Recipes by Ted Siegel — Chef Instructor, School of Culinary Arts

On Thanksgiving, turkey is always in style. A juicy bird with salty, crunchy skin is the pièce de résistance of this highly anticipated meal. But if you’re looking to shake up your usual turkey prep method — add some spice or brine to the table — ICE Chef Instructor Ted Siegel has some ideas for you. Below, Chef Ted shares two different methods for preparing your turkey when it’s time to give thanks this year, plus his expert roasting tips.

Thanksgiving Turkey

1) A Caribbean kick: try a Jamaican jerk turkey marinade.

Marinating delivers the double benefit of infusing meat with flavor and keeping it tender.

Ingredients:

6 scallions
6 habanero or scotch bonnet chiles
2 medium onions
6 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon tamarind paste
½ cup Worcestershire sauce
½ cup fish sauce
1 cup fresh lime juice
1 cup fresh orange juice
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup brown sugar
1 bunch dried thyme leaves, minced
1 bunch dried oregano leaves, minced
1 bunch fresh cilantro leaves and stems, minced
½ cup butter

Preparation:

  • For the marinade, finely chop and combine: scallions, habanero or scotch bonnet chiles, onions and garlic. Add tamarind paste, Worcestershire sauce, fish sauce, fresh lime juice, fresh orange juice, olive oil, brown sugar, dried thyme leaves, dried oregano leaves and fresh cilantro leaves and stems.
  • Prepare the marinade, dividing into two halves: 1/2 for the turkey and 1/2 to make a compound butter. Marinate the turkey for two to four days, depending on its weight (two days for an 8-12 pound turkey, three to four days for a 13-30 pound turkey). Remove turkey from marinade. Make the compound butter by mixing remaining marinade with butter. Separate the skin from the breast and thighs and gently rub the compound butter onto the flesh without ripping the skin. Roast immediately.

 

2) Brine time: give your turkey a multiday brine bath.

Like marinating, brining will add flavor to your turkey, and make it exceptionally juicy and tender. Here’s how to brine.

Ingredients:

1 pound kosher salt
2/3 pounds sugar (granulated, brown, molasses, maple syrup, agave syrup, honey or any other kind of solid sugar or syrup will work)
2-3 gallons water
25 juniper berries
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon white peppercorns
1 teaspoon star anise pods
2 tablespoons dried thyme
½ cup liquid smoke (which you can find at most grocery stores)

 Preparation:

  • To make the brine, combine kosher salt, sugar, water. Add the juniper berries, dried herbs and liquid smoke.
  • Brine your turkey for two to four days by either submerging the entire bird or injecting it with brine. If you choose the latter, do not brine the turkey for more than two days.

 

Roasting tips

For roasting, I always begin by browning the turkey. In an oven preheated to 450°F, cook the turkey for about half an hour or until golden brown. Then, turn the heat down to 325°F and roast about 18-20 minutes per pound until the internal temperature reaches 160°F.

Want to sharpen your culinary skills with Chef Ted? Click here to learn more about ICE’s Culinary Arts program.

 

By Jessica McCain—Student, School of Culinary Arts

Most of us spend our childhoods answering the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” The fact is, we all become adults some day and have to do something…but what we want to do and what we end up doing isn’t always the same thing.

All of your life experiences push you in a certain direction: they influence the choices you make, define who you are and what you choose as a career. But why just choose a career when you can choose your passion? It took me 25 years to figure out the difference between the two, and now here I am, a student at ICE.

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However conclusive and easy that sounds, it wasn’t an easy journey. I didn’t just wake up one day with everything falling into place. If we go back seven years ago, you find me at age 18—the youngest of four in a hardworking military family. I did what any normal kid would do: went to college, just like the rest of my siblings. The only difference? I hated it! I was so concerned about what I thought my parents wanted that I ended up a first-year nursing student with an overloaded nineteen-hour course schedule, as a new sorority pledge, an ROTC cadet and an intramural sports enthusiast.

If this overachieving, trying-to-please everyone else style of decision-making sounds like you, you’re not alone. By the time I was halfway through my degree, I knew something had to change. So I decided to change my major to psychology. So what if it added another year? I didn’t love it, but it was still a degree…right? I’d be 23 with a degree!

Wrong answer. Another year in, I had the same drowning feeling and still no degree.

College didn’t work out, so I started making other changes. I spent four years in reality television, worked endless miscellaneous jobs and even moved across the country to California. By then, I had finally had enough. Working for so long in fields that I hated (and that offered no room for professional growth) inspired me to finally give in to the one passion that had always stuck with me: cooking.

