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Brian Overhauser
November 11, 2021 | Brian Overhauser

How to fight food inflation with the Holiday turkey Part #1 By Estate Chef Brian Overhauser

I was recently shopping for our monthly 3 & 3 wine and food pairing event when I was hit with sticker shock! Yes, we all have our stories as to why this is happening and depending on who you listen to its somebody’s fault. I am not looking to blame someone or something for this issue but to find a solution. I asked my wholesaler to give me my current price for a particular meat I like to use, and it went up over 70% in the last two months. So, my point is that I will have to pass this on to our guest who like the $50 price point for our events or switch gears and seek out alternative proteins.

The same day I was shopping at Bel Air for some things needed at home and there it was!!  .57 cents per pound!!  Honestly any protein that is .57 cents a pound needs a second look. There before me was the beloved holiday turkey just screaming at me to find some alternative ways to utilize it in way other than Thanksgiving dinner. Yes, Thanksgiving is around the corner and like all of you, I will be knee deep in a traditional Thanksgiving dinner with all the fixings and enough food for a small army! So, the thought of turkey a couple times a week sounds awfully boring, but what about dishes I can create to beat inflation and fulfill my need to enjoy fine dining and still have money left over for a great bottle of Scott Harvey wine?

Here is what I came up with. Buy two of the small to medium sized frozen turkeys at $6 to $8 each and put one in the freezer and one in the fridge to defrost over a 3-day period.

After properly defrosting the turkey, I remove it and head to my favorite place in my house, the center island workstation in the middle of my kitchen. I open the newest release of Scott Harvey 2019 Reserve Barbera and the Italian music started playing in my head, so next I decided to play my favorite Italian singer Dean Martin, and the appropriate song is “Hey Brother Pour the Wine”

Now I am really in the Italian spirit and inspired to think of my favorite Italian dishes and how I can utilize this almost free holiday turkey that is sitting in front of me. My first thought is “ its cold outside”, so Veal Marsala sounds comforting and delicious. You are likely saying to yourself “Chef has gone over the edge”, you can’t turn turkey into veal. Oh yes, I can!

I will start by thinking of the breast meat separately from the legs and thighs. In other words, they truly require different cooking times and lend themselves to different preparations. We all know this by how differently chicken thighs cook verses the breast. Most often when the breast is done well before the legs and thighs are, so this eliminates that quandary.

I remove the legs- thigh from the turkey and then separate them then take the legs and thighs and cryo-vac them in a mild brine solution for use on another day in my smoker. More on this later.


Now I have the turkey breast anxiously awaiting my next move. With my 8” chef knife, I carefully cut down across the center left of the breastbone from the front to the back. As you are cutting, with your left hand pull the breast meat away from the carcass and continue to cut until all the meat separates for the breastbone. Now repeat with the other side.

Here is where we turn it into a cutlet and a mock veal cutlet. Take the whole breast and remove the tenderloin that is slightly separate from the breast. This is another meal for later. I angle the knife across the grain and cut on the bias (see picture) ¼ thick pieces. You should get 4 to 6 medallions.


 Now take a large Ziplock and cut out the two side seams with your knife. Open it up and spray wipe the inside service with olive oil. Place a turkey medallion inside the of the Ziplock. Now pound with a meat pounder into a very thin cutlet. Remove from the Ziplock and repeat with the remaining medallions.

Now here is where the magic happens.




Brian Overhauser
March 30, 2020 | Brian Overhauser

Cooking During the COVID-19 Shelter-In-Place: As Told By Chef Brian Overhauser

As a young boy, I remember many times looking into our family pantry and saying to my mother, “there’s nothing to eat in here!” The reason I would say that is because I was only looking for what I wanted, not what was there.

At one point or another, I’m sure we’ve all investigated our pantry full of food items and simply did not see a meal. Most often we drive to the store and buy what we crave at that moment, then go home and make ourselves happy with what we want. Not a bad way to live, but things have changed this week - I’m shut-in for the first time in my life!

The Challenge

This week, I decided to challenge myself by creating spontaneous meals from only my pantry with a little help from my freezer, spice cabinet, and wine rack.

For me, wine and food pairings are about balance. With the many tastes and aromas found in wine, I attempt to marry the flavors and textures of an ingredient to a specific wine. I call this “reverse pairing”. In my perfect pairing, neither the wine or the food dominate each other. The two together deliver a level of contrast and balance that neither could achieve alone.

