Thursday, November 26, 2015

NEW RECIPE: Upside-Down Roasted Turkey with Trivet Gravy (Happy Thanksgiving!!

Copyright 2015, Constantine William Spyrou. All rights reserved.

I hope that all of you had a wonderful and blessed Thanksgiving!! Below was the abundant spread we had that was basically all cooked by the younger generation of the two families that came together for our Thanksgiving meal. How amazing is that? My younger sister made a pumpkin pie from scratch (not pictured here, but tasted amazing!) My older sister made the mashed potatoes. I helped out with two different kids of stuffing (regular and gluten-free!). Our cousin made sweet potatoes and toasted marshmallows! Of course, the centerpiece was the turkey - and the pressure was on for me this year. 

Last year, I did a smoked turkey that took a lot of prep work and time, but was worth it in terms of flavor. This year, I wanted to go for a simpler method that kept the turkey meat incredibly moist. I learned an interesting technique from British Youtube stars SORTED food - where they roasted the turkey UPSIDE DOWN. I know, it's crazy!! 

Using my mom's classic brine technique, I went for a similar method to SORTED with my turkey - and it worked brilliantly! The turkey meat was incredibly moist and juicy, and stayed warm even after over an hour of resting - which helped make it even more tender and delicious! Using a citrus and rosemary flavoring, this turkey is subtle in flavor but delicious and moist enough to grace any Thanksgiving - or Christmas - table! 

This recipe also comes with a gravy made from the roasting pan trivet (vegetable cooked underneath)- simple, but incredibly delicious! 

Recipe is good for a 10-11 pound turkey.


1 10-11 pound turkey, neck and giblets removed if present
9-10 quarts water for the brine
4 oranges, halved
2 limes, halved
2 lemons, halved
4 sprigs fresh rosemary
1/4 cup cracked black peppercorns
4 tbsp cracked sea salt
2 tbsp ground black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
6 bay leaves
1 leek, roughly chopped
3 carrots, roughly chopped
1 large white onion, roughly chopped
1 small white onion, peeled
1 parsnip, roughly chopped
8 stalks celery, roughly chopped
1 cup lemonade
2 tbsp clarified butter
4 sprigs fresh thyme
2 cups water for the gravy
2 minced cloves of garlic
1 cup dry white wine
2 tbsp butter
4 cups turkey stock (or chicken stock)


1. Pour the water into a brining container. Stir in 3 tbsp salt, all of the cracked black peppercorns, the bay leaves, and the rosemary. Squeeze in the juice of all of the citrus halves and add them in as well. Stir well to combine. Place in the turkey, and brine in the fridge overnight.

2. Preheat your oven to 355 degrees Fahrenheit (on convection bake if your oven supports that setting). In a roasting pan, toss together the leeks, carrots, onion, and celery with olive oil and some salt and pepper.

3. Remove the turkey from the brine and place it on top of the vegetables. Season the inside of the cavity with salt and pepper before placing in some of the citrus halves (at least one orange and one lemon), the small onion, and some of the rosemary/bay leaves from the brine.

4. Place on top of the vegetables on the roasting tray, then pour the water and white wine into the roasting pan. Cover the turkey with tinfoil and bake for 1 hour and 45 minutes (roughly 10-15 minutes per pound)

5. When the first portion of cooking is about done, melt 2 tbsp of clarified butter in the microwave and stir in warmed lemonade (to keep the butter from resolidfying).

6. Take the turkey out of the oven, remove the tinfoil, and up the temperature to 435 degrees F. Brush the turkey with the lemonade/butter mixture, then place back in the oven. Baste again every 10 minutes for another 20-30 minutes, until the thickest part of the breast reads 170 degrees F on a meat thermometer.

7. Remove the turkey from the roasting pan, cover with tinfoil, and let rest until ready to carve. Chop up the onion from inside the turkey, and place it and the squeezed citrus juice back into the roasting pan. Place your roasting pan on the stove on a high heat, bringing the liquid up to a boil.

8. Mash all of the vegetables up as much as possible, letting the liquid reduce by half. Add in the clarified butter, fresh thyme, and turkey stock, then bring back up to a boil. Simmer for 10 minutes before straining into a pot and leaving to heat on low until ready to serve!

The turkey may not have the darkest skin, but it is beautifully cooked and moist on the inside. The gravy has a complexity of flavor from all of the roasted vegetables and layers of herbs that are added throughout the cooking process, making it the perfect complement to the most amazing, moist turkey!

I hope you enjoyed this recipe! Let me know what you think and what you would change. If you make it at home, let me know how it turns out! Enjoy, and have a wonderful Thanksgiving!! =)

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

NEW RECIPE: Mongolian Pork Chops with Sweet Chili Persimmon Chutney

Copyright 2015, Constantine William Spyrou. All rights reserved.

I go to a small church in West Sacramento that is vibrant, fun, and amazing. One of the coolest things about the church is the amazing garden our priest has constructed over the years. A wide variety of fruits, from grapes to figs to persimmons, grow throughout the year. 

Persimmons have been in season for the past couple of months, and my priest actually gave me a persimmon to take home, for which I was really grateful! They are great to eat on their own, but since I've never actually cooked a persimmon before, I was eager to give it a shot.

