Pulled Turkey & Gravy

“…and remember, an apron is just a cape on backwards!”

This is an incredibly easy-to-cook and easy-to-eat recipe. The author is Courtney O’Dell at sweetcsdesigns.com … I pretty much stayed with her exact recipe except that I substituted Smoked Paprika for regular paprika and I added an additional hour of cook time plus extra gravy because my bird was almost 7 lbs.

Seasoned and in the pot


Ingredients:

One 5­ – 7 lb turkey breast, on the bone
One tbsp coarse sea salt
One tbsp fresh cracked pepper
One tbsp oregano, fresh or dried
One tbsp dried cilantro
One tbsp rosemary, fresh or dried
One-half tsp paprika
Two 18.3 oz cartons ready­made turkey gravy, divided (I used Swanson in the box-carton)

Ready to serve


Instructions:

1. In a large crockpot, apply cooking oil spray to the bottom to prevent sticking.
2. Season turkey by rubbing herbs/seasonings onto the skin.
3. Roll up two sheets of aluminum foil into balls.
4. Place the balls of foil on each side of the turkey, propping it up so the bony cavity is at the bottom and the fat
is up top (this helps baste the bird in it’s own juices).
5. Cover and cook on high two and a half hours.
6. Remove foil.
7. Add one carton of gravy gently pouring it over the bird.
8. Cover again and cook another two and a half hours.
9. When turkey is 175 degrees internally, and a bright opaque white, turn off the crockpot and remove the turkey into a large pan or baking dish … it may be falling apart so you may have to use one or two slotted spoons to get all the meat and solid pieces into the pan. While the contents of the pan are cooling off, pour the juice left in the crockpot through a strainer and save the juice in a bowl where a skimming ladle can be used to remove excess fat. Always allow the liquid to rest and cool for several minutes, so the fat will rise to the top.
10. Now pick out all of the bone and other undesirable solids from the pan leaving only good, tender chunks of meat. Using two dinner forks, shred or tear the meat and place it back into the crockpot along with the de-greased gravy.

Served over cornbread dressing


11. Add remaining carton of gravy to the crockpot and let simmer on low until ready to be served. Sprinkle with a little paprika just before serving.
12. Great over cornbread dressing, mashed potatoes, in sandwiches, over rice, or on it’s own!

Crockpot Pulled Chicken

“Cooking well doesn’t mean cooking fancy.”

This recipe is basically identical to that for Crockpot Pulled Pork except we use a whole chicken instead of a pork roast. Being the same recipe, I must therefore give Brian Gray at www.UrbanBohemian.com credit for kindly giving me permission to use his recipe as the inspiration for mine (which differs only slightly). I’ve made this recipe many times and it is always a crowd-pleaser. I usually compliment it with Alabama White BBQ Sauce and serve it on Hawaiian Sweet Bread Rolls or stuffed in steamed corn tortillas…some folks opt to eat the meat alone with no bread.

Bird in the bag.

Bird in the bag.


It is important to note that the MarTex Dry Rub (recipe below & elsewhere) gives the pulled chicken a savory taste … definitely not sweet. I prefer my pulled chicken savory so if you prefer sweet then I would suggest that you find a sweet dry rub and use it instead of the Texas Chicken Rub … you might even consider using the sweet version of Brian’s Butt Rub listed on the Pulled Pork recipe.

This recipe typically will serve 8 people and you’ll still have leftovers … sooo, if you are only feeding 4 to 6 people then you might want to use a smaller chicken!

Crockpot Pulled Pork with MarTex Dry Rub

Bird in the pot!

Bird in the pot!


1 6-8 pound whole Chicken fryer
2 medium Shallots cut in half long-wise
1 batch of MarTex Dry Rub (see recipe below & elsewhere)

After removing the neck and giblets (if applicable) use cold water to rinse the chicken and then dry it with paper towels. Although really messy, use your hands to coat the chicken evenly with the dry rub. Depending on the size of the chicken it may take 2 to 4 tablespoons of dry rub. Place the four pieces of shallot in the chicken body cavity.

