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Garlic Green Beans

from Cook's Country (maybe the introductory issue)

Serves 8

The beans and garlic butter can be prepared up to 2 days in advance.

2 pounds green beans, stem ends trimmed
6 medium garlic cloves, unpeeled
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

Bring 4 quarts water to boil in dutch oven over high heat. Add 1 tablespoon salt and green beans, return to boil, and cook until beans are crisp-tender, 3 - 4 minutes. Meanwhile, fill large bowl with ice water. Drain beans in colander and immediately transfer to ice water. When beans no longer feel warm to touch, drain again and dry thoroughly with paper towels. Transfer beans to zipper-lock plastic bag and refrigerate for up to 2 days.

Meanwhile, toast garlic cloves in small skillet over medium-low heat, shaking pan occasionally, until fragrant and color of cloves deepens slightly, 5 - 8 minutes. Cool garlic. Peel and press (or mash) cloves, then, using dinner for, mash garlic, butter, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in small bowl until combined. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 2 days.

When ready to serve, heat beans and 1/4 cup water in large skillet, covered, over high heat, 3 - 4 minutes. Remove lid and cook until moisture evaporates, about 30 seconds. Add garlic butter, toss to combine, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve.

Spice-Rubbed Roast Turkey

from Cook's Illustrated (Nov/Dec 2003, pg 13)

Turkey & Brine
2 gallons water in large stock pot or clean bucket
2 cups salt
1 turkey (12 - 14 pounds gross weight), rinsed thoroughly, giblets, neck, and tailpiece discarded

Spice Rub
1 1/2 tablespoons coriander seeds
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 tablespoon whole allspice
2 teaspoons mustard seeds
3 tablespoons sweet paprika
2 tablespoons ground ginger
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon ground cayenne
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons vegetable oil

Dissolve salt in water (in bucket). Add turkey and refrigerate 4 to 6 hours.

Meanwhile, toast coriander, cumin, allspice and mustard in small skillet over medium heat, shaking pan occasionally, until fragrant and wisps of smoke appear, 3 to 5 minutes. Cool mixture to room temperature, then grind to fine powder in dedicated coffee grinder or spice grinder or with mortar and pestle. Transfer mixture to small bowl, stir in paprika, ginger, thyme, cayenne, and cinnamon; cover with plastic wrap, and set aside.

Remove turkey from brine and rinse under cool running water. Pat dry inside and out with paper towels. Place turkey breast-side up on flat wire rack set over rimmed baking sheet or roasting pan and refrigerate, uncovered, 30 minutes. Meanwhile, mix 1 tablespoon spice rub with vegetable oil and set aside. Remove turkey from refrigerator and wipe away any water collected in baking sheet; set turkey on baking sheet. Carefully seperate skin from breast meat and rub boil/spice rub mixture directly onto breast meat. Rub 3 tablespoons spice rub inside turkey cavity. Apply remaining spice rub to turkey, beginning with back-side up and finishing with breast-side up, pressing and patting to make spices adhere, and picking up and reapplying any spice rub that falls onto baking sheet. Tuck wings behind back and tie ends of drumsticks together with twine. Set turkey on wire rack, set wire rack on baking sheet and refrigerate, uncovered 6 to 24 hours. (This makes your refrigerator smell VERY spicy.)

Adjust oven rack to lowest position; heat oven to 400 degrees. Place V-Rack in large roasting pan and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Set turkey breast-side down on V-Rack. Reapply any spice rub that has fallen off. Roast 45 minutes.

Remove roasting pan with turkey from oven; using thick wads of paper towels or potholders, rotate turkey leg/wing-side up. Roast 15 minutes longer. Remove roasting pan with turkey from oven; using thick wads of paper towels or potholders, rotate turkey second leg/wing-side up. Roast 15 minutes longer.

Remove roasting pan with turkey from oven; using thick wads of paper towels or potholders, rotate turkey breast side up. Roast until thickets part of breast registers 165 degrees and tickest part of thigh registers 170 to 175 degrees on instant-read thermometer, 30 to 45 minutes longer. Transfer turkey to carving board, let rest 20 to 30 minutes. Carve and serve.

Purple Stuff

Bing Cherry Jell-O

*This recipe is for a double recipe, which we often find to not even be enough.

