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|Get tradition rolling with some untraditional flair!
The Big Dinner is done. So, what can you do in the following days that's a step up from the typical turkey sandwich, casserole or stew? Maybe, it's time to try your hand at making sushi rolls, maki, with a classic American flair. Don't worry, no seaweed, rice, or sea urchin to deal with, although sea urchin is one of our favorites. (We'll be talking about sea urchin in future articles.) The ingredients are very basic, turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, and of course, that special gravy.
In this article, we'll take you step by step on how to prep, stuff, roll and fry the perfect rolls. Fry? Did someone say fry? That's right. Being in the South, we felt compelled to add a lil' ole' south to the mix. Let's get started.
Our first suggestion, have all of your ingredients at hand. Prepare an adequate space to do the work, and most importantly, have fun. Enjoy some wine, and don't be afraid to make mistakes. (As you will see, we all do!)
We always practice the "Theory of Food Relativity," E=mc2 Enjoyment equals method times care squared, which means, take your time, practice with small samples and taste, taste, taste.
Begin by dicing your turkey into small pieces, chop up the crispy skin (if you're lucky enough to have any left over), soften the potatoes by warming them to the touch, and mash up the stuffing so it's pliable in your hands.
We've prepared three versions: potato wrapped, stuffing wrapped, and phyllo wrapped. All of the versions are prepared in the same fashion with slight variations to each technique. Specific details on each method can be found at the bottom of the article. For now, we'll focus on the basics of making the potato wrapped rolls. You'll need a mat (available online at Williams-Sonoma.com), deep fryer and clean fingers to begin.
Fryer note: We're using a Krups, 2 gallon, single basket fryer which is adequate for home entertaining. You can fry two rolls at a go. The heat recovery time with this fryer is about two minutes. Heat recovery is important in order to maintain proper oil temperature.
A thermometer will tell you the temperature, but your product will ultimately tell you how long to cook it. Test your product in small pieces before plowing full steam ahead. This will prevent both expensive mistakes and take out pizzas.
|Take your time
|This is not a process to be rushed. Take your time, enjoy some wine, and get rolling. First, you'll want to cover your sushi rolling mat in plastic wrap.
|Spread a thin layer of potatoes to serve as the "rice" of this roll. Line up thin rows of turkey, stuffing and cranberries. Remember, this is what you'll see when you slice your roll, so color and placement are key. Holding the edge of the mat closest to you, lift and roll so the edges of the potato "rice" line up, fully enclosing the inner ingredients. Press gently and evenly along the length of the roll to seal and shape.
|Handle with care
|Carefully, unroll your potato sushi log onto a surface dusted with fine ground cornmeal. Work the potatoes over the opened ends to completely cover and seal. Lift (using long-blade spatula) into a sheet pan filled with the cornmeal, seasoned with salt, pepper and paprika. Coat well, gently pressing the meal into to the potatoes. Return roll to clean surface and generously apply egg wash. Lift into a sheet pan of seasoned breadcrumbs, and coat. Place in fryer basket or spider, and tap off extra crumbs.
|Note: The roll is fragile at this point. Go slowly and gently when lifting and transferring. Once cooked, set to rest and warm to the touch, the roll will firm up and become easy to handle.
|We all make mistakes.
Hey, we're real people, just like you! We know that means practice makes perfect, and always plan ahead for a bit of trial and error in any job. New fryers, ambient humidity, test products, these all play a role in how a dish ultimately comes together. The breadcrumb crust will hold your roll together and prevent the inside from soaking up oil. The egg wash, and sugars in the crumbs brown up nicely... plain potatoes don't!
