Gobble Gobble

What a great Thanksgiving! I truly have so much to be thankful for. First off, I have a fabulous husband. Thank you for being you honey! He’s the one who encouraged me to start this blog, and did all the work creating it! I’m also thankful for my health, and my family… who I was not able to be with this year.

Now on to the good stuff… the food. I think Stephan thanked me at least 10 times for this Thanksgiving dinner! I did work hard, but its so worth it. This is by far my most favorite holiday. There’s no pressure, no stress, just good food and good company. I also have to thank my Mother-in-Law, as she was a great Sous Chef and helped me tremendously! Thanks Mom!

I’m only going to share a few of the recipes from my dinner, as I made so much stuff and can’t imagine typing all that! lol!

Brined and Roasted Turkey Recipe (Adapted from Alton Brown)

1 14-16 pound turkey

1 c kosher salt
1/2 c brown sugar
1 tbsp black peppercorns
1/2 tbsp allspice berries
1 small piece candied ginger
1 gallon water
1 gallon ice water

1 onion, peeled and quartered
1 lemon, cut in half
1 orange, quartered
1 carrot, cut in large pieces
1 rib celery, cut in large pieces
4 sprigs rosemary
4 sprigs sage

3 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
sage, several leaves
lemon, thin slices

3-4 tbsp melted unsalted butter

1. Bring brine ingredients and 1 gallon water to a boil, and stir to dissolve the sugar and salt. Remove from heat and allow to cool and then add the ice water. Rinse the turkey and place in a container or bag that is large enough to hold the turkey and 2 gallons of water. I found that Ziploc makes big bags, which are perfect for brining a turkey. Pour the brine into the container or bag and refrigerate for about 10-12 hours.

2. After 12 hours or so, remove the turkey from the brine and rinse thoroughly. Place the turkey on roasting pan and gently slide your hand under the skin to separate the skin from the meat. Be careful not to tear the skin. Pat dry with paper towels and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, preferably 3 or 4 hours, to let the turkey skin dry. This helps to ensure a crispy skin.

3. One hour before you plan to start roasting, remove the turkey from the refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature. Stuff the cavity with all the aromatics. Generously rub the softened butter under and on top of the skin. Arrange the lemon slices and sage under the skin. Tuck the wings behind the body, and the legs into the slit of skin the butcher creates. If there is not a cut in the skin to tuck the legs, tie them together with twine.

4. Preheat oven to 450 degrees, and place rack in the lowest setting in oven. Depending on oven size and turkey size, you may have to remove one of the racks from your oven to fit the turkey. Place turkey in oven at 450 degrees for 15 minutes, and then turn down to 350. After roasting for one hour, remove bird and baste with melted butter. Repeat after another hour. Start checking the temperature after about 2 1/4 hours. Stick the thermometer into the joint between the leg and breast, and the temperature should be 165 to be completely cooked. The brining process makes the turkey cook faster than usual, so be careful not to overcook. My turkey was 15 pounds, and was perfectly cooked in 2 1/2 hours.

5. When turkey is fully cooked, remove from oven, place the turkey on a platter and cover loosely with foil. Let rest for at least 20 minutes.

Turkey Pan Sauce Recipe

1/2 c onion, chopped
1/2 c celery, chopped
1/2 c carrot, chopped
3 tbsp flour
1/2 c white wine
3 c chicken (or turkey) stock (must be low-sodium)
2 springs thyme
2 sprigs sage

1. Pour all the pan drippings into a glass measuring cup and let sit for a minute to allow the oil to float to the top. Pour or ladle out some of the oil leaving several tablespoons of oil and all the pan drippings. Pour the remaining drippings and oil back into the roasting pan and place the roasting pan over medium heat.

2. Add the onion, celery, and carrot and saute for about 5 minutes. Add the flour and stirring constantly, cook for about 2 minutes. Pour in the wine and stir quickly to dissolve the flour mixture, about 1 minute. Add the stock and stir well to incorporate. Bring to a simmer, add the thyme and sage, and let simmer for at least 10-15 minutes.

3. If it is not thick enough, thicken with 1 tbsp cornstarch stirred into 2 tbsp cold water in a small bowl. Strain the sauce through a fine mesh strainer and discard the vegetables and herbs.

Note: Its even better if you make a stock out of the turkey neck and giblets. In a medium pot, bring the neck, giblets, 1 each chopped onion, carrot and celery along with 4-5 peppercorns. Simmer for at least 1 hour, up to 4 hours. Strain and cool.

