Cider-brined Turkey with Maple Chili Glaze, Homemade Stuffing, Bourbon Sweet Potato Puree, Roasted Winter Vegetables, and Nutmeg Maple Cream Pie

by Kristin on November 9, 2009

I know what you’re thinking — it’s only November 9th and she already has her entire Thanksgiving menu planned? I could try to blame it on the blog and say that I just wanted to get these recipes out there so that anyone who wanted to make any of them would have them well ahead of time so they can plan accordingly themselves … and that’s partly true. It’s also true that I’ve been making most of these recipes for years now, so I’m more or less just sticking to my tried-and-tested menu. But it’s also true that I had my children’s big Christmas presents ordered in July. I can’t help it — as a third-generation Virgo, planning ahead is just in my blood.

I should point out that this turkey recipe only uses the crown, which means you won’t get that Norman Rockwell moment of bringing a whole gloriously roasted turkey to the table. But honestly, don’t most people prefer the breast meat anyway? I find that using only the crown makes it easier and less time consuming to cook, not to mention that it takes up a lot less space in my fridge. Having said that, though, you could easily play around with this recipe to adjust it for a whole turkey. For anyone curious about the method behind the madness of brining a turkey, there are some interesting articles about it here and here. As for me, I’ve been brining turkey for years and think it’s the only way to go.

Poinsettia Cocktail
from Nigella Christmas by Nigella Lawson

Makes 8 to 9 glasses

1 x 75cl bottle of Prosecco or other fizzy dry wine, chilled
120 ml Cointreau, Grand Marnier or Triple Sec, chilled
500 ml cranberry juice, chilled

Mix all the ingredients in a large pitcher. Pour into wine glasses or champagne flutes and serve.


Cider-brined Turkey with Maple Chili Glaze 
adapted from A Kitchen Year by Paula McIntyre

Serves 8

1 x 11-lb (5‑kg) turkey crown
4 oz (110 g) butter, softened
salt and freshly ground black pepper

for the brine solution:
9 oz (250 g) sea salt
3 cups (510 g) Demerara sugar or light brown sugar
8 cups (2 litres) cider
8 cups (2 litres) water
2 cinnamon sticks
juice and zest of 2 oranges
1 onion, chopped
handful fresh chopped sage, rosemary and thyme

for the maple chili glaze:
1 red chili
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 onion, finely chopped
4 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
3/4 cup (180 ml) cider

To make the brine, bring all the brine ingredients to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Cool completely and add the turkey. Refrigerate for at least 24 hours. Remove from the brine and pat dry with paper towels.

To make the glaze, soak the chili in boiling water for 20 minutes. When cool enough to handle, remove the seeds and chop roughly. Heat the oil in a saucepan over a medium heat and add the onion. Cook until the onion is soft and golden, about 10 minutes. Add the chopped chili, maple syrup, vinegar and cider and simmer until the liquid has reduced by half. Blend to a smooth puree in a blender or food processor and pass through a fine-meshed sieve (if you have one; don’t worry about it if you don’t). Return to the pan and simmer until it has reached a syrupy consistency, about 10 minutes. Check the seasoning.

To cook the turkey, preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Place the turkey on a roasting rack and rub all over with the softened butter. Season well with salt and pepper. Cover with tin foil and place in the oven. Cook for 1 hour. Remove the foil and brush the glaze all over. Return to the oven and baste every 10 minutes. A good rule of thumb for cooking turkey is to allow 30 minutes per 2 1/4 lb (1 kg) plus an extra 15 minutes’ cooking time. A 11-lb (5‑kg) turkey breast will take just over 3 hours to cook and the internal temperature should register at least 160°F (70°C). Allow to rest at least 20 minutes before carving.


Homemade Stuffing
adapted from The New Vegetarian Epicure by Anna Thomas

Serves 10 (or enough for a 16 to 20-lb (7 to 9‑kg) turkey or 2 medium casseroles)

Homemade stuffing isn’t nearly as hard to make as you might think, and it tastes so much better than Stovetop. This is the recipe I use for every Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner at our house now. It’s not as fancy or elaborate as a lot of stuffing recipes, but I like it for its unfussy simplicity. If you want to make this ahead (though not more than 1 day), make it up to the point where you spoon it into the casserole, then cook it in the oven when you want to serve it (though it might need longer in the oven than the 45 minutes given here).

