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Klatsch: a week without shopping


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I had a late breakfast this morning, some blintzes I had in the freezer (non-dairy from Trader Joe's) so have not and will not eat lunch, although I did have a glass of milk.

Dinner for me and my guests will be a vegetable, egg and cheese strata - rustic bread, artichoke hearts, caramelized onions, roasted peppers with ricotta and mozzarella cheeses, topped with grated asiago.

Everything is ready to be assembled and baked - doesn't take long so the baking will be after my guests arrive. If I can remember, I will take a couple of photos.

I have a small romaine lettuce and will tear it roughly and toss with some fresh sprouts, some olive antipasto and pickled asparagus to make up for the absence of tomatoes and other fresh stuff.

I have noticed that romaine keeps better than most other "leaf" lettuces.

I'm somewhat spoiled in that I usually have at least some lettuces growing but they are rather weedy and not really harvestable right now.

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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Day 6

This morning for PJ's breakfast I made him a poached egg. Before I got a chance to photograph it, though, Ellen had cut it up for him.

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My breakfast consisted of toast, a little of the shrinking butter supply and three Advil.

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Ellen also made PJ a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch, as they were planning to be out.

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For dinner the request was for chicken fingers so I did my best. We had almost two pounds of frozen chicken breast cutlets in the freezer. For breading, I used the two remaining eggs, some flour, and some panko. And I cut the two remaining sad potatoes into wedges. Even though I have a vented hood, deep frying is something I really prefer not to do in the apartment. I've found that it's possible to get pretty good results with both potatoes and chicken cutlets by using a high temperature in the oven on convection.

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I ran out of egg before running out of chicken, so I chopped up and put away the rest of the chicken for prospective fried rice or something.

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Progress in the oven:

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Dinner:

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We didn't finish the chicken. Not even close. So there's another leftover to consider.

Alas, we are now out of eggs.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Dinner here was leftover Vietnamese Beef Stew and Prik King, over rice. Egg salad for Princess Heidi.

I'm actually game for another week. I found a bag of potatoes and onions in the basement, and other than milk, fresh veg and some carrots (and maybe some eggs), I'm good to go, and hopefully, Heidi will be better next week, so I can actually take some photos!

I'm likely to do the produce shopping at the Asian market (lower cost) unless my supermarket Sunday ad looks really good.

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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I've now started work on tomorrow's dinner dish for our virtual potluck. I'm making brisket chili. Tonight's prep consists of braising a piece of brisket that has been in the freezer forever (maybe a quarter of an actual brisket) in beef stock. I'll refrigerate that overnight and, tomorrow, I'll defat the stock and dice the brisket. Meanwhile I'll make some beans and then combine everything into a chili-like dish. Stay tuned.

Looking at what I can do in a second week, one thing is for sure: we still have a ton of leftover product from the first week. There's chicken two ways left from tonight (cooked chicken fingers, and raw chicken for fried rice or something along those lines). There's still lentil soup, enough for several more meals built around that. And the chili I make tomorrow will be enough for three family meals, easily. Then there are some things in the freezer I never even got to this week: a container of meatballs in sauce, a bunch of frozen vegetables, some things wrapped in foil that I still haven't inspected. That's not even getting into all the grains and legumes we have around, the remaining cheese in the fridge, all the tomato products, cans of tuna, pasta both dry and frozen . . . this could go on for a couple more weeks before I would get to the mac-and-cheese-from-a-box stage of the game. And if I can top off the egg and vegetable supplies, forget about it.

I also see on my calendar at least two big free meals out coming up this week: a dim sum event on Sunday and a steak event on Tuesday. So nobody is going to starve here.

