Hands down this is my favorite family holiday of the year! I had a ball preparing our festive meal for everyone even though an old-timer in the kitchen put way too much salt in our stuffing. He’s still a notable veteran in the restaurant and casual dining business but he’s no longer allowed in my kitchen!
The real secret to this meal’s success is to prepare it as much in advance as possible. Because the turkey, cranberry sauce and apple pie were started the night before, the feast was one of the most delicious and joyful experiences I can remember.
To top it off, we decorated our dining table by filling tall Hurricane vases with layers of fresh cranberries, whole chestnuts and Grimes Golden apple. Scattered autumn leaves and small bird statues completed our natural and simple Fall look.
Each guest’s place card was a small picture frame in cranberry and gold colors which made quite a fun take-away gift along with the loving memories shared that special day.
AUTUMN SALAD WITH PEAR, STILTON, CHICORY & CHESTNUTS
Prepared in 25 minutes or less.
Heat 5 tablespoons oil in a 10-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then sauté chestnuts with salt and pepper to taste, stirring, until crisp on outside (being careful not to burn or cook until hard), about 4 minutes. Remove from heat.
Halve and core pears, then cut lengthwise into thin slices.
Whisk together mustard, vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste in a large bowl and add remaining 5 tablespoons oil in a slow stream, whisking until emulsified.
Pour over salad and serve. Serves 8.
*Brine, a strong solution of water and salt used to flavor, is used on your turkey for 24 hours to make the meat tender. Leave plenty of time for this recipe.
*If you don’t brine yours, skip steps 1 and 2. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends cooking the turkey until the thickest part of the thigh registers 180 degrees. For a moister bird, cooked to 165°F; it will continue to cook outside the oven as it rests.
Put salt, sugar, onions, leeks, carrots, celery, bay leaves, thyme, parsley, peppercorns, and 10 cups water in a large stockpot. Bring to a boil, stirring until salt and sugar have dissolved. Remove from heat; let brine cool completely. Add turkey, breast first, to the brine. Cover; refrigerate 24 hours. Remove from brine; pat dry with paper towels. Let stand at room temperature 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 425°F, with rack in lowest position. Stir together melted butter and wine in a medium bowl. Fold a very large piece of cheesecloth into quarters so that it is large enough to cover breast and halfway down sides of turkey. Immerse cloth in butter mixture; let soak.
Place turkey, breast side up, on a rack set in a roasting pan. Fold wing tips under turkey. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon each salt and pepper inside turkey. Loosely fill body and neck cavities with stuffing. Tie legs together with kitchen twine. Fold neck flap under; secure with toothpicks. Rub turkey all over with softened butter; season with salt and pepper.
Remove cheesecloth from butter mixture, squeezing gently into bowl.
Reserve butter mixture for brushing. Lay cheesecloth over turkey. Place turkey, legs first, in oven. Roast 30 minutes. Brush cheesecloth and exposed turkey with butter mixture. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F. Roast, brushing every 30 minutes, 2½ hours more; cover with foil if browning too quickly. If making gravy, add giblets and neck to pan 1½ hours after reducing temperature; roast 30 minutes, and reserve.
Discard cheesecloth; rotate pan.
Baste turkey with pan juices. Roast, rotating pan halfway through, until skin is golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh registers to 180°F and stuffing reaches 165°F, about 1 hour.
Transfer to a platter. Set pan with drippings aside for gravy. Let turkey stand at room temperature at least 30 minutes. Garnish, if desired.
CORNBREAD AND ANDOUILLE SAUSAGE STUFFING
Prepared in 20 minutes.
In a large bowl, place cornbread, parsley and sage. Next, in a large skillet over medium-high heat, brown Andouille sausages for 5-8 minutes then add to large bowl.
In the same skillet, melt butter then sauté celery, onions and garlic for 10 minutes or until soft. Add mixture to large bowl.
Season generously with salt and fresh pepper and mix well with a large wooden spoon. Serves 8.
In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, heat oil. Add cranberries and fresh ginger. Stir until combined and berries just begin to burst, approximately 3-5 minutes.
Add Pinot Noir, sugar, curry powder and red pepper flakes. Simmer for 15 minutes or so until mixture is reduced to 2½ cups. Pour into a bowl and serve at room temperature.
Boil a large pot of salted water. Trim Brussel sprouts, remove any yellow leaves and immerse in boiling water for 4 minutes. Place in cold water to cool then drain.
In a sauté pan, heat cubed pancetta until most fat is rendered and the pancetta is crispy approximately 10 minutes.
Remove pancetta, reserving a bit of the liquid fat in the pan. Drain pancetta on paper towels.
