Sunday, November 21, 2010

Thanksgiving Help II, Pie Shells

And is it a sin to buy a pre-made pie crust?

Yes...and no...

It is never a sin to buy whatever you want. It's your hell, we don't share in that. My only issue with premade pie shells is the use of PARTIALLY HYDROGENATED VEGETABLE OIL.

Now, it is only one day and you'll only have one slice ( right?) so I suppose you will survive but I'll bet you'll get heartburn and that may cast a dark shadow on an otherwise fabulous day. You may actually blame your cousin's delicious cranberry-chipotle compote for the heart burn when the real culprit is the PARTIALLY HYDROGENATED VEGETABLE OIL. This may create a long term family rift. And we don't want that.

The sales of antacids and the consumption of PARTIALLY HYDROGENATED VEGETABLE OIL coincide perfectly. The stuff is not digestible. A classic and perfect pie crust is made with lard. Yes lard. Look it up. There is no better method. The flakiness and crispness are perfect. Great people who have lived fabulous lives and have done very good things in this world ate lard crusts at the holidays outlived their cardiologists by 10 years easily. Julia Child, still cackling well int her '90's swore by lard pie shells. Jimmy Carter, bless his goodness, is from Lard Pie Shell Country.

Nuff of that!

The second best are made with butter.

Most commercial shells are shelf stable, bad fat shells.

If you have a food processor, making pie dough is a BREEZE. and the recipe is a breeze too.

Remember this : 3-2-1.


16 oz four

8 oz butter, lard or fake fat, cut in pieces

4 oz ice water.

Put flour and butter in food processor and spin until it looks like crumbles. Add the water and spin until it starts to come together like dry dough.

Put on a board and massage fro a minute, pull it together and form a disk. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and chill for at least a half an hour or up to three days. Remove, roll out and bake. Hey, they make these cutting boards, available everywhere , with measured circles to make sure your pie crust is the right size...and yes, you can patch any tears. We won't watch.

Thanksgiving Questions? Answered!

For the next few days, I'll post some questions posed to me by Megan, a reporter for Ulster Publishing, and my answers of course, about Thanksgiving food, cooking and the general stress and madness associated with our greatest feast day.

Let's talk Triage--Tell us how to save a turkey from the brink of inedibility?

Turkey is a tricky one--it is really hard to WRECK turkey unless it is

a. raw or

b. burnt.

(Visit my website for a flawless turkey cooking technique)

So if the turkey is raw---open another bottle of wine and have another canape or six while you wait. This always works.

If it is really, really raw, have some pumpkin pie and have turkey later.

If it is overcooked, or burnt, there is only one way out--more gravy! Gravy is the panacea of many an overlooked beast.

Really, though, if the turkey is not cooking to your dinner timing, here are a few tips.

1. Remove the legs and thighs from the bird. They cook much slower than the breast as they are dark muscle with more liquid (blood). The breast is usually done a solid hour before the deepest part of the thigh on a 20 pound turkey. Ever wonder why the breast is often dry?

2. Add steam. Steam speeds up the bird's cooking, though it will keep the skin from getting as crisp as you may like. Solution? Tent the turkey with foil and pour some boiling water into the roasting pan to create steam,. Enough water to cover the bottom of the pan with 1/4 in deep of water will do. You can repeat this when the water has evaporated.

3. Desperation- Ok, so the natives are restless and they are on the verge of revolt.

It's Chef Mike to the rescue. Who is chef Mike? The MICROWAVE. While I do NOT recommend this as regular practice, in this situation, when the spears are flying and your own carcass is in the line, all will be forgiven. You can always carve enough turkey to feed Uncle Hal and assuage the disapproving Aunt Sophia. Put the slices on a place with a lil h20 and zap it for a minute or two to cook out the pinkness. Yes, it is a desperate measure, but in a pinch, it will cook your bird in stages and, in the words of Alton brown, you will survive to cook another day.

For Sides survival, remember--Don't try to do everything in one day. Thanksgiving was set on a Thursday so we can have all week to get the little things done. Things like mashed winter squash and yams and braised cabbage can be made up to three days in advance and simply reheated in the oven. Make them on Sunday and stash them, they are not leftovers because you hve eaten half of i first They are consciously pre prepped dishes. Tell everyone how much better they now taste once the flavors have had time to mingle. That line always works. Very good.

PS-- In a desperate pinch, serve frozen spinach or frozen cauliflower in cheesy bechamel sauce

Hudson Valley Garlic Festival Recipes for 2019

Sunday, September 29th I am back at the Hudson Valley Garlic Festival in Saugerties cooking some garlic recipes. These two side dishes are ...