Friday, November 12, 2010

It's getting to be that time of year again......

Thanksgiving is not far away, can you believe it? Came around really quickly, didn't it? Along with cooler temperatures (which we were so looking forward to) comes a series of holidays that tend to stress a lot of people out for a long list of reasons, but that's not my specialty.... mine is the comforting type of thing that although associated sometimes with emotional issues, definitely brings lots of good things to the party- like great taste, amazing aromas and nostalgic memories.

If you come from a close knit family where your Mom likes to cook and you've got great holiday memories you might not need this, but for those of us that didn't, this one's for you. I hate to admit to having relaxed the etiquette rules we grew up with (yes, I did have those) and sometimes I think we need a little bit more of those, especially when I see us sitting around in front of the TV (OMG! no table manners needed!!!! LOL) and some of us no longer dress for dinner (you're lucky I dress at all.....) and when I talk to people I'm not surprised anymore that so many are this way too.

But there's one thing we still all have in common and that's great holiday foods, and it doesn't matter if you buy it from a local restaurant or market (you see? I have relaxed a lot!) or if you make it yourself or get together with friends to share the work. I also don't make a big deal if your holiday favorites are unpredictable or ordinary, as long as YOU feel they're right, they are. So go ahead and spend your time off taking naps and not cleaning the house; watching sports on TV or renting movies; eating delivery food or Dagwood Sandwiches..... it's all good and we're entitled to it, right?

However, if you're up to the task and want something special, you've come to the right place. I'll post an elaborate presentation and then an easy one. Anyone can do both, there's just more work on the first but nothing you can't accomplish, ok? So if you're up for it, the first recipe will wow anyone! Read it all first and then you'll be able to see a lot of steps that can be done in advance to make it easier for you come the big day, so don't sweat it and get to work!

Bacon Roasted Turkey.- What more can you expect from Daniel Boulud but a masterpiece! Don't let the list of ingredients scare you off, this one if definitely worth it! It's amazing!!! Just start at the top and work your way down, one step at a time.....

Serves 10 to 12
1 (10- to 12-pound) turkey, liver and gizzard removed and finely chopped

30 slices smoked bacon
4 fresh sage leaves, torn
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary leaves
Grated zest of 1/2 orange
Coarse sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup coarsely chopped onion (1 medium)
2 cups coarsely chopped apple (2 medium)
1 cup peeled and coarsely chopped chestnuts (about 12)
1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
Leaves from 1 stem fresh rosemary, finely chopped
5 fresh sage leaves, finely chopped
Pinch of ground cinnamon
Pinch of ground allspice
Pinch of ground nutmeg
Pinch of ground coriander
4 cups 1/2-inch cubes sourdough bread, dried
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup sliced almonds or walnut halves
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups Chicken Stock
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup white wine
1/2 pound shallots, coarsely chopped (about 1 cup)
2 large stalks celery, coarsely chopped
1 large carrot, coarsely chopped
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 sprig fresh sage
2 sprigs fresh savory
Grated zest of 2 oranges

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 butternut squash, necks only, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
12 endive leaves
24 cippollini or pearl onions
2 celeriac, peeled, halved, and cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
12 large white or cremini mushrooms, cleaned and trimmed
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
1 sprig fresh sage
2 sprigs fresh savory
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon honey

Using a boning knife, remove the legs and thighs in one piece from each side of the turkey. Cut the meat away from the thigh bone. Holding the thigh bone, use your other hand to carefully cut the meat from around the leg-thigh joint without cutting through the skin. Use the blade of the knife to scrape away the meat from the leg bone up to 2 inches from the tip end. Using a cleaver, break the leg bone, leaving the tip end intact. Remove the leg and thigh bone in one piece. Refrigerate until ready to stuff. Remove the breast meat, with the skin intact, from each side of the turkey; set aside. Using the cleaver, chop all of the bones into 3-inch pieces and set aside.

For the breasts: Lay 15 slices of bacon horizontally and overlapping slightly, on a clean work surface. Repeat with remaining 15 slices of bacon (the bacon should be equal in length to the breasts). Sprinkle the bacon with sage, rosemary, orange zest, sea salt and the peppercorns. Center each breast, skin-side down, vertically on the bacon. Wrap the slices around each breast very tightly to enclose. Using kitchen twine, truss each breast to secure the bacon to the breast. Chill for at least 1 hour and up to overnight.

For the legs: In a large saute pan over medium heat, melt butter. Add onion, apples, chestnuts, garlic, orange zest, rosemary, sage, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, and coriander. Cook for 5 minutes. Add the reserved chopped liver and gizzard. Season with salt and pepper, and cook for 5 minutes more. Meanwhile, combine in a large bowl the bread, raisins, and almonds. Add the cooked vegetable mixture. Gently stir in eggs. Add chicken stock, slowly, until the stuffing is moist but not wet. If necessary, add more chicken stock to moisten. Sprinkle with parsley; stir to combine.

