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Nov. 29th, 2013

Sweet Potato Biscuits

It's been ages since I've posted anything here, but sometimes a recipe is just such an incredible hit with family and friends that you need to share it with others.  So this year we celebrated Thanksgiving twice - once with my sister Elaine, her husband and her children and grandchildren, and again with my wife's family. On Wednesday I cooked through the recipes we posted a couple of years ago for Thanksgiving, the Marsala turkey, Reluctant Gourmet gravy, etc., but to me the best part of the meal was my niece Jae's husband David's Sweet Potato biscuits.  I was so impressed with them that I got the recipe from him and made them for my wife's family the next day.  The recipe is interesting; halfway between sugar cookies and biscuits in terms of ingredients and techniques.   Now that I know the recipe is not only fantastic, but dead simple, I'll share it with everyone else.  Bon Appetit, Ya'll!

Sweet Potato Biscuits

(Makes 18 large biscuits)

2 Cups     Cooked Sweet Potato (See note below)
2 Cups     All Purpose Flour
2 TB         Baking Powder
1 tsp         Salt
1 tsp         Cinnamon (optional)
1.5 Cup    Granulated Sugar
2/3 Cup    Shortening (Crisco, or otherwise)

1. Cook sweet potatoes by first washing two large sweet potatoes (yams).  Poke holes all over them with a sharp knife and then microwave on a microwave safe dish with a damp paper towel spread over them for 10-12 minutes.  Let cool to room temperature, cut in half, and the skin should cleanly separate off and they should peel very easily.

2. Combine all dry ingredients in a medium bowl with a fork or sift together (remember the sugar is NOT usually considered a dry ingredient in baking)

3. Cream together the shortening and granulated sugar until fully combined.  Add the sweet potato and mix well until fully incorporated.

4.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix just enough to combine.

5. Scoop out the dough onto a floured surface and sprinkle with just enough flour to gently combine to form into a dough rectangle about 1/2'' deep that can be cut (this is a wet dough, so more flour may be needed to be added to the dough to allow you to cut your biscuits).  Cut biscuits with a biscuit cutter or drinking glass and place closely together onto a greased cookie sheet.

6. Bake at 425 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.

sweet potato biscuits

Mar. 22nd, 2013

Turkey Chili (no beans)

Sorry, no pictures this time...  This is my new go-to turkey recipe.  You can substitute ground beef for the ground turkey, but it really is much lower-fat this way.

Turkey Chili

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound ground turkey
1/2 white onion, chopped
2 medium Jalapeno Peppers, coarsely chopped
1 large dried ancho chili pepper, top cut off and discarded, seeds discarded, cut into very small dice with kitchen shears
1 cup chicken broth
1 can tomato sauce
2 cans diced tomatoes (Hunt's fire-roasted with garlic are especially good!)
1 1/2 Tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dry mustard
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Brown ground turkey in olive oil in a large dutch oven or soup pot over medium high heat.  Add onion and peppers and continue to cook until softened.  Deglaze pot with chicken broth, being sure to scrape up all the browned bits.  Add remaining ingredients and turn down heat to low.  Simmer over low heat for 30-45 minutes.  Adjust seasoning with additional chili powder or salt to taste.

Oct. 4th, 2011

A taste of Chicago - Italian Beef Sandwiches

One of the great things about going to college at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign was that it was close enough to Chicago that a lot of the wonderful Chicago foods had made their way that far south.  I was first introduced to true deep-dish Chicago Pizza in college at Papa Del's and Giordanos, and also was introduced to another Chicago institution, but this time at the University cafeterias -- Italian beef sandwiches. 

For those of you who have never been in or around Chicago, an Italian Beef sandwich is a thinly-sliced roast beef sandwich where the roast has been cooked in a flavorful jus made with lots of Italian spices (oregano, basil, garlic, etc.).  They are served on hoagie-style rolls, where traditionally the entire bun has been dipped in extra jus, so that it's served "Wet".  You can also order it "Dry" and dip it yourself, which is how I generally make them.  They would also be served with Giardinera - a spicy pickled pepper mix that's almost impossible to find outside of Chicago -- however, pickled jalapenos can do in a pinch.

