Spatchcocked Turkey [RECIPE]

 

Sliced turkey breast with fork

Spatchcock your turkey to shave hours off the cook time of traditional preparation.
(Photo by Jathan Fink, Jadeworks Entertainment)

Preparing a turkey dinner used to take me up to a week of prep time, which included thawing a frozen bird, brining the poor creature, then roasting it for what seemed like days. By the time the turkey was actually on the table, I was ready to eat something else entirely. But now I purchase fresh birds from the butcher and spatchcock my turkey—which means I remove its backbone—for faster, more even cooking which dramatically reduces its time in the oven to about an hour. Read more of this post

8 Steps to Sunday Dinner

Jathan, Heather and David

Jathan and Heather with one of their favorite and most frequent guests, David Pirozzolo.

Everyone has a busy schedule these days. Whether working long hours getting a company off the ground, chauffeuring kids to soccer practice and piano lessons, or catching up on household chores, we all have an increasing number of reasons that is seems nearly impossible to sit down with family and friends for a delicious home-cooked meal. But as we always say, with a little organization, some advanced planning and a few favorite recipes, gathering loved ones around the dinner table is possible.

This weekend, we extended a bit of hospitality to a number of friends and asked them to join us at our home after we all fueled our spirit at our religious services. Although our public speaker couldn’t join us, we still had a grand time, swapping stories, laughing until our sides ached, and chowing down on tasty grub. But how did we get ready to feed a dozen people, tidy the house and still accomplish other necessary tasks we have to do every weekend? Here’s how, in 8 easy steps.:

Cassie and Samara

Cassie Taylor and her daughter Samara enjoy our Simply Chocolate Cake with Berries.

  1. Decide how many people to invite and make a list. (A week ahead.)Perhaps it seems like a foregone conclusion, but oftentimes the most important part of planning a gathering is realizing your limits. If your home will only fit 10 guests comfortably, don’t invite 20 people and think that you’ll figure out where everyone can sit later or that the food will stretch far enough to feed all those hungry people. As you would with a gift list, write down everyone that will attend, including your own family. Now you’ll have enough chairs and your guests can ask for second helpings if they wish, and you may even have enough leftovers to serve for lunches later in the week.
  2. Plan the menu and make a grocery list. (3 days ahead.)If you are a frequent home cook with plenty of recipes in your arsenal, you may be able to think of several dishes that stretch to feed a crowd right off the top of your head. If you’re a novice in the kitchen however, we suggest you plan a theme first. Mexican or Italian? Comfort foods or appetizers? For this dinner, we chose Italian foods because many dishes can be stretched simply by making more pasta. Lasagnas also go a long way and frequently make about 12 servings. Consider making two main dishes, a big salad, and sides of bread to feed the crowd. And don’t forget about dessert! Each dish should give every guest at least one serving. Once you have your menu planned, make a list of all the ingredients needed for each dish.
  3. Leslie and Alanna

    Leslie Croley and Alanna Langston shared jokes at Sunday dinner.

  4. Shop your pantry, refrigerator and freezer. (2 days ahead.)One of the biggest concerns people have about hosting a gathering is cost, particularly in our current economy. But once you have prepared your grocery list as directed in step two, visit your current inventory. Dig into the back of your freezer and fridge, pull out cans from the pantry and seeing what you already have on hand. (If you keep these storage areas organized, you’ll make this step so much easier. But that is another post altogether.) You’ll be surprised how many items you already have and can check off your grocery list, thereby reducing the number of items you actually have to purchase.
  5. Visit shopping destinations in order. (2 days ahead.)We always know the best places to shop to get a good deal. But if you’re not sure, ask a friend or look through the week’s grocery store circulars to find sales on the items you’ll need to prepare your feast. Once you know which stores you need to visit, plan to visit the stores on a circuitous route from your home. For example, first we head east to Kroger, north to Costco, west to IKEA, then go south toward home. By planning accordingly, we don’t backtrack and spend less time in busy weekend traffic.
  6. Linnea and Charles

    Linnea Konnagan and Charles Evans loved our Creamy Veggie Lasagna.

