T A L K I N G
November 22, 2015
As I sit down to write this, it occurs to me it doesn't seem as though a year should have already passed.
My wonderful Carson City community knows I have a long and passionate love affair with music, and as I sit here, snippet's of Chicago's, "Does Anybody Know What Time It is," and Al Stewart's classic, "Time Passages," travel through my brain. And of course, those of us of a "certain age," know too, coming upon us on Thanksgiving Day, is the inevitable playing on some radio stations of Arlo Guthrie's "Alice's Restaurant Massacree," an accounting of an event that occurred Thanksgiving Day 1965, in which Guthrie was cited for littering, a ticket which inevitably led to him being refused for the Vietnam draft. He was deemed to not have the moral character to go to war, due to his "crime." Guthrie's satirical recounting of a time of unrest seems just as applicable today, reminding me in the simplest terms, history repeats and somehow, some way, we always find our way through. I encourage you younger ones out there to give this work a listen, as both a way to remember where we've been and a sign of hope we do survive. Plus, it's just a great piece of art, so to speak.
This past year, as too many times recently, our town has experienced a year of goodness, which we welcome, combined with some challenges. The most difficult this year, has been the passing of Carson City Sheriff Deputy Carl Howell. If there's one positive to come from this, it's perhaps the greater conversation about domestic violence, which has started. I encourage everyone to take a moment and remember amidst the busy-ness of the season, to count even the tiniest of blessings.
For the first time in a long time, Karen and I are going to be home this year, cooking for our family. While I love serving others, I'm looking forward to a close gathering infused with joy, laughter, good food and drink. Making memories with the ones we love really is the heart of Thanksgiving, as is remembering the less fortunate in our community. Because at the end of the day, it's always about the time we have.
I encourage everyone to do what they can to help those in need. Every contribution of time, money and food adds up to making a difference in the lives of others. Local organizations such as the Ron Wood Center, Friends in Service Helping (FISH), various churches and Advocates to End Domestic Violence have resources available for those in need and they also welcome the support needed to provide such services. In Dayton, the Food Pantry is also taking up collections. Turkey collections by all these agencies are underway. The Carson City Nugget's annual dinner, served to anyone needing or wanting Thanksgiving Dinner on Thanksgiving Day, can always use volunteers. The dinner is co-sponsored by FISH and those wanting to volunteer can call 775-882-3474.
If you feel so moved, take time to feed the homeless or invite a family to share Thanksgiving with you. That said, it's time to talk turkey, and I'm all about the bigger the better.
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Now let's get cooking.
Our turkey this year will be a locally grown Heritage turkey (20 to 25 pounds) from Nancy's Green Barn Farm in Dayton. The recipe I'm giving you is for a 16-pound turkey. I like to give 15 to 20 minutes per pound roasting time, making sure the bird's internal temperature is between 165 and 170 degrees.
These are my traditional Thanksgiving Day menu recipes. Follow the directions, use your eyes and nose to gauge how your cooking is coming along, and pay attention to the instructions from various health agencies I'm giving you.
It has been deemed by the various agencies stuffing the turkey is of great concern due to bacteria that can form in the cavity, due to incorrect temperature application. The school of thought is to fill the turkey cavity with herbs and vegetables, and cook the stuffing in a casserole dish. That is what I do.
3/4 cup kosher salt
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoon dry sage
12 fresh sage leaves, whole
1 tablespoon cinnamon
12 whole cloves
3 oranges, quartered
4 cup maple syrup
4 cup apple juice
Add enough cold water to cover turkey in a large stock pot.
When you make the brine, I recommend you dissolve the salt and brown sugar in the apple juice on the stove over medium heat. Heat just until the ingredients are dissolved, and then add a little ice to bring the temperature back to cold.
When brining the turkey, it's important it's rinsed thoroughly after removing it from the packaging. The neck, gizzard and liver must be removed, rinsed and set aside for making the turkey stock, which is needed for the stuffing and gravy.
You can brine the turkey one to two days in advance. Leave it in the brine at least 24 hours. When ready to remove, rinse, pat dry, and put it in the refrigerator, covered until you're ready to roast the bird.
1 cup rough chopped carrots
1 cup rough chopped celery
1 cup rough chopped onion
1 cup chopped apples, peeled and cored
6 sprigs fresh thyme
5 bay leaves
Salt and pepper to cover bird
1/2 pound salted butter, soft
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cups white wine (Riesling is my preference for this recipe.)