This particular recipe is really easy to make, and absolutely wonderful.  It started as a recipe I found online at my sister Elaine's prompting, but I've since modified it so much, it's essentially my own.

Slow cooker Italian Beef

3 lb eye of round roast
1 tbsp vegetable oil

1/2 cup water
1 14oz can beef broth
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp dried parsley
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 bay leaf
1 (0.7 oz) package dry zesty Italian salad dressing mix

2 tsp chopped garlic
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (or more to taste)

Heat the vegetable oil over medium-high heat in a large pan and brown the meat on all sides.  Meanwhile, combine the next 11 ingredients together in a small saucepan and heat to boiling.  Add the browned meat to the slow cooker and pour the jus on top.  Set on low and cook for 6 hours.

After 6 hours remove the meat and let cool in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours.  [This is important -- this allows the gelatin in the meat to resolidify and makes it possible to thinly slice the meat].  Reserve the jus in a large bowl and refrigerate as well.  After 4 hours, remove the jus and remove the layer of fat from the top with spoon.  Thinly slice the meat.  Add the meat and the defatted jus back into the slow cooker.  Add the additional garlic and red pepper flakes, and cook on high for 1 hour.  Serve on crusty rolls (dunked in the jus, or with the jus on the side).


Jul. 21st, 2011

Back to French Food

When I originally started this blog oh so many moons ago, my intention was to spend time exploring the intersection of Southern American and French food.  My recipes and interests have wandered quite a bit since then, but French food is one of the inspirations that I keep coming back to.  One thing that both cuisines have in common is a penchant for using the freshest, local fruits and vegetables that are available.  I've posted a number of entries here on my adventures to the local farm stands and farmers markets as a result.  Lately in the two most common grocery stores I frequent I've been seeing fresh, in-season cherries.  Now, cherries are hardly local to North Carolina, since most of them come from the Northwest or Michigan, but they looked absolutely delicious, and I've been wondering what I could make.  A cherry pie comes to mind, but honestly, I'm a little bored by pies right now.  The last couple that I made for my family we didn't even finish.

So, instead, I was inspired to go back to my muse, Julia Child, and with a little additional inspiration from Alton Brown, decided to try something new, her Cherry Claufouti.  A Claufouti is a kind of cherry tart or flan, as she describes it.  It's essentially a crepe batter that is allowed to set around a bunch of ripe, pitted cherries as it bakes.  So, given that I had a 7am conference call this morning that I needed to listen to but didn't need to participate in a lot, I spent 45 minutes pitting 3 cups of cherries while I listened to my Indian colleagues speak.

The result was marvelous.  It's got a nearly indescribable texture; a little like a flan or a creme brulee, but not a lot like it.  My wife and I loved it, and my cherry-suspicious son even ate a slice and declared it good.

Cherry Claufoutis

3 cups of pitted sweet cherries
1 1/4 cups milk
2/3 cup granulated sugar, divided
3 eggs
1 Tb vanilla extract
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 cup flour
Confectioner's sugar (2-3 Tbs)

Combine the milk, 1/3 cup sugar, the eggs, vanilla salt and flour in a blender and blend until well combined (about a minute or so on high).   Pour about 2/3 of a cup into a 12-inch oven-safe non-stick pan.  Place in a 350 oven for about 7-10 minutes or until it is partially set on the bottom, but not cooked through.  Remove from the oven and scatter the cherries on top.  Sprinkle with the remaining 1/3 cup of sugar and then pour the remaining batter on top and return to the oven.  Bake for 50-60 minutes or until the top is brown and a knife inserted through the middle comes out clean.  Let sit at room temperature for 5-10 minutes to cool and then sprinkle on confectioner's sugar, then cut into slices.


