A passion for food + fashion

Posts Tagged ‘Heritage Foods USA’

A Tale of Two Turkeys

In Food on November 24, 2010 at 10:50 am

Yesterday afternoon I blew my stack. I’m not proud of this and I’m sorry, Dan at Heritage Foods USA, that you were on the receiving end. But here’s the thing. After pacing like a jungle cat all afternoon in anticipation of the arrival of my 12-14 lb heritage bird (which I’d ordered on August 3), the box arrived. And it was surprisingly light. Upon opening the box I wondered if my eyes weren’t playing tricks on me because the turkey was only slightly larger than the two pork chops that were also tucked inside the box.

More surprisingly, Ashton Kutcher did not jump out from behind a door wearing a trilby to inform me that I’d just been punk’d.

And so, in a panic, I called Dan at Heritage Foods USA in Brooklyn, NY, who was able to get a bird on a truck to catch a redeye to Los Angeles for arrival this morning. The new bird is indeed here and, well, he’s a beaut. A 16 pounder. But I’m super bummed out because the bird is frozen and will have just one night of dry brining before 10 people gather at our table tomorrow night. (Thank god we are eating late.) So what do you do with a frozen 16-pound bird in order to get it on the table in 24 hours? I frantically texted the pros and here’s their sage advice:

Janet Taylor McCracken, associate food editor at Bon AppétitIf it’s still frozen, keep it in an airtight bag and place it in a cooler filled with cold water. It should defrost pretty quickly, as in a couple of hours. If the water gets too warm (above 45°F), put some ice in it.

Russ Parsons, author and Food Editor of the Los Angeles Times: You can even roast it if it’s still partially frozen. It’ll take more time. And it may be slightly mushy (defrosting too fast), but this is about survival, right?

Kristine Kidd, Bon Appétit‘s former Food Editor (for 20 years!!!) and author: To thaw quickly, put in a large bowl or sink with cold water to cover (if possible). I would do this wrapped in an airtight plastic bag. Change water often, and it will thaw surprisingly quickly. Another idea, Gelson’s carries Diestal Heritage birds. I pre-ordered, but you could call around and see if they have extras. These are not pure heritage as from Heritage foods, but a cross breed. I am grilling one right now, à la Russ. Mine got only a 24 hr salting, followed by 8 hour drying in fridge. I started the process  yesterday morning at 10 AM. I’ll tell you how it comes out. A third idea—cook your small heritage turkey, plus another small turkey from Gelson’s or Whole Foods, and let everyone have a taste of each.

Amelia Saltsman, TV host and author of The Santa Monica Farmers’ Market Cookbook: I wouldn’t worry about brining turkey. Rub with butter or olive oil and kosher salt. Roast on a “rack” of whole carrots, celery, quartered onions, etc. After about 30 minutes add some water to pan, which will start some steam going to keep breast moist, not to mention augment juices later for basting and gravy. Hope this helps!! Happy turkey day!

So the moral of the story is to BE THANKFUL FOR YOUR FRIENDS, especially those who are far better at making lemonade from lemons than you could ever be. And it helps if these friends are some of the best cooks in the whole wide world! Happy Thanksgiving, everyone, and check back for progress on our bird, which is currently frozen rock solid and cooling its wings in our kitchen sink:

Le Bird est arrivé!

In Food on November 24, 2009 at 6:08 pm

Yes, our 10.5 lb Frank R. Reese Jr heritage bird is here, having winged its way to Windsor Square, Los Angeles, traveling untold distances from Good Shepherd Turkey Ranch in Tampa, KS. But not without first being delivered earlier this morning to the wrong address in another ZIP CODE, which necessitated The Foodinista driving to retrieve it from the 10th floor of a high-rise office building (thank you very little, Heritage Foods USA). Just as last year, the bird emerged from an insulated silver-lined flight vessel:

As you can see, the bird loves metallics. Here it is in the sink, post rinse:

Then, using Russ Parson’s dry-brining technique outlined in the Los Angeles Times, I mixed two generous tablespoons of kosher salt with some ground dried sage and cracked black pepper and sprinkled over the bird.

