November 19, 2015
A SPECIAL THANKSGIVING MENU
OVER MY EARLY MORNING THANKSGIVING BREAKFAST OF: fresh made crusty cast-iron skillet corned beef hash with butter sautéed root vegetables of onion, carrots, butternut squash, Brussels sprouts, sweet and Yukon gold potatoes, cabbage, topped with two eggs fried in bacon grease drizzled with homemade hollandaise sauce, two slices of Applewood smoked bacon, three “wall-to-wall” blueberry
pancakes made with Marburger Farm buttermilk, spread with fine room temperature Danish Lurpak butter, drizzled with warm 100% Vermont maple syrup, a toasted buttered Wolfermans English Muffin with homemade raspberry preserves and Stilton cheese, a bite or two of sweet mouth cleansing cantaloupe, a half of ruby-red grapefruit bruleed with Turbinado sugar, a bowl of Honey Nuts & Oats cereal with half-and-half, topped with fresh strawberries and bananas and a healthy dollop of Greek yogurt, tall glasses of fresh squeezed navel orange juice and freezer cold Dakin Chocolate milk, and a fresh out-of-the-oven buttermilk biscuit loaded with sliced country ham with a ramekin of red-eye gravy for dipping, while perusing the latest issue of Bon Appetit magazine, I offer these Thanksgiving musings and recipes.
A NOTE ABOUT THANKSGIVING
Epicurus wrote that you “should first look for someone to eat and drink with, before looking for something to eat and drink.” Thanksgiving is a time for family and friends to be with one another and share the day. If you find that you are alone this Thanksgiving, don’t be – give me a call (813) 928-2210, or shoot me an email (RobertKimBailey@hotmail.com), and we can dine together at my table, there is always room for one more. Really.
If you are alone, I encourage you to reach out, if not to me – someone. Try to put embarrassment behind you. I would consider it a gift. And for those of you who know of someone who is alone this Thanksgiving, let this note be a catalyst for you to reach out to them. Get them in the kitchen helping to chop – it will be great fun. I guarantee if you do – it will be the best Thanksgiving ever.
My wish, my hope, my prayer, is that you enjoy every single minute of the day. Start out by watching the Macy’s Day Parade as you cook. That’s what I do every year.
GROWING UP, Thanksgiving was always a special time for me, and my family. My mom would bake a dozen or more homemade pumpkin pies and bring them to neighbors and friends. To this day, just the sight of a pumpkin pie conjures up many a fond memory in my minds-eye of mom’s giving spirit, and of the many warm comfort foods of the season.
My mom would start on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving preparing all the luscious food for our family feast. She would even go so far as to set the dining room table with her lovely china, silver, fancy tablecloth and cloth napkins, and special gold rim water goblets. Her dining room table always looked so beautifully set.
To this day the “Flossie” tradition continues, for it is always fun to show up on a friend’s doorstop with a fresh baked pie…pumpkin, pecan, or apple. To my friends Mark and Susan Merrill (you can see Susan on our Limoncello cake video in this blog), I sometimes bring two pies, pumpkin and sweet potato which is Mark’s favorite.
Mark and I vehemently argued one year about the best way to eat the two pies – cold or room temperature. Mark finally agreed with me that pumpkin should always be eaten cold, and sweet potato at room temperature.
Many want a dollop of whipped cream to top their pumpkin pie – while I prefer mine naked. My friend and Bailey’s GM Barry Engh and his son Luke wouldn’t think of eating a slice of pumpkin pie without adorning the top with a spray of Redi-Whip…yuk!
If you do want whipped cream folks, please make it yourself…1 cup of heavy cream, 1 teaspoon high quality real vanilla extract, and a ¼ cup of sugar…whisk by hand or beat with an electric mixer until whipped, and you’ll have a wonderful topping for your pie – not from a can.
While my brother Byron sister Pamela and I were fast asleep my mom and dad would get up very early on Thanksgiving morning to prepare the turkey for our dinner. It always seemed like a big production. They were chopping the celery, onions, and parsley for the stuffing, buttering the turkey inside and out, and stuffing the turkey.
