Tag Archives: bacon

Bacon & Chive Yogurt Dip

1 Aug

Bacon and Chive Yogurt DipI recently ate a scrumptious but rather unhealthy Roasted Garlic and Bacon Dip. The base of this dip was mayonnaise and hence the fat content was off the charts. My father recommended that I test making something similar with hung yogurt.

Yogurt dips are a wonderful light and figure-friendly appetizer for the warmer summer months. Since yogurt is so versatile there’s a multitude of yogurt dip recipes available. Despite yogurt being the common denominator you can always find a way to switch things up by playing around with the additional flavor elements.

This recipe eliminates the mayonnaise to reduce an overabundance of fat. I also use a lower fat cut of bacon. The bacon specks running Bacon & Chive Dipthroughout the dip provide a fantastic smokiness and textural crunch. The chives add an aromatic and visual brightness that’s imperative in any brilliant summer appetizer. I use just a hint of roasted garlic to let the main stars of this yogurt dip – the bacon and the chives shine bright.  Continue reading

Bacon, Apple and Onion Stuffing Muffins

5 Dec

Bacon, Apple and Onion sTUFFINMy last recipe post – Chili-Cheese Wontons was a simple and elegant Hors d’oeuvre for holiday entertaining or a cocktail party. Life would be way too simple if the only entertaining during the holidays were cocktail parties. Unfortunately, it’s just not that simple! There are sumptuous and comforting dinners to be served, brunches and lunches to be cooked, and finally guests who stay a few days and need to be fed around the clock.

This is when you need a crowd-pleasing recipe that can easily be doubled, tripled or quadrupled up to be served as an appetizer or a side dish at dinner or a brunch. That is exactly what I thought when I came across Rachael Ray’s Apple Onion and Stuffin’ Muffin’s recipe. Bread, apples, onions and celery are elements that can be consumed at all mealtimes. Combining them creates a luscious dish that can be savored at various meal occasions. Plus making muffins out of this stuffing nudges it from being just a dinner side to a brunch side or even a heavy appetizer. Holiday Muffins

I made various changes to the original recipe to personalize it. Specifically, I added bacon and introduced a tart apple to add multiple layers of flavor. The smoky and savory flavor profile of the bacon marries harmoniously with the tart granny smith apple as well as the sweet McIntosh apples. There is nothing to not love about these muffins – they are delectable and unique and best of all can be served at any time of the day!

Bacon, Apple and Onion Stuffing Muffins
Recipe adapted from Rachael Ray’s Apple and Onion Stuffin’ Muffins
Yields: 12 regular size muffins
Time: Active: 20 minutes; Inactive (Baking) 12-15 minutes

Ingredients
Butter favored cooking spray (Recommended: PAM)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil,
1 tablespoon butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup chopped bacon (I used center-cut thick bacon)
1 fresh bay leaf (use a dried one if you cannot find fresh bay leaves)
4 ribs celery and greens, from the heart, chopped
1 medium to large yellow onion, peeled and chopped
1 Granny Smith Apple, peeled, cored, quartered and chopped
1 ½ McIntosh apples, peeled, cored, quartered and chopped
2 tablespoons poultry seasoning
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
7 cups cubed stuffing mix (Recommended: Pepperidge Farm Herbed Stuffing – Cubed)
2 to 3 cups chicken stock, store-bought from the soup aisle

Note:

  • To make these vegetarian eliminate the bacon. Increase the butter by another 1.5 tablespoons. Substitute the chicken stock with vegetable broth/stock.

Method:
1) Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees F. Spray a regular muffin tin (12 muffins), liberally with butter-flavored cooking spray and set aside.
2) Preheat a large skillet (12 inch) over medium high heat. Add extra-virgin olive oil to skillet and 1 tablespoon of butter. When the butter melts, cook the bacon.
3) Add the bay leaf followed by celery, onions and then apples. Sprinkle the vegetables and apples with poultry seasoning, salt and pepper. Cook 5 to 6 minutes or until the vegetables and apples begin to soften.
4) Add the parsley and stuffing cubes to the pan and combine. Moisten the stuffing with chicken broth until all of the bread is soft but not wet. (This was about 2.5 cups of stock for me) Do not over-wet the mixture as this will make it harder for the muffins to stay together. Taste the mixture and adjust salt and pepper as needed.
5) Remove the bay leaf. Use an ice cream scoop to fill and mound up the stuffing in muffin tins.
6) Bake until set and crisp on top, about 12 to 15 minutes. Remove stuffing muffins from the muffin tray and serve hot or room temperature.

Thanksgiving Roast Turkey: Tips & Tricks

14 Nov

I cooked my first Thanksgiving dinner in 2009, shortly after I got married. I have to admit the first year the thought of preparing a Thanksgiving dinner, specifically the turkey terrified me. I had never cooked a whole turkey before and had also had the misfortune of eating several dry and flavorless turkeys.  I was anxious to say the least. I spent the months leading up to Thanksgiving reading several articles and watching videos on Turkey preparation tips on the internet. I also took Sur La Table’s Bon Appétit Culinary Series – All American Thanksgiving class, to get some hands on experience before cooking my first Thanksgiving dinner.

I was rewarded for my hard work – the first Turkey I cooked, was moist, juicy and bursting with flavor. The day after that Thanksgiving, I sat down and put together a list of notes, tips and tricks that detailed how I accomplished a finger-licking good Turkey. I have used that document every year and so far I have never had a Turkey that hasn’t won the hearts of the crowd at our Thanksgiving table.

