A 14-pound Thanksgiving turkey? Roasted in less than 90 minutes? [Ed. note: You're really jumping the shark with this one.]
No, it's true! This turkey is truly a Thanksgiving life-saver. No wet brining (a nightmare) or basting (keep that oven door closed). Last week's "blog test" bird was so sumptuous the BF forgave me for not serving stuffing with it.
The secret: butterflying (a.k.a. spatchcocking) the bird and giving it a dry salt brine. You get a crispy, salty skin, juicy meat on the inside, and boy my brother Mike loves the word "spatchcock."
For directions on how to spatchcock a turkey, J. Kenji Lopez-Alt has the perfect walk-through here: www.seriouseats.com/2012/11/how-to-spatchcock-cook-turkey-thanksgiving-fast-easy-way-spatchcocked.html. The bird will have to be prepared this way before you make the dry salt and baking powder brine.
Last year for Thanksgiving, the BF and I hosted six guests and served a 14-pound spatchcocked turkey. Baked it at high heat for 85 minutes. The skin practically cracked when you picked at it, the meat was succulent and moist. This is now the one and only way I ever roast chicken or turkey.
Need further testimony? Serious Eats' Lopez-Alt explains, "Spatchcocking is a method of removing the turkey's backbone to flatten its body prior to putting in the oven. This flatter shape ensures that the meat cooks more evenly and more quickly, allowing the legs to reach a safe temperature without overcooking the breast. The result is hands-down the easiest, most reliable route to a juicy, moist turkey with incredibly crisp skin. It may not look like a traditional Thanksgiving centerpiece, but your tastebuds will certainly thank you."
The BF, Marlowe and I thank you and wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving!
PS: A year ago we geared up for the holidays with this gingerbread roll with eggnog whipped cream (www.moveablefeast.me/blog/gingerbread-roll-with-eggnog-whipped-cream). Everyone wants a log. [Ed. note: From Blammo™.]
Adapted from: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt, Serious Eats
Number of servings: 10-12
Directions - Butterflying/Spatchcocking Turkey
Ingredients - Dry-Brine (prepare 24-48 hours ahead of time)
Ingredients - Turkey
Apple Pie Bars
I probably drive the BF crazy [Ed. note: like no one else, and for some reason I can't help myself], but I start asking him to choose his birthday cake-dessert about a month before his birthday. Usually give a choice of some great found recipe that includes either apples, caramel, butterscotch or lemon. Love hunting for the perfect recipe, with the goal of getting his eyes to bug out.
These apple pie bars are a client favorite, and whenever I make them the BF ends up in the kitchen, plaintively staring and asking if there are "extras." [Ed. note: "Oh those were for the clients?"] Needless to say the dessert has become one of his favorites, so I decided to make it for his birthday in lieu of a traditional cake. This was a very special birthday, by the way. [Ed. note: #LOLOLD]
One of the great things about this dessert is the shortbread dough is used for both the bottom crust and crumble on top. (Meaning there's no pie crust to roll out.) As the brilliant Ina Garten likes to say, "How easy is that?"
To really send it over the top, drizzle the bars with gooey caramel (optional, but recommended). Perfectly okay to eat with your hands, or dish/bowl them up with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
In addition to offering an alternative to your everyday pedestrian cookie, these bars have another perk: they travel well. Simply wrap up the baking pan and cut the bars when you get to your destination. As for optimal portion size, Garten advises, "I cut the bars in fairly large 3 x 3-inch squares if I'm serving them on a plate with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side. If I'm serving them on a platter of small petits fours to pick up with your fingers, I'll cut them in smaller bite-size pieces."
PS: Speaking of Thanksgiving, a year ago we were thinking ahead with this whipped cranberry butter (www.moveablefeast.me/blog/whipped-cranberry-butter). Also, Adam Sandler sings!
PPS: Another client-approved holiday-time dessert, your friends and family won't know this yummy mini pumpkin cheesecake is sugar-free and low-carb. That is, unless you tell them. So don't. (www.moveablefeast.me/blog/mini-pumpkin-cheesecake-sugar-free-and-low-carb)
Adapted from: Ina Garten, Cooking For Jeffrey
Number of Servings: Makes one 9 x 13-inch pan
Pommes Duchesse. Sounds fancy. Looks fancy. But really, this is simply a fun way of "piping" mashed potatoes into a baking dish, just in time for the Thanksgiving countdown (in my book, never too soon).
These potatoes are an always-requested Thanksgiving staple in our household, and also a perfect accompaniment to any poultry or red meat (as one of our relatives is not fond of turkey). Another regular vegetarian guest annually asks, "You're making the potatoes, right?"
Looking more elegant than regular mashed, they work well for any special occasion, and aren't any more difficult to make. [Ed. note: Don't say this to your guests. Lie. Lie and tell them it took you months to prepare this and those ingrates should kiss the ground you walk on and okay I'll shut up.]
The original recipe calls for piping the potatoes into eight puffs of potato swirls. Those are glorious, and I've made them that way many times, but here I decided to freestyle the swirls and just make a decorative pattern in the baking dish. Either way you decide to do it, it's good.
If you don't have a pastry bag and a piping tip, just spoon the mashed potatoes into the baking dish and create decorative swirls with the tines of a fork. The end result will still be crispy on the outside and soft and buttery on the inside.
However you decide to present them, Pommes Duchesse will be an impressive addition to any holiday (or everyday) feast.
PS: A year ago we were feeling pretty healthy with this butternut squash soup with red curry croutons (www.moveablefeast.me/blog/butternut-squash-soup-with-red-curry-croutons).
