Thursday, December 29, 2011

Seven-Course Turkey Tasting Menu, Part I


I hope you all had a very Merry and Delicious Christmas/Holiday! I took a short little break from my blog this past week as I was keeping busy in the kitchen, planning and prepping the big Christmas dinner I had planned for my family. A few weeks back, I had come up with the brilliant (re: crazy) idea of doing a turkey tasting menu. The ideas came pouring out, and after lots of planning and brainstorming on various scraps of paper, I realized that I had come up with a seven-course menu. Yes, seven-courses. Ambitious indeed.

The final menu looked a little something like this:
A seven-course tasting menu that would include an amuse-bouche, a soup, a starter, two entrees, a palate cleanser in between the entrees, and a dessert. Five of the seven dishes would feature turkey.

I had a little fun with the menu and named each course, except for the amuse bouche, playing on the either the course itself or the theme of the course.


The meal itself took about a day and a half to put together. While the menu looks ambitious, I managed to plan everything well ahead of time to know what I could and needed to prep ahead of time. The consomme, pot pie filling, cremeux and walnut brittle were made in advance, and the quail eggs were hardboiled in preparation for the scotch eggs.


The turkey was divided into its individual parts as well—legs, wings, and breasts. The skin from the breast was kept whole and reserved, while the remaining carcass was thrown into a stock pot along with the wings to make the consomme. First thing Christmas morning, I threw together the pie dough and put it in the fridge to chill and made the cranberry sorbet so that it would have enough time to freeze. Everything else was spread out, prepped, and made throughout the afternoon, with time to even put my feet up and read a bit from the latest Lucky Peach issue for half an hour while the pot pies were baking! I was aiming to have dinner begin at around 6:30 pm, and for the first time since I've made Christmas dinner, we actually began on time!


Amuse bouche
I love a good scotch egg. Creamy, melt-in-your-mouth yolk in the centre. A perfectly golden, crispy exterior. Savoury meat binding the whole thing together. Traditional scotch eggs typically use some sort of sausage meat mixture.


To keep with my turkey tasting theme, I swapped the sausage for turkey and used quail eggs instead to keep them bite-sized. These were also breaded in panko for an extra crispy finish. Served with homemade sriracha aioli, this was easily my favourite dish of the whole evening. The spicy aioli is a spot-on condiment to go with the scotch egg. I could have had many more bites of these!

(Scroll down for the recipe below.)


"Baby it's cold outside..."
So what better way to warm up when it's cold outside? A bowl of piping hot soup of course! With a rather rich and meat-heavy menu, I wanted to balance the meal with something a little lighter. Nothing creamy or heavy, but a simple turkey consomme that is light to eat but rich in flavour.

A traditional French consomme is usually be made from a mixture of ground meat, mirepoix and tomatoes, and then clarified through a egg white protein process. I did an easier, cheater's version by creating a stock base made from the turkey carcass and turkey wings, vegetables (carrot, celery, onion, tomato), and bouquet garni. After simmering for three hours, I removed all the stock ingredients so all that I was left with was the broth, and added in my whipped egg whites to clarify the soup.


You probably won't get as flavourful a soup by doing it the cheater's way, but it's much easier and you're guaranteed to get a much clearer soup this way without having to stress over whether your egg whites will be able to trap all the impurities or not.

I served the soup hot with a poached quenelle, made from some reserved ground turkey breast meat, egg whites and heavy cream.

"All wrapped up"
You spent all morning unwrapping presents, so now it's time to wrap a little something up in return. I got the inspiration for this Turkey Skin Taco from The Art of Living According to Joe Beef, which features a recipe for chicken skin tacos (p.175). I simply swapped the turkey skin for the chicken, and added some of Rossy's (aka SupiCucu) amazing salsa de fuego for that extra little kick.


I loved this dish because there's so much going on here, texturally and flavour-wise, but without being overwhelming. Everything balances each other nicely, the spice with the fresh herbaciousness of the cilantro, the acidic lime cutting through the fatty crispiness of the skin, and the slight sweet undertones of the corn tortilla bring all the flavours together. Amazing.

Stay tuned tomorrow for Part II of my Turkey Tasting Menu!

Can't wait? Get a teaser of what's to come by checking out my full photo set.

Scotch Quail Eggs with Sriracha Aioli
Makes 10

10 quail eggs
250 g ground turkey breast
2 tablespoons mixed herbs (thyme, parsley, oregano), finely chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Canola oil, for frying

For the sriracha aioli
1 egg yolk
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon Sriracha
2/3 cup vegetable oil
Salt and pepper, to taste

Place the quail eggs into a small pot and fill it with cold water, ensuring that the water covers the eggs by an inch. Bring to a boil over medium heat, covered. When the water comes to a boil, turn off the heat and leave the eggs sitting in the water for 5 minutes. Place the eggs in ice cold water to stop the cooking process. When completely cool, peel and set aside.

In a small bowl, mix the ground turkey with herbs, salt and pepper. Take about a golf ball-sized amount of the turkey mixture and flatten it into an oval on your palm. Place a hard boiled quail egg in the centre of the pattie, and gently using your palms and fingers, wrap the turkey mixture around the quail egg until completely covered over. If the meat is sticking too much to your hands, wet your hands with some cold water and continue. Place the scotch egg on a tray and repeat with the remaining meat mixture and eggs. Cover the tray with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to fry.

To make the sriracha aioli: Whisk the egg yolk with the minced garlic, Dijon mustard and a pinch of salt. Place a wet towel underneath your bowl to keep it from moving, and slowly whisk in the oil so that it emulsifies. Drizzle in 1/2 cup of oil first and see what the consistency is like after whipping it in. If you think the aioli needs more oil, slowly whisk in the remaining bit of oil and incoporate until emulsified. You should end up with an incredibly thick, creamy and rich mayonnaise. Take four tablespoons of the aioli and mix with one tablespoon of sriracha. Taste and adjust seasonings. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Remove the scotch eggs from the refrigerator half an hour before you are going to fry them. In a large saucepan, heat about 2 inches of oil to about 350˚F or sizzling. While the oil is heating, dredge a scotch egg in some flour, then dip in the beaten egg before breading it with panko. Set aside and repeat with remaining scotch eggs.

Gently drop the prepared quail eggs into the hot oil and fry until golden, about 8 minutes. If you do not have enough room to cook all 10 at once, do them in two batches. Do not overcrowd your pot. Remove and drain on some paper towel and let cool a minute or two before serving with a dollop of sriracha aioli.


Sylvia December 29, 2011 at 2:32 p.m.  

This is amazing!!!! I can't wait for the next part!

Anonymous December 29, 2011 at 5:25 p.m.  

Wow. Culinary goddess! I bow down before you. What an impressive dinner. One question... how much oil in the aioli (missing from the list of ingredients).

Bonita December 30, 2011 at 2:12 a.m.  

Thanks Sylvia!

Thank you Pat! And oops, thanks for spotting that! Teaches me how I shouldn't be writing out my blog posts in the middle of the night when all I want to do is sleep! The error has been fixed in the post now.

Restaurant Brugge January 6, 2012 at 2:17 a.m.  

good post thanks 4 sharing

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