Feb. 17th, 2011

Fortuitous accidents

You know sometimes you're trying a recipe and you goof -- but what's rare is when you goof you goof RIGHT and actually improve the original recipe!  This has happened to me on a few occasions, but none so good as a few nights ago.  My son had been sick for several days (type A influenza) and had not been eating much at all.  When on the tail end of it he said he really wanted some soft pretzels, I took that as an indication that I should make a batch. 

Now, my normal go-to soft pretzel recipe is Alton Brown's.  His has all the normal steps, including boiling them in an alkaline bath, but adds an extra step at the end (an egg-yolk wash) that gives them that special dark-brown philadelphia pretzel look.  I've made his pretzels several times before, and they're fine.  I'd rate them about the same as most Mall pretzels, and definitely better than the frozen "superpretzel" pretzels. 

The problem (as pointed out in multiple postings on the original recipe) is that sometimes his dough is hard to work -- it's a stiff dough and difficult to roll out into the "snakes" required to fold a pretzel.  Also, the taste is, as I said, fine, but not fantastic.  This is where the mistake came in.

I normally halve Alton's recipe since I'm only feeding 3 and not the 6-8 that his recipe would provide for.  This time I halved all the ingredients as usual, but goofed and did not halve the butter, essentially doubling the amount of butter in his recipe.  I noticed something was up when I started rolling the dough into the "snakes" -- the dough was very soft and supple and quite easy to work out -- not at all like my normal experience with this dough. 

Also, when I boiled the pretzels, they puffed up much more than normal -- filling out all the holes in the pretzel so that the edges all touched.  But it was when we ate them that we noticed the big difference -- the extra butter made the pretzel much softer , tastier and overall more pleasant -- this version may not have the chewiness of a traditional Philadelphia pretzel, but in my opinion, it's a better trade-off.  My family now says these are better than Mall pretzels (kiss Auntie Ann's goodbye!) so I'll be doing this one again.


Feb. 7th, 2011


A few months ago my wonderful wife gave me a great birthday present -- a new Kitchen-aid mixer.  I have previously sung the praises of my Zojirushi bread machine on this blog before, but a bread machine is kind of a limited appliance for making certain kinds of bread.  It makes baking simple breads very easy, but it doesn't allow you to vary from it's preprogrammed cycles.  So, for years I've been avoiding breads of all kinds because I didn't want to have to mess with hand-kneading, which is time-consuming, messy, and just too much for me.

My kitchen-aid has changed that.  Now, it's taken me a while to get used to it.  Before I found some recipes that work I baked a few inedible loaves of bread.  First there was the utterly nasty brick that was supposed to have been whole-wheat bread.  Then there were the completely flavorless parker house rolls. Then the horrifying deep-dish pizza crust.   It all seemed to be going downhill from there until I finally found a good yeast roll recipe in the Fanny Farmer Cookbook and things started looking up.  Then when I tried making this Foccacia recipe, I knew I had finally hit my stride with the kitchen-aid.

Foccacia (adapted from American Pie by Peter Reinhart)

(Makes one approximately 8X10 inch foccacia)

13 oz bread flour (I use Gold Medal Better for Bread)
1 tsp table salt
1 1/8 tsp bread machine (instant) yeast
1 1/4 cups ice-cold water
1/8 cup olive oil + 1/8 cup olive oil (separated)
kosher salt
dried rosemary
grated romano cheese

Combine the first four ingredients in the bowl of your electric mixer.  Fit with a paddle attachment and beat on low for about 2 minutes or until it begins to form a wet ball of dough.  Let dough rest for 5 minutes.  Put on the dough hook, add the olive oil and mix on medium-low for 3-4 minutes or until the oil is fully incorporated and the dough is smooth and supple.

