Monday, November 30, 2009


Last year Thanksgiving was a 3 day long preparation and cooking-fest involving two kitchens, sixteen guests, three cooks, and about 25 dishes spread out over 4 hours of eating.  This year, I took it easier and had an intimate pot luck with a small group of friends.  I was responsible for the turkey and stuffing, and guests brought their own contributions.  Hope everyone had a nice holiday!

The cooking instructions for a wild turkey were very different than what I was used to.  I spent some time with my very helpful butcher going over the details.  I also cheated and used their ready made sausage and corn bread stuffing and their ready made gravy, both of which were excellent and, along with a friend's green chili mashed sweet potatoes, added a little flavor of New Mexico to the feast.  Since so much of my recipe here is prefabricated, I am substituting optional stuffing and gravy recipes you can use to make your own editions.  These are my best guesses.  Save for next year, I suppose!

Roast Wild Turkey with Cornbread Jalapeno Stuffing
(recipe from the Meat Hook, stuffing recipe adapted from the Gourmet Cookbook)
serves 6-8

1 eight pound wild breed turkey, pre-brined in butter and bourbon and salt from the Meat Hook
6 large carrots, cut in half
1 large fennel bulb, quartered
2 yellow onions, peeled and quartered
1 handful bay leaves
1 bunch parsley
1 bunch thyme
1/2 container organic chicken stock
1/2 cup brown sugar
sea salt
white pepper

Remove turkey from brining bag or pot, remove giblets for stock and neck for pan roasting from carcass.  Place bird on cooking rack and stuff with as many vegetables and herbs as will fit.  Place remaining vegetables and herbs in bottom of pan almond with turkey neck.  Pour stock in pan, and rub bird with brown sugar and salt mixture, sprinkle with white pepper.  Bake with breasts covered in foil in oven at 275 degrees for 2-1/2 hours.

Take turkey (on rack) out of pan for a moment, remove neck, vegetables and herbs from pan, skim off some fat for gravy stock, arrange stuffing in bottom of pan.  Increase oven temperature to 350 degrees and uncover breasts.  Bake for another 45 minutes or until thigh registers 160 degrees on meat thermometer.

Remove pan from oven and let sit for 30 minutes before carving, remove stuffing from pan and keep warm while turkey sits, before serving.

For Stuffing:
7 cups coarsely crumbled buttermilk corn bread
1 pound sweet Italian sausage, casings discarded
1 stick unsalted butter
2 medium onions, finely chopped
2 medium fennel bulbs, stalks discarded and bulbs coarsely chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, diced
2 teaspoons fennel seeds, freshly ground
2 teaspoons dried thyme, freshly ground
2 teaspoons dried tarragon, freshly ground
fresh ground pepper
sea salt

Dry out bread crumbs/cubes in a 325 degree oven for 15-20 minutes.  Cook sausage in a non-stick skillet over medium heat, stirring and breaking up with a fork, until cooked through, 6-8 minutes.  Transfer to bowl with bread crumbs.  Melt butter in pan, add vegetables, jalapeno, salt and pepper to taste.  Cook until vegetables are soft, add fennel seeds, thyme and tarragon and cook for another minute.  Mix cooked vegetables with bread and sausage, set aside to be baked in turkey pan when ready.

A little late afternoon snack is important to tide your guests over.

For Gravy:
(recipe from the Gourmet Cookbook)

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
turkey giblets (except liver)
1 celery rib
1 carrot, coarsely chopped
1 onion, quartered
4 cups water
1-3/4 cups organic chicken stock
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 teaspoon dried thyme, crumbled
1/4 cup all-purpose flour

Heat oil in 2 quart sauce pan over moderately high heat, brown giblets for about 5 minutes.  Add water, stock, vegetables, herbs, salt and pepper, bring to a simmer until reduced to about 4 cups, 40-45 minutes.  Pour stock through a sieve, let cool in fridge and skim off fat.  

Bring stock to a simmer again.  Skim some fat from the turkey pan (before removing vegetables and adding stuffing) and whisk together with flour and cook in heavy sauce pan over low heat, continually whisking to create a roux.  Add heated stock in a fast stream, whisking to prevent lumps, and then simmer, whisking occasionally until thickened.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Kale Salad with Pine Nuts and Currants
(recipe from Amelia Bauer)
serves 6-8

2 bunches green kale
1/2 cup pine nuts
1/2 cup currants
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper

Heat olive oil, salt, pepper in a large pan or wok on high heat.  When a drop of water sizzles in the pan, add kale, turning often to heat evenly.  Once all the kale has been folded in, add pine nuts and currants.  Continue folding kale until dark green and tender but not soggy, about 5 minutes.  Mix in cheese just before removing from heat and serve immediately.

Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Green Chili
(recipe from Amelia Bauer)
serves 6-8

4 large or 6 medium sweet potatoes
1 cup New Mexican hatch green chili, roasted and chopped
1/2 stick butter
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon molasses
sea salt
fresh ground pepper

Boil sweet potatoes until cooked, about 45 minutes.  Remove from water and peel.  Skins should shed easily after boiling.  Add remaining ingredients and mash together, leaving some chunks of sweet potato intact.  Serve!

Green Beans with Almonds and Lemon-Butter Glaze
(recipe from Amelia Bauer)
serves 6-8

1 pound green beans, tips cut off and left whole
1 cup sliced almonds
1/4 stick butter
1/2 fresh lemon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper

Bring water to a full boil in large pot, add green beans, and remove when beans turn bright green and are a bit tender but with some crunch left.  Remove from water, rinse under cold water, and set aside.

In a small saucepan, melt butter with salt and pepper over medium heat.  Add almonds and stir consistently until browned, about 3-4 minutes.  Once evenly browned, add juice of 1/2 lemon.  Remove from heat and toss with warm green beans in large bowl, serve immediately.

Potato and Leek Gratin
(recipe from Kate Thompson)
serves 6-8

3 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and very thinly sliced
1 quart milk
4 garlic cloves, 3 thinly sliced
1 bay leaf
3 springs thyme
2 large leeks, tops removed, thinly sliced
grated nutmeg
2 cups grated Gruyere
2 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
sea salt
freshly ground white pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Rub a 9x13 baking dish with garlic, then with butter to coat.

Put the potatoes in a pot with milk, herbs, sliced garlic, leeks, and 2 teaspoons salt.  Slowly bring to a boil then simmer until potatoes are barely tender but not falling apart.  Discard bay leaf and thyme, drain and save the milk.

Place a single layer of potatoes, leeks and garlic in the baking dish.  Season with white pepper, a little nutmeg and cover lightly with cheese.  Repeat layers until all potatoes and cheese are used, ending with a layer of cheese.  Add milk to top layer of potatoes, about 1.5 cups,  dot top with bits of butter and bake until golden brown on top, about an hour.  Can be reheated a couple hours later if necessary.

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