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So You Want to Deep Fry A Turkey for Thanksgiving? A Complete How to Guide

22 Nov

So you think you want to Deep Fry a Turkey for Thanksgiving? I salute you! A deep fried turkey is the most flavorful and juicy cooking methods to handle these massive land birds. Deep Frying a whole turkey is relatively easy, but also easy to f%ck up and when I say F*ck Up!, I mean 3rd degree burns, house fire and crispy poodles.  Now I don’t want to scare you away from deep frying a turkey, as you will never go back to a regular oven baked turkey ever again!  After following these instructions,  you will be able to safely deliver a juicy fried feast to your family and friends without 3rd degree burns.

What happens when you dont follow instructions! Turkey Nuclear Meltdown!

This method I am about to teach  will require a little extra work, but your beast of the barnyard will not only make it to your table in one piece, but so will you. Did I mention that your dinner guests will treat you like a hero and will hoist you over their shoulders in celebration. Woot Woot!

Does your own independent research on safety, follow the manufacturer’s instructions on the deep fryer. For the love of whatever God you pray to, follow ALL safety instructions. I mean it! Please see the attached picture to see what happens when you get lazy or cut corners. With that disclaimer, lets DEEP FRY a Turkey!!!!!!

What You Need

1)    Turkey – No more than 15 pounds (I’m serious about this one)

2)    Dry Seasoning Mix -Lawry’s seasoning , pepper, cayenne pepper (just a pinch), garlic powder, paprika,

Peanut oil provides a high smoke point and adds natural flavors

3)    Container of Peanut Oil (They sell this at Costco) 25 pounds

4)    Deep Fryer Set with 40-60 Quart Pot– You can get this from any hardware store (Home Depot, Lowes, ect)

  1. The set should include the burner apparatus, deep fryer pot, basket or turkey mounting perch, safety lift hook, deep fry thermometer.

5)    Full tank of propane – as most stores who sell full ones are closed on Thanksgiving. If you are unsure, don’t be lazy and buy an extra the day before.

6)    Digital Thermometer

7)    Ladder

This is the set I recommend, it can be purchased at most hardware stores or even Walmart if you swing that way

8)    Pulley system (homemade see instructions)

9)    Zip Ties (optional)

10) Three rolls of paper towels – To dry the turkey and clean (lots of oil splattering)

11) Large Serving Dish

12) Heavy Duty Foil

13) Fire Extinguisher suitable for Grease Fires (multi-purpose will due)

 

Flavor Injectors or Au Natural?

Should you turn your turkey into a real housewife of the OC? I think not

Many deep fry sets come with a food grade hypodermic needle to inject sauce into the muscle tissue of the meat.  There are mixed thoughts on this process. I have tried this technique, as it does infuse of flavor into the core of the meat. Although here are a couple of things to consider. First, you are introducing a little bit of safety hazard as injecting the bird with extra sauce will add uncontrolled moisture to the party, which can result in issues. Second a deep fried turkey’s flavor is in a near pure state, which can only be summoned by a deep fry exorcism. If you inject Mr. Tom Turkey with sauce, then you are tampering with his natural flavor profile and instead you will be tasting  Mrs. Sassy’s Secret Sauce. I vote Yes to Turkey and NO! to artificial injections. After all we are worried about the suppleness of its meat and crispiness of its skin, not injections like it’s a middle-aged housewife of the O.C. If you insist, be sure not to use a  smooth sauce with no particles as it will get clogged in the needle. Just saying from experience.

 Preparing the Turkey

Your turkey MUST be completely defrosted in order to deep fry; this means you MUST transfer your turkey to the fridge several days before the big deep fry day. Another option is to buy a “fresh” turkey which is already defrosted. In either case, inspect of the turkey for signs of a frozen center core. Even the Department of Homeland Security agrees with me, read this article posted on 11/22/2011 by DHS, although be sure to come back to my blog after you read the articles, especially my ADD friends http://campaign2012.washingtonexaminer.com/blogs/beltway-confidential/dhs-issues-turkey-fryer-warning

First, remove all packaging from the bird, including plastic wrapping, metal clasps in the turkey, plastic thermometers. Also be sure to reach inside the turkey and remove all packets, hearts, gizzards and whatever other goodies you find inside. If you like the internal organs or neck, good for you, but set it aside you will not need it. 

