Preparing the Thanksgiving feast
As all of you who follow my column throughout the years know, Thanksgiving is a big deal around the Abowd house. My wife, Karen, and I spend all day, as most Americans do, getting ready for this great feast.
Karen spends two days making the traditional pumpkin, apple and minced meat pies, along with my mom’s (which actually is Grandma’s recipe) for pecan pie. I handle the stuffing and gravy preparations. The rest of the family and friends fill in the holes with various side dishes.
What makes Thanksgiving important in today’s world, in my mind at least, is the gathering of the tribes. It’s not often that family and friends can get together and sit down at one table. Thanksgiving is that day. To me it’s the sharing and conversation part of Thanksgiving that makes the holiday so special.
It’s also an opportunity to give. I know that Mike’s Pharmacy, FISH and various churches all have food-gathering events to help those who are less fortunate. Karen and I urge you to help.
This year I’ll go a different route in roasting the turkey and making the stuffing. (Various health agencies have deemed stuffing the turkey as an area of concern due to bacteria which can form in the cavity because of 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. So that is what we are going to do.
3Ú4 cup kosher salt
3Ú4 cup brown sugar
2 T. dry sage
12 fresh sage leaves, whole
1 T. 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
You can brine the turkey one to two days in advance. Leave it in the brine for 24 hours. When ready to remove, rinse, pat dry and put in the refrigerator covered.
When brining the turkey, it is important that it is 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 will be needed for the stuffing and gravy.
When you make the brine, I recommend that you dissolve the salt and brown sugar in the apple juice on the stove over medium heat. Heat just until they are dissolved and then add a little ice to bring the temperature back to cold.
Put this mixture and the remaining ingredients in a pot large enough to hold your turkey and add enough water to totally immerse the bird. After it has sat for 24 hours rinse the turkey and pat it dry. It is now ready to prepare for roasting.
Start with 8 quarts of cold water and add the turkey giblets, neck and wing tips. Also add celery, 1 T. peppercorns, 5 bay leaves, 1 cup roughly chopped onions, 1Ú2 cup of roughly chopped carrots and salt to taste. Bring the mixture to a boil. Lower heat to a low simmer and cook two to three hours. Periodically skim scum off the top of the liquid. Strain and set aside. Discard vegetables, spices and turkey parts. You should end up with five to six quarts of stock.
Preparation of Turkey for
16 pound turkey
1 cup rough chopped carrots
1 cup rough chopped celery
1 cup rough chopped onion
1 cup of chopped apples (peeled and cored)
6 sprigs of fresh thyme
5 bay leaves
salt and pepper to cover bird
1Ú2 pound salted butter, soft
1Ú2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cups white wine (Reisling is my preference for this recipe)
Put half of the vegetable, apple and thyme leaves 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 a pre-heated oven at 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 of the juices.
Sourdough Stuffing with Apples,
1 large sourdough round loaf cut into 3Ú4 inch squares (Lightly cut hard crust off. You do not have to be exact in cutting off crust or the size of the squares.)
2 T. extra virgin olive oil
1 pound kielbasa sausage, 3Ú8 inch slices or half rounds
2 cups Granny Smith apples, peeled and chopped
3Ú4 cup walnuts, halved (I like to
roast them in the oven at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Also, when you open the package make sure the nuts have not gone rancid.)
1Ú2 cup dried cranberries
2 cups yellow onions, chopped
1 cup carrots, chopped
2 cups celery, chopped
1 T. dried sage
2 cups turkey stock
salt and pepper to taste
To make the stuffing buy a large, round sourdough loaf. They are approximately 1-1Ú2 to 1-3Ú4 pounds. Remove the crust and cut in squares. Place the bread in a baking pan and then in a 325 degree F oven for 30 to 45 minutes to 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 olive oil, add the onions, carrots, and celery. Saute approximately 8-10 minutes or until slightly translucent. Add the sausage and cook 5-10 minutes and then add the apples and cranberries; cook 5 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 that the stuffing is not dry. If it is too dry add some more turkey stock. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Do not cook the walnuts in the saute 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 using halved ones.
Also, even though it is 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 very well.
Place the stuffing in a lightly buttered 12-by-16-inch or two 8-by-12-inch casserole dishes. Bake for one hour.
The making of the gravy is done at the very last minute. You will use the remainder of the turkey stock, drippings from the roasting pan, 1Ú2 to 1 cup of 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 of the juices and drippings from the roasting pan to the 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 a thick creamy pudding. (You may not need to use all of the flour.)
Add the turkey stock (approximately 4 cups) slowly, whisking constantly. Add 1Ú2 cup of whipping cream and the reserved drippings from the roasting pan. 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 for your taste add more cream or stock. If it is too thin, in a separate pot make a roux of butter and flour; slowly add to the gravy in small amounts, whisking vigorously until you achieve the desired consistency. Cook about 5 to 10 minutes.
My wine recommendations for this feast I know can be found at Aloha Wine and Spirits but please check with Ben’s Liquor as well. My preferences are the Alace Trimbach 2002 Gewurztraminer or the Columbia Winery 2005 Cellarmasters Riesling. Also, Greg, the owner of Aloha has some very nice Pinot Noirs which would be enjoyable with this meal.
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.