Dry Brine Turkey

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I just love making a turkey. When I first made a Thanksgiving turkey (back in 1994), I was super intimidated. It took me all day, and was a ton of work. Over the years I’ve pieced together several alterations of recipes (including my mom’s), to make a turkey that not only is super moist, but takes about half the time to cook. This year it only took 3 hours to cook a 15 lb. bird. We were so busy having it for dinner, that I neglected to get a good photo of the final product, sorry.

TurkeyDryBrine

Ingredients

  • 15 lb. fresh turkey (thawed)
  • 1/4 cup kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup fresh sage (chopped)
  • Microplaned orange zest from one large orange, or 4 Mandarins
  • Fresh ground pepper

Directions

24 hours before your dinner, remove the turkey from its packaging and pat dry with paper towels. I discard the neck and the giblets, but you might save them for other uses. Place the turkey on a platter.

Combine the spices, and rub under the skin of the turkey breast and legs. Truss the turkey as you normally would. Here’s a link to a video if you’re unfamiliar with the process.

Place the turkey, uncovered on the platter, in the refrigerator for 24 hours.

Place your oven rack in the bottom rung, and heat to 400°. Begin your turkey breast side down, uncovered, in a roasting pan V-Rack for 1 hour.

Using silicone oven mitts, turn the turkey over breast side up. Lower the heat to 325°, and continue cooking until a meat thermometer registers 165° in the thigh (without touching the bone), approximately 2 more hours.

I baste the turkey with melted butter (and eventually drippings) every 30 minutes until the turkey is done. Once the skin has become the shade you prefer, cover loosely with aluminium foil.

When the turkey is resting, you can make the gravy, and warm up or cook the other dishes.

Notes

  • Turkey is an inexpensive protein, so I like to buy 2 around Thanksgiving and freeze one.
  • I use a Food Saver vacuum sealer, and freeze the leftover meat in 1 lb. portions. It’s great for soups, pot pies, and casseroles for the next year.
  • When I first started cooking, the advice was to wash your turkey. The powers that be have since retracted that. It turns out that you are spraying your whole kitchen with nasty bugs when you do that.
  • Another thing I don’t do anymore, is to stuff the bird. I’ve found that I can make a flavorful and moist stuffing baked in its own casserole dish.

 

Beef Gyros

I love beef or chicken gyros, but I’m not a fan of the traditional gyro meat. Whatever your preferred protein, these are quick to prepare and very filling.

BeefGyroMain

Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil
  • 2 lbs. steak, sliced into strips
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 1 tablespoon Cavender’s All Purpose Greek Seasoning
  • Greek pita

Sides

  • Tzatziki sauce
  • Feta
  • Tomatoes, diced
  • Romaine lettuce, chopped
  • Cucumber, peeled and chopped

Directions

Wrap the pita in foil, and warm in the oven. Prepare the Tzatziki sauce.

In a large skillet, heat the oil. Once the pan is hot, add the meat and brown. Add the onion and cook until translucent. Add the seasoning, stir to combine.

Serve in warmed pita, and allow people to choose their toppings.

Notes

  • This makes a great salad, if you leave out the pita, and serve over lettuce

Tzatziki Sauce

This is a versatile sauce that goes well on gyros, salads, dips and, falafel. I keep it chunky for gyros, and I blend it for the others.

tzatziki 2.jpg

Ingredients

  • 8 oz. plain greek yogurt
  • 1 cup cucumber, peeled and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil (2 for salad dressing)
  • 1 tablespoon garlic paste
  • 1 tablespoon dill
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Combine all ingredients and serve. It doesn’t get much easier than that. :)

tzatziki 1.jpg

Peanut Curry

The word “curry” just means spice. There are thousands of types of curry (and so little time to try them all!). This recipe takes me about 20 minutes to prepare, and then 45 to cook. You can start the rice after you get the curry going.

curry_main

Ingredients

  • Either 1.5 lbs. of steak, cubed OR chicken breast, sliced into strips
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 2 cups red potatoes, cubed
  • 2 cups carrots, chopped
  • 1 medium white onion, chopped
  • 13.5 oz. can Chaokoh Coconut Milk
  • 3 tablespoons Thai Kitchen Red Curry Paste
  • 2 tablespoons chunky peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon Thai Kitchen Premium Fish Sauce
  • 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • salt & pepper to taste

Directions

In a large pot, brown the meat in the oil on medium high. Add the vegetables and stir occasionally until onion is translucent.

Add all the rest of the ingredients, stir to combine. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to low, and cook covered for 45 minutes, or until potatoes are easily pierced with a fork.

Serve over white rice.

Notes

  • This is already gluten free
  • If you want to make it Paleo, use sweet potatoes instead of the red potatoes, and leave out the sugar
  • Don’t like spicy? Leave out the crushed red pepper. The rest of the ingredients are mild

Tuna Salad

When I was young, I didn’t care for tuna; the texture was too mushy. I quickly became a convert when working at The Depot Deli. Their tuna salad had all kinds of crunchy textures and flavors. Here’s the recipe, as I remember it.

tuna salad

Ingredients

  • 14 oz Albacore tuna in water, drained
  • 1/4 cup onion, diced
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1/2 cup dill pickle, chopped
  • 2/3 cup mayonaisse
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dill
  • (optional) 1 apple, chopped
  • fresh ground pepper to taste

Directions

Combine all ingredients, and serve either as a sandwich, on a green salad, or with crackers.

Jambalaya

I’ve adapted my mom’s recipe to have more spice, and chicken breast. I was lucky enough to grow up in a home that served Southern food fairly often. It’s a super easy, one pot meal that is comfort food for me. This serves a family of 4 with leftovers to spare.

jambalaya_main

Ingredients

  • 1½ lbs. chicken breast, cubed
  • 1 lb. ham, cubed
  • 2 large green bell peppers, seeded and diced
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil (I use olive oil)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 1 tablespoon Tabasco
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups uncooked rice
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

In a large pot, brown the chicken and ham in the oil.

Remove the meat with a slotted spoon, and add the bell pepper, garlic and onion to the remaining oil. Sauté over medium high for 5 minutes, or until onion is translucent.

Add the meat and all remaining ingredients back to the pot. Stir well and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to low and cover the pot. Cook for 35 minutes on low, without stirring.

Notes

  • My mom’s recipe called for whole chicken pieces. I just didn’t like to bother with the bones and skin.
  • If you remove the Tabasco, this dish isn’t spicy at all.
  • It’s already gluten free, as long as your chicken broth is gluten free.

Grownup Cranberry Sauce

Homemade cranberry sauce is ridiculously easy to make. I like to make it a couple of days in advance.

cranberrySauceMain

Ingredients

  • 2 cups cranberries
  • 2 tablespoons Cognac
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup orange juice
  • 3 allspice berries
  • 2 cloves
  • 1 black peppercorn
  • dash of red pepper flakes

Directions

Combine all of the spices in a cheesecloth and tie in a knot.

Bring all ingredients to a boil in a saucepan over medium high heat. Reduce to simmer, stirring often for 20 minutes.

Discard the cheesecloth bundle and cool.