Ray gardner, sr

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Beer Batter Fried Chicken - ☺♥

This recipe is a variation of a fried shrimp recipe from the Culinary Institute’s book, The Professional Chef©. I tried it and it is really good, and I edited it for Food Nirvana to include missing instructions to help less experienced cooks. The corresponding shrimp recipe is also in Food Nirvana under Seafood.

The batter in this recipe puffs out somewhat around the chicken during frying due to the presence of eggs in the batter. I have avoided the use of baking powder used with the shrimp recipe to limit the amount of puffing during frying, as that elimination creates a better batter for frying chicken.

The best parts of this recipe are that the batter is crisp and it tastes really good and the fried chicken is not in any way oily or greasy. The batter seals instantly on immersion into hot cooking oil and that keeps out the cooking oil. Beyond that, any leftovers can later be put into hot cooking oil or simply a 300 degrees F oven to reheat them and they come out just fine, not oily.

The batter quantity produced from the recipe below is more than sufficient for three to four pounds of chicken so you may want to halve the batter ingredients. Note that I have included two optional ingredients, crushed cornflakes and chipotle powder. The chipotle powder gives a bit of "zing" to the batter. The cornflakes will provide a somewhat crunchy version of the fried chicken. Note also that I have not yet tried using the crushed cornflakes so you might want to experiment by frying only half of the chicken using crushed cornflakes and the other half without them. You can then decide which version you prefer.


1 or 2 lbs. Chicken drumsticks or thighs or wings, or breast meat deboned and cut into 1/2" to 3/4" thick pieces

2 extra large eggs

12 oz. beer

1 cup of bread flour (I used all purpose flour and it worked fine.)

3/4 tsp. salt

3/4 tsp. black pepper

1/2 tsp. allspice

1 tsp. grated fresh ginger root (Or pre-minced ginger in a jar, available at Asian markets.)

1 cup (or more) of Cornstarch for dredging

3/4 tsp. of chipotle powder (optional)

2 cups of crushed cornflakes (optional)

2 quarts of soybean oil for frying

A frying or candy thermometer


Wash and partially pat dry the chicken pieces with paper towels. If you are using chicken breast meat then cut the breast halves into pieces about 1/2" to 3/4" thick and as long or wide as you want. That will allow for rapid frying with no concern about adequate cooking or darkened batter from extended frying time. Put the raw chicken pieces on a plate that has a paper towel on it. The chicken pieces should not be laying in water as they should be moist before dredging but not wet.

Pre-warm your oven to 200º F. Put a china plate or wide shallow bowl/serving dish into the oven to later hold the fried chicken and to help keep the pieces warm after they are served.

Put the soybean oil into a one to two gallon pot and heat it to 360º F on medium heat while you are preparing the batter. If necessary you can adjust the heat to high to get to the right temperature when you are ready to start frying, but keep an eye on the temperature so that it does not exceed 360º F. (Note that the oil can be reused multiple times in the future, until it starts to darken. It should be poured into a separate sealable container through a sieve after it has cooled. Discard everything except the clear oil, and that includes the last part of the oil from the bottom of the pot that has accumulated various kinds of gunk in it from the frying process.)

Whisk the eggs well in a two quart bowl. Add the ginger and then the beer slowly while whisking gently. It will foam a lot.

Add all the dry ingredients except the cornstarch and cornflakes (if you used cornflakes) together with the egg and beer mixture gradually and mix gently until the batter is smooth. Do not mix longer than necessary. Moisture variations in different flours may create the need to adjust consistency. The batter should not be thick and it should not be runny. You will know you have the right consistency when a piece of dredged chicken coated with the batter holds a coating thickness of no more than 1/16th of an inch. Less is better as the batter will puff up slightly during frying. You can adjust the consistency if required with milk if it is too thick or with flour if it is too thin. The basic idea is that you want the batter to be entirely crisp at the end of the frying and if it is too thick the outside will be crisp but the inside of the batter will be doughy.

If you decide to use the crushed cornflakes then put the cornflakes into a one quart Ziploc® freezer bag and crush them gently using a rolling pin. Then pour the crushed cornflakes into a wide shallow bowl.

Dredge each piece of chicken in a bowl of cornstarch, shake off the excess, and dip the chicken piece into the batter using tongs, making sure to coat it completely. Extract the coated piece with the tongs, let the excess batter drip off for a few seconds and then roll it lightly on the crushed cornflakes (if you used them) and then immerse the coated chicken piece directly into the heated oil that is at a temperature of 360º F. In other words, you do each piece one at a time adding each piece to the oil until you have about six pieces in the oil. You will need to clean the tongs after immersing the last piece in a given batch to remove excess batter.

Fry each piece for eight to twelve minutes, using the longer frying time for the drumsticks and thighs, turning each piece over a few times, until any given piece is medium gold in color. Then extract that piece with tongs and let the hot oil drain from it for a few seconds and then place it on a paper towel. Place each completed batch into a 200º F warming oven on a plate or in a bowl to maintain a desirable eating temperature while other batches are being fried. Note also that time spent in the warm holding oven will assist in being sure the larger pieces of chicken are cooked all the way through. Be sure the oil temperature is monitored and adjusted as necessary so that it is at 360º F when each batch is fried.

