Slapdash Gourmet: Happy accidents of culinary discoveryWritten by Amy Campbell | | firstname.lastname@example.org
I certainly had plenty to be grateful for on Thanksgiving Day this year. However, the holiday weekend itself gave me even more, thanks to a few culinary discoveries made in the course of turkey-day dinner, using up leftovers and kicking off the Christmas season.
The first discovery was prompted by what could have been a disaster. My family had gathered at my sister’s home in Pittsburgh, and late in the turkey roasting, several of us heard the sizzling sounds of the bird’s juices suddenly get louder. It occurred to us that this wasn’t a good thing, but we weren’t sure until smoke started coming up through the stovetop. My valiant brothers-in-law opened the oven and smoke billowed out, a harbinger of disaster that smelled delicious. Evidently the slits in the roasting bag intended to vent steam had been made too low, so just before the timer went off, our bird runneth over.
The turkey was fine, but the mishap led to the first Thanksgiving discovery: smoked mashed potatoes. While the turkey bubbled up in the large, lower oven, the smaller oven right above it was on warming duty, and two crocks of mashed potatoes were exposed to that turkey smoke. After two bites, it occurred to me that figuring out how to recreate smoked mashies without ruining the oven might have to become my life’s work. So far all I’ve come up with is to heat a metal pan to screaming hot in the oven next to the dish of potatoes, then add stock to the pan and close the door quick, but I’m wide open to suggestions.
The second discovery came several days later, as I attempted to liven up some leftover turkey. A reader had recommended a new product from Walt Churchill’s Market: a sweet-hot honey chipotle sauce, with the added benefit of being packed in a jar with its own spout. An exclusive partnership between Owens-Illinois and the Market, the “Versaflow” jar helped keep my “slapdashy” cooking from getting downright sloppy – no spilled sauce while pouring – and the sauce was yummy even to me, despite the fact that I’m spicy-food challenged. I thinned some with a little turkey stock and added the chopped turkey to heat it all through, then got inspired and added a handful of golden raisins. Served over rice, which was also cooked in turkey stock, it was a hit with me and my 12-year-old daughter, who admiringly described it as tasting “kind of foreign.” I think she meant foreign in the “exotic” sense, which is exactly the way I’d describe this sauce: exotic, flavorful-yet-versatile. I tried it again a couple of nights later while making discovery number three: pizza cones.
The pizza cone kit was my daughter’s birthday gift from her Aunt Katy. It was a whimsical, creative present I was confident wouldn’t work. Cut, fold and crimp pizza dough, then slip it on the cone form? No way. Dough sticks, right? Oh, me of little faith. We got the dough on the metal cones, which have such a great finish nothing could stick, baked them for six minutes, then set them right-side-up in their holders and started filling them with toppings. My daughter skipped sauce altogether in favor of just cheese and pepperoni; I spread the honey chipotle sauce inside my cone and filled it with onions, fresh tomatoes, kalamata olives and cheese. Another five minutes in the oven and we had…pizza cones! I don’t know who came up with this crazy concept, but ours were crazy delicious and lots of fun to make. If you’re still on the hunt for a kids’ gift, I recommend a pizza cones kit. Ours came from Sur La Table (www.surlatable.com), and last time I checked they were on sale for $11.99. The only downside is that with one kit you can only make two cones at a time, so at that price, you might want to pick up two.
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