Place the chicken in one of those really large zip-lock bags (or cover in plastic wrap) and let it chill in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours and, if possible, overnight is even better.

Completely cooked bird in the crockpot.

Completely cooked bird in the crockpot.


Remove the chicken from the bag and place it in a large crockpot with the cavity hole pointed upwards or in such a way that the pieces of shallot don’t fall out. DO NOT ADD WATER OR ANY LIQUID. Cook on high for 3 hours. After this initial period of cooking use two large forks and turn the chicken over in the crockpot (don’t worry about the shallot falling out now). Reduce the heat to low and continue cooking for an additional 3 hours.

Turn off the crockpot and remove the chicken into a large pan or baking dish … it will be falling apart so you may have to use one or two slotted spoons to get all the meat and solid pieces into the pan. While the contents of the pan are cooling off, pour the juice left in the crockpot through a strainer and save the juice. Now pick out all of the bone and other undesirable solids from the pan leaving only good, tender chunks of meat. Using two dinner forks, shred or tear the meat and place it back into the crockpot. Depending on how moist you want it, pour some of the juice back over the shredded chicken. Return the crockpot to the low setting and serve the pulled chicken warm.

Pulled chicken ready for a taco or sandwich or just slapped on the plate!

Pulled chicken ready for a taco or sandwich or just slapped on the plate!

MarTex Dry Rub

Ingredients:
3 T Smoked Salt (regular or Kosher can be substituted)
1/2 T Black Pepper
1/2 T White Pepper (substitute Lemon Pepper if for Chicken)
1/2 T Chili Powder
1/2 T Oregano
1 T Smoked or Spanish Paprika (reg. Hungarian can be substituted)
1 T Onion Powder
1 T Garlic Powder
1/2 tsp Dried Mustard Powder
1/2 tsp Cayenne Pepper (more if you like really spicy)
1/4 tsp Ginger

Optional Ingredients if you desire slightly sweet:
3/4 C Turbinado Sugar (Lt. Brown Sugar can be substituted)
1/2 tsp Cinnamon, ground

Add all the ingredients to a small zip-lock plastic bag and shake it until the contents are well blended. What you don’t use can be left in the sealed bag for months.

Crockpot Pulled Pork

“Life’s a game … barbeque is serious!”

I’ve seen this recipe on many websites and blogs but Brian Gray at www.UrbanBohemian.com presents it better than most and kindly gave me permission to use his recipe as the inspiration for mine (which differs only slightly). I’ve made this recipe many times and it is always a crowd-pleaser. I usually compliment it with Alabama White BBQ Sauce and serve it on Hawaiian Sweet Bread Rolls or stuffed in steamed corn tortillas…some folks opt to eat the meat alone with no bread. Brian tells me that he found the dry rub recipe in a Cook’s Illustrated Cookbook and when I searched my cookbook library I found a similar recipe for both the dry rub and the pulled pork in a Cook’s Illustrated cookbook entitled, The Best Slow and Easy Recipes.

After 3 hours in the crock pot.

After 3 hours in the crock pot.

It is important to note that Brian’s Butt Rub (recipe below) makes the  pulled pork a little savory and sweet. If you want yours just savory then I suggest you use the MarTex Dry Rub recipe that is posted on this blog.

This recipe typically will serve a dozen people and you’ll still have leftovers … sooo, if you are only feeding 4 to 8 people then you might want to cut the roast size in half!

Crockpot Pulled Pork with Brian’s Butt Rub

1 6-7 pound pork shoulder roast (also called Boston Butt)
1 batch of Brian’s Butt Rub (see recipe below)

Using cold water, rinse the roast and then dry it with paper towels. Although really messy, use your hands to coat the roast evenly with the dry rub. Depending on the size of the roast it may take 2 to 4 tablespoons of dry rub.

Place the roast in one of those really large zip-lock bags (or cover in plastic wrap) and let it chill in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours and, if possible, overnight is even better.

