Doin’ da Bird

OK, just when you thought it was safe to forget about the overindulgence and caloric excesses of Thanksgiving day, here comes another blog post on Thanksgiving recipes. This one sticks to the basics: roasting the turkey itself and making gravy. It is my traditional holiday task to make the dim-witted bird into a delectable feast (and yes, I know wild turkeys are very smart), so this recipe has matured with age–unlike me. So grab your blunderbuss, put on your Pilgrims hat, and let’s get to it.
Continue reading “Doin’ da Bird”

Barbecued Copper River Salmon

Copper River SalmonWe are currently in the small, several-week window, much celebrated in the Pacific Northwest, when the Alaskan Copper River salmon is available. This delectable (albeit overpriced) fish has a firm, delicate, bright red flesh very high in omega-3 oils, and is a true highlight of the culinary year.

My wife bought some very nice fillets this week, and with our weather being a gorgeous sunny 70 degrees, it seemed fitting to barbecue this delicacy. After browsing a few recipes and tweaking them liberally, here’s what I came up with: a subtle marinade and a honey lime yogurt sauce. Here goes:

The Marinade

(the quantities are approximate)

1/2 cup seasoned rice vinegar
The juice of one small lime
2 tbsp aromatic peanut oil
1 tbsp garlic oil
1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
1/4 tsp hot pepper sauce
1 tsp sesame seeds
ground pepper
2-3 chopped scallions

Divide the fillet into 2 or 3 pieces. Place the above ingredients in a small Pyrex baking dish, and marinate the fillets for about 1 hour, spooning the marinade over the fish periodically, and flipping once. Gently pierce the fish with a fork to allow penetration of the marinade.

Yogurt Sauce

Two small containers of plain unflavored yogurt
4-5 finely chopped scallions
juice of 1/2 lime
1 tbsp of cumin
2 tbsp honey
1/2 tsp hot pepper sauce
1 tsp chopped fresh dill
2 inches of garlic paste
salt & pepper to taste

Mix the above ingredients well and chill.

Cooking the Fish

I am partial to charcoal grills (oak, not mesquite) as they impart a superior flavor to barbecued foods — albeit with a bit more fuss than propane grills (ugh!). Make a small tray of aluminum foil for each fillet, and pierce the bottom a few times with a fork to allow some of the oils & juices to drip onto the coals. Place the fillets skin-down on the foil, spooning on some of the marinade, and place them off-center on the grill so they are not over the hottest part of the coals. I use a covered Weber grill with the holes closed about half way to keep the temperature lower. My fillets cooked about 20-25 minutes, but this will depend on the heat of the coals and the thickness of the fish, so I check the thick part with a fork for doneness (I am not a big fan of the nearly-raw fish served in many restaurants nowadays). Salmon is very forgiving as its oil content is so high.

I served the salmon up with white corn on the cob, potato salad, a lime wedge and a sprig of dill with some chopped dill sprinkled over, and the yogurt sauce on the side.

The reviews from the critics (my family, who are very tough judges) were 5-star. And I must admit I concur.

Give it a try.

Lamb Stew

I’ve been pretty quiet on the writing side of late — a bit of burnout, I guess, mostly from work and dealing with family issues. My wife is executor of her mom’s estate, and although I’m trying to keep an arm’s length from the matter, some relational speed bumps have arisen, which are hard to entirely shut out. I have gotten wrapped up in similar conflicts before, and some of the same issues (and players) are at it again.


So I’ve been focusing on more relaxing pastimes to stay sane, including (re)learning to play the guitar (more on this anon) and cooking. In a moment of inspiration today, I decided to cook up a lamb stew. Despite being pretty much off-the-cuff, it turned out outrageously well (if I do say so myself — and my wife agrees) — so here it goes:

Lamb Stew

    1 leg of lamb, trimmed, boned & cubed
    1 cup red wine
    1/2 cup olive oil
    1 tbsp garlic oil
    4-5 cloves of garlic, crushed
    ground pepper
    1 tsp sea salt
    4 Medjool dates, pitted

Place all of the above in a large bowl, and marinate for 1-2 hours, stirring periodically. While you’re waiting, prepare & cook the vegetables:

    2 onions, sliced
    3 carrots, sliced
    3-4 tbsp olive oil

Saute the vegetables in a Dutch oven about 15 minutes until the onions soften. Remove from the pan.

Drain the marinade, and brown the lamb in the Dutch oven. Remove from the pan.

    6 Roma tomatoes, pealed & coarsely chopped
    Ground pepper

Saute the tomatoes until dissolved. Add the marinade. Add the following spices:

    1 tbsp cumin
    1 tbsp coriander
    1 tbsp paprika
    1/2 tbsp ground ginger
    1/2 tbsp alspice
    1/2 tbsp nutmeg
    2 tbsp tomato paste

    6 Medjool dates
    1 cup chicken stock.

Add the meat, onions and carrots to the pan with the tomato saute, and add the dates and the stock. Stir well, cover, and cook over low heat for about 1 hour.

Remove the meat and vegetables from the pan, leaving the gravy. Turn up the heat and uncover to cook the liquid down a bit.

Thicken with a flour-butter roux (about 1-2 tbsp butter/flour)

Garnish with slices of roasted red bell peppers, and serve with curry couscous and fresh steamed green beans with lemon butter.

Seriously yummy comfort food for a winter’s eve.

Give it a go — it’s an easy meal (total prep & cook time about 3 hours), and well worth it.

Back soon, God bless.