pre-turkey lineup

Rosemary roasted nuts

Rosemary roasted nuts

For the last few years I have been making this dry brined turkey which always turns out perfect. And this year I added a vegetarian stuffing from Food52 which is a keeper. But since those standards were in place, I spent a little more time on these pre-gamers, aka special hors d'ouerves which I have to say probably got the most respect: rosemary roasted nuts, shots of butternut squash bisque, a NYT recipes for broiled feta with honey, and (below) olive rosemary crackers from Purplefoodie.com, which are incredibly easy to make and look super impressive.

OLIVE ROSEMARY CRACKERS

1 cup all-purpose flour, more as needed
1/2 tsp salt
3 tbsp parmigiano reggiano cheese, finely grated
1 tbsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped
2 tbsp black olives, finely sliced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup cream or half-and-half, more as needed
1 Tablespoon milk, if required
Pink Himalayan salt or your favorite topping – coarsely ground pepper, sesame seeds or poppy seeds.

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F
  2. Put flour, salt, cheese, rosemary, olives, garlic and olive oil in bowl of a food processor. Pulse until flour and olive oil create little crumbs. In case you don’t have a food processor, simply whisk all the dry ingredients together first. Then add the oil and using a fork or a pastry blender mix till they look like coarse crumbs.
  3. Add about 1/4 cup cream or half-and-half and let machine run for a bit. If the dough is still a little dry after pouring in the cream, add a little milk. Alternatively (without the food processor), pour the cream into the dough mixture and combine it into the dough with your hands..
  4. Roll out dough until 1/4-inch thick or even thinner, adding flour as needed. Lay on pan and score lightly with a sharp knife or pizza cutter to break crackers into squares or rectangles later on. Sprinkle with the salt or topping of your choice.
  5. Bake until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Cool on a rack; serve warm or at room temperature.
Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!

my turkey secret

I've made the Thanksgiving turkey on a few occasions but it wasn't until last year that I discovered that easier is actually better. I used Russ Parson's "Judy bird" recipe which calls for dry brining and the idea is that you cover the bird in salt and let it sit in the fridge for three days. Then you cook it. No fancy stuffing, tying, basting, turning. Just put it in the oven and come back in three hours to a delicious, handsome turkey. 

I wrote this post about it last year but thought I'd mention again because I'm gearing up to do the same recipe this year. Really, it's crazy easy. 

the judy bird

It was my second year on Turkey duty for the annual Moshan Thanksgiving. For the 20+ guests, I decided to dry brine (something I'd been reading about.) The Judy bird is a very simple recipe adapted from San Fransisco chef Judy Roger's French take on roasted chicken. It's almost too simple: cover with salt and let sit for four days in fridge. Then uncover the bird and let it dry out for a day. Then rub with butter and pepper and cook for four hours.

Deliciously moist and beautifully brown! In fact it only took about three hours in a fairly hot oven. With the turkey, I made this stuffing which I thought was the best part of the whole dinner. I made it a few days ahead and froze it in a foil tray. And finally, also a few days in advance, I made Mark Bittman's Make-Ahead-Gravy base and added drippings from the turkey after it was cooked. By the way, for all of these dishes I used my Crock a Stock. 

crock a stock

Thinking about Thanksgiving in a couple weeks has started me thinking about stock-that essential flavoring that I always leave to the last minute and which always adds more time and cleanup to every recipe. So yesterday while shopping at fairway I bought a bunch of chicken wings with the vague memory of an easy stock that didn't require the whole chicken (or whole carcass). I came home and did some research about easy stocks and discovered a whole thread about making stock in the slow cooker. I decided to try Sara Moulton's Chicken Stock recipe. I skipped the parsley and used the chicken bones from the rotisserie chicken that Michael and Mack were demolishing for lunch. (I saved the extra chicken for another meal or salad.) It turned out a very tasty stock that didn't require a lot of mess or extra steps (no excessive straining, defatting, etc.)I boiled it down some to reduce and concentrate it then froze in in 4-c and 2-c portions.

But I still had 3 pounds of chicken wings in my fridge so I started looking for a more traditional stock recipe and stumbled upon Smitten Kitchen's Perfect Uncluttered Chicken Stock—that happened to be made in a slow cooker! It seems this is sort of a thing. And why not? You're just slow cooking all the ingredients then straining out the liquid. So next I dumped the wings, onion, garlic, salt (and added carrot, celery, peppercorns, thyme and a bay leave ala Moulton.) 10 hours later i had a rich stock (more flavorful and complex than Moulton's recipe) that I could freeze for the weeks ahead. This is the kind of ctockpot use I can appreciate. Less mess, no stove on for many hours. Done.

stock from Smitten Kitchen

thanksgiving 2013

This was my first year on turkey. I followed the New York Times recipe HERE and dry brined two birds for 25 people.

Everything went according to plan until I realized both turkeys wouldn't fit into my oven and I had to borrow the oven in the rec room downstairs which meant running up and down the stairs to baste and check temperatures. By the time I got these monsters in the car---I was cursing the entire holiday. But they were incredibly juicy and if I hadn't miscalculated my oven size or if I was cooking for a smaller group, I would definitely make it again.

For Thanksgiving, I also made the stuffing (recipe here) which was a success and served the leftover cauliflower soup from Turducken because for some reason I made enough to fill a small swimming pool.