I hope that everyone is having a great holiday season! I know I am. With all the parties going on that it is giving me a chance to knock out several recipes.
The first recipe I wanted to try was Ina’s gravlax. I’m a huge fan of smoked salmon which is absolutely delicious but I’ve never had gralvax much less made it. It’s salmon that is cured with salt and season with dill then served with a vinegary mustard sauce. Essentially it is as easy as making the curing seasons (salt, sugar, fennel seeds), covering some salmon in it, weighing down the salmon to pull out any excess water, and letting it sit for two to three days. Sounds easy, but it really scared me as I was scared that the salmon would go bad. My first go around with this I got sockeye salmon which is NOT the type of salmon you want to get. It started smelling fishy after 2 days. Luckily while it was curing, I did research on gravlax and found out that you have to use center cut Atlantic salmon for the best gravlax. It is a bit pricier than sockeye but it is a better cut of meat. Frankly, you’ll want to use the best salmon you can find. I only purchased a small filet from the fishmonger because I figured three pounds is quite a lot. I just scaled back the curing spices accordingly.
It turned out quite better than expected. There was no fishy smell by the third day and the taste was similar to sushi. I didn’t even use a filet knife to thinly slice the fish. I used a utility knife. The key here is that you want the knife to be sharp, like super sharp, and you want to saw the knife back and forth when slicing the fish and let the blade to the work. If you press this blade, the fish will tear. No bueno.
Next I wanted to make a main and I wanted a show stopper. Enter Ina’s turkey roulade. Much like the pumpkin roulade made weeks ago, this is similar but with a turkey breast and stuffing. I had a difficult time finding a deboned turkey breast. I assume if you know of an actual butcher in your area, you can call them and ask them to do it. But, it was a great learning experience doing it myself and it wasn’t that difficult. It’s basically 3 steps:
Step 1: Remove the back bone by slicing down through along both sides of the spine.
Step 2: Then remove the breast bone by slicing along either side of the breast bone and pulling it out.
Step 3: Lastly, cut each rib away from the meat.
You’ll want to slice into the breast meet to open it up (butterflying it) in order to maintain a similar thickness throughout. There are plenty of videos on YouTube that will help. Hopefully one day I’ll gain up enough courage to put up my own. For now though, I’m still tinkering with the technology.
Anyway, you can totally do that all the day before you want to serve it which gives you plenty of time to brine it. Then you’ll want to make the stuffing which is literally so freaking flavorful it can stand on it’s own. It has dried fruit, nuts, vegetables, sausage, herbs and an herb stuffing mix. I’m serious. This is one for the books. It has so much depth and character, it’s like the Meryl Streep of stuffing.
My homemade roasting rack lol
Once the stuffing is all smoothed over the bird, you just roll it up like the pumpkin roulade and tie it with kitchen twine to hold it all together. I don’t have a roasting rack so I used some celery stalks and carrots as a make shift one. I added chicken stock to the bottom of the pan to use for basting and the make-shift roasting rack helps flavor the stock even more which can then be used for gravy! I basted the bird every 30 minutes during cooking and rotated it as well to help with even browning. The result is a delicious main dish that visually looks appealing and tastes even better. This dish received a lot of compliments.
The third recipe I decided to make was Ina’s roasted parsnips and carrots. One of Ina’s tennats of Back to Basics or just cooking in general is to use ingredients that are in season. During the winter, root vegetables are the flavor of the season so this side dish was perfect for the holiday meal. Also – this is literally easy as easy gets. You just peel and slice some carrots and parsnips, drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper, and roast in the oven for like 20 minutes. Done and done. If you’ve never tried parsnips, give them a go. They are similar to carrots but definitely need to be cooked as they can be a bit woody.
