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I meant to send this post out to you all week but then Tuesday happened and it has just seemed ridiculous to talk about turkey in our current state. The disappointment is real as is the confusion, sadness, nausea.
I’ve tried sorting the whole thing out in my head and am trying to understand—clearly the majority—of America’s intentions. As someone who holds liberal values and who has recently moved from very conservative North Dakota back to very liberal California I think I can say with some certainty that there are good, kind people all over our country. I want to believe that these same people didn’t vote for Donald Trump because they agree with his disgraceful behavior but that they just wanted something different and they truly felt like he could change our system for the better. I guess we will see. I hope they are right.
I know eating your feelings is not the best coping mechanism but its the one I turn to the most and so if I’m going to get through the next four years it’s probably going to be with food. And margaritas. I also think a good way to temporarily lift your mood is to dive headfirst into an intensive project. So why not take 4 hours this Thanksgiving and make a smoked turkey?
Now smoking a turkey is not like popping it in the oven, walking away, and coming back a few hours later to the perfectly roasted bird. It does take some finesse, some timing, a certain comfort level with your grill, but it’s not rocket science either.
The turkey starts the same as you would if roasting, which is to say, with a dry brine. A dry brine is just a fancy way of saying rub the turkey all over with salt (plus I also used minced dried Morita chiles and garlic). Then letting it sit overnight uncovered in your refrigerator.
You then place it in a disposable aluminum pan with some stuff that will make it taste really good and will give you the base for your gravy, so we’re talking onions, carrots, celery, herbs, and chicken broth.
You also want to soak two large handfuls of hickory chips for at least 30 minutes. Soaking them will keep them from burning up too quickly on the hot charcoals and infusing the turkey with delicious, hickory flavor. Side note: you can use other types of wood chips for slightly different flavor; apple wood, mesquite, cherry are all good.
The trickiest part is maintaining an even temperature on your grill. This is pretty easy to do if you are using a gas grill but with charcoal you will have to keep monitoring the temperature with a grill thermometer (you can go fancy or cheap) and adding more charcoal so it stays hot enough. Once you light the coals, let them get good and hot and covered with gray ash. Arrange them on one half of the grill and put a medium disposable aluminum pan in the middle filled with water. This will help keep the bird moist, maintain the temperature, and be a drip pan.
Start with the turkey breast-side down so it doesn’t dry out the breast meat then, halfway through, flip it breast-side up and cook the rest of the way until the internal temperature reads 170°F.
The gravy is made from the smoky juices of the smoked Thanksgiving turkey plus extra minced dried Morita chiles, fresh thyme leaves, and white wine. I use the fatty pan drippings and make up for any necessary fat with olive oil so it is a dairy-free gravy, feel free to substitute butter if you’d like.
What more would you like to know about cooking a turkey? I want you to give it a try so if you need help I am here for you. I have cooked so many turkeys in so many ways so shoot….what you got? Here are a few other ideas to mull over:
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 3 hours
Total Time: 4 hours
Yield: 10-12 Servings
The ins and outs of how to smoke your Thanksgiving turkey using your grill, some charcoal, and a few handfuls of hickory chips, plus a spicy, smokey dried morita chile gravy. This is the way to do Thanksgiving.
If using a frozen turkey, give yourself plenty of time for it to thaw. A completely frozen 12-pound turkey could take 4-5 days to thaw in the refrigerator.
Okay, if you guys are anything like me then you’ve for sure planned out your Thanksgiving menu by now. And I want to know what it is. Seriously, I love hearing people’s plans for this most wonderful food-filled holiday, so please share if you have a spare second.
We are having a small get together, just the four of us plus three more friends but I plan on making enough food to feed you and everyone you know so if you’re in the area feel free to come on over. Here’s what I have in mind:
Thanksgiving Menu 2015
This Mezcal Cocktail
Green Chile Whipped Goat Cheese and Crackers from 101 Cookbooks
Potato, Garlic, and Leek Soup from Two Red Bowls
Sweet Potato Casserole Tian from Beard + Bonnet
Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Warmed Turkey Bacon Vinaigrette from What’s Gaby Cooking
Now, let’s get back to that cocktail, shall we?
The inspiration for this drink came from one of my favorite sites A Thought For Food. A while back Brian posted a gorgeous scaled-down mezcal cocktail with loads of citrus, honey, and of all things, sesame oil. I’m always on the hunt for mezcal inspiration and this one was a gem.
I wanted to use these flavors but in a drink I can make for a crowd. We all know the secret to a successful party is a signature cocktail but no one wants to play bartender all night, especially on Thanksgiving when you are also roasting a turkey, mashing potatoes, whisking gravy, and negotiating family drama all at the same time.
I think you’re going to like what I came up with. Its simple but sophisticated with smoky undertones from the mezcal, a little fizz from the ginger beer, and bright notes from the citrus. If you’re feeling fancy this ice ring is beautiful and a snap to put together and freeze the night before.
If you haven’t gotten your drink sitch planned out yet friends, this one just might be it.
Did you love this post? I want to know! Leave me a comment and snap a photo for Instagram. Tag @holajalapeno so I can see your beautiful creation! Knowing that this recipe worked for you is super important to me. If you run into trouble shoot me a message on Instagram and I’ll walk you through it.
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I’ve made converts with this cranberry sauce. I’m not kidding.