Serve the chicken immediately. It is delicious!

If you want to eat the fried chicken pieces using a dipping sauce then you might make the dipping sauce from one of the sauce recipes provided at the end of the beer batter fried shrimp recipe. You might also look for Chinese and other dipping sauce recipes on the Internet. Duck sauce available by the quart in supermarkets is a very nice dipping sauce. I have even used Jamaican Green Sauce and it is delicious on the fried chicken.

Beer Can Chicken - ☺♥

This is a great way to cook a whole chicken. My great friends, Linda and Joe Lange, made this tasty treat for dinner and it was fantastic. They got the recipe from CookSmart® and now I’m passing it on to you. The chicken is perfectly seasoned and it stays moist and tender due to the beer evaporating from the beer can during cooking.
There is one important safety message that I did not see in the provided recipe. During cooking the fat rendered from the chicken will ignite, burn and ruin the chicken if you fail to follow the directions exactly. Specifically, do not under any circumstances cook the chicken directly over a gas grill flame or directly over hot charcoal briquets. The area directly under and a few inches around the chicken must not be heated directly.
Ingredients: (three to four servings)
1 whole small 3½ to 4 lb. chicken

1 Tbsp. of kosher salt

2 tsp. of ground black pepper

2 tsp. of Italian Seasoning (see Food Nirvana recipe)

2 tsp. of paprika

2 tsp. of lemon zest from one large fresh lemon

1 tsp. of garlic powder

1 can of dark beer like stout or ale
Rinse the chicken and pat it dry with paper towels. Reserve any giblets for a different use.
Use a "zester" to get the lemon zest from one large fresh lemon.
Mix the salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, paprika, lemon zest and garlic powder in a small bowl.
Pat the cavity and the exterior of the chicken evenly with the mixture, using all of it.

Let the chicken stand on a wire rack for one to two hours.
Preheat a gas grill to 400°F, using all burners on high heat for at least ten minutes.
Open the can of beer and pour 1/3 of it into a glass. Drink that beer.
Turn off one of the gas grill burners but keep the grill cover closed.
Set the chicken’s leg cavity on the open beer can and place that on a wire rack to make later handling of the chicken easier after cooking.
Open the grill cover, and place the rack with the chicken and beer can on the gas grill over the extinguished burner area and close the lid.
Cook for 50 minutes to one hour and five minutes based on the size of the chicken.
You can check for doneness (170°F) with a meat thermometer inserted into the leg/thigh area.
Turn off the gas grill and remove the chicken, beer can and rack.
Let the chicken rest for ten minutes.
Carve the chicken and serve it.
Braised Chicken -
This recipe is for something simple and satisfying. I consider it an old time comfort food that is great for colder weather or for a Saturday night supper.
I never made this dish until about mid-2010, yet I had memories of the fragrant scent of chicken braising in the homes of my great-uncles and great-aunts back in the 1950’s.
Mostly they farmed and their meals were traditional for farming folks. My mother did not make braised chicken, and why I know not. I guess we were too “modern.” More likely it was because my dad was not all that fond of chicken.
Well, memories lead to action when they are really good memories. And to be blunt, I didn’t even consider looking up a recipe on the Internet or in a cookbook. I simply made what I sensed would be delicious. So it was. So it has been ever since the first time. In fact, Janet and I just finished a most satisfying meal of braised chicken and gravy with rice for me and noodles for her and steamed carrots and individual romaine salads with homemade bleu cheese and sweet and sour salad dressings. This is something we enjoy thoroughly about once every two months.
5 chicken drumsticks

2 chicken breast halves (or combinations of thighs and breast halves)

½ stick of butter

1½ cups of water

1 tsp. of Sea salt

1 tsp. of Black pepper

1 tbsp. of fresh tarragon (Giada DeLaurentis of the Food Network® is responsible for me adding this herb, which improves the overall taste nicely. I’d have used ragweed if she said to do so! What a beautiful woman!)