Of course I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to make a holiday inspired cocktail with some Winc sparkling wine. I know I featured Finke’s Widow in the last post, but this stuff is too good not to mention again. It is gorgeous on it’s own in a nice champagne glass or in this nifty holiday cocktail. I call it a Ginger Orange Mimosa. Any guesses as to what ingredients go into it? 😀 Hahaha. I know the name isn’t too original and one day I’ll start giving my cocktail ideas cool names, but for now Ginger Orange Mimosa it is. Cut up some ginger root and cook in equal parts sugar and water until the sugar is dissolved. Allow it to cool and strain out the ginger root. Mix the ginger infused simple syrup with freshly squeezed orange juice and pour into a small container. All your guests have to do is add the ginger orange mixture to their glass – as little or much as they like – then top off with Finke’s. Garnish with some orange zest to drive home the citrus flavor and serve with some delicious gravlax at your holiday party. It couldn’t be easier and the ginger orange mixture can be made a day in advance and stored in the fridge to make it even easier!
I say this almost every week, but if you want to try Winc out, click here and get a great discount on your first order and be sure to try out the Finke’s Widow if you can – you won’t regret it.
Gravlax with Mustard Sauce
From Back to Basics by Ina Garten, Page 34
For the Gravlax
Cut the salmon fillet into 2 pieces crosswise and place one piece in a deep dish, skin side down. Wash and shake dry the dill and arrange over the fish. Combine the salt, sugar, pepper, and fennel seeds in a bowl and sprinkle evenly over the dill. Place the other piece of salmon over the dill and spices, skin side up. Cover the dish with plastic wrap or aluminum foil. Place a smaller dish on top of the plastic wrap and weight it down with heavy cans. Refrigerate the salmon for at least 2 to 3 days, turning it every 12 hours and basting with the liquid that collects in the dish.
To serve, lay the salmon fillets flat on a cutting board and scrape off most of the dill and spices. Slice with a long, thin knife, as you would for smoked salmon. Lay the slices of bread on a cutting board, spread with the mustard sauce, and place a slice of salmon on top covering the bread completely. Cut each bread slice in half, decorate with a sprig of dill, and serve.
For the Mustard Sauce
Combine the Dijon mustard, ground mustard, sugar, and vinegar in a bowl. Slowly whisk in the oil and stir in the chopped dill. Serve with the gravlax.
Roasted Turkey Roulade
From Back to Basics by Ina Garten, page 109
Place the dried figs and cranberries in a small bowl and pour in the brandy or water. Microwave for about 2 minutes and let stand.
Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and celery and saute until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the sausage, crumbling it into small bits, and saute, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes, until cooked and browned. Add the figs and cranberries with the liquid, the chopped rosemary, and the nuts. Cook for 2 more minutes. Scrape up the brown bits with a wooden spoon.
Place the stuffing mix in a large bowl. Add the sausage mixture, chicken stock, egg, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and stir well. The stuffing may be prepared ahead and stored in the refrigerator overnight.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Place a backing rack on a sheet pan.
Lay the butterflied turkey breast skin side down on a cutting board. Sprinkle the meat with 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Spread the stuffing in a 1/2-inch-thick layer over the meat, leaving a half-inch border on all sides. Don't mound the stuffing or the turkey will be difficult to roll. Place the leftover stuffing in a small dish and bake for the last 45 minutes of roasting alongside the turkey. Starting at one end, roll the turkey like a jelly roll and tuck in any stuffing that tries to escape on the sides. Tie the roast firmly with kitchen twine every 2 inches to make a compact cylinder.
Place the stuffed turkey breast seam side down on the rack on the sheet pan. Brush with the melted butter, sprinkle generously with salt and pepper, and roast for 1 and 3/4 to 2 hours, until a thermometer reads 150 degrees i the center. Test in a few places. Cover the turkey with aluminum foil and allow to rest at room temperature for 15 minutes. Carve 1/2 inch-thick slices and serve warm with the extra stuffing.
Roasted Parsnips & Carrots
From Back to Basics by Ina Garten, page 179
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
If the parsnips and carrots are very thick, slice them in half lengthwise. Slice each one diagonally in 1-inch-thick slices. The vegetables will shrink wile cooking, so don't make the pieces too small. Place the cut vegetables on a sheet pan. Add the olive oil, salt, and pepper and toss well. Roast for 20 to 40 minutes, depending on the size of the vegetables, tossing occasionally, until the parsnips and carrots are just tender. Sprinkle with dill or parsley and serve hot.