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ICE was all the way back in New York City, but I knew I had to give it a chance. Once I toured the school and met with the admissions team, I could just feel that I was finally in my lane. Still, the process was far from easy. Coordinating on a three-hour time difference, trying to wade through FAFSA paperwork and find an apartment within a short period of time was no joke! However, unlike some of the other culinary schools I had visited, at ICE I could tell I wasn’t just a number in a system. No, Mr. Jock Grundy, my admissions counselor, made sure I felt that I mattered, and he was always there to help with every step—from my first questions to my first day of school.

Fast forward three weeks later and I, Jessica McCain, was all moved into my new apartment in New York City. I suited up in my crisp white uniform with my name stitched on the chest and had my own set of knives gleaming back at me in my new classroom—kitchen six—with Chef Ted.

Culinary Arts | Jess McCain | Institute of Culinary Education| Sauces | Cauliflower | Roasting

Day one was so exciting, and unlike normal school, we dove right into the fundamentals of becoming a chef—and I felt my passion more intensely than ever. I was no longer waiting to meet my future. A month into the program, I don’t even feel like the same person. I’m no longer nervous to hold my knives­—they’re like an extension of myself, and I feel like I’m beginning to find myself at ICE.

My dad always told me, “If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.” I say if you’re lucky enough to find your passion in life, pursue it and let it set your soul on fire.

Ready to start your culinary journey? Click here to receive free information about ICE programs.

By Chef Ted Siegel, ICE Culinary Arts Instructor

In 2005 the New York Times published an article by Frank Bruni (then restaurant critic and editor of the “Dining In/Dining Out” section) about Roman cuisine. The article’s overall message was: “nothing new is going on in Roman cuisine!”.  After a recent trip to Rome my wife, Cheryl, I am happy to report that this is still true.

This might be a slight overgeneralization; there are a handful of Roman restaurants doing “modernist cuisine-molecular gastronomic” spins on traditional Roman cooking. However, most Romans find the modernist trend oxymoronic, referring to this type of cooking as “all smoke and no roast!”.

Fortunately, Roman cooking and the culinary traditions of Lazio (best described as a rustic and pastoral cuisine based on meat and vegetables) has not changed too much since Etruscan sheep herders occupied the banks and mud flats of the Tiber river, as far back as 800-750 B.C. Hallelujah for that!

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Seafood risotto

During our trip to Rome, Cheryl and I thoroughly immersed ourselves in its cuisine, enjoying the glories of traditional “cucina alla Romana. Below is an recount of some of our more noteworthy meals, as well as a list of restaurants that one should not miss if traveling to the “Eternal City”:

HOSTERIA da FORTUNATO (12 Via Pellegrino): A very tiny neighborhood trattoria serving traditional Roman home cooking that is popular with locals. If you go, you will likely see a group of women sitting at a corner table hand-rolling, cutting and shaping all the sublime house made pastas.

Their iconic Roman fritti misti of vegetables and meatballs in a delicate batter is a must-have dish. As for the pasta, try any number of the variations of strangolapreti (“priest stranglers”), a very traditional hand rolled pasta dumpling that is particular to the central Italian regions of Tuscany, Umbria and Lazio. The story of how this pasta got its name goes back to the middle ages. Roman catholic prelates would gorge themselves on this simple pasta made water and durham flour until they choked, hence the name.

The variations on strangolapreti that we found deeply satisfying were caccio e peppe, carciofi e gunaciale (artichokes and  smoked pork cheeks- both basic staples of the Roman kitchen) and alla carbonnara. The house-made sheep’s milk ricotta ravioli in a luscious butter and sage sauce (“burro e salvia”) is also a must-try.

HOSTARIA COSTANZA (63 Piazza del Paradiso): This beautiful restaurant is actually built into the cellar of an ancient Roman amphitheater that dates back to the height of the “glory days” of the Roman Empire. The walls of the restaurant are still the original brick work from this archeological masterpiece.

Our dinner began with a perfectly-executed classic: carciofi alla Romana (large globe artichokes simmered in a broth of white wine, olive oil and herbs). The pastas were also fabulous. Worth a return visit were the tonnarelle con bottarga e seppie (square-cut spaghetti made on-premises served in a sauce of baby calamari indigenous to the Mediterranean and bottarga, which is the salt-cured roe of grey mullet); a simple grilled branzino (Mediterranean sea bass); and finally, trippa alla Romana (tripe braised in tomatoes and mint with pecorino alla Romana, a dish that pays homage to the marcelleria – the butchers of the Roman slaughterhouses whose cuisine has dominated the Roman culinary landscape since ancient times. They cooked with a strong emphasis on offal, because that was all they could afford).