Ensure your turkey is completely dry, inside and out. Dont be shy with paper towels

Second, reach your fist deep inside the cavity like you are a fake proctologist and feel around for signs of frozen meat at the bone level. Next, push down on the breasts; if anything is firm it’s not a breast implant you are feeling, that is a frozen section. If you come across frozen sections don’t worry,  it can be remedied by running cold water through the cavity via the kitchen faucet. If you want to be sure, I highly suggest using an instant read digital thermometer to take some temperature readings. I suggest you insert the thermometer into the breast via the inside cavity. If the meat is reading 32 Degrees (+/- 5 degrees) then keep running cold water through it.

Third, let your turkey rest at room temperature for a couple of hours before the deep fry. This step is a judgment call, as you will have to balance food safety and the perfect turkey. Allowing the turkey to rest at room temperature will allow the temperature of the turkey to rise. Why would I do this? Simple, if the turkey is really cold, it will also cool down the boiling oil, resulting in a longer cooking time. By extending the cooking time, you are going to get a darker (if not burnt) skin. In addition, if the turkey is very cold, it will result in the oil cooling so much that the turkey will not seal and allow oil to permeate the muscle.  On the other side of the coin, letting poultry sit out at room temperature takes the meat into a danger zone that is ripe for bacterial growth. What is the middle ground? Use only clean and sanitized surfaces to let the turkey rest, wash hands EACH TIME before and after handling raw meat, keep the turkey covered and away from animals, kids, insects and the meddling Aunt Mable. I place the resting turkey in a large container and cover it with paper towels. I would let the turkey warm up to at least 55 degrees.

Measuring the Oil Level in the Pot

Use the turkey to measure how much oil you will need, by using water. Dont forget measure the water line after the turkey is removed

Place the turkey on its perch. This will either be a metal basket or a contraption that looks like a perforated base and a hook popping out. If you are using a perch, slip the hook up from the rear end through the neck (up yours Mr. Turkey), so that the turkey is “sitting” on the perch. Next, place the perched turkey into the pot. The turkey is used to measure how much oil is needed.  Next, fill the pot will hose water (yes do this outside, it will get messy), until the top of the turkey is completely covered with water, plus 2 inches. Next, lift the turkey out of the pot and let all the water drip back into the pot.  Important step! Make a mark how high the water is AFTER the turkey is removed. This water line mark, will tell you how much oil you should place in the pot. AGAIN, measure the water line after the turkey is removed. This is a big rookie mistake that I have made almost every year.  Next fill the pot with oil, up to the line you marked; do this step now or you will forget. It is time to warm up the oil.

Setting up the Burner and Warming Up the Oil

Make sure the burner is set back at least 20 feet from structures, 30 feet is better. This is not my set up, notice how he put cardboard under the burner. Don't do this! It is a conbustable and just stupid

IMPORTANT!!! Set up the burner at least 20 feet away from any structure (including your house).  Yes it is common for deep fried turkey experiments to go horribly wrong, so be smart and keep the deep fried fun away from anything that can catch fire. In addition, place the burner on a flat area, preferable on grass or dirt. Never set up your burner in the house, on a wooden deck, or right next to the house. Also be sure to place your fire extinguisher near your deep fry station, just in case things get out of control.

Place the pot of oil on the burner and then turn the burner on to high. The goal is to get the oil to 325°F and no higher than 350°F. Either you can use the thermometer included in your deep fry kit or purchase a candy thermometer. Depending on the starting temperature of the oil, this heat up period can take from 30 minutes to 45 minutes. While the oil is warming up, this is a good time to season the turkey. If you have to leave the fry station to season the turkey, be sure to leave someone there to monitor the oil. Never leave hot oil on the burner unattended!!! Especially if there are kids or pets around.

While the oil is heating up, season the turkey with your choice of dry seasonings. Be sure to season both the outside and the inside of the turkey. Be generous with your seasoning, such that there is a light seasoning crust forming on the turkey. The spices I prefer include Lawry’s seasoning salt, pepper, garlic, paprika, cayenne pepper (just a little), garlic powder.

