This year, I skipped turkey for Thanksgiving. I recently learned about commercial turkeys being heavily supersized that they grow so big to require artificial insemination. In the article from Wired Science, it says:
“In commercial and academic turkey-breeding programs, adult male turkeys, called toms, can reach 50 pounds at the tender age of five months, said John Anderson, a longtime turkey breeder at Ohio State University. Anderson, who has bred the birds for 26 years, said the key technical advance was artificial insemination, which came into widespread use in the 1960s, right around the time that turkey size starts to skyrocket. The reason is that turkeys over 30 pounds are "inefficient" breeders: It’s difficult for them to actually perform the natural mating act. With artificial insemination, the largest birds can still be used as sires, even if they have a hard time walking, let alone engaging in sexual reproduction."
The whole article is actually very interesting and they talk about other foods like corn and potato and how our foods we eat today have changed drastically to please humans’ palate.
Turkeys that can’t walk, can’t fly, can’t reproduce... made solely for the purpose of human consumption... They might as well be lined next to Twinkies. I won’t say that I will never eat these turkeys ever again, but as long as I have a choice, I will choose an organic kind from now on and probably eat much less than before. It’s really sad to limit myself from eating certain things in such a way. But what’s even sadder is that this information is not easily found especially in the government sites. What does it all mean?
Give Thanks? Science Supersized Your Turkey Dinner by Wired Science
I was actually invited for a dinner on Thanksgiving this year to a friend’s house, not aware that they weren’t serving turkey. Although they had a different reason for the no-turkey dinner (they said that it’s too bland and boring), it made me very happy. (I wouldn’t ask people to make changes just because I choose not to eat certain things – it’s a Zen way of thinking.) There were a lot of foods that night – all homemade and really good. We all had second or third plates, but still it was just impossible to finish the big chunk of ham among eight of us. So we all got to take some home - thank you C & L!
I had a pretty good slice of the ham with my lunch the next day and even some more for the following day. I looked around in my fridge and found a leek (hidden in the back corner) from my CSA delivery about a couple of weeks ago. Every fruit and veggie in that box is precious to me, so I did not want it going to waste. I quickly threw together puff pastry dough and… Voila! made a ham & leek pie, Kitchen M style.
A typical leek pie would involve lots of fat like butter and cream, but that’s not quite what I wanted after the Thanksgiving feast. I kept it as low fat as possible without compromising the taste. I used buttermilk instead of cream (believe it or not, 1 Tbsp of heavy cream has more fat than a cup of 2% buttermilk), and used only 1Tbsp of extra virgin olive oil to cook the filling. Of course the puff pastry part couldn’t be modified; however just using it on the top and even making the top lattice (picture shown below) can make it a better choice if you are concerned about excess fat and calories, like me.
This was one of the best uses of leftover ham I've ever created! Save this recipe for your post-Christmas leftover dinners.
Ingredients (serves 4):
Puff Pastry Dough (If you are using puff pastry on the bottom and the sides, you will have to double this recipe)
1 c AP flour
1 stick butter
Pinch of salt
1/4 c + 2 Tbsp ice cold water
1 Tbsp EV olive oil
5-6 oz ham, cubed
1 leek, chopped to 1/3” thick
4 mushrooms, sliced thinly
1 c 2% cultured buttermilk
1 large or 2 medium potato
1 oz hard cheese (I used Andante’s cow’s milk variation #1: picture below), shredded
Salt & pepper to taste
1 egg for eggwash
Optional: sprig of thyme for garnishing
Making the puff pastry dough:
In a large bowl, mix flours and salt together. Add 3 Tbsp of butter and stir well with a wooden spoon. Pour ice water and continue mixing the dough until it just begins to hold together. Using you hands, firmly shape the dough into a rough ball (don’t work too much as the butter start to melt) and transfer to a lightly floured surface. Flatten the dough and roll it out to about 1/4” thick, oval shaped. You are going to fold the dough in thirds, like a business letter. So, place some thinly sliced cold butter in the middle fold. Pick up one end and bring it towards the middle to cover the butter. Pick up the other end and bring it to the middle to complete the fold. Turn the dough 90 degrees and roll out the dough to again 1/4” thick. Repeat this procedure two more times. If your dough starts to get wet and gooey, simply stop working with it, wrap it with plastic wrap and place it in the freezer for 15 minutes or so. Then repeat the folding procedure for at least two more times once the dough is cooled down. (Don’t worry if you run out of butter, you can just keep folding without it.) After the fifth or sixth folding is done, wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let it rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
You can now start preheating the oven to 400F.
Making the filling:
Wash potatoes well and microwave for 5-6 minutes. When you insert a skewer, it should be soft in the middle. If not continue microwave for another couple of minutes.
In a large skillet, heat 1 Tbsp of olive oil over medium high and sauté cut leek until they turn golden brown. Add mushrooms and ham, season with salt and pepper.
Reduce the heat to medium low, add a cup of buttermilk and stir well. Continue cooking until the liquid is reduced more than half. Turn off the heat, add shredded cheese and stir well.
Cut cooked potatoes into 1/2” thick crosswise. Line the bottom of ramekins with potatoes in one layer. Add cooked filling on top of potatoes. Take out the dough from the fridge. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to 1/4” thick, cut into the shape you want and place it on top of the filling. Brush the puff pastry dough with egg wash and bake them in the 400F oven for 15 to 20 minutes or until the crust become golden brown. Serve hot. Garnish with sprig of thyme (Optional).
It’s somewhere between Gouda and Parmesan – young, smooth, nutty, mildly salty and creamy, no grittiness or crunchiness or super salty like Parmesan. Her cheeses are just amazing and they are sold/served in certain selected stores and fine restaurants such as The French Laundry, Coi, Chez Panisse and Cyrus. If you love cheese and are visiting the Bay Area, I recommend stopping by their booth at farmers market at SF Ferry Terminal.