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Dry Brined Turkey

fresh herbs

A couple of years ago I discovered something called dry brining (although “dry brining” is a bit of a misnomer, since the definition of brining is to immerse in water). Prior to dry brining, I tried doing a regular brine but never really cared for the results. And the whole process was a big pain in my opinion. But dry brining is very easy to do and the end result is spectacular. I will probably never fix another turkey any other way.

Another thing I love about dry brining is the time frame is so flexible. You can brine it for one day or three days. It still tastes wonderful! Turkey still frozen? Not a problem! You can thaw it under cold water long enough to get the innards out and you’re good to go! The first year I did this, I had a frozen turkey and 24 hours to brine it. As I said, the taste was spectacular.

Brining the Turkey
adjust seasoning ratio for turkey size

1 turkey (14 lbs)
2 Tbs sea salt (though kosher is standard)
1 tsp each of herbs of choice
bag to put turkey in
container to set bag in
fridge to put container in

Prepare turkey by washing, drying, and removing any gizzards, neck, etc., from the cavities.

uncooked turkey

I use fresh herbs. I like to use a tsp of rosemary and a tsp of thyme. You can use any you like, fresh or dry, in any combination. The general rule of thumb goes something like this:

1 TBS salt for each 5 lbs of turkey
1 tsp each spice for each 5 lbs of turkey
Pepper according to taste

Combine salt and spices in a bowl.

brining spices

Rub mixture all over turkey, covering well, then place in plastic bag and place in container. If you like, you can get fancy and put things like apples and oranges inside the turkey. Or you may want to loosen the skin on the breast and legs and run your spice mixture around in there. Feel free to get creative. But I do have to say, I have it on pretty good authority that it’s not necessary to go to all that bother. Place container in fridge.

brining turkey

At the end of brining time, take the turkey out of the fridge and let it sit out at room temp, about 1-2 hours. This is the turkey after I took it out of the fridge. I let it come to room temp or close to it (about an hour and a half). I feel comfortable doing this, because A) I only buy pasture raised turkey and, B) this is what the instructions call for when dry brining.
turkey resting

Wipe off any excess (as in, excessive looking) salt, give it a butter rub-down (including under the skin), then roast at 425o for 30 minutes. At the end of 30 minutes, turn heat to 325o and continue cooking till done. For a 14 lb. turkey, it will take about 2 1/2 – 3 hours total. You can also roast it upside down if you aren’t stuffing it. This helps the breast to be even juicier. This is my turkey cooking upside down last year.
Turkey

Or, if it will fit, you can roast it in a rotisserie. This is what I did the first year. Because this turkey was only 14 lbs and with a little trimming, I was able to get it into my rotisserie.

Turkey on the spit

About 20 minutes later:

more turkey

And at the end of the cooking time:

turkey's done

This method produces such a moist, flavorful turkey!

Thanksgiving dinner
Happy Thanksgiving!

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Making Mayo

Mayonnaise

Mayonnaise is definitely one of the basics of a keto diet. Besides being great all by itself, it is the base for other wonderful things like Ranch or Bleu Cheese dressings and tartar sauce. You would be hard-pressed to find a store bought mayonnaise that doesn’t have sugar or canola oil it it. (Canola is nearly all genetically modified and is not a good oil) By making your own mayo, you are in total control of the ingredients. For this recipe I use an emulsion blender, also known as a stick blender. I highly recommend getting one if you don’t already own one. They can be bought at most department stores. They generally start out in the $20 range. I find mine indispensable. If you aren’t able to get one, the mayo can be made in a blender or food processor, but the process is different. I will explain that below. Also, at the end of the recipe I will include some variations I use. And lastly, before I begin, the whey is optional. The whey I have listed in the recipe is from straining it off homemade yogurt or straining raw milk that has been turned into curds and whey. If you want to use whey, you can buy a good brand of yogurt that has no flavors or sweeteners added and strain the whey off of it. To do this, you would line a colander with a clean tea towel or cotton cloth and place it into a deep pan or bowl. Then scoop the yogurt into the lined collander and cover the whole thing with another towel. Let it sit for around 3 hours on the counter or several hours in the fridge. You can do this just until you have the needed 2 Tbs for this recipe or strain the whole thing. This is a primer of sorts for straining yogurt. Okay, let’s begin!