1 tsp. of dried rosemary

1 tsp. of dried thyme

2 strips of raw bacon
Put all the ingredients into a large skillet with a glass cover. Heat on medium heat. When the contents are boiling reduce the heat to low, and simmer.
About every ten minutes turn the pieces of chicken over and recover the skillet and continue the cooking.
After about 30 minutes most of the water is evaporated and the chicken has started to brown nicely on both sides in the hot butter.
Continue to cook in the butter on low heat, turning the chicken every five minutes for a total time of fifteen minutes.
Remove the chicken to a platter or other serving dish and put it into a warm 200º F oven.
Add two cups of water (or one 14 oz. can of chicken broth and ¼ cup of water) and two tbsp. of cornstarch to the skillet contents with no heat. Use a plastic spatula to free the browned chicken particles from the skillet bottom and when you have it all in the water then turn on the heat to medium.
Stir continuously while the “soon to be gravy” mixture comes to a boil. When it starts to boil it will thicken and it is then done cooking. Turn the heat off and pour the gravy through a sieve and a large funnel into a gravy boat. Put the gravy boat into the warming oven, along with your dinner plates.
I hope that you considered and prepared other meal items like rice or noodles and some steamed vegetables and a salad before making the gravy. If not, do those items now.
Serve the meal and you will get very satisfied moans and groans as your family and/or friends dispense all of the food rather quickly.
All of you will walk or waddle away from the table quite satisfied. There will be peace on earth that evening, at least in your home.
Hot Wings - ☺♥
I figure most of us have tried hot wings at some time. They come in so many names and varieties due to restaurants and frozen food companies trying to outdo each other that the result is mostly confusion. Even within a restaurant you may find half a dozen different degrees of heat or other flavors. Seldom have I tasted any wings in restaurants or prepared commercially that were worth talking about. In short, the very best wings are those made at home by true aficionados who have been fortunate enough to find or create a great recipe. Always make them fresh.
My recipe is a great and simple one I developed after thinking about what a hot wing should be like. First, the cooked wing must be crisp on the outside and very moist and tender on the inside, which means it will be deep fried, usually from fresh raw chicken, though vacuum sealed frozen and thawed raw chicken wings are okay too. That eliminates all commercially available coated processed wings from consideration. They will never be crisp unless you bake the *!#$ out of them and in so doing make the interior dry and tough instead of moist and tender. Second, the sauce used to flavor the wing should be light in terms of thickness or viscosity else you will taste only the sauce. This means the fried chicken wing itself has a lot of flavor that should not be lost to have the best experience, so the sauce has to be one that complements the taste of the wing.
How do I know my recipe is among the very best? I get rave reviews and a lot of my hot wings disappear in a hurry. My sauce is designed to accommodate every preference from mild to very hot. I do not make a sweet sauce so if that is what you want then look elsewhere.
The instructions in this recipe are very thorough so that you will have excellent and uniform results in a safe environment. Follow the instructions carefully.
The raw chicken wings should be purchased at a good supermarket where they have not been commercially processed into a tightly packed water logged clear plastic heat sealed pack. The wings should be loose in traditional foam and plastic wrap packaging so you can see what you are buying. Buy very large wings if you can. I refuse to buy the tightly packed type of wings, available at places like Costco®, because they have been water processed. You get ripped off on weight and the product is inferior for deep frying.
Oh, before I forget, I have a few other things to say about specific ingredients. I much prefer Texas Pete’s Hot Sauce® compared to McIlhenny’s Tobasco Sauce®, for I want hot pepper flavor without too much vinegar overtone. And I also much prefer peanut oil for frying the wings. It doesn’t break down at the recommended frying temperature and it imparts a nice flavor to the wings and it can be reused. Note that you can cover and cool the oil after use and then strain it into a sealable container and reuse it up to three times before discarding it. Thus, the cost of the oil does not have to break your budget. Of course, the best way to buy peanut oil at the best price is at Costco® in a bulk container.
Well, that’s enough of my “thou shalt” instructions. Try my recipe and let me know what you think.
2 lbs. of fresh chicken wings

½ stick of butter

1/2 tsp. of sea salt

2 to 3 tbsp. of rice vinegar (based on how much hot sauce you decide to use below)

3/4 to one cup of Texas Pete’s Hot Sauce® (mildly or medium hot, your preference)

½ to 1 gallon of peanut oil (depends on the size of the deep fryer or pot)

