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caramel & cocoa

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Monday, November 19, 2012


I hosted my fourth Thanksgiving abroad this year and stuck to the same recipes I have always used. The menu is pretty simple but tasty and while the stuffing takes a bit of preparation  it definitely makes all the difference to the meal. I time it carefully so that the Roasted Vegetables, Sweet Potatoes (for reheating), Parsnips, and Stuffing (for baking but prepared night before) always go in the oven together as the turkey comes out and is resting.  

Roasted Carrots & Potatoes
Sweet Sweet Potatoes
Maple Syrup Parsnips
Chestnut & Sausage Stuffing
White Wine Gravy
Fennel & Orange Leafy Salad
Brown Sugar and Mustard Glazed Turkey 

Roasted Vegetables

·         1 pound carrots, cut into thirds
·         1/2 pound small red potatoes
·         1/2 pound white potatoes
·         2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
·         Coarse salt and ground pepper
1.     Preheat oven to 400 F (200 C/ 180 C fan). Bring carrots and potatoes to a boil. Boil for 15 minutes and remove from water. Toss carrots and potatoes with oil; season with salt and pepper. Arrange in a single layer and cook until vegetables are browned in spots and tender when pierced with a knife, 30 - 40 minutes, tossing halfway through.

Sweet Sweet Potatoes

·         7 medium sweet potatoes
·         4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
·         1/4 cup golden syrup
·         1/4 cup honey
·         Coarse salt and ground pepper
1.     Preheat oven to 400 F (200 C/ 180 C fan). Prick the sweet potatoes all over with a fork. Line an oven tray/dish/sheet with foil (because the sweet potatoes will leak). Bake until very tender – some might be bubbling out a bit (1 hour). Let them cool slightly, but while still warm peel off the skin and toss flesh in a large bowl. Add butter, syrup and honey and mix with a wooden spoon until butter melts and all the ingredients are incorporated. Season with salt and pepper. Serve warm. (Hint: I always make this the day before and reheat in the oven.)

Chestnut & Sausage Stuffing

·         A small loaf of seeded or wheat/brown bread (about 400 grams/7 cups) cut into small cubes
·         1 pound fresh chestnuts
·         1 pound sausage (I used tomato & onion)
·         1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
·         2 medium onions, finely chopped
·         4 celery stalks, finely chopped
·         4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
·         1/2 cup dry white wine
·         1/2 cup homeade or low-sodium store-bought chicken stock
·         1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
·         2 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
·         2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
·         2 teaspoons coarse salt
·         Freshly ground pepper
·         2 large eggs, lightly beaten
·         Unsalted butter, for baking dish
1.      Preheat oven to 400 F (200 C/ 180 C fan).
2.     Let bread cubes stand on a baking sheet and place in oven for 5-7 minutes, give them a good shake and given them another 5-7 minutes in the oven. You want to harden them up to crouton texture. Let them sit out on the counter for a couple of hours or turn the oven off and leave them in there to cool for about an hour. You are trying to dry them out.
3.     Cut up all of your vegetables once the bread is ready.
4.     Lay each chestnuts flat on a work surface, and cut an X in the pointed tip of shell with a paring or chestnut knife. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Boil chestnuts 2 minutes; remove pot from heat. Remove chestnuts with a slotted spoon; peel away shells. Quarter nutmeat; transfer to a large bowl. Add bread.
5.     Preheat oven to 400 F (200 C/ 180 C fan). Split sausages; scrape meat into a large saute pan set over medium heat; crumble with a fork. Cook, stirring occasionally, until cooked through, about 7 minutes. Add oil; swirl pan. Add onions, celery, and garlic. Reduce heat to medium-low. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are soft, 15 to 17 minutes. Add to bread mixture.
6.     Add wine to pan. Scraping up any brown bits from bottom with a wooden spoon, cook over medium heat until wine is reduced by half. Add to bread mixture.
7.     Add stock to bread mixture; toss. Add thyme, sage, and parsley. Add the salt, and season with pepper. Stir in eggs if baking immediately.
8.     To bake stuffing: Place stuffing in a buttered 9-by-13-inch baking dish; Bake 30 - 45 minutes (mixing half way through) until golden brown; (hint – I always make this the day before and bake just as the turkey is out of the oven. To do this do everything except adding the egg and place in fridge (covered). Take out an hour before it will go into the oven, stir in the eggs and bake as above).

