Herb Butter (or how I started to roast a turkey)

When we moved here to our little homestead, there was an under utilized deep freezer hanging out on the car port.  The previous owners claimed it didn’t work, but after a deep clean (that sadly did include bleach….) and the realization that one must plug it in to work, I was elated to have extra freezer storage.  And let me tell you, a well stocked freezer will get you through the best of times, and the worst of times.

About a year ago our local Kroger had an amazing sale on turkeys, and as Mom always says, for $5 it never hurts to have an extra turkey on hand.  And she’s right–at 39 cents a pound, that bird could have saved the day if I needed a big fancy meal or just needed to serve a crowd.  But a fancy crowd never came, and something had to be done about the bird.  This week seemed like the right time to tackle to project (and subsequent culinary projects) since I have a few more days off before I have to head back to work.

I like to start my turkey off by stuffing herb butter just under the skin on the breast.  It’s not glamorous work, but what it does is both season the meat and keep the bird from drying out.  I used a mixture of lemon zest, rosemary, thyme and local honey because I like those flavors with poultry, and I have a plethora of rosemary and thyme on my hands thanks to our little herb garden.  I finely chopped about 3-4 long stems worth of rosemary and thyme leaves, grated the zest of one lemon, and mashed them all together with a fork in with the softened butter.  After the initial mashing, I added about a tablespoon of honey to add a bit of sweetness and also give the turkey a little something more to caramelize while it was in the oven.  I saved the stems of the herbs to use with the zested lemon to stuff the bird (waste not want not!).

But herb butter isn’t just for moisturizing meats–I save about two tablespoons of it because it is a great way to jazz up a slice of bread, add flavor to a soup, or a fun way to add flavor to most anything that you would add butter to.  The flavor combinations are endless as well–sun-dried tomatoes and fresh basil would be outstanding, or anything that you have on hand that you like together.

Plus it’s just pretty.  Look at it, all festive and delicious–takes any old day and makes it a little fancy. And let’s be honest–with the inevitable post-Christmas slump and a New Year creeping up on us, putting a little fancy on your table never hurt anyone.

And stay tuned–the turkey has been picked clean, and we’ve got homemade stock and pot pies coming our way!

Advertisements

Rosemary Olive Oil Bread

I have always been a sucker for the rosemary olive oil artisan loaf at the grocery store.  It was always such a luxurious treat, and I just always thought it heightened any meal it was with.  My sister thought it tasted like soap, so the fact that she wasn’t too fond of it also made me love it more.  When I was traveling in New England I found such a loaf at the grocery store and while it was DELICIOUS, I kept thinking to myself, what the heck is so special about this that we can’t make it at home?  I have a robust rosemary plant in the herb garden, why the heck not?

Folks, the homemade stuff is even better than I thought it would be.  We made these the same weekend as the apple cider doughnuts, so we were on baking overload, but the house smelled just like fall.  For the bread, I did chop the rosemary leaves extra fine because I always hate getting a leaf or three in a bite of the store-bought stuff, and it was homemade bakery magic.

Rosemary Olive Oil Bread (adapted from the Country Loaf recipe in the Big Red Cookbook)

5ish cups of bread flour

1 tsp sugar

2 1/4 tsp yeast

2 large bunches of rosemary, finely chopped

2 cups warm water

2 tbs olive oil

2 tsp salt

  • Mix two cups of the flour, the sugar, yeast and rosemary in a large bowl.  Add water, and beat on low for 1 minute.  Set aside in a warm place and let stand for about 1 hour
  • Stir in Oil and salt.  Stir in remianing flour, and either knead by hand, or take the lazy woman’s way out and use your kneading attachment.  Knead for about 10 minutes.  Roll into a tight ball, and place on a cookie sheet.  Let rise until it is double in size.  Once doubled, use a serrated knife to cut 1/4 inch slashes in the top of the loaf (and don’t be freaked out when it deflates!).  Let set for about another 45 minutes until it has rised again.
  • Heat oven to 425 and bake break 35-40 minutes until golden brown and delicious.  Pull from oven and let cool, but this is best served warm (so about 30 minutes after pulling from the oven).