Traditional Turkey and Stuffing

Just about everybody has their favorite way to prepare a Thanksgiving Day dinner. I have to admit, when it comes to fixing a turkey, the way my grandma and mom fixed them can’t be beat.

I’ve pretty much followed in their footsteps, roasting the turkey the old-fashioned way and stuffing it with a dressing that contains dried bread, ground pork, a little onion and celery, an egg, milk and some seasonings. This year, however, I’m brining my turkey and making stuffing on the side (

I realize that a lot of people are reluctant to try new things when the old is so dependable. That’s why I’m going to report here later about how the brining went, so if you are so inclined, you can give it a try at Christmas.

In the meantime, here are a couple of traditional Thanksgiving recipes for turkey and stuffing.

Good eating!

Turkey with Cider Glaze
1 turkey, 18 to 20 pounds, giblets, neck removed
1 small bunch thyme sprigs
1 onion, quartered
½ stick unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon freshly ground pepper
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon cider vinegar
1 cup apple cider
½ cup honey
Heat oven to 325 degrees. Fill the turkey cavity with thyme sprigs and onion. Turn wing tips under; truss legs with kitchen string. Place turkey on rack in roasting pan.
Mix butter, pepper, salt and vinegar in a saucepan. Rub some of the mixture over the turkey.
Roast turkey 3 hours, loosely covering turkey with foil if it is browning too quickly.
Stir cider and honey into remaining butter mixture; heat over medium heat, stirring, until smooth. Baste turkey with mixture. Roast turkey until an oven-safe or instant-read thermometer inserted in the thigh reads 180 degrees, about 1¼ hours, basting occasionally. Remove turkey from oven; let stand 15 minutes before carving.
Note: Stuff the bird with a favorite stuffing or the recipe that follows. Just add 15 minutes of roasting time.
Yield: Serves 18.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 530 calories, 43 percent of calories from fat, 24 grams fat (7 grams saturated), 245 milligrams cholesterol, 0.2 grams carbohydrates, 72 grams protein, 170 milligrams sodium, no fiber.
Classic Herb Stuffing
1 loaf (1 pound) Italian bread or French bread, cut into ½-inch cubes, about 12 cups
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 ribs celery, diced
1 large onion, diced
2 teaspoons each: dried sage, dried thyme
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper
1 cup each: dried cranberries, toasted chopped pecans, see note
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups chicken broth
Heat oven to 250 degrees. Place bread on baking sheet. Bake until cubes are dry, about 20 minutes. Transfer to large bowl.
Increase oven temperature to 350 degrees. Melt butter in large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook celery and onion, stirring occasionally, until soft and translucent, about 8 minutes. Stir in sage, thyme, salt and pepper to taste; cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Transfer mixture to bowl with bread. Add cranberries and pecans. Mix to combine all ingredients. Add eggs and broth; toss gently to combine.
Turn mixture into greased 13-by-9-inch baking dish. Bake, covered with foil, for 45 minutes. Remove foil; bake until brown and crusty on top, about 15 minutes. Alternatively, stuff mixture into turkey cavity just before roasting; make sure stuffing reaches 165 degrees.
Note: To toast pecans, spread nuts on baking sheet. Toast in 325-degree oven until fragrant, about 5 minutes. Or place in dry skillet and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until fragrant, about 4 minutes.
Yield: Serves 8.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 420 calories, 49 percent of calories from fat, 23 grams fat (7 grams saturated fat), 75 milligrams cholesterol, 45 grams carbohydrates, 10 grams protein, 850 milligrams sodium, 5 grams fiber.

Sticky Rice Stuffing

It’s not too early to start thinking about your Thanksgiving Day menu. In fact, some people would wonder what is the holdup.

Well, I don’t have to ponder too long because we usually have almost the same food every year: turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, baked oysters, a vegetable or two, relish tray, etc. One of these years, though, I’m going to switch things up a bit and make something completely different.

Perhaps, this will be the year. The reason I’m saying this is because of a rice stuffing recipe that came to my attention from the award-winning Food Network producer Irene Wong. The recipe is for Sticky Rice Stuffing, a Chinese favorite, which Wong said her mother would prepare every Thanksgiving along with traditional American classics.