The photo above shows what happened when "someone" (names will go unmentioned to protect the innocent) forgot to use egg wash and set the fryer 5° below the required temperature.
|Potato wrapped with bread crumb crust
|Mixing the perfect potato wrap will take some listening to your ingredients. You'll want an even, smooth consistency, so grab a fork if Grandma makes 'em chunky. We added the finely ground cornmeal to ours, and a beaten egg, to create a doughy texture that will hold up in the fryer. Watch closely, and fry until golden brown in a 365° fryer.
|The stuffing wrapped rolls come together the same as the potato rolls. Add a beaten egg to your stuffing, and work until smooth. We formed the potatoes into snakes and laid those next to the turkey and berries in long thin strips on top of the stuffing layer before rolling into a log. Dredge the rolls in seasoned cornmeal, egg wash and breadcrumbs. Fry at 365° until golden and crisp.
|Phyllo is delicate and requires a little TLC. Keep it covered with a damp tea towel after thawed and unrolled. Using a few sheets at a time, brush with melted butter, line up your ingredients, and roll up by hand. Brush the roll with more melted butter, and staggering the seams, add a few more layers of phyllo. Seal the edges with eggs wash, pressing them firmly onto the roll. Brush entire roll with egg wash and place in a 350° fryer and remove when golden and flaky.
|It's all in the gravy.
You might have left over gravy. If that's the case, then by all means use it. Around here, any remaining gravy is usually sucked up with a straw, as was the case when we prepared this gravy for the shoot-turned meal and entertainment time.
Reduction is the key. How bold you want the flavor depends on how far you reduce the cider and broth. We normally reduce everything by at least 50% or more of its original volume. This particular recipe calls for a 50% reduction which delivers a savory but, not overly bold flavor. That's an important factor especially if you're pairing a Pinot Noir with the meal. You never want to "crowd" the wine.
|Our gravy dipping sauce comes together in just a few simple steps. Reduce equal parts chicken broth, or reserved turkey drippings, and unfiltered apple juice, by half. Fresh-pressed cider will work equally well. The reduced liquid should gain a dark, golden color. Add a small quantity of soy sauce (one teaspoon at a time) until the desired saltiness is achieved. Add a few drops of aged, balsamic vinegar to balance the sweetness and deliver a bit of aromatic, earthy flavor.
|Whisk softened butter and flour together over low heat. Once combined and beginning to thicken, slowly add small amounts of the reduced broth, whisking until absorbed. Repeat until all liquid has been added, and bring briefly to a low boil, whisking thoroughly to ensure a smooth and silky gravy.
|Pepitas are a fast, easy and addictive snack! Drizzle well cleaned seeds with olive oil. Toss with salt, pepper, paprika, cumin, garlic powder and a sprinkle of cayenne. Roast in a single layer at 325° for 13-15 minutes.
|Perk up your taste buds.
Here's a quick and refreshing salad that'll perk up your taste buds and prepare your palate for the rest of the meal. It's a simple mix of romaine, carrot spirals, English cucumbers, multi-colored sweet baby peppers, a sprinkling of sesame seeds, and a light dressing. In this case, we used a rasberry vinaigrette.
It's a good starter and a great excuse to crack open a bottle of Portlandia Oregon Pinot Gris.
|Trick? Or Treat? The pumpkin soup is a total treat.
Halloween is long since gone, but, maybe you still have a pumpkin or two hanging around. We'll put them to great use in this savory soup of pumpkin, onions, apples and sage. In some respects, it's almost like eating your dessert first! But, who cares? It's the flavor that matters! You'll be surprised at just how easy it is to make this dish. Your guests will be impressed by the presentation, and their enjoyment of each and every spoonful.
And, for an extra little treat, sprinkle some pepitas on the side. Crunchy, smoky and best described as a "rustic" flavor.
|One medium sugar pumpkin, one yellow onion, one large apple and one bunch of sage are all you'll need from the produce aisle for this simple stunner. Four cups of chicken stock, one cup of cream, two tablespoons of ponzu sauce, salt and pepper complete the dish.
|Have your pumpkin? Halve it. Scoop out the insides using a large spoon to scrape the seeds from the flesh. Reserve, and clean seeds from pulp in a colander under cool running water. Place each pumpkin halve cut side down in a shallow baking dish filled with an inch of water. Cover with foil and bake at 350° until flesh is tender, 45 - 60 minutes depending on pumpkin size. Remove from pan and let cool, then scoop flesh from shell. (Save those, because now you've got a really cool bowl and lid!)
