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Modernist Thanksgiving Suggestions?

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I am here to attest to the quality of Matt Kayahara's tweak of the retrograded starch potato puree, described here in his blog post. The only additional tweak I made was to the skin butter: instead, I roasted the skins at 450F until they were browned, blended them briefly in milk, then simmered the mixture for 15 minutes or so. After straining that became the milk base to which I added the potatoes and butter before using the food processor. They are excellent, a far roastier, nuttier mashed potato than their delicate color suggests. Thanks, Matt!

Chris Amirault


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Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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I used a variety of modernist techniques this year, as usual.

Started with a duo of fresh pea and caramelized carrot soups, poured into the bowl together so that they each made up one side. Only the carrot soup was really all that modernist. Pro-tip: No matter how cool-looking those red-skinned carrots look in the greenmarket, to not use them for this dish or in any vegetable stock unless you like the idea of eating something with a deep purple color. Luckily my sister was able to visit a nearby grocery and get us a kilo of regular orange carrots, and I juiced those.

The next course was more or less a straightforward rendition of this ChefSteps recipe for salmon mi cuit with a variety of garnishes. Using xanthan gum to prevent syneresis in the horseradish cream and watercress puree is a nice, if modest, use of a modernist idea. I also was able to make the watercress puree well in advance but keep it nice and vibrant green by de-aerating it in a vacuum chamber and then vacuum packing it for storage.

After that, I did the turkey breast porchetta style, as suggested in SeriousEats. I didn't bother with the skin, as I didn't want to be deep-frying anything in the middle of service. I dusted everything with Activa and bonded it into a single log, which worked great. Overall, however, I was a little underwhelmed and would have liked a bit more aggressive flavoring. Also, for my presentation anyway, it would have been better if I had formed each breast into a single, thinner cylinder. This was served with a variety of vegetables that I prepared sous-vide and reheated for service (charred leeks in evoo, baby artichokes in evoo, baby red carrots in butter, breakfast radishes in butter), modernist "latkes" (really more of a mashed potato croquette), and a finishing drizzle of ChefSteps' thyme oil (which worked well but could have had a stronger flavor). When I'm making potato puree, I like to pressure-steam the retrograded potatoes for 7 minutes or so. The potatoes come out completely soft and, counterintuitively, pretty dry as well. The potato croquettes were a big hit, and could easily be made well ahead of time and frozen.

Next, I did cornbread pecan dressing in a bowl topped with shredded turkey leg confit (which I did sous vide) and surrounded with turkey jus gras from MCAH. My jus gras process went something like this: took all the meaty raw turkey bones, plus a jumbo package of turkey wings I picked up for cheap, and ran them all through a heavy duty meat grinder. Thew all of this into a couple of roasting pans and cooked in a high oven, stirring from time to time until it all turned into dark brown sand. Then added water and aromatics and cooked this in my gigantic pressure canner for 1.5 hours to make brown turkey stock. The next day I pressure-cooked a few quarts of the brown turkey stock with an approximately equal weight of some of the browned turkey material I had set aside the day before, plus fino sherry and aromatics. Reduced the jus by 50% and then emulsified with reserved roast turkey fat I had skimmed from the stock and laced with 2% liquified lecithin. Pretty good stuff.

So, any number of modernist techniques, but all fairly modest. No spherified gravy or anything like that.

Edited by slkinsey (log)

Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

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Sam, sounds great - I like the idea of pressure steamed potatoes.. Definitely have to try it sometime!

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