One thing I wanted to mention: when all this is over, be sure to lock in your savings. Don't buy double and restock all the stuff you used. Take advantage of the money and space savings by letting well enough alone. Maybe we'll even learn something about how to spend less shopping every week going forward. I think that's probably the case for me already.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I think I played along without realizing it. I came down with a flu/cold last Saturday and hadn't ventured out of the house until the other day. So we ate whatever I had on hand, no shopping. The first night was roast ham, mashed potatoes and frozen peas. The next night, I did penne a la vodka and garlic bread. Then it was beef stroganoff over rice. Then pork chops with cream sauce, roasted asparagus and pate au choux gnocchi. Then I started feeling better and made Keller's quiche. Tonight we did order in, fish and chips and now I'm feeling well enough to go out so tomorrow we dine out. I could still probably go another week without buying anything more than eggs and bread though and maybe one fresh veg.

Marlene

cookskorner

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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Today, I decided to make Jackfruit in Coconut Milk with the pork in freezer, the fried scad in the fridge and canned coconut cream and canned jackfruit in the pantry. I boiled the pack of pork (which I defrosted last night) and have divided it up for stir-fries, with the pork broth for soup tonight.

I also decided to free-up some freezer space with the loaf of bread trimmings. I used up half of the leeks in the veggie bin, a handful of dried mushrooms (I found hiding in the top shelf of my pantry) and 3 slices of bacon. I made two cake pans of Savory Bread pudding. That would be afternoon brunch for me later (and many days after). One pudding will go to my hubby's co-workers for their snack on Monday.

Lunch today was the leftover garlic fried rice (from last night), jackfruit with coconut milk. Son just woke up and he will have the small Outback bread I have frozen in the freezer (he likes that toasted with butter) plus the rest of the bacon (about 3 slices).

Tonight will be Miswa Soup (Filipino thin rice noodle soup) with shrimp & pork potstickers (using the pork broth I have from lunch, miswa noodles and the homemade potstickers I have in stock from the freezer).

Doddie aka Domestic Goddess

"Nobody loves pork more than a Filipino"

eGFoodblog: Adobo and Fried Chicken in Korea

The dark side... my own blog: A Box of Jalapenos

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Who's up for another week?

For all you peeps who said a week was easy -- and for those who'd like to save more money -- let's push this Klatsch out to a fortnight.

I am most definitely in. Last night, after four nights in a row of evening meetings and the requisite pizza slice dinner, I settled into the next many days of cooking with what's here. And what would that be, you ask? Well, with trepidation, I show you the stockpile of a food hoarder.

I come from a family that, on both sides, made it through the Depression with pride, and that meant fanatical frugality. My mom was raised in rural working class Maine, and she is the source of my obsessive thrift, box lot, and seconds shopping jones. Growing up in suburban Boston, we had a root cellar, an "expired but still good shelf," and we never let anything go bad in the fridge.

I have the full-larder part down pat. The use it before you lose it... that I'm not so good at.

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This is the dry goods shelf in our basement. Some of the stuff is prepared every-day kid food (Goldfish, Progresso soups, cereal) but most of it is stuff I think I'll use someday. See those black and white tags? Those indicate food bought from Building 19. Their slogan is "Good Stuff Cheap!" but as far as I'm concerned it should be "Expired But Probably Not Toxic Stuff Cheap!" There's also a wide selection of goods purchased at other discount shops, most notably Ocean State Job Lot.

Take a look at my freezer door and see if you can guess what brand of organic grains is usually available at Job Lot:

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Yep, that'd be Bob -- as well as Steve, about whose Rancho Gordo beans I got a little overexcited a while back. Further down the door,

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Pound of excellent lard in there, I notice.... Meanwhile, inside the freezer itself is a drawer filled with at least a year or two of charcuterie:

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There's pulled pork, duck ham, braised pork belly, god knows what else in there. The upper shelf contains Penzey's excess, some more dry goods (we get pantry moths every year), stock, pasta sauces, gumbo, pozole, mafe....

More in the upstairs freezer:

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Most of that stuff should be downstairs because, you know, that freezer is much more organized:

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A few months ago I decided that this was the perfect organizing principle for the freezer protein problem. Hasn't worked out so well. Turns out that you have to keep that list updated for it to work.

Up next: last night's dinner.

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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So here's the stuff I pulled off the shelves last night for dinner.