2 cans pitted Bing cherries (reserve juice)
2 cans crushed pineapple (drained)
2 small boxes black cherry Jell-O
1 1/2 - 2 cups (flat) Coke or Dr. Pepper
(you could add chopped nuts... but why would you do that?)

Drain cherries and put juice into sauce pan & heat until almost boiling. Transfer to serving dish and wtir in powdered Jell-O. Add cherries and drained pineapple. Pour in Coke/Dr. Pepper & stir gently. Refrigerate until set.

Carnitas (Mexican Pulled Pork)

from Cook's Illustrated (May/June 2008, page 13)

Some of my own cook's notes are in italics...

1 3 1/2 - 4 pound boneless pork butt, fat cap trimmed to 1/8 think, cut into 2-inch chunks (My grocer didn't have boneless. I trimmed a bunch of meat off and left a bunch on the bone and cooked that right along with everything else. The rest of the meat just fell right off the bone with no problem.)
Salt and pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 small onion, peeled and halved
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 tablespoons juice from 1 lime
2 cups water
1 medium orange, halved
(I think next time I'm going to add a minced seeded jalapeno to the mix just to see what happens)

Heat oven to 300 F. Combine pork, salt, pepper, cumin, onion, bay leaves, oregano, lime juice, and water in large Dutch oven (liquid should just barely cover meat). Juice orange into medium bowl and remove any seeds (you should have about 1/3 cup juice). Add juice and spent orange halves to pot. (I failed to get an orange at the store, so I just used 1/3 cup orange juice from my fridge and added some dried orange peel from my spice cabinet for good measure.) Bring mixture to simmer over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Cover pot and transfer to oven; cook until meat is soft and falls apart when prodded with fork, about 2 hours, flipping pieces of meat once during cooking. (Flipping during cooking... yeah, right. I put this bad boy in the oven then left the house for two hours. It was fine. Some of the pieces were a little stuck together, but they came right apart.)

Remove pot from oven and turn oven to broil. Using slotted spoon transfer pork to bowl; remove orange halves, onion, and bay leaves from cooking liquid and discard (do not skim fat from liquid). Place pot over high heat (use caution, as handles will be very hot) (that's your disclaimer for the day, ladies and gentlemen) and simmer liquid, stirring frequently, until thick and syrupy (heat safe spatula should leave wide trail when dragged through glaze), 8 to 12 minutes. You should have about 1 cup reduced liquid. (My pork rendered more liquid than probably normal because of the bone and extra fat and meat. My sauce never got to the thick and syrupy stage. I dont' know how crucial this is... in my oh so humble opinion... it's no biggie.)

Using 2 forks, pull each piece of pork in half. Fold in reduced liquid; season with salt and pepper to taste. Spread pork in even layer on wire rack set inside rimmed baking sheet or on broiler pan (meat should cover entire surface) (And if you're me, you may cover the entire surface twice.) Place on lower-middle rack of oven and broil until top of meat is well browned (but not charred) and edges are slightly crisp, 5-8 minutes. Using wide metal spatula, slip pieces of meat and continue to broil, looking for the same results. Serve immediately with warm tortillas and garnishes.

Ideas for serving & garnishes:

Warm flour or corn tortillas (Do you know how to warm corn tortillas? Spray with Pam and wrap in foil and place in the oven for just a little while.)
Lime wedges
Pico De Gallo (tomatoes, onion, cilantro & jalapeno chiles)
One Minute Salsa
Slices or chucks of avocado
Rice (flavored with some fresh cilantro and lime juice)
Use as stuffing for enchiladas or tamales (and if you make your own tamales, please come and see me!!)

One Minute Salsa

from Cook's Illustrated (July/August 2002, page 15)

1/2 small jalapeno chile or 1/2 chipotle chile in adobo sauce, minced
1/4 small red onion, peeled and root end removed
1 small garlic clove, minced or pressed
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves
1/4 teaspoon salt
Pinch ground black pepper
2 teaspoons juice from 1 lime
2 small ripe tomatoes (about 3/4 pound), each cored and cut into eighths, or one (14 ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained

Pulse all ingredients except tomatoes in food processor until minced, about five 1-second pulses, scraping sides of bowl as necessary. Add tomatoes and pulse until roughly chopped, about two 1-second pulses.