Remove the roast from the bag and place it in a large crockpot. DO NOT ADD WATER OR ANY LIQUID. Cook on high for 3 or 4 hours. After this initial period of cooking use two large forks and turn the roast over in the crockpot. Reduce the heat to low and continue cooking for an additional 3 or 4 hours.

Just out of the crock pot, fully cooked and already falling apart.

Just out of the crock pot, fully cooked and already falling apart.

Turn off the crockpot and remove the roast into a large pan or baking dish … it will be falling apart so you may have to use one or two slotted spoons to get all the meat and solid pieces into the pan. While the contents of the pan are cooling off, pour the juice left in the crockpot through a strainer and save the juice. Now pick out all of the bone and other undesireable solids from the pan leaving only good, tender chunks of meat. Using two dinner forks, shred the meat and place it back into the crockpot. Depending on how moist you want it, pour some of the juice back over the shredded pork. Return the crockpot to the low setting and serve the pulled pork warm.

Let the shredding begin!

Let the shredding begin!

Brian’s Butt Rub
Note – This is the exact recipe as printed on Brian’s blog and it is almost identical to the one printed in a Cook’s Illustrated publication which Brian credits as his inspiration. This is a good recipe and I encourage you to try it … personally, I prefer, and I hope you’ll also try the dry rub recipe printed elsewhere on my blog as MarTex Dry Rub.

1 tablespoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon ground white pepper
1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper (1/2 will be mild, 2 will by extra spicy)
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 tablespoons ground cumin
4 tablespoons paprika
1 tablespoon dried oregano
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon white sugar
2 tablespoons salt

Sandwiches topped with sauce and ready to enjoy.

Sandwiches topped with sauce and ready to enjoy.

Add all the ingredients to a small zip-lock plastic bag and shake it until the contents are well blended. You might want to make two batches at the same time … one sweet, one savory. What you don’t use can be left in the sealed bag for months.

Chicken Thighs with Pasta & Vodka Sauce

“If you drink enough vodka, it tastes like love.”

Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman, recently presented a dish named Rigatoni with Chicken Thighs. This was the inspiration for my dish only I greatly simplified hers and was still able to come out with a very tasty dish. The important ingredient with this recipe is Chicken Thighs. Most people (especially those who say they hate dark meat) don’t realize how much more flavorful thigh meat is over breast meat. I dare you … take the challenge, be honest, and the thigh meat will win out!

Ingredients:

Salt
16 oz. package rigatoni (or your favorite pasta)
Olive oil, as needed
8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into small pieces
3 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup shallots, chopped
1 ½ jars (24 oz. jars) prepared Vodka Sauce (I prefer Prego)
Fresh basil, as needed
Grated Parmesan, for topping

Directions:

Bring a pot of lightly salted water to a boil and put the pasta into it. Cook according to package instructions.

Heat a large skillet until very hot and then generously drizzle in some olive oil. Swirl to coat the skillet, and then add half of the cut-up chicken pieces, spreading them out as you put them in. Do not begin stirring the chicken immediately as you want to get them nice and brown. After a minute or two, flip over the chicken with a spatula and let brown on the other side. Remove to a plate and set aside. Repeat with the second half of the chicken pieces.

Add a tablespoon or so of olive oil, if needed, into the hot skillet and throw in the garlic and chopped shallots and give them a stir. Now add the Vodka Sauce, whisking to deglaze the bottom of the skillet. Reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes.

Add the chicken (and don’t forget all of those yummy chicken juices on the plate) to the sauce mixture and continue simmering for another 15 minutes. Toward the end of the cooking process, chop up your fresh basil and add it to the sauce, stirring to combine.

Put the pasta on a platter or in a large bowl and smother with the sauce. Top with grated Parmesan cheese.

(Note – be sure to refrigerate and save the unused half jar of Vodka sauce because you’ll want to use it to provide additional liquid when you warm up the left-overs.)

(Note2 – Photos will be posted as soon as possible.)

Baked Chicken with Dijon & Lime

“Food is essential to life; therefore, make it good.”

Originally this was a Paula Deen recipe and then it was “lightened up” by Gina at www.skinnytaste.com to be acceptable as a Weight Watcher Recipe.

