Loaded Scalloped Potatoes

Loaded Scalloped Potatoes

Loaded scalloped potatoes and potatoes au gratin are so good that you could serve them as a main course. In this decadent recipe, we combine a cream sauce from scalloped potatoes with the cheese from potatoes au gratin. And if that is not enough, we added all the favorites of a baked potato. When you hook this up for the holidays, you’ll be the winner winner of your Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner. This recipe does require some prep time and you can get this done a day ahead of the cook. And it’s flexible enough to bake at a variety of temperatures. This makes it easy to slip in the oven along with your main course or other side dishes. The combined flavors in this recipe are quite intense. You’ll love the variety of different cheese and dairy products layered in the fresh potatoes and herbs. And a most interesting flavor comes from the chicken broth. Don’t you dare skip this ingredient it is a difference maker!

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds russet potatoes
  • 1 white onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 4 – 6 green onions
  • 12 oz bacon
  • 16 oz cheddar cheese
  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 3 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 2 cup chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup flour


First, hand shred the block of cheddar cheese. Next, using a super thin guard on a mandolin, slice the white onion. Dice the green onions and mince the garlic. Finally mince the rosemary and thyme. Remove the cream cheese from the refrigerator and allow it to come to room temperature.


Next, slice the bacon into bits and fry it in a skillet on medium heat. When the bacon grease starts foaming and the bits are turning brown, remove the bits with a slotted spoon and place them on layered paper towels. Carefully remove most of the bacon grease and leave about 3 tablespoons in the skillet.


Add the thinly sliced onion and continue to cook on medium until the onion becomes translucent. Add the minced garlic and a pinch of the herbs. Next, slowly stir in the flour and combine together for several minutes. Next, add the chicken broth and stir until the sauce thickens. Slowly add the whipping cream followed by a few slices of cream cheese. Stir until the cheese melts into the sauce, then continue to add whipping cream and cream cheese until all is incorporated into the sauce. Allow the sauce to simmer for a few minutes then turn off the heat.


Peel the potatoes, then use a mandolin with a thin blade and slice them. When the potatoes are all sliced up, use a non stick spray or vegetable shortening to grease up a 9 x 13 inch baking dish. Add a layer of potatoes to the dish first. Next use a large spoon and cover the potatoes with a layer of sauce. Next apply a layer of shredded cheddar cheese. Add some bacon bits and green onion. Repeat these steps until all the ingredients are used. Be mindful of how much you have left for each item so that each layer has equal amounts of everything. This should make 4 to 5 layers.


Cover with foil and bake at 350 for 30 minutes. If you need to cook with other food at a lower or higher temperature this is fine. After 30 minutes use a toothpick and stick it all the way to the bottom of the pan. Feel for the tenderness of the potato slices. If there is a lot of resistance like a raw potato, keep cooking with the foil cover. If there is partial resistance, cook for another 30 minutes uncovered. When the toothpick slides in and out with very little resistance, almost like butter, the potatoes are ready to eat. Sprinkle the top with fresh thyme, some green onions and bacon. Allow it to cool at least 5 minutes before serving.





Green Bean Casserole

Green Bean Casserole

Green bean casserole is the standard side dish to all your holiday meals. For this recipe we ditch the usual Campbells cream of mushroom soup and instead make cream of mushroom from scratch. It’s easier than you may think and the flavor is 100 times better. And if you love mushrooms you can mix around various types like white and baby Bella for additional flavor. This recipe is divided up so that you can prep the green beans and mushroom sauce a day or two ahead of the meal. Simply put it all together, put it in the oven and bake yourself an amazing side dish that everyone will love (except for green bean and mushroom haters).

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds green beans
  • 1 white onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 8 oz white mushrooms
  • 8 oz baby bella mushrooms
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 6 oz French’s crispy fried onions


First, wash then trim the ends off the green beans. Cut the large beans in half. Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil and boil the beans for 4 to 5 minutes. Drain the water from the beans then transfer the beans to a large bowl filled with ice water to stop the cooking process. The beans should be partially cooked and still crunchy but not stiff. Once cooled, remove the beans from the ice water and place them on a rack with paper towels and let them dry for at least an hour.

Sauce instructions

First, dice the onion into small bits. Mince the garlic cloves. Wash then slice the mushrooms into thin slices. Pull the thyme leaves from the stems and dice the leaves. Next, melt the butter in a large skillet on medium high heat. Add the onion, garlic, mushrooms then stir frequently and cook for about 5 minutes. Add the thyme, black pepper, then the flour and cook for another minute. Add the chicken broth and reduce the heat to medium. Add the cream and cook for another 25 minutes or until the sauce thickens.

Baking instructions

Preheat the oven to 350F. Add the beans to a large baking dish. Pour in the mushroom cream sauce and mix the beans to coat them in sauce. Mix in half the container of crispy onions, then mix everything together. Pour the remaining crispy fried onions on top of the beans. Bake uncovered for around 30 minutes.





Oven Roasted Brisket

Oven Roasted Brisket

Brisket is growing in popularity thanks to the BBQ movement. But did you know that it is a traditional meal for the high holy days such as Rosh Hashanah and Passover? You can serve it for your Easter Sunday meal or you can make it on any given Sunday. In this recipe the brisket is braised in a covered roasting pan which makes it tender and juicy in about 4 hours. Carrots, celery, mushrooms and onions are combined with the brisket to give it that hearty pot roast deliciousness. Ideally you need to purchase a 5 pound prime brisket flat for this recipe. If you go smaller, just keep the quantity of the remaining ingredients the same.

