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Thanksgiving with Mr. Delicious

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As an American living away from home, Thanksgiving dinner is a perennial matter of great concern. I spent my first Thanksgiving abroad in Nice, France. We decided to cook a traditional Thanksgiving dinner for a mixed group of American, French and other nationalities. We scoured the entire region along the southeast of France looking for ingredients like fresh cranberries and molasses.

Most non-Americans do not fully understand how important a holiday it is for us. For many of us (myself included) we would put it above Christmas. This being said I have had many a sub-standard Thanksgiving dinner living around the world. The worst though was in Las Vegas. Without any prior plans we ended up at the Rio Hotel’s buffet for a dining experience that literally made my soul ache.

This is why I made sure to blaze this trail this year. I set out to create the closest facsimile of the real thing that I could possibly create here. Also I had the good fortune of timing being on my side with my newly constructed brick smoker/oven to roast the turkey.

Mr. Delicious Thanksgiving Menu 2012

Apple Wood Smoked Turkey

Traditional Stuffing with Bacon and Dark Stock

Oyster Mushroom Stuffing

Green Bean Casserole with Creamy Mushroom Sauce and Fried Onions

Sweet Potato Casserole with Oat Crumble

1950′s Style Cranberry Salad

Mashed Potatoes

Cajun Dirty Rice

Lots of Gravy

Pumpkin Pie with Créme Anglaise

Starting with the turkey, I had about a 6kg (12lb.) bird that I brined for 12 hours. The brine consisted of 1 cup of salt and 1 tablespoon of curing salt for 1 gallon of water. I then added sugar, apple cider vinegar, peppercorns, dried chili flakes and parsley stems. I dropped the turkey into a large bucket I use just for brining and pickling and poured the brine over it. Then I weighted it down with a stack of plates. Since there was not enough room in the fridge I kept it iced down for 12 hours. Then remove and rinse.

Once it was cured, I placed it in front of a fan for about two hours to dry and warm up before smoking. I used a combination of charcoal and apple wood, maintaining a temperature of about 235f (110c). It smoked for about 3 hours until an internal probe reads about 160f (70c). I would later finish it in a hot oven before serving.

My coloring could have been better but it tasted really damn good and the skin still became crisp

Stuffing is a very misunderstood side dish but one of my absolute favorites every Thanksgiving. I was raised on oyster stuffing, but unfortunately I could not find oysters in time (at least I had bacon). There are a couple tricks to making good stuffing. First cook your mirepoix thoroughly before folding it into the bread. Use a good brown poultry stock and season it well. Finally add lots of the stock. Keep ladling more until it can take no more. Then just bake until it’s hot in the center and slather with gravy.

It’s best when the top is crusty but the interior is moist and soft

Also unavailable were fresh cranberries. However I was able to substitute dried with some success. I decided to mold the cranberry salad like you might see in cookbooks from the 50′s and 60′s. This was actually quite simple. I gelled some cranberry juice with sugar and garnished it with slices of orange, persimmon and chopped walnuts. I molded it in a cake pan and just warmed it in water to release it from the mold.

My sweet potato casserole sucked in a big way. I need to find a way to better adapt the local sweet potatoes into this dish. The local camote is much starchier than what I’m used to in the States. The result was a really dry texture that I think could be remedied by puréeing it.

My wife (who is also responsible for my conspicuously better photos), prepared two different types of pumpkin pie, both made from the local pumpkin. One was a classic variety and the other was finished with caramel and chopped walnuts.

Though I have cut back on the number of private events in to focus on Mr. D’s, I do still enjoy an occasional event like this. I like to keep it very casual and unassuming. Thank you to all who attended. It sure as hell beat the Rio…

World Eats by Pinoy Eats World in Podium Mall

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Mr. D’s Artisanal is at Podium on the second floor atrium right now along with a number of other food vendors for Pinoy Eats World, World Eats. I’ll be slingin’ sammiches here made from my Philippine Wagyu Corned Beef. I will be making a classic reuben and a killer slider with horseradish mayo, pickled red onion and a corned beef jus for dipping.

Also here today:

  • Da.u.de Tea
  • Spring by Ha Yuan-Hong Kong specialties
  • Cafe de Bonifacio
  • Pinkerton Ice Cream by Alexandra Rocha
  • The Fruit Garden Luxury Jams
  • Angus Beef Tapa Lady
  • Turkish Express Kabab

If you don’t follow me on Twitter now would be the time because today I will be announcing a secret code word worth a free slider. I’ll be here tonight, tomorrow and Sunday all day long. I will also be in Soderno Weekend Market tomorrow and Sunday (that’s right, two places at once). Come out and check it out. Get your food trip on!

Dinner with Internations and Some Damn Good Corned Beef

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Last year when I moved to the Philippines I spent a lot of time searching online. I was here in a relatively unfamiliar country and was looking to get to know people and to find all of the things I might want. I began to wonder what other expats have done in this  situation.

That’s when I discovered Internations.org. Internations is a worldwide organization that helps connect expats through its website and events. I was a quiet stalker member for a year before I started attending the events a couple months ago.

The events are pretty fun and I can always find interesting conversation. The people in attendance can be from literally anywhere in the world and in most cases the Philippines is not the only country in which they have lived abroad. Each has a story, a meandering path which has ultimately lead them here, for more reasons than can be imagined.

Forgoing the chef coat for a casual dinner, photo credit: Alexis Kayanan

So when I was approached by an Internations member about cooking a dinner for her DinnerNations sub-group, I was happy to oblige. We settled on a casual buffet menu based on comfort foods, which gave me the opportunity to prepare my second test batch if corned beef.

After slow cooking for five hours

Here’s the menu from Saturday’s event:

Guinness Braised Philippine Wagyu Corned Beef

Cabbage, Baby Carrots and Potatoes, Poached with the Corned Beef

Cauliflower Cheddar Gratin

Roasted Beets with Arugula, Local Goat Cheese, Roasted Pecans, Honey and Mint

Classic Caesar Salad

Mushroom Barley Risotto with Roasted Eggplant and Leeks

Spiced Ginger Cake with Vanilla Custard Sauce

Photo credit: Alexis Kayanan

Much of what I do here is to advocate what is good and local in Philippine agriculture. If ever faced with a decision between an imported product and a high quality local product, the choice is clear to me. This is the core principle behind my brand Mr. D’s Artisanal.

My first product is a Philippine Wagyu Corned Beef. My beef brisket is Kitayama Beef sourced from Mindanao. Kitayama Beef is the local beef brand owned by the same owners as Malcolm’s. They raise their cattle, which are a cross breed of local and Japanese, near Cagayon de Oro. Their cattle are pampered and raised with the same methods as Kobe, which results in fantastically marbled meat that melts in your mouth.

This marbling makes it ideal for a slow-cooked corned beef. The fat slowly melts and holds the flavor of the beef and the spices. I will do my final tweeks on the recipe before I launch, but I’m pretty damn happy with the results already.

I will begin producing this in very small batches that will be completed each Thursday. The price will be p475 for 500 grams or p925/kg.

Please contact me for order information. You can easily feed a crowd with this so if you have a upcoming party contact me in advance to ensure supply.