Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Prepping for Thanksgiving - Make Ahead Gravy, Stuffing Prep. Turkey Brining

Right now it smells very yummy in my house. I have bread raising near the stove. I am roasting a pan of Brussel sprouts with onions and bacon. When they come out of the oven, I will sprinkle them with chopped pecans and aged balsamic vinegar. I've also got a loaf of French bread raising on the stove top.

I've begun my Thanksgiving preparation in earnest. I'm making a healthy, flavorful turkey stock from scratch, which will be transformed into turkey gravy. The bread will become the base for the dressing for the turkey. And oh yes, let's not forget that I need to brine the turkey. I've included the recipes below. (If you are interested in the science of brining a bird, you 'll find a detailed, excellent write up over at the food lab.)

Here's a little bit of music to get it all started:

Turkey Gravy - Made Ahead of Time, Mostly

Turkey Stock -

5 pounds turkey wings
1 turkey neck
2 tablespoons vegetable oil or Olive Oil
1 red onion, cut into chunks
3 carrots
2 celery stalks
10 Peppercorns, whole (Tellicherry)
3-5 Bay leaves
3-5 stalks of Fresh Thyme

Preheat oven to 450°. Spread turkey wings, turkey neck and onion in a large heavy roasting pan which has sides. Lightly coat the turkey wings with oil; roast until browned, about 1 hour. Flip half way through.

Once the turkey wings are cool enough to handle, tear the skin and meat from the bones. Place all of the turkey, skin and bones, along with the roasted onion in a heavy pan with 8 cups of water.Place the carrot, celery, peppercorns, bay leaf and thyme in the pan.

Now, back to the pan which was used for the roasting. If there is an excess of fat, pout it off. (Mine did not have this issue.) Place the roasting pan on the stove top, pour in two cups of water and bring it to a simmer. After simmering for about 5 minutes, carefully hold the pan and scrap the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon in order to remove the caramelized bits on the pan. Once this process is complete, pour this mixture in the pan with the turkey, veggies, water and herbs.

Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer uncovered, skimming surface occasionally, for 3-4 hours. The goal here is to reduce the stock to 6 cups, intensifying the flavor.

Let the broth cool and then strain it. This stock can be kept for up to 3 day in the fridge, or frozen.Strain into another pot; boil until reduced to 2 quarts, about 30 minutes longer.

Turkey Gravy -

4 TBL unsalted butter or turkey fat
4 TBL all-purpose flour
6 cups turkey stock, warm
2 tablespoons Madeira (optional)
Kosher salt

(Optional Add-In, as suggested by Bon Appetit Magazine)
For every 6 cups of Turkey gravy, add:
1 1/2 cups Dry White Wine that has been heated and reduced to 1 cup.
1 1/2 tsp. Worcestershire Sauce & 1 tsp. Soy Sauce
1 cup + 2 Tsp. Apple Cider (simmer for 5 minutes before adding to the gravy.)

Melt butter or turkey fat in a large heavy saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in flour and cook, whisking, for 1 minute. The roux will become smooth and golden brown. Keep whisking! Within 2–3 minutes it will be the color of caramel or cafĂ© au lait. Gradually whisk in the warm turkey stock, bring to a boil, then lower the heat so the gravy's at a bare simmer. Add Maderia (if using) during the last few minutes before adding the turkey pan drippings. Season with kosher salt and serve. Or keep the gravy warm until the turkey is finished and take it one step further... Transfer your turkey to a cutting board and strain the drippings from the pan into a measuring cup. Skim the fat; add enough water to measure 1-2 cups. Place the pan across two burners set on medium-high heat. Add the drippings mixture and deglaze the pan, stirring and scraping up any browned bits with a wooden spoon. Strain into the gravy; simmer until slightly thickened, 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and serve.

