Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas Joy... and the perfect diner for it!

Ok, so I have to admit to something. I’m not a great fan of sweet and sour food. I don’t know. There’s something about mixing a nice fruity flavor to salty meat that doesn’t always compute in my mind, and on my tongue. Still, there is some exception (of course, there always is an exception) and one of them is cranberry sauce! A turkey without it is simply naked and bland. Add some nice, fruity cranberry sauce and bam, the turkey shines and becomes a star!

On top of that, turkey can sometimes (and to be honest, most of the time) be dry. It’s hard to make a nice, roasted turkey without overcooking it. Maybe it’s the fact that when we make turkey, there usually is a fun party going on in the living room, which means we can forget about the turkey in the oven!! But my mom figured out the way to minimize the dryness and maximize the party factor: go for brown meat only. Turkey legs, turkey thighs, whichever you prefer. This year, I’ve asked my butcher to cut me some nice turkey thighs. They're the perfect individual serving size, they’re easy to serve and they certainly are nice, tender and juicy.

I know what you're thinking: what about the stuffing? Now that's an easy fix. I have this killer stuffing recipe which will, no doubt, satisfy your guests. The interesting part is that you don't have to stuff it in the turkey to make it. You make it on the side and Voilà!, you've got your stuffing. It's not more complicated thant that.

To make sure I get the perfect turkey-cranberry mix along with a great stuffing, here are the recipes I’m going to use.


3 shallots, finely chopped
2 tablespoons butter
300g fresh or frozen cranberries
3 tablespoons honey
¼ cup red Porto
¼ cup water
¼ cup orange peel
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
Salt and pepper

In a saucepan, soften the shallots in the butter. Add the cranberries and honey. Cover and cook for about 5 minutes over medium heat. Add the remaining ingredients and simmer for 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper

Makes 8 servings

8 turkey thighs (ask your butcher to cut them, they usually do)
1 tablespoon olive oil
Kosher salt

Note: Before starting, if you have time, you can brine your turkey. Simply dissolve 1 cup of kosher salt in 2 quarts of water then soak the turkey in this brine for 1 to your 4 in the fridge. This will make your turkey more moist and tender.

When you’re ready, heat your oven to 350˚F. Pat dry the thighs with paper towel. Sprinkle the turkey with salt and pepper. Let rest at room for 5 to 10 minutes.

Heat an ovenproof fry pan over medium-high heat. Put the oil in the pan and wait until it shimmers. Add the turkey, skin side down. Sear for about 4 minutes, or until the skin is dark golden brown. Flip the turkey and sear on the bone side for another 4 minutes.

Move the pan in the oven (at the bottom of the oven) and roast until the turkey is thoroughly cooked (about 170˚-180˚F when checked with a meat thermometer). This should take between 20 to 30 minutes, depending on the size of the thighs.

Makes 12 servings

One 9-inch-long loaf seeded rye bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large sweet onion, such as Vidalia, halved and thinly sliced
1 celery rib, cut into ¼ inch dice
1 teaspoon chopped sage
1 teaspoon thyme leaves
½ pound piece of slab bacon, sliced ½ inch thick and cut into ½ inch dice
2 ½ cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth
1 egg
2 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Preheat the oven to 375°. Lightly butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. On a large rimmed baking sheet, toast the rye bread cubes for about 15 minutes, tossing once halfway through, until lightly golden and dry. Transfer the bread to a large bowl.
In a skillet, melt the butter. Add the onion and celery; cook over moderate heat until tender, about 10 minutes. Add the sage and thyme and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Scrape into the bowl with the bread.
Wipe out the skillet. Add the bacon and cook over moderate heat until browned, about 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to the bowl with the bread. In a medium bowl, whisk the chicken broth with the egg. Pour over the bread mixture and add the kosher salt and pepper. Toss until the bread soaks up the liquid. Scrape into the prepared baking dish and cover with foil. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or overnight.
Bake the stuffing for about 30 minutes, until hot throughout. Remove the foil and bake for about 30 minutes longer, until the top is lightly golden. Serve hot or warm.

Note: After tossing the ingredients and spreading them in a pan, chill the stuffing for at least an hour before baking. This ensures that the bread soaks up the liquid—key to a stuffing that's crisp on top and moist within.

With all of this, I'll make sure to make some great mashed potatoes (make sure to use yellow potatoes) along with some nice grean beans. Nothing too fancy, everything perfect! 

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