Put half of the vegetables, apple and thyme sprigs in the turkey cavity. Put the rest in the bottom of a roasting pan. Place the brined turkey on top, after it has been patted dry. Pat the turkey with the soft butter and add the salt and pepper. Sprinkle the cinnamon on top.
Place the turkey in an oven preheated to 425 degrees, for 30 minutes. Turn down the heat to 350 degrees. Add the wine to the bottom of the pan. Cook for two and a half hours. Check the temperature of the bird, with either a turkey or meat thermometer. It should register 165 to 170 degrees. The cooking time might vary. All ovens are different, so please use your thermometer. Baste your turkey about every 45 minutes. Also, when you remove the turkey from the oven, remove it from the pan and let it sit for approximately 20 minutes before carving. This lets the meat absorb all the juices.
Sourdough Stuffing with Apples, cranberries, Walnuts and Kielbasa Sausage
1 large sourdough round loaf, cut into 3/4-inch squares (lightly cut off hard crust)
2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 pound kielbasa sausage, 3/4-inch slices or half rounds
2 cups Granny Smith apples, peeled and chopped
3/4 cup walnuts, halved (I like to roast them in the oven at 350 degrees for 20 minutes).
When you open the package, make sure the nuts have not gone rancid.
1/2 cup dried cranberries
2 cups yellow onion, chopped
1 cup carrots, chopped
2 cups celery, chopped
1 tablespoon dried sage
2 cups turkey stock
Salt and pepper to taste
To make the stuffing, buy a large round sourdough loaf. They're about 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 pounds. Remove the crust and cut it into squares. Place the bread in a baking pan and then, in a 325-degree oven for 30 to 45 minutes, dry the bread. Don't dry it so much it resembles a crouton. You don't want it that hard. When the bread is done, place it in a large mixing bowl.
In a sauté pan, heat the oil and add the onions, carrots and celery. Saute about eight to 10 minutes or until slightly translucent. Add the sausage and cook 5 to 10 minutes, and then add the apples and cranberries. Cook five more minutes, stirring constantly. Add the stock, and pour the mixture over the bread. Add the dry sage and walnuts. Mix well and be sure the stuffing isn't dry. If it's too dry, add some more stock. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Don't cook the walnuts in the sauté mixture; roast them, if you prefer. Cooking them will take the crunch out of them. Also, if you prefer, chop the nuts. I simply prefer the texture of halved ones.
Also, even though it's not on the ingredients list, some of the old timers like to add a couple of raw eggs to the stuffing. If you do this, mix well.
Place the stuffing in a lightly buttered 12 x 16-inch or two 8 x 12-inch casserole dishes. Bake for one hour.
The making of the gravy is done at the last minute. You'll use the remainder of the turkey stock, drippings from the roasting pan, 1/2 to 1 cup all-purpose flour, whipping cream, salt and white pepper. You'll also need a six quart or larger saucepan and a one-quart measuring cup or large bowl.
Now we will make the roux for the gravy. Pour all the juices and drippings into a measuring cup or bowl. Set aside away from the heat, so the solids from the drippings settle to the bottom, and the oil remains on top. Carefully pour only the oil into the saucepan and save the solids for the final stages of making the gravy. I usually pour the oil through a fine mesh strainer. Heat the oil over medium-high heat and add half cup of flour, whisking constantly to avoid burning. Continue to add flour a tablespoon at a time until it reaches the consistency of thick, creamy pudding. You may not need to use all the flour.
Add the turkey stock (about four cups) slowly, whisking constantly. Add 1/2 cup of whipping cream and the reserved drippings. Continue to whisk and add salt and white pepper to taste. Bring the gravy to a slow, rolling boil to thicken. If your gravy is too thick, add more cream or stock. If it's too thin, make a roux of butter and flour in a separate pan, and slowly add to the gravy in small amounts, whisking vigorously until you achieve the desired consistency. Cook about 5 to 10 minutes.
My preferences for wine are the Alace Trimbach 2002 Gewurztraminer or the Columbia Winery 2005 Cellarmasters Riesling. A Pinot Noir also would be nice. Check at any of our locally owned shops — Aloha Wine & Spirits, Bella Fiore, Home Treasures and Ben's Discount Liquor all have nice selections and knowledgeable folks who can answer your questions and provide you with the perfect pairing to complement your Thanksgiving dinner.
As always, enjoy, enjoy, enjoy!
Charlie Abowd is the owner and chef at Adele's. He and his wife, Karen, have lived in Carson City since 1980. Charlie is a fourth-generation restaurateur.