Thanksgiving Dinner

I have a confession to make. I don't like turkey. It's not personal. I just prefer dark meat to white meat, which is not a favorable proportion in my favor when it comes to turkey.

This year it was I who volunteered my house for the Thanksgiving dinner and thus had to make the sacrifice to the Mayflower "gods" and make the white meat monster. Having never made turkey, I did some research and came across the following: a) people are secretly scared of the turkey in fear if drying it out, b) every recipe I came across attempts to flavor the impermeable layer of white meat, and c) there are ALWAYS leftovers. I ordered a fresh (read: not frozen) turkey hen because it was smaller then the tom. I didn't marinate or brine the bird. Instead, I made a rub of mayo, Dijon & spicy mustards and orange juice concentrate, which I slathered on the inside and outside of the bird after seasoning with kosher salt and black pepper. To guarantee the turkey would be moist, I injected about a cup of orange juice concentrate mixed with chicken broth into the bird and stuffed it with quartered apples, which I discarded after the turkey was done (I didn't want to risk them still not being cooked through). The 13lb bird was in the oven at 350 for 3 hours, covered for the first hour and half with foil. I was basting every 20 minutes or so. I noticed that the juices in the pan were drying out so I added apple juice as needed to make sure there was plenty of moisture in the oven. I turned up the temp to 375 in the last 15 minutes to crisp up the skin.

Fennel, Parsnip, Apple and Onion Stuffing
  • 1 Country Boole bread; cut into 1 inch squares (I removed the top and bottom crust, but left the sides)
  • 1 large fennel, sliced into thin wedges and separated into strips
  • 2 peeled parsnips, cut into 2 inch strips
  • 2 Spanish onions, chopped into half-rings
  • 3 strips of bacon
  • 2 mitzu apples, peeled and chopped into apple pie sized pieces
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3/4 cup of low sodium chicken stock
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 tbsp of heavy cream
  • salt
  • pepper

Toast bread cubes at 300F for 15-20 minutes and let cool. Coat fennel and parsnip in olive oil and salt to taste. Roast at 350F for 35 minutes, turning several times to caramelize the vegetables. Add chopped apples coated in olive oil on top of fennel and parsnip and roast an additional 15-20 minutes until apples are just tender. In a pan roast the bacon strips in some olive oil, once the bacon begins to curl, add in the onions and cook until golden. Discard the bacon (or make a great breakfast omelet, which is what I did). Mix the bread cubes, roasted vegetables and onions in a 9 inch pan. In a bowl, whip the egg with the heavy cream just until mixed and add in the chicken stock. Pour the contents of the bowl evenly over the mixed bread/veggies. Let stand for about 1 hour in the refrigerator. If you like the stuffing warm, as I do, put the pan into the oven 20 minutes before sitting down for dinner at 350F. Enjoy!

Fig and brie bites
Layer half of a dried fig, a slice of brie and deep-fried, canned onions (such as French's). In a saucepan, reduce on slow heat some balsamic and brown sugar until it thickens. Pour the cooled sauce over the bites.

Goat cheese and pomegranate balls
Mix goat cheese with buttermilk until the mixture is pliable but still holds its shape. Mix in chopped thyme, cracked green peppercorns and ripe pomegranate seeds (make sure there is plenty of them so that there is at least ~5 in each ball). Form 3/4 inch balls and refrigerate before serving. Serve with pumpernickel bread or Melba toasts.

Cranberry sauce
  • 1 bag of cranberries
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp port
Cook fresh cranberries in 1 cup of water until they burst. Turn down the heat to low and let them cook down and thicken until desired texture. Cool and add in the vinegar and port.

What's next? Leftover turkey panini of course, stuffing waffles, and cranberry chutney...


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