|Dice half of the medium yellow onion, and sauté in butter until translucent. Core and dice the apple - we used a large Honeycrisp - and add to translucent onions. Add 4 cups of chicken stock, sage, and simmer 10 minutes. Remove from heat.
|Ladle apple-onion mixture into blender or processor in small batches. (Tip: Allowing it to cool a bit first will prevent any hot liquid blender mishaps.) Blend in pumpkin until you reach your desired thickness for the soup. (Tip: Pressing the final mixture through a sieve will yield a silkier soup.) Blend in 2 tablespoons of ponzu sauce, and 1/4 cup of cream. Whip remaining 3/4 for dollops, and garnish with fresh sage leaves.
|Deep South meets Asia, South America and beyond.
Talk about a multi-cultural blend, wow! This delicacy takes its roots from age old recipes with a modern day twist. If you're into pecan pie then you probably have memories of Thanksgiving dinner where mom brought the pie to the table - usually made from a recipe handed down through the family. We've taken the best of that and added a few more dynamics.
They're crispy, crunchy, chewy, nutty and when dipped in the dulce de leche, hang on. You won't stop eating them.
Fried wontons are typically thought of as Asian decent although they can be found in many varieties, many cultures around the world. The same holds true for dulce de leche - classicly South American with adaptations in Cuba, Asia, France, Norway and Russia.
|Making the wonton filling
|Let's go ahead and assume you don't have any left over pecan pie, because, really, who does!? Here's how you skip the crust and get right to the good part, the ooey-gooey caramelly custard laden with delectable pecans, that makes up the filling for these little fried bites of bliss.
|Prepare your ingredients
|Melt 3/4 stick of butter over medium heat, and whisk in 1 1/4 cups light brown sugar until smooth. Remove from heat. Whisk in 3/4 cup agave nectar. In a separate bowl, beat 3 eggs, add 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract. Whisk egg mixture into sugar mixture. Fold in 2 cups of pecans.
|The bake off
|Butter a baking dish and pour in pecan mixture. Bake at 350° for 35 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool. Break up mixture with a spoon for wonton filling.
Building the wontons
|Wonton wrappers are a snap to use, requiring just a touch of finesse, like the phyllo. This time, grab two dampened tea towels. You'll need one to cover the wonton wrappers, and one to covered the filled wontons waiting to be fried.
Place one teaspoon of pecan pie filling in the center of one wonton wrapper. Dip a finger in water and moisten the edge of the wonton. Fold wonton in half, forming a triangle. Working from the filling outward, press wrapper closed pushing out all of the air and sealing the edges well.
Fry wontons in oil heated to 350°. Watch closely! When they are a golden, egg roll brown, remove and drain on paper toweling. Plate and dust lightly with confectioner's sugar.
Making the dipping sauce
Popular for nearly two centuries, and with very good reason, dulce de leche tops this treat in true decadence. While many ready-made preparations are now widely available, it is ridiculously easy to make.
You'll need one can of sweetened condensed milk. Remove the label. Place the can in a pot of water. Boil for 2-3 hours. Voila! Once cooled, your dulce de leche is ready to use.
Now, sure, you've heard about exploding cans. What's the secret? We're some serious science geeks here, and nerd-out over food at any given chance, so we're more than happy to share. Water. You have to keep the can in water. Yes, it's that simple. The water prevents the can from heating above 212°, thusly, keeping all explosions at bay.
|There you have it! Break out the sherry, dig in and have a good time.
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|Wines, Beers & Spirits
|For your convenience we've included links to sources/products we've mentioned. Tap the links below and/or check your local stores for availability.
Whole Foods Market / Organic Turkey
Martinelli's Apple Juice
Progresso Chicken Broth
Wholesome Blue Agave
|Wines & Sherry
Portlandia Oregon Pinot Noir 2011
Portlandia Pinot Gris 2013
Harvey's Bristol Cream Sherry
Finely ground cornmeal
Unfiltered apple juice
Baby sweet peppers
Medium yellow onion
|Wontons & Dipping Sauce
Light brown sugar
Sweetened condensed milk
|© Henry McDaniel Photography