Apple and Sausage Stuffing
via: Handle the Heat Blog
YIELD: 8-10 servings

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 pound spicy pork bulk sausage
1 cup diced celery
1 cup diced onion
1 cup diced peeled and cored Granny Smith apples
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
2 teaspoons minced fresh sage
1 bay leaf

1 (1-pound) loaf French bread, cut into 1-inch cubes (with crusts)
1 cup whole milk
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 large eggs, beaten to blend

Heat the oil in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the sausage and saute, breaking up into pieces, until browned and cooked through, about 8 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to remove the sausage to a large bowl. Add the celery, onion, apple, garlic, parsley, sage, and bay leaf to the skillet and saute until the vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes. Discard the bay leaf. Add the vegetable mixture to the sausage in the large bowl. Can be made 1 day ahead of time, cover and refrigerate. Reheat to lukewarm before using.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter a 13x9x2-inch glass baking dish. Add the bread to the sausage mixture. Whisk the milk, broth, and butter in a large measuring glass or small bowl to combine. Add to the stuffing and season to taste with salt and pepper. Mix in the eggs then transfer mixture to the prepared baking dish. Bake uncovered for about 50 minutes, until cooked through and browned.

From Bon Appetit


Balsamic Glazed Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Onion
via: Jelly Toast Blog
Serves 6-8

2 lbs Brussels sprouts, trimmed and cut in half
2 small red onions, sliced
5 cloves of garlic, coarsely chopped
4 strips of bacon, finely chopped
2 Tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Coarse salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste
(1/2 cup Pecans, finely chopped)
2-4 Tablespoons of good quality, aged balsamic vinegar (if you don’t have a good quality aged vinegar, you can boil regular balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan, and reduce it until it becomes syrupy)


Preheat oven to 400°.

On a rimmed baking sheet, toss together Brussels sprouts, onions, garlic and bacon. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Toss to coat. Spread veggies into a single layer.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, tossing once halfway through cooking. Veggies should be tender and golden at the edges, and bacon should be cooked through.

Remove from oven, drizzle with balsamic vinegar (and pecans). Toss to coat and serve!

Brown Sugar, Citrus and Salt Brine
adapted from a recipe from Goodlife Eats Blog

For a 16 - 20 lb. Turkey:
1 cup kosher salt
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 tablespoon whole peppercorns
1 teaspoon whole allspice berries
4 bay leaves
5 stems fresh thyme
3 stems fresh sage
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves
1/4 cup loosely packed parsley (stems ok)
3 Oranges or Tangerines
3 Lemons
10 Garlic Cloves, crushed
peel of 3 tangerines or oranges (optional)
1 gallon boiling water
8 pounds ice cubes

Combine the salt, brown sugar, peppercorns, allspice berries, bay leaves, thyme, sage, rosemary, parsley, garlic, and tangerine peel together in a large stock pot. Add 1 gallon of water. Bring the mixture to a rolling boil, remove from heat.
After removing from heat, steep the mixture for 45 minutes. Then, add in enough ice to bring the brine amount up to 2 gallons (2 gallons = 32 cups). This is very important otherwise you will have an incredibly salty turkey.
For smaller stock pots, you may have to allow the brine to cool and add the additional amount when pouring the brine into the bag in the following step.
Place the turkey in a large zip-top bag. I recommend the Ziploc Big Bags (size large). Put the bagged turkey in a clean cooler. Pour the brine over the turkey, in the bag, making sure the breasts are fully submerged. Zip the bag closed. Place the cooler in a cool place, such as your garage or, and allow the turkey to soak in the cold brine for 12-24 hours.
Use gel ice packs or bagged ice around the zipped bag inside the cooler, if necessary, to keep the brine below 40°F. (Adding more ice directly to the brine would only dilute it.)
Alternatively, if you have room in your refrigerator, you may place the bagged turkey in a large foil tray rather than a cooler and store it on the fridge shelf.
After the brining process, transfer the turkey to a roasting pan and discard the brine. Roast according to your preferred method.
Note: For a smaller turkey you may make less brine; however, be careful to do so with the original proportions of ingredient still intact. Too much salt will leave you with an incredibly salty turkey. Also, birds less than 10 pounds will likely not need to soak for the full 24 hours to achieve the desired results.

No comments: