I’ve received several emails from readers who want me to get back to more regular blogging now that the election is over. I’m flattered.
Unfortunately, three things are preventing a resumption of regular blogging:
1. After four months of full-time campaigning, I have a list of honey-do’s that is quite long. That is taking most of my time.
2. Next week I’m scheduled to conduct my Army Reserve annual training, so there’s a lot to do to get ready. Not to mention, that I’ll be so busy while I’m gone that you won’t hear much from me for the next month.
3. The Holidays are also occupying a lot of my time. Long time readers will remember that Thanksgiving dinner is a big cooking event for me. I’m busy getting all that ready for Thursday’s dinner for 20.
Speaking of which, here’s what’s on my portion of the menu (recipes follow):
Herb Roasted Turkey
Wild Mushroom and Shallot Gravy
Roasted Vegetable and Chestnut Stuffing
Note: This is a brined turkey. It will be too salty to stuff. But that’s a good thing, since stuffing only increases the cooking time which just dries out the turkey.
2 quarts cold water, plus more as necessary
2 quarts chicken or turkey stock
2 quarts apple cider
1 1/2 cups coarse kosher salt
1 cup brown sugar
8 large fresh or dried bay leaves
2 tablespoons black peppercorns
2 tablespoons whole allspice
1 20- to 24-pound turkey; giblets removed, neck reserved
5 – 10 pounds ice
2 tablespoons minced fresh Italian parsley
2 tablespoons minced fresh thyme
2 tablespoons minced fresh sage
2 tablespoons minced fresh marjoram
1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 Granny Smith apples, cored and coarsely chopped
2 large onions, quartered
1 head of garlic, cloved and peeled
1 tablespoon olive oil
Bunches of parsley, thyme, sage, marjoram, rosemary and green onions
1 cup apple cider
To brine the turkey:
Line extra-large pot or bowl (use a non-metallic or stainless steel pan unless you want your turkey to taste like aluminum) with two 13-gallon (or larger) plastic bags, 1 inside the other. Combine 1 quart water, salt, bay leaves, peppercorns, allspice, and brown sugar in large saucepan. Stir over medium heat until salt dissolves. Remove from heat. Add 1 quart cold water and cool to lukewarm. Pour into plastic bags; mix in remaining stock and cider. Add ice. Submerge turkey in brine to cover completely, gathering bags tightly to eliminate any air; tie bags closed. Add more ice and cold water as necessary. Refrigerate turkey in brine in pot at least 18 hours and up to 24 hours. (Alternately, you can keep the bagged, brined turkey in a styrofoam cooler packed with plenty of ice.)
Line large roasting pan with 4 layers of paper towels. Remove turkey from brine and drain well; discard brine. Place turkey in prepared pan. Stuff paper towels into the cavity. Discard that pop-up turkey temperature thingie; use a real thermometer instead. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
For herb butter and gravy:
Mix parsley, thyme, sage, marjoram, rosemary, and nutmeg in small bowl. Transfer 1/4 cup herb mixture to small bowl; mix in 1/2 cup butter.
To roast the turkey:
Position rack in bottom third of oven and preheat to 500°F. Remove turkey from roasting pan; drain any accumulated juices from main cavity. Discard paper towels. Lather butter mixture over entire bird-inside and out. Return turkey to prepared pan. Tuck wing tips under; tie legs together loosely to hold shape. Place some apple quarters and onion quarters in main cavity. Add the bunches of herbs and green onions. Stuff very loosely. Apply remaining herb butter over turkey; sprinkle with pepper. Mix apples, onions and garlic with 1 tablespoon oil and scatter around turkey in pan. Add 1 cup cider, turkey neck, and the roughly chopped remaining apples, onions, and herbs to bottom of pan ensuring that nothing touches the bottom of the turkey.
