Wednesday, November 21, 2012
My Favorite Thanksgiving Recipes
This post is for my friends and family who want to find all my favorites in one easy spot.
Today is Tuesday. I'll start by making the cornbread for my dressing (4 boxes of Jiffy) and the turkey stock.
Here's what I think I'll do this year. Every year I ponder the "giblets" but in all honesty, I have no idea what's what. I can look at pictures all day on the internet, but somehow it never looks like what came out of my turkey. For that reason, I just stick with using a whole bunch of turkey necks.
Also, I never see broth recipes that use salt, but I like to include the salt here to get the salt into the dressing easily. I just throw a bunch in - probably about 2-3 teaspoons.
Turkey Broth (for dressing and gravy)
4-6 turkey necks, browned in olive oil and maybe 1 Tbs unsalted butter1 onion peeled and cut in half1 large carrot, peeled and cut in large chunks
1 rib of celery, cut in large chunks
1 bay leaf
2 cups of dry white wine (drink the rest while cooking)
3 cups low sodium chicken broth
3 cups water
This is originally from my mother, who comes from a whole slew of foodies out of Mississippi, but interestingly enough, she and her sisters and brother all make it differently. For years (as long as I can remember), she had our house keeper, Weese (my other mother), make it. Weese taught me how, luckily enough just a year or so before she died, unexpectedly. And I know it has her influence because my mother hated celery. (Although Weese confided in my that the real way to make dressing was with real unsweetened cornbread, not the sweet Jiffy.) The year Weese died, my brothers and I put the dressing together drinking champagne and toasting her along the way. We added quite a bit of champagne to the dressing and I swear it was the best ever.
6 boxes of Jiffy corn muffing mix, prepared (I think each box takes 1/3 cup milk and an egg per box)
2-3 bunches of green onion (both white and green part), chopped
3-4 ribs of celery, chopped fine
1-2 bunches of parsley, snipped
2 sticks of butter, melted
2/3 - 3/4 quart of half and half
6 cups or so of turkey broth
The day before, cook your cornbread in a cast iron skillet (or two depending on how much). The next day, crumble the cornbread with your hands. Add green onion, celery, parsley and mix this with your hands as well. Next, add the butter, eggs, and half & half. Stir with a big ol' spoon - wooden or other. Add the turkey broth gradually until the consistency is "right." I have never measured this. I have just added it until it makes kind of a soupy battery casserole-y mess.
We used to stuff the turkey, but now for the perfect turkey, I don't stuff it. I just throw the dressing into a few pretty casserole dishes and cook them at the same temp my other stuff requires. (We all know just about anything cooks well between 325 and 375. It's all good.) It'll probably take between 30 minutes to an hour.
The Perfect Turkey
When John and I were first married, we used to practice making a Thanksgiving turkey, figuring one day we'd have to do it on our own. That was a good plan, as now I don't think twice about making one. I have adjusted things along the way, as I read bogs, magazines, and watch videos.
My two favorite sources for my turkey are Cooks Illustrated (no surprise there) and Alton Brown. My neighbor, Brooke, claims to have failed at turkey making until I shared Alton's video with her. This year, she made a practice turkey the week before combining brining via CI and cooking via Alton. Turns out she made a fantastic turkey! Way to go Brooke!
So, first for the brine:
1 cup salt
1 cup sugar
2 gallons water
Brine for 4-6 hours. If you need to brine for longer, just halve the amounts and double the time.
I usually go for the longer brine.
Once you've brined, then dry the bird and leave uncovered in the fridge to dry out for about 8 hours. This will allow your skin to get nice and crispy.
Now for Alton's triangle and perfect temp. Watch the video!
Let me know how it all turns out!
Oh! And here's the link to my favorite Thanksgiving side - squash casserole!