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Recipe: John’s Evil Turkey

OK, so everyone and their Grandmother have asked me for this again this year, so I’ll post my turkey recipe from last year.  This is an amazing technique because it a) gives you great flavor & crispy skin, while b) keeps the turkey very moist even with 1.5 hours cook time!


  1. Spatchcock your 10-14 lb. turkey – I will never do another way again
  2. Place sliced celery, carrot, onion, fresh thyme and 2-3 bay leaf at the bottom of a sheet pan, then place a metal baking rack on top of that.
  3. Spread out your spatchcocked turkey on the metal rack and cover it with 2 lb of thick-cut bacon (see picture).
  4. Bake it for 1 hour at 450, then take off the bacon and go another 30 minutes (you can reduce the oven temp to 425 if you’re worried about burning the skin). Let it rest, tented with foil, 15-30 minutes after cooking (make your gravy with the drippings while resting), then process the meat and serve.
  5. Shield yourself from the deluge of your amazed, adoring guests. ;-p

Don’t add salt to the gravy (or the turkey) before tasting it first – the bacon drippings will add enough of it.


Recipe: Orange Dijon Clove-Spiced Ham

This is an extremely simple recipe that wows the guests – perfect for holiday parties involving large quantities of ham.  People have actually threatened to kidnap me to get it.  This is possibly the most flavorful, moist ham I’ve ever made, and it’s got 5 ingredients:


– 9-14 pound bone-in ham shank – uncooked (it looks triangular or pyramid-shaped in the package – DON’T get the pre-cooked or spiral cut variety)
– 3/4 cup red wine
– 3/4 cup orange juice
– 1/2 cup dijon mustard (I prefer Grey Poupon, but of course)
– 15-30 whole cloves
– 1 turkey-size cooking bag with tie-off

Combine the wine, orange juice, and mustard and stir. Remove the ham from its packaging and rinse. Stand the ham on its end, and run criss-cross lines in the fat side of the ham with a knife (just score it, don’t cut too deep). Insert cloves into the intersections of the criss-crosses. Place the ham at the bottom of the cooking bag and pour the liquid over the ham, then close it up with a tie (don’t poke holes, and push all the air out).


Place the ham on the lower rack of your oven and leave plenty of room for the bag to expand. Bake at 275 degrees for 3 1/2 – 4 hours, occasionally shaking the top of the bag to splash liquid on the ham as it cooks. Remove and let stand 15-20 minutes before serving, and be mindful of the cloves.  Try this, you won’t regret it!

Recipe: John’s Slow Cooker Chili

Everyone loves chili, especially as it gets colder.  This is an evolving recipe that is the basis for a “chili bar” – a party favorite in which people can assemble their own chili bowl.  I put a few ingredients around the completed crock pot: finely shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, chives, onions, and the foundation: Fritos.  Regular or Scoops work equally well.

  • 2 pounds ground chuck 80/20
  • 2 medium sweet onions, medium diced
  • 1 green or orange bell pepper, medium diced
  • 10-12 baby carrots (or 4 carrots), sliced into 2mm slices
  • 1 28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup of beef broth
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 2 cans black beans, 1 can red kidney beans, and 1 can cannellini beans, with fluid


  • 2 tablespoons each of chili powder and cumin
  • 1 tablespoon each of curry powder and sugar
  • 1 teaspoon each of thyme, oregano, and course black pepper
  • 4 bay leaves, 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper, and 2 tablespoons salt

Brown the meat & onions and drain, lightly sauté the veggies, and add these into a large crock pot with all canned goods and spices.  Cook on high for 4 hours, then low for 2 hours.  Done!

Recipe: John’s Evil Mashed Potatoes

John's Evil Mashed Potatoes (not to scale)
Need some comfort food? This is about as good as it gets.

OK, I’ve been asked over and over how to do this, so one of my first additions to this site is a recipe I developed a few years ago and have been refining ever since.  It’s not complicated, it’s not difficult, it’s not expensive, and it’s NOT fat-free!  Don’t worry – it’s not that evil either.

John’s Evil Mashed Potatoes


  • 5lb bag of whole red potatoes
  • 20-25 whole cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 1 brick of regular cream cheese (NOT reduced-fat or fat-free)
  • 2 sticks of butter
  • 1 medium Vidalia sweet onion, finely diced
  • 2 tbsp of dried parsley
  • Salt and pepper to taste (about 1 tbsp of each works well)
  • 1/2 cup of finely grated cheddar or Romano cheese

Slice the entire bag of potatoes, skin-on, into 1/2 inch slices and boil in a large pot of salted water with the cloves of garlic.  You can put in the garlic about 5 minutes after the potatoes to make them a bit stronger, if desired.  Boil until a sharp knife will easily move through the potatoes, about 15-20 minutes.

While the potatoes and garlic are boiling, skin and finely dice your onion and saute it over medium heat in a non-stick pan with some butter or olive oil.  You need to cook the onion until it turns translucent with some browning (about 4-5 minutes).  Take it off the heat and set it aside.

Drain the pot of potatoes/garlic through a fine strainer and place back into the pot.  Add the cream cheese, butter, onion, parsley, salt, and pepper into the pot and start mashing.  Mash to desired consistency, although chunky is my preference.  Try it as this point to see if you need more salt or pepper, then top it with the grated cheese.  Done!  Serves a whole lot of people.