Blog - biscuits and such
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Whole Turkey with Apple-Sage Glaze

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This year, because of a scheduling mishap with our families, Dan and I are missing a traditional Thanksgiving meal.  Which, I will admit, breaks my heart because Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.  Instead on Thursday I will be eating taco lasagna.  Or New Jersey tomato pie, if I have any say in the matter.

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Anyway, as a consolation, I decided to make a Thanksgiving dinner the Sunday before so that I could make sure I got all my favorite foods.  We invited over Dan’s sister, Megan, her husband John, and their (adorable) two year old Meredith, and did Thanksgiving the way it should be done, with not a black bean in sight.

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I should mention that I’ve never actually made a whole turkey by myself before.  My father deep-fries our turkeys every year.  So while I’ve watched him deep fry them, and I vaguely remember the baked turkeys of my childhood, I’ve never been responsible for a turkey myself.  So… this was an experiment.

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I bought a twelve pound fresh turkey (anything bigger was too intimidating) and set to work.  To calm myself I’ve been overdosing on Food Network, and last week I saw a Bobby Flay Thanksgiving episode that inspired me.  He, naturally, grilled his turkey, but first he made an Apple-Sage glaze that sounded amazing. Think granny smith apples, serrano chiles, onions, and sage.  The perfect combination of spicy, sweet, and sour.

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Another tip I learned from watching Alton Brown was to make what he called a turkey triangle.  I’ve learned that one of the issues with cooking a perfect whole turkey is that the dark meat and the light meat need to be cooked at different temperatures or for different periods of time to get the optimal flavor/texture.  So, Alton suggested making an aluminum foil tent, that you put over the turkey in the middle of the cooking process, which shields the white meat from getting too dry and allows the dark meat to cook.  He also suggests cooking at two different temperatures for a total of about two hours.

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Apple-Sage Glaze
Source: Bobby Flay

1 red onion

2 granny smith apples

2 serrano chili peppers

2 tbsp fresh sage

1/4 cup sugar

2 tbsp olive oil

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

Chop the onions and serrano chiles.  Begin to sauté the onions and chiles in the olive oil.  Peel and dice the apples, and add them to the pan.  Add vinegar and sugar, and stir.  Allow the sugar to melt and become syrupy.  Remove from heat.  Coarsely chop 5 or 6 leaves of sage.  Pour your apple mixture into the food processor.  Add sage and salt and pepper.  Puree in the food processor and set aside.

Baked Turkey
Source: Alton Brown

Preheat the oven to 500*.  Remove the gizzards (they should be in a bag inside the turkey) and set aside if you’re planning on using them for anything.  Place in your roasting pan and tie the back legs together.  Take a large rectangle of aluminum foil.  Fold into a triangular shape and coat one side with olive oil.  Press the aluminum over the body of the turkey.  Remove and set aside.  Brush the turkey with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Rub with Apple-Sage glaze.  Bake at 500* for 30 minutes.  Drop the temperature to 350*  Open the oven door, put a thermometer into the top of the turkey (at least one inch deep), and put on the turkey triangle. If you wanted, you could also slap another quick glaze on it before you put on the turkey triangle.  Bake the turkey at 350* until the temperature is 161*.  This should take about an hour and a half (on a twelve-fourteen pound turkey, longer for a bigger turkey), making the total bake time approximately two hours.

Let sit for half an hour out of the oven so that the juices have the opportunity to redistribute.

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Cranberries a la Symon

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Iron Chef America, anyone?  Last week they had a Thanksgiving special.  They had to use ingredients from the first Thanksgiving (no thank you plucking duck feathers), so I was only mildly interested in recreating the recipes.  There was one thing that struck my fancy, which Dan and I were determined to recreate.  Naturally, it’s a cocktail.  Unfortunately for me, Iron Chef doesn’t post it’s recipes anywhere so I couldn’t figure out what was going on, exactly.  So this is our interpretation of whatever deliciousness Iron Chef Symon made.  He started with cranberries, whole fresh ones.  Then he added vodka to the glass.  He let that sit for a bit, and right before serving he filled the glass with champagne.

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I figured that the flavor of the cranberries wouldn’t come out if they were just left whole, they’re pretty resilient little things.  So I opted to make a simple syrup to accompany them.  I also went light on the vodka because I didn’t want to be down for the count.

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*ADDENDUM:

The next time I made these, after some of the comments you posted, I boiled the cranberries in juice from one orange, with 2 tbsp of orange zest, for about five minutes.  Then I soaked the cranberries in syrup.  This helped bring out some of the flavor.

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Cranberries a la Symon

5 parts champagne

1 part vodka

1 part simple syrup

2 cups sugar (for syrup)

1 cup water (for syrup)

Handful of cranberries

Bring your sugar and water to a boil.  Once the sugar is dissolved, set aside and cool.  That’s your simple syrup.  Put your cranberries the glass, add simple syrup and vodka (equal amounts of each).  Let sit for ten minutes or so, so the flavors blend.  When you’re ready, add the champagne, and serve.

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Sweet Potato Casserole

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A few years ago I got my tonsils out.  And when I say a few years ago, I don’t mean as a child.  I mean as an adult.  It was an awful experience.  On more than one occasion during the two weeks that I was completely incapacitated, a friend would walk into my apartment to find my in the fetal position on my living room floor, completely pathetic.  It’s because having your tonsils out as an adult is torture.  Complete and total torture.

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One particularly cruel aspect was my losing my sense of taste.  And since my mom could only stay a few days and I was alone for most of my recovery, I did so much online symptom research that I convinced myself that I was going to be one of the small percentage of patients who lose it permanently.  Thankfully I only lost it for a few weeks.  Still, it was a horrible few weeks.  I didn’t eat for two weeks because when I was actually hungry and could swallow, my food tasted like cardboard mush.

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At one of the lower points, I thought that if I just made something I liked, I could make myself eat it.  What I really wanted was a burrito, but I settled for a sweet potato.  I stuck it in the oven, etc etc, sprinkled it with brown sugar and pecans, and sat down on my couch.  Drumroll please…. it tasted like nothing.  Long story short, I cried for hours and sent very sad text messages to my mother.

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The river of tears was partially because I was emotionally and physically exhausted, but also because I love sweet potatoes.  Especially when pecans and brown sugar are involved.  Which is why I love sweet potato casserole so much.  And I promise you, this recipe won’t disappoint.  It’s creamy, silky, crunchy, everything that you want in a casserole.  And the topping?  I practically live just for that topping.

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Sweet Potato Casserole

For the casserole:

4 eggs

2 cups sugar

1 1/2 cup butter

1 cup milk

2 tsp vanilla

6 cups mashed sweet potato

For the topping:

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup flour

4 tbsp butter

1 cup chopped pecans

Peel, chop, and boil your sweet potatoes.  Mash, and set aside.  Beat eggs, sugar, and butter.  Add milk and vanilla, and combine with potatoes.  Spoon into a greased casserole dish.  Combine brown sugar, flour, butter, and pecans.  Mix until crumbly and sprinkle over potato mixture.

Bake at 350* for 45 minutes.

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