Cranberry Sauce Recipe

12 oz cranberries, fresh
3/4 c sugar
3/4 c orange juice
1 cinnamon stick
pinch salt
Orange zest for garnish

1. Combine all ingredients except zest in a medium size pot and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring often for about 10 minutes, until the cranberries start to break down and the sauce thickens. If you like your sauce more uniform, cook a little longer. Remove from heat, let cool then refrigerate. Can be made several days in advance. Garnish with zest before serving.

Note: If you want a more uniform sauce, puree the cooked cranberries in a food processor.

Cornbread and Roasted Root Vegetable Stuffing (Nov 2007 Bon Appetit Magazine)
Sauteed Green Beans with Garlic and Shallot

Sweet Potato Casserole Recipe (Adapted from Tallahassee Junior League Cookbook)

This is requested every year by friends and family, and is light years better than its “marshmallow topped” cousin.

4 c oven cooked sweet potatoes, cooled
3/4 c sugar
1/2 c milk
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla

1 c brown sugar
1/3 c butter melted
3/4 c flour
3/4 c chopped pecans

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove skin from the cooked sweet potatoes and place in a large bowl. Mash well with a potato masher. In another small bowl, combine sugar, milk, eggs, salt and vanilla extract. Stir this into the mashed sweet potatoes and pour into a buttered 2 quart casserole dish. This part can be done the day before serving and refrigerated.

2. To make topping, combine brown sugar, butter, flour and pecans and stir to combine. It should be very crumbly. If it is not, add another tablespoon of flour. Spread over the sweet potato mixture and bake at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes, until browned on top.

Corn Bread Recipe

3/4 c yellow cornmeal
3/4 c flour
1 tsp salt
3 tsp baking powder
1 c sour cream
2 eggs (beaten)
1 c fresh (or frozen) corn kernels
1/2 c oil

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and butter a 9×9 inch pan. Combine dry ingredients. Add remaining ingredients and stir to mix.

2. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until center springs back when touched.

Chocolate Pecan Tart Recipe

I’ve been making this recipe for many years, and its my absolute favorite holiday dessert! Imagine gooey pecan pie with bittersweet chocolate added… fantastic! I can’t remember where I got the recipe… All I have is a chocolate stained photocopy from a magazine!

Pie Dough
2 c all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 1/2 sticks (6 oz) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4 inch dice
1/4 c ice water

1 1/2 c pecan halves
4 tbsp unsalted butter
6 oz bittersweet chocolate, broken into pieces
1/2 c brown sugar
3 large eggs, room temp, lightly beaten
3/4 c light corn syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
pinch kosher salt

1 To make the dough, combine the 2 cups flour with the sugar and salt in a food processor. Process to mix. Add the butter and process until the largest pieces are the size of peas. With the machine on, slowly pour in the ice water and process just until its incorporated. Transfer the dough to a bowl and knead a few times. Pat the dough into a 1 inch thick disk and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate the dough until firm, at least 1 hour or overnight.

2. Let the dough soften slightly. On a floured work surface, roll out the dough to a round, about 1/8 inch thick. Roll the dough onto the rolling pin and unroll it over a 9 inch tart pan. Press the dough into the pie plate, being careful not to stretch it. Using scissors, trim the overhang to 1 1/2 inches. Fold the dough under itself. Refrigerate the pie shell until firm, at least 30 minutes

3. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Prick the chilled tart shell all over with the tines of a fork. Line the shell with parchment and fill with dried beans or pie weights. Fold the parchment over the weights so the side of the tart shell is exposed. Bake the shell for 25 minutes, or until the side and rim are light golden. Carefully remove the foil and continue baking the shell until the bottom is beginning to brown, about 15 minutes longer and remove from oven. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees.

4. Spread the pecans on a baking sheet and bake for 5 minutes, stirring once. Transfer the pecans to a place and let cool. In a small microwave safe glass, melt the butter with the chocolate in a microwave oven, about 45 seconds. Stir until blended and smooth. Scrape the chocolate mixture into a medium bowl and add the brown sugar and stir well. Stir in the eggs, corn syrup, vanilla and kosher salt. Lastly, stir in the pecans.

5. Pour the filling into the tart shell and bake for 30-45 minutes, or until set in the center. Let the tart cool completely. Serve with whipped cream. The tart can be made the day ahead and refrigerated overnight. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Chocolate, Cranberry and Mascarpone Tart (Nov 2007 Bon Appetit Magazine)