Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thank You!

As a fleet of pumpkin pies cool,  
it seems a perfect moment
to express my gratefulness
for another year of good eating,
and for your interest in such affairs. 

May you have a blessed Thanksgiving, 
whether you plan to feast with a crowd
or have simpler arrangements. 
May we recognize the gift of a meal, 
however humble, 
and take time to celebrate 
all we are thankful for. 
May your list be a lengthly one.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

A Recipe For Thanksgiving: Maple Bourbon Glazed Turkey with Local Bacon and Dried Cherry Stuffing

This recipe was a special creation for The Asheville Citizen Times which appeared in print last week alongside my article on giving thanks for locally raised turkeys. For those of you still deciding on how to roast your Thanksgiving bird, consider the following. The maple bourbon glaze candied the turkey's skin, creating a crunchy, sweet crust, outside perfectly juicy meat. A tart bite from cherries with salty local bacon made for a perfect stuffing to dress it with. This recipe may become a new tradition at our place. Thank you to The Asheville Citizen Times and to East Fork Farm for inspiring this year's holiday table. And a heartfelt thanks to you for reading!

Maple Bourbon Glazed East Fork Farm Turkey with Local Bacon and Dried Cherry  Stuffing:

Local Bacon and Dried Cherry Stuffing:
*1lb Hickory Nut Gap Farm Bacon
*2/3 cup dried cherries
*1 large loaf sourdough or traditional French bread (about 1lb)
*1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
*1 garlic glove, minced
*sea salt 
*black pepper
*5 tablespoons butter
*1 medium onion, finely chopped
*2 large celery stalks, finely chopped
*1 small green bell pepper, finely chopped
*1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
*1 1/2 cups hot chicken broth
*1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional)

Preheat oven to 350. 
Line a baking sheet with parchment. Arrange bacon on baking sheet and bake until crispy, about 10-15 minutes. Transfer to paper towels and set aside.
Place cherries in a bowl and cover with boiling water for 15 minutes. Drain and set aside.
Remove crust from bottom and ends of bread loaf and discard. Cut bread into 1 inch cubes and place in a large mixing bowl. Add garlic and olive oil. Toss. 
Spread out on a rimmed baking sheet and sprinkle with sea salt and black pepper. Bake until slightly crunchy, stirring often, about 20 minutes. 
Remove from oven and return to the same mixing bowl.
Place a cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add butter. Saute onion, celery and green pepper until soft, about 8 minutes. Add to bread mixture. Stir in chopped bacon, cherries, broth, parsley and pecans. 
Set aside for stuffing the turkey. 

Maple Bourbon Glazed East Fork Farm Turkey:
*1 local pastured turkey, rinsed, giblets removed, and patted dry
*local bacon and dried cherry stuffing (see recipe)
*4 tablespoons butter
*2 cups chicken broth
*sea salt
*black pepper
*1 1/2 cups maple syrup
*1/2 cup bourbon

Preheat oven to 425. 
Place turkey in a large roasting pan fitted with a rack. Stuff chest cavity with local bacon and dried cherry stuffing. Tie drumsticks together with kitchen twine.
Pat turkey dry with paper towels. Smear with butter and liberally season with sea salt and black pepper. Add broth to bottom of roasting pan.
Place turkey on bottom rack of oven and roast for 30 minutes before reducing heat to 350. Roast for 45 minutes. Baste with pan liquid and loosely cover turkey with foil. Baste after 35 minutes, adding more liquid to pan if needed. 
Bring maple syrup and bourbon to a gentle boil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Reduce heat and simmer until liquid is reduced to about 1 cup. Set aside. 
Begin brushing turkey with glaze every 30 minutes within the last hour and a half of roasting. You should brush with glaze at least 3 times before turkey is done. Reheat glaze as needed if it becomes too thick.
Once a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh reads 165 degrees, remove from oven. Stuffing must also reach 165 degrees. Brush turkey one final time with glaze, reserving at least 1 tablespoon for gravy.
Allow turkey to rest for at least 10 minutes before transferring to a platter. Let it rest for an additional 35 minutes before carving. 

Meanwhile, make gravy from drippings

Maple Bourbon Gravy:
Transfer turkey drippings to a saucepan, adding 2 1/2 cups stock (made from giblets) and about 1 tablespoon remaining glaze. Bring to a simmer. Add 1/4 cup flour to 1/2 cup cool water in a small mixing bowl and whisk with a fork until completely dissolved. Slowly whisk flour mixture into drippings and simmer until thickened. Pour through a strainer into a serving vessel and serve immediately. 

Gather, give thanks, and enjoy!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

A Simple Method for Extracting Pomegranate Seeds

Fruit takes on a special appeal this time of year. Abundant throughout the growing season, cooler weather now limits us to only a handful of seasonal options. Pomegranates, with their little seeds surrounded by sweet, jewel-like fruit happens to be a personal favorite, arriving on the scene just in time to appear on the holiday table. Though the task of plucking each ruby seed from a web of fine, papery skin puts a damper on the fun. This tutorial from the Gourmet test kitchen (while it still existed) is a total game changer. I have been using this method for extracting pomegranate seeds with 100% success. The discovery was so exciting, I thought I would share it here. Enjoy!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Pulled Turkey Thighs with Maple Ginger Soy Reduction

The combination of hot, salty, sour and sweet is greatly recognized in Asian cooking. Together, these flavors celebrate the palate's often unexercised spectrum. Slow cooked, local turkey thighs, tenderly pulled from the bone, offer the perfect canvas for this sweet and salty sauce, spiked with fresh grated ginger and garlic.

Pulled Turkey Thighs with Maple Ginger Soy Reduction:
*2-4 large pastured turkey thighs
*1 onion, sliced
*sea salt
*black pepper
*1/2 cup high quality tamari
*1/4 cup maple syrup
*1 tablespoon stone ground mustard
*2 garlic cloves, minced
*1 1/2 teaspoons fresh grated ginger

Rinse turkey thighs. Place in a slow cooker or heavy braising dish fitted with a lid. Cover thighs with cool water. Add onion. Season with sea salt and black pepper. Bring to a simmer before reducing heat to low. Slow cook for about 3 hours or until meat is ultra tender.
Meanwhile, prepare the sauce:
In a medium saucepan, bring tamari and maple syrup to a boil. Reduce heat to low. Add mustard, garlic and ginger. Gently simmer until reduced by half, and liquid coats the back of a spoon.
Remove turkey thighs from pot with a large slotted spoon. Discard skin. Pull meat from bones and transfer to a bowl.
Sauce will be rather salty until incorporated into meat. Sprinkle a small amount of reduction over meat, tasting often before adding more. Serve with Asian greens and rice, or on a soft bun with slaw.