My parents would do it old school, after stuffing the turkey (both ends) they would put the heel end of a loaf of bread at the ends of the stuffed bird to keep the stuffing from popping out and getting dry. I must admit, I loved that crusty piece of bread when the turkey was done. Then they would get this long needle with lots of heavy thread, and sew it up like they were surgeons. Place it in a huge turkey roaster, and 6 to 8 hours later – beautiful turkey and stuffing. Then the gravy had to be made. My version of turkey prep is much, more simple.
TO-STUFF-OR-NOT-TO-STUFF – THAT IS THE QUESTION
Admittedly, dressing does taste better if it is cooked inside the turkey. However, the turkey is much more moist and cooks faster if you bake the dressing separately – so my recommendation is to cook them both separate. But whatever floats your boat is fine with me.
After the turkey is thawed, take the giblets and necks out of the inside cavity and rinse the bird in cold tap water inside and out…dry with a paper towel.
Melt 2 sticks of butter. Butter inside both cavities and outside the bird, and liberally salt (kosher) and pepper (freshly cracked) covering the entire turkey.
Pre-heat oven to 325
Today, most people don’t have a turkey roaster (neither do I), so using a large deep dark pan with a rack is the best. I strongly urge you to use a dark coated pan as opposed to an aluminum pan, for the darker the pan, the darker the gravy will end up being.
In the bottom of the roasting pan, place an array of root vegetables, 4 peeled carrots, 2 medium onions, 5 stocks celery, and 2 bay leaves. These vegetables will help make the gravy taste extra delicious. You can place the turkey directly on the vegetables or on the rack with the vegetables underneath…I put the rack on top of the vegetables, and the turkey on the rack.
Do not buy a turkey with a “pop-up” that shows you when the turkey is done…I think it takes longer than it should to pop up thus drying the turkey out. Use a meat thermometer that you can find in every grocery store. Place the thermometer in the thigh (but not touching the bone) before you put it in the oven.
Place the turkey in the preheated oven lightly tented with aluminum foil (notice I didn’t say tin foil – there is no “tin” in aluminum foil). You are tenting to keep the turkey from browning too quickly. You will be removing the foil when the turkey gets to 130 degrees or about an hour before it is done to enable it to brown.
There is no need to baste the turkey – YEA!!! – just place it in the oven, and forget it. (My mom would tell me that it is incorrect to end a sentence with a preposition but it’s ok this one time.) Once the turkey hits 160 degrees – take it out of the oven and let rest for 20 to 30 minutes before slicing. Poultry temperature should be 165 degrees when done – but a turkey will continue to cook another 5 degrees or so once out of the oven – so if you take it out at 165 – it will move up to 170 or higher and potentially dry out your bird.
EASY GREAT TASTING (non-giblet) GRAVY
Strain all the vegetables from the pan capturing the juices. Put all the pan juices back into the pan including the fat drippings from the turkey. Place on top of the stove and add a cup of all-purpose flour. NOTE: how much flour you add is in direct collation to the amount of fat you have – you should have equal amounts of fat and flour – so you will have to judge for yourself.
Put the stove on medium high, and immediately whisk in the flour with the juices. Keep whisking until combined. Add chicken stock to get the gravy to the consistency you desire. NOTE: You can used canned chicken stock (I like Swanson’s) or you can make your own cheater stock by throwing canned chicken stock into a pot with the turkey neck and giblets, onions, celery, carrots, bay leaves, salt, and pepper) bring to a boil on high heat and let simmer on low heat for an hour or so. Using the canned stock with the vegetables and turkey innards will make an even better stock for your gravy. Strain out the vegetables and use for gravy and if you have some leftover – it is a perfect stock for the dressing as well.
I never make giblet gravy – I don’t like it…wouldn’t eat it if the Queen served it to me. And I think I am in the majority there…so discard the giblets.
If you want more gravy keep adding a touch of butter, flour, and stock whisking the entire time. You want to make sure you cook the flour taste out so make sure the gravy comes to a boil while whisking. It is important to salt and pepper your gravy. Be careful with the salt however – always taste before you add extra salt for you have salted your turkey, and the stock has been salted as well – so taste before you salt the final product.
If you need to, and you like a smooth gravy, strain before serving.
BAILEY’S CORNBREAD DRESSING
We served this dressing at Bailey’s Restaurant every time we served pork or poultry – and it was always a huge hit.
