Week Seven could be categorized as the week of unusual ingredients. Cod, truffles, turnips, mussels, and lamb. There was a lot going on. Interesting and unusual, but a lot.
One of my favorite memories from the week involved the Roast Turkey with Truffle Butter. The turkey itself was fine, but the pan drippings from that recipe were over the top incredible, thanks to the truffle butter that all of the golden brown onions were browning in by the time the bird came out of the oven.
Everyone in the kitchen suggested I should make gravy out of the pan drippings. I paused, quietly working up the courage to admit a hard truth. “Hey guys, I’ve never made gravy.” Cue the shock and awe and immediate stopping of everything else in order to coach me through how to make gravy from pan drippings.
I’ve made sauces, and I’ve made sausage gravy to go with biscuits, but I’ve never made gravy from pan drippings. The idea of making last minute gravy from the mess left at the bottom of the roasting pan has always seemed like a bad idea. Until this week. The gravy those drippings produced, thanks to the perfect coaching from Kailey and Naomi, was epic. Full of savory umami notes that made the turkey taste even better than it did without it, I was convinced that pan drippings do in fact make delicious gravy.
WHAT I COOKED
Parker’s Fish and Chips, Family Style
Roast Turkey with Truffle Butter, How Easy Is That?
Mashed Yellow Turnips with Crispy Shallots, Family Style
Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms, How Easy Is That?
Zucchini with Parmesan, Family Style
Pumpkin Banana Mousse Tart, Family Style
French Mussel Bisque, How Easy Is That?
Amelia’s Jambalaya, Foolproof
WHAT I LEARNED
PARKER’S FISH AND CHIPS. Parker Hodges was a chef at the original Barefoot Contessa store. There are several recipes named after Parker (Beef Stew, Split Pea Soup, Short Ribs). This was the first time I had fried cod in my home kitchen. We have fried fish outside in a propane fish fryer, and we frequently pick up fried cod from a local hole in the wall called Zeke’s Fish and Chips. We love hot fish, battered, deep fried, and served with lots of Timm’s special perfect tartar sauce on the side. Timm, by the way, has perfected his own concoction, and we are all ruined in the tartar sauce department. I never am excited about the idea of frying at home, and will avoid it if possible. This recipe helped show me that it’s really not that big of a deal. I have found that using a cast iron pot helps tremendously because the temperature does not fluctuate as much thanks to the heavy iron. This fish was “amazingly delicious,” according to Timm. I agreed.
SAUSAGE STUFFED MUSHROOMS. Top ten side dish of all time. Or maybe it would be better as a first course. But however you decide to serve it, you will not be disappointed. The stuffing alone is worth cooking, even if you decide not to stuff it in mushrooms. It’s incredible. These were so full of flavor and texture, and not at all like those soggy sad cocktail party hors d’oeveurs you might find at an event. These are on my radar for future gatherings.
PUMPKIN BANANA MOUSSE TART. Sometimes, there is a reason two flavors are not often seen together. Such is the case (in my opinion) with pumpkin and banana. Of course, because it’s Ina, there was also orange added to the mix, and the result reminded me of really bad baby food. I could not get it out of my mouth fast enough. I was thankful that the kind souls attending the Ina Lunch on the day I served this were friends so that we could all have an honest moment about the tart and talk about how we wish never to repeat this recipe.
FRENCH MUSSEL BISQUE. The video I made of this soup is archived on my Instagram page. It was so fun and so educational to work with live mussels. They are not difficult, but they do require a tiny bit of knowing what to expect and how to handle them. I also learned that a bisque is a soup that features seafood. This bisque in particular has been one of the best things I have made to date. I absolutely recommend giving this a shot.
JAMBALAYA. If you need a meal to feed a giant crowd, this is your one. Make sure you have an enormous pot, and make sure you give this the full time to cook so that your rice is soft and tender, not hard and crisp. I did not grow up eating jambalaya, so I don’t have a strong sense of what this is “supposed” to taste like. Purists might find something objectionable about In’s version, but I thoroughly enjoyed it and would serve it at a game day or large family gathering.