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Of course, we also have a pantry with items in heavier rotation, and I spied that container of "risotto" rice. Who knows what I was thinking when I grabbed it -- "Maybe this won't be terrible..." -- hoping to save 70% off the usual carnaroli rice I buy. It isn't that good to begin with, and it had a slightly off nose, so I figured it was a good way to start my Klatsch meals. Make do.

I wanted to gussy it up, of course, so I also pulled out some very good parmigiano reggiano, some homemade pancetta, and two bags of dried porcini mushrooms from the stash of dozens I got at Job Lot. I also discovered that a two-pound bag of carrots froze this week in the produce drawer, which is seriously going to put a crimp in our vegetable supply.

Made the evening's drink, a Red Hook with some bourbon cherries:

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Onions, garlic, and celery sautéing:

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Add the rice:

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After straining off the mushroom liquid into the stock, I rinsed then chopped the mushrooms roughly, since they were splitting meat duty with the pancetta lardons and needed to make their presence known:

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Ditto the carrots and celery, which I sautéed pretty lightly in the pan where the pancetta had been rendering:

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Given the relative lack of protein, I didn't feel too bad when I dumped every drop of fat from the vegetable/pancetta pan into the risotto. Laying flavor, you know. Finished the risotto with the cheese and a bit of lemon for acidity, then plated:

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Very good overall, though the mediocre quality rice definitely detracted from the final dish. If the rest of the meals I make during this Klatsch are this good, I'll be happy.

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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Who's up for another week?

For all you peeps who said a week was easy -- and for those who'd like to save more money -- let's push this Klatsch out to a fortnight.

I'm sadly unable to continue on. After the elk dinner on Wednesday night that ended my challenge week, I took a trip to the market on Thursday afternoon. And I spent more than the new rules will allow.

So I'll have to "sit this one out." But I just may take it on again, keeping within our guidelines, but........attempting to go a month without shopping!

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Last night, as Paul and Heidi were napping on the couch, I made pumpkin/chocolate chip muffins (breakfast with eggs this morning as well as snacks) and while I was talking on the phone to my best friend, filled and pleated 103 potstickers. I'm sure you'll see some of these this week.

This week is reminding me of my grandmother's freezer adage: "It's not a safe deposit box."

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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That's a sage adage that can apply to many things. I just unpacked a Penzey's order and realized that I have some interesting things in there that rarely see the light of day (or kitchen stove). Penzey's often tosses in something free, too; I'm wondering about this "Shallot Salt" I just found....

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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I'll be making my "potluck" dish tonight but I'll have to pass on the fortnight challenge since I'm going on vacation (to Miami!) next week. However, in rummaging through my freezer and pantry I realized I have more than enough to go another week - I still have pasta, meatballs, sausage, beans, pizza dough, canned tuna....when I get back from vacation, I'll probably try to eke out another week with maybe just a quick trip to the market to replenish my store of fruits and veggies.

Sarah Fernandez aka "mssurgeon81"

Philadelphia, PA

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I'm in for at least another week. You could just duplicate Chris' pictures and that is pretty much what my storage looks like. Though I am very envious of his supply of "Bob's" grains. I use those to add to almost all my bread recipes....after a bit of soaking. Expensive so I wish I could find them at some "outlet".

My contribution to the pot-luck is "Pumpkin Cake/Bread" made with a can of pumpkin from the cellar storage, some leftover walnuts from Christmas baking, and the end of a bag of wonderful "3 deluxe types" of raisins. (To be truthful, I have another bag.) 2 eggs will go into this and I will dip into my supply of pastry flour.....50 lbs bought at the PBS auction. I have really enjoyed that flour which is actually milled locally. After all, Rochester used to be known at the "Flour City". Now known as the Flower City.

I spent about $6 yesterday on a gallon of whole milk (I will dilute it with powdered) which I bought since Aldi's had no 1% , or 2%. Also, one grapefruit, a bunch of bananas and a bag of frozen berries which I really like.

This has been the prod I needed, though the first week, with some eating out, was not too productive. I expect improvement from now on.