Roast turkey 20 to 30 minutes or until breast is nicely browned. Apply foil shield to the breast, shiny side up. Reduce heat to 350 and cook until temperature registers 161 on a probe inserted through the foil to the thickest part of the breast. Do not baste. Do not open oven while cooking. Transfer turkey to platter and tent with foil; let stand at least 30 minutes before carving (internal temperature will rise another 5 to 10 degrees).
Serve turkey with gravy.
Makes14 to 18 servings.
WILD MUSHROOM-SHALLOT GRAVY
1/3 cup olive oil
15 large shallots, peeled
4 garlic cloves, peeled
16 ounces mixed wild mushrooms (such as oyster, morel and stemmed shiitake), sliced
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage
1/2 cup dry Sherry or Vermouth
1/2 cup dry Marsala or Calvados
1 cup strained, degreased drippings from roasted turkey
2 1/2 cups low salt chicken stock (or more to bring drippings to 3 1/2 cups),
1 cup whipping cream (or more to thicken)
roux made from 2 tablespoons of grease from pan and 2 tablespoons flour
Preheat oven to 300°F. Combine oil, shallots and garlic in small glass baking dish. Cover dish with foil. Bake until shallots and garlic are very tender and pale golden, about 1 hour. Cool slightly. Thinly slice shallots and garlic; reserve oil in dish. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover separately and refrigerate.)
Transfer 1 tablespoon oil from baking dish to heavy large saucepan. Heat oil over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms; sauté until tender, about 5 minutes.
Return 2 tablespoons grease to roasting pan, whisk in 2 tablespoons flour over medium heat until a dark roux is made. Add rosemary, thyme, sage, roasted shallots and garlic, wine and Calvados to roasting pan; boil until syrupy, about 6 minutes. Add stock; boil until liquid is reduced by half, about 10 minutes. Add cream; boil until mixture thickens to sauce consistency, about 5 minutes.
Season with pepper. (It probably won’t need additional salt because of the brine.) Serve with turkey.
Makes 4 cups
ROASTED VEGETABLE AND CHESTNUT STUFFING
22 ounces sliced sourdough bread with crusts, cut into ½ inch pieces (about 20 cups)
Nonstick vegetable oil spray
1 ½ pounds onions, cut into ¾ inch pieces
4 medium parsnips (about 1 pound), peeled, cut into ½ inch pieces
3 cups celery (about 5 or 6 ribs), cut into ½ inch pieces
3 stoplight bell peppers, cut into ¾ inch pieces
1 pound fresh shiitake mushrooms, stemmed, caps cut into 1 inch pieces
¼ cup chopped fresh rosemary
¾ cup butter, melted
16 to 22 ounces whole roasted chestnuts, quartered
1 cup chopped fresh parsley
3 large eggs
Turkey or chicken stock, 1 to 2 cups
Preheat oven to 400. Place bread in large roasting pan. Bake until golden, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes. Transfer bread to very large bowl; cool. Maintain oven temperature.
Spray 2 large rimmed baking sheets with nonstick spray. Combine onions, parsnips, peppers, celery, mushrooms, rosemary and 6 tablespoons melted butter in large bow; toss to coat. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Divide vegetable mixture between prepared baking sheets. Roast until vegetables are tender and beginning to brown, stirring every 10 minutes, about 35 minutes total.
Can be made one day ahead. Store bread in airtight container at room temperature. Keep roasted vegetables covered and refrigerated.
Add roasted vegetables to bowl with bread. Add chestnuts, parsley and remaining melted butter. Stir to blend. Season to taste. Mix eggs into stuffing. Add 1 to 2 cups turkey stock, just enough to moisten.
Preheat oven to 350. Generously butter one 15 x 10 x 2 or two 13 x 9 x 2 glass baking dishes. Transfer stuffing to prepared dish. Cover with buttered foil. Bake until heated through, about 40 minutes. Uncover; check for dryness; if too dry, add more stock. Bake until top is slightly crisp, about 20 minutes longer.