Turkey and All the Trimmings
Autumn’s classic Sunday dinner: Turkey. Starting with an app (The old abbreviation for appetizers long before applications ruled our world), to all the sides, and the obligatory pie of choice, mark this a culinary day to remember. Space and some effort are needed to ensure a perfectly moist and browned bird. Your efforts will be rewarded, while efficiency is easily obtained using the recommended products.
First things first, we need to buy a turkey. Fresh is best, but can be pricey. Markets will run a special now-and-then on frozen birds. If you have a garage fridge, or excess freezer room somewhere, buy up when available! They last months frozen in their original wrapping. Always play it safe and defrost a frozen bird in the refrigerator inside a large container in case of leakage. 24 hours per 5 pounds of turkey is the recommended equation for proper defrosting of poultry.
An 18 pound turkey should suffice for a dozen hungry folks. With, left-overs for all to take home, or to make something new the next few days. Turkey tacos and turkey soup are great ideas for the left-overs. That’s for another day though…Today, brining is step one on our journey to the impeccable turkey dinner.
BRINING 18lb FRESH/ OR THAWED TURKEY
4 ounces sea salt
4 ounces brown sugar
½ ounce each dried cranberries and apples
2 tablespoon each juniper berries, black peppercorns, and crushed orange peel (dried)
1 tablespoon each garlic powder, thyme (dried), rosemary (dried), and sage (dried)
Boil the concoction in one gallon of water until the salt dissolves. Stir and remove from heat. Once at room temperature, place in the fridge to bring down to at or below 40° to ensure safety and no foodborne illnesses. Now, this is where space in your fridge, or a huge cooler is needed. Our bird will be dunked in our brine for almost a day, so staying cold is paramount.
Using a Fox Run Turkey Brining Bag, place the cleaned (All giblets, bags, and pop-up timers removed) turkey in the bag. These bags hold up to an impressive 25 pound turkey. And now, this is where the space is needed!
Place your brined bird in a bag in the refrigerator or a huge cooler with ice. It is imperative to keep the temperature below 40 degrees. Let the turkey rest in its bath for twelve hours. Gently flip and marinate another twelve hours. During this time, planning, purchasing, and prepping all the remainder of this extensive and exquisite should be underway.
Moving on to a quick appetizer, something a bit healthy during this caloric-laden meal seems the way to start the show. And Caprese Salad Sticks are so simple and quick! Small cherry tomatoes, mozerella cubes, fresh basil, a Balsamic reduction (sounds fancy but it isn’t…), salt, pepper, and a stick make this a healthy beginning to the day.
CAPRESE SALAD STICKS
2 boxes of cherry tomatoes
Fresh basil leaves
Cubed mozzarella ( ¼ inch)
1 cup Balsamic vinegar
20 sticks https://www.williamsfoodequipment.com/johnson-rose-skewer-10-9510
Alternate tomato, basil, cheese on each stick. Place in fridge to stay cold. Heat 1 cup of balsamic vinegar in a sauce pan until a slight boil. Stir occasionally until sauce thickens and reduces to almost half. Let cool. Once the guests arrive, drizzle the balsamic over the skewers. Add a dash of salt and pepper to each. Place on a pretty plate, and serve.
The dressing, or should we stay stuffing? Either word you wish to call it, a casserole dish is the preferred method over stuffing the turkey. Too many dangers lurk in the old fashioned way. A casserole dish allows even, safe cooking.
THE BEST STUFFING EVER
10 cups old crusty rustic bread 1 inch cubes such as sourdough (2 store bought boxes do work…)
3 celery ribs (diced)
1 large white onion (diced)
1 pound spicy sage sausage
2 Braeburn apples (cut into ½ inch strips)
1 tablespoon apple cider
2 large cloves garlic (pressed with a Kuhn Rikon Press)
3/4 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
3 cups chicken stock
Salt and pepper
Cook up the sausage in a Ballarini frying pan until almost cooked through. The sausage should be crumbled easily with a Johnson Rose Spatula. Remove. Add onions, celery, apples, walnuts, and garlic. Cook on medium in the sausage grease until the onions turn opaque. Add the vinegar, chicken stock, and salt and pepper to taste. In a large bowl, gently pour mixture over the bread and fold in until all the bread is wet. Place in the Le Crueset Casserole with Lid and bake in a pre-heated oven for 30 to 45 minutes depending on how moist or dry your stuffing style dictates. Place some foil over the top to keep warm if not needed ASAP.
