The Great Turkey Meatloaf Experiment of 2017

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Pictured: The loaf getting into the oven. Not pictured: Any other stages or the finished product.

I wanted to make a turkey meatloaf, but goddamn is turkey meatloaf terrible. Dry, tough, tasting mostly of bland poultry and salt—turkey meatloaf is basically the worst kind of “healthy” replacement foods. I thought what if it could be not dry and taste like something? There began Operation Turkey Meatloaf Experiment 2017.

So I threw together some ingredients, mostly orthodox but with some added moisture supports and flavor elements that tasted like something. It came out…good? I was surprised: It was supposed to be fine, but not good. Turkey meatloaf is not good. But this was. Damn. So, here, have a recipe that, for me at least, turned out quite good. Unfortunately for some, it may not be up to your dietary restrictions. I’m sure you could experiment for yourself.

1 T. olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1-2 carrots, grated
1 t. fresh thyme, chopped
1/4 t. cayenne
3/4 c. panko bread crumbs
1/4 c. milk
2 T. Worcestershire sauce
1 t. salt
1/2-3/4 t. pepper
1 egg
1/2 c. grated sharp cheddar cheese
2-3 T. Dijon mustard
7 oz. roasted red peppers, chopped (most of a 10 oz. jar)
1/2 – 1 c. fresh parsley, chopped
2 lbs. ground turkey
1/2 c. ketchup
1/4 c. molasses
2 T. brown sugar
1 T. apple cider vinegar
1/2 t. cayenne

1. Over medium-low heat in your favorite saute pan, cook the onion and carrot with a sprinkle of salt and olive oil until translucent and taking color. Took me about 10-20 minutes. I’ll never understand people who think they can cook onions in 2-4 minutes. Allow to cool.

1.5. This is a good time to get your oven going at 400 degrees.

2. In large bowl combine other ingredients. Maybe leave the turkey for last. Or not. I’m not your supervisor.

3. Mix in the onion/carrot mixture and turkey. I recommend using your hands with some gloves. Get it real good.

4. Put the (it’s going to be pretty wet) mixture into a loaf pan. You probably want to have sprayed some oil into the pan. Now, get out your sheet pan. Line it with aluminium foil. Plop that loaf pan upside-down onto the sheet plan and pull it off, hopefully leaving a loaf-shaped pile of meat on the pan.

5. In a little bowl off to the side, mix together the ketchup, molasses, sugar, vinegar and cayenne. Brush half of that (gently) on the loaf-shaped pile of meat you have there.

6. Insert your probe thermometer into the center of the meat pile and get it in the oven. Cook until it’s about 155 degrees, which took about 40 minutes in the experiment.

7. Pull out the meat and turn the oven up to 500. Brush the rest of the ketchup stuff on the meat, and when the oven is good and hot, put the loaf back in until gets some browning. Took me about 5 minutes.

8. LET THE GODDAMN MEAT REST. Give it about 15 minutes.

9. Eat the goddamn meat. Think: Well I’ll be goddamned. This isn’t actually that bad.

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Your Official V+V Sunday Super Tuesday Super Bowl Election Caucus Forum Trumphgasm Cocktails

Hooray. Today is Super fucking Tuesday or whatever. Truth is, calling a date during which state parties in 11 states vote “Super Tuesday” is like calling the Wild Card Round of the NFL playoffs the “Super Bowl(s?).” Whatever.

I mean, at this point, this whole fucking 2016 cycle is pictured below:

Or, more eloquently:

If you’re anything like the V+V fam, you’re probably going to want to have some dranks as results come in from these primary elections and caucuses. Like, probably a whole lot of dranks. Ted Cruz is going to be saying words on national television. Marco Rubio’s going to make fun of Donald Trump or something probably. Donald Trump is probably going to win a whole bunch of states now that he’s probably had a day to research what that KKK is all about. Clinton and Sanders might win some votes and yell about Wall Street. John Kasich is going to have a sad. Ben Carson is going to fly to Florida for a new pair of pants.

