Cooking with intuition. Cooking with little, to no recipe. Cooking with a total understanding of combining certain ingredients to make dishes completely unique.
This is what you find with my husband, Sam's cooking. This is the first of many "cuisine" posts you will find on Curio Inspo. Although much of the content found here will be art focused, I believe there is something artful about creating meals. I am in awe with Sam's cooking, and so I thought, "his creative cooking methods deserve more than a simple photo ... there are interesting stories to be shared.” After all, Sam has a curious way of cooking, and this site's purpose is to inspire.
Rothko, Orange and Yellow 1956
As this is the first cuisine post, I wanted to share some background about Sam as a "chef":
It is important to note, Sam is not a chef professionally, but he has an obvious passion for cooking. When we first met in the fall of 2014, we were working on a cruise ship sailing the South Pacific. He was the sommelier on board, and he always shared with me anecdotes about him cooking for his friends and family. Yet, since we were crew on a cruise ship, he was unable to cook for me when first met. In fact, it took almost an entire year until he finally cooked a meal for me! I was pretty certain he could cook, but I had no idea ... HE COULD COOK! Sam jokes it is the reason I married him (which certainly was one of the contending reasons). But in all seriousness, you can feel the love he puts into every dish.
Sam's main inspiration for his cooking comes from his late mom, Mary Lynn. From the stories I heard, she was an amazing “chef” of her own. I never was able to meet Sam's mom sadly, but when he creates a meal, I feel a connection to her. We have stacks of her handwritten recipes and cookbooks. Mary Lynn's love for cooking has certainly been ignited within Sam. I imagine her smiling down watching him move in the kitchen, putting his signature in each dish, and the delight he has sharing the meal with his loved ones. The energy surrounding Sam in the kitchen is most certainly an extension of his mom.
In addition, Sam is constantly watching, reading, and absorbing what other famous chefs are doing in their own kitchens. Some of his favorite are Rene Redzepi (Noma), David Chang (Momofuku), James Rigato (Mabel Gray), and Paul Bocuse (L'Auberge du Pont de Collonges), to name a few. And then there is the chef, Francis Mallmann, who is all about the FIRE. Sam loves this chef because he specializes in cooking over an open flame. Sam built an intricate fire pit in our backyard, with Mallmann as his inspiration.
That brings us to today's topic, which was Sam's idea to create a holiday dinner focused on a turkey cooked on an open fire. This was an intimate meal consisting of 5 courses and a few wine pairings. Keep scrolling to read more and see visuals from this meal. And cheers to the power of fire!
To begin, we will start with a slight background of the preparation of the amish turkey, sourced from our local butchery (named The Butchery.) Dry-brined for over a day with an aromatic sachet of apples, oranges, onions, fresh thyme, sage, marjoram, peppercorns, cloves & garlic. For the first time, Sam decided to wrap the aromatics in a cheesecloth bundle and soak them overnight in stock. When the fire was ready, he heated the sachet and "stuffed" it into the bird and mounted the spit through it.
On to the pit it went, and began browning within 10 minutes. Fired roasted, self-basting birds have a flavor all their own, and Sam often says it's the greatest protein ever. The pit is super hot, but low flamed and it cooked the 16lb turkey in an hour and 40 minutes. Sam was amazed. Incredibly juicy, tender, smokey and herbal with rich, caramelized skin. The stock-soaked fruit & herbs steamed flavor into the meat from the inside while the fat wrapped the bird in a golden seal. It was pretty serious, said Sam. Unlike usual, he had nothing bad to say about it... which means it was really, really good. It may of been the best turkey he'd ever had, but it was definitely the best I'd ever had.
Although the fire roasted turkey was the main focus, as mentioned there were other courses that Sam prepared as well. These creations are listed below. If you would like more specific details, drop a line and I would be glad to ask Sam to elaborate more. Hope you enjoy viewing the culinary journey.
Split Pea Soup
marigolds, parsley, scallions
Butter Basted Turkey Heart
three-day soy, ginger & maple marinade
pomegranate and spiced honey
Winner Winner Turkey Dinner
Key Lime "Not a Pie"
key lime gelato
sweetened condensed milk
Fire is such a fragile and beautiful thing. People think that it's a manly thing -- fire and you burn things. But it's, on the contrary, very feminine. It's very fragile.