The recipe contains a lot of ingredients that I really like, including rice, mushrooms sausage, shallots, cranberries and pistachios. And the nice thing about the stuffing is that it can be prepared on the stovetop.

I don’t know if my powers of persuasion will be enough to convince my family to give it a try, but what the heck, it’s worth a shot.

Sticky Rice Stuffing
3 ounces (about 6) large dried black mushrooms
1½ cups of short grain rice (also known as sweet rice)
1½ cups of short grain brown rice
4 cups of chicken stock
3 tablespoons peanut oil
3 ounces (about 2 links) Chinese sausage, diced into ¼-inch pieces
3 medium-sized shallots, finely minced
3 garlic cloves, finely minced
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
3 scallions, trimmed and cut into ¼-inch rounds
4 tablespoons oyster sauce
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 ounces (about ½ cup) dried cranberries
½ cup of lightly toasted pistachios, coarsely chopped
In a shallow bowl, reconstitute the dried black mushrooms with hot water. Be sure to submerge them occasionally as they plump. This should take about 30 minutes. The mushrooms are ready when you are able to squeeze the caps and not feel any hard spots inside. Remove and discard the stems, squeeze the caps until all the excess water has been removed and then cut them into ¼-inch pieces. Set aside.
In a 4-quart saucepan, combine the short grain rice, short grain brown rice, 4 cups of chicken stock and 1 tablespoon of peanut oil. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to low and cover. Cook the rice mixture for 20 minutes, stirring with a chopstick once halfway through cooking to fluff the rice. Turn the heat off and let it rest covered for another 15 minutes.
While the rice cooks, heat 1 tablespoon of peanut oil in a large nonstick sauté pan over medium high heat. Add the Chinese sausage and saute for 1 minute. Remove the Chinese sausage and set aside. Add remaining tablespoon of peanut oil and add the garlic and shallots. Saute until golden brown, about 1 minute. Add the black mushrooms and season with salt and pepper. Sauté until heated through, about 2 minutes. Add the scallions and saute for 1 minute.
Remove the pan from the heat and add the oyster sauce, soy sauce, and cooked rice. Gently stir until well combined. Add the dried cranberries and return the pan to the stove. Over medium high heat, stir the sticky rice stuffing until heated through. Season with salt and pepper. If serving right away, transfer to a serving platter and garnish with the pistachios.
If making ahead of time, transfer the sticky rice stuffing to a baking dish, cover with foil and refrigerate up to 2 days. Place the foil-covered sticky rice stuffing into a preheated 350 oven for 25 minutes.
Yield: 7 cups, which serves 6.

Turkey Sloppy Joes

I love Thanksgiving Day leftovers.

If you hosted Thanksgiving Day dinner as we did, it’s inevitable there are some leftovers lurking in the refrigerator, including turkey.

In the past, we’ve always used some of the turkey for sandwiches. Sometimes, if there was enough gravy leftover, it was the hot variety, with a little stuffing, of course. (Plain old turkey sandwiches can be a little bland.)

And I can’t forget turkey soup. The carcass is perfect for this. This year, I sent the carcass home with Uncle Curt and Aunt Harriet, so soup isn’t an option.

However, a tip from chef Ryan Scott, former cheftestant of Bravo TV’s Top Chef, has me thinking about something I’ve never tried — turkey sloppy joes, a twist on a family favorite that’s perfect for kicking back and checking out the weekend’s football games. And if you have some leftover dinner rolls from the Thanksgiving meal, they also make great sliders.

If you feel adventurous, give the following recipe a try.

Turkey Sloppy Joes
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 large carrots, diced (about 1 cup)
1 large onion, diced (about 1 cup)
3 cups shredded or diced cooked turkey
4 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 cup chicken stock
1/3 cup ketchup
½ teaspoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons water
8 hamburger buns, toasted
Heat the oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Add the carrots and cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the onion and cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the turkey, chili powder, garlic powder, salt and black pepper to the skillet and cook for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the tomatoes, stock, ketchup and soy sauce and heat to a boil. Reduce the heat to low. Cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Stir the cornstarch and water in a small cup until the mixture is smooth. Stir the cornstarch mixture into the skillet. Cook and stir until the mixture boils and thickens. Divide the turkey mixture among the buns.
Yield: Serves 8.
Note:  For Turkey Sloppy Joe Sliders, divide the turkey mixture among 12 minislider-sized buns.

