Another Thanksgiving Day is coming our way. This year brings a new challenge for our family. My son, Eric, and daughter-in-law, Nicole are hosting the family dinner. It will be an interesting experience. I am still insisting on roasting the turkey though.
This year's turkey, grown by our friends in Dayton, threatens to be in the 40-45 pound range. It will take my experience in cooking such large birds to continue the terradactyl-sized turkey tradition for our Thanksgiving dinners. Eric will be trying his hand at smoking a turkey using our brine recipe.
As I have always said this time of year it is important to reach out to those not as fortunate as us. The needs at the various agencies who help people in need is larger than ever. Agencies such as FISH, the Food Bank of Nevada and Advocates for Domestic Violence, all can use a helping hand. Contact them and do what you can.
This year our recipes for you are my traditional Thanksgiving Day menu. Follow the directions, use your eyes and nose and pay attention to the instructions I'm giving you now from various health agencies.
It has been deemed by the various health agencies that stuffing the turkey is of great 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. That is what I do.
When serving your Thanksgiving dinner I recommend a nice Gewurztraminer, Riesling, or, as we are doing this year, a Pinot Gris from Oregon. Check with our friends at Ben's Liquor and Aloha Wine and Spirits for a good selection. As always enjoy, enjoy, enjoy!
3/4 cup kosher salt
3/4 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.
Start with eight quarts of cold water and add the turkey giblets, neck and wing tips. Also add celery, one tablespoon peppercorns, five bay leaves, one cup roughly chopped onions, half cup 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.
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 tsp. 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 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 2 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 fruit and Kielbasa sausage
1 large sourdough round loaf cut into 3/4 inch squares (lightly cut hard crust off)
2 T. 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 over at 350 degrees for 20 minutes)
1/2 cup dried cranberries
2 cups yellow onion, 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 about 1.5 to 1.75 pounds. Remove the crust and cut it in squares. Place the bread in a baking pan and then in a 325 degree oven for 30-45 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 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 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 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 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 to the turkey stock, drippings from the roasting pan, half to one 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 a thick creamy pudding. (You may not need to use all of the flour.)
Add the turkey stock (about 4 cups) slowly, whisking constantly. Add half 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 is 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.
• 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.