Category Archives: Turkey

Indian Breakaway

No, not a summary of the enormously successful partition of India, nor the reversal of the Indian subcontinental  tectonic plate drift, but possibly the first time I have made chapati.

For the sake of ease, we took away some keema (beef mince and peas) and chickpeas on our camping trip. They were cooked by Shona as per Madhur Jaffrey’s classic, Invitation to Indian Cooking, which is about as old as me, a fine vintage.

We had a chopfest at the sophisticated campsite restaurant instead of Indian delights, so having made a 450km round trip it needed eaten or chucked.

Shockingly I didn’t look up her chapati recipe, but followed ‘Jimmy’ on the packet of the Atta flour.

  • 1 cup of Atta flour, and
  • water to make into a dough.

OK, this isn’t exactly it, but it’ll do, and I’m tired.

Mix until it comes together in loose bundles. Leave to rest 10 mins. Knead for a minute or so, and leave again. When it is smooth and becoming elastic, chop into six small balls. Roll these out into flat circles. This is easier said than done.

I’ve seen my pal Jules’ Pakistani mum-in-law do this with the flick of a wrist. Easy.

I squashed a lightly floured ball down with the base of my hand, then used my lovely Huon pine rolling pin to roll out from the centre to the edge in quick strokes, moving the dough around a few of hours (on a clock) each time until 6-7″ across.

I have a cast iron griddle which I heated until the bread pretty much instantly cooked on one side. I found if you turned it as soon as you had a couple of charred craters or starts bubbling, that the thing would puff up wonderfully when you do the 2nd side. Magic.

I imagine you could deep fry these*……

Anyway, the ‘break away’ was cooking eggs on top of the keema, so the meat stuck to the base of the half fried/ poached eggs. This went down rather well with the beasts who devoured an almighty helping. The chapati made very fine vessels for the chick peas (Maseladar- heavy on the garam masala, yum).

Washed down with an incongruous Timothy Taylors, this was the end of a rather fine day.

*of course, having looked in the ‘Invitation’ this is of course a ‘poori’.

And the chapati method she describes is pleasingly close to what I ended up doing. High five to me.

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Reflective Practice

It is a fantastic thought to put food in a solar cooker at night, point it to the heavens, and it will cool. There is something beautiful about this. Perhaps it is the ‘of course’ moment you have when the basic physics dawns, i.e. everything radiates heat (except a blackhole?). If you direct as much of that away from itself and stop any coming in, that body will cool. And we’re not just talking a wee chill here, according to one solar oven inventor who appears to be a physics professor, we are talking a 10C difference between contents and ambient temperature, astonishing. Maybe with the passing of Venus, I, and indeed the family, are just caught up in the wonders of all things cosmic this week.

Well, being housebound with an infected and inflamed knee led to significant boredom, and therefore the construction of a solar oven, obviously.

There are a lot of designs, but I made a box oven as shown from this now ancient link.  A fine use for left over bike boxes. There is a most elegant way of achieving an angle of 67 to achieve the necessary reflection into your black box, please read. No protractor, and no iPhone.

We modified the original by utilising the insulating power of an Esky, which would be lunacy (i.e. it would melt) if you didn’t line it with plenty of cardboard. A bit of glass we picked up from the recycling dump over the top and away we go. It got to 140C when I decided to wipe the surface with a damp cloth. Well, the glass looked toughened, but moments later a wonderful curved pattern of fractures appeared. Doh.

Once we did get our piece of ordered glass, in went the first dish. I had a turkey leg which needed using. There are very few recipes for turkey leg. HughFW recommends cooking as Coq au Vin, and Alastair Little has one stuffed in the Umbrian style- apparently those Umbrians use it a lot, particularly in place of veal.

In the end I went for a Chinese recipe (no recipes in Ken Hom or Kenneth Lo). Well, a Chinese ‘concept’, no recipe.

  • 1 turkey leg (with thigh)
  • A big Slug of soy sauce
  • chunk of ginger
  • half an onion
  • a carrot
  • 2 spokes of star anise

I think this went in at 10ish, at a significant angle as even the winter sun here will have a 30deg incidence at midday. The boys loved it and even more bizarrely, Rory loved fresh cloud ear fungus cooked with bok choi and the stock from the turkey. Odd, since he usually won’t touch a ‘room.

Note to self- buy turkey chicks to fatten for Christmas.

Now, we’ve had a few problem with our glass. It keeps breaking. Bizarre curvy fracture pattern result, toughened or not. And since turkeyville, we’ve broken two more bits.

Anyway, I have made a version of the superbly simply, no, mindblowingly brilliant windshield funnel shown below from the solarcooking.org website. By curious coincidence, it hails from Oaxaca, Mexico, home of one of the finest dishes known to man, the Oaxacan Mole.

We’ve just got some roasting bags this week, so presuming they don’t frigging melt, here goes…..


Hemicorporectomy in the sagittal plane

I once did a sirloin roast for Christmas and though lovely, it just didn’t sing out KERRRIIIIIISTMUSS Noddy Holder style. A bird, and the trimming is what is required. We got a 6kg bird from Mt Barker. Since I didn’t bring home any stragglers, and Elijah failed to show, the bird got a hemicorporectomy in the sagittal plane, which made for a far more sensible size of feast for five. And we had a ham too……

For breakfast I do like scrambled egg with smoked salmon. I once served eel to the family back in Blighty, but it didn’t go down too well, the smoked salmon has become something of a tradition, much like the Smith and Jones Xmas special circa 1988 where the Traditional Xmas punch was made……..

for the first time. ROFL.

The salmon caviar just keeps on coming, its like the frigging magic porride pot. But with a dollop on extra creamy scrambled egg on toast, a dash of tobasco and some Deutz NV sparkling it was a fine restorative brunch after present opening.

Look closely and you will see this is indeed a demi-dinde (French etymology, ‘of India?’). There were a few chunks of eucalypt hiding in there amongst the briquettes having failed to gather firewood before the wet. I just love the aroma it gives to meat. For a touch of Australasia, some lemon myrtle on the cut surface of the meat and once the coals were white hot, bbq lid covered and watched to check for cremation.

I made the traditional banana leaf stuffing for the second time. Clearly stuffing half a bird is tricky, and a stuffed bird on a spit is, well, just plain daft from a thermodynamic POV.

  • 500g minced pork
  • 6 asian shallots, chopped lightly fried with
  • 50g chopped pancetta
  • 150g toasted and bashed macadamia nuts
  • teaspoon roasted and ground cumin/ fenugreek
  • grated galangal
  • chopped lemon grass
  • 1 egg
  • handful of  breadcrumbs

Mixed by hand and placed on sheets of blanched banana leaf from the garden and barbecued over the embers til the banan leaf gets singed and the meat is browned.

Roast potatoes and sweet potatoes, carrots and cabbage, cranberry sauce and a leg ham glazed with local honey.

I forgot the bread sauce. Aaaahhhhhhgggg!!!!!!!! And the gravy was way too bitter thanks to reducing it with 2/3 bottle Fat Yak beer- note to self.