Slow Food Russian River Convivium

Fowl Weather
Taste Test Laboratory at Syrah Bistro

November 14, 2004
10-4 The Cooks Cook,
4-7 the cooks serve and eat!

The premise. To try out different methods of cooking holiday birds and try out some recipes for side dishes.

Seven of us, plus Josh Silvers and two kitchen helpers (who were fantastic on helping us find things, doing anything that needed done immediately and washing dishes), took on 20 duck breasts (which we divided into 40 and then sliced to serve), 5 turkeys (brined) and 2 geese.

During the day I personally disassembled geese (with lots of help from Josh), and literally cooked the goose (or geese). It was fun to work in a restaurant kitchen. The kitchen at Syrah is tiny. It was interesting to also see what kind of foods were in the walk-in fridge and the pantry and the kitchen tools used. Pot holders? We also call them dishtowels.

With one pizza break, we survived the cooking (a last minute run to the grocery store netted Brussels Sprouts for a green vegetable) and with only a tiny burn we served the food to the arriving guests (about 50) in a served buffet line. Then we got to eat!

The cranberry zinfandel sauce was sticky and sweet but really good. I thought the fried turkey was very dry. In fact none of the turkey was stellar. The goose was not as good as I remember it from cooking it last year. I think that sectioning it loses some of it’s character - but it makes alot of sense to cut it up if you are serving it to a large gathering. The duck breasts were both great. I love oysters but I decided I don’t want to eat them in stuffing. I’m not a fan of cornbread but the cornbread stuffing was almost like corn breadcrumbs and had a nice flavor - I had seconds! The sweet potato polenta was supposed to be fried but was too soft to cut up so it became a soft polenta and had a nice flavor despite the failure in the recipe. All the pies were great and distinctive. I liked the sour cream pumpkin the best but only marginally better than the yam/pumpkin.

The Menu

Roast Lacquered Duck with Muscat Tamarind Sauce
Liberty Duck, John Ash American Cooking

Roast Duck with Achiote and Peppers served with Sweet Potato Polenta
Liberty Duck, John Ash American Cooking

Braised Goose with Fresh Chestnuts
S&B Farm, John Ash, American Game Cooking

Josh’s Roast Turkey, Willie Bird, Press Democrat Nov.19, 2003
With Oyster Stuffing, Johnson’s,

Heritage Turkey, Braised
S & B Farm, Press Democrat, Nov. 19, 2003

Deep Fried Turkey
Willie Bird, (Google: National Turkey Foundation)

Jalapeno Cornbread Stuffing
Rick Theis

Mashed Potatoes with roasted garlic

Susan Stamberg’s Mama’s Cranberry Horseradish Relish

Cranberry Salsa
Rick Theis

Cranberry Sauce with Zinfandel

Paula Slatkin’s Pumpkin Squash Pie
Dominique Cortara’s Squash-Sweet Potato Pie
Sour Cream Pumpkin Pie
Whipped Cream

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