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Lunch was leftovers from an Indian meal I made last weekend, cucumber raita and the Andhra spiced eggplant from Mangoes and Curry Leaves by Alford & Duguid:

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I've looked at that all week and thought it was too small, or too watery, or too... something -- a habit I have with leftovers. Nope: it was real good.

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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I arose early today to prepare my contribution to the potluck. Too bad it is virtual, I have enough for an army.

Nut and spice (cinnamon, allspice, rosewater) cookies. To go with after dinner coffee or tea!

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a closeup

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For breakfast, late in the morning I sautéed a banana with a couple of spears of fresh pineapple left over from preparing chicken salad several days ago, sprinkled with a teaspoon of granulated maple sugar and added to half a cup of firm yogurt cheese.

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Edited by andiesenji (log)

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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Well, I went a week with no shopping, and like others I found it to be . . . not really that difficult. Here's what I discovered:

1. I have way more ingredients on hand than I realize.

2. Every day can be a black box challenge if you want it to be.

3. I grocery shop because I like to, not because I need to.

4. I know I'm an eGulleter when . . . I get worried when there's no huckleberries in David Ross's freezer, and I recognize several projects in chrisamirault's freezer.

Peter Gamble aka "Peter the eater"

I just made a cornish game hen with chestnut stuffing. . .

Would you believe a pigeon stuffed with spam? . . .

Would you believe a rat filled with cough drops?

Moe Sizlack

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Again, no photos, but for our virtual potluck: seared venison chops, crispy smashed potatoes from Fine Cooking #83 (Jan. 2007) and baby greens with balsamic dressing and feta and craisins. Everything was outstanding, and the smashed potatoes will be a regular on our dinner menu. I'm off to finish dinner now; we spent yet another night at the ER, so dessert was Twizzlers from the hospital vending machine.

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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Things kind of got away from me today so I didn't get to make my big weekend finale dish until after dinner. We'll be eating it for the next several days I'm sure.

Last night I braised a piece of brisket that had been knocking around the freezer for many moons. This is sort of an unorthodox approach to chili-making but I've found that it works better for me when I braise the meat whole then dice it later.

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I refrigerated the brisket overnight in one container and the braising liquid in another.

This afternoon I made beans using the Russ Parsons oven method, the best way ever devised for cooking beans.

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Then we had our own dinner, which consisted of leftovers: lentil soup, lasagna, chicken fingers.

After dinner I dumped the beans into a colander -- that way the whole dish can be done in one pot -- and made a mirepoix from every aromatic vegetable in my inventory: the last onion, the last shallot, some garlic, carrots, celery.

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While the mirepoix was cooking I roughly diced the brisket, after removing some of the most obvious fat, and set it aside.

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I added the last of my chili seasoning mix -- another thing I made ages ago and froze.

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Then the beans, the braising liquid from the brisket and a box of Pomi crushed tomatoes, plus plenty of salt and pepper, as well as some dried oregano.

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I let that cook down a bit (there was precious little space in the pot -- I estimated wrong there) and then added the meat, let that heat through and let the mixture thicken for a while. The result: a week's supply of brisket chili.

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Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Today's brunch was hotdog and eggs plus toasted bread.

Afternoon lunch was some of the pork that we grilled on our Tefal grill with pinakbet as a side dish (I still have 4 servings of that in the fridge). I made the chicken noodle soup with the chicken broth, chicken breasts and veggies in the fridge (carrots, potatoes and onion).

I admit going out to buy toilet paper (we were down to 3 rolls), water (yes we buy drinking water here), orange juice and Coke for my son and hubby. The only thing I bought food-wise was celery, which is a key ingredient to the chicken soup.

Now hubby has packed lunch for a couple of days (he loves bringing chicken noodle soup for lunch which he eats with crackers). He also ate that for dinner today. I reheated my Miswa soup leftover from last night and made eggplant omelets for dinner. There are two eggplant omelet left and that would be my lunch tomorrow while hubby and son are in school.