Heat the peanut oil in your deep fryer or in a six quart or larger pot to 365º F. The top of the oil in the pot should be at least four inches below the top of the pot. Deep fryers typically have minimum and maximum oil levels shown on the stainless steel frying container. Always use high heat when you are frying in a pot unless the oil temperature temporarily exceeds 365º F, which it should not do if you are paying attention. If it does, turn off the heat and wait until the temperature returns to 365º F. Do not under any circumstances attempt to move the hot oil to chill it, for that is a disaster waiting to happen.
You must use a frying or candy thermometer for careful temperature control. Do not try to guess. Uniform results and safety considerations demand using a thermometer. Typically there will be a wait time after frying each batch of wings of one to three minutes while the oil is reheating to 365º F. You can speed up this process by mostly covering the pot (except for the thermometer area) with a lid or anti-splatter screen.
Cut each whole chicken wing in half at the primary joint with a large butcher knife on a wooden cutting board. Dry the wing pieces with paper towels.
Prepare the sauce per the instructions below and keep it in a 200º F oven. Do this after frying the wings so that you are not distracted from the sauce preparation, which can lead to ruining the sauce, i.e., burned butter. Just recently I tried mixing the cold ingredients with the melted butter and leaving the sauce cold even for use on the hot wings. It worked very well, and any leftover sauce can be refrigerated without separating … nice.
Fry the wings in batches of eight to ten pieces if you are using a gallon of oil; otherwise adjust the number of wings based on the amount of oil you use. The idea is that once the room temperature wings are in the hot oil you don’t want them to cool the oil below 340º F.
I introduce all the pieces of wings for each batch into the oil at once. I use a five inch diameter long handled nearly flat circular ladle to hold them and dispense them so that the initial “boiling” up of the oil doesn’t splatter me with hot oil. This is far superior to trying to put pieces of chicken into the hot oil a few at a time. Note that the four inch space above the unheated oil is what keeps the hot bubbling oil from overflowing the pot at the beginning of each batch of frying. I also use a screen cover when I fry food in a pot to keep the oil from splattering out onto me or onto the stove. Deep fryers have covers or lids to accomplish that purpose. Oddly, I used to use my deep fryer, but I stopped because the whole process is easier using a large pot, and the cleanup afterwards is so much easier if a pot is used.
Fry the wings for the amount of time based on their size. Small wings only need about eight to ten minutes frying time. Large wings need about 11 to 12 minutes. You will know what is right because if you fry them too long they will look and taste to dry. If you don’t fry them long enough they will not be crisp. Experiment to get the best results and before long you will automatically know what to do in your frying environment to get the best results. But always, and I do mean always, use a kitchen timer to alert you when each batch is done. Don’t “wing it.”
Remove the fried wings from the hot oil with metal tongs, one at a time. Let each piece drain oil off back into the pot for a few seconds. If you are using a deep fryer, then lift the basket from the hot oil and hang it in a dripping position for half a minute.
Put each batch of fried wings into a large bowl that has a paper towel under each batch to capture/eliminate excess frying oil. Keep the bowl in a 200º F oven, initially before the first batch is fried and then after each batch is placed on a fresh paper towel in the bowl. This will keep the fried wings hot and crisp.
After all batches are fried, remember to turn off the heat under the oil. Now is the best time to make the sauce per the instructions below. Then remove the paper towels from the hot bowl and serve the wings as they are along with small cups of the sauce. Your guests can pour the amount of sauce they want over each portion of the fried wings. There is no advantage in mixing all the wings with the sauce prior to serving them. Alternatively, you can keep the sauce in one container and have each guest dip each wing into the sauce as they fill their plate. Some folks will want additional salt so have a shaker of sea salt available.
Making the sauce:
Melt the butter in a small saucepan on medium heat. Add the hot sauce and stir until well blended. Add the vinegar and the salt and continue to stir on low heat until the sauce is completely uniform. When it begins to bubble as it approaches boiling temperature it is done. Keep the sauce in the pan and place the pan in the 200º F oven to keep it hot, or, use it immediately if all the wings have been fried. The sauce will be mildly to medium hot in terms of seasoning the wings based on how much hot sauce you used.
What about milder or hotter sauces? For a hotter sauce add one half to one tbsp. habanero sauce to your sauce while you are cooking it. For a milder sauce increase the amount of butter from ½ stick to ¾ stick or 1 stick. It really is that simple. Kids can enjoy the mild stuff.
What about leftovers? My advice is to throw them into the trash can. The sauce will not stay uniform if it is cooked and then refrigerated and then reheated as it will not form a proper emulsion upon reheating, but if it is kept cold originally it is fine as a leftover. The fried wings themselves taste lousy upon reheating, especially if a microwave oven is used. Heating them in a regular oven is somewhat better but I think they come out really bad compared to how they tasted when freshly prepared. Why eat bad wings?
If I ever purchase one of the pressure fryers mentioned at the end of the “Your Kitchen” section, I expect even my wings can be improved, for the reason that they should retain even more moisture and yet be crisp outside. Why? As I understand it the frying time is significantly reduced, and that means less moisture loss.

Roast Turkey - ☺♥

This is a standard set of instructions for times and temperature for different turkey weights. What makes it good is the information I provide about the combination of the brining process and the roasting with the breast side down … and no internal stuffing. Of course, I also provide the recipe for great turkey gravy.
Brine a thawed turkey, below 40º F, in a solution of one cup of kosher salt per gallon of water. Keep the turkey submerged. A five gallon plastic pail is a good choice of container for a bird 12 lbs. or less. For larger birds I use a cooler, lots of brine and non-reactive weights to hold the turkey under the brine. Brine for one to two days based on the size of the turkey (12 to 24 lbs.), with the giblets removed first. Oh, do not brine for longer than two days, else the saltiness will ruin the taste of the bird.
Roast the turkey at 325º F breast side down on a roasting rack in a large roaster to assure getting moist tender breast meat. If you want you can invert the turkey for the last thirty minutes of roasting time to get a golden surface on the skin. Follow the chart below for roasting times.

Whole Turkey Cooked at 325º F


8 to 12 pounds

12 to 14 pounds

14 to 18 pounds

18 to 20 pounds

20 to 24 pounds

24 to 30 pounds


2¾ to 3 hours

3 to 3¾ hours

3¾ to 4¼ hours

4¼ to 4½ hours

4½ to 5 hours

5 to 5¼ hours


3 to 3½ hours

3½ to 4 hours

4 to 4¼ hours

4¼ to 4¾ hours

4¾ to 5¼ hours

5¼ to 6¼ hours

The giblets can be simmered for one hour in water and the water used later when making the gravy. We chop the cooked giblets and feed the pieces to our cats, who love them.

