Thanksgiving, 2012

Some notes from this year’s Thanksgiving festivities.

Willie Bird Turkey

Regarding the Turkey, for the last couple years I bought heritage breed turkeys. While these were tasty, I found the cost/benefit for them didn’t really work out. They are very, very expensive for a Turkey that pretty much tastes like any other Turkey. So this year, I went with an Organic, free range, plain old, Willie Bird from Santa Rosa.

For all of my adult life, I have approached the turkey by separating the leg/thigh half from the breast and cooking them separately, a trick I learned from Julia Child’s The Way To Cook. For some, I guess there is a little disappointment in not presenting a whole bird to the table, but for me the benefit of being able to cook the dark and white meat separately has always outweighed that. It also significantly reduces the cooking time of both halves.

However, this year I took this a step further. Mrs. Flannestad found a recipe in Parade Magazine, of all places, from Mr Mario Batali:

Mario Batali’s Stuffed Turkey

Tacchino Ripieno — for non-Italians, that means turkey stuffed with chestnuts and prunes — is chef Mario Batali’s favorite way to cook turkey because, he says, it never comes out dry. It features a crisp-well-seasoned skin, can be baked in an hour, and may be cut straight through, just like a regular roast.

Turkey Breast stuffed with Prunes, Chestnuts, and pancetta! How could we NOT make this recipe?

I more or less followed the recipe, though I did buy a whole turkey and bone it out myself. What can I say, I like dark meat.

Boned Out Turkey Pieces

I found I really only needed about half the amount of stuffing which the recipe made. I also didn’t quite pay attention, that Mr Batali instructs you to separate the two breast lobes and stuff them separately. Stuffing the whole breast added a little time to the roasting. One big advantage to this recipe, is you can use most of the bones and giblets to make turkey stock before thanksgiving day and have it ready to go for gravy.

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For the Leg/Thighs, I took out the thigh bones and cured them overnight in a mix of sugar, salt, and ground porcini mushrooms. Then the next day, I stuffed the thigh cavities with some of the prune stuffing and tied them up.

For dressing, I bought a rustic sourdough loaf a couple days before and cut it into cubes. I sauteed maitake and cremini mushrooms and also some mirepoix. Then mixed them with the cubed bread, moistened with stock and cooked the leg/thighs on top of the dressing.

Sweet Potatoe Pecan Pie

This year’s pie came from Alton Brown: Sweet Potato Pie with Pecans The only liberty I took with Alton’s recipe was roasting the sweet potatoes and to use Goat Yoghurt, instead of cow.

Strange, how dogs seem more attracted to raw Turkey than cooked…

Monty, Paying Attention