White Wine Gravy

·         1 cup dry white wine
·         1/2 cup all-purpose flour
·         2 cans (14 1/2 ounces each) reduced-sodium chicken broth
·         Coarse salt and ground pepper
1.     While the turkey rests, place the roasting pan on the stove across two burners (if using a disposable roasting pan, scrape drippings and browned bits into a medium saucepan). Heat drippings over medium-high, scraping up browned bits, until thickened, about 10 minutes.
2.     Add wine; cook, stirring constantly, until syrupy, 5 to 6 minutes. Gradually whisk in flour, and cook, whisking constantly, until incorporated, about 1 minute. Gradually add 1 cup broth; cook, whisking, until flour is a deep caramel color, 2 to 3 minutes.
3.     Gradually stir in remaining broth and 4 cups water. Bring to a simmer; cook, stirring occasionally, until gravy reaches desired thickness, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove neck and giblets, and strain gravy through a fine-mesh sieve; discard solids. Season generously with salt and pepper.

Maple Glazed Parsnips 

·         8 medium parsnips
·         butter
·         maple syrup 


1. Peel and cut the parsnips. 
2. bring them to boil in a pot of water for about 5 minutes and drain.  
3.  Add 3 tablespoons of butter to a large pan. Once melted add about 8 tablespoons of maple syrup. 
4. Mix in the parsnips. 
5. Place in oven dish for or 25-35 minutes (until tender) at 400 F (200 C/ 180 C fan).

Fennel & Orange Leafy Salad             

·         1 tablespoon white-wine vinegar
·         2 tablespoons olive oil
·         Coarse salt and ground pepper
·         5 navel oranges
·         3 to 4 fennel bulbs (about 2 pounds total), ends trimmed, quartered lengthwise, cored, and thinly sliced, crosswise, plus 1/4 cup roughly chopped fennel fronds (optional)
1.     In a large bowl, whisk together vinegar and oil; season with salt and pepper.
2.     Using a sharp knife, slice off both ends of each orange. Following the curve of the fruit, cut away the peel and white pith. Halve orange from top to bottom; thinly slice crosswise. Transfer oranges, along with any juices that have accumulated on work surface, to bowl with dressing. Add fennel and, if desired, fronds. Toss to combine

Roast Turkey with Brown Sugar and Mustard Glaze

·         1 whole turkey (about 12 pounds), room temperature.
·         Coarse salt and ground pepper
·         2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
·         1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
·         1/4 cup spicy brown mustard
1.     Remove the turkey from the refrigerator an hour or two before you are going to prepare it. It makes for a moist turkey and cooks quicker if it is not cold.
2.     Preheat oven to 320 F (160C/ 140 C fan)  with the rack in lowest position. Place turkey on roasting rack set in a large roasting pan. Season inside of turkey with salt and pepper. Fold skin over, and secure with skewers or trussing needles, if necessary. Bend wing tips forward, and tuck under neck cavity. Using kitchen twine, tie legs together securely. Rub turkey all over with butter; season with salt and pepper.
3.     Add 3 cups of water to roasting pan. Cover turkey loosely with aluminum foil. Roast 2.5 hours, basting with pan juices every 30 minutes. Check sporadically and if the steam is causing the turkey to brown too quickly cover a bit tighter with foil.  An instant-read thermometer inserted in thickest part of a thigh (avoiding bone) should register around125 F (51 C) degrees at the end of this step.
4.     Remove turkey from oven. In a small bowl, stir together sugar and mustard; brush turkey with glaze. Cover turkey with foil again and place back in oven for 15 minutes.
5.     Remove foil; increase heat to 350 F (180 C/ 160C fan). Rotate pan, and continue to roast turkey, until thermometer registers 165 degrees, 45 minutes to 1 hour more (tent with buttered foil if browning too quickly; add more water if pan becomes dry).
6.     Transfer turkey to a platter; reserve pan with drippings for gravy. Cover turkey loosely with foil, and let rest at least 30 minutes (or up to 1 hour).

Hint – your cooking times might vary. I use a 12 pound turkey and always start from room temperature. It is always safest to use a thermometer and check that the thickest part of turkey registers 165. To avoid drying out your turkey you might want to brine it in salt water the night before. Also, I don’t cook stuffing inside of turkey because it just increases the cooking time of the turkey. 

HINT: Hosting is always a mad dash of pressure. So save some time by making whatever you can the day before and make sure to write out a schedule (including times) leading up to service. 

Note: I have been making these for some time now and can't remember where all of the recipes came from though big thanks to providing the basics. 

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