3/4 cup (170 g) butter
2 cups chopped onions (2 or 3 onions)
2 cups sliced or chopped celery (3 or 4 stalks of celery)
1 to 2 teaspoons salt
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
3 teaspoons dried sage
3 teaspoons poultry seasoning
1/2 cup (10 g) chopped fresh parsley
2 to 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
4 quarts (about 4 liters) of 1/2‑inch bread cubes
2 cups (480 ml) vegetable or chicken broth, or both

Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).

Melt the butter in a large pot and saute the chopped onion and celery in it until they are soft and just starting to color. Add about a teaspoon of salt, pepper to your taste, the herbs and the cider vinegar. Stir well and remove from the heat.

Put the bread cubes into the pot with the sauteed vegetables and herbs with all their butter, tossing everything together until it’s thoroughly combined. Drizzle on half the broth, toss again, and test. You’re aiming for a mixture that’s soft and moist throughout, but not soggy or soupy. Keep adding broth, a little at a time, mixing everything up well after each addition, until you have the consistency you like. The amount of broth used will vary quite a bit, depending on what kind of bread you use and how dry it is. If you’re roasting a turkey and plan to bake the stuffing separately but want the flavor of the turkey in it, you could add some drippings in place of part of the broth. In that case, however, cut down a little on the butter. If, on the other hand, you plan to stuff a turkey, leave the stuffing just a little on the dry side. When the texture feels right, taste and correct the seasoning with more salt or pepper if needed.

Spoon the stuffing into two buttered casserole dishes, or one very large one, cover well, and bake for about 45 minutes. Alternatively, spoon it into a turkey that’s been prepared for roasting.


Cranberry Sauce
adapted from The New Vegetarian Epicure by Anna Thomas

Serves 6 to 8

This keeps in the fridge for about 1 week, so is an ideal dish to make ahead.

12 oz (340 g) fresh cranberries
zest of 1 large orange
1 cup (240 ml) freshly squeezed orange juice
3/4 cup (150 g) sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of ground cloves

Wash the cranberries and discard any that are soft or spoiled. Combine the orange zest and juice in a heavy-bottomed saucepan with the sugar, cinnamon and cloves and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Add the cranberries, return to a boil, and stir over a medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes. Use a long-handled wooden spoon, as the cranberries can really spit at you as they cook and pop. When most of the cranberries have popped and the liquid is somewhat thickened, the sauce is done. Pour it into a serving dish and allow it to cool, then chill.


Bourbon Sweet Potato Puree with Mascarpone and Caramelized Maple Pecans

Serves 6 to 8

These caramelized pecans (or you could use walnuts) would also make a wonderful accompaniment to an after-dinner cheese plate. They can also be made up to a few days in advance to save time on the day. If you like this puree, you’ll also like these bourbon-mashed sweet potatoes.

for the sweet potato puree:
3 lb (1.4 kg) sweet potatoes (2 or 3 large potatoes)
3 tablespoons bourbon
1/2 cup (120 ml) mascarpone

for the caramelized maple pecans:
1/3 cup (75 g) sugar
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 cup (100 g) pecans

Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C).

Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Prick the potatoes with a fork and place them on the baking sheet. Bake for about 1 to 1 1/2 hours, until the potatoes are tender. (If using very large potatoes, make sure they are cooked all the way through.)

Meanwhile, to make the caramelized maple pecans, place the sugar, maple syrup and pecans in a small saucepan on a medium heat. Allow the sugar and syrup to caramelize slightly, without stirring, which will take about 15 minutes. Gently swirl the pan to spread the sugar evenly, then replace the pan on the heat to allow the sugar to caramelize completely. Once all the sugar has melted and has nicely browned and caramelized, carefully pour the pecans onto parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Allow the pecans to cool and harden, then break up the mixture to separate the nuts. Set aside.

