Daily Archives: December 27, 2009

Dark Days week 6: Solstice

I was home not-quite-sick-but-not-great on Monday, the solstice, so we built a big fire in the fireplace and did our Solstice stockings at noon instead of after work as planned. And we cooked all day, which is what really makes it a holiday, I think.

Our pretty Blue Slate hen turkey met an untimely end back in October, about four weeks ahead of schedule, when she got over the fence into the neighbor dogs’ yard. Poor girl. They didn’t kill her, but we had to. Wanting to make the best of it, we were able to salvage about 3/4 of the meat, only discarding the portions with puncture wounds and bleeding.

After also checking Julia, Bittman, and some butchery books we have around, I consulted the one with the best photos — The River Cottage Meat Book — for info on breaking down a bird, since it’s not something I’m very good at. I’m the Evisceratrix, but a carver I am not. At the same time, also in the Meat book, I noticed the author suggested using turkey legs to make coq au vin rather than a, well, coq. So when I bagged up Poor Girl, I set aside the legs, thighs and drumsticks still connected, in their own bag, ready to be coqauvinified.

We started by cubing and frying Garth’s home-cured bacon, made of Skagit River Ranch pork belly. Removed that from the pan and added one chopped shallot, organically grown by Alvarez Farm just outside of the 150 mile range, over near Yakima. Removed the shallot and then pan fried the turkey legs, separated into thighs and drumsticks, which we’d lightly rolled in flour seasoned with salt and pepper.

And then! We have hit a milestone in our cooking lives! We added a quarter cup of vermouth (it called for brandy, but we had none) and lit it on fire, on purpose! It was neat. Whoosh! Then chicken and vermouth were removed, and wine went in to deglaze, and then some stock. The whole mess — bacon, shallot, and turkey legs, plus chopped homegrown carrot, thyme, rosemary, parsley, and market bay leaves, and homegrown and -canned tomatoes went in to the pan. At that point it just simmered in a 250° oven until the turkey was fally aparty — a couple of hours at least. Then we put it back on the burner, removed all the solids from the broth, and added some butter and a couple pinches of flour and whisked to make a thick, delicious gravy.

I also made some quick oven fries from Yukon Golds grown by farmer Laura at the Soup Garden here on Bainbridge — just toss the cut potatoes with some oil, salt, pepper, and minced garlic (Laughing Crow, as usual). If the fries are accompanying burgers or something less rich and flavorful than coq au vin, I often also add ground cumin and cayenne. I cook them at about 425° until the fattest fry is cooked all the way through.

Happy Solstice

Coq au vin and oven fries, garnished with homegrown parsley, and served with island-grown and -produced wine, made for a fantastic Solstice meal and celebration of the past year and the year to come with the returning light.

Homegrown: turkey, carrots, tomatoes, parsley, rosemary, thyme
Bainbridge Island farms & market: garlic, potatoes, bay, drinking wine
Local-ish: shallot (Alvarez)
Organic: butter (Organic Valley)
Unknown: the usual (salt pepper oil), cooking wine (from somewhere in France), vermouth