Sunday, July 25, 2010


Last fall, Joan and Fritz came up for a visit with their gorgeous daughters, and brought me a rotisserie attachment for my grill. I had bought Mario Batali's ITALIAN GRILL book a year before, and one of the recipes that just knocked my socks off was for a boned and rolled--porchetta-style--turkey breast stuffed with a combination of bread cubes, sweet Italian sausages, onion, shallots, garlic, fresh fennel seed, fresh rosemary and thyme, chicken broth, salt and pepper, chicken broth and an egg. My own addition was red pepper flakes which gave the stuffing a nice zip. I hadn't broken in the rotisserie attachment, which frankly, intimidated me. My twin brother was up for a visit and I asked him to show me how to use it. Scott is Mr. Gadget, and it took a seconds to feel comfortable with it. Since I had scheduled a dinner party for eight, it seemed the right time to make the turkey dish, and break in the patio for a larger group.

Fritz warned me that he had done the same dish, but had encountered a problem. The turkey roll didn't hold together. Recipes are often a problem in chef-driven cookbooks. Chefs always opt for dazzle over practicality, often overlooking technical considerations or anticipating that what they do, is often difficult for the home cook. So I was ready. Batali's recipe called for the roast to be tied in eight places across, a basically okay idea, but not practical given the amount of stuffing. So I put a portion of stuffing in the inside of the boned breast, and then rolled it. I skewered it shut and then added the string ties across the roast. BUT I also looped a double row of strings across the length of of the roast which made it look like one of those fancy French-butchered roasts that are tied beautifully. There was no chance of any of that gorgeous stuffing falling into the grill. The lesson here is that even if you know what you're doing, question each aspect of the recipe. It's worth anticipating problems. The only problem was that I was so busy with getting the dinner on the patio table that I forgot to photograph the turkey. In the end, it was a triumph, and I baked the leftover dressing in a dish and served it on the side. I'll send Fritz my recommendations for success.

My guests brought flowers along with wine. John brought me this amazing bouquet of white lilies, which are currently stinking up my living room. And Joe and Tom brought me white hydrangeas which had tiny blue specs in them. Gorgeous.

Was 93 yesterday and today. AC is on, thought it's supposed to be comfortably back in the 80s tomorrow.

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