So what should you drink? Here are three options below, a high-end version, a middle-of-the-road option, and a low-end version (/bumps Low End Theory).

Here’s your high-end cocktail, Mr/Ms Wall Street Billionaire 99%er:

2 oz. Martell Cohiba XO cognac (or whatever brand you prefer, as you know more about good cognac than I do)
Cube of sugar
3 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
2 dashes Angostura bitters
Splash of Vieux Pontarlier or your favorite absinthe if it’s somehow better
Lemon or orange peel

Mix however you feel like it, because You Built It.

What you got there is a perfectly nice Sazerac, well, what used to be a Sazerac before the phylloxera epidemic wiped out all the French wine and therefore all the brandy in New Orleans. See, you’re Making America Great Again.

You in the middle-of-the-road? You one of those “centrists” or whatever people who don’t think much about it and really don’t give a fuck either way? Well, here you go:

Beer.

Drink it. Have another.

Oh, so you’re actually feeling pretty dejected and not at all high-end (ie. poor and/or sad). Here’s your cocktail recipe:

Alcohol (you know what kind you like, or what is on sale)
Ice?
Cup?

Mix however you feel like, because fuck it.

It’s cold outside, so it’s time for a hot toddy


Hot toddy

As it is the time of year we celebrate the birthday of our hallowed first president, many of us have been gifted the treasured three-day weekend. And since I have been gifted three days off in a row, my immune system has found it necessary to gift me in return a gnarly rhinovirus.

Being sick, though, is a great excuse to use whiskey as medicine.

Now, please do not take medical advice from me. Get your medical advise from doctors, not bloggers or huckster celebrities. Come to think of it, don’t take medical advice from huckster celebrities even when they are doctors. That’s right: vaccinate your fucking kids, people.

But, it’s friggin’ cold outside, and you’re locked in your small urban apartment watching Simpsons reruns and you have an excuse to make a delicious “medicinal” whiskey drink. So you should.

You want a recipe? Here’s a recipe:

1 shot, or about 2 oz. whiskey
1-2 Tbs. honey, to taste
1 slice of lemon, plus some addition juice if you want
Hot water to fill the mug
Spices, if you’re feeling fancy

Squeeze the requisite amount of honey into the bottom of your favorite mug (yeah, I know it’s coming from a bear; you’re not the type to have some kind of fancy locavore stuff). Slice a lemon and throw in as well. Measure out a shot of whiskey (I’m partial to inexpensive but decent bourbon. Irish is also great, rye would be fine, but Scotch is a different beast–I wouldn’t waste the good stuff) and drop it in. Heat your water as you do and fill the remainder of the mug. Stir with whatever you have handy.

Since we’re being medical, I think you should sprinkle on some cayenne pepper. Cayenne will help clear your sinuses, and some medical type people say capsaicin, the component in chili peppers that bring the heat, also relieves pain and inflammation. Again, don’t take medical advice from me. If you don’t want to be medicinal, and are looking for flavor, whole cloves are nice (I’ve been fancy before and pressed cloves into the rind of the lemon slices), as would be a cinnamon stick, star anise or some allspice berries. Just note that ground spices won’t really dissolve and will just sit as unappetizing grounds at the bottom of the mug.

Since it is cold outside, we’re not going to judge you for sitting back with your drink(s) and watching the new V+V Official Christmas Movie Marathon (in this order: The Hudsucker Proxy, Rocky IV, In Bruges, and finally Trading Places). You’re welcome, America.

Book Review: Forgotten Drinks of Colonial New England, by Corin Hirsch

Before pilsners and whiskeys were the tried and true choice of Americans, those in the New England colonies put their lips around a wide collection of concoctions to keep things loose through the day.  In Forgotten Drinks of Colonial New England, Corin Hirsch explores not just what we used to drink but how we drank it.  And drink we did.  Bitters before work was a morning ritual, cider at each meal was thought to keep one hydrated while avoiding polluted water, and if there wasn’t rum in your cup each night then good luck keeping pace with the national average.  Hirsch writes that when the Revolutionary War began, “colonists older than fifteen each drank 3.7 gallons of spirits per year . . . [and that by 1790] that figure had swelled to 5 gallons, in addition to 34 gallons of beer and 1 gallon of wine.”  That is roughly 3 shots a day, a beer, and then wine on fun days.  Not to mention the cider, which was consumed as water.

