Since I talked at length about the future of the NFL in Los Angeles just a few Football Foodie posts ago, I figured I should pass along the latest rumors that came out of the recent team owners meeting. Jason La Canfora reported earlier this week that sources within the meeting, “essentially ruled out a move for next season and expressed some concerns about the feasibility of a downtown stadium.” These same sources expressed interest in having an LA NFL venue as a part of the Dodgers Stadium renovation, which if the majority of NFL owners lived here on a full-time basis would realize Chavez Ravine is actually harder to get to via car or public transportation than downtown Los Angeles. There’s also the locally sticky issue of the land around Dodger Stadium still being under the control of former-Dodgers owner and bankrupter Frank McCourt, the least popular person in LA — a pretty rough scale considering this is also the home of Harvey Levin, the Kardashians and Mel Gibson.
The sudden cold feet seems to be in response AEG being in the market for a new owner and the league worrying about how much money new investors will want to put into a stadium deal anywhere in the city. So relax Jaguars, Chargers, Rams and Raider fans; your teams are probably safely ensconced in your towns for at least a few extra years.
Slow Cooked Turkey Sandwiches with Spicy Remoulade Sauce
When I was in New York over the summer, I had a chance to try the legendary roasted turkey sandwich at Parm. It was a good, well-roasted sandwich and it got me thinking about how I usually prepare my own turkey sandwiches. Typically I’m a “Thanksgiving on a bun” type of a turkey fan, but maybe making such a rich sandwich more than a couple of times a year is overdoing it both in taste and effort. Let a moist turkey take the forefront instead of playing in the background behind heavy gravy and stuffing. Parm’s roasted turkey is served with a spicy dressing, but not wanting to recreate their exact offering, I decided to go with a thicker remoulade for this sandwich for a bit more body and contrasting texture from the cornichons and capers.
One way to make a great turkey breast for sandwiches is by salting the meat like you would cure pork for bacon. The so-called “dry-brining” technique of prepping poultry is one of the easiest and most effective ways of making sure your turkey or chicken comes out succulent and moist. A method first popularized by Judy Rodgers at her Zuni Cafe in San Francisco, her salt rub style was featured in Cook’s Illustrated in the mid-aughts and it revolutionized the way home cooks prepared their holiday turkeys. No longer did people have to wrestle with giant pots of salted water taking up their entire refrigerators, the salt alone could redistribute the bird’s own natural juices while slightly changing the structural make-up of the meat so it would retain even more valuable water during cooking. (For the record, I was never a wet-brine fan. I would always make turkey with pounds of butter to keep it moist. With this method I don’t bother adding much fat, even when roasting a whole bird in the oven.)
And rather than worrying about constantly checking on a turkey in the oven on game day, why not just put everything in a slow cooker which is not only easier, it also ensures an extra juicy turkey. By going the extra yard of using a slow cooker which keeps all of the liquids in the pot instead cooking in a drying oven — good for crispy skin, bad for poultry — you get a firm, tender turkey without the typical dryness or mealiness.
The aromatic herbs, crisp white wine and mirepoix of onions, carrots and celery will steam their favor deep into the bird, its richness creating a perfect foil for the kick of remoulade.
Slow Cooked Turkey
5 pound turkey breast
2 tablespoons kosher salt, plus a pinch more for seasoning
1/2 medium onion, roughly diced
1 large carrot, peeled and sliced
2-3 stalks of celery, sliced, leaves reserved
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/2 cup chicken stock, preferably low sodium stock
1/2 cup crisp white wine, like a pinot grigio or a sauvignon blanc
1/2 cup butter (1 stick), melted
generous pinch cracked pepper
Small bunch of herbs; few sprigs each of thyme, sage, flat-leaf parsley and the reserved celery leaves
If you do not want to cook with wine, use 1 full cup of chicken stock.
