Tag Archives: juniper berries

Turkey: Tips on Brining

Over the years, I’ve made and eaten turkey prepared in a variety of ways:  butter and herbs rubbed on the skin or under the skin, roasted in a bag, and yes, even roasted with a brown paper bag that was buttered and pressed against the skin.  Luckily with all the experimentation, I haven’t had any disasters — and that has paid off, because although we still haven’t deep fried a turkey, we have found that brining is what we now prefer.  We may alter the ingredients of the brine, but the basic idea is that our turkey sits in a bath of very salty liquid for at least 24 hours before it’s roasted.

As Thanksgiving nears, many stores carry pre-made brining mixes, and we’ve tried those too.  Whether you choose to purchase or make your own mix, I know you’ll find that when you brine a turkey, it will be the most moist you’ve ever had.

Basically, the steps for brining are similar regardless of the recipe you choose:

1)  Mix herbs and spices and other ingredients
2)  Measure a large quantity of salt
3)  Add to water and heat to dissolve the salt
4)  Pour over turkey and keep cold for at least overnight

IMG_4841

Continue reading

Make Ahead Dinner Party Dish: Beef Daube

I know it’s a scary thought, but I do cook things on top of a stove that do not have sugar, or end up in a baking pan.  Yes, I love sugary, baked goods, but when my husbink is leaving for work in the morning and I ask him to smack his lips to consider what he’d like for dinner and he says, “Meats,”  well, then, “meats” it is.  Lots of meats. Savory, rich, delectable tasting beef.

I’ve seen a few recipes here and there for Beef Daube in the course of my on-going love affair with cookbooks and food magazines and have been curious about it.  I still have the May 1999 issue of Bon Appetit, “Provence,” that included the first Daube recipe that caught my eye.  I’ve been more one who leans toward a bourguingnon instead, trying many different recipes and searching for the perfect one.  How different are they?  Not much.  Essentially, they are both ways to braise beef in wine.  It seems that when the sauce is thickened — whether in the beginning or at the end — is what makes the biggest difference.

Depending on the source of the recipe, one can quickly learn what’s most interesting about daube — its name comes from the type of clay pot it is cooked in.  (Yes, you, too, can now win in Trivial Pursuit:  The Food Version…) No, I wouldn’t have a daubiere, but it’s not required.  But I’ll bet it’s cute and if I saw one, I can guarantee you I’d want one, fetish that I have for all things food.

A daube is usually made with inexpensive cuts of meat.  I suppose that point should be stated the other way around:  less expensive cuts of meat are often tough, so benefit from being braised — hence, daube, or stew.  I’ve seen daubes made with a leg of lamb or boar meat, as well as beef chuck — something I’m more familiar with considering it was a staple on our dinner table most Sundays while I was growing up.

The deterrent for me in making Beef Daube has always been that it can take more than a day to make if I’m using an authentic recipe that goes on and on about the type of wine that should be used and the amount of time the beef needs to marinate.  I have no patience for this, unfortunately, but one day, I’d just like to find out how much difference it truly makes…

Beef daube can be the ultimate “make ahead” dish — something we often want to do, right?  It’s actually supposed to taste better the next day.  Who knew?  There are many, many steps to the recipes I’ve seen, however, and I know that is a complete deterrent for many cooks.  What can I say?  I love to be in my kitchen.  I can think of fewer things I’d rather do than to have a whole day ahead of me thinking about cooking — without frustration and rushing, of course.  It takes some planning, but it can be accomplished.

I’ve chosen “Beef Daube with Egg Noodles” from this October’s issue of Bon Appetit to begin my experimentation.  It seemed less involved than the Daube de Boeuf in the May 1999 issue.  And since lamb is something I’m not thrilled about ever, I’ve also passed by “Daube from Avignon” from Michel Biehn’s Recipes from a Provencal Kitchen (which uses a leg of lamb), and “Beef Daube with Dried Cepes” from Georgeanne Brennan’s The Food and Flavors of Haute Provence, (which sounds excellent, but calls for a much longer cooking time).  Some other differences I’ve noticed between the recipes are: whether there’s orange peel added, and whether there’s some sort of pork added in the early phases of cooking for flavor.  The recipe I used doesn’t include the orange or the pork.  It does, however, include juniper berries.  They look a bit like peppercorns, but they’re soft and can be squeezed.  They give off a pungent, but pleasant evergreen scent, and when chewed, taste a bit like pine nuts with a bite.  Interestingly, a very slight oil reminescent of that found on an orange peel lingers on your lips…Fascinating, don’t you think?

Remember:  Inexpensive meat, and can make ahead…What’s not to like?

The recipe for “Beef Daube with Egg Noodles” isn’t listed at epicurious yet, so I’m begrudgingly typing the whole thing just for you…But I am doing my own version of the directions based on how I prepared the dish.  The alterations don’t change the dish — just provide clarity and ease.

Continue reading