Form the dough into a ball and place in a bowl coated with olive oil.  Turn the dough to coat all sides and cover with plastic wrap.  Refrigerate overnight.  The next day, allow the dough to sit at room temperature for 2 hours or until nearly doubled.

Preheat an oven with a baking stone to 500 degrees for at least an hour to let the baking stone come to temperature.  Meanwhile, cut off a 12'' section of parchment paper and place the dough ball in the center.  Gently work the dough ball into a rectangle about 8''X10'' trying not to deflate the dough too much.  Make indentations about every 1'' with your kunckle.  Drizzle on 1/8 cup of olive oil on the dough and into the indentations and then sprinkle with kosher salt and dried rosemary (I also give it a dusting of freshly grated romano cheese).

Slide the parchment paper onto the baking stone and bake for 7-9 minutes or until the bread is golden brown and the underside is brown and crisp.  Remove from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes before slicing.


Nov. 15th, 2010

A backwards set of Thanksgiving Recipes - The pie

No Thanksgiving meal is complete without pie.  Now, a pumpkin pie is traditional, and I'll occasionally have a small sliver of one, but it's not my favorite, nor is it the favorite of my family.  Instead, we prefer a pie that is anything but traditional, except in our little corner of the woods.  Back when I started this blog my first post was on French Onion Soup based on an experience I'd had with a co-worker at one of our local restaurants, the Angus Barn.  The Angus Barn's a tradition here in Raleigh -- it's executive chef Walter Royal won an Iron Chef America competition a few years ago, and he's created some memorable dishes, but to be honest, some of my favorite things there are about the oldest things on the menu.  The cheese dips they serve with homemade crackers as a starter are legendary and unbelievably good, but to me the absolute best thing on the menu is at the end -- it's their chocolate chess pie.  This recipe dates back to the original owners of the place, Thad Eure Jr. and Alice Eure, who originally provided it as one of their treasured family recipes.  They've been giving out the recipe ever since, for almost 30 years, on the comment cards for the restaurant, and Triangle families have been taking that home and making the recipe part of their own traditions.  We've done the same. 

My mom used to make a chocolate pie that was favorite of my Uncle Johnny (her brother) - it had a homemade chocolate pudding base made with cocoa and it was topped with meringue.  The last holiday meal I cooked with my brother Darrell I asked him to show me how to make it, and I followed what he was doing, but there was too much of "use some of this and some of that" involved as he had learned it from our mom -- I couldn't duplicate it.  So, after Darrell's funeral, I made this pie for our whole family at Darrell and Seely's house and, barely holding back tears, explained to Uncle Johnny that I couldn't duplicate my mom's and Darrell's pie, but would he try this one instead and let me know if it'd be OK as a substitute.  He tried it, loved it, and said it would do.



A backwards set of Thanksgiving Recipes - a short note on gravy

OK, now we get to my favorite part of Thanksgiving dinner -- the GRAVY!  Yes, I'll admit it. I'm gravy-mad.  Honestly, there are times I feel I could toss out the whole rest of the dinner and just eat the mashed potatoes and gravy and then sop up all the rest of the gravy with rolls.  However, I can generally restrain myself....

What I've found over the years it that my Marsala Turkey recipe produces some absolutely amazing pan juices.  Rich with the fruity flavors from the pears and apples, and with the added smooth caramel goodness from the Marsala, it's a thing of beauty. So I searched for years to find a thanksgiving gravy recipe that could make the most of those pan juices.  I finally found it here, on the Reluctant Gourmet site.  This turkey gravy recipe is simply awesome.  Every time I make it receives lots of positive comments.  Last year I was at my friend Timothy Kasbe's for Thanksgiving dinner and made this gravy and he couldn't stop going on about how it's the best turkey gravy he'd ever tasted.

There are only two modifications I make to the above recipe.