Then the bird goes into a turkey bag, and sits in the fridge until show time on Thursday…

Thanksgiving Countdown

In Food, Media on November 5, 2009 at 3:25 pm
Photo by Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times

Photo by Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times

Can you believe that Thanksgiving is a mere three weeks from tomorrow? I was reminded of such while reading a great article in today’s Los Angeles Times by Russ Parsons, which compares how all the food magazines are handling Thanksgiving. Over at The Foodinista’s, here’s how we’re handling the menu, and it’s looking a lot like this:

Roast Salted Turkey: Known in foodie circles as The Judy Bird, this recipe was published several years ago in the LA Times by Russ Parsons, who was inspired by his friend chef Judy Rodgers of Zuni Café in San Francisco. It’s a dry-brine technique that results in the world’s juiciest bird. Parsons suggests three days of dry brining in the fridge, but we will have to settle for two since our Heritage Turkey arrives on our doorstep on Tuesday, 11/24. So excited!!!

Cornbread and Escarole Stuffing: Indulgent and rich, with fresh ricotta, prosciutto and parm balanced by bitter escarole and toasty pine nuts.

Gravy: I usually do a simple pan gravy, but this year I might go easy on myself and pick up some house-made gravy from the Larchmont Larder. Sacrilege or smart?

Mascarpone Mashed Potatoes: A dollop of mascarpone adds creamy decadence to the classic.

Butternut Squash Purée: My mother makes this comforting classic, which has been featured on her family table for more than half a century.

Brussels Sprouts and Walnuts with Fennel and Shallots: A recipe from my super-talented friend Carolynn Carreño, who wins James Beard Awards and authors cookbooks with the likes of Nancy Silverton. We’ve been using this recipe of Carolynn’s at our Thanksgiving table for almost the past decade. I’ll post it soon.

Cranberry Sauce: We’ve never quite settled on one we love, and so this year I’ve charged my friend Vincent, who is joining us!, with finding the ultimate in tartiness, a challenge to which he will undoubtedly rise and surprise.

Pumpkin Pie: My sister is a genius with piecrust. With a little coaxing, perhaps she will share her secret before the big feast. What I can tell you is that she makes beautiful leaves from leftover dough and uses them to decorate the edge of the piecrust.

Bourbon-Pecan Tart: From the November issue of Bon Appétit, this looks amazing. My husband’s family only serves pecan pie (two versions of it) at Thanksgiving, so this one’s for him—unless, that is, I can get my mother-in-law to part with her excellent recipe.

Okay—one final question. Do I need another veg? I hate salad at Thanksgiving. Ditto on peas. Plus, in addition to the Brussels sprouts dish, I figure the stuffing has escarole. But should I be thinking along the lines of adding sautéed kale or broccoli rabe? Maybe green beans and shallots?

Thou Shalt Not Covet Another Man’s Tri Tip

In Food on September 16, 2009 at 10:54 pm


It seems like men get territorial over tri tip the way a woman might get about a favorite pair of shoes. I happen to feel that a certain pair of black pinstripe Louboutin 4-inch stilettos with an ankle strap knows no rival. Turns out some guys feel equally passionate about boeuf. My husband recently tried his hand at tri tip, a gorgeous piece of Piedmontese beef from Heritage Foods, marinating it overnight in Two Buddies Marinade for Santa Barbara Beef. (Thanks for the marinade, Lisa!) Following dinner our friend Adam remarked that it seemed his wife preferred Mr. Foodinista’s tri tip to his own version, a sentiment he repeated the following morning in an email…fixating on the beef, kind of like if I had been wearing those Louboutins and his wife, Booth, had shown up in a pair of Dries Van Noten fabric python heels, which, while it didn’t happen that particular evening is likely to happen in the future and undoubtedly I’d be coveting the hell out of her shoes for days to come.

Mr. Foodinista’s secret to tri tip? Sage advice from friend Jamie Purviance, who has several best-selling grilling cookbooks to his credit. Here’s what Jamie recommends for grilling tri tip in his book Real Grilling:

Grill over Direct Medium heat until well marked on both sides, about 10 minutes, turning once. Move the roast over Indirect Medium heat and cook to the desired doneness, 20 to 30 minutes more for medium-rare…turning it over every 5 minutes or so. Remove from the grill and let rest for 5 to 10 minutes. Cut the meat across the grain into very thin slices.


In Food on March 26, 2009 at 8:05 am

Six-Spotted Berkshire

Six-Spotted Berkshire

Apologies for the pork-heavy week, but little did I know when I served an herb-roasted pork loin on Tuesday night that yesterday a heavy box bound from Decorah, Iowa, would land on my doorstep.


My heritage pork chops are here! I can’t tell you how excited I am to have a freezer full of big, beautiful Six-Spotted Berkshire pork chops! I had initially thought I’d be getting Red Wattle chops, but I am thrilled with these brightly colored, marbled beauties from Certified Humane® farmer David Holthaus, who has been raising pigs since 1974. Stay tuned for more adventures in pork!