November always signals the beginning of the holidays and memories a-many. Thanksgiving has always been a very special holiday because of the true meaning and spirit of thankfulness for the blessings and gifts we have.
Thanksgiving is also all about the food—usually turkey and all the trimmings. There are so many ways to roast and or cook turkeys—from my favorite English slow roasting to deep frying and many other theories in between. Whether you are a traditionalist or like trying new recipes and methods, I wanted to share some little known tips that help create juicy, tender, flavorful turkey. On Tuesday I will be giving some of my favorite recipes for leftover turkey.
Turkey facts I find most people are unaware of are—
Never salt the skin, instead 2 days before roasting, rub 1 Tablespoon salt into the body and thoracic or neck cavity for every 7 pounds the turkey weighs. Salting the skin dries out the skin and causes cracks, and the skin then looses it’s juice, making for dry, tough meat. I think this method is much better than brining which does salt the skin, thus drying it out and making the turkey skin drier and tougher and the meat less juicy than this system.)
To assure brown, beautiful skin, either melt or render the turkey fat from inside the cavity by heating on a medium heat until it melts. Or, melt unsalted butter. Brush the skin with either and then sprinkle minced herbs such as thyme or sage over the fat and pat in if necessary to make the herbs stick.
And, start the turkey roasting at a high temperature of 425 F to further insure a bronzed skin. Roast for a minimum of 15 minutes for a 15 pound turkey or smaller and add another 5 minutes for turkeys weighing more. Then reduce the heat and roast as you wish.
Simmer the giblets on Monday or Tuesday night before Thanksgiving in chicken stock until very tender and then chop, ready for adding to the gravy on T-day, saving the last minute work.
“Heat Up” Your Thanksgiving Dinner
Knowing that eating chiles at least 24 out of every 30 days really assists overall health and well-being, you may want to “tuck” some chiles into your Thanksgiving dinner. . Add green or red chile to the stuffing (or dressing), or to the gravy. Our Pecos Valley mild red chile powder is just perfect in Turkey gravy--it makes it a beautiful mahogany color and has a greater depth of flavor. Add chiles to your side dishes or salad. And believe it or not, chiles are great in desserts, from chocolate cake to pumpkin pie. So live it up--chiles lift your heart and your health!!
Here is a favorite turkey roast if you do not want to roast a whole turkey--try this delicious recipe.
Sage Roasted Turkey Breast with Blue Cornbread Dressing
I created this recipe for Cuisine magazine a few ago and it has become one of my most requested recipes. The dressing can be doubled or tripled for stuffing full sized turkeys.
6-8 pound bone-in turkey breast, with skin
1 Tablespoon salt
½ cup Spanish dry sherry
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 Tablespoons thinly sliced sage
Blue Cornbread Dressing, recipe attached
- 1. Salt the inside of the turkey 2-12 hours before roasting. Try not to get salt on the skin as it may crack and release juices during roasting.
- 2. Preheat oven to 375. Place stuffing in a well-buttered, shallow casserole for roasting. Mold dressing into a football shape to accommodate turkey.
- 3. Drizzle sherry over dressing. Drape boned breast skin side up over the dressing and mold to a nice, round uniform shape. Tuck sides and any loose skin under the dressing.
- 4. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle sage over the breast. Roast for 45 minutes, then turn breast and roast for another 45 minutes or until meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of breast reads 165 degrees F.
- 5. Let turkey rest for 20 minutes before carving.
Blue Cornbread Dressing
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup onion, diced
1 cup celery, diced
½ cup pinon nuts, toasted
Blue Cornbread, recipe attached
1 cup parched green chiles, chopped
2 Tablespoons minced fresh sage
½ cup chicken broth
Salt to taste
- Melt butter in sauté pan over medium heat. Saute onion and celery until celery is soft and onions begin to turn translucent.
- In large mixing bowl, break cornbread into large pieces. Combine with onion, celery, green chiles, and fresh sage. Blend gently.
- Add chicken broth and pinon nuts. Blend, but do not over mix. Salt to taste.
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup blue corn flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup milk
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place butter in skillet and place in oven while preheating to melt butter.
- Combine flours, sugar, baking powder and salt in large bowl. In separate bowl whisk together egg and milk. Add milk mixture to dry ingredients and stir to combine.
- Pour melted butter into mixture. Stir just until combined. Pour batter into skillet and bake for 20 minutes or until toothpick come out clean. Cool in skillet.