Firmly press about 1 1/2 cups of the stuffing into the center of each leg. Wrap the meat tightly around the stuffing to enclose. Truss with kitchen twine to enclose. Chill for at least 1 hour and up to overnight. Transfer any extra stuffing to a buttered baking dish, and bake, covered, for 30 minutes and uncovered for 15 minutes more in 400 degree oven.

Roasting the breasts and legs: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees with the racks in the lower third and upper third of the oven. Combine 2 tablespoons vegetable oil and reserved turkey bones in a large roasting pan. Transfer to the bottom rack in the oven and roast until well-browned, about 45 minutes.

In a large saute pan, heat remaining 2 tablespoons vegetable oil and the butter over medium-high heat. Add the chilled turkey breasts, and cook until golden brown all over. Remove and set aside. Repeat with the chilled legs; reserving any accumulated fat in the saute pan. Remove the roasted turkey bones from the oven, and set wing pieces aside. Add wine to the roasting pan; stirring to loosen bones from the bottom of the pan. Add shallots, celery, carrots, herbs, and zest to the roasting pan, stirring to combine. Place the browned breasts and legs on top of the roasted bones. Return to the oven, and roast for 45 minutes, basting every 15 minutes, with the pan juices. Remove the breasts; set aside and keep warm. Continue to roast the legs, basting and turning, until the legs are cooked through, 1 to 1 1/2 hours more. When done, remove the legs; set aside and keep warm. Strain the pan juices through a fine sieve, skimming off any excess fat, and keep warm.

Meanwhile, prepare roasted vegetables. In a large heavy-bottomed roasting pan over medium-high heat, melt butter with olive oil. Add the reserved wing pieces, squash, endive, onions, celeriac, mushrooms, and herbs. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the reserved fat, and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are lightly browned. Drizzle with honey. Transfer to the top rack in the oven, and roast until the squash and the endive are fork-tender, about 1 hour. Remove the twine from the breasts and legs. Slice crosswise into 3/4-inch slices. Arrange the slices on the platter with the roasted vegetables. Drizzle with the strained pan juices. Serve remaining juices on the side.


Stuffed Turkey Breast.- Here's a lovely presentation and you don't need a huge turkey, just get a turkey breast and it's so easy, it'll be ready in one hour but looks fabulous!

Serves 6
1 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 (about 1 3/4 pounds) boneless, skinless turkey breast
4 slices (4 ounces) bacon
1 pound white potatoes, well scrubbed and cut into 1-inch chunks
4 (about 8 oz) carrots, peeled, halved lengthwise, and cut into 1-inch pieces

In a small bowl, combine parsley, garlic, lemon zest, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Slice breast almost in half horizontally, leaving it attached on one side. Open like a book; season inside and out with salt and pepper. Stuff turkey (below) with herb mixture; cover with bacon slices, tucking ends under the turkey.

Quick Cooking Instructions.-
Combine potatoes, carrots, and 1/2 cup water in a microwave-safe dish. Place turkey on top. Cover, and cook on high 15 minutes. Stir vegetable mixture; return dish to microwave. Cook, uncovered, until turkey is 160 degrees.on an instant-read thermometer (juices should run clear when meat is pierced with a knife) and vegetables are tender, 5 to 10 minutes more. Let turkey rest 5 minutes before slicing crosswise and serving with vegetables.

Regular Oven Instructions.-
Do not remove skin from turkey breast. Butterfly and pound until 1/2 inch thick. Place breast, skin side down on cutting board and spread the stuffing mixture evenly over the turkey, leaving the edges clear all around. Roll the turkey up over the filling and secure with cotton string.

Place roast in a roasting pan, skin side up and brush with olive oil. Season with garlic powder, salt and pepper.

Roast in a preheated 500°F oven for 20 minutes, or until roast is well browned. Reduce temperature to 325°F and roast an additional 60-90 minutes, or until temperature reads 165-170°F on an instant read thermometer. Allow roast to rest for 15 minutes before carving. Cut into 1/2" slices and serve with pan drippings as gravy.

Okay, turkey's done, now what about side dishes? Here are some ideas..... (Note: I don't stuff the turkey, I put my stuffing in a casserole dish and bake separately, it works and serves better and insures a quality product).

1- Garlic Mashed Potatoes.- Put a whole head (yes, the whole thing- cut off about 1/4 inch off the bottom) in a 1 foot square piece of foil and sit it on 1-2 tbl of olive oil, seal it up and put alongside the turkey in the oven for at least 1 hour or until they are very soft. Add to your cooked potatoes along with salt, pepper and lots of butter. YUM!

