Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Holiday Food

photo (Click for high def, you must see this Kosher bird full size!!!)
(Aarons ships a full take out line. Yummy.)

Holiday Meals

Melanie, my friend who blogs Bump in the Beltway and runs The Flu Wiki, already is thinking holiday food.

Evil Melanie. Bad blogger. Grrrr.

Just a Bump in the Beltway

Bagged Roast Turkey With Cornbread, Chestnut, and Sage Stuffing

large turkey (15 to 22 pounds)
2 large, plain brown grocery bags
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
Sea salt

Remove giblets from turkey. Soak turkey in salted water to cover for 1 hour; meanwhile, prepare giblet stock and stuffing (see below). Drain and rinse turkey; pat dry. Rub cavities with minced garlic. Brush inside of bird with melted butter. Bird is ready for stuffing.

Giblet Stock

giblets and neck from turkey
2 ribs celery, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 onion, quartered
1 parsnip, quartered
1 teaspoon each sea salt, pepper, marjoram, and sage

Combine all and cook in 1 quart water, covered, while turkey is soaking and stuffing is being mixed. (Stock will be used in stuffing and gravy.) Strain the stock through cheesecloth to get rid of foam and vegetables for a clear stock.


4 to 6 slices cornbread (depending on size of turkey)
2 cups cubed wheat bread
2 onions, diced
2 apples, peeled, cored, and chopped
2 cups chopped celery
1 cup chopped chestnut meats
1/2 cup grated carrot
2 tablespoons ground fresh sage
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 cup giblet stock, strained
giblet meat, chopped fine

Crumble cornbread and toss with bread cubes and remaining ingredients. When stuffing is well mixed, stuff lightly into cavities of turkey, and sew them shut with needle and cotton thread. Tuck wings in and tie legs together.

Lightly oil the insides of both bags. Place turkey in one brown bag, and slide the second bag over the open end. Place bagged bird in roasting pan and roast at 350° F, allowing 20 minutes per pound. Check after three quarters of the time has elapsed, and add water if necessary. Cut away bags and let turkey brown during last 20 to 30 minutes. Use turkey drippings and remaining stock to make gravy.

This is a classic New England recipe but, as a midwesterner, I prefer plain sage bread to cornbread for the dressing. Chestnuts are not always easy to find and black walnuts make a perfectly fine substitution. I think it is a combination of the brining and the paper bags that makes this such a perfectly finished and moist turkey.

Figure on about 1/2-3/4 of a pound uncooked weight per serving (don't forget the leftovers! Buy extra plastic containers!) and buy a turkey that fits your guest list.

Of course, the rest of the meal has to include gravy, Aunt Marj's baked mashed potatoes and green beans with almonds, pumpkin pie with whipped cream and unsweetened tea (I'm not from around here, you know) along with cranberry sauce and Parker House roles with sweet butter. Yes, I use the bake and serve variety. There is enough going on with this meal without adding a scratch bread recipe into it. The kitchen is going to be a mess. Sure, I'm a little bit of a food Nazi, but I have my limits.

Aunt Marj's Baked Mashed Potatoes
1 large russett potato per person

Peel, quarter (or smaller, depending on the size of the spuds) and boil in salted water. The pieces all need to be the same size so that they will finish at the same time. Drain all the water out and let them sit in a colander in a few minutes to drain. When the surfaces are dry, return to the warm pot with one tablespoon of unsalted butter per potato. Begin to mash (great stress relief) and gradually add full fat milk or light cream, about 1/4 cup per potato, while mashing. When the potatoes are mashed to your personal specifications, turn them out of the sauce pan and into a buttered casserole with a cover. Bake covered at 350 for 30 minutes, then remove the cover, immerse the top of the potatoes with sweet butter and continue to bake at 350 until the top is golden brown. Everybody will fight over the crust. You are going to use a lot of butter, so save up your fat and cholesterol points for this meal.

Try the paper bag turkey. Your family will look at you like you have suddenly gone nuts UNTIL they taste it. Then, they will insist that you make it this way every year.
The Nebraska Poultry & Egg people say do NOT use paper bags because:
If using a cooking bag, follow the instructions provided with the bag, and reduce the amount of total roasting time. Never use a brown paper bag as they are made from recycled materials that may contain toxins. Make sure you use a meat thermometer to determine doneness.
Hmmm. Don't know what to say to that.

Turkey chefs... What say you all?

Oh... and the fear of setting the paper bag on fire?

Nah. Obviously you need to not let it touch the heating elements of your oven, duh. But paper burns at 451 F, and this recipe calls for 350 degrees. Watch your temperatures.

One more:
Just a Bump in the Beltway

My mother's awesome potato salad. To this day, I find the stuff addictive and at family parties I go short on the other courses in order to save room for a second helping of this.

American Holiday Potato Salad
Serves 6-8

3 pounds potatoes, cooked until just tender, cubed, cooled
5 or 6 hard cooked eggs, cooled, halved
1/4 to 1/2 cup chopped red onion
1/4 to 1/2 cup chopped celery
thinly sliced tomatoes and cucumber, for garnish, optional
A dozen thinly sliced stuffed green olives

3/4 cup mayonnaise (a little more or less, as desired)
1 to 2 tablespoons prepared mustard
1/4 cup cidar vinager
salt and pepper to taste

Combine potatoes, onions, and celery. Stir in mayonnaise, mustard, vinager and salt and pepper to taste. (Stir the mayonnaise and mustard in a little at a time, until you have the flavor and consistency you like.) Don't skip the celery leaves, they are big on flavor.

Top with thinly sliced tomatoes and cucumber, if desired.

Place the egg slices around the inside of the serving dish as a scallop design, alternating with heart lettuce leaves.

This is a peculiarity of mine which I share with my mother: when concocting the dressing, I add thinly sliced stuffed green olives and a couple of tablespoons of the olive juice. They add a nice zing. For a serving size of 6-8, about a dozen olives will do the trick. Thinly sliced, please.

Mom sprinkles some more olive slices around the top of the serving bowl. I like to add a dash of sweet paprika.
Diet and exercise people. *sighs* (Yeah, I know. But I've discovered it works! How rad cool is that?!)

If you want to make it through the holiday season without gaining 10 - 15 pounds, start exercising now and get the habit in place so you can survive the disruptions of all that food and holiday scheduling craziness.

Regular exercise (just one hour 2-3 times a week) will, literally, save your ass.

Damn... Now I'm hungry. And need to bicycle.

This is your fault Melanie. I blame you... Bad blogger.