Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thanksgiving

I know, I'm finally posting about Thankgiving. The full menu was: grill-roasted turkey, cornbread and sausage stuffing, lo mai fun (Chinese sticky rice - courtesy of the L's), mashed potatoes (also courtesy of the L's), grilled zucchini and eggplant, jello dressing, cranberry relish (from H's kindergarten class), apple pie, pumpkin pie, and huckleberry pie.

grill-roasted turkey
Since I've been trying to find any excuse to grill things this year, this offered quite the opportunity for experimentation. Of course, if it went wrong, there'd be a lot of hungry and grumpy people eating stuffing and lo mai fun (sticky rice). Since I was using a gas grill (I know, not as good as charcoal, but you work with what you've got), the idea was to use indirect heat. I had hickory chips which would provide the smoke. Since it was kind of a breezy day, there was a fair amount of fiddling with the controls to keep the temperature steady.
[turkey, brine (salt, sugar, water), hickory wood chips]

cornbread & sausage dressing
This was ok. I made the cornbread, and I think it was bit on the dry side.

INGREDIENTS
- 12 cups cornbread broken into 1-inch pieces (include crumbs), spread in even layer on 2 baking sheets, and dried in 250-degree oven 50 to 60 minutes
- 3 cups chicken stock or canned low-sodium chicken broth
- 2 cups half-and-half
- 2 large eggs , beaten lightly
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick), plus extra for baking dish
- 1 1/2 pounds bulk pork sausage , broken into 1-inch pieces
- 3 medium onions , chopped fine (about 3 cups)
- 3 ribs celery , chopped fine (about 1 1/2 cups)
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh thyme leaves
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh sage leaves
- 3 cloves garlic , minced
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons ground black pepper

1. Place cornbread in large bowl. Whisk together stock, half-and-half, and eggs in medium bowl; pour over cornbread and toss very gently to coat so that cornbread does not break into smaller pieces. Set aside.
2. Heat heavy-bottomed, 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until hot, about 1 1/2 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons butter to pan and swirl to coat pan bottom. When foam subsides, add sausage and cook, stirring occasionally, until sausage loses its raw color, 5 to 7 minutes. With slotted spoon, transfer sausage to medium bowl. Add about half the onions and celery to fat in skillet; sauté, stirring occasionally, over medium-high until softened, about 5 minutes. Transfer onion mixture to bowl with sausage. Return skillet to heat and add remaining 6 tablespoons butter; when foam subsides, add remaining celery and onions and sauté, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in thyme, sage, and garlic; cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds; add salt and pepper. Add this mixture along with sausage and onion mixture to cornbread and stir gently to combine so that cornbread does not break into smaller pieces. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate to blend flavors, at least 1 hour or up to 4 hours.
3. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees. Butter 10 by 15-inch baking dish (or two 9-inch square or 11 by 7-inch baking dishes). Transfer stuffing to baking dish; pour any liquid accumulated in bottom of bowl over stuffing and, if necessary, gently press stuffing with rubber spatula to fit into baking dish. Bake until golden brown, 35 to 40 minutes.

Recipe from Cook's Illustrated magazine.

apple pie
For some reason, this apple pie is always a hit. I used a mix of golden delicious, granny smith, and mcintosh apples.
[crust: butter, sugar, flour, vodka, water; filling: granny smith apples, golden delicious apples, mcintosh apples, butter, sugar; crumble topping:brown sugar, sugar, oatmeal, pecans, butter, flour ]

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