2- Cornbread Stuffing.-
1 pound fresh pork sausage, casings removed, crumbled (plus giblets, diced
1 large onion, (about 2 cups), finely chopped
3 celery, finely chopped (1 1/2 cups)
Coarse salt and ground pepper
2 pounds prepared cornbread, cut into 3/4-inch cubes (12 cups)
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh sage
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 to 2 cups chicken broth

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large nonstick skillet, cook sausage (and giblets, if using) over medium-high heat, stirring often, until browned and cooked through, 5 to 8 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer to a large bowl.

To pan, add onion, celery, and 1/4 cup water. Reduce heat to medium; cook, scraping up browned bits with a wooden spoon, until vegetables soften, about 10 minutes. Season generously with salt and pepper. Add to sausage.

Add cornbread, sage, and eggs to sausage and vegetables. Bring broth to a simmer in a small saucepan; pour 1/2 cup over stuffing, and toss gently (cornbread will break down into smaller pieces). If needed, add up to 1/2 cup more broth, until stuffing feels moist, but not wet. Spoon stuffing into a baking pan; it should reach the top. Refrigerate stuffing in pan and remaining broth separately, covered, until ready to bake. (Make cornbread a day ahead and cover, you can also prepare everything in advance.
Note: I add everything I can find, like nuts, dried or fresh fruit, mushrooms, etc. Anything you like......

3-Cranberry and Dried Cherry Relish.- Can be made way in advance and just brought to room temperature when you're ready for it.... great on sandwiches too!
1 package (12 ounces) fresh or frozen cranberries
1 cup dried cherries
1 cup sugar
2 cups water

In a large saucepan, combine cranberries (no need to thaw if frozen), cherries, sugar, and water. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer until most berries have burst and liquid is syrupy, 20 to 25 minutes. Transfer to a bowl. Cover, pressing plastic wrap directly on surface of relish; refrigerate.
Note: I also add orange peels and nuts sometimes, your choice.

4- Cheese and Spinach Souffle.- Very easy and wonderful, can be made in advance and refrigerated, then cover with foil and bake. A snap!
Butter, for baking dish
3 packages (10 ounces each) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1 1/2 cups half-and-half
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cups coarsely grated Gruyere cheese (about 6 ounces)
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a shallow 1-quart baking dish. In a large bowl, combine spinach, half-and-half, eggs, 1 cup Gruyere, 2 teaspoons salt, 1/8 teaspoon pepper, and nutmeg; stir to combine. Spread evenly in prepared baking dish, and top with remaining 1/2 cup Gruyere. Bake until set and top is golden brown, 30 to 35 minutes.
Note: Change the cheese if you like too!

5- Sweet Potato and Pecan Pie.- We all know about Pumpkin Pie but how about a new take on an old favorite....
1 pound 3 ounces sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 1/4 cups plain yogurt
3/4 cup packed, dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg
5 egg yolks
1 (9-inch) deep dish, frozen pie shell (or make your own)
1 cup chopped pecans, toasted
1 tablespoon maple syrup

Put cubed potatoes into steamer basket and place steamer into a large pot of simmering water that is no closer than 2 inches from the bottom of basket. Allow to steam for 20 minutes or until the potatoes are fork tender. (You can also cook in the oven until tender or in water like before) Mash with potato masher and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place sweet potatoes in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat with the paddle attachment. Add yogurt, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, yolks, and salt, to taste, and beat until well combined. Pour this batter into the pie shell and place onto a sheet pan. Sprinkle pecans on top and drizzle with maple syrup.

Bake for 50 to 55 minutes or until the custard reaches 165 to 180 degrees. Remove from oven and cool. Keep refrigerated after cooling.

Well, there you have it, a mostly hassle free holiday meal that will impress anyone and since most of the dishes can be made in advance, will let you be a guest at your own party. Make it even easier on yourself and turn it into a Buffet Service and let everyone serve themselves while everyone relaxes and enjoys the family! Relax and create some lovely memories.

Our holiday will be spent as interns for several holiday events, the World Culinary Forum (Chefs from Europe are coming to the school to lead seminars and teach new techniques)and Red Rock Casino's Holiday Event where we'll be helping out the Pastry Chef who just won a prestigious competition!.... so no rest for the wicked but we'll be getting lots of experience and we're jazzed about it! (My feet still hurt and will be hurting even more.....)

If you're looking for something special or specific and you want some help, drop me a line (use the comment section below) and let me know or send me your email and I will help as much as I can. It doesn't have to be a Thanksgiving Dish either..... Talk soon!

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