To make the gravy, first remove the fat from the roasting pan using a baster or by pouring off the liquid into a large bowl and using a ladle to skim the fat off the top. We lucky and learned folks use a clear plastic container separator with a spout that comes from the bottom of the container, which makes fat removal very simple, as you can pour out the juice yet leave the fat in the separator. Return the defatted juice to the roaster.
Add one to two 14 oz. cans of chicken broth and heat to simmering temperature while using a wooden spoon or spatula to deglaze the pan and capture the drippings to help flavor the gravy. Adjust the volume with water or chicken broth based on the size of the turkey and the amount of drippings. Reserve one cup of water or chicken broth and mix in it a combination of flour and corn starch, perhaps two tablespoons of each for gravy for a 12 lb. turkey and proportionately more if the liquid volume for the gravy is higher.
Mix the flour and corn starch and water completely and then add it all at once to the gravy that has been somewhat cooled by the addition of the water/chicken broth. Bring the temperature to a boil on high heat while constantly stirring the gravy with a wooden spoon. Turn off the heat and adjust the seasoning as shown below.
If you brined the turkey do not under any circumstances use salt in the gravy. Use only pepper. If you did not brine the turkey use one teaspoon of salt along with ½ teaspoon of pepper and taste the gravy. Adjust as necessary.
The time you spent making the gravy is the amount of time the roasted turkey needed to rest prior to carving. Keep the gravy in one or more gravy boats in a warm oven while carving the turkey. Serve and enjoy.
Turkey Gravy - ☺♥
Here is a wonderful and slightly different recipe for great turkey gravy … enjoy!
Pan Juices from the turkey and roasting pan

1/2 cup of dry white wine

1/2 cup of flour

2 tbsp. of cornstarch

5 cups of turkey or chicken broth

1 tsp. of kosher salt

¼ tsp. of black pepper
Strain the pan juices into a fat separator or bowl, let stand for 10 minutes.

Skim and discard the fat from the surface, set the juices aside.
Place the empty roasting pan over 2 burners over medium high heat.
Add the wine, salt and pepper and stir and scrape to dissolve any pan drippings stuck to the pan for about 2 minutes.
Mix the flour and cornstarch with one cup of the cold chicken or turkey broth in a separate bowl.
Add the other four cups of the broth to the skillet, then all of the reserved juices. Mix well.
Stir and then add the flour and cornstarch mixture to the skillet and mix well. I like to use both flour and cornstarch because the result is guaranteed to be perfect.
Bring to a boil, stirring constantly, then reduce heat and simmer gently for one minute while stirring.
Strain just before serving into a serving bowl or into two large gravy boats.
Stuffing for Roast Turkey - ☺♥

I became convinced a long time ago that stuffing a turkey was foolish because it increased the required roasting time and simply dried out the turkey flesh. Thus, I always recommend baking the stuffing separately in an ovenproof glass casserole. There is no lost flavor. Just do it.

Ingredients: (Eight to ten servings)

  • One and one half regular size [22 to 24 oz.] loaves of bread cut into cubes (about 25 cubes per slice)

  • ½ cup of Butter

  • 1 1/2 cups of diced Onion

  • 1 1/2 cups of diced Celery

  • 1 teaspoon of Salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon of Pepper

  • 2 teaspoons of a mixture of equal parts of dried Sage, Savory, Thyme and Marjoram, or, 1/2 tsp. of each

  • 14 oz. can of Chicken Broth, with the broth heated to simmering temperature in a saucepan


  • Fresh bread should be used for a soft and moist stuffing while dried bread is best for a lighter stuffing. Bread cubes can be dried either on a cookie sheet in a 180º F oven for fifteen to thirty minutes or on a plate in a microwave oven.

  • Melt the butter in a skillet.

  • Sauté the onion and celery in the butter until they are softened.

  • Add the seasonings and mix well.

  • Add the skillet contents to the bread cubes in a large mixing bowl and mix well by hand.

  • For moist stuffing, add a small amount of hot chicken broth (you decide how much) and mix well. Do not make soggy stuffing by adding too much chicken broth.

  • Put the stuffing into a 13" by 9" by 2" ovenproof glass casserole.

Bake the stuffing for 30 minutes at 325 degrees F and check for doneness. If it is the way you like it then it is done. Otherwise bake it for 15 minutes longer and check it again, but do not exceed one hour total baking time or you will have very dry stuffing.

Turkey Pot Pie - ☺♥

The world of pot pies is something that seems to have gone away for most home chefs, and that is a real shame. Supermarkets always have a few brands and varieties of frozen pot pies of the single serving variety, and now and then you might find large pot pies refrigerated but not frozen in chains like Market Basket®. As you might guess the small frozen pot pies tend to be all gravy, typically mostly artificial, with very little meat or fowl and only a few vegetables. They are pathetic, and an expected result of commercial producers trying to maximize profit by cheating the consumer. The larger pies are typically made by small local producers, like pork pies in New England, and they are of better quality but also rather expensive relative to the cost of ingredients.

I cannot recall exactly when as a child I ate a seriously great turkey pot pie that was homemade, but I did, and thus I remembered that a pot pie made well is an unforgettable delight and comfort food, especially during the winter. Thus, as one can't find a great pot pie commercially without paying an arm and a leg I decided to provide my fabulous recipe in Food Nirvana. As you might expect the arrival at perfection was the product of some experimenting and making essential changes.

What I have done here is to provide two separate recipes representing a starting point with Marie and then my quest for perfection a few years after she died. Read the first recipe in terms of what you might choose to do with leftovers from Thanksgiving dinner. Read the second recipe in terms of what is the best way to create an inventory of the finest homemade frozen turkey pot pies. Let's proceed.

Marie made a great Turkey Pot Pie from the leftovers of a roasted turkey.