Prepping the Safety Hoist (not a required step but I highly recommend)

This is the pulley system I made. Notice how I use a locking carabiner to connect to the perch. I connect the pulley to the ladder using a bolt and hook piece (get all supplies from your hardware store)

Although using a safety hoist is not a mandatory step, it is a lot safer than lowering a turkey into scalding hot oil at crotch level (think about this for a few minutes). The day before, you will want to assemble your safety hoist. You will need some rope, a pulley, a hook and a carabiner and a ladder. The goal is to create a pulley system that will allow you to lower the turkey into the oil from a distance.  I personally attached the pulley to a 2×4 segment and strapped it to the top rung of a ladder using zip ties. If your ladder has a top step (platform), then I recommend bolting the pulley into the top step. I used a carabiner to connect the turkey holder (perch) to the pulley system.  This set up allowed me to slowly lower the turkey into the oil without fear of burning my kiwis.

The Deep Fry Stud Tom Holmberg, from Tom's Foodie Blog, showing off his Deep Fry Rig. He is ready to deep fry a turkey and talk about myself in the 3rd person.

 

I tie up one end of the rope while I secure the turkey perch hook to the carabiner. When everything is hooked up the Turkey is ready for a hot bath.

Lowering the Turkey into the Deep Fryer! Now that I know I am playing it safe, it is time to summon the inner Beavis and Buthead and deep fry a turkey!!! The goal is to VERY slowly lower the turkey into the boiling oil. If you lower it too fast, then the oil WILL overflow and fly everywhere, thereby causing a chain reaction that ends with a fire volcano in your backyard. No Bueno! So my advice is to lower the turkey 2 inches every 30 seconds, until the turkey hits the bottom of the pot. This is always my favorite step in the process. The sound created when you first lower the turkey is very loud and a little bit intimidating to watch…if not just a little exciting! If you are a guy, this step is the equivalent of watching a fight at a NASCAR crash or the fight scene of a Bruce Lee movie. If you F&*@ Up this step, congrats your video will make it on YouTube,  under “deep fried Turkey Disaster.” I will secretly laugh at you.

Let her FRY!

After the turkey is lowered in, I tie up the rope and constantly monitor the temperature of the oil to ensure it does not exceed 350 degrees. Adjust the burner to keep oil temperature between 325 -350 degrees.

With a whole turkey, you can estimate cooking time at three minutes per pound. The goal is a temperature of 170° F at the breast and 180° F in the thigh. Remember how I said, 3 minutes per pound? This rule can go out the window sometimes, so you might want to consider hoisting the turkey out and checking the temperature when you are at ½ ways through the estimated cooking time and again about 5 minutes before the estimated finish time. If the temperature is at or just a tad under, then remove it. If you were drinking beers and chatting with your friends and forgot to check the temperature….then you deserve burnt turkey. Put the beer down and monitor your turkey.

Hoisting the Turkey out of its Jacuzzi

When your set time has elapsed or the breast reaches 170 degrees. Hoist the Turkey out, tie off the rope securely, and use the retrieval hook that came with your kit to secure the bird while you unclip it. A second person is highly recommended for this step.

When the turkey is done, slowly hoist the turkey out of the pot and tie up the rope to the ladder, so that it is very secure.  Use the recovery hook, provided with your kit, and secure the turkey and move it away from the pot of hot oil to a nearby work station. Next, unhook the turkey and place it in a serving platter, cover it with heavy-duty foil and let the turkey rest for at least 10 minutes. This cool down period will allow the juices to pull back into the meat. If you cut open the turkey right away, the juices will just be lost on the cutting board.

Next Cut it up and enjoy.

Winning! Your Deep Fried Turkey will have a nice mahogany skin, juicy flesh and will fall off the bone. Don't you wish your turkey was hot like mine!

I guarantee you will be the hero of the dinner table!

Clean Up!

Let the oil cool down, preferably overnight. Using a funnel pour the oil back into its original container and dispose of it according to your local trash disposal ordinance. My city allows us to through it in the trash, as long as it is in a closed container and clearly labeled as “used cooking oil.”  Don’t be douche and dump the oil  down the sink, toilette,  garden, or storm drain.

Good Luck with your deep frying adventures!