Here is an amalgamation of my Turkey tips and tricks:

1) How much turkey per person: 1lb per person if you have a lot of sides and want minimal leftovers. You can increase this to 1 ½ lbs per person if you want more leftovers.

2) To Brine or Not to Brine: The answer is BRINE! Brining infuses flavor and moisture into the turkey, creating a juicy and  flavorful turkey.

3) Amount of time to Brine your Turkey: The rule of thumb I use for brining a turkey is 2 hours for every pound of Turkey.  So for a 14-15 pound Turkey we are looking at 28-30 hours of brining time.

4) Favorite turkey brine: There are several good brine recipes on the internet. Here is the recipe of the brine I used the first year and every year since then.

Neha’s Turkey Brine
Serving Size: 14-15lb turkey

Ingredients:
Water (Enough to cover the entire Turkey)
2 cups apple cider
¾  cup Kosher salt per gallon of water (Please pay careful attention to step 5 of the method)
¼ cup granulated sugar, per gallon of water
5 large cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
1-2 habanero peppers, roughly chopped (You can also use 3-4 Jalapenos)
1 ½ tablespoons fresh thyme, finely chopped
1 tablespoon poultry seasoning
1 tablespoon red chili powder or cayenne
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon whole peppercorns
1 teaspoon all spice berries

Method
1) Place the cleaned Turkey (giblets, neck and heart removed) in a large brining bag or pot large enough to hold the Turkey plus enough water to submerge the Turkey.
2) Use a clean and empty milk gallon or ½ gallon container to start covering the turkey with water. Keep track of how many gallons of water you use as this will determine the amount of salt and sugar you will add to the brine. Add the apple cider to the turkey as well. Make sure you have enough liquid (water + 2 cups of cider), covering the Turkey.
3) Now remove 5-6 cups of the liquid from the Turkey bag/pot and place it in a medium sized pot on the stove top. Bring it to a boil on medium high heat.
4) Keeping in mind how many gallons of water were required to cover the turkey, add ¾ cup of kosher salt + ¼ cup of sugar per gallon to the water on the stovetop.  For example if you used 5 gallons of water to cover the Turkey you will require the brine you are creating on the stovetop to have 5*3/4 cups of salt + 5*1/2 cups of sugar, i.e. 3 3/4cups of salt and 1 1/4 cup of sugar.
6) When the water is at a rolling boil add all the remaining ingredients into the pot (on the stovetop). Turn off the heat and mix everything well till all the sugar and salt has dissolved.
7) Now place this brine you have created in the refrigerator for an hour to cool completely.
8) Once it is completely cooled add the brined liquid over the turkey that has the remaining water and apple cider in it. Make sure the Turkey is well submerged and cover and place in the refrigerator.
9) After the turkey is brined (2hours per pound of turkey) remove the Turkey from the liquid and drain it well and use plenty of kitchen towels to pat it dry

5) Stuffing inside or outside the turkey:  OUTSIDE! You do not want the stuffing you are going to serve your guests to have touched the raw turkey cavity. Unless you are overcooking your turkey the inside skeletal cavity does not reach the temperature that is safe to eat stuffing that’s been exposed to it. Also a bread stuffing inside the turkey can suck moisture out of the turkey, leaving the it dry.

6) Aromatic stuffing:  Before roasting, stuff the Turkey cavity with large sprigs of thyme, rosemary, sage, garlic cloves and onion halves. Remember this is only for aromatics of the turkey and is not to be eaten.

7) To Truss of not to truss: Trussing a turkey refers to using kitchen twine to tie the turkey together before roasting it.  Trussing helps the bird cook more evenly and also ensures that you have a bird that looks better on the table. Keeping the legs and wings closer to the body, also ensures they have lesser chance to burn. I always use Alton Brown’s method to truss my Turkey: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=auQB7D_xB0I

8) Infusing additional flavor: A flavored butter that goes under the skin is the final step I use to infuse even more flavors into my Turkey. I make sure the flavored butter has been on the Turkey for at least 36 hours before I roast it.  I use this Bacon-Herb Butter recipe every year:

Bacon, Dijon, and Herb Butter:
Recipe Adapted from Bon Appétit Roast Heritage Turkey with Bacon-Herb and Cider Gravy’s Recipe
Serving Size: 14-to-15 pound turkey

Ingredients:
¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) of unsalted butter at room temperature
6 ounces applewood-smoked bacon slices, coarsely chopped
¼ cup Dijon mustard
¼ cup fresh thyme, chopped
¼ cup sage chopped,
2 tablespoons rosemary, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tablespoons of lemon juice
¾ tablespoon kosher salt or coarse sea salt
¾ tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
¾ tablespoon lemon zest

Method:
1) Blend all the ingredients together in a food processor, until the bacon is finely chopped.
2) Remove this butter to a sheet of plastic wrap. Using the wrap as an aid, roll the butter mixture into a 2 inch thick diameter log. This butter can be made 3 days ahead and kept chilled in the refrigerator.
3) 36 hours before you are going to roast your turkey, cut thin circles of butter from the log. Carefully slide butter slices under the skin, between the leg, thigh and breast to cover everything generously.

Use these tips and tricks along with the ones you’ve learnt over the years to create a roast turkey that is simply succulent and full of flavor. Please feel free to reach out to me with any questions you may have on these tips and tricks. Happy turkey cooking!

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