Green bean casserole? Many say yes, some say no….Blanching raw green beans, and negating milk make this side more spectacular than sublime. Oh, and bacon and real mushrooms with some parmesean don’t hurt!
1 pound fresh string beans (ends removed and washed)
1 pack of bacon
1 pack of white mushroom (sliced)
1 can each condensed chicken and mushroom soup
3 tablespoons parmesan
1 pack slivered almonds
1 large can fried onions
First, cook half of the bacon pack. Reserve the other for breakfast tomorrow. Using some of the bacon grease, sauté the mushrooms and almonds until starting to brown. Set aside. Blanch beans until al dente. Now simply mix all the ingredients reserving half of the onion can. Place in a greased Staub Casserole Dish, and place in the pre-heated 375° oven for 30 minutes. Stir. Now add the rest of the fried onions to the top and continue to bake until browned. Again, just place tin foil over if not ready to use quickly to retain heat.
Mashed potatoes and gravy of course are a must. Keeping traditional with this side is always welcomed. Turkey and stuffing love gravy! And those creamy potatoes envelope all that is left on the plate.
EASY MASHED POTATOES AND GRAVY
3 pounds Ruseet potatoes ( cleaned, skinned, and cubed)
3 tablespoons butter
1 ½ cup whole milk
Boil salted water. Drop potato cubes in until cooked. Usually about 15 to 20 minutes will make these fork tender and ready to mash. In a small sauce pan heat milk and butter until the butter has melted. Slowly add milk mix while mashing the potatoes with the Salton Masher to the creamy consistency desired.
Pan drippings (no grease)
4 cups turkey or chicken stock
1 can condensed chicken soup
3 tablespoons flour
1 cup whole milk
½ teaspoon each garlic powder, black pepper, and poultry seasoning.
Warm milk and pan dripping to the pan and slowly add flour to make a roux. Once clump free, continue to stir and slowly add all ingredients. Bring to a boil while stirring. Simmer one more minute. Good to go!
Honestly, in a pinch some store bought $1 packets aren’t too bad if in a hurry. Adding some extra spices, sour cream, chives, or cream cheese make em’ your own now! And the same goes for the glass jar roasted turkey gravy. Adding some culinary skills to the canned gravy can make it passable for a turkey gravy if you try hard enough.
Dessert, salads, and rolls need to be addressed. A salad can be omitted due to the high volume of foods. Or, make a simple or extravagant one. Totally up to you and your group. Rolls are easy just to grab at the market or bakery. Use your left over heat from the oven to warm the rolls wrapped in foil. Dessert can brought by a nice relative or friend. Or buying a pie from a reputable place never is frowned upon. Even re-heating a frozen pie, and adding some vanilla ice cream and cool whip make it a special ending.
Leaving the biggest part for the last, is, of course, how to cook the turkey. Deep frying and roasting in the oven are the two most popular methods. Deep frying turns out incredible if the timing is right. Roasting with a good thermometer implanted ensures a moist turkey with less stress.
Frying a turkey has never been easier using the Winco Backyard Pro Fry Set! This set includes all the accessories needed for a great bird. At 350°, for approximately 3 to 3 ½ minutes per pound, a perfectly crisp, browned, and far from dried out, turkey will be on the dinner plate in less than an hour and a half.
Roasting in the All Clad 16” x 13” Roasting pan with rack provides even cooking.
Inserting the Maverick Digital Roast Alert Thermometer guarantees the turkey will be at 165℉. Always check for doneness with white and dark meat. White will dry out. Be careful on temperature control on this fickle foul.
Paint butter all throughout the bird before roasting. Gently lift the skin to place butter under the skin. Use herbs under and over the skin. Salt is not needed. The brine did that job. Stuff the cavity with citrus and apples.
This is a traditional take on turkey dinner. As always, using different herbs from different cultures, along with various sides, turn this tradition into an exotic culinary getaway. Turkey is generally bland…Brining and spicing it up will spice up your dinner as well. Enjoy!