On Tuesday I did a cooking demo for all my lovely mom friends about the necessities of Thanksgiving and had a long lecture on cranberry sauce, because clearly that is the necessity of necessities and I had grown women tell me they have never eaten cranberry sauce!
First of all, I don’t really believe them because how is that even possible?!! But more importantly they loved this sauce. I had more people ask me for this recipe than any other thing I talked about. Not the turkey, not the mashed potatoes, but cranberry sauce. It is that good.
If you are among those whose plates lay bare of the red stuff let me tell you, this sweet-tart sauce will elevate every bite of turkey you take. Not to mention it is about the easiest thing you can make, really just a dump and boil kind of affair which can be made right now…..today….and will stay delicious until Thanksgiving covered in your refrigerator.
Yield: 6 servings
Cranberry sauce can be served hot, room temperature, or cold. Make the sauce up to a week in advance and keep refrigerated until ready to serve.
We are going to start off where no one in their right mind would…..in the bread and roll category. I’ve been making these pumpkin cornbread muffins for a couple years now and they are so apropos of the occasion that I just had to share them with you. They are a dense, crumbly affair which makes them perfect for sopping up gravy or making them into stuffing.
The second most important part of the meal is dessert…..doy. I’ll be making the classics, a Pumpkin Pie for me and an Apple Pie for everyone else. If ambition strikes I’ve narrowed it down to a couple other options either Cranberry-Lime Cookies or Pumpkin Cinnamon-Chip Cookies, but more than likely I’ll make some Canela Ice Cream and call it a day.
I’m still debating on the day’s cocktail. What is everyone drinking? I’d love to hear. I’m bouncing back and forth between bourbon and champagne or maybe hard cider…I don’t know, but whatever fills your cup I hope it is tasty and you will be clinking it with someone you love.
Yield: 12 Muffins
I’m thinking its time for a new perspective. It dawned on me the other day as I walked past the full length mirror in my bedroom that I cannot recall a time when I’ve looked at myself in the mirror and not found something to lament about.
I would say that for 25 years I have wished that I was thinner, taller, tanner, more muscular, you name it. The funny thing is when I look at past pictures of myself I always think, ‘Man, I looked good then.’ Even though I know for a fact that when those pictures were taken I thought I could stand to lose a pound or two… or ten.
What if I just stopped? What if I stopped being mad at myself for all the things I’m not and started loving all the things I am? I’ve tried the negativity route for a long time now and clearly it hasn’t gotten me anywhere. Its not like I’ve trashed talked myself into a six-foot-tall, 110 pound Eva Mendes. Maybe its time for a little compassion.
When I look at my children I do not see one flaw. To me they are beautiful in every sense of the word. I adore their knobby knees and round bellies, what would be so wrong in thinking that way about myself? This body has done amazing things. It has successfully created not one…but two other human beings. I think that is more than enough to justify a lifetime of celebration.
I’m tired of being a jerk to myself. I’m over not giving perfectly wonderful things the props they deserve. Did I walk out the door this morning with my shirt buttoned crooked? Sure did. Did I also get my daughter to school ten minutes early? You know it! Could Waldorf Salad be put in the category of old lady food? Possibly. Could it also be a crunchy, sweet and tangy? If you put a little love into it, absolutely!
Let’s ditch the mayo and add some sexy Greek yogurt. Lets forget about lemon for a while and use sultry tangerines instead. Spicy brown mustard wouldn’t be caught dead in a retirement home. Make it big (this recipe does serve 10 people), make it bold, quit apologizing and be proud of you and everything you create.
A good gravy is the superhero of Thanksgiving. If you are planning a potluck Thanksgiving you want to make sure the best cook of the bunch is making the gravy, because a well-seasoned, delicious gravy will save all lackluster dishes.
Overcooked the turkey? Oh well, a little gravy over the top and they’ll never know.
Aunt Marge is on a diet and decided to omit the salt and butter from the mashed potatoes? The gravy will pick up the slack.
The pumpkin pie isn’t cooked all the way through? Okay, gravy can’t help that, just eat the parts closest to the edge and dump the rest.
I love this whiskey and cream infused gravy not only because it has whiskey and cream, but because it is really hard to mess up and can be made without the cumbersome steps of whisking flour into a roasting pan or separating the fat from the pan drippings. Not to mention you can make it completely in advance, like 2 days in advance people.
You get some turkey essence from browning the neck and giblets.
Then in the same pot, brown your veggies (don’t forget to season them!)
Then after you’ve added your stock and herbs, you add the magic.
Even if you get a few lumps in this gravy you strain it all before serving so who cares? Easy right?
If you do make it in advance, just strain it, let it cool, then cover and refrigerate. When you are ready to serve, pour into a medium saucepan, add the remaining whiskey and cream and bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper and serve.
Adapted from CHOW.com
If you need some inspiration this succulent pork loin is a good place to start. A bone-in pork loin will provide the most flavor and extra insurance that it won’t be dry, but if a boneless roast is the only one available that will work too. Keep in mind, a boneless roast will cook much faster, maybe 15 to 20 minutes less than a bone-in.
I like to do the whole shebang in a large roasting pan and toss it right on the stove top (taking up two burners on one side) to brown the meat and make the sauce. I went for years without a roasting pan and used a sturdy baking sheet, but the narrow lip of the baking sheet makes keeping the sauce contained very tricky.
A one-pan recipe fit for a crowd. Bone-in pork loin crusted with herbs, roasted with loads of root vegetables and finished with mustard.
Adapted from Everyday Food