Saturday, November 29, 2014

A Report on How All my Dishes Came Out

Our Thanksgiving Feast 2014 (held yesterday)
Rich Turkey Gravy (roux method)
My husband, his sister and I celebrated our Thanksgiving yesterday, the day AFTER Thanksgiving. This past week I have been describing the dishes I planned to make, or had made as I went along. I made the Cran-Cherry Relish with Port earliest, on November 21st, since cranberry relish will last for quite a while once made.  I made a decision regarding what I intended to do with my turkey, i.e. butterfly a smaller bird, "dry brine" or "salt rub" on it, and I planned to rub an herbed butter under the skin before roasting. I described all this in my post of November 24th. I went into  my method for making a simple, delicious turkey stock in preparation for my Rich Turkey Gravy to come on November 25th. In the November 26th post, I went into the making of my favorite Sweet Potato Casserole, which is an old recipe and always wonderful, as well as my plans for a recipe of Stuffing with Bacon, Cornbread & Chestnuts and also how I planned to make my Riced Potatoes with Boursin and Chives.

As well as these preparations, I also created a recipe for a Maple Bourbon Pecan Pie, which came out unbelievably good. The smell of it while baking was certainly a precursor of the flavors to come! I used my recipe for Spicier Pumpkin Pie for our pumpkin pie.

The Results
Cran-Cherry Relish with Ruby Port

Cran-Cherry Orange Relish with Port

I hadn't tasted the Cran-Cherry Relish with Port, except for licking the spoon after it was made and stored in the fridge. This was a most amazing recipe. I have always loved my Cranberry Orange Relish, but this new recipe truly topped even that old favorite. Oh, my was it good!

Rich Turkey Gravy

The gravy was made using the roux method, described in my post titled, Two Methods to Make Great Turkey Gravy. It turned out excellently, although there were almost no pan juices from the turkey, to give that extra boost of flavor.

Stuffing with Bacon, Cornbread & Chestnuts
Stuffing with Bacon, Cornbread & Chestnuts

My Stuffing with Bacon, Cornbread & Chestnuts was good. To me, it was no better than my original "Better Than Mom's Stuffing" recipe. Considering the cost of the jar of chestnuts from Williams Sonoma, it was not worth that much. My sister-in-law, who loves chestnuts, was quite enamored of this version of my stuffing, and also said that the cornbread in the mix gave it just that tiny bit of crunch. She felt it was a keeper. I may keep the cornbread part, but spending over $18 for the chestnuts - when, to me, their flavor was undetectable  - was not worth that price. Period. I love chestnuts also, but I would much rather use them in something with less other flavors vying for attention. If you should want to try this new version of stuffing, go to the original recipe for Better Than Mom's Stuffing, use only a 1-lb loaf of sandwich bread and substitute 8 ounces of cornbread for the rest. The chestnuts are up to you. Or use regular pecans or walnuts as the recipe states. Those are the only differences in my newer recipe. 

Riced Potatoes with Boursin & Chives
Riced Potatoes with Boursin & Chives

I love my riced potatoes no matter how I choose to prepare them. Most often made with cream cheese, we are perfectly content with them. I often add chopped scallions if they are in my vegetable drawer. Sometimes I sub a 4-ounce log of goat Chevre for the cream cheese. I have, on occasion, mixed the riced potatoes with Boursin cheese in past. It is pricier than buying cream cheese or even the goat cheese, so it is generally reserved for special occasions. It is always wonderfully good, and these potatoes were no different.

Roasted Salt-Rubbed Butterflied Turkey

The Dry-Brined or Salt-Rubbed Turkey

My review of the butterflied and salt rubbed turkey are mixed. If you choose to salt rub your turkey, keep these thoughts in mind:
  • Once the turkey has been salt rubbed and left to set, the skin cannot be loosened to insert an herbed butter or other flavoring underneath. To add an herbed butter under the skin, this must be done prior to the salt rub.
  • The salt on the turkey will cause various things to happen: 1) the skin contracts and dries, giving an exceptionally crispy skin once roasted. 2) the salt will cause the juices to stay locked inside the turkey while roasting, leaving almost no pan drippings. 3) You will need an alternate to pan drippings for basting purposes. 4) If you have a salt sensitivity, while the turkey is perfectly seasoned (in other words, it is perfectly salted, without tasting salty), it can make you as exceedingly thirsty as if you ate a really salty ham.
Our turkey, sliced and served
As for the first point, I had already made a very flavorful herbed butter I intended to place underneath the skin before roasting. This was the first time I made a salt rubbed turkey, so it was a surprise, how much the skin contracted. I could not loosen the skin at all without tearing. I did use the herbed butter to baste the turkey while roasting, instead.

I always use the pan drippings from the turkey to add into the stock I've made previously. This gives the stock that extra "roasted turkey" flavor, making an already flavorful stock exceptional. With less than a quarter of a cup of pan drippings to add, there was no real boost to flavor. While my gravy was great, it could have been even better.

As to the last point, I do happen to be very salt-sensitive. After dinner I was drinking water like there was no tomorrow. This truly surprised me, because although I knew how much salt was applied to the turkey (3 tablespoons - which is not that bad, considering the bird was 13 pounds), it did not taste salt-y at all. It just tasted absolutely, perfectly seasoned. It was also pretty juicy, easy to cut and eat. It was really, fantastically - GOOD. 

As I bought a turkey that was between 12 to 14 pounds and butterflied (or spatchcocked) the turkey, it roasted in 90 minutes. This was a real plus. The whole salt-rubbed, butterflied turkey was delicious. I say this with no reservation.

My recommendations on this matter? 

If you do not have a salt sensitivity and do not need the pan juices, this method is highly recommended. On the plus side, this method is for you if:
  • you love crispy skin
  • you love perfectly seasoned turkey all the way through
  • you want a turkey that roasts quickly (butterflied)
  • you love a turkey that stays moist
  • you have no real salt sensitivity

The Pies
Spicier Pumpkin Pie with Galeux D'Eysines Pumpkin

I used the Galeux D'Eysines French heirloom pumpkin puree in my Spicier Pumpkin Pie for our Thanksgiving. The Galeux D'Eysines pumpkin, once roasted, was one of the wetter types I have used. It exuded massive amounts of liquid while baking, and once I removed the squash meat from the skin, I set it into a colander for a further few hours to drip. This left me with a total of about 3 cups of pumpkin puree from this whole pumpkin. In comparison, the Jarrahdale blue squash, set in a colander after removing the flesh from the skin, exuded little liquid, and yielded about 12 cups of pureed squash. I have used the Jarrahdale squash for the past 3 years to make my pies, and it has a wonderfully silky texture, great for pie. The Galeux D'Eysines pumpkin was also one of the most silky-smooth textured of the various squash or pumpkins I have used and yielded a most beautiful and exceptionally tasty pumpkin pie. It also had the brightest orange flesh inside of any squash or pumpkin I have used, yielding a really beautifully colored pie. 

The Maple Bourbon Pecan Pie was heavenly. Absolutely one of the best flavored pecan pies you could ever want! I will post that recipe next time. 

I hope everyone had a most wonderfully, blessedly happy Thanksgiving holiday. I sure did!

My passion is to teach people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and help pass along my love and joy of food, both simple and exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. I would love to hear from you, to help me continue my journey to explore diverse culinary experiences and hopefully to start you on a journey of your own. Join me at A Harmony of Flavors Website and Marketplace, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.