Flip, drink of choice in many taverns.
Author’s photo: Flip, drink of choice in many taverns.

The assortment of drinks at the town ordinary (tavern) was driven by availability.  Apple trees provided cider when the European hops wasn’t an option, and rum became a staple when people discovered that the molasses from Caribbean sugar cane production could be used for libation.  Everything from twigs, berries, pumpkins, and roots were used to make bitters and ales, and then mixed in with drinks.

Hirsch’s book includes dozens of recipes to ensure readers are experiencing history and not just learning about it.  Head over to the package store and stock your cupboard with dark rum, ale, cider, bitters, and brandy, for these are the foundational ingredients in many of the drinks.  With winter approaching, those preferring a warm beverage should grab some apple brandy and honey and fix yourself a Hot Toddy, raise a tankard of flip made of hot frothy ale, egg, rum, and nutmeg, or just mull some wine on the stove.  Just about everyone will be enlightened and thirsty after opening Hirsch’s book.

So, next time you are tippling with friends, go ahead and try something new that is old.

Bud Light makes a cup that turns into a vuvuzela

I’m having trouble deciding if this is the best idea ever or worst idea ever. I have a feeling that the decision will change depending my blood alcohol level. You see, the fine folks at Budweiser have crafted a Bud Light cup that doubles as a vuvuzela.

They’re calling it a ‘vuvuchela.’

For those who didn’t watch the 2010 World Cup (I don’t know you), or are familiar with South African soccer custom, a vuvuzela is a shitty plastic instrument that plays one note (b flat), loudly (up to 120 db) and for as long as you can blow. Much like all annoying things, they’re terrible unless you’re the one using them.

I’ll see you at the bar.

You Better Be Hungry: Polpette (Meatballs)

meatballs

I’m not very good at a great many things. Despite my median height and more-than-median girth, I’m not very good at basketball (wahurd will second this enthusiastically). My chess game lacks an endgame. I never beat Contra. I’m really, really, really bad at tennis (sorry, Bret).

But, there some things at which I excel. I’m a good driver. I’m at expert level on Wii Tennis. I’m currently on level 25 of Quizup Simpsons trivia. Oh, and I can cook some good foods. So, shit, why not tell you how to cook some good foods? Thus, here’s a new V+V series.

Polpette is just an Italian word for meatballs. You know delicious, whether or not you go all Italian-American and throw them on some spaghetti (it’s totally okay if you do!). You probably don’t know how easy they are to throw together. I’m going to give some vague proportions  with the directions so you know what you should add more of or less of, but honestly, fuck recipes.

Some meat: let’s say about a pound. An good old-fashioned English, well American pound, not a British pound’s (£) worth (that would be what, one meatball?). Use whatever fucking meat you want to. Feeling fancy? Mix up some ground beef, lamb, veal, or pork. Some stores sell a “meatloaf” mix, that’s okay too. Feeling not-so-fancy? Ground beef is just fine. Have an uncooked roast lying around? Go ahead and grind that fucker up. Oh, and if you’re feeling especially randy, go ahead and add a hot italian sausage or two to the mix. For, um, seasoning (fat). We’ll get back to this.

First, grab a small onion, or a half a big one. Dice that all up finely. Drop about a tablespoon of olive oil in a big frying or whatever pan, put the fire up the medium-low, and drop the onion in. Throw about a teaspoon of salt on top of that. Cook until it’s nice and browned (but not burned!), pushing it around a bunch while it’s cooking. Your kitchen’s going to start smelling pretty good soon.

When that’s all going, take about a 1/2-3/4 cup  of bread crumbs and throw them in a big ol’ bowl. They didn’t come from a fucking blue can, right? Panko’s fine, should you have some of them in your pantry. If you have some bread, grind that up. If you have some sliced bread, I’ll tell you what: just go ahead and rip up a couple of slices.