Complement vs. Contrast

There are two directions one can take when pairing wine with food. You can either complement the wine with similar flavors profiles, or go for contrast (as in, opposing flavors). Complementary flavor matching is generally more successful; however, while opposing flavor pairings may be more complex, the satisfaction of getting it right is extra rewording.

The most important thing to remember is to be an adventurist and enjoy the journey!

As mentioned earlier, at first glance it doesn’t appear there’s much of a meal in the pantry, so let’s investigate what might be hidden.

Option 1: Spicy Red Beans & Rice

Based on what I find first, I’m envisioning a simple but slightly spicy red bean and rice dish which will be very easy and pair perfectly with our InZINerator Zinfandel.

The main ingredient here is a bag of dried red beans, or any dried beans you might have. Canned beans would be faster, but you won’t get the complexity and depth resulting from the slow cooking with all the spices and aromatic ingredients. Even so, we’re not in much of a rush these days so you may as well enjoy it!

Simply pour the beans into a stockpot and add 2 quarts of fortified water. Then, bring to a boil and reduce to a medium-low heat for one hour. Drain the water, return beans to the pot, and add the 1 quart of fortified water. Add the remaining ingredients and set to medium-low for another hour.

I’ve put together the full recipe and everything you’ll need, here. The total time to craft this was 2 ½ hours, but that’s largely due to the cook time as the skill level is very easy. [A plate of food on a table Description automatically generated]

Option 2: Chicken Two Ways

In order to make a chicken taste close to the free-range chickens you might find in a restaurant, you must brine the bird.

I decided to brine the chicken whole, so I used a 12-quart non-reactive container, preferably with a tight-fitting lid.

My standard brine is 3 cups of salt and 1 cup of sugar, and what you do to add additional flavor is determined by what aromatics and goodies you have on hand.  [A bowl of soup Description automatically generated]

I found some citrus that needed to be used and happened to have some fresh thyme and oregano. I then filled the container with cold water, added the ingredients, and stirred to dissolve all of the salt and sugar.

Add the whole chicken and refrigerate it for 6 to 10 hours, then sit back and let the magic happen.

Now that I know I have a brined chicken in my future, what’s in the pantry?

At this point, I have no preconceived idea what this chicken will be, but here are my choices from the pantry - now the creativity and fun starts!

Oven-Roasted French-Style Chicken

To keep it simple, I chose an oven-roasted chicken. While in France, I saw a wonderful and very simple method of butterflying a whole chicken for oven roasting that cooks it very evenly. 

Simply take some good poultry shears and cut out the backbone by cutting up one side of the backbone and then down the other side. Remove the backbone, then put the chicken breast side up and press very hard on the chicken to flatten it out. Tuck the wings back and bring the leg and thigh section into the side of the breast. [A piece of food Description automatically generated]

It’s been 6 hours in the brine, and I have butterflied it as described. I then put the chicken into a 350-degree convection oven for 45 minutes, then dropped the temperature to 220 degrees for another 45 minutes. The photo included here is what this should look like.

You’re welcome to stop here and simply pair this chicken with basic vegetables and a side, such as rice pilaf or couscous. Or, you can continue on to the next and final recipe to shake it up a little!

Chicken Tacos

My lovely wife Nancy has asked for chicken tacos, so I decided to go in that direction but apply my French technique and have some fun.  [A picture containing indoor, table, room, clock Description automatically generated]

I selected enchilada sauce, a can of roasted green peppers, and canned refried beans. I also had some shredded cheese and sour cream in the fridge. As a garnish, and to bring some green to the dish, I cut a fine shred of raw broccoli off the tops simply because I had it on-hand. That’s how new thinking happens in the culinary arts - “if you have it, use it.”

Both versions of these chicken dishes would pair beautifully with our Tickle Me Pink Rose, which has an off-dry characteristic and a very nice effervescence. It’s a great wine for a spicier flavor profile such as this.

No matter what you piece together in your kitchen during these uncertain times, we hope this helps you find some inspiration and a little fun along the way! While our tasting rooms might be closed, our online wine shop remains open so you can stock up and create your own masterful wine and food pairing. If you’d like to email me directly regarding recipes or directions, please feel free to do so at

Time Posted: Mar 30, 2020 at 8:45 AM Permalink to Cooking During the COVID-19 Shelter-In-Place:  As Told By Chef Brian Overhauser Permalink

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