Recipe: Thanksgiving turkey, stuffing and gravy by Charlie Abowd
Thanksgiving is right around the corner, and what a year it’s been. As this publishes, we’re just five days away from our annual Celebrity Chef and Harvest Dinner, conducted as one of three major fundraisers for The Greenhouse Project, the others being Concert Under the Stars and the Flower Basket campaign.
This is the time of year to ponder our blessings. One of the things I and many are grateful for is The Greenhouse Project and the role it plays in feeding those in need in our community and in igniting a passion for agriculture and related fields in our young people at Carson High School. There are many disciplines being taught, including business aspects of farming, sustainability and organic growing practices, floral arranging and culinary. When we step back and look at the big picture, all of these areas are connected.
The Greenhouse, situated on the Carson High School campus is a National Flagship Project. This is something we don’t talk enough about, but it’s a fact. No other program in the nation has as extensive a reach in how it provides agricultural, culinary and special needs education or provides as much food for the under served.
So far this year, GHP has provided more than 1,900 pounds of fresh produce to Ron Wood Family Resource Center, Friends in Service Helping (FISH), Capital City Circles Initiative, Salvation Army, Food for Thought and Do Drop Inn (Rural Center for Independent Living). The conservative market value as of the end of October is well over $5,000.
Monday evening, folks will gather at Cafe at Adele’s for a wonderful six-course meal prepared by Cafe at Adele’s staff, myself and Whitney and Josh Deri of Blend, Reno. Both are graduates of The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, where they met.
It’s important to note all food presented during the evening with the exception of melon from Peri & Sons Nevada Grown Division, will have been grown or raised within an 18-mile radius of the restaurant. This shows how much has changed in recent years regarding local growing and availability. Our growers include Glorious Garlic Farm, Nancy’s Green Barn Farm, Alpine Ranch, Bently, as well as a Capital City FFA sponsored goat, and a 4-H lamb raised by Lillie McKinney. Course sponsors include Barbara and Paul D’Anneo, Lone Mountain Veterinary, Carson City Toyota, Nature’s Bakery, Holland & Hart LLP, and Abowd and Rose Financial Group.
Karen and I are ever grateful for the ongoing and invaluable support of these folks.
We’re also grateful for Sophie Waite and Shaylin Segura, CHS students who have undertaken for their senior project, a partnership to raise money and awareness about GHP. Please take a moment to visit their Generosity by Indiegogo page and donate whatever you can. Even $1 or $5 makes a difference. The money they raise will be matched the night of the dinner, and will be used for such things as purchasing seeds, tools, other needed items and to fund GHP operations costs. The site is at https://www.generosity.com/community-fundraising/carson-city-greenhouse-project.
As always, I encourage each of you to do whatever you can, big or small to help others this season. 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 also welcome donations to provide such services. Dayton Food Pantry is also taking collections. Check with them to see when turkey collections begin. 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 cosponsored by FISH. To volunteer, call 775-882-3474.
Consider taking time to feed the homeless or invite a family to share Thanksgiving with you.
Now let’s get cooking.
This year we will be cooking an organic Broad-Breasted 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’s what I do.
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 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 will be 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.
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 haven’t 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. Sauté about 8-10 minutes or until slightly translucent. Add the sausage and cook 5-10 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-by-16-inch or two 8-by-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’ll 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 a 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 5-10 minutes.
My preferences for wine are the Alsace 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.