Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving Recipes

My favorite exercise in holiday cooking is to make brined turkey. Use any clean, water-proof storage container and a cold environment (such as a refrigerator or Boston) and soak the turkey in the brine for an hour per pound of bird. The recipe for the brine I use is roughly 1 gal cold water to 1 cup of the following: kosher salt; raw sugar (or 1/2 white sugar and 1/4 molasses); rough whiskey. I like to use Wild Turkey. It makes a man mean and meat delicious. (Hi Mom, meet Delicious. Mmm.) You can add any combination of aromatics or other flavors to the brine. After soaking: remove the bird; dry it; rub with spices and stuff if desired; roast according to size and stuffing.

Now, you can stuff a brined turkey with anything, or nothing at all - it comes out delicious either way. This year, we decided to experiment with some mild aromatics: we applied a salt-and pepper rub and stuffed the bird with a mix of Gala apples; red onion; garlic; rosemary; thyme and celery salt.

My method of roasting a turkey is to cover it with a clean dish towel and roast it at 325F for 3-3.5 hours. I soak the towel with low-salt chicken stock every half hour.

Once the time is up, I uncover the turkey, turn it around (breast to the front) and baste while roasting at 350 for another hour to crisp the skin. It usually comes out looking delicious.

For the side-dish, we cut up a single enormous butternut squash to roast with sweet potatoes, carrots, apples and Morrocan spices.

Delicious Spice Mix (we upgraded to tablespoons):
2 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. ground coriander
1/2 tsp. chile powder
1/2 tsp. sweet paprika
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground allspice
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
and a pinch ground cloves

To prep, just toss the chopped squash and sundry with a few tablespoons of olive oil and a few teaspoons of the spice mix (enough to provide reasonable coverage). Now the recipe I cribbed said to roast the squash uncovered at 450 for 45 minutes; but we were roasting the turkey simultaneously, so we roasted the squash covered at 325 for 1.5 hours. Good thing, too! It was delicious.

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