Meet Mike Mech, The Bungalow Chef!
Mike Mech, The Bungalow Chef, believes, “Every family has a recipe and every recipe has a story” and his 1926 Chicago-style bungalow is his stage.
Mike grew up in a Chicago suburb where the streets were filled with classic bungalows and meals were made from scratch using old family recipes. Dinners were served around the kitchen table unless there was an excuse for an extended family gathering. Then, the kitchen and dining room became a hub of festive conversation and food.
Family occasions meant grandmothers, aunts and cousins would bring their favorite family dishes, all made from handwritten recipes. Each celebration was a food memory in the making and Mike took them all in. These were the people and the times that influenced his culinary future which officially began at age seven when he baked his first pie.
This was also the age when Mike discovered his television heroes Julia Child and Graham Kerr. These were the culinary icons that taught him about ingredients and techniques and they were extremely entertaining. Mike was glued to every show and today still recalls his favorite episodes.
After attending culinary school and college, Mike went into restaurant management. Mike’s culinary career includes his role as a Chocolatier as well as Research and Development Chef for HJ. Heinz, as well as his role as Executive Chef for Cuisine Innovations and Fillo Factory. In addition, Mike regularly works with Williams Sonoma demoing his popular recipes with their superior products at their stores around the country.
Mike’s blog, Recipe Revival, can be found on his website at www.bunglaowchef.net. He is a regular contributor to The Food Channel as well as Who’s Hungry and American Bungalow magazines. He has been featured in Chicago magazine, the Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Sun-Times, the New York Times, Forbes and recently in Who’s Hungry? magazine. He can also be seen on YouTube and has been the focus of many local television segments.
Mike’s Bungalow Home
After 25 years of living in condos and town homes, Mike moved back to his family neighborhood in Blue Island, IL and purchased his own classic Chicago-style bungalow home. Built in 1926, Mike's bungalow is a bit unique with a Craftsman side entrance, making the living room wider and, a pagoda roof line adds width to the eaves. Back then it was considered the Cadillac model down to the woodwork with wide moldings, French doors, built-ins, and archways.
Featured on “Ask this Old House” and listed as an Illinois Historical Landmark, this bungalow is where Mike has handcrafted a niche for himself sharing yesterday’s food stories and recipes.
Now, members of the Chicago Bungalow Association can enjoy The Bungalow Chef's recipes! As the first of his regular guest blogs, please enjoy The Bungalow Chef's Roasted Thanksgiving Turkey recipe in time for the holidays:
Roasted Thanksgiving Turkey
by The Bungalow Chef
The holidays are right around the corner and my favorite, Thanksgiving, starts off the season. The aroma of a turkey baking in the oven always makes me feel happy and cozy! It also brings back memories of my childhood when there were four generations of cooks in my mother’s kitchen working together to feed the masses of friends and family.
Now Let’s talk about the main attraction. TURKEY! When it comes to the turkey I always use a fresh HO-KA bird that I’ve purchased for years from a specialty grocery store in the Beverly neighborhood of Chicago called County Fair Foods. County Fair is an independent grocery store owned by the Baffles family for over 50 years. It’s my go-to store for everything as quality and customer service are their driving force.
Turkey is always the main attraction at my table, but you’ll find great side dishes for your holiday table on my blog including Harvest Dressing, Cranberry Sauce, Rosemary Potato Soufflé, Braised Red Cabbage, Onion, Leek and Pea Gratin to mention a few. And don’t forget your pies. Check out my great-grandmother Schade’s pie crust recipe. How could you go wrong?
Bungalow Chef’s Roasted Thanksgiving Turkey
14-16 lb fresh turkey (A thawed, frozen bird can be used following all safe handling directions and procedures.) These directions are for an unstuffed bird.
For the stock: Mirepoix of vegetables cut into quarters: 3 carrots 2 stalks of celery 2 onions
For The Roast Turkey: 1 medium onion cut into 8 wedges 2 carrots, cut into 6 pieces 2 celery stalks, cut into 6 pieces 1 bay leaf Kosher salt Pepper 1 lemon halved 1 head of garlic 6 springs of fresh thyme 1 stick of unsalted butter, softened
Cut vegetables for the mirepoix. Place in the bottom of a large roasting pan.
Preheat oven to 425˚. NOTE: Roast at 425˚ for 1 hour, then reduce temp to 350˚ for the remainder of roasting time. Total cooking time 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 hours (unstuffed) to reach 165˚ depending on size and oven operation.
Remove turkey neck and giblets from the cavity and rinse, place in small stock pot. Add 1/2 of the onion, carrots, celery, bay leaf and 8 cups of cold water. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to boil and simmer for one hour. Strain through a fine mesh colander into a bowl. You can pull the meat from the neck and chop the giblets and reserve to add to the gravy.
Season both cavities of the turkey with salt and pepper. In the neck cavity place 1/2 of the lemon, 1/2 of the thyme. Stuff the larger cavity with the remaining vegetables, 1/2 garlic head and the remaining thyme. Tie the legs together using kitchen twine. Rub the bird with butter all over the skin and lightly salt and pepper. Place the turkey on top of the mirepoix of vegetables in the roasting pan. And the remaining garlic into the roasting pan. Pour 1 cup of the stock into the roasting pan. Roast for one hour, adding stock or water as needed to keep the roasting pan moist.
Reduce the oven temperature to 350˚ and bake until the internal temperature reaches 165˚. Check by inserting a probe into the thickest part of the thigh or breast (not hitting a bone). During the roasting process, add additional stock as needed and baste. If the wings and top are getting overly brown I suggest to tent with foil and wrap the wings.
Remove the vegetables from inside the turkey, and transfer it to a cutting board and let rest for 30 minutes.
Turkey Pan Gravy
Pan drippings from the turkey 1/2 cup white wine 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour 3 cups stock or low sodium chicken stock Chopped pieces from the meat from the neck and the giblet (optional)
Remove the turkey from the roasting pan and set to rest. Discard any vegetables that are still in the roaster.
Place the roasting pan across two front burners (with caution). Bring to a low simmer, add the wine and 2 1/2 cups stock and bring to a boil. Separately mix the remaining 1/2 cup stock into the flour whisking in a medium size mixing bowl. Then add the stock and flour mixture slowly into the roasting pan whisking constantly. Reduce heat when thickened. Season with salt and pepper.
Add the meat from the neck and gibbets if you wish. If too thick, you can add additional stock. Serve warm. (I always preheat my gravy boat with hot water, before I ladle in the gravy.)