We started with about 4 lbs. of breast and darker meat, all skin and fat and gristle and other extraneous matter removed, and then the meat was chopped. We also had about a pint of leftover turkey gravy with mushrooms. Marie added two cans of chicken broth and about one cup each of chopped carrots, celery, frozen peas and ½ tsp. each of onion powder, salt, and pepper. She simmered the mixture for 15 minutes on medium heat. I added a mixture of 1/2 cup of flour mixed in about one cup of water, to thicken the contents prior to making the pie.

Marie rolled out a traditional Crisco® pie dough … a double batch … 4 cups flour, 1 1/3 cups Crisco®, 1/2 cup water and one teaspoon salt. She sprayed Pam® lightly into a 9"x13"x2" glass baking dish, lined the dish with a thin layer of the dough and then I poured the simmered turkey mixture into it. Marie then covered the top of the baking dish with a somewhat thicker layer of dough and baked it at 400ºF for 75 minutes. Note that the baking time seems a bit long … so if you make this pot pie keep an eye on it during baking so the crust doesn’t get too dark. Also, the longer the baking cycle the more moisture that will be lost from inside the pot pie. Adjust the time to suit yourself.

What a fine and tasty meal! It was very satisfying on a cold winter day. Now we will move on to the second recipe.

Ray's turkey pot pie recipe:

I decided one day to make a lot of single and double servings of turkey pot pie that could be taken from the freezer and put on the table ready to eat in about 45 minutes. I also decided to make everything from scratch, entirely moving away from the idea of using leftovers. My pot pies taste so good that they almost make me shout with pleasure eating them. I promise you will love these pies if you follow my directions. Note: The recipe for roasting the turkey is elsewhere in this section of Food Nirvana, so refer to that recipe to get started.

The amount of pot pie filling produced following this recipe, two gallons, is a whole lot of product. Thus, the number of ceramic or other oven proof containers required to use all of it depends on the volume of the containers. I recommend that you plan in advance to have enough oven proof containers, considering the volume of all of them, and the fact that some of that volume will be used by pie dough. Also, the task of making all the dough for the containers is considerable, particularly when you consider having to roll out the equivalent of eight or more very large dough areas of about 14" in diameter. In short, there is a lot of time involved overall in making the full recipe of the turkey pot pies as described. Figure on six to eight hours of work overall. The yield is considerable and note that I freeze the pies, then vacuum seal them, then return them to the deep freeze, where they store very well and provide lots of joy for six to twelve months!

Finally, note that the amounts of salt and pepper used are intentionally low for the volume of product made. The idea is that each person can season their pie as desired when it is served.

Ingredients: (Makes approximately 2 gallons of pot pie filling)

One fourteen to sixteen pound turkey, just roasted

Gravy made with the pan drippings, skin, bones, etc. in the roasting pan (see the directions below)

3 cups of diced carrots, blanched separately from all other ingredients for two minutes in boiling water

3 cups of frozen peas, thawed

3, 8 oz. drained net weight cans of sliced mushrooms (use the liquid when making the gravy)

3 cups of fresh, frozen or canned corn, drained

3 cloves of fresh garlic, diced

1 tbsp. of sea salt

1/2 tbsp. of ground black pepper

3, 14 oz. cans of chicken broth plus up to two more cans to adjust gravy volume to 3 quarts

3, 14 oz. cans of water

6 tbsp. of corn starch

4 (or more) double recipes of two layer deep dish Crisco® pie dough (found in Food Nirvana under Pies and Piecrusts)

A variable number of single or double serving sizes of porcelain oven proof dishes, at least seven or eight of each type


Remove the roasted turkey from the oven and allow it to cool for two hours in the roasting pan, uncovered. Then put the turkey on a wooden cutting board.

Defat the contents of the roasting pan to the extent necessary to please you and using the method of your choice.

Completely remove/cut all the meat from the turkey, putting all scraps back into the roasting pan, including the skin and the bones.

Chop and shred all the turkey meat into pieces no larger in volume than a 3/4" by 3/4" cube. Having smaller pieces is fine. Discard any gristle found. Set the processed turkey meat aside.

Put the three cans of chicken broth and three cans of water into the roasting pan and mix and heat the contents to boiling over high heat.

Reduce the heat to medium and boil the contents for 15 minutes, stirring regularly to assure the bones are submerged in the liquid.

Turn the heat off and pour the roasting pan contents through a large strainer into a large bowl. Discard all the scraps, skin and bones.

Measure the volume of turkey gravy broth and add extra chicken broth as necessary to bring the final volume up to three quarts.

Pour the broth back into the roasting pan. Add the six tbsp. of corn starch gradually while whisking to assure complete mixing.

Add the salt and the pepper and the diced garlic to the broth and heat it on high heat stirring slowly continuously until the mixture comes to a full boil and the gravy thickens.

Reduce the heat to low and add the carrots, peas, corn and mushrooms and mix well. Then add the turkey meat and again mix well. Turn the heat off.

Make the recipes of pie dough and roll out enough to cover the inside surfaces of the porcelain baking dishes, and put the rolled dough into the dishes all the way over the top edge of each dish, as if you were making a pie. Cut off any excess dough with a table knife, cutting vertically along the outside perimeter of the baking dish.

Gently mix the turkey and gravy mixture with a large wooden spoon and use a soup ladle to extract enough of the mixture to dispense into each of the dough lined porcelain dishes. Fill each dish to slightly below the top edge.