Persimmons are naturally pretty sweet, so I thought it would be a great idea to incorporate them into something sweet and spicy, like a sweet chili sauce. Although it ended up being more chunky like a chutney, this sauce - completed with shishito peppers - plays more on the sweet then spicy side and makes a perfect complement to the hotter Mongolian marinade used on the pork chops. Served with fragrant Jasmine rice, this dish is perfect for the late autumn season! 

Recipe serves 2 people.

For the Sweet Chili Chutney:

4 Shishito peppers, deseeded and finely chopped
1 Fuyu persimmon, diced into 1/4" cubes
2 tbsp sugar
1 cup water
1 tbsp minced ginger
1 clove minced garlic
1/2 tbsp soy sauce
1/2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
2 tsp Chinese Five Spice

For the Pork Chops:

1 lb pork chops, fat layer/rind trimmed off
2 tbsp soy sauce
1/2 tbsp chili bean paste with oil
1 clove minced garlic
1 tbsp minced ginger
1/2 tbsp honey
1/2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
2 cups Jasmine rice to serve with


1) Combine all of the pork chops and ingredients for the marinade in a container, bowl, or plastic bag until well mixed. Leave to marinate for as little as 20 minutes and as long as overnight (the longer, the more flavor).

2) Add your sugar and water into a small saucepan on high heat. When the mixture begins to boil, add in the ginger, garlic, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, and shishito chili peppers.

3) Stir quickly, then bring up to a boil before reducing down to a low simmer. Add in the chopped persimmons and Chinese five spice, combine well, and bring back to a simmer for 15 minutes. Let cool.

4) Allow the pork chops to come up to room temperature before cooking. Add them to a frying pan on medium high heat with some oil. Cook for 2-3 minutes on each side.

5) When serving, cover the pork chops with the persimmon chutney to get the perfect balance of sweet and spice!

This dish really brings together a wide variety of textures and flavors, from the chunkiness of the persimmon and the sweet heat the chili sauce provides to the bolder flavors of the pork chop that balance out its denseness as well as the sweet of the chutney perfectly. Overall, this is an amazing dish that uses persimmons from the priest's garden. Thanks Fr. Paul! 

I hope you enjoyed this recipe! Let me know what you think and what you would change. If you make it at home, let me know how it turns out! Enjoy! =) 

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

NEW RECIPE: Moroccan Spiced Chicken Drumsticks with Fragrant Cheat's Couscous

Copyright 2015, Constantine William Spyrou. All rights reserved.

One of the greatest things I love about cooking is how much of a learning curve everybody has. You can always discover new ingredients or flavor combinations and discover fun and interesting ways to use them. I had such an experience with a new spice blend I found on the market shelves: Ras El Hanout.

Ras El Hanout is a traditional Moroccan spice blend that has a variety of powerfully fragrant ingredients, including multiple types of ground peppercorns, lavender, cinnamon, and many other powerful spices. Together, it has a wonderfully fragrant scent that goes perfectly with just about anything. I decided to use it to make a much cheaper version of a Moroccan classic - Chicken Tagine.

Tagines typically have a ton of different vegetables and spices, including the extremely expensive saffron and everything from squash to eggplant. This version is much simpler and cheaper. Everything can basically be cooked in the same pan (except for the cheat's couscous, which simply involves pouring the remaining hot liquid in with the couscous to make it) in the oven, which means they all flavor each other in the most amazing way. The herby couscous is a cheap but perfect counterpart to the chicken and vegetables in the final dish that will leave an amazing scent in your kitchen and a warm feeling in your belly. 

Recipe serves 4 people.


4 chicken drumsticks
1 medium white onion, thinly sliced
2 bell peppers (multicolor if possible), thinly sliced
2 small mild chilies, roughly chopped (I used Shishito peppers, anything around that mildness works perfectly)
2 cloves minced garlic
1/2 tablespoon ras el hanout
1/2 tablespoon sumac
Salt and pepper to season
2 cups chicken stock
1 cup dry couscous
1/4 cup fresh chopped mint
1/2 tablespoon lemon juice


1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.

2. Combine the chicken drumsticks, onion, bell peppers, chili, garlic, ras el hanout, sumac, and salt and pepper to taste in a baking dish. Pour the chicken stock over the mixed chicken and vegetables, and rearrange the drumsticks after mixing to ensure that they sit on top of all of the vegetables.

3. Cover the baking dish with tinfoil, and bake for 35-40 minutes. Remove the foil and turn the heat up to 425 degrees for another 10 minutes to help brown the skin.

4. Combine the couscous and the mint in a bowl. Once the baking dish comes out of the oven, pour over enough of the chicken broth to completely and submerge the couscous, about a cup. Let the couscous sit for around 5 minutes until the broth is fully absorbed. Squeeze over the lemon juice, and fluff with a fork.

5. Serve the chicken with the couscous and plenty of the vegetables from the baking dish. Drizzle with any leftover broth to maximize flavor.

Using a cheap cut like chicken drumsticks as well as cheap vegetables and grains like couscous, onions, and bell peppers makes this dish very easily to pull off on a college budget, even with the sumac and ras el hanout (which don't cost more than most spices). It makes it incredibly easy to pull off a light, fragrant, and delicious meal for you and your friends!

I hope you enjoyed this recipe! Let me know what you think and what you would change. If you make it at home, let me know how it turns out! Enjoy! =)