Add the Brussel sprouts and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes. Return pancetta to pan with sprouts and add parsley, thyme, salt and pepper. Serve immediately. Serves 4.
From both the onion and garlic families, leeks are native to the Mediterranean countries. With their milder, more subtle and year-round availability in most regions, leeks are enormously popular in the culinary world.
Place oven rack in middle position and preheat to 450°F.
Cut each leek into 8-inch length sticks, measuring from root to end. Next, halve lengthwise then cut, again, crosswise into 1½-inch pieces. Yields approximately 8 cups.
Wash leek pieces in a large bowl with ice cold water. Stir. Remove from water bath and transfer to another large bowl. Repeat with cool clean water. Drain. Set aside.
In a large skillet over medium heat, cook bread crumbs with ¼ teaspoon salt and ¾ teaspoon pepper and 3 tablespoons unsalted butter. Stir until golden brown, approximately 3 minutes. Remove from heat.
Using wax or parchment paper, cut out a round circle to fit inside a 12-inch heavy skillet. Set aside. Place leeks in skillet.
Over medium to low heat, cook leeks using rest of salt, pepper and butter. Cover with wax or parchment round and cook approximately 10-12 minutes.
Discard wax or parchment paper and transfer leeks with a slotted spoon to a gratin dish. Pour heavy cream over cooked leeks. Scatter bread crumbs on top.
Bake in oven until cream is bubbling and slightly thickened, approximately 15 minutes. Bread crumbs will be golden brown. Serve immediately. Serves 4.
For the Sweet Potatoes:
For the Apples:
Preheat oven to 375°F.
On a cookie sheet, bake potatoes for one hour or until soft when pierced with a knife or toothpick. Remove from the oven.
As soon as they are cool enough to handle, scoop out the insides with a serrated spoon. Place the sweet potato insides into a large bowl set for an electric mixer. Next, add the orange and lemon juices, cream, melted butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and fresh pepper.
Mix together until combined but not smooth. Pour into a buttered baking dish. Set aside.
In a large skillet over medium-high heat, melt remaining butter. Add the apple wedges and light brown sugar. Cook for 5-10 minutes until apples are lightly browned on both sides.
Scoop apples and place them onto sweet potatoes.
Bake the smashed potatoes for 20-30 minutes. Serve immediately.
For the Pie Crust:
For the Filling:
For the Streusel Topping:
For the Pie Crust:
Chill all ingredients, including the flour and vinegar. Combine the flour, salt and sugar. Cut in shortening with a pastry blender until the mixture resembles cornmeal. In another bowl, mix water and vinegar with the beaten egg. Add the liquid mixture, 1 tablespoon at a time, to the flour mixture, tossing with a fork to form a soft dough.
For the Filling:
Preheat oven to 450°F.
Peel and slice apples. Sprinkle with lemon juice. Combine dry ingredients in large bowl and add apples. Toss to mix. Add vanilla and cream.
Melt butter in heavy skillet. Add apple mixture and cook approximately 8 minutes, tosoften apples. Turn into pie shell.
For the Streusel Topping:
Combine the flour and sugar. Mix in butter with fork until coarse crumbs.
Stir in the crushed toffee bars. Sprinkle over pie. Add top crust.
Seal, flute edge and vent top.
Brush with beaten egg white and sprinkle with sugar.
DIRTY PECAN TART
This is a fabulous addition to any Thanksgiving or holiday meal. Prepared in 15 minutes plus 1 hour to bake.
Preheat oven to 350°F.
In a large bowl, sift together sugar and flour. In another bowl, add rest of the ingredients, mix well.
Combine all ingredients into large bowl. Pour into crust and bake one hour
or until knife inserted in center comes out clean.
Coulis, a fancy French term, simply refers to a thick sauce made from juices. This “star” studded soup pulls its fragrant flavor from a homemade fruit coulis.
RED FRUIT SOUP
Prepared in 20 minutes or less plus overnight refrigeration.
For the Red Fruit Coulis:
For the Soup:
For the Red Fruit Coulis:
Set a large skillet over medium heat. Add fruits and cook until fruits release juices, about 8–10 minutes. Stir and sprinkle with sugar. Add 2 cups cold water and dash of salt to the mixture. Allow to simmer on low heat until fruit breaks down and liquid is very flavorful, approximately 12 minutes.
Remove fruit mixture from heat. Purée in a food processor or through a food mill set over a large bowl. Discard solids then pass mixture through a chinois, fine mesh conical shaped sieve, over another bowl. Discard any remaining solids and set aside.
Combine in a boiling pot all the ingredients for the soup and bring it to boil, simmer for 10-15 minutes. Pour soup into a big bowl with all the red fruit coulis.
Refrigerate for one night and serve it with some vanilla ice cream. Serve cold. Serves 4.