Servings: 4
Serving Size: 2 thighs
Calories: 210 Points: 4.25

Ingredients:

Baked Chicken with Dijon & Lime

Baked Chicken with Dijon & Lime


8 Chicken Thighs, small, skinless, boneless
3 T Dijon Mustard
1 T Light Mayonnaise
1 clove Garlic crushed
Juice of 1 Lime
Zest of 1 Lime
¾ tsp black Pepper
1 tsp Sea Salt
1 tsp Parsley, dried or fresh

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400-degrees. Rinse the chicken and trim fat if necessary. Pat dry. Place in a large bowl and season generously with salt. In a small bowl combine Dijon, mayonnaise, lime juice, lime zest, garlic and pepper. Mix well. Pour over chicken tossing well to cover.

Spray a large baking pan or dish with a little Pam to prevent sticking. Place chicken to fit in a single layer. Top the chicken with parsley. Bake until cooked through, about 30 minutes. Finish the chicken under the broiler for about 12 minutes until it is golden brown. Serve chicken with the pan juices drizzled over the top.

Pork Chops and Rice

“Meals and memories are made here.”

This recipe has been around for a very long time. It is a regular at our table. Best of all, it is simple and quick to prepare. Chicken is easily substituted for the Pork Chops.

On the plate and ready to serve.

On the plate and ready to serve.


Ingredients:
2 cups rice, regular or instant, white or brown
1 stick butter, melted
1 package onion mushroom soup mix
1/2 cup mushroom pieces (optional), sliced
4 large pork chops, thin sliced, bone-in (or boneless chicken breasts/tenderloins)
Just out of the oven.

Just out of the oven.


Directions:
Wash regular rice and put into baking dish or if instant rice, add as is. Melt butter and pour over rice. Prepare soup mix with 2 1/4 cups of water and pour over rice and butter and stir gently. Lay pork chops or chicken pieces on top (then top with mushrooms) and place in a 385-degree oven. Cook for 45-50 minutes.

Chinese Oven-Fried Pork Chops

“He who handles the knife is always right in the kitchen.”

My wife, Karen, published this in the Koenig Family Cookbook many years ago. It is a favorite at our table.

Ingredients:
1 Egg
3 Tbsp. Soy Sauce
1 Tbsp. Dry Sherry
1/8 tsp. Ground Ginger
½ tsp. Garlic Powder
4 Tbsp. packaged Bread Crumbs
4 lean Pork Chops (thin cut, bone-in)

Directions:
Beat Egg, Soy Sauce, Sherry, Ginger and Garlic Powder together in pie plate. Sprinkle Bread Crumbs on a sheet of wax paper. Dip the Chops into the Egg mixture, then press into Bread Crumbs, coating evenly on both sides. Arrange in single layer in pan. Bake in 350 oven for 30 minutes. Turn and bake 20 minutes longer or until Chops are tender and show no pink.

(NOTE- Photos will be posted asap.)

Taco Stuffed Shells

“Part of the secret of success in life is to eat what you like.” Mark Twain

Taco Stuffed Shells with Black Beans Sprinkled with Cilantro

Taco Stuffed Shells with Black Beans Sprinkled with Cilantro

This dish can be served as the main entrée, or a side for a Mexican dinner, or even as a heavy appetizer. Regardless how you chose to serve it, I promise that it won’t last long on the table.

The recipe version I use was posted by someone named Bobby in 2008 online on BlogChef.net. It has been copied and modified many times now all over the Internet which is a credit to Bobby.

Ingredients:
1lb ground beef
1 package taco seasoning
1 4-oz package cream cheese
12 large (giant) pasta shells
TacoStufdShells1
1 cup salsa
1 cup taco sauce
1 cup cheddar cheese (shredded)
1 cup Monterey jack cheese (shredded)
1 ½ cups tortilla chips (crushed)
3 green onions (chopped)
1 cup sour cream

Directions:
In a saute pan cook ground beef and add taco seasoning and prepare according to package directions. Add cream cheese, cover and simmer until cheese is melted. Blend well. Set aside and allow to fully cool. While meat is cooking, cook the pasta shells, drain and toss well with butter.
TacoStufdShells2
Pour salsa in the bottom of a 9 x 13 inch baking dish.