Mayonnaise
makes approximately 2 1/2 cups

1 cup melted coconut oil (expeller pressed has no taste)
1 1/2 cups mild olive oil (I use Braggs or Chaffin)
2 whole pastured eggs, room temp
4 pastured egg yolks, room temp *
2 tsp dijon mustard
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/8 tsp smoked paprika (optional)
Tiny bit of stevia to taste (optional)
2 Tbsp whey (optional)

There are many types of coconut oil. I buy a lot at a time.
Coconut oil

Melt coconut oil. I like to put it in this really large measuring cup and heat it on a warming burner I have on my stove. I make the mayo in the same container. If you are melting your oil in the microwave or on the stove top, pour it into a large bowl.
Melting oil
Be sure not to overheat the coconut oil. It could end up cooking the eggs.

Once it is melted, add the olive oil. I highly recommend Braggs. It’s very good quality and the flavor isn’t overpowering.
Braggs

I also use Chaffin when I have it. It’s also very good quality, but has to be pre-ordered several months in advance.
Chaffin olive oil

Unfortunately, a lot of olive oil has been cut with cheaper oils. Once you have the oils combined, add the eggs.
Eggs

If your eggs haven’t reached room temp or, like I often do, you forgot to take them out of the fridge, you can warm them in a bowl of somewhat hot water.
Warming eggs
This helps them reach room temp pretty quickly. Also, the warmed coconut oil helps with that, too. Not having cold eggs is key to this recipe though, because cold eggs will prevent the whole thing from emulsifying. If this should happen, don’t despair! Just walk away from the whole thing for a little while, then try again; once the eggs have come to room temp, it should work.

Add all the remaining ingredients.
Remaining ingredients
The yellow looking liquid is the whey.

All ingredients

Place the stick blender in the container, so that the bottom of it is on the bottom of the container. Turn blender on and hold in place until the eggs and oil begin to emulsify.
Beginning to emulsify

Once the emulsion takes place, you can then begin to move the stick blender around until it is fully emulsified.
Fully emulsified
Tada! You have mayonnaise!

Transfer to a jar large enough to hold mayo and cover with a lid.
Ready to ferment
Now comes the easy part. Let the mayo sit out on the counter for 7 hours. Yes, 7! But only if you are using the whey. This causes the mayo to ferment (which does not change the taste) and will allow it to last for several months in the fridge. I like that I can use it in things like deviled eggs and not worry about it sitting out of the fridge at potlucks or other get togethers. At 7 hours (or if you are not using whey), place in fridge.

If you do not have an immersion blender, place all ingredients except oil in your blender or food processor and turn it on. Very carefully and very slowly, begin to add your oil one drop at a time. (Putting a little oil in a dropper helps) Once the mayo begins to emulsify, you can begin to add the oil a little faster until you have a steady stream.

Some variations:

All olive oil
All coconut oil (though it may need to warm up a little once taken from fridge)
1/2 cup of bacon grease in place of 1/2 cup of either (other) oil

* Save those egg whites!! You can use them in your scrambled eggs or make meringues with them!

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Eating Real Food

Measurement chart

I’m trying to get this blog off the ground, so I can get to the good stuff: posting recipes! This blog is for people following a ketogenic diet. A ketogenic diet is basically a diet that is very low in carbohydrates, moderate amounts of meat, and high in fat. It is not only beneficial for losing weight, it is used to improve other health issues, such as diabetes and even cancer. If you search the net, you will find there are lots of blogs and lots of information that deals with a keto diet. The one thing I found was lacking though, is how to do a keto diet on real food. By real food, I mean non-processed. Sound hard? It’s not and the health benefits are unbelievable. So that’s what this post will address; the real food aspect of this diet.

What is NOT real food.