Fortunately for us, we arrived in Rome just as puntarelle – a variety of wild dandelion greens – started appearing in the Roman vegetable markets (puntarelle has a very short season from late winter to early spring). Puntarelle is traditionally served with a dressing of red onions, anchovies, lemon and olive oil. Needless to say, we enjoyed the version we had at Costanza.

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RISTORANTE La SCALA (58-61 Piazza della ‘Scala): Ristorante la Scala is located in Trastavere, a very quiet, residential neighborhood southeast of Vatican city. We stumbled into La Scala serendipitously after a day of touring the Vatican. We were so fond of this local restaurant that we dined there twice. Weather permitting, sitting outside in the outdoor dining area affords one an authentic experience with a view of the beautiful church of Santa Maria della ‘Scala.

Being in Rome at the height of truffle season gave us an opportunity to indulge in the truffle menu of La Scala: burrata di bufala with black truffles and rughetta (wild arugula); light as air potato gnocchi with scarmorza (smoked mozzarella) and black truffles; fried artichokes with black truffles, fonduta and guanciale; and finally, sheep’s milk ricotta ravioli in an unctuous butter sauce showered with truffles.

Other dishes worth not missing are the tonnarelle pasta with zucchini flowers and cherry tomatoes, as well as the carciofi alla guidea (artichokes simmered and fried in olive oil), one of the truly great dishes born out of Rome’s Jewish “ghetto”, dating back 2500 years. For dessert, try the crema di zabaglione con fragola (sabayon cream with wild strawberries).

HOSTERIA GRAPPOLO d’ORO (80-84 Piazza Cancelleria): This is another favorite where we had two wonderful meals. This restaurant has a clientele of largely local regulars and would fit right in in a New York City neighborhood. While the décor is modern, the cooking is in keeping with traditional Roman gastronomy.

The delicious house antipasti tasting plate features a modern take on a molded panzanella salad, mille-foglia con burrata e alici (a very light pastry layered with buffalo milk burrata and marinaded white anchovies), pan fried oxtail meatballs with salsa verde, a croquette of baccala and potatoes and an eggplant-ricotta polpette.

The orechiette pasta with broccoli and potatoes was not the usual mess of broccoli flowers and potatoes swimming in olive oil. The vegetables had been cooked down to form an incredibly light, yet slightly coarse puree, bound by a light broth emulsified with a little olive oil. The execution of this dish showed the true skill of the kitchen. Further, d’Oro’s rigatoni all’ amatriciana with a copious garnish of crisp guanciale was one of the better versions of this classic Roman pasta preparation we had during our trip (pasta all’ amatriciana, carbonara and caccio e pepe make up the “holy trinity” of Roman pasta preparations).

For the second course, we sampled stinco di maiale (pork shank braised with chestnuts and beer), guancia di bue brasato (beef cheeks braised in red wine and carrots) and abacchio scottadito alla griglia (the Roman classic of grilled baby lamb marinated with herbs, garlic and olive oil—whose title implies that when you pick up the grilled cuts of lamb, you burn your fingers while eating them!).

CENTRALISSMO “WINE BAR” (15-17 Via Santa Maria in Via): This wine bar and restaurant near the Pantheon gets mixed reviews. However, we had an excellent platter of fried zucchini blossoms stuffed with anchovies and mozzarella, as well as a memorable plate of fried olives. For the primi we enjoyed a very creditable spaghetti caccio e pepe and bucatini all ‘amatriciana. Given the fact that Centralismo is a wine bar, we drank one of the more unusual wines on our trip: Lambrusco, a sparkling red wine from the Emilia Romagna region.

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Potato gnocchi with scamorza (smoked mozzarella) and black truffles

 PIAZZA CAMPO di FIORE

I would be remiss not to mention the Piazza Campo di Fiore, which is one of the truly great food markets in Europe with a wonderful salumeria. Worth visiting is Antica Norcineria Viola. If you are passionate about Italian salume – such as cured hams, salami and anything else that pays homage to pigs – this establishment is a must visit. If you find yourself fortunate enough to wander in there, try the testa, which has a beautifully silky and refined texture.

WINE

The wines we drank were too numerous to mention, but a few were truly memorable:

  • Barolo chinato: A late harvest Barolo made from the Nebbiolo grape in the region of Piedmonte.
  • Merlino: A wine from Trentino-Alto Adige which is produced from the Lagrein grape variety that is grown in the region’s Vigneti delle Dolomiti wine district and is classified as a fortified wine
  • Viscola Querciantica: A wine from the Marchese region in Southern Italy that is pressed from the juice of sour cherries.

GENERAL TIPS

As far as Roman hospitality, we found the service in all the restaurants mentioned above to be warm and welcoming. Most of the Italians we met spoke English as a second language (some more fluent than others) or at least made an attempt to communicate in English.