  7. Prepare baked goods and dishes with the longest cook time first. (1 day ahead.) Look at your menu again, checking the prep and cook times of each recipe. If one item has to cook and cool, like a cake, for example, prepare that dish first. Then prepare items like casseroles, lasagnas and meatballs, basically anything that will take an hour or more to prep and cook. If the menu item can be stored overnight in the refrigerator, make it. All fresh items like salads and boiled pasta should be prepared on the day of your event.
  8. Tidy the house. (1 day ahead.) If all menu items are prepared and something is cooking for a long time in the oven, set the timer (so you don’t forget about that food cooking in the oven) and start tidying each room of the house that guests will visit. Vacuum the rugs, dust the furniture, and sweep away any cobwebs. Also, be sure to clean the bathroom and stock it with toilet paper, soaps and clean hand towels. Sweep and clean the kitchen after you’re done cooking for the day.
  9. Set up tables, chairs, and buffet. (4 hours before serving time.) On the morning of the event, set the tables and chairs up and arrange the buffet. If you’re hosting a brunch, do this the evening before. Be sure to put out enough eating utensils, servings utensils, glasses, cups, plates, bowls and napkins. For an extra nice touch, light candles and arrange flowers to make the event even more special.
  10. Warm the food and prepare last minute menu items. (1 hour before serving time.) Heat any items you prepared in advance such as breads, casseroles, etc. Items that can’t be prepared ahead of time should be assembled or cooked now as well, such as salads and pasta. When everything is ready, invite your guests to take their seats, serve, and enjoy!
  11. Sandra and Jathan

    Sandra Evans and Jathan always find something delicious to dish about.

    These are the steps we take for nearly any gathering. However, here are some additional things to keep in mind. If you’re planning a large gathering, plan as far in advance as possible, particularly if you will need to send invitations, rent tables and chairs, move furniture to other rooms, set up a dance floor, etc. Also, many hands make the load light, so recruit as much help as possible and delegate chores to family members and friends. Finally, music always sets the mood for a party, so prepare a playlist on your iPod or burn CDs with music suitable to the party you’re planning, then play the music at an ambient level so it is loud enough to hear, but not so loud that it interrupts conversation during mealtime.

    Using these 8 steps, you too can plan a gathering that will be boisterous and fun, making a special memory for all your guests, and easing the stress you would otherwise experience as a host. Advance preparation makes all the difference in the world, and if you do as much as possible in the days preceding your event, you’ll be able to enjoy your own party and can avoid being stuck in the kitchen.

    © 2011 Jadeworks Entertainment. All rights reserved.

Butternut Squash and Roasted-Garlic Bisque

Butternut Squash and Roasted-Garlic Bisque

Our Butternut Squash and Roasted-Garlic Bisque is a rich, hearty soup perfect for lunch or as the starter at your next gathering.

After Heather and I were married in 2000, we both wanted to find a way to celebrate the special people in our lives, to raise the bar beyond our usual dinner parties and bring in distinctive elements of color, candlelight, soft jazz and extra doses of deliciousness. Thus, our Fall Feast was born. Each November, we invite our most intimate friends to adorn themselves in beautiful attire, gather together, enjoy a libation or two and let us spoil them the best way we can, with our favorite culinary treasures. As we plan each year’s menu, we revisit recipes we made at previous feasts, such as this one for our Butternut Squash and Roasted-Garlic Bisque. A unique blend of aromatics, hearty vegetables, and rich cream, this thick soup has always been a beloved starter in our home. The first time we served it, guests asked if there was extra that they could take home, which is always a good sign and a compliment to the chefs. We know you’ll love this wonderful recipe too, and so will your guests if you decide to serve it at your next gathering.

PREP: 15 minutes
COOK: 1 hour and 20 minutes

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 heads of garlic, halved crosswise
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
  • 3 cups chopped onions
  • 3/4 cup chopped carrots
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 4 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 6 cups homemade chicken broth
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon whipping cream
  • Kosher salt and pepper

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Rub cut surfaces of garlic with oil. Put halves back together to reassemble heads. Wrap each tightly in foil; bake until tender; about 40 minutes. Cool garlic in foil.
  2. Melt butter in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add onions, carrots and celery; sauté until onions are beginning to soften, about 5 minutes. Add squash, broth and 2 tablespoons sage. Bring to boil. Reduce heat; simmer uncovered until squash is tender, about 25 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, unwrap garlic. Squeeze from skin into small bowl. Discard skin. Mash garlic with fork until smooth.
  4. Stir garlic into soup. Working in batches, puree soup in blender until smooth. Return to pot. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Refrigerate uncovered until cold. Cover and keep refrigerated. Bring to simmer before continuing.) Stir in 1/2 cup cream. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer soup to tureen. Drizzle with remaining 1 tablespoon cream. Sprinkle with remaining 1 tablespoon sage.

YIELDS: 12 servings

© 2011 Jadeworks Entertainment. All rights reserved.