Roll out the remaining dough and cover each dish with a dough layer, cutting away excess dough from the edges and pinching the dough layers together to form a fluted design of sealed dough.

Use a table knife to cut four air vents in the top dough surface of each pie.

Freeze the pies in the deep freeze for a minimum of four hours, until they are totally frozen.

Remove the pies from the freezer and put each one into a separate vacuum sealing bag and vacuum seal the pies.

Return the pies to the freezer until you are ready to eat one or more of them.

Directions for preparing the frozen pies for a meal:

Preheat the oven to 375ºF.

Put the frozen pie(s) onto a cookie sheet that has low sides around the perimeter. This is to avoid possible dripping into your oven during baking.

Bake the pie(s) for 45 minutes and test for doneness by sticking a fork into the top center of a pie and checking the temperature of the extracted fork using the palm of your hand to gauge whether or not the center of the pie reached the necessary hotness to complete the baking. The crust should be a light to golden brown, not darker. If necessary (This should not be necessary, unless the porcelain dish depth exceeds 1 1/2 inches) the final heating of the interior of the pies can be done individually in a microwave oven, about one minute each on high heat. The idea is to avoid over-browning the crust while assuring the entire pie interior is very hot.

Serve the pie(s) along with salt and pepper shakers to allow each person to season the pie to her/his own liking. For double serving pies, provide each person a wide, shallow soup bowl and then dispense equal portions from the porcelain dish into each soup bowl.


Special note:

I have found that making some supplemental gravy immediately before serving the pies is a good idea to assure enough gravy to completely moisten the baked pie dough. Simply boil two cans of chicken broth on medium heat to reduce the volume to one half of the starting volume, and then add two tbsp. of corn starch that has first been mixed into 1/4 cup of water, stirring continuously for a minute during the final boiling to complete the gravy.

Serve the gravy in a gravy boat with a gravy ladle so that each person can use it as they choose.

The flavors are so rich and good that your family and/or guests will moan with delight as they eat the pies. No one will walk away hungry.


Black Raspberry Ice Cream - ☺♥

This ice cream is an all time favorite of many folks. It was my choice as a child and my wife Janet’s also. My parents would take my brother Rick and me to Alwine’s Dairy® outside of Johnstown PA during the 1950’s and for a dime we would get a large yummy cone of that delight that was made of the best ingredients right at the dairy. The ice cream was very creamy and the color was deep and the taste was intense. Times have surely changed as that dime wouldn’t even buy a tablespoon of that high quality ice cream anywhere today, thanks to the Federal Reserve! Alas, Alwine’s Dairy® closed many years ago. Maybe I gobbled up their profits!
I decided to try making this ice cream, knowing that it would be rather more difficult than the other ice creams described in this section. With raspberries you get seeds and seeds are not found in the best commercial ice creams, so the trick is to make the ice cream without seeds. The taste intensity is a second consideration, so enough ripe berries must be used to get the right taste. That is the rub. When was the last time you even saw ripe black raspberries for sale? Worry not.
I enjoy a challenge. What I did first was verify that the Ben and Jerry’s® Homemade Ice Cream and Dessert Book© had a recipe I could use. They had a recipe but it was clearly screwed up. That is the second time I’ve found a bad recipe in that book and now I’m starting to doubt their sincerity (or at least their ability to pay attention to detail) in helping ordinary people make top quality ice cream at home. Well, I do give them credit for a great cream base recipe and some good background information on making ice cream. But why, pray tell, would they ever recommend making raspberry ice cream with the seeds in it?! There were other mistakes as well but I will forego mentioning them now and concentrate on making great ice cream.
Speaking of concentrating, that was my solution to the missing supply of black raspberries. I bought natural black raspberry concentrate via the Internet from a company named Natures Flavors® in Orange CA. The web address is www.naturesflavors.com. Different sizes of various real fruit concentrates are available and as you might guess the smaller quantities are quite expensive compared to larger quantities. Knowing my propensity to plow ahead you know that I bought a gallon of highly concentrated black raspberry juice. I could have paid $10 for four ounces but instead I spent $85 for a gallon, plus shipping. Why do anything half way? Dive in with all four feet! Little did I know that one drop of the product is recommended as a single serving! Well, they understate how much is needed but the product is excellent, thus, who needs fresh black raspberries? Not me, at least for this frozen dessert.
I attempted my first batch of black raspberry ice cream by doing what I thought would work. I was mistaken. Between my errors and those of Ben and Jerry the ice cream was too flat in taste and too light in color, and I was even forced to use food coloring in excessive amounts to get close to the right color. But now I have an improved recipe after thinking about needed changes, and you get the benefit of my experience. And voila! The modified recipe, shown below, is perfect.
First, when making ice cream from a flavored concentrate that can’t provide color you can use a secondary fruit that will not interfere with the flavor but which will provide natural color (like blueberries) … not the artificial crap. Second, Ben and Jerry’s recipe had an internal conflict, saying that the fruit was very tart, yet calling for the addition of lemon juice. What to do? The answer is that when you use the concentrate you must add lemon juice to achieve the tartness necessary to avoid a bland ice cream. Sugar provides sweetness and the fruit concentrate provides the special flavor, but the lemon juice is critical to achieving a balance between creaminess, fruitiness and tartness. Enough said.
Let’s get on with the improved recipe and enjoy perfection.
Ingredients: (Makes a 1½ to 2 quarts of ice cream)
2 cups of heavy cream

