Roast Turkey with Truffle Butter {Recipe} {Thanksgiving Dinner Roundup}

When my family gets together for Thanksgiving, we often divide cooking duties, with each family providing one or two dishes. But the host always provides the turkey. So when I decided to host a virtual Thanksgiving Dinner, I signed up to provide the main dish.

I’ve been known to mix things up for Thanksgiving — replacing the typical candied yams with sweet potato soufflé; serving cranberry compote in place of relish; even (once) making oyster stuffing. And my family is (mostly) tolerant of my experiments and exploits.

But you don’t mess with the turkey. You season it. You roast it. You serve it.

So when I saw this recipe in Ina Garten’s How Easy Is That?, I decided I’d better test it out ahead of time to make sure it was “traditional” enough for the Thanksgiving table.

The unique thing about this recipe, and what immediately caught my eye, is the use of truffle butter to season the turkey and keep it moist. I checked several local stores but didn’t find it. I knew I could probably find some at Whole Paycheck, but the closest one is about 45 minutes away. So I did what I always do in these situations: I made my own truffle butter.

I made this turkey for dinner a couple of nights ago, along with a few other recipes I wanted to try out for possible inclusion on the Thanksgiving table (stuffed pumpkin with rice and peas; Indiana persimmon pudding; and stuffing made with buttermilk cottage dill bread). It was without question the best turkey I’ve ever had. The meat was moist and flavorful; the skin salty, crispy, and delicious.

Roast Turkey with Truffle Butter

Ingredients

  • 1 12- to 14-pound turkey, preferably fresh
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 ounces truffle butter, at room temperature
  • Truffle salt
  • 1 yellow or white onion, unpeeled and cut into 8 pieces
  • 1 large head garlic, unpeeled and cut in half crosswise
  • 1 bunch fresh thyme (10 – 12 sprigs)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Remove giblets and neck from turkey cavity, drain juices from turkey, and pat dry with paper towels. Generously sprinkle cavity with Kosher salt and pepper.
  2. Gently work your fingers (wear gloves if you’re squeamish) between turkey skin and breast meat. Loosen skin of breast, legs, and thighs. Rub about 3 ounces of the truffle butter under skin, covering breast, thighs, and legs. It’s easiest to do this by pushing butter under skin, then rubbing the top of skin to cover meat well.
  3. Place turkey, breast side up, in roasting pan. Stuff cavity of bird with onion, garlic, and 8 sprigs thyme. Tuck wings under body and tie legs with kitchen twine.
  4. Melt remaining truffle butter and brush generously over turkey (use it all). Sprinkle with truffle salt, freshly ground black pepper, and remaining thyme leaves, pulled from stems.
  5. Roast turkey for 2 1/2 to 3 hours, until breast meat registers 160°F on a meat thermometer. Cover loosely with foil about halfway through roasting time to prevent skin from overbrowning.
  6. Remove from oven, cover tightly with heavy-duty foil, and allow to rest for 10 to 15 minutes before carving.
  7. While the turkey is resting, skim grease from pan juices (there will be a lot of grease), and thicken the juices to make a delicious gravy.

This turkey is definitely making an appearance on my Thanksgiving table. And I suspect it will be making repeat appearances for years to come.

Stuffed Pumpkin {FFwD} {Pumpkin Dinner} {Recipe}

My love of all things pumpkin is well known, so I don’t think anyone was surprised when I suggested a pumpkin dinner roundup, where everyone would make a different pumpkin recipe and post them all on the same day.

My contribution was this side dish, which I adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s recipe. I made it the other night for dinner.

Don’t think big jack-o’-lantern pumpkin when you go to make this dish. A 2 1/2 pound pumpkin is pretty small and can be found with the “baking pumpkins” at the grocery store.

Preparing it for baking, however, is a lot like carving a pumpkin.

Once the goop is removed, it’s just a matter of filling it with stuffing and pouring on some spiced cream.

Then you put the lid back on and slide it into the oven for a bit.

The skin will darken and toughen up while the insides get bubbly and delicious.

