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‘Twas a small Thanksgiving this year and a sad one as we lost our furry friend of 14 years the Tuesday before. This is when cooking is catharsis. Spending the entire day before prepping for turkey day productively passed the time while awaiting my daughter’s 9:30pm flight. Since she could only be with us for 36 hours, I wanted to get as much done as possible prior to her arrival. Didn’t have the heart to try anything new this year, but favorites from years past always provide comfort.

Slow-roasted Turkey with Gravy
Cook’s Illustrated November 2008

This preparation results in a turkey that’s moist and succulent – even the breast. The turkey is disassembled prior to roasting so parts roast evenly and carving is a breeze. The recipe calls for a bone-in, skin on turkey breast and four pounds of turkey legs and thighs, but I just get a 15-16 pound bird and cut it into pieces. That way, I get the neck, wing tips and back to make a nice stock for the gravy. In previous years, I used a chef’s knife to do the deed. This year, I bought a 10″ Wusthof boning knife. Makes short work of boning the turkey, and with’s its leather holster, makes me feel like a bad ass.

The well-buttered and seasoned turkey parts (breast skin side down) are placed on a rack over a 1″ deep jelly roll pan filled with chopped carrots, celery and onion with a couple springs of thyme and a cup of chicken broth. It’s roasted at 275 degrees for an hour. The breast is then flipped and the turkey cooks for another 1-2 hours until the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees (thickest part of the breast) or 175 (thickest part of the thigh) another one to two hours. Once the turkey is removed from the oven, it can rest for at least 30 or up to 90 minutes. When almost ready to serve, heat the oven to 500 degrees and roast until turkey skin is golden and crisp, about 15 minutes.

The Gravy
The strained pan broth with freshly made turkey stock (about three cups) is added to a roux to which a bay leaf has been added. It’s reduced to about two cups. Oh, the flavor!
 Three Bread Stuffing

adapted from a Food & Wine Magazine recipe
1.5 pounds sourdough, rye and pumpernickel (about a half loaf each) cut into cubes and dried overnight in the oven. Dorothy Lane Market also sells a blend of bread cubes make from their homemade bread scraps.
1 stick unsalted butter
1 large onion, chopped
2 large celery ribs, chopped
1 TSP paprika
1 pound spicy sausage
1 granny smith apple, peeled, cored, chopped
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 TBSP fresh thyme, chopped
salt & pepper (about 1/2 TSP each)
2 eggs, lightly beaten

Poach sausage in two cups of water over MH for about 10 minutes. Remove casings and coarsely chop. Reserve one cup poaching liquid.

Melt butter and sauté onion and celery over low heat until soft, about 12 minutes. Add paprika and cook for two minutes more.

Combine bread cubes, sausage, poaching liquid, vegetables, herbs and eggs and bake in a 350 oven for 45 minutes.

Mashed Yukon Gold Potatoes

Steamed. A bit of sautéed garlic, lemon juice, lemon zest and butter added to finish along with salt and pepper.
Cranberry Black Pepper Chutney
Gourmet Magazine 

Found this recipe on FoodNetwork.com back in 2003. For whatever reason, it’s no longer available on their site. Too bad, ’cause this stuff is so good. There’s just a little bit sweetness offset by the spicy heat of the cracked black pepper. It’s chunky texture and deep color will make you wonder why you ever settled for the slippery canned sauce.

1/3 cup finely chopped shallot
1 TBSP unsalted butter
6 OZ fresh cranberries
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
1 TBSP cider vinegar
3/4 TSP cracked black pepper
1/4 TSP salt

Cook shallot in butter until soft in a 1 1/2 QT pan over medium heat, 3-5 minutes. Stir in remaining ingredients and cook, stirring occasionally until the berries have burst and the chutney has thickened, about 20 minutes. Cook to room temperature.

Fresh Fig Tart with Rosemary Cornmeal Crust and Lemon Mascarpone Cream
Gourmet July 2003 (available at epicurious.com

Okay, okay, the cornmeal crust does sound a bit odd. And with the rosemary, it seems like it would be savory. But oh, my, what a dessert! The crust has a perfect little crunch which contrasts so nicely with the luscious lemon cream. I am a huge fan of fresh figs, and this tart is a magnificent way to showcase them.
 Pumpkin Pie with Vodka Pie Crust
Cooks Illustrated November 2007 pie crust; filling from the Libby pumpkin can

Cooks proclaims this crust to be ‘foolproof’. As someone who rarely bakes, I’d have to agree. The beautiful pie pan was a gift from my mother, who is absolutely foolproof when it comes to pies. The fluted edges are another big cheat for this non-baker as it practically flutes the edges for you. The recipe makes enough for a top and bottom crust, so I like to use half for cookies.
Snail Cookies
My daughter named these rolled cookies because of their shape. These were always a favorite in my childhood home (and still are today), and my mom makes one mean pie dough. Unlike me, she does not need a recipe to make her dough foolproof.

These are simply pie crust spread with softened butter, a sugar/cinnamon mixture, finely chopped nuts (pecan or walnuts are nice, but the nuts are optional), which are rolled and cut crosswise.

Dedicated to Mistletoe. We will forever miss you and your help in the kitchen.