Food that is not real is food that has been heavily processed. It usually comes in a can or a box (or perhaps a drive through window). It usually comes with an extremely long ingredient list made of mostly things you probably never heard of and have no idea what they are. Most processed foods are made of chemicals, dyes, GMOs (genetically modified food), and have very little of the actual food they claim to be made of. Some don’t even have ANY of the actual food it claims to be! And when it does have the actual food, it has usually been processed to the point that it is unrecognizable. Most, if not all, of the health benefits it may have had at some point are long gone. Hopefully, your goal is to eliminate or greatly reduce processed food. If you purchase something processed, make sure the ingredient list is very small and that you know what they are. Here’s an example of a non-organic processed food that I use. It’s Franks Red Hot sauce.

Franks hot sauce ingredients
Five ingredients; all recognizable.

I am hoping to start out with some basic recipes (things like mayonnaise, ketchup, dressings, etc). You might be surprised to find that these things take very little effort and being in control of your food ingredients is an amazing thing. None of those things I listed need sugar in them.

Homemade ketchup
Ketchup fermenting.

What IS real food.

Real food is food that comes in (or as close as possible to) it’s most natural form. It is food that hasn’t been tampered with in any way. It is organic. This means it has not been coated with layers of pesticides or genetically modified. It is meat that comes from animals that have been treated humanely and fed well. It is from animals that have been grass-fed or pastured. It is from fish or seafood that is wild caught and not farmed, fed with things you don’t want in your diet. As they say, you are what you eat. It is eggs from chickens that were free to roam around and eat bugs and other things they were created to eat. Eggs from chickens that weren’t supplemented feed with genetically modified corn or soy. It is dairy from grass-fed cows; preferably raw, but it that’s not possible, from an organic source, as minimally processed as possible. (Avoid ultra-pasteurized milk and cream products)

Farm fresh eggs
I love all the colors fresh eggs can come in!

Some extra thoughts regarding real food.

I recommend avoiding toxic sweeteners, such as sucralose (Splenda) or aspartame. Some acceptable sweeteners would be xylitol or erithritol (sugar alcohols), but only in a non-GMO form. I personally use LC-Sweet Natural (if it doesn’t say Natural on it, it has sucralose), as well as stevia (I prefer KAL brand) and Lo Han Guo. Sometimes I use a tiny bit of raw honey or molasses, if it will really enhance a dish and I know the carb count will be distributed so that it is negligible. The LC-Sweet Natural that I use is mostly made of various fiber sweeteners. I find these have the littlest effect on a gastric level and also the smallest effect on blood sugar (though your mileage may vary). In addition, fiber-based sweeteners are known to have a prebiotic effect. This is a very good thing.

On the subject of fats, please try to limit them to the following: coconut oil, olive oil (good quality; I like Braggs), lard or tallow (that has either been rendered at home or that you know is from a good source), butter, ghee, and palm oil. Also good are fats that have rendered (been cooked off of) your quality meats. This includes bacon grease, chicken fat (schmaltz), grease from cooked beef, etc.

Also, in regards to what is acceptable to drink, please avoid diet drinks unless they are made with acceptable sweeteners. Be sure to drink plenty of water. Coffee and tea are acceptable. I personally use Dandy Blend (a dandelion drink); it tastes very close to coffee and has numerous health benefits with none of the caffeine. Instead of bulletproof coffee I have my “bulletproof beverage.” I also drink kombucha, which is a fermented tea. Though it is made with sugar, the fermentation process removes the sugar. I have found it has not interfered with my ketosis at all.

Strawberry kombucha
Strawberry kombucha.

Which brings me to my last topic: fermented food. Fermented food has a very important place in any food plan. Without them, all the “bugs” in your gut that are only beneficial in small quantities (think candida) can get out of control and cause a host of problems. In fact, most (if not all) autoimmune problems can be traced to the gut. What do I mean by fermented foods? Yogurt, pickles (if they’ve actually been fermented; Bubbies is a good brand), sauerkraut, kimchi, or even your mayo or ketchup. It’s easy and I’ll show you how!

Fermented Food & Drink
Kombucha, beet kvass, purple sauerkraut, and green sauerkraut.

Hopefully I’ve covered enough about what is and isn’t real food that you have an idea of what this blog is about. Like all of life, it’s a journey and a process. I feel certain it’s one you won’t regret.

I hope to come back to this post, as time allows, and include some links and other information to help you on your real food keto journey. If you have a question, please don’t hesitate to ask!

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