Stuffed Pumpkin

(adapted from Around My French Table by Dorie Greenspan)

 Ingredients 

  • 2 1/2 pound pumpkin
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 4-5 thin slices stale bread, crusts removed and cut into ½-inch cubes
  • 2 ounces each Gruyère and Emmenthal cheeses, cut into ½-inch cubes
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2-3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

 Directions 

  1. Preheat oven to 350˚F.
  2. Cut the top off the pumpkin jack-o’-lantern style and remove pulp and seeds. Discard seeds or save for roasting. Season the inside of the pumpkin generously with salt and pepper. Place the pumpkin in a round baking dish, preferably one that’s just slightly larger than the pumpkin.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine bread, cheeses, garlic, and thyme. Season with a little salt and lots of pepper and toss well. Spoon filling into pumpkin and pack lightly. The pumpkin should be filled to the top but not overflowing.
  4. Stir together cream and nutmeg, then pour over filling in pumpkin. Put the pumpkin top on the pumpkin.
  5. Bake for 1 hour. Remove lid and continue baking for about 30 minutes, until the filling is bubbly and the top nicely toasted.
  6. To serve, carefully (it will be very hot) reach inside the pumpkin with a large spoon and scrape the cooked pumpkin meat free from the sides. Mix the pumpkin with the stuffing and replace the lid. Carry the pumpkin in the baking dish to the table. When ready to serve, remove the lid and spoon directly from the pumpkin.

 Yields 4-5 side dish servings

You’ll note that I sliced the pumpkin rather than mixing in the flesh like in the recipe. I didn’t care for it sliced as well. The skin was very dry and leathery, and it was difficult to cut, even with a good, sharp knife. And we were left to deal with it on the plate while eating. I made a note to mix it together inside the pumpkin next time.

This was such a delicious dish. I couldn’t wait to make it again. So, a few weeks later I decided to bake another pumpkin. My parents were in town, and I thought I would switch things up by replacing the bread cubes with rice and adding frozen peas.

We put the whole pumpkin on the table and served it by scooping out the filling, along with some of the pumpkin flesh. It was so good, we all agreed that we would add it to our Thanksgiving menu this year.

In addition to the pumpkin dinner roundup, this post is also part of French Fridays with Dorie.

Slow Roasted Tomatoes {FFwD}

French Fridays with Dorie is kicking off August with a delicious, simple recipe that is sure to become staple in many a kitchen.

I picked up some grape tomatoes at the farmer’s market over the weekend, and they were perfect for this recipe. To roast the tomatoes, I cut them in half and put them on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. I sprinkled the tomatoes with a pinch of salt and a couple cranks of ground black pepper, drizzled them with olive oil, and nestled a few cloves of garlic and some fresh thyme around them.

I roasted the tomatoes at 225°F for three hours (yes, three hours!), until they were shriveled and looked a little dry.

Although they looked dry, the tomatoes were still juicy, and roasting intensified the tomato flavor. And the garlic, herb, oil, and spices added subtle notes to the flavor. I ate a few of the tomatoes, then packed the rest in olive oil to use later.

But not much later. Dorie says that the tomatoes will remain usable in the oil for several weeks. I suspect they would keep for longer than that. Mine, however, never got the chance, as I kept finding uses for them. And before I knew it, they were gone.

So the next time you’re at the market and see a pint of cherry or grape tomatoes, grab them and give this recipe a try. By slow roasting tomatoes, the flavor and color are intensified. And if you pack them in oil with garlic and herbs, you’ll find yourself adding them to all kinds of things.

Like eggplant caviar:

Or perhaps couscous salad:

Whatever you end up doing with them, they’re sure to go fast. Especially if you keep eating them out of the jar. Not that I know anyone who does that….

Salmon and Tomatoes en Papillote {FFwD}

When I first saw the July list for French Fridays with Dorie, I figured this week’s recipe was one I’d skip. I love salmon but no one else here eats it, so I never make it at home. However, my daughter asked if I could make pulled pork for her, and since I don’t eat pork, I figured this would be my chance to make salmon for myself.