So far, I have calculated about $50 worth of savings since last Thursday when I joined this group. (I have resisted the urge to order out and even turned down hubby's offer to eat out at a local kalbi restaurant, those would have cost us $50 all in all).

Edited by Domestic Goddess (log)

Doddie aka Domestic Goddess

"Nobody loves pork more than a Filipino"

eGFoodblog: Adobo and Fried Chicken in Korea

The dark side... my own blog: A Box of Jalapenos

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Question for you-did you add plain water or any other liquid to the pot or do you just let the meat juices and fat serve as the braising liquid?

I added the last of my chili seasoning mix -- another thing I made ages ago and froze.

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Tell me what spices and herbs you add to your chili seasoning mix. Do the dry ingredients freeze o.k. without getting "watered down?"

The result: a week's supply of brisket chili.

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Now I have another great idea for a dish to make during my next run through the challenge. Your chili looks delicious.

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I had planned on going another week without shopping, however my neighbor wants to go shopping at Sam's Club, TJ's and Vallarta (Mexican supermarket). Her husband is away for a couple of days with their truck and she has only a tiny car, not up to hauling the amount of foods she needs, she has asked me to take her and one of her granddaughters.

Now can anyone imagine that I could possibly visit three stores and not come away with at least a little something? I thought not.

The produce at Vallarta is especially attractive: green tomatillo 4 lbs./1.00, Roma tomatoes 2 lbs./1.00 (limit 12 pounds), fresh pasilla peppers, 3 lbs./1.00 so how can I resist.......

I'll wait a week and start my participation again.

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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Didn't contribute to the pot luck because it was -- again -- Indian leftovers. Ditto lunch today: lentils with yogurt and the last scrapings of mint chutney.

And now, call me Ahab. I present to you my great white protein:

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This is a factory-sealed whole turkey breast that went into the back of the freezer nearly two years ago. It looks me in the eye every time I open the freezer door, asking me whether I'm man enough to handle six pounds of rock-solid turkey breast. For months and months I have diverted my gaze, knowing fully well that a day would come when I would have to reckon with the multi-day defrosting and preparation of this behemoth.

Well, that day has arrived, and it is defrosting in my refrigerator as I type. How shall I tackle this noble, injured (I see freezer burn), titanic beast? Smoke it? Mole? Soup? Larb?

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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Question for you-did you add plain water or any other liquid to the pot or do you just let the meat juices and fat serve as the braising liquid?

I used about a pint of frozen beef stock plus a pint of water on this occasion. When I don't have stock on hand I like to do a mirepoix in the braising vessel first. The mirepoix plus some water (or wine, or beer, or whatever) plus the juices from the meat get you something pretty close to a stock.

Tell me what spices and herbs you add to your chili seasoning mix.  Do the dry ingredients freeze o.k. without getting "watered down?"

I don't have a standardized recipe. It's more like whatever chili-appropriate seasonings are around. To the best of my recollection this batch (what you see illustrated here is maybe a quarter of the batch) contained a few hot peppers from this gigantic bag of dried peppers that I've had for years and will probably not use up before I get my AARP membership card (I only use a few hot peppers these days because I'm feeding a three-year-old kid; in days of yore I'd have used a fistful), lots of cumin (that's the main spice for me), some nice paprika that someone brought me back from a trip to Hungary, probably coriander, and that may be it, all ground up in one of those mini coffee grinders. I prepare it with the anticipation of adding salt, pepper and oregano in the cooking process, though one could easily add those things to the mix as well. I find that it freezes very well. I have no idea how it tastes right out of the freezer but once you cook with it I can't imagine there's a discernible loss of quality.

Now I have another great idea for a dish to make during my next run through the challenge.  Your chili looks delicious.

It actually looks better after it cools and you reheat it. There's a serious thickening process that happens during the cool-down, and it holds when you reheat. Ideally, chili for me is a three-day process: day 1 braise the meat, refrigerate overnight; day 2 cook the beans and combine into chili, refrigerate overnight; day 3 reheat and eat. Add a day 0 if you're making stock. That's a lot of days, but there's actually not that much active cooking time involved at all.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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