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Tonights Cooking Experiment – Greek Style Rotisserie Boneless Leg of Lamb (600 calories )

21 Jul

I had a craving to eat a nice hunk of rotisserie lamb after looking at my vacation pictures from Greece. What does a good foodie do when he has a hankering for something?  Go make it! This  blog post about making a boneless leg of lamb on your gas grill’s rotisserie. I know the rotisserie may be a sore point for some people out there. After all you probably paid extra for your gas grill,  because you insisted on having this functionality. Most likely you were having fantasies of  rotisserie chickens dancing in your head. But in reality, how many times have you used it? once or twice? Maybe not at all? Don’t worry you are not alone. This recipe is relatively easy and a great excuse to start using that rotisserie again, or for the first time.  

Here are the ingredients that you will need:

  • Boneless leg of lamb (this item can be obtained from Costco)
  • Olive Oil
  • Lemon Juice
  • Red Wine
  • Italian or Greek Salad Dressing
  • Garlic Powder
  • Dry Basil
  • Dry Mint
  • Cayenne Pepper Powder (just a tad)
  • Onion Powder
  • Dry Basil
  • Dry Oregano
  • Mustard Powder
  • Paprika

For the Side

  • Brown Onion
  • Feta
  • Pita
  • Greek Yogurt
  • Greek Olives
  • Humus

Step 1 – Take the lamb out and let it rest at room temperature. The goal is to get the lamb’s internal temperature as close a possible to the exterior temperature, about 60 minutes.

Step 2 –  Make a liquid mixture of the oil, dressing, lemon juice and red wine and either soak it for 30 minutes for give it a brush down with the liquid mixture. I personally prefer to work a drier cut of meat, so I simply brush it on. 

Next, combine all the dry seasonings and coat the lamb liberally, so that every inch of the lamb is covered in dry seasoning. The lamb will have a pasty look from the liquid and dry seasonings combining.  This paste will create a nice crusting on the meat that will lock in the juices.   I have not provided proportions on the dry or wet seasoning,  as you should cook to your personal preferences

 Next, insert the rotisserie rod through the meat and secure with the rotisserie hooks.

Step 3 – Place a cookie sheet wrapped in foil under the burner.  Next,  connect the rotisserie skewer to the rotation motor  and turn the motor on slow. Set the  rotisserie burner to high for the first 20 minutes,  this technique will  sear the meat and  ensure the moisture is locked into the meat.  The heat should stay at medium.  Be sure to also baste the rotisserie every 15 minutes with the drippings and a the liquid marinate. Be sure to close the hood when you are not basting!  

Step 4 During the last 30 minutes, place cut up brown onions with yogurt butter in aluminum foil pouch next to the heat source. The onions will brown from the heat while the lamb cooks.

The lamb should cook on the rotisserie for 20 minutes per pound. When it is done it should have a dark brown exterior and internal temperature of 150 (Somewhere between medium-rare and medium).During the last 10 minutes (assuming the meat is not too dark), crank the burner to high; as a result, the exterior will turn slightly crispy and crusty.

 Note: Please use a thermoter to cook your lamb, every gas grill is different so the 20 min per pound is NOT full proof. Check the temperature often, as it may reach 150 without warning.  You MUST avoid cooking lamb to “well done” as it will be very tough and dry.

Step 6 – Remove the meat from the flame , extract the skewer (use caution the skewer is hot) and wrap the lamb up in heavy foil.  Let the lamb rest in the foil for 10 minutes, allowing the temperature to settle and the juices withdraw back into the muscle of the meat. After 10 minutes, remove the foil carefully as the button section will have a puddle of meat juices you will retain for au juice or sauce.

Note: The meat will continue to cook in the foil, so if you wish your meat to be a little more rare, then I suggest taking it out at 145 degrees.

Step 7 – Place the meat on the cutting board and cut it against the muscle grain into half inch slices, be sure to retain the juices from the cut.

Step 8 – Finally, assemble a toasted pita with taziki, feta, tomato, Persian cucumbers and thick cuts of lamb and drizzle with the collected juices. Next wrap it over and shove it in your mouth. Yummy! (600 calories as shown).

I recommend a California Central Coast California Zinfandel with this dish as it handles the gamy lamb and pugent garlic well.  I tried this wine with the meal and it was excellent.