I made the salmon for dinner the same evening that I made chunky beets and icy red onions, also from Around My French Table, and both were delicious.

As fancy as it sounds, this dish was really quite easy to put together. I began by searing grape tomatoes in a pan with a little bit of olive oil, just to bring out the flavor of the tomatoes a bit. To make the packet (“en papillote” means “in parchment” but like most recipes, this one uses foil to make the packets, I suppose because it’s easier to fold into a nice, tight seal), I began by laying freshly-picked basil from my garden on a sheet of foil, then sprinkling with salt and white pepper.

I set a piece of salmon on the basil, drizzled it with olive oil, then seasoned with salt and white pepper. I set the tomatoes to one side of the salmon, grated lemon zest over the fish and tomatoes, then scattered some of the leftover icy red onions from the chunky beet recipe over everything. I squirted a bit of fresh lemon juice on top, then finished it with lemon slices, basil, and a sprig of thyme.

After sealing the packet, I put it in the refrigerator until I was ready to cook the salmon for dinner. I cooked the packet for 10 minutes at 475°F. I served the salmon in the papillote, opening the packet at the table.

This was a wonderful dish. The salmon was cooked beautifully — moist, flaky, and tender — and the herbs and lemon gave it a bright, fresh flavor. This dish paired well with chunky beets and icy red onions and corn on the cob for a satisfying yet light Sunday supper.

If you’ve shied away from cooking fish at home, this is a great recipe to try. It’s quick and easy, without a lot of unusual ingredients. And sealing the ingredients in a foil packet ensures that the fish stays moist and absorbs the flavors of the herbs and spices.

Jacques Pepin Chicken Liver Pâté — Twitter Avatar Fun

This month Di picked Jacques Pepin for our Twitter avatar chef. There are about a dozen of us participating in this endeavor. Each month someone chooses a chef, and we each pick a recipe by that chef, cook or bake it, and use a picture of the results as our Twitter avatar for that month.

I wasn’t very familiar with this month’s chef, so I started looking up recipes online. As I expected his recipes looked really delicious and a bit on a the gourmet side. But what surprised me was that most of them also seemed to be quick and simple to prepare. 

I have been wanting to make a “Welly” (beef — or venison — Wellington) lately, so I thought homemade chicken liver pâté would be a good start. My only fear was what kind of photo I would be able to get. Kayte didn’t help any by pointing this out, either.

Nonetheless, I made the pâté recipe, as reproduced here. It was so easy. Fresh chicken livers poached with onion, garlic, bay leaf, thyme, and salt, then whirred in the food processor with pepper, brandy, and lots of butter.

 

The results were fabulous — rich, fatty, a little smoky. And the picture wasn’t half bad, either.

It’s a good thing this pâté is so easy to make, since once we started sampling it, it wasn’t long before there wasn’t enough left to make Welly.

Leek and Potato Soup {FFwD}

This week for French Fridays with Dorie, I made Leek and Potato Soup. This soup is simple, delicious, versatile, and comforting. It’s easy to throw together — once you chop some onions, garlic, leeks, and a potato, all you have to do is put it all together. There are quite a few variations suggested in the recipe, and you could easily come up with many more, making this a great recipe to have in your repertoire, as the possibilities are endless.

This soup is perfect for wintry weather days, but it can also be served cold in the spring or summer. And it can be served chunky, smooth, or somewhere in between. If you can’t find a variation of this soup that you like, you don’t like soup.

To assemble the soup, I began by cooking onion, shallots (my addition), and garlic in butter over low heat. I added leeks, potato, thyme, sage, chicken broth, and milk, and seasoned with salt and white pepper.

I brought the soup to a boil, lowered the heat, covered the pan partway, and simmered the soup for 40 minutes, until the vegetables were soft. I decided to purée the soup in the pot with my immersion blender. I left a few chunks in it, but for the most part, it was smooth.

After ladling the soup into a bowl, I topped it with freshly ground black pepper and white truffle oil and served it with Irish brown bread made with Irish wholemeal flour from King Arthur Flour.