Ingredients

  • 1 4 – 5 pound brisket flat
  • 2 white onions
  • 3 carrots
  • 3 celery stalks
  • 8 oz white mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup crushed tomatoes
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 32 oz beef broth
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 6 sprigs fresh thyme


First dice the carrots and celery. Slice the onions on a fine mandolin blade. Wash and thinly slice the mushrooms. Mince the garlic cloves and set aside.


Next, trim the silverskin and excessive fat from the brisket. Then pat the brisket dry and rub it down with olive oil. Season both sides with a medium amount of salt and pepper.


Heat a large cast iron skillet on medium high heat and add a small drizzle of olive oil. Spread the oil around the skillet with a silicone spatula.


When the skillet reaches temperature, add the brisket to the pan fat side down first. Cook for 5 minutes then flip to the other side and cook for another 5 minutes.


Remove the brisket and place it in the roasting pan, fat side down. The roasting pan is the heat source and the fat will protect the meat while cooking. Preheat your oven at 325 F.


Add the diced vegetables (except garlic) to the skillet and cook for 5 minutes. Add 2 cups of beef broth, then add the tomatoes, brown sugar, cider and minced garlic. Use a wooden spoon to scrape up any crispy burnt beef fond from the pan surface.


Simmer for 4 minutes then pour everything over the brisket in the roasting pan. Add the remaining beef broth to the roasting pan. Toss in the sprigs of fresh thyme on the meat and to the side on the veggies.


Tightly seal the roasting pan with heavy duty aluminum foil. You may need to use 2 sheets for a good seal. Bake for 3 hours on the middle rack at 325 F. After 3 hours, check the brisket for tenderness by using a temperature probe or a toothpick. Push it into the meat and when it slides in with very little resistance, then it’s tender and ready. If it feels tough let it cook for another 30 minutes to 1 hour and check again. A 5 pound brisket flat will take about 4 hours at this temperature. It will register around 210 F in most areas when done.


When the brisket is tender, remove it from the oven and let it rest for at least 10 minutes before slicing. Slice it against the grain to produce the most tender cuts of meat.





Oven Roasted Turkey

















Oven Roasted Turkey

Any time is a great time for turkey and when it comes to the holidays, it’s a big deal. This is nothing to worry about and if you follow this recipe, your turkey will impress all of your guests. This recipe uses a brine which is an optional step but highly recommended. Most store bought turkey is frozen in a solution to make the meat juicy. Because of this pre processing, a brine is not necessary however it will enhance the overall outcome. And if you sourced your turkey from something other than the grocery store (hunting, backyard farm or otherwise) then a brine is an excellent enhancement. If your turkey is frozen, you will need at least 48 hours of thaw time with the turkey in the refrigerator. The brine is easy to prepare and you can do this any number of days ahead and keep it in the refrigerator. The turkey should be brined for 4 to 6 hours max and then washed off and dried with paper towels. Then you should let the turkey dry out in the refrigerator for 24 hours. This will help the skin to become crispy and delicious.

So let’s step through this, assuming this will be a Thanksgiving Thursday turkey and you work 9 – 5 like all of us. Sunday at noon place the turkey in the refrigerator to thaw out. On Monday evening, make the brine and place it in the refrigerator. By Tuesday evening the brine will be cool and the turkey will be thawed and ready to brine for 4 – 6 hours. Tuesday night remove the turkey from the brine, wash off the brine, then dry it with paper towels. Place the turkey on a cooling rack over a foil layer on a cookie sheet. Place the turkey in the refrigerator from Tuesday night to Thursday morning (a little over 24 hours, no biggie). Thursday morning / afternoon season the turkey and roast in the oven. This recipe will cook at 325 F and turkey will require 15 – 17 minutes per pound when cooked at 325 F. So a 12 pound turkey at 16 minutes per pound = 192 minutes total time (12 x 16) which is 3.2 hours (192 minutes / 60 minutes per hour).

Ingredients

  • 10 – 15 pound whole turkey

Brine

  • 1 gallon water
  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • 1 lemon
  • 3 sprigs rosemary
  • 3 sprigs sage
  • 3 sprigs thyme
  • 1 tablespoon peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon allspice
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg


If your turkey is frozen, allow it to thaw for 48 hours prior to brine or cooking. For this recipe if you target Thanksgiving Thursday, start the turkey thawing on Sunday.


Prepare the brine several days ahead of the cook. For Thanksgiving, this would be Monday evening. Allow the brine solution to cool down, then place it in the refrigerator to cool it further overnight. The next evening (Tuesday) soak the turkey in the brine for 4 to 6 hours. You can use 1 gallon XL zip seal bags to brine the turkey if you don’t have any containers large enough for the task.


After this, wash the turkey and place it on a cookie sheet and cooling rack setup. Dry it inside and out with paper towels and place in the refrigerator.


On Thursday, remove the turkey from the refrigerator and brush it down on all sides with melted butter. If you use salted butter, then apply less salt on the surface in the next step. Salt and pepper the turkey on all sides.


Move the turkey to a roasting rack breast side up. Tuck the wing tips under the body of the turkey. Add fresh thyme to the turkey skin. Do not truss the turkey legs unless your grandma makes you do so. This is an old technique that is debated endlessly at this point.


Preheat the oven to 325 F and cook for 1 and a half hours.


Open the oven, slide out the turkey or remove it and brush it down with melted butter. Take the temperature of the turkey and do the math for the remaining cook time. Turkey will require 15 – 17 minutes per pound when cooked at 325 F. The target temp is 165 F in the breast and 175 F in the thigh.


When the turkey breast reaches 165 F in the thickest part of the breast, it is safe to remove it from the oven. Allow the turkey to rest for 30 minutes and do not cover it with foil. If you cover it with foil, condensation will form and will drip back on the skin making it less crispy.