Candor Zinfandel ($19)” from Paso Robles and Lodi exhibits a boatload of fruit, plum, blackberry, pomegranate, nearly a syrah like nose. In the mouth this version is lush and viscous with deep spice notes and carry the soft fruit throughout the mouth. This wine has soft tannins making it easy to drink and a nice touch of oak to round it out. At this price, you can’t find a better quality zinfandel, and one which has several tricks up its sleeve” (wine review from http://www.intowine.com/best-zinfandel-money)

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Tonight’s Cooking Experiment – “Southern Chicken Gets Drunk in Key West” (650 Calories)

8 Jun

Tonight’s Cooking Experiment – “Southern Chicken Gets Drunk in Key West” (650 Calories)

Tonight’s cooking experiment is a twist on two dishes I tasted in restaurants over the past year, Coconut Crusted Chicken and Pecan Crusted Catfish. My goal was to keep this meal under 550 calories,but I blew it when I introduced butter. Sorry there is no substitute for butter…just sayin.

This is a story of a Southern Chicken who spent his life being crusted over with bread crumbs and deep-fried. Eventually he moved to another neighborhood and started hanging out with the local ruffian Catfish, who introduced him to the exotic use of ground pecans. Eventually, the Chicken couldn’t get enough pecans and even dabbled with pan frying. After a particularly bad bender of doing pecans with his homie the catfish, they went on a road trip to Key West Florida. There they got really marinated with rum and experimented with toasted coconut. Like all bad friends, the Catfish  influenced the friendly chicken into a drunken, pecan and coconut obsessed fiend. But this was all too much for the catfish at this point and he split town, leaving the chicken alone in the frying pan, toasted and sauced.

Of course this was just a clever story telling how food from different cultures fuse when they interact.  This meal blends the fusion of a New Orleans dish with a popular key West Dish, together they are fantastic.

Ingredients

  • Raw Chicken Breasts
  • Pecans
  • Brown Sugar
  • Vanilla Extract
  • Coconut Rum (2 shots)
  • Golden Rum (2 shots)
  • Dried Cranberries
  • Salted Butter
  • Toasted Coconut

Instructions

1) Mix all four shots of the rum and 2 shots worth of water, brown sugar and vanilla extract and soak the chicken breast in the Alchohol bath for 30 minutes to 1 hour.

2) While the chicken soaks, grind the pecans in a food processor until you get fine grain to small chunks of pecans (to preference). Mix the ground pecans with toasted coconut in a 3 to 1 ratio of pecan to coconut.  Place the dry mixture on a flat plate.

3) Remove the chicken from the rum mixture and drip away excess rum. Then coat the chicken in the pecan/coconut mixture until there is a thick coat of the mixture on both sides.

4) Let the coated chicken rest for 3-5 minutes. While the chicken is resting, you can do some side work.  First, heat a stainless steel pan to medium high heat and place in a tablespoon of salted butter, let the butter melt and turn slightly brown.  Second, place the dried cranberries into the same rum bath that the chicken soaked in and microwave for 1 minute and then let sit on the hot stove.

5) Cook the chicken on one side for 5 minutes on med-high heat and then flip. Drizzle some of the rum mixture onto the top of the flipped chicken. Cook for 5 more minutes.  Flip and drizzle more rum sauce on the chicken.

Flip an additional time to dry off the rum from the coating. NOTE: Do not flip more than needed, otherwise the crust will come off.

6) Turn the heat to low and let the chicken finish cooking and remove chicken from the pan.

7) Turn up the heat to high, add 1 tablespoon of butter and let it melt and brown slightly. Next carefully pour in Rum and Cranberry Mixture into the pan. Stand back as this could cause the rum to catch fire. I recommend keeping the pan still and centered over the flame while you pour the rum in. If you are outside you might want to use an aim a flame to start-up the fire for fun. Scrap the bottom of the pan with the spatula as the rum boils down and blends with the pan scrapping. The final result should be a thick sauce and hydrated cranberries.

8) Plate the chicken and pour equal parts of the sauce over the chicken and the plate.  Serve with something crunchy, I used flake pastries. I would avoid rice as it tends to suck up away the juices from the chicken and the plate.

