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. 

exodus in easton

The boys and I spent the last week of the summer in exodus at my parent's house in Easton Maryland. And it was there, with little to do except play Pokemon, that I discovered Ottolenghi's Jerusalem cookbook (on my mom's bookshelf). I spent the next few days cooking almost exclusively from it and realized that many of the recipes I had stored on my Paprika app or noted in Food52 were actually adapted from this book: Food52's "genius" humous is actually the traditional Israeli recipe for humous that uses dried chickpeas and ice water. (I made about 10 cups of it by accident but we all wound up eating all of it--it's that good.) See recipes and pictures of humous-making in the previous post!

I also made these turkey meatballs—minus the zucchini (err courgette) since I knew Nate wouldn't eat them if they were green and of course he didn't eat them anyway. And twice I tried the Fattoush salad which was so much better when I substituted kirby pickles for fresh cucumbers. Loved the creamy nan which soaks up the yogurt dressing.

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. 

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.

farmer's market pasta

This picture is misleading.

The tomatoes don't figure prominently in this dish. But they are what I am most proud of about this recipe because they were entirely my invention.

This is how I usually decide what to make: 1. Have a general idea in my head 2. Do a lot of research on sites/books I trust. Like a lot. Probably too much. 3.Think about it for awhile. 4. Look in my fridge. 5. Put all materials away and make my version.

So for this one, I read several recipes about broccoli rabe sausage pasta and then made this one up based on what I bought at the farmer’s market (turkey sausage, mustard greens, kale) and the fact that Mack somehow put two boxes of cherry tomatoes in our grocery cart without me seeing them. (He obviously thought they were balls. He loves balls so much! It's almost weird. )

Anyway, since tomatoes aren’t even in season I knew I had to do something to concentrate their flavor which is why I crushed the hell out of them, reducing them to a sticky, quite tasty, pulp.

Farmers Market Pasta

  • I pint cherry tomatos
  • ! tbsp oliveoOil
  • ¾ lb sweet turkey sausage
  • 1 head mustard greens
  • 1 small head kale
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 small yellow onion
  • 1 lb Rigatoni
  • 1 c parmesan
  • ¼ c cream
  1. Heat olive oil in pan over med-high heat. Add tomatoes, cook for 10-15 minutes to soften. If they start to burn, turn down head. Use a wooden spoon to squash them down and release their juices. Turn to low and let them for another 10 minutes. Mash and scrape them some more until you have a loose paste.
  2. Blanch greens for 4 minutes then shock them in ice water.
  3. Cook sausage (out of casing) until almost brown (5-10 minutes). Add onion, cook for 5 minutes, and then add garlic. Cook for 10 minutes adding some water if dry. Add greens. Cook for a while adding water if needed.
  4. Cook pasta reserving 1 cup cooking liquid. Add pasta to sausage mixture along with water (1/4 cup at a time) to make it saucy. Add ¼ cup cream and one cup cheese. Serve.