fall off and clean off the eggy tentacles. Set the eggs aside until you’re ready to assemble the dish.

Assembly time!

Take a shell and drop about 2 tbsp of the chorizo, then top the shell with an egg. Top the egg with the creamy salsa, and then sprinkle some of the cheese. Repeat and serve.

And this is what I did with the leftovers!