Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Thanksgiving's braised turkey

For the longest time, I've roasted a whole turkey almost every thanksgiving holiday. This time around, I decided to do something different as there were only four of us and we'll be out of town for the rest of the thanksgiving weekend. I bought a whole turkey from the local market and quartered them. Decided to cook half of the turkey (half a breast and a thigh) to feed us plus a neighbor's kid. The other half is still sitting in the freezer as I'm typing this post. It was the best turkey ever, proclaimed my husband. Such moist, tender and flavorful meat. It made my kitchen smelled so good that my family members keep popping their heads into the kitchen inquiring, "Is the turkey done yet?" Best thing about this turkey was that the braising was done the night before and all I had to do was heat it up the next day. This recipe was adapted from the New York Times.

Ingredients (serves 6):-
1/2 a turkey breast plus a thigh (about 5 lbs)
1 tbsp of sea salt
2 tbsps of chicken seasoning
6 ounces of italian sausage, cut into 1 inch bite size
3 ounces of pancetta, cut into 1/2 inch bite size 
1 cup of carrots, cut into 1 inch bite size
1 cup of celery, cut into 1 inch bite size
1 cup of shitake mushrooms, quartered
1/2 red onions, cut into 1 inch bite size
2 cloves of garlic
3 sprigs of rosemary
5 cups of chicken stock
1 cup of water
4 tbsps of olive oil

1. The night before the turkey is to be cooked, rub salt and chicken seasoning on the turkey. Cover with plastic wrap and leave in the fridge overnight. The next day, remove turkey from the fridge and let it sit at room temperature for 1 hour.

2. In a large 9 quart dutch oven or heavy skillet, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the turkey breast and thigh skin side down. Let brown undisturbed for 4 minutes. Turn the turkey onto its other side and let brown for another 2 minutes. Remove turkey from the dutch oven or skillet and place on a platter.

3. In the same dutch oven or skillet, saute garlic and onions for about 2 minutes in the remaining olive oil before adding the sausage and pancetta. Let cook for 2 more minutes. Add the celery, carrots, and mushroom and cook for another minute before adding the rosemary, chicken stock and water. 

4. Bring the mixture to a boil before adding the turkey thigh skin side up. Cover the dutch oven or skillet and let it simmer for 45 minutes. Add turkey breast skin side up and simmer for another 30 minutes. Turn off the heat and turn the turkey pieces meat side up. Let them sit in the braising liquid overnight to soak up more flavor. The next morning, turn the turkey pieces skin side up and let them sit in the liquid a little longer.

5. To heat up the turkey, place the dutch oven over medium low heat and simmer for another hour. Take out the turkey pieces and place on a broiler pan. Heat your broiler to 525 degrees Fahrenheit and broil the turkey pieces six inches away from the heat source for 2 to 3 minutes to crisp up the skin. Do watch the broiler as it'll burn the turkey if left uattended. Remove pan from the broiler and cut or slice up the turkey meat as you please. 

6. To serve, put sausage, pancetta and vegetables on a serving platter. Place the turkey slices over the mixture then drizzle the braising liquid over it. Use the leftover braising liquid to make delicious pasta dishes. 

Friday, November 18, 2011

Life is short

Just visited a very close family friend who's in the hospital battling with late stage cancer. It breaks my heart to see him lose his speech and unable to communicate verbally. It's even more heart wrenching to hear him groaning in pain and constantly moving his arms and head back and forth due to the pain from cancer. It's inhumane to be suffering from such pain. He doesn't recognize his wife, family or friends. His medical team is saying they are doing the best they can to make him comfortable but it's very obvious their strategies are not working. His attending physician has not visited him once since he was admitted into the hospital 4 days ago.  He hasn't slept a wink for 3 days since he's been so restless. He would close his eyes and open them right up as if he's afraid to fall asleep.
 I wish doctors were more compassionate towards those patients who are on the last journey of their lives. An attending physician giving out orders to be carried out by the various resident doctors without examining the patient physically him/herself does not equal good patient care. The human side of medical care is non-existent in this case. What a shame.
It's been 14 months since my friend was first diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer. Since then, he's been undergoing very aggressive chemotherapy. Surgery was not an option because of the location of the tumor mass. In spite of terrible side effects (severe diarrhea, unable to keep food down, weight loss, hair loss, loss of appetite, fatigue, etc) from chemo, he's been keeping his spirit up until now. Before the cancer diagnosis, he was a fit and lean person, full of energy and always on the go. Now, seeing him laying in the hospital, I just can't believe this is the same person. He has lost almost 80 pounds thru this ordeal. He's been reduced to a skeleton with a swollen abdomen and legs. My friend will be 51 in a couple of months. It's sad to know he'll probably not make it.