Spicy Remoulade Sauce
8 ounces (1 cup) mayonnaise
1 tablespoon finely chopped cornichons, about three cornichons
1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon capers, chopped
1 tablespoon stone ground mustard
1 glove garlic, minced
1 tablespoons chopped scallions, white section (about 1-2 scallions worth)
1 teaspoon ground cayenne
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon cracked pepper
pinch of kosher salt
Sliced heirloom or Roma tomatoes
Preferably you’ll start the dry-brine of your turkey breast 2-3 days before slow cooking, but I’ve done this rub 12-24 hours ahead of time with decent results. You may not get all the water back into the bird, but it works well enough in the shortened time frame.
Rinse the turkey breast under cold running water and then pat dry with clean kitchen towels or paper towels. You can either leave the skin on the bird or remove it now since it’s not going to brown and crisp like a normally would in the oven. I personally like to leave the skin on since it helps marinate the turkey while cooking, but some cooks prefer to remove it now to save effort later.
Evenly coat the whole turkey breast inside and out with 2 tablespoons kosher salt and pat it into the meat. Place the turkey breast into a clean plastic roasting bag or extra large resealable bag. (When I go to the butcher, I just ask for a second clean bag for brining. If you have a stubborn butcher, you can buy roasting bags in the tin foil section of your local grocery store.)
Seal the bag and return to the refrigerator to brine. If brining for a couple days, turn the turkey breast every 8-12 hours. If shorter, turn every 4-6 hours. Don’t panic if you see all the water leave the turkey breast, it will be drawn back into the meat as time passes.
When you ready to cook your turkey, remove it from the refrigerator and allow it to rest on the counter in the bag while prepping your vegetables. This allows the meat to re-absorb any last bit of water (give a turn or two while chopping your vegetables) and to gradually warm up a bit and not be shocked by the sudden heat of the pot. Obviously don’t take so long prepping that the bird comes completely room temperature.
In at least a 5-quart sized slow cooker, cover the bottom of the pot with the chopped celery, onions, carrots and garlic. Add in a half a cup each of white wine and chicken stock and start to heat the slow cooker to high.
Melt 1/2 cup butter and mix in a dash of kosher salt and cracked pepper.
Remove the turkey breast from the bag and rub the butter all over the turkey breast and massaging it under the skin with your fingers.
Take your herbs and place them into the neck cavity of the turkey. If you want to tie them into a small sachet with kitchen twine you may, but I usually just tie them together with one long parsley stem.
Place the turkey in the slow cooker and cover. Cook on high for 1 hour and then low for 3 hours. As always when using a slow cooker, DO NOT LIFT OFF THE LID. Each time you lift off the lid you are letting valuable heat escape and increasing your cooking time by at least an additional 30 minutes. When done, the internal temperature should reach 165º at the thickest part of the breast. Since it’s in a slow cooker with the moisture being held in, you can leave the turkey in the slow cooker with the heat set to low or warm until closer to serving time.
While the turkey is cooking, mix together all of the ingredients for the remoulade and refrigerate for at least two hours. If desired, you can make the remoulade a day in advance.
Once the turkey has finished cooking and you’re ready to get to sandwiches, remove the turkey from the slow cooker and allow to rest for twenty minutes. (Tip: reserve the vegetables and chicken stock to make soup with later in the week. Skim off the fat, add egg noodles or rice, a little more stock and wine, any leftover turkey and you’ve got a great soup.) After the turkey has rested, remove the skin and carve the meat.
Depending your preference, either lightly toast the rolls for a crunchier sandwich or gently warm the sandwich rolls in a vegetable steamer for a softer bite. Dress each turkey sandwich with lettuce, tomato and remoulade, serving an extra bit of sauce on the side if desired.
The spicy, tangy remoulade sauce, the perfectly cooked turkey, juicy tomatoes and the crunch of lettuce make for an impressive fall sandwich spread that serves a crowd with little hands-on time for the game. Tailgating? This turkey refrigerates superbly once sliced if you want to make sandwiches at the game.
Need more football watching-centric recipe ideas? Find the complete archive of Football Foodie recipes here.