Archive for the ‘Main Dishes’ Category

Get ready for Thanksgiving turkey!

Get ready for Thanksgiving turkey!

As a young girl my family would travel every year to share Thanksgiving dinner with family. I remember singing “Over the river and through the woods…” ad nauseam at least one of those trips. I grew more and more excited as the car crossed the Connecticut River, then through the mountain forests; the Appalachian Mountains. I knew with each landmark I was that much closer to seeing my cousins and the feast they would have prepared. Images of the giant bird, dripping with juicy gravy, made me anxious to arrive.

The turkey is the star of any Thanksgiving dinner, I learned that at an early age. Every year that I have hosted a Thanksgiving meal I have tried to design the perfect recipe for the bird; to make others drool as I had before. It was only a few years ago that I discovered where the turkey was raised had a distinct impact on my final dish. Birds that live a more stress free existence develop much healthier, and that is particularly noticeable in the flesh. Free range is the best way to go.

A bit further north from where I would spend the long, late November weekend as a child, is Misty Knoll Farm. Great care is taken at this Vermont farm to provide the healthiest birds possible. They feed the birds a diet of healthy whole grains without antibiotics or animal byproducts. The turkeys at Misty Knoll Farm are also allowed free reign of the farm’s lush pastures and an open barn shelter. There are no cages, so there is no stress. I have yet to find a tastier bird.

Turkeys at Misty Knoll Farm

Turkeys at Misty Knoll Farm

There are many ways to prepare a Thanksgiving turkey; I could devote an entire cookbook to that one meal, especially given the number of different ways I’ve prepared the main dish! Something I have found imperative to the process is brine. Soaking the bird in a salt solution helps to tenderize the flesh and add flavor to each bite.

Here is one of my favorite recipes:

1/2 gallon apple cider
4 cups water
1 cup kosher salt
2 tbsp Tellicherry peppercorns
1 tbsp juniper berries
2 bay leaves
1 large or 2 small sticks of cinnamon
4 allspice berries

Heat the water to near boiling, add the salt and spices. Allow the salt to dissolve and remove from heat. Add the cider and allow to cool completely. Be sure to remove the giblets and neck from the body of the bird, then submerge the turkey in the liquid and refrigerate 8-24 hours.

Fresh sliced Thanksgiving turkey

Fresh sliced Thanksgiving turkey

When you are ready to cook the bird, preheat the oven to 350ºF (175ºC). Discard the brine and roast the turkey on a rack or atop aromatics (celery, carrots, onion) until a thermometer stuck in the thickest part of the thigh reads 160ºF (70ºC). You may baste the turkey throughout the roasting time, but remember: opening the oven decreases its temperature and increases the cooking time, so do so sparingly. I also like to glaze the turkey in its final half hour with boiled cider or cider syrup. It adds a depth of flavor to the skin and gravy that is unsurpassable!

For the gravy:

Strain the turkey drippings into a fat separator. Pour off the fat and return the drippings to a sauce pan. Add a roux of 1tbsp flour/1tbsp butter. whisk constantly over heat until preferred thickness.


Misty Knoll Turkeys are available at Formaggio Kitchen through special order. More information on their farm and instructions on placing an order are available on our website. Order yours now through November 13th! Turkeys will be available for pick-up on Tuesday, November 25 (after 2pm) or Wednesday, November 26 (9am-6pm) at the Cambridge shop.


Nicole Roach is a keen kitchen experimenter and a member of the produce, register, and operations teams at Formaggio Kitchen Cambridge.

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Roman Wood-Fired Oven

The Stamp Family Roman-style wood-fired oven

In my everlasting quest to make the perfect pizza, it’s always been about the dough.  I’ve made hundreds of pies, each time striving for the balance of good structure, depth of flavor, and workability.  The outcomes have ranged from revelatory to disastrous, but I’m assured—save a few singed eyebrows and flour-coated jeans—that no one has been harmed by the experimentation.  From cracker-thin, high-gluten crusts with a gratifying crunch to pillowy, pliable pies that rise and fall with the heat, the permutations of just a few simple ingredients are seemingly endless.


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Last week, Ihsan shared with us a few memories from one of his early cheese sourcing trips – a 1993 trip to the Castelmagno region of Italy. In that post, he described one of his revelatory food experiences: Gnocchi al Castelmagno. Since that trip, he has been working on recreating the dish at home. Here is the current permutation of that recipe, one he says gets pretty close to that amazing, first taste! (more…)

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A Bite of Mil Fromages Mac and Cheese

Every Sunday in our Cambridge shop, the kitchen staff get the day off and a cheesemonger helps to make our “Sunday Sandwiches” – small Iggy’s rolls with a varying assortment of toppings. We always  do a vegetarian option or two and then we regularly make some ham and Brie sarnies, sometimes dubbed the “Huron Classic” and at other times, “The Frenchman.” If time allows, that cheesemonger will also whip up an additional dish for the sandwich window. One such Sunday, I had enough time to make a casserole dish of mac ‘n’ cheese. Availing of our “cheese bits” bin, I think I used 35+ cheeses in the end. So, it was only a slight exaggeration when the dish was dubbed “Mil Fromages.” (more…)

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Toasted Orzo Parmigiano Reggiano Mac and Cheese

A couple of months ago, I had the good fortune to have a late afternoon lunch at B&G Oysters in the South End. With a natural affinity for all things dairy and, in particular, for a good mac and cheese, I ordered the orzo from their list of “sides” to go with my lobster roll.

It arrived in a small ceramic dish, hot from the oven. I pierced the crumb topping with my spoon and scooped up a bite. A little puzzled because there were some darker colored bits in amongst the cheesy creaminess, I thought that there was a little prosciutto surprise in there. (more…)

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Grilled Cheese: Comté and Fieschi's Confettura di Cipolline Borretane

Grilled Cheese: Comté and Fieschi’s Confettura di Cipolline Borretane

Grilled cheese sandwiches are classic American fare. Many of us associate this archetypal melty sandwich with childhood and/or with camping trips. I recall one particularly memorable camping trip when, after a hard day of canoeing, we finally reached our camp site. Situated on a beautiful Maine lake, the spot was picturesque and well-poised for swimming. We were hungry when we arrived but absolutely famished by the time we got camp set up. First thing on the agenda? Dinner. We made grilled cheese and tomato soup and, boy, did it taste like the best thing ever! That was the day when I became a firm believer in the saying, “hunger is the best sauce.” However, our enjoyment was also, undoubtedly, due to the inherent deliciousness of grilled cheese itself and the classic pairing with tomato soup. (more…)

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Dehydrated Morel Mushrooms

Dehydrated Morel Mushrooms

The months of January through early April in New England signify a time of rest and re-growth on the farm. While fields are quiet and covered with snow, farmers are offered a brief respite from harvesting. This time is used to select seeds and finish crop plans for spring. Naturally, this also means a lull in local produce available here at the shop, as many crops are out-of-season or grown in limited quantities at this time of the year.

Luckily, West Coast farms are able to offer and ship fresh, organic and sustainably harvested fruits and vegetables during the early months of the year. Here at our Cambridge location, we have been working closely with small family farms and foragers who practice similar growing methods to the farms we work with in New England. Among these are Foraged and Found Edibles, a purveyor and harvester of wild edibles from Northern California to British Columbia, from the Pacific Ocean to the Continental Divide. (more…)

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