When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, peel them and transfer to a food processor. Add the bourbon and mascarpone and process until the mixture is smooth.

Transfer the potato puree to a large gratin dish or casserole dish and smooth the top. Bake in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes, until heated through. Sprinkle the caramelized pecans evenly over the top and serve.


Roasted Winter Vegetables
adapted from Barefoot Contessa Family Style by Ina Garten

1 lb (450 g) carrots, peeled
1 lb (450 g) parsnips, peeled
1 large sweet potato, peeled
1 small butternut squash, peeled and seeded (about 2 lb/900 g)
3 tablespoons good-quality olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley

Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C).

Cut the carrots, parsnips, sweet potato, and butternut squash into 1‑inch cubes. All the vegetables will shrink while baking, so don’t cut them too small. Place all the cut vegetables in a single layer on 2 baking sheets. Drizzle them with olive oil, salt, and pepper and toss well. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, until all the vegetables are tender, turning once with a metal spatula. Sprinkle with parsley, season to taste, and serve hot.


Nutmeg-maple Cream Pie
pie is adapted from The New York Times and the crust from Orangette

Serves 8

Pastry is not my forte, but I’ve had good results with this crust from Orangette. If you have your own favorite pie crust recipe, by all means use that instead, or use a store-bought pie shell. Smitten Kitchen has two helpful pie crust tutorials here and here.

for the nutmeg-maple cream pie filling:
3/4 cup (180 ml) maple syrup
2 1/4 cups (540 ml) heavy cream
4 egg yolks
1 whole egg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

for the crust:
4 tablespoons ice water, plus more as needed
3/4 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 cups (180 g) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
9 tablespoons (4 1/2 oz/130 g) cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes

To make the crust, combine the 4 tablespoons of  ice water and the cider vinegar in a small bowl or measuring cup.

In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour, sugar, and salt. Pulse to blend. Add the butter, and pulse until the mixture resembles a coarse meal; there should be no pieces of butter bigger than a large pea. With the motor running, slowly add the water-vinegar mixture, processing just until moist clumps form. If you pick up a handful of the dough and squeeze it in your fist, it should hold together. If the dough seems a bit dry, add more ice water by the teaspoon, pulsing to incorporate. (Molly at Orangette sometimes finds that 1 additional teaspoon is perfect.)

Turn the dough out onto a wooden board or clean countertop, and gather it, massaging and pressing, until it just holds together. Shape it into a ball, and press it into a disk about 1 1/2 inches thick. If the disk cracks a bit at the edges, don’t worry; just pinch the cracks together as well as you can. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and then press it a bit more, massaging away any cracks around the edges, allowing the constraint of the plastic wrap to help you form it into a smooth disk. Refrigerate the wrapped dough for at least 2 hours. (Dough can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 4 days or frozen for up to 1 month. Thaw it in the refrigerator overnight before using.) Before rolling it out, allow the dough to soften slightly at room temperature.

On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into a circle wide enough to fit a 9‑inch removable-bottom pie dish. Transfer the dough gently into the dish and ease it into the corners and up the sides. Trim the edges to extend about 1/2 inch beyond the dish, then fold the overhang inward and press it against the side of the pan to reinforce the edge.

To par-bake the pie crust, preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Line the pie shell with foil or parchment paper and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until it’s beginning to set. Remove the foil with weights and bake for 15 to 18 minutes longer, or until golden. If the shell puffs during baking, press it down with the back of spoon. Cool on a wire rack.

To make the pie filling, lower the oven to 300°F (150°C). In a medium saucepan over a medium-high heat, reduce the maple syrup by a quarter, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the cream and bring to a simmer. Remove from the heat.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and egg. Whisking constantly, slowly add the cream mixture to the eggs. Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a cup or bowl with a pouring spout. Stir in the salt, nutmeg and vanilla.

To assemble, pour the filling into the crust and transfer to a rimmed baking sheet. Bake until the pie is firm to the touch but jiggles slightly when moved, about 1 hour. Let cool to room temperature before serving.

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