THERE IS A big difference between your average turkey and a quality, pasture-finished bird. I am firmly of the belief that turkeys should be split into breasts, which cook quickly and dry easily, and legs, which are juicy but take longer to cook, and each part should be cooked appropriately. I will be cooking this heirloom turkey dinner for my son Rhone’s first birthday this Thanksgiving.
This special holiday menu was provided courtesy Gabriel Claycamp, the chef at the erstwhile Seattle’s Culinary Communion cooking school.
MAKES: 8 servings
PREP TIME: 4 hours
Applewood-Smoked Turkey Breasts
2 heirloom turkey breasts, skin on
2 cups applewood chips, soaked according to directions
1 gallon water
1 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup dried tarragon
1 teaspoon black pepper
Combine all brine ingredients thoroughly in mixing bowl. Place turkey breasts in large nonmetallic dish and cover completely with brine. Let sit in refrigerator for 24 hours or overnight. Remove turkey from brine and pat dry.
Make a fire in a charcoal barbecue and let it burn until the coals are ashed over. Spread the coals in a thin layer for moderate heat and add the wet wood chips. When the chips begin to smoke, place turkey on the grill. Grill until done (internal temperature of 165º F), approximately 20 minutes, making sure to keep the grill covered but the vents open. Add more wood chips if necessary. Slice turkey thinly across the grain and serve.
Braised Turkey Legs with Sour Cherries and Hazelnuts ‘en Crepinette’
2 large turkey leg-and-thigh
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup flour, for dusting
1 onion, minced
1 carrot, minced
1 rib celery, minced
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 quart turkey or chicken stock
2 cups red wine
1 teaspoon rosemary, minced
Kosher salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup toasted, skinned hazelnuts
1/4 cup dried cherries
1 tablespoon stone-ground mustard
16 large leaves of chard or escarole, ribs trimmed but leaf left whole
Season turkey liberally with salt and pepper and dredge in flour, shaking off the excess. Heat a heavy-bottomed pan large enough to accommodate all of the ingredients over medium heat. Add butter and brown turkey on all sides, then set aside. Over medium high heat in the same pan, sauté carrots, onions, garlic, and celery. When deeply caramelized add the tomato paste. Let cook, stirring often, until a rusty brown color develops. Deglaze with wine, making sure to scrape up the brown bits off the bottom of the pan. Add stock and chopped rosemary. Bring liquid to a boil and season well with salt and pepper.
Molasses Red-Eye Gravy
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup shallots, minced
1/2 cup flour
5 cups turkey or chicken stock, hot
1/2 cup coffee
2 tablespoons molasses
Kosher salt and pepper to taste
To make roux: Heat a sauté pan over medium heat and add butter. Sauté shallots until tender, about 6 minutes. Sprinkle in flour until the mixture looks like wet sand. Allow roux to cook, stirring constantly, until it starts to smell nutty, about 8 minutes.
Add stock and coffee, and bring to a boil. Scrape the bottom of the pan to get any stuck-on bits incorporated into the mixture. Simmer for 30 minutes, until thickened and well flavored. Add molasses and simmer 5 more minutes. Strain. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve with turkey.
1 small celery root or knob
1 large turnip
2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes
1 pound parsnips
1 cup half-and-half
2 sticks butter
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Peel and then cut vegetables into 1-inch pieces and place into a deep pot. Cover with cold water and bring to a boil, cook until tender. Drain well and put vegetables through a food mill.
While vegetables are cooking, add salt and pepper to butter and cream in a skillet, and simmer until melted and thoroughly combined. Add this mixture to milled vegetable puree a little at a time until desired consistency is reached. Stir well to incorporate, salt and pepper to taste and serve.
Maple-Glazed Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Candied Pecans
3 pounds brussels sprouts, trimmed
3 1/2 pounds bacon, minced
1/2 cup real maple syrup
1 cup whole pecans
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons brown sugar
Kosher salt, cayenne pepper, and black pepper to taste
Melt butter in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat and fry pecans until golden. Sprinkle with brown sugar and salt, cayenne, and black pepper. Turn off heat and continue to stir every few minutes until cool. (Pecan mixutre can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 6 months.)
Heat a very large sauté pan over medium heat and brown bacon. When crisp, remove bacon with a slotted spoon and set aside, leaving the fat behind in the pan. Add brussels sprouts and season well with salt and pepper. Sauté on high heat for about 5 minutes, then turn down the heat to medium low and cover. Steam until the Brussels sprouts are tender, about 10 minutes.
Remove lid and pour in maple syrup. Boil on high heat until liquid is reduced and thick. Toss in the candied nuts and reserved crispy bacon, check seasoning, and serve hot.