It is all about the turkey this holiday season | NevadaAppeal.com

It is all about the turkey this holiday season

Charlie Abowd

As the holiday season begins, Karen and I are taking time to remember how much our community has come through — the challenges and sadness it has faced, and the grace and strength with which we've responded.

Remember, there are people in our community who need help and even the tiniest contribution of time, resources or money adds up to making a difference that matters. Local organizations such as the Ron Wood Center, Friends in Service Helping, 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. Turkey collections by all these agencies are now underway.

I extend an invitation to any who would like to join Karen and I in serving Thanksgiving Dinner on Thanksgiving Day at The Carson City Nugget. This annual dinner is open to everyone needing or wanting a dinner and is sponsored by FISH. Those wanting to volunteer can call FISH, 775-882-3474.

That said, it's time to talk turkey, and I'm all about the bigger the better.

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.

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These are my traditional Thanksgiving Day menu recipes. 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.

Turkey Brine

3/4 cup kosher salt

3/4 cup brown sugar

2 tablespoons dry sage

12 fresh sage leaves, whole

1 tablespoon cinnamon

12 whole cloves

3 oranges, quartered

4 cups maple syrup

4 cups 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 that 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.

Turkey

16 pound turkey

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 tablespoons 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 are 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. Do not dry it so much that 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 is not dry. If it's too dry, add some more stock. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Do not 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.

Gravy

The making of the gravy is done at the last minute. You will 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 will 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.

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.

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