Betty Draper: "I speak Italian"

Now, take about a 1/4 cup of milk and add it to your bread / crumbs. Mash that shit up into a paste. Guess what? You just made a panade, which is another fancy Italian word that I think just means “milk-bread paste.” Apparently it also used to mean some kind of dagger in Chaucer’s English, but that’s not important (look, you’re learning meaningless English trivia in a food post!). Anyways, now that you’ve mix that shit up, add an egg. Hell, if you want, add two if you want, but I usually just add one. Mash that up.

You have your cheese ready now, right? No? Oh, right. Well, grind yourself up some hard cheese: Parmesan or Pecorino or Romano, or Asiago would all work. (Not feeling the dairy? You don’t have to add cheese. I guess you didn’t need to add the milk earlier either. This is just how the shit is done, okay? You can ruin do it however you want.) You’ll want about a 1/4-1/2 cup of cheese. Mash that in there.

Oh, you see that onion on your stove? That should be just about cooked by now. It’s been, what, about 5-7 minutes at this point? Maybe dice up a couple of garlic cloves and add those to the pan. Oh, quick, turn off the heat! You don’t want to the garlic to burn. It’ll cook a little while it cools a little bit.

Grab some fresh herbs. I’m not going to tell you which ones, but you’ll want a bunch of parsley, and I guess some basil. Those are good ones. Go ahead and chop the shit of those, you’ll want about a 1/4 cup of them when all is said and done. Throw that right on top of your panade/egg/cheese mixture. Now’s a good time to get a good pinch of salt in there—don’t be stingy! Grind some pepper on that shit too. Got nutmeg hanging around? Grind some of that on there too.

Did you turn your oven on yet? Yeah, we’re going to start these fuckers in the oven. It’s not exactly “traditional” but whatever. It’s easier than trying to fry round things in a frying pan. Go head a crank up the heat. If it goes to 550, do that. Otherwise, as hot as it gets.

Get out your sheet pan. You want one of the big ones. Go ahead and put some aluminum foil on top. Spray some non-stick on there. Now, add your meat and the onions to the bowl. With your hands (you have latex gloves, right?), give that shit a good mixing. Once mixed, mold them into 1 1/2 inch balls (bigger than what you probably think they should be). I usually aim for about 12 balls. You can certainly make them bigger and fewer of them!

I usually let them rest a little before I put them in the oven, which is a good time to make the sauce in which we’ll simmer them. Chop up an onion and maybe six cloves of garlic. See that pan you used earlier? Just throw a couple tablespoons of olive oil in there. Put in the onion and a good amount of salt. Cook until it’s all nicely cooked and add the garlic. A couple minutes later, splash in some decent white wine. Cook that a minute, then add a 28-oz can of tomatoes (however you like them), a tablespoon of chopped thyme and five or six chopped leaves of basil, and as much red pepper flakes as is reasonable for your tastes. Go ahead and cook this down a bit.

Now, throw those meatballs in the oven and cook them until they got some brown on them. Not that weak-ass light brown that means they’re not red anymore, dark brown. When they’re all good and dark, take them out of the oven. Don’t forget to turn the oven off! Carefully—carefully!—drop the meatballs one-by-one into your amazing sauce. Give that at least 15 minutes at a simmer to marry the flavors. The longer you go, the meatier, and therefore better, your sauce will be.

Now eat those fuckers. You want pasta? I shouldn’t have to fucking tell you how to make spaghetti; you’re a fucking adult.

Temperance Railway, next stop Cigaretteville

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I love maps, I love transit, I love transit maps, I love historical documents, and I love all things drink. So, you can imagine that I love this map. It’s pretty great. From 1908, and recently dug up by the Library of Congress, it shows all the stops you’ll go through if you continue down your non-temperate life. Such places as Selfishburg, Hypocrisy Heights, Whiskeyton (my neighborhood), Treasondale, Malicefort, Cocain Park, Sing Sing, Dissipation Gap and Prizefight City.

Here it is full-sized and huge in case you want to print me a present.

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