Baked Oysters — A Thanksgiving Tradition

One of the dishes we’ve always had at Thanksgiving since I was a kid is baked oysters. My grandma always served it at the family gathering we had. And then my mom started to make the dish. I’ve continued the tradition, as have several of my cousins.

Some say oysters are an acquired taste. That may be so, but I didn’t hesitate after my first bite of Grandma’s baked oysters. And neither has my family when I’ve made them.

They’re relatively easy to fix, so if you have a hankering today for something new, give the following recipe a try. Also find another recipe for baked oysters, this one from Sara Baer-Sinnott’s book, "The Oldways Table: Essays and Recipes from the Culinary Think Tank."

Baked Oysters
1 quart raw oysters
1 cup Holland rust
1 cup of butter, softened
2 cups of cracker crumbs
¼ to ½ cup cream
Crush crackers and Holland rust and mix with bread crumbs and butter.
Put a layer of mixture on bottom of a 9-by-9-inch cake pan and cover with oysters. Add remaining mixture of crackers and bread crumbs on top of oysters. Pour oyster juice and ¼ to ½ cup of cream over ingredients. Bake at 350 degrees for about 50 minutes.

Gifford’s Baked Oysters
12 oysters on the half shell
Rock salt
3 slices Canadian bacon
4 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
½ cup chopped shallots or onions
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Place the oysters on rock salt in a sheet pan.
Cook the bacon in a small skillet over high heat until the slices are cooked halfway through. Cool and cut each slice into four equal pieces. Set aside.
Mix the butter, shallots and lemon juice together. Spoon the butter mixture on top of each oyster and cover with a piece of bacon. Bake until the bacon turns brown, and the oysters are warm.
Yield: 1 dozen.

Jazzed-Up Stuffing

Just about everybody has a favorite stuffing they like to make for Thanksgiving Day dinner. I make the one my grandma and mom used to make.

But there are all kinds of stuffing. I was given a cornbread stuffing recipe by a co-worker, Megan LaPlaca, which her mom has been making for years ( I can’t wait to try it.

And on my way to work today, I ran across artist Adam Kemp of Grand Forks, who is a native of Great Britain. We talked a little bit about Thanksgiving in his home country, and he said there are places there that celebrate the holiday, mostly for the benefit of Americans who are living overseas.

This Thanksgiving, he’s going to make stuffing for his in-laws, and his plans are to mix things up a bit, making one with walnuts, Italian sausage, celery and a little dried wheat bread.

When you get right down to it, you can put just about anything in stuffing, as the following recipe shows. It sounds a bit similar to what Adam is going to make, containing some of the same ingredients.

If you want to stray from tradition, give it a try. Or tuck it away for later use, maybe at Christmas.

Jazzed-Up Stuffing
½ stick (¼ cup) butter
3 ribs celery, chopped
1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
1 12-ounce package herbed stuffing mix
½ cup chopped walnuts
3 cooked sausage patties or 4 strips cooked bacon, crumbled
2 eggs, beaten
¼ cup chopped, fresh sage leaves
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 14.5-ounce can low-sodium chicken broth
1/3 cup white wine
Heat oven to 325 degrees. Melt the butter in a large skillet; add the celery, green onions and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until the vegetables soften, about 5 minutes.
Transfer vegetables to a large bowl. Stir in the stuffing mix, walnuts, sausage, eggs, sage, salt and pepper. Add the chicken broth and wine; toss to coat bread. Spoon stuffing into a buttered 13-by-9-inch pan; bake 30 minutes.
Yield: Serves 6.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 449 calories, 44 percent of calories from fat, 22 grams fat (7 grams saturated), 102 milligrams cholesterol, 67 grams carbohydrates, 20 grams protein, 881 milligrams sodium, 5 grams fiber.