Improv: How to jerky a turkey

24 11 2009

This is what happens when you overcook a 12-lb. turkey

This was not the post I intended for today.

However, the picture of my poor 12-lb. turkey, left to roast in its 325 deg. F. oven for two hours too long was too priceless to ignore.

I put my properly thawed turkey into its roaster, filled with sage and lemon halves.

I woke to Alton Brown in my head, opining on The Next Iron Chef that “Good chefs sometimes have bad days in the kitchen.” Yep — and some days they have bad nights, too.

I will at the very least be able to make some dog treats – Madison and Casey, true to their English cocker stomachs, love my homemade liver cookies. Maybe I can enrich them by substituting pulverized completely dried out roasted turkey for some of the flour. They have far less discriminating palates than my own.

And the moral of the story?

Do NOT put your turkey in the oven to roast after working a 12-hour day.

Kitchen Disaster Dog Treats

You’ll need a crispity over-roasted turkey, or parts from one that has met this unfortunate fate. The bird should be seriously over-roasted, with all of the moisture (or most of it) roasted out – but it shouldn’t be charred; I have standards. You will know that your turkey qualifies if you can remove the entire breastbone without disturbing any of what used to be meat, and if the parts that you would normally have sliced would dull a normal blade and will break off the carcass. The stuff that used to be meat should resemble the heavy bark on a well-smoked brisket.

You’ll also need a food processor with heavy-duty chopping blade, or an industrial food grinder. I prefer a food processor (yes, this has happened to me more than once.)

  • Remove all visible skin, fat and anything that looks like it might be edible meat (you might be able to salvage that by re-hydrating it in a brothy soup or with a long soak in some turkey gravy.)
  • Break apart the sections which were over-roasted if they are too large to fit into your food processor. You think I’m kidding, don’t you? I’m not. I love my dogs, but I love my Cuisinart, too. If the sections you try to process are too large they will burn out the motor. I’m not gonna break my Cuisinart trying to salvage dog treats out of a badly roasted turkey. A Chinese meat cleaver may be helpful if the ‘bark’ (read: overdone parts) are really far gone.
  • Pulse the sections briefly until they are either bite-size (no larger than 1/2 inch square) or pulverized if you intend to use the overdone bird as ‘flour’ to make dog cookies.
  • Refrigerate the bite-size treats; use within two weeks.
  • If using the pulverized bark in dog cookies, you can substitute the turkey ‘meal’ for flour 1:1 (dog cookies don’t need gluten to rise.) Dry the baked treats in the oven until they are crispity hard, and use within a month. You may want to keep treats made from a pulverized overdone bird under refrigeration – just in case.

Happy poultry roasting adventures, everyone!

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Garden Jam: Pesto Presto!

20 09 2009
Basil leaves (Ocimum basilicum).

Image via Wikipedia

My herbs are in full thunder, and this weekend, it was time to start the mass-cutting and enter the putting-by phase.

First in: Basil. Basil leaves don’t freeze well, and I’ve never had much success drying the herb. But give me basil, pine nuts and good extra virgin olive oil and basil transforms into pesto, an earthy sauce I use all year long. My freezer just isn’t complete if it doesn’t hold a couple containers of frozen pesto waiting to perk up my winter! I love pesto so much that in years when my garden basil under-performs, I buy basil to make pesto. Even at the cost of fresh basil bunches, the resulting pesto is worth it!

I first improvised this Citrus Pesto recipe several years ago when my basil crop did so well that I was able to give jars of pesto to friends. I published it on the low carb Protein Power support forums (yep, that’s me — Gaelen!) because pesto is one of those condiments which is safely on plan and gives a protein boost to vegetable dishes. This recipe includes complete nutritional information obtained from Mastercook(R) recipe analysis software. If you’d like to see more of my low-carb recipes, visit the Protein Power website, and check out the Let’s Cook area of the discussion forums. Forum members can search on my username (Gaelen) and my recipes will come up.

Since Pesto is traditionally topped with and contains extra virgin olive oil, it’s safest to preserve it by freezing the containers. Once thawed, keep refrigerated and keep the pesto sauce covered with extra virgin olive oil. Use within three weeks. I’ve also frozen my pesto sauce, without the olive oil coating, in ice cube trays. Each ice cube of pesto equals about 1 tablespoon; freeze the pesto in an ice cube tray, and you can pull it from the freezer one piece of summer at a time.

Citrus Pesto

4g protein, 2g ECC per 1/4 cup serving
Serving Size : 1/4 cup, serves 6

Preparation Time : 20 min.
Categories : sauce, vegetarian

3 cups fresh basil leaves — packed, no stems
1/3 cup pine nuts (pignolia) — toasted
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
3 cloves garlic
1/4 cup lime juice — (or lemon, or orange)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

  • Toast the pine nuts in a hot dry pan. When they are golden brown and aromatic, remove from heat and set aside to cool.
  • Wash the basil leaves and spin or pat dry. Use the freshest possible leaves, and no stems.
  • Put the garlic, pine nuts, half the cheese, half the basil, the salt and the lime juice in a food processor and pulse briefly until the volume of the basil is reduced by about half. Add the rest of the basil and half of the olive oil. Put the food processor on continuous grind, and drizzle the balance of the olive oil into the mixture. Continue to process the mixture until it’s a fine paste.
  • Divide the pesto into 4-oz. narrow-mouth canning jars or plastic freezer-safe food storage containers (fills about three, with head space.) Cover the pesto in each container with a thin layer of extra virgin olive oil (just to cover all the pesto in the container.) Seal tightly and freeze the pesto for up to six months, or keep refrigerated and use within three weeks.
  • Magic Bullet directions: layer in the tall cup in this order–basil leaves, pine nuts, lime juice, olive oil, cheese, garlic cloves. Pulse until creamy and all chopped up (you will need to shake and tap to get all the basil down into the mix and chopped up.

Recipe makes about 1 1/4 cups
Per Serving : 150 Calories; 14g Fat (82.1% calories from fat); 4g Protein; 3g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 3mg Cholesterol; 84mg Sodium.

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