1 cup of half and half

2 extra large or jumbo eggs

1¼ cups of sugar

Juice extract from one cup of blueberries

Black raspberry concentrate … 1 to 1¼ tbsp. to make 1½ quarts of ice cream

3 tbsp. of fresh lemon juice (juice from one typical large fresh lemon)

1 tsp. of natural vanilla extract
Put the blueberries into a one quart saucepan with ½ cup of water. Bring them to a simmer on medium heat, crush the berries with a fork and simmer the mixture on very low heat while stirring for five minutes. Process the juice and the crushed berries through a sieve or a colander to extract the colored liquid. Set the extract aside and allow it to cool to room temperature, or briefly put it into the freezer.
Break the eggs into a five or six quart electric mixer bowl and mix them on medium speed until they are frothy. Add the sugar and mix until well blended, around five minutes. Add the vanilla and the lemon juice and continue to mix for one minute.
Add the extracted berry juice to the mixer bowl and mix well. Add the cream, half and half, and the black raspberry concentrate and mix thoroughly for two to three minutes on medium speed.
Transfer the mixture to a gelato maker and proceed to make the ice cream. When it is fairly stiff (about twenty-five minutes), transfer the ice cream to a two quart plastic container with a tight fitting lid. Put the container into the deep freeze for four hours or more to finish hardening the ice cream. Serve the ice cream and be delighted.
Other considerations:
The addition of any liquid product other than cream or half and half when making ice cream may cause the ice cream to be less creamy. In this recipe I added extracted berry juice in a small amount of water to obtain good color so that is one example of necessary use of a non-cream based liquid addition. One way to accommodate the potential loss of creaminess is to increase the overall amount of cream, or, as I have done in this recipe, replace the normal amount of milk in Ben and Jerry’s cream base recipe with half and half. You will learn as you experiment what works best for you and that is what really matters. Note that as you change overall volume by adding cream or half and half you also need to consider changing amounts of flavorings, etc., to keep the right ratio.
Butter Pecan Ice Cream - ☺♥
This is one of the best traditional ice creams. My recipe is based on that found in Ben and Jerry’s® “Homemade Ice Cream & Dessert Book.©” I have modified their recipe to get what I want, but more to the point, they miss telling the home chef a few important procedural considerations, which is not typical of them. Thus, it took me a time or so to get it right. Now it is perfect and you get the benefit of my experience.
The missing information concerned how to best introduce the butter to the ice cream base and how to avoid capturing unwanted particles in the melted butter that result when sautéing the pecans. Simply adding the melted butter from the skillet to the sweet cream base as they state results in chunks of butter in the final ice cream and unwanted small gritty pecan particles from the sauté process, and both of those are bad. Worry not. The problem is solved. See below.
Ingredients: (makes about 1½ quarts of ice cream)
Sweet Cream Base:
2 extra large or jumbo eggs

2 cups of heavy cream

¾ cup of sugar

½ cup of half and half (I prefer this rather than using a whole cup of milk)

½ cup of whole milk
Other ingredients:
1 stick of butter

1½ cups of pecan halves (I use 50% more than Ben and Jerry)

½ tsp. of salt
Melt the butter on low heat in a skillet. Add the salt and the pecan halves and stir to mix. Sauté the pecan halves until they are crisp but not burnt, on low heat. Turn off the heat. Remove the pecan halves to a dish to drain off the excess butter, then put the pecan halves on a dinner plate, arranging them to keep them from touching each other. Drain the butter from the first pecan dish back into the skillet. Clean the dish and then pour the melted butter from the skillet into the dish, avoiding the last part of the butter that contains unwanted sautéed pecan particles. Set the dish aside. Put the plate of sautéed pecan halves into the freezer.
Make the sweet cream base. Use your electric mixer to beat the eggs on medium speed, then pause to add the sugar and resume mixing. Mix thoroughly. Slowly add the cream and the half and half while continuing to mix. Put the milk into the bowl with the melted butter and heat it in the microwave oven for about 30 seconds to 1 minute on full power. Blend the warm milk and melted butter completely with a whisk then slowly add that mixture to the sweet cream base while mixing on medium speed.
Transfer the mixture to a gelato maker and turn it on. After about 25 minutes check the ice cream to see if it is relatively but not completely stiff. When it is fairly stiff add the pecan halves slowly and mix for two minutes.
Transfer the ice cream from the gelato maker into a good quality 1½ quart plastic container that has a tight fitting lid. Put the lid on the ice cream and put the container into a deep freeze for four to six hours.
The ice cream is then ready to serve. It is delicious!
The temperature of a deep freeze is typically much lower than that of the freezer of your refrigerator, and that means the deep freeze is far superior to your refrigerator freezer in the last step of final freezing of the ice cream. Use your deep freeze and the ice cream will be ready within a few hours. Conversely, the freezer of your refrigerator may not properly freeze the ice cream at all, and even if it does you may have to wait until the next day to eat the ice cream properly frozen.

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