With your fingers, carefully stuff each shell with the meat mixture. Place the stuffed shells in the baking dish and cover the tops of the shells with taco sauce.

Cover with foil and bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, uncover, and sprinkle crushed chips and shredded cheddar and Monterey jack cheeses on top. Cook, uncovered, for about 15 more minutes. Serve with sour cream, additional salsa, black olives or whatever you think goes good with tacos!
TacoStufdShells4

Poor Man’s Beef Wellington

“I never met a meal I didn’t like.” Miss Piggy

Don’t let the name fool you. Whether serving this as a simple evening meal or as the entree for your Supper Club night, this recipe passes the test. My inspiration for this recipe was Ground Beef Wellington on TasteOfHome.com. This is actually two recipes … first is the Mushroom Sauce … and second is the Wellington. I improved the grade of beef, increased the amount of sauce, and added a few other tweaks (i.e. dry sherry) to come up with the following …

2 Servings
Prep: 35 min.
Bake: 28 min

INGREDIENTS:
3/4 cup chopped fresh Portobello mushrooms
2 tablespoons butter
2 1/2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon pepper, divided
2/3 cup half-and-half cream
1 egg yolk
1 egg white
2 tablespoons finely chopped/minced onion
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 pound ground sirloin beef (90/10 or better)
1 tube refrigerated crescent rolls (I prefer the Pillsbury Big and Flakey)
1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes, divided
1 tablespoon dry sherry

Poor Man's Beef Wellington

Poor Man’s Beef Wellington

DIRECTIONS:
In a saucepan, saute mushrooms in butter until softened. Stir in flour and 1/8 teaspoon pepper until blended. Gradually add the cream. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Remove from the heat and set aside.

In a bowl, combine the egg yolk, onion, 3 tablespoons mushroom sauce, salt, 1/2 teaspoon parsley and the remaining pepper. Crumble beef over mixture and mix well. Shape into two loaves.

Separate crescent dough into two rectangles on a baking sheet. Seal perforations. Place meat loaf on each rectangle. Bring edges together and pinch to seal. Place seam down and brush with the egg white. Bake at 350°F for 24-28 minutes or until a meat thermometer inserted into meat loaf reads 160°F.

Meanwhile, warm remaining sauce over low heat; stir in sherry and the remaining parsley. Serve sauce over the Wellingtons.

Sherried Pork Chops

I cook with wine, sometimes I even add it to the food.” W.C. Fields

If you listed the top ten comfort foods, this dish would be there! The fact that it is simple and quick to make just adds to its appeal. The suggestion to sop up the gravy with French bread should be a warning that it is definitely NOT a low cal/low fat dish. I cannot emphasize enough that chicken tenderloins can be substituted for pork and the results are every bit as good. And remember, a good quality sherry will produce a rich, full-bodied gravy for this dish (never, never, never cook with “cooking sherry”).

Out of the oven with foil removed.

Out of the oven with foil removed.

Ingredients:
4 to 6 Pork Chops (center cut, thin sliced, bone in or out)(can substitute with Chicken tenderloins)
1 tsp Lawry’s Seasoned Salt
3/4 stick butter
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 can of Cream of Mushroom soup
1 cup Sour Cream
3/4 cup pale Dry Sherry

Instructions:
In a skillet, season the chops with the Lawry’s and brown in the butter. Remove chops and place them in a 9×13 baking dish. In the skillet, pour out all but about a tablespoon or less of butter but try to save any scrapings/leavings … blend the chicken broth, the soup, the sour cream and the sherry.

Sherried Pork Chops with Rice and Green Beans

Sherried Pork Chops with Rice and Green Beans

Pour over the Pork Chops. Cover with a tight lid or foil and cook in a 350-degree oven for about an hour. Serve over rice or mashed potatoes.

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