Friday, March 16, 2012

Homemade Ricotta of Awesomeness!!

Ricotta seems to be the forgotten of the cheeses. Everyone knows it's snackier cousin, cottage cheese. Mozzarella and Cheddar are household staples. To be fair, it doesn't have a strong flavor like the Jack family (Monterrey, Pepper, etc), and it's mainly used in recipes. But you would be surprised how much a better ricotta will make your lasagna, stuffed shells, and other ricotta stuffed deliciousness even more amazing.

To make this homemade is quite comparable price wise with any store bought brand and the taste is so much richer than anything I've fund commercially. You probably even have all the equipment necessary in your kitchen right now.

All you need is a non reactive pot, (This means stainless steel, non scratched enamel, glass, or clay. NO nonstick or aluminum.), a cheese thermometer, (I don't even have one of those, so I use a candy thermometer) and a colander and some cheese cloth (I found mine at the dollar store).

It's gonna have to be a big pot. 
Some colander/cheesecloth action going on.
Your ingredient list as also pretty small. You will need:

1/2 Gallon Buttermilk
1 Pint (I use 1 QT for a richer ricotta) heavy whipping cream
1 Gallon Whole Milk
1 1/2 TB Kosher Salt

Easy Peasy Nice and Easy
Put all of those ingredients into your pot and turn the heat to medium low.

Stir continuously for ten minutes. Now, here's the hard part. Don't touch it. Let it cook until it reaches 190 degrees. That's it.   :)
Make sure it's cooking evenly (Do not boil)

Just starting to make curds.
Almost done cooking.....

When it reaches 190 degrees, pull it off the heat and let it rest for an hour. After that, gently ladle it into the colander and let it drain for at least 20 minutes.
Hhhhmmmmm Cheese!
After twenty minutes, put it into an airtight container and refrigerate for up to two weeks. Two pounds of delicious Ricotta Cheese for under ten dollars. ENJOY!!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Turducken for Beginners

I've never written a blog before and, with the exception of some angsty Myspace poetry in my youth, have never really written too much on the interweb. So, I've decided to begin with the ultimate of feasts my husband and I decided to make this Thanksgiving. The Turducken. I capitalize this because of the awesomeness of it. For those of you unfamiliar with what I affectionately call Frankenstein, a Turducken is a turkey that is stuffed with a duck that is stuffed with a chicken. And in between each delicious, meaty layer is a layer of cornbread/white/wheat stuffing.

 How is this possible, you ask? It's deceptively easy. In fact, while our spices and stuffing recipe is totally our own, husband and I used this Paula Dean recipe as a general reference for preparation and cooking.

You don't need to be intimidated by the awesomeness of this beautiful bird(s). The hardest part is in the deboning process. Husband was able to observe the butcher at his work debone a chicken and just asked all about the process. If you don't want to go through all that work, your local butcher can do it for you. In fact, I just let husband do all that dirty work, so if you want to debone it yourself, here is a link showing how.

Once the birds were boneless, we brined them overnight. Starting that morning, husband assembled the stuffing from the homemade breads I'd made and turned into croutons earlier that week. Something you will soon learn about husband and I, is that if it is possible to make every ingredient from scratch (economically, of course), we will. The great thing about the Turducken is how many steps you can skip if you really want to. Box stuffing would work just as well.

Now here is the part where it is deceptively easy. Lay the deboned turkey breast side down. Place a layer about a quarter inch thick of stuffing across the inside of the turkey. Lay the duck on top of that and layer with more stuffing. Lay the chicken on top of that and another layer of delicious stuffing. You can mix it up and use a different stuffing for each layer or just use one big batch. After Frankenstein has been lovingly assembled, pull all the sides up and stitch your monster shut so that it resembles a normal turkey.


Slap that bugger in a pan and rub some butter and seasoning on the top. Place uncovered in a 500 degree oven for fifteen minutes. Turn down the oven to 225 degrees and let Frankenstein slowly roast for about three hours, or until the internal temperature of the chicken is 155 degrees. This should give you time to set the table and finish your delicious side dishes. We were expecting about 25 people so we, of course, made way too much food.

                                                           Needed the living room for this table.

While the oven was occupado for the moment, we utilized some forgotten elements for our Thanksgiving feast. The charcoal grill. Using our cast iron dutch oven, we layered white and orange sweet potato slices with B├ęchamel (a thickened cheese sauce) to make a sweet potato au gratin. Also, instead of making mashed potatoes (we had a friend bring some), we did twice baked potatoes. Combine that with your usual Thanksgiving trimmings and our meal was a well rounded affair.
And now for the unveiling.


Four hours (basting and brushing every hour and an hour of rest) later we have the magnificence that is Frankenstein. It was tender and juicy and the most delicious poultry I've tasted.


                                                                           So steamy!!

                                                        A cross section of deliciousness.

And so we have my first blog post about the stuff husband and I cook. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed cooking that delicious meal. Which is tremendously, by the way.     ;)

Thank you.