Tonight’s Cooking Experiment – Rock Fish Balboa and Asparagus Spears- 450 Calories

11 May
Tonight’s Cooking Experiment – Rock Fish Balboa and Asparagus Spears- 450 Calories 

Tonight’s cooking experiment gets its name from the famous fictional Boxer Rocky Balboa,  who famously gets the pulp beat out of him in every movie, but still manages to win each of his matches.  You may be asking your food blogger right now, why would I name a fish dinner after one of the best 80’s movie franchises?  Because it’s a cheap ploy to get you to read my food blog 🙂 Just kidding, in all seriousness I made this fish recipe out of Rock Fish, a white fish commonly found of the shores of New York (close to Philly) and a Blue Cheese for the Sauce. Still don’t get it? Well then, I suggest you rent Rocky 4 where he goes against the Sasquatch Russian named Roko and his hot wife,  Natasha or something like that. In this awesome sequel, Boris beats the crap out of Rocky and leaves the Italian Stallion black and blue.  This recipe features Rock Fish, blue cheese, and Italian Cream Cheese and some asparagus spears.

asparagus cooked on medium low heat

First step is trimming the asparagus base about 1/2 inch and coat lightly with Olive Oil and season with pepper, salt, garlic powder and fresh squeezed lemon juice. Next, warm up the griddle  medium low and then place the asparagus to slowly cook on one side for 8 minutes, until heavily browned.

Next  place the Rock Fish  and lemon juice and Sear Fish on one sidecrushed garlic in a Ziploc bag and let marinate for 5 minutes (much more than that and you will have ceviche…but thats another blog post). Next heat up a

Flip and Season

saute pan on high with olive oil and place the rock fish on the extremely hot pan. As the fish sears, season the flip side with paprika, garlic powder, salt and pepper.  Flip the fish after 4-5 minutes and repeat the seasoning process. Let cook on a lower heat for another 8 minutes.

 

While the fish is cooking make the Blue Cheese sauce. In a hot sauce pan, mix in Italian Cream

Making the Blue Sauce

Cheese (or make your own with your choice if Italian herbs and plain cream cheese). As it melts in the pan, add thin slices or crumbles of fresh blue cheese, and dill. Once the cheeses melt in the pan, mix in lemon juice to taste (3-5 tablespoons) and then the OJ, about 2 tablespoons. The Lemon juice and OJ  matches the fish and reduces the punginess of the blue cheese. If you have a open bottle of Chardonnay open throw a spritz in the pan as well. Dont forget to take a swig for yourself, you earned it beautiful.

Next set up the plate with the asparagus and fish then drizzle with the blue cheese sauce.

Rock Fish Balboa- Arrangement #1

 

 
And there you have it, my dish “Rock Fish Balboa”….ADRIANNNNNNNEEE

Tonight’s Cooking Experiment: Tri-Tip and Phyllo Faux Wellington and his Seafood Step-Brother

2 May

Tonight’s cooking experiment dealt with trip tip left overs, a couple random pieces of frozen shrimp / scallops and some late coded phyllo that I had to use before it expired. Last night’s slow cooked tri trip cooked in a Pepsi base was fantastic, so it will taste great in a faux neauvue phyllo Wellington. Since I am working with phyllo I decided to use the seafood looking to join a Brady Bunch style family of Wellingtons.

Last night's left-overs- slow Simmered Tri-Tip in a pepsi base

Tri-Tip Shredded

Mixed Creamy Horse radish, Garlic, stewed onion and a table-spoon of Cream Cheese, Cayenne Pepper

Frozen spinach, freshly grated parmesan, feta, pepper, garlic power. slightly pan toasted.

Defrosted the Phyllo completely and slowly defrosted

Layered Tri-Tip Mixture, then Spinach and then small slices of black truffle cheese

Folded the phyllo over into packets and rubbed down in an egg bath. Placed on a roasting pan.

15 minutes in the oven at 350 degress.....we have Wellington's greek half-brother

Start of the Seafood Faux Wellington. Frozen Shrimp, Scallop, lemon juice, yogurt butter, garlic. Cook down the reduction of fish juices,and the before mentioned ingredients. I also at this point warmed up the imitation lobster (I had to use it up from a previous dish)

 

Add more Lemon Juice, teaspoon of cream cheese, handful of grated parmesan. Bring to a full boil and then remove from heat...coolAssemble all the seafood on another Phyllo

Pour a light layer of the seafood lemon alfredo on top of the fish.

Cook for 15 min and 350 degrees and BAMMMM! you have the Tri-Tip Faux Wellington's half-cousin. They have the same baby mama

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