- 1 package Pepperidge Farm Herbed Dressing
- 2 packages Pepperidge Farm Corn Bread Dressing
- 1 large onion diced
- 4 carrots peeled and diced
- 4 celery stocks with the leaves (diced)
- 1 pound of salted butter (yes, a pound)
- 1 cup chopped parsley
- 1 ½ cups Craisins
- 1 cup chopped toasted pecans
- 1 ½ cups homemade cranberry apple sauce (recipe below)
- Chicken stock (enough to moisten)
- Salt & pepper to taste
In a large pot melt the butter, add onion, celery, carrots and cook down until tender. Add the dressing mixture, and the remaining ingredients, moisten with homemade or canned chicken stock. Remember, it will dry out a bit, so use enough stock. Start with a quart. Salt and pepper to taste – I like fresh cracked pepper.
Place dressing in buttered casserole dish and bake (covered with aluminum foil) in a preheated oven at 350 for 30 minutes, and 15 minutes uncovered (if you desire a crusty top).
My niece Brittany requests a jar of this cranberry applesauce every Thanksgiving. You want to prepare each sauce separately, cool and combine the two sauces into a heavenly sauce perfect for any occasion – but especially on your Thanksgiving table.
- 1 pound package Ocean Spray whole cranberries
- Prepare the as the package directs
- 2 apples each McIntosh, Golden Delicious, Gala
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
Peel, core and chop the apples. Place all the above ingredients in a sauce pan with a lid. Cook on top of the stove on medium low temperature until the apples are soft. Cool and combine with cool cranberry sauce – best served chilled.
OVEN ROASTED ACORN SQUASH
This has become a “must have” on my table at Thanksgiving. And it is the easiest dish ever to prepare. Cut an acorn squash in half or even in quarters. Take out inside pulp. Liberally brush with melted butter (or extra virgin olive oil), salt and pepper. Place on a baking sheet, and roast in a preheated 400 degree oven until golden brown and soft when forked. If you want a bit darker color to the squash – place under the broiler for a minute or two. Good served hot, warm, or room temperature.
You will love every single bite of this delicious corn
casserole, and it is a perfect side dish at Thanksgiving.
- 1 medium onion diced
- ½ stick salted butter
- 1 can whole kernel corn (drained)
- 1 can creamed corn
- ¼ cup sugar
- 1 cup sour cream
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 box Jiffy Corn Muffin mix
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a skillet over medium heat, saute onion in melted butter until translucent. In a large mixing bowl, combine the onion with the remaining ingredients and stir until well blended. Pour into buttered casserole dish and bake for 30 to 45 minutes, or until golden brown. This recipe can be easily doubled or tripled.
MOM’S PUMPKIN PIE
Most everyone says that their mom makes the best…whatever. I’m no different. I make it to this day and it is a smash hit every time served.
This makes 2 – 10” pies – make one for dinner and give one away to some unsuspecting family who always serves a Publix pie.
- 1 – 32 ounce can Libby’s 100% pure pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)
- 1 – 15 ounce can Libby’s 100% pure pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon ground nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 5 room temperature eggs, beaten
- 5 cups whole milk, room temperature
For the filling, combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl and stir with large wooden spoon until well blended. You can use a store-bought pie shell, but if you are going this far, go all the way and make the crust too – it is simple!
Place equal amounts of filling in the 2 unbaked pie shells – do not overfill.
Bake on the bottom rack in a preheated oven at 450 degrees for exactly 15 minutes. Lower the temperature to 350 degrees and bake on middle shelf for 45 minutes to an hour – or until a butter knife comes out clean when put in the center of the pie.
This makes 2 – 10” pie shells
- 2 & 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 sticks very cold salted butter (cubed)
- 8 tablespoons ice cold water
For the pie crust, put the flour, salt and cubed butter in a food processor. Pulse about 10 times or until the flour and butter is blended to a cornmeal consistency. Add the ice water and pulse another 6 to 12 times until it forms a ball. Divide in 2 even balls of pastry – wrap in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Know too that if you chilled longer than 30 minutes – it will be very difficult to roll. Roll one crust at a time on a lightly floured cool surface. Fold in half and place in pie shell – flute the edges. If you are having problems, call me on my cell (813) 928-2210 – really, call me – anytime. Really.