Thanksgiving was a week ago and I still haven’t posted my Turkey Day recipes. Even with the oven going wonky on our four pies, the turkey itself turned out as amazing as we’d hoped it would, and our other oven-based delights were baked in our “small” convection oven instead. My vacation from school and work was filled with love and great food, with traveling and new experiences, with wonderful lessons and deeper friendships made. It’s the kind of thing you will remember for the rest of your life, something you will always be grateful for specifically.
Now that’s my kind of Thanksgiving. (If you are interested, click here to for a glimpse of last year's Turkey Day round-up.)
As always, Uncle R brought his infamous pot of collards to share. Meanwhile Mama Dazz made a delightful cranberry sauce (some of which was stevia sweetened for Grandma D and me), sweet potato biscuits (not gluten free, sadly), a large dish of cornbread stuffing (also not gluten free), and three of the four pies I mentioned (pecan, coconut macaroon, sweet potato). I focused my energy on three things: the turkey, stuffing I could eat, and my pumpkin pie.*
Is it worth brining your own turkey and making your own stuffing from start to finish? Yes, my friends, it is. There is something similar to pride to know that you bought your bird from a farmer you know and respect, and seeing how beautiful the end result is to have a perfectly cooked and flavorful turkey. I can safely say I don’t intend on buying turkey from the store in the many holidays to come.
In fact, this reminds me of a funny scene from the show Portlandia, taken from YouTube for your viewing pleasure.
Holiday Bird Brine (Inspired by this recipe)
1 Small yellow onion, coarsely chopped
1 Celery stalk, coarsely chopped
3 Garlic cloves, halved
3 Bay leaves
1 tbsp. Black peppercorns
1 tsp. Yellow mustard seeds
130 g (or 1/2 c.) Sea salt
Filtered water (1 gallon to start the brine, and then enough to submerge your bird)**
Place the ingredients in a large cooking pot and cook on medium heat until steam and slight simmering is visible.
Turn off the heat and let it come to room temperature before doing anything at all with the bird.
Prepare your bird by removing the organs and neck*** and placing it in a very large cooking pot that enables you to completely submerge it in brining liquid.
Carefully pour the brine over the bird and continue to add more water until the brine covers it completely.
Cover the pot and place it in a cold environment (either your refrigerator or a tall cooler with plenty of ice) for a period of 12 – 24 hours.
When finished with brining, remove the excess vegetables and spices from the bird and roast in the oven as usual.****
Makes over 1 gallon of brine.
*Although this year's gluten free pumpkin pie didn’t turn out as I had hoped, the grain-free pie crust was delicious (with enough left over to make another pie with in December). You can find a recipe that did work here.
**The bird we enjoyed weighed around 14 lbs.
***We use the organs and neck to help in creating tasty gravy, and also add it to our stuffing for additional nutrition.
****We didn’t do it this year, but I think cooking the brine along with the carcass would make an excellent stock. Has anyone ever done this before? I’d love to hear how it turned out.
As I said, I made stuffing I was very satisfied with. I wasn’t in a mashed potatoes sort of mood, so at the last minute (and by last minute, I mean three hours before the feast itself) I decided I wanted to make stuffing I could eat. After my not so pleasant experiences my body dealt with going Primal for three weeks, I’ve been eating grains and other sources of carbohydrates at practically every meal. I could have easily made this a grain-free delight, and perhaps for Yule I will, but I was craving cornbread something fierce. The cornbread itself was solely made for the stuffing, so when it came out of the oven it was a tad dry and unappetizing and something I wouldn’t recommend as a finished product. As part of a stuffing, however, I’d say it was the perfect component to a moist yet sturdy spoonful of dressing.
For the cornbread:*
240 g Coarse corn flour
1 Large egg
250 ml Filtered water
42 g Butter, melted**
200 g Pulsed turkey organ and neck meat***
1 Celery stalk, finely chopped
1 Small yellow onion, finely chopped
2 Large eggs, beaten
1 tsp. Sea salt
1/2 tsp. Baking soda
1/2 tsp. Unrefined apple cider vinegar
1/4 tsp. Powdered or rubbed sage
1/4 tsp. Rosemary powder
1/4 tsp. Thyme
1/4 tsp. Cracked pepper
240 ml Filtered water
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Combine the ingredients in a medium sized bowl and mix until thoroughly combined.
Pour into a greased small cast iron pan and bake for 45 minutes or until done.
Take the pan from the oven and begin cubing the bread with a knife.
With a large spoon or spatula, remove the cubes from the pan and pour them into a large mixing bowl.
Add the remaining ingredients and fold carefully.
Pour the dressing into a 8x8” baking pan and cook for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until the internal temperature has reached at minimum 165°F.
Remove the pan from the oven and slice or spoon onto the plates
Makes 4 – 6 servings.
*If you happen to have cornbread or any gluten free bread on hand, use about 600 g and cut into bite-sized cubes.
**For a dairy free version, replace the butter with your preferred baking oil of choice like olive oil, coconut oil, and various nut/seed oils.
***Should you like to keep this vegetarian or you don’t have organ meat on hand, I’d recommend pulsed walnut/cashew pieces, left over mashed potatoes or pumpkin/sweet potato/butternut squash puree.
****Stuffing is a lot like pizza, in that it’s a great leftover food eaten hot or cold.