Charlie Abowd: Thanksgiving: From my table to yours
Pause for a moment and let that sink in. What a year this has been, with plenty of political turmoil, global unrest, and what seems to be ever-increasing violence, all of which can easily consume our thoughts and energy.
But thankfully, Americans have one day each year set aside to remember how hundreds of years ago, some folks fled to this continent seeking freedom from tyranny. During their first winter and facing starvation, this band of pilgrims were saved by the land’s native inhabitants who provided food. We’re called to observe this event each year and in doing so, to lay aside our problems, conflicts and differences and to count our blessings.
Think of how on that one day, regardless of other issues, we’re unified by the common dishes we place on our table — cranberry sauce, stuffing, mashed potatoes, yams, pies and the Thanksgiving version of fruitcake, green bean casserole. Whether the table is graced with turkey, which is most common, or some other main meat course — those side dishes are ever-present. These are ties that bind; seemingly insignificant things people have in common.
I guess my point here, is once we realize this is a day of gratitude and family and friends and caring for others, then all the rest of it matters little. This point is sharply made when incidents such as the accident that befell our seven Carson High students recently, occur. Please take a moment to send good thoughts and prayers out for them, their families and everyone touched by this.
I offer a challenge to each of you this Thanksgiving: Take a moment to be grateful — for family, community, for the ability to help others in whatever way we can, remembering each of us is a unique gift with special talents that can be used individually and collectively to change our little world, our community. Reach out to those with less and invite them in. Volunteer where and when you can, as there’s much good work to be done.
Be those side dishes that once part of the overall menu, can feed many.
Friends in Service Helping (FISH) hosts the Turkey Drop on Thursday at the Carson Nugget, 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. at 507 N. Carson St. and at Carson Mall, 1227 S. Carson St., on Thursday from 4 to 6 p.m. and Saturday, Nov. 18 from 10 a.m. to noon. A table will be located inside the mall on the east side. Other canned items also needed include fruit, green beans, corn, yams, gravy envelopes (chicken or turkey and chicken broth. You can also go to the website to make a donation and FISH staff will do the shopping: http://www.nvfish.com).
KOH Radio’s Feed Nevada Day and The Salvation Army’s annual Red Kettle Kick Off will take place from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday.
Feed Nevada and the Red Kettle Kick Off is an opportunity to help The Salvation Army fill their holiday food boxes.
This year’s event will feature a Kettle Kick Off breakfast at Black Bear Diner and a Silent Auction.
Events to be held at Max Casino located at 900 South Carson Street in Carson City and Sanchez Ranch Meat Company located at 17034 Highway 395 in Minden Nevada next to Starbucks.
For more information call 775-887-9120.
Also, put Cookies with Santa on your calendars for Dec. 16, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., at Café at Adele’s. It will be here before you know it and 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 because of 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 tablespoon 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’ss 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 cupchopped 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, ¾-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 cups carrots, chopped
2 cups celery, chopped
1 tablespoons 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 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 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.