(1) In making the gravy base, instead of just sauteing the turkey neck, saute all of the giblets EXCEPT THE LIVER.  (To identify your giblets, look at the helpful picture here).  Discard the liver or use it for something else - otherwise it will make the turkey base too strongly flavored.  After you have drained out the gravy base, separate out the turkey neck and giblets and chop them very finely, then reserve that and add it back to the gravy later.

(2) In deglazing the pan to make the gravy base, I often substitute Marsala or white wine for the apple juice.  The extra hit of Marsala in particular works very well with the pan juices from my turkey.


A backwards set of Thanksgiving Recipes - Side Dishes

Side dishes are to most people as important as the turkey (the main event) in a Thanksgiving dinner.  Every family has a set that brings special memories, and it's usually one of the few places for family members to pitch in by contributing them when they gather together for the holiday.  So your Aunt Mary's special green bean casserole may be the high point of some family member's year, or it might be your Grandma's homemade yeast rolls that occupy the special place in your heart.

In my family, we traditionally carbo-loaded for Thanksgiving.  I'm not sure why, but I seem to remember the carbohydrates more than anything else.  Every year we would have mashed potatoes, and that particular set of mashed potatoes (made with russets, without skin, and whipped with a hand mixer with lots of milk and butter until creamy) is still the standard template for good mashed potatoes for me.  We would also have my mom's dressing, made with both cornbread and white bread and with lots of dried sage, and my mom's turkey or chicken and dumplings, which I have already posted a similar recipe to on this blog.   Finally, there would be sweet potatoes with marshmallow topping (I've never been a fan of sweet potatoes, so I skipped those) and my mom's slow-cooked green beans, which I was also never a fan of.  They were cooked in a slow cooker with bacon  and pearl onions, making them (I'm sure) loaded with porky goodness, but unfortunately, left with a texture that turned me off.

So over the years, I've developed or adapted several new side dish recipes for my family that fit our tastes better.  I'll usually make my herbed green beans, orange carrots, and a dressing.  While some years I'll duplicate my mom's dressing, I've found that my son generally doesn't care for bread stuffing -- for him it's a texture issue.  So instead, we'll sometimes do an almond brown rice stuffing that he will at least try a bit of.

Herbed Green Beans
(serves 4)

2 cups frozen or fresh green beans, trimmed and cut
1 Quart water
1 tsp salt
1 Tbs butter
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp rosemary
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

In a 2 quart or larger pan, add the salt to the water and bring to a boil.  Add the green beans and cook until just tender (usually about 2-4 minutes after they have reached a second boil with frozen green beans, a bit longer, perhaps 5-8 minutes with fresh green beans, depending upon how old they are). Drain and return to the pot over VERY low heat, or residual heat on an electric burner. Add the butter and stir until melted and combined, then add the herbs and the salt and pepper.  Cook until just heated through -- no more than 2-3 minutes or until you hear the beans just begin to sizzle, then remove from heat and serve quickly.

Orange Carrots
(serves 4)

2 cups peeled and bias-sliced carrots, in segments about 1/2 inch thick.
1/2 cup orange juice
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1  teaspoon fresh, grated ginger (or 1/2 teaspoon powdered ginger if it's newly purchased)
1 cup white grapes, halved

Combine carrots, orange juice, olive oil, salt, sugar and ginger in a 2 Quart saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat.  Reduce heat and boil vigorously for 5 minutes.  Cover and reduce the heat to simmer for 15 minutes with the cover slightly ajar.  If the orange juice has not reduced until slightly thickened, then remove the cover and raise the heat a bit to reduce for another 5-10 minutes. Add halved grapes and simmer for 5 more minutes, then serve.

