Tom “Sleep with the Fish” does Game

Demonstrating his great artistry and versatility in the kitchen, Tom “Sleep with the Fish” C. served us a delightful lunch of game that had been “harvested” from one or more of his latest hunting trips.  Tom is a dear family friend and former Chase colleague who now has traded his 3-piece “power” banking attire for wading boots and a shotgun.   The world is a better place now that Tom has decided to forego trading in sub-prime debt and join “happy hunters anonymous” where you never have to apologize for killing deer that spread lyme ticks.

Hunter's Anonymous

Tom is one of a handful of loyal Gourmay readers who actually contributes to the well-being of gourmands from around the world with his insights into Italian cuisine. I would like to share his delightful “light” lunch menu that was brilliantly executed at his home near Philadelphia. Photos of Bambi are not included for fear of offending some of our more rabid vegetarian readers.

Tom’s “Light” Game Lunch

Starter:  Cup of lentil soup with wild boar bits.   A great way to kick off the meal.  Both Sheila and I love lentil soup and the “bits” of wild boar provided a delightful upgrade from the traditional ham hock.

Salad:   Fresh mozzarella topped with his Mom’s basil pesto recipe (with walnuts rather than pine nuts).   Here, Tom went the extra mile and actually made his own mozzarella from fresh cheese curds purchased locally.  Most exciting and very tasty – the pesto sauce was not overpowering and complemented the mozzarella perfectly.

Entree:  Venison straps with cranberry apricot chutney and pheasant and teal sausage with sweet pepper jelly.  (Editor’s Note: Tom had planned elk sausage, but a family member had chowed down before us).  Delicious fare that was tender and not at all “gamey”  (Editor’s Note:  Jamie Oliver would have spelled it “gammy,” and I agree!)  We loved the chutney that accompanied the venison.

Veggies:   Kale with extra virgin olive oil.

Dessert:  Cannoli (purchased) that were simply delicious.  Tom had befriended some cooks from the old-country (Croatia) that definitely knew how to make these authentic beauties.

Cannoli

Home cooking doesn’t get much better than this and both Sheila and I deeply appreciate spending a few quality hours with a friend willing to share his cooking passion.  Tom, thanks for your gracious hospitality.

Tamales and Chipotle Chicken Chile

Chipotle chicken Chili

We have quite a few Christmas dinner traditions, but Tamales and Chipotle Chicken is not one of them. In any event, we decided to serve tamales on December 23, because everyone has a hectic schedule and a variety of eating disorders. “Great” tamales are almost impossible to find in the northeast and now quite difficult to find in Texas unless you shop regularly at a Mexican grocery store.

The problem with most tamales is that they are far too dry: long on masa, but short on road-kill. (Editor’s Note: “Bogey Pinson” is partial to jack-rabbit, while I prefer armadillo. Langston tells me that turkey buzzard is to die for! I’ll take his word for it. For those seeking something more conventional for their tamale filing, Perdue recommends leftovers that McDonalds doesn’t consider edible for chicken McNuggets.)

In any event, I picked up three varieties of “homemade” tamales from Trader Joe’s: chicken, pork and vegetarian. Since I must assume that they will be too dry, I have decided to serve them with a variation of The Pioneer Woman’s Chipotle Chicken Chili. Basically, we eliminated the beans and cutback on the Chipotle since it would likely be a bit too spicy for sweet Corinne. Found below is this modified version, but for those who want something that looks like the photograph above, CLICK HERE!

Chipotle Chicken Chili sans Beans

Ingredients

  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1 whole Onion, Diced
  • 4 cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 2 pounds Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts, Cut Into A Large Dice
  • 1 bottle (12 Ounce Bottle) Good Beer
  • 1 can (14 Oz. Size) Diced Tomatoes
  • 1/2 to 1 whole Chipotle Peppers In Adobo Sauce, Minced (recipe calls for 3)
  • 1 Tablespoon Chili Powder
  • 1 Tablespoon Ground Cumin
  • 1 teaspoon Salt, More To Taste (2 Tbs minimum)
  • 1/4 cup Masa Harina
  • 1 Lime, Juiced
  • Sour Cream, For Serving
  • Grated Sharp Cheddar Cheese, For Serving
  • Cilantro, For Serving
  • Lime Wedges For Serving

Preparation Instructions

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat then add the onions and garlic. Cook for a few minutes until onions soften. Add the chicken and cook until lightly browned. Add 3/4 of the beer, reserving the rest, then cook for a couple of minutes to reduce.

Add the tomatoes, chipotles, beans, chili powder, cumin and salt. Stir to combine, then cover the pot and cook for 1 hour.

Combine the masa harina with the rest of the beer and stir to make a paste. Add this into the chili, along with the lime juice. Stir and cook for 10 more minutes or until thick.

Serve with sour cream, cheese, cilantro, and another squeeze of lime!

Enjoy! – The Grinch certainly will.

 

Thanksgiving Post-Mortem

For those interested in trivia, 51 million turkeys were consumed by Americans this Thanksgiving Day.  Needless, to say not all Americans gathered around the table to give thanks: Native Americans gather annually on this day in Plymouth, MA to celebrate this “National Day of Mourning.”

It’s hard to argue with their point of view, but I suspect that if the NFL Washington “Redskins” change their name and logo to something less “racially” offensive like “Foreskins” all will be forgiven by Native Americans.

Given GourMay’s declining readership, Editor-in-Chief Sheila has recommended that we give readers “what they want to hear,” rather than the “rantings of a grumpy old man.” We want to hear from you, so please check on the box below that best represents your view in this year’s first “Right Side of History” Poll:


Regardless of which way you voted, I would like to provide readers with a post-mortem on my spatchcock heritage turkey that we cooked for Thanksgiving. It was delicious and the recommended timing was dead on! I will certainly be using the technique for all future turkeys. Found below are a few photographs of the bird at various stages of the cooking process.

Turkey Legs Skin Side Down at 250 degrees

Turkey Legs Skin Side Down at 250 degrees

Flip turkey breast and cook for about 2 hrs at 250 degress

Flip turkey breast and cook for about 2 hrs at 250 degrees

Papa and sous chef with Turkey

Papa and sous chef with Turkey

Now there are many people who dismiss the culinary virtues of a heritage turkey, but frankly it tastes like turkey rather than the factory-farm variety produced by Perdue. Courtesy of Cooks Illustrated (Nov-Dec Edition), found below are the characteristics of a heritage turkey as agreed to by the Livestock Conservancy and the American Poultry Association:

  1. Heritage turkeys must have a long productive lifespan – five to seven years for breeding hens, three to five years for breeding toms – and have a genetic ability to withstand the environmental rigors of outdoor production systems.

  2. Heritage turkey must have a slow to moderate rate of growth, reaching marketable weight in about 28 weeks, giving the birds time to develop a strong skeletal structure and healthy organs before building muscle mass.  Commercial turkeys grow to full size in only 12 to 14 weeks.

  3. Unlike commercial turkeys that must artificially inseminated, heritage birds are the result of naturally mating pairs of both grandparent and parent stock.

Now heritage turkeys cost quite a bit more, but are certainly worth the money.  If you attend a market, consult with your poultry specialist.  They often can supply heritage turkeys for far less than ordering online.