Be aware that unlike in other places, restaurants in Rome will charge extra for bread, which is automatically brought to the table and is generally of poor quality. (You will not be asked if you want it or not, so don’t be surprised by the surcharge when you get the bill. If you decide not to have bread, inform the wait staff when they bring it to the table.)

Thinking of traveling to Italy? Consider a hands-on cooking experience in the picturesque heart of Umbria, led by ICE Chef-Instructor Gerri Sarnataro. Click here to learn more. 

 

 

 

By Carly DeFilippo, ICE Culinary Arts student

When it comes to skills that separate home cooks from professional chefs, there’s perhaps nothing that draws the line more clearly than butchery. Sure, the average home cook doesn’t have very good knife skills (the #1 chef essential), but they can still manage to dice an onion, even if they’re not using proper technique. But home cooks typically don’t even attempt butchery. They barely think about it. And if it weren’t for the fact that many of them need to carve a cooked turkey on Thanksgiving, the concept of breaking down a whole animal might never even cross their minds.

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ICE instructor Ted Seigel teaches students to debone a leg of lamb.

Butchery is a perfect storm of technique and skill. It isn’t something you can intuitively figure out, rather it takes instruction and repetition before you start instinctually understanding where flesh naturally separates from bone and sinew, where the cuts we recognize on the plate are hiding within a giant hunk of raw product.

Fish Fabrication-005

The least intimidating form of “fabrication” (as butchery is known in the culinary world) is probably fish. Sure, they’re slippery, but just in terms of sheer size and complexity, a fish is pretty approachable. That said, fish can be quite expensive, so any missteps in breaking down their flaky flesh are immediately apparent to both you and your chef-instructor. Our class tested our skills on flat fish (which have both eyes on the same side of their head, like flounder) and round fish (which have eyes on either side of their head, like snapper, mackerel or bass).

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We also tried our hand at shellfish fabrication, from shucking oysters and cracking open clams to cleaning shrimp and breaking down live lobsters. From a sheer physical standpoint, shucking is a pretty empowering skill, though you need the right tools to do it safely. And while breaking down lobsters may strike some cooks as inhumane, Chef Mike taught us the fastest way to dispatch these tasty creatures, pain-free.

My classmates roast veal bones in preparation for stock.

My classmates roast veal bones in preparation for stock.

After fish, we moved on to America’s most popular meat: chicken. We learned how to truss a whole bird for even cooking, as well as how to quarter a bird and use the remaining carcass for stock. We also learned the anatomy of four-legged creatures through a lesson on rabbit butchery. From there, we learn to break down beef loin into noisettes, chateaubriands, medallions and other traditional steakhouse cuts. We also tenderized veal escalope (cutlets for pan frying) and roasted bones for that ever-important restaurant staple: veal stock.

Rack of lamb chops

Rack of lamb chops

But of all the challenging butchery tasks, breaking down a leg and rack of lamb were easily the most daunting. Lamb is, admittedly, my favorite meat, but removing all the leg bones while keeping the flesh intact was much more complicated than the reverse process of removing protein from bones. And while a lamb chop may seem like an everyday cut of meat, cleaning the unassuming bone “handle” attached to each chop is perhaps the most tedious, time-consuming butchery task of all. Let’s just say I now understand why—at least from a labor perspective—lamb is on the pricier end of proteins on a restaurant menu.

Despite all the challenges thrown our way by fabrication, I think it might end up being one of my favorite parts of culinary school. In a digital world where hands-on activities are disappearing in droves, it’s incredible to learn what goes into the production of the everyday products we take for granted. And on a more superficial level, I feel like I’d be a pretty amazing asset on one of those lost-in-the-wilderness reality shows. No one votes a butcher off the island.

No one can dispute the beautiful rusticity of a carrot or a potato in its natural, whole state. Yet when vegetables are formed into the geometric, elegant shape of a tourné, an ordinary fine dining experience leaps from the ordinary to the extraordinary. A tournéd vegetable is an assured signifier of a chef’s skill, and in Chef Instructor Ted Siegel’s Tourné Workshop five lucky Culinary Arts students took our first step, or first carefully carved slice, towards mastering the challenging art of the tourné cut.

And why is the tourné cut so important, some frustrated students like myself, might ask? Chef Ted had plenty of anecdotes and encouraging stories to throw our way. Even though this classic, seven-sided, precisely angled shape might seem outmoded, it is still seen today on the plates of the world’s top restaurants, and Chef Ted shared stories from former students tournéing their way to success to prove it. With not a single one of Chef Ted’s vegetables destined for anything but a perfect tourné, it was hard to believe that he ever struggled through his knife skill sessions when he was a student, yet his stories of eventual success bolstered us along. More…