Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Leftover Turkey Tamale Pie – Sorry, Pumpkin, There’s a New Thanksgiving Pie in Town

Even if your turkey is perfectly cooked, the reheated leftovers can be a little dry and uninteresting, especially since the gravy always runs out before all the meat is gone. 

That’s why soup is such a popular choice for using up the last remnants of your bird, but this tamale pie will serve the same purpose, only in a significantly more exciting, and flavorful way.

There are two basic types of tamale pie. One features a cornbread topping, which is like eating chili with cornbread, and the other a traditional masa dough, which is like eating chili with polenta on it. Here, I wanted to create something that gives us the best of both, and I was very happy with how this came out.

While I’m branding this as a post-Thanksgiving leftover turkey recipe, it’s really a “how to make tamale pie” video, since you can sub in virtually any other meat and/or vegetable, and it should work just as well. In fact, I’m actually thinking of doing a version using cubed butternut squash as a turkey-adjacent side dish. Regardless of what you use, I really do hope you give this easy and delicious tamale pie a try soon. Enjoy!

 

Ingredients for 6 Portions Turkey Tamale Pie:
(I used a 9" X 12" baking dish)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, diced
1 teaspoon salt plus more to taste
1 red bell, diced
2 poblano peppers, diced
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 can (7-oz) chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
3 to 4 cups diced cooked turkey or chicken
4 ounces grated sharp cheddar cheese (about 1 packed cup)
1 jar (15.5-oz) red enchilada sauce
1 1/2 cups chicken broth

For the crust:
1 1/4 cups cornmeal
3/4 cup self-rising flour*
2 tablespoons white sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
4 ounces grated sharp cheddar cheese for the top

- Bake at 375 F. for about 45 minutes, or until the topping is browned and a toothpick comes out clean.

* If you don’t have self-rising flour, you can use 3/4 cup all-purpose flour sifted with 1 teaspoon baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon fine table salt.
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Friday, November 9, 2018

Loaded Twice-Baked Sweet Potatoes – A Savory Delete of the Sometimes Too Sweet

They say your greatest strength is also your biggest weakness, which certainly is true when it comes to sweet potatoes.  The starchy sweetness that makes this tuber such a popular holiday side dish, is also its fatal flaw, since, for me at least, it quickly leads to palate fatigue. After a few bites of mashed sweet potatoes, or sweet potato casserole, I’m pretty much over the experience, and I’m reaching for the cranberry sauce to reset my tongue, but here we’ve mixed in a few ingredients specifically selected to cut that sweetness, and push this much closer to the savory side of town.

Lime, jalapeño, and sharp cheddar may seem like odd choices here, but paired with the green onions, and bacon, they work wonders, and I had no problem finishing a whole sweet potato. And by whole, I mean two. By the way, these orange-fleshed sweet potatoes are often sold as “yams,” but they’re not, in case that ever comes up in conversation.

Besides all the obvious reasons, this is a great choice for your Thanksgiving table, since you can prep it ahead of time, and then bake them when you’re ready to serve.  They will also stay hot for quite a while, which is another reason they’re nice around the holidays, when oven space can be limited. So, whether you make these for a special occasion, or some completely un-special weeknight meal, I really do hope you get give these loaded, twice-baked sweet potatoes a try soon. Enjoy


Ingredients for 4 portions:
4 orange-fleshed sweet potatoes, scrubbed clean
8 ounces bacon, sliced
1/3 cup sliced green onions
1/4 cup diced jalapeno
1/2 cup grated sharp white cheddar cheese, plus a little bit for the top
2 tablespoons crème fraiche, or sour cream
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
salt, freshly ground black pepper, and cayenne to taste
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Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Spicy Salami Spread (Nduja) – Almost Instant Soft Serve Salami

I’m not saying this spicy salami spread is as good as traditional nduja, but I am saying this takes about 3 months less time to make, and still delivers most of the characteristics that make this Calabrian delicacy so amazing. And just in case you’re not familiar with nduja, a few of those characteristics are a rich, spicy, super-savory flavor, and soft, luxurious texture.

Finding some decent salami to use should be simple enough, but depending on where you live, the oil-packed Calabrian chilies may not be as easy to acquire. Any decent Italian market will carry them, so ask your Calabrian friends where they shop, but if that doesn’t work, you can find them online as well. Or, you could use another spicy, jarred pepper product like Sambal, or simply use fresh hot chilies like Fresno, or cherry peppers. If it’s spicy, and it’s a pepper, it will work.

You can substitute bacon for the pancetta, but since bacon is smoked, your final product will taste significantly different. Not bad, just different. In any event, the wonderful ways you can use this are extensive. I gave a few ideas in the video, but other highly recommended uses include adding it to pasta sauces, salad dressings, ravioli fillings, and even as a pizza topping.

Having said that, this stuff is so unique, and delicious, your guests might not leave you with much to experiment with, which is fine, since this is so fast and easy to produce. So, with peak entertaining season right in front of us, I really do hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for about 2 cups Spicy Salami Spread (Nduja):
4 ounces sliced or diced pancetta, cooked, fat reserved
1/3 cup seeded hot Calabrian peppers
3 tablespoons Calabrian pepper oil from the jar
12 ounces sliced salami
1/4 cup room temp butter
2 or 3 tablespoons olive oil, or as needed to adjust the texture to your liking
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Friday, November 2, 2018

Portuguese Custard Tarts – The Hieronymites Got This Right

I’ve made custard tarts before, but never the world-famous Portuguese custard tarts, and I’m thrilled to report the results were shockingly good. This really was one of the best pastries I’ve ever enjoyed, custard or otherwise. 

Which is a good thing, since they do require a bit of effort to produce. The recipe itself is simple, using just a few basic ingredients, but there are numerous steps, and a certain amount of finesse is required, but the results are so worth it. After watching a few dozen videos on the technique, I decided to try the short cut version first, which uses frozen store-bought puff pastry. The results were not good. Since puff pastry is leavened with yeast, and contains so many more layers of butter and dough, my crust turned out too thick, and gummy, and wasn’t nearly as thin and crispy as it should’ve been. It may have been my technique, but officially I’m blaming the dough.

So then I attempted an “authentic” dough recipe from scratch, which was infinitely better. It’s a little tricky to work with, since the dough is very sticky, but I think that’s one of the keys here. Seems like the extra moisture in the dough, which is activated by the very hot oven, is what creates the signature flaky, crispy texture.

As far as the custard goes, it’s a relatively simple procedure, and we even streamlined one of the steps. You’ll have to decide whether you’re going to include lemon, cinnamon, and vanilla, which are apparently considered optional ingredients in Portugal, but I really enjoy the flavor, and wouldn’t change a thing. Regardless of what you decide to add, or not add to yours, like I said in the video, these should be on everyone’s baking bucket list. So, I really do hope you give them a try soon. Enjoy!


For the dough:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 cup cold water
Note: adjust with more flour or water to achieve what’s shown in the video
1 stick (4 ounces) very soft, high-quality unsalted butter

For the sugar syrup:
3/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon water
1 cinnamon stick (or 1/4 teaspoon ground)
zest from 1 lemon

For the custard base:
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 cups milk
6 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

- Bake tarts at 550 F. for 12 minutes or until the pastry is browned and bubbly, and the tops start to blister and caramelize.
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