Almond Brown Rice Stuffing

(serves 4)

1/3 cup slivered or sliced, raw almonds
2 teaspoons butter
2 medium Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and diced.
1/2 cup chopped onions
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning (or 3/4 teaspoon sage + 1/8 teaspoon thyme + 1/8 teaspoon black pepper)
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper (or more to taste - white pepper loses its flavor quickly in the pantry)
3 cups cooked brown rice (for this purpose,  Uncle Ben's works well)
salt to taste

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Cook the brown rice in chicken broth, otherwise following the package directions.  Meanwhile, toast the almonds in a large skillet over medium-high heat in the melted butter until just brown.  Add the apples and celery and seasonings, and cook until the vegetables are tender-crisp.  Turn off the heat and stir in the rice to combine and season with salt if necessary, then move everything to a covered baking dish and bake for 20 minutes.

Nov. 14th, 2010

A backwards set of Thanksgiving Recipes - the Turkey

Turkey is something that people either hate or love, and finding the right recipe for a turkey is difficult.   Every year the cooking magazines like Saveur, Food and Wine, and Fine Cooking (not to mention the dearly departed Gourmet) post new recipes that promise to be "the one" for the world's greatest Thanksgiving bird. However, Thanksgiving isn't a time to be adventurous.  If you don't have a good recipe for a Turkey (or you've never tried making a roast turkey before) then by all means try this one, or perhaps Alton Brown's Excellent Thanksgiving Turkey Recipe. Otherwise, leave well enough alone!  People don't want to be surprised by the Turkey at Thanksgiving!  You can vary some of the side dishes, or add new appetizers or desserts each year, but please, part of Thanksgiving is about reconnecting to old memories.  If your memories of Thanksgiving turkeys past are good -- stick with what works.  Otherwise, you could try this...

But first I must divulge exactly why I'm (in effect) dissing one of my culinary heroes by not only not following, but completely disregarding his advice.  It all comes down to the bird itself and what you want to get out of it.  As described by Harold McGee in his book Keys to Good Cooking, Thanksgiving turkey recipes fall into two basic camps - the skin camp and the meat camp.  If your memories of Thanksgiving yore include everyone standing around the kitchen and eating all of the crispy skin from the turkey and then pretty much disregarding the rest of it -- you fall into the "skin camp".  If on the other hand, you're concerned most with appearance and flavor of  the bird on plate accompanied by the side dishes, and you want the moistest, most flavorful meat, especially the troublesome white meat, then you fall in the meat camp.

The technique at question is basting.  Basting involves either redistributing liquid from the cooking pan itself over the meat, or adding additional liquid and/or fat over the meat during the cooking process.  This can be done using a turkey baster, which is most helpful in suctioning out the juices from the pan, but is best done with a pastry brush.  If you baste your turkey, then you're adding some flavor to the outermost portions of the meat, but most importantly, you're cooling the meat down and making it cook more slowly through evaporation.

If you baste your turkey, then the breast meat can reach its required temperature more slowly and (most importantly) evenly -- since the dark meat is always done later than the white meat, then by slowing down the cooking of the white meat, you're attempting to reach the final cooking temperature at the same time, and without overcooking (and thus drying out) the white meat.  Another technique that aids in this is cooking the turkey breast-side down for the first half or so of the cooking process.  Remember that in the oven that heat is being transferred to your turkey by both radiation from the sides of the oven, and conduction of the hot air in the oven.  If the turkey is breast-side down, then during that time, the breast is NOT receiving as much heat from hot air or radiation, since the pan is in the way.  So again, it slows down the cooking of the breast.   I use both techniques, because I want tender, juicy breast meat, which is what my family likes most of all anyway, but also because I want to add that added tiny bit of flavor that basting can give to the meat, which can otherwise be rather bland.

So what do you give up with basting?  Crispy skin.  You'll be able to crisp the skin a little bit, but it'll generally be much flabbier than in recipes that attempt to maximize crispiness by tricks like roasting the bird for a short time at the end at a searing 550 degrees, or (the most effective one) by dry-salting the bird and then thoroughly (e.g. overnight) air-drying the skin in the refrigerator before roasting.  So, with my turkey, most of the skin on the breast and dark meat is cut off and not served with the meal - to me, that's no big loss -- after all, I can still snag a crispy bit or two from the wings, which in almost any recipe will have some crispy skin attached.

