Saturday, January 14, 2012
Prepping for late New Year's Party
My family likes to celebrate a late New Year, this usually means that almost everyone can be there at the same time. for years I had to pass, because I was abroad. But this year I made up for it with homemade festivities. Its a party of 20 and I thought I was going to make it easy on myself and make a large put of stew and a couple of lasagnas. However, my grandpa confessed he never ate a stuffed turkey and since I have picked up the skill in the US, I had to put in the extra effort and show the man what he had or had not been missing. The truth in my opinion is that if stuffed turkey was so great, people would eat it all year around. But it is traditional, also in Europe so on the menu, some cocktail bites, two large lasagnas and 2 stuffed turkeys.
First I needed to prepare some of the main ingredients like ricotta cheese, marinara sauce, pasta sheets, ...
Heating milk and cream for the ricotta. Traditionally this is made from why, but I haven't started to experiment with making other cheeses yet and the result with milk and cream is very nice. All it entails is heating until just under boiling temperature with some salt. Take if off the heat and stir in some lemon juice. Let it sit for 15 minutes and it will curdle. Then you can strain it through a cheese cloth or a towel.
Then, for some vegetable stock. I know it is traditional to make turkey stock from the giblets and wings and such, but I noticed that when I ordered the turkey here with the butcher, they prepare it it for you by opening up the turkey, taking out the bones and everything else and then they suggest to stuff it for you, which I thankfully declined. They gave me some kitchen twine to sew it back together instead. The point of the story I didn't have any extra turkey parts for the stock. I should remember to ask the butcher to keep all of that for me in the future.
What I used for the stock were, celery, fennel, onion, carrots, thyme, parsley, bay leaf, salt and whole black pepper.
For the marinara sauce I softened some onion, added whole, canned, peeled tomatoes, salt and pepper, and a whole lot of fresh basil. Let it simmer for 30 minutes and used a hand held blender to get the creamy texture.
Of course the pasta sheets, same old recipe. 100g of flour to 1 egg and a pinch of salt. I do have to say that getting the little machine, makes all the difference! you don't have to worry about kneading as much (this dough gets really tough) because you can pass it through the machine over and over, folding it in half every time.
Then for the lasagna meat sauce. This becomes a lot easier when you have your marinara pre-made. brown the minced meat in a dry put, add whatever vegetables you like, I used mushrooms and bell pepper) and let all the juice evaporate. Then add the marinara and let it simmer for 2 hours at least. The meat needs to be really tender.
To stuff the turkeys, I made some sausage meat with ground pork, sage, nutmeg, allspice and cognac. Just mix it all together an chill for a couple of hours.
In the meantime some mashed potatoes for the side dishes. These were made ahead and baked with cheese 30 minutes before the turkey was served.
For the white lasagna sauce, whisk a couple of eggs and mix in the ricotta cheese. I had to make a double batch of ricotta. That means you need to start with a liter of milk and half a cup of cream to get enough ricotta for one large lasagna. Then, mix in about 2 balls of fresh buffalo mozzarella and 1/2 cup of freshly grated parmigiana as well as a bunch of chopped parsley. Remember this is for 2 of these large lasagnas.
After chilling the sausage meat, it needs to be browned and cooled. Then I mixed in w hole loaf of toasted sourdough bread, I was stuffing 2 turkeys after all. Then I softened some onion, celery, apple, pear and parsley to mix in with the stuffing also.
Cranberry sauce is just heating one cup of water with one cup of sugar and 2 bags of cranberries with 2 pieces of fresh peeled ginger and a wedge of lemon. Its ready when all the berries have disintegrated and the sauce is think enough the coat the back of a spoon.
These bites are made from roasted pumpkin which I put in the blender, some fresh goats cheese and puff pastry. The were baked for 20 minutes just before the cava was served.
I also made some cheese puffs with the whey of the ricotta and some trappist beer, but I think this is where I started stressing for time, because all of a sudden I stopped taking pictures. I did get in a last money shot of the Turkeys.