This soup is easy enough to make on a busy weeknight, versatile enough that you can probably make it with ingredients you have on hand, and so delicious that you will want to make it again and again.

Potato Gratin (Pommes Dauphinois) {FFwD}

My selection this week for French Fridays with Dorie was Potato Gratin. These aren’t your mother’s scalloped potatoes. No ham. No cheddar cheese sauce. No flour (I never understood why one would add starch to starchy potatoes). No, sir. These are simple, creamy, delicious potatoes. They’re easy to make and impossible to resist.

There aren’t many ingredients: potatoes, heavy cream, garlic, salt, pepper, Gruyère, and, if you’d like, a few sprigs of thyme or rosemary (I used both).

The cream is heated with the garlic until it simmers gently. The smell of garlic-infused cream was enough to convince me that this dish was worth making. After slicing the potatoes paper thin with the smallest blade on my mandoline slicer, I layered the potatoes with cream, salt, and pepper until all the potatoes and cream were used up and the dish was filled almost to the top.

Then I sprinkled the potatoes with thyme and rosemary and layered on the Gruyère.

After 45 interminable minutes in the oven, the potatoes were tender and the cheese well-browned. I let the dish set up in the oven with the door open and the oven turned off for about 10 minutes.

I served the potato gratin for dinner with turkey sausage, Modern Baker grissini, and Cabernet Sauvignon. As easy as this dish was to make, it was out of this world delicious. We all agreed that this is a recipe to keep close at hand and to make often for a simple, perfect supper.

Eggplant Caviar — Around My French Table {AMFT}

Like most serious home cooks, I know the name Dorie Greenspan. But until recently, I didn’t own any of her books. That changed a week or two ago, when I ordered a copy of Baking: From My Home to Yours. A number of my online baking friends are members of Tuesdays With Dorie, a group that bakes a different recipe from Baking every week. It was too late to join the group, as membership is closed, but I’ve heard so many great things about the book, I wanted to get it.

About the time the book arrived, I learned that Dorie had a new book coming out, Around My French Table. I also found out that there was a new group forming, French Fridays With Dorie. I thought it might be fun to join this new group, but I wanted to try a few recipes from the book before I committed myself.

Although the release date is October 8, Amazon already had it in stock; so I ordered it and two days later, it was at my door. I opened the book, and the first recipe I saw was Eggplant Caviar (p. 23). Since I had just picked up some beautiful eggplant at the farmer’s market, this recipe seemed like as good a place as any to start.

I picked up another (less beautiful) eggplant and the herbs at the store, and set to work. This is really a simple recipe (which, in case you’re wondering, has no caviar in it). The first step is to roast the eggplant.

In a sidebar, Dorie suggests slitting the eggplant and stuffing it with slivered garlic. I followed her suggestion, and the roasted garlic gave the eggplant great depth of flavor. I baked the eggplant for 45 minutes, until they were soft and wrinkly.

Once the eggplant had cooled, I halved each one and scooped out the meat. I think I should have baked the eggplant another 15 minutes or so, as some of it didn’t scoop out cleanly. I was able to get most of the meat into the bowl, where I mixed it with garlic and olive oil. (As a side note, if you stuff the eggplant with garlic, you might want to cut back a bit on the raw garlic.)  The recipe says to mash everything together with a fork, but I found it easier to squish it up with my hand.

After the eggplant was sufficiently broken down, I added the remaining ingredients — lemon zest and juice, onion, basil, thyme, cilantro, cayenne, salt, and pepper.

The recipe doesn’t specify how much salt to add; I found that it needed quite a bit, about 2-3 teaspoons. I used black truffle salt, which gave the dish amazing flavor. I also added healthy amounts of black pepper and cayenne.

So, how did my first Dorie Greenspan recipe come out? Well, let’s just say I’m glad I bought two of her books. I’m going to bake the brioche recipe from French Table next, then maybe I’ll have a go at something from Baking.

Oh, and I already signed up for French Fridays.