Adapted from: Geoffrey Zakarian, The Kitchen (Food Network)
Number of servings: 8
The BF and I recently had a wonderful dinner at a neighbor's house. Husband and wife (turns out she and the BF went to the same university and graduated a year apart) and their two adorable children. The wife made a special request for something sugar-free and low carb, something I always try to pull out of the proverbial hat over the holidays.
So besides the normal sugar-full monstrosity that sent the kids (and BF) spinning [Ed. note: GERPH SNORG FLEEGLE NOP], I presented a version of this pumpkin cheesecake to the wife.
"Honey, you have to try this," she gasped at her husband. Soon, everybody was taking a small forkful.
The husband and my BF, bless them, went from sumptuous satisfied grins to quizzical bewilderment. The husband cocked his head, "This is...sugar...free?" No wonder, it really did taste like a decadent cheesecake.
The BF likes to say these are "weapons." [Ed. note: As in, people, including or especially kids, will not question whether or not the dish has a particular ingredient until you tell them.] When time allows, I experiment and make us sugar-free-grain-free-low-carb desserts (or similarly constructed main dishes) and the BF will say, "It's okay, but it tastes healthy." Kiss of death. So when something gets the "weapon" seal of approval, it must be shared. The pumpkin cheesecake will definitely make an appearance on this year's Thanksgiving dessert table.
Many have even asked me to post more sugar-free, low carb desserts, so rest assured, there will be more to come.
A big reason why this cheesecake and other such desserts can now be made: sugar substitutes have come a long way in the last 30 years. Had never found one that I liked for baking, until stumbling on a product called Swerve (swervesweet.com/products), which comes in granulated, powdered-confectioners, or brown form. This is not a sponsored post, simply have made countless desserts with it and the performance screams "real thing." Will bet you can't tell the difference.
You can purchase Swerve online, or I have been lucky enough to find in my local grocery store. Am sure you could try a different brand, but I highly recommend this one and can't vouch for other brands in the final outcome of this particular dessert.
The original recipe for this mini cheesecake says it serves two, but for the aforementioned dinner it was cut into four small pieces and was a perfect ending to the meal. Made a few tweaks to the original recipe from the blog All Day I Dream About Food: upped the cream cheese filling just a bit and doubled the whipped cream topping.
For people who count their Net Carbs, half of this cheesecake is only 3 Net Carbs.
Number of servings: 2 large or 4 small
Adapted from: All Day I Dream About Food for Swerve, The Ultimate Sugar Replacement
Whipped Cranberry Butter
Wasn't always a traditionalist when it comes to Thanksgiving. Blame it on the past childhood Thanksgivings where three kinds of herring, chopped liver, and Japanese pickled radish were the stars of the show (covered to some extent here www.moveablefeast.me/blog/butternut-squash-latkes), instead of turkey.
For years I felt compelled to make Thanksgiving dishes that were "different." For instance, one year I made savory parmesan bread pudding, cider-brined turkey with star anise and cinnamon, whipped yams with chipotles, and Indian-spiced creamed spinach. On their own, these dishes were delicious. Delicious, but not Thanksgiving fare.
These days I cook most of the meal in a traditional way, but will still experiment and make one or two new recipes (can't help myself). Over the years, a few of them have stuck, like this whipped cranberry butter. The BF and I loved it immediately [Ed. note: can confirm], and it has now become part of our tradition. Deliciously sweet, tart and zesty, with a gorgeous, vibrant color. Last year, it was served with mini pumpkin popovers, and yes we're repeating it this year [Ed. note: aww yeah].
If you feel like trying something a little "different" for this year's Thanksgiving feast, this is worth a try. Any leftover butter can be added to toast, pancakes or roasted brussels sprouts the following week.
Hope everyone's turkey-day prep is going well!
NOTE: I make my cranberry sauce a few days before Thanksgiving so am not overwhelmed the day of, and always make extra specifically for this butter.
PS: One year ago we were feeling healthy with these (www.moveablefeast.me/blog/brussels-sprouts-with-red-black-grapes).
Number of servings: Makes about 1 ½ cups
Well we survived midterms [Ed. note: Anyone get the license plate of that truck that hit us?] and now, more importantly, it's two weeks until Thanksgiving!
It is never too soon to plan the meal. Right now I have a rough menu outline, but so far the only certainty is that this soup will start the evening off, either in a bowl or as soup shooters (shot glass).
Have made a bazillion different kinds of butternut squash soup over the years, but this is "The One." Velvety, flavorful, filling, but not heavy. You'll swear there's cream in there. There isn't. You can even make this dairy-free/vegan by omitting the butter and substituting olive oil. Full disclosure, I tend to tinker with recipes to tailor it to my or the BF's taste, but this recipe, didn't change a thing [Ed. note: wut].
The soup works well on its own, but if you want to kick the flavor up a notch I suggest adding the red curry croutons. (Butternut squash and red curry are a match made in heaven.) Another handy tip, I find the hand-immersion blender very convenient, but if you want a truly smooth, velvet consistency, break out the big guns, your "serious" blender, and mix like you mean it.
PS: Don't want to give away any secrets, but someone's birthday is coming up [Ed. note: wut]. Last year I didn't mess around and broke out Batman and the Joker for a positively killer caramel apple cake (www.moveablefeast.me/blog/caramel-apple-cake).
PPS: Marlowe is very happy if you voted!
Adapted from: Corky, Lori, Dana and Tracy Pollan, The Pollan Family Table (soup) and Woks of Life (croutons)
Number of servings: makes about 2 quarts (4-6)
I'm Jacquie, personal chef & recipe developer in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. Living life with my wildly funny boyfriend and dog Marlowe. Lover of books, bourbon, chocolate and movies.