Which leads me to dissing Alton Brown.   Alton's wonderful recipe has two steps that make it the epitome of turkey goodness for the crispy skin club.  First, he heats the oven to 500 degrees at the beginning, and then roasts the Turkey for the longest time at 350 degrees.  The higher temperatures will produce drier (and thus crispier) skin.  He also eschews turning the bird over and roasting breast-side down and in fact keeps it untouched for the entire length of the roasting operation. That absolutely maximizes outer crispiness.  However, if you followed this technique with a standard, unmodified supermarket bird, then you'd end up with a beautiful looking, mahogany-toned bird that would be about as edible as a piece of plywood (and would taste about the same).

So that's where the second part of Alton's genius comes in.  He famously brines his bird for up to 16 hours prior to roasting it.  Brining changes the osmotic pressure within the cells of the meat and forces water into them.  In effect, he's adding extra water (and some salt) before he roasts the bird to counteract the water lost through his high-heat roasting process.  So, following his recipe, you'd get a bird that both has crispy skin, and breast meat that's not unreasonably dry. 

But there's a side-effect to brining that is my problem with the whole operation.  Brining ruins any of the pan juices collected during the roasting of the turkey because it makes them too salty to use for gravy or in dressing.  And to me, that's as big a part of the whole Thanksgiving equation as the bird itself!  So instead, I go with the "meat" camp in my recipe, which, without further ado, is presented below.  This was originally adopted years ago from a Julee Russo (of the Silver Palate Cookbook) recipe, but it's since changed much over the years.

Marsala Roast Turkey

1 Turkey, 12-14 pounds, completely defrosted, with the giblets and neck removed and reserved.
1 Tablespoon canola oil
1 1/2 Tablespoons kosher salt
Pepper and Poultry Seasoning to taste
2 cups seeded, cored and sliced Bartlett pears
2 cups seeded, cored and sliced Granny smith apples
2 cups peeled, quartered Vidalia Onion (or other sweet onion)
4 sprigs fresh parsley
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
2 sprigs fresh thyme
12 fresh sage leaves
1 cup sweet Marsala wine
1 cup homemade chicken broth

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.  Combine the broth and wine and put in a bowl, which you then place in the refrigerator. 

Rinse the turkey inside and out with cold running water, then pat dry with paper towels.  Rub all the turkey cavities thoroughly with salt.   Place the pears, apples and herbs in the breast cavity and then truss the cavity closed with metal skewers and butcher's twine. Rub the entire turkey with the oil and then salt liberally with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper and poultry seasoning to taste.

Place the turkey BREAST DOWN on a rack in an uncovered roasting pan. Place the turkey in the oven and immediately reduce the temperature to 325 degrees.  Roast for a full hour with the breast down, then remove the turkey from the oven and (with the aid of turkey lifters) turn the turkey over so that the breast side is now up and replace onto the rack.  Insert a probe thermometer into the thickest part of the breast and set to 165 degrees.   Now, before returning to the oven, and every 20 minutes thereafter, baste the turkey using a pastry brush with the wine/broth mixture.  If at any point,  you've basted off all of the seasoning on the skin, then pepper and season again (don't worry, it won't hurt the pan juices).  If you manage to use up all of the wine/broth mixture before the turkey is done, use a turkey baster to suck up some of the pan juices, and use that.  When the thermometer goes off, remove the turkey from the oven and let it rest, lightly tented with foil, for 20 minutes.   If during roasting, the top of the breast or the wing tips look like they are about to burn, cover them lightly with foil to slow down the cooking in that part of the turkey.

Now, after 20 minutes, un-truss the turkey and remove and discard the fruit, onion and herbs (although press on them to extract any juices and add that to the pan juices before you do!)    Remove all of the pan drippings and place in a gravy separator for use in gravy and dressing (See my next recipes!)



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