I’m a bit late on my turkey day posts…but I have a very good reason for it…which I will tell you all about a few posts from now. Since I was hosting Thanksgiving, I took advantage of some very innovative turkey day classes and I wanted to learn some new tips. One of my biggest “takeaways” from this class was how to make a dry brine turkey. It gives it a flavorful crust and super crispy skin.
If you have a frozen turkey, make sure you thaw it for 2-3 days depending on how much it weighs. A 12-14 pound turkey usually takes 3 days to thaw. I never dry brined my turkey in the past. I always slathered it with butter, sage, salt and pepper. One year, I wrapped it with 70 million slices of bacon and it made the most flavorful gravy. I wanted to try something new. They taught me how to dry brine the bird. The major ingredient for the dry brine is salt…about 2-3 tablespoons. I found for a 14 pound bird, 2 tablespoons was plenty. If you like it salty, go for 3. Pay special attention to go under the skin of the bird and get it on the flesh. It will really pull out the moisture and create a nice crust, adding an intensity of flavor. Mix the salt with your favorite dry herbs, such as thyme, sage and rosemary. Crush the herbs with a mortar and pestle and mix with the sea salt. Rub it over the entire bird and under the skin. Cover the bird with some foil for two days in the refrigerator. Do you want extra crispy skin? Take the foil off the turkey in the refrigerator on the 2nd day and leave it uncovered in the fridge for the third day. That will give the skin a chance to dry out and it will be crisp when you cook it. You can put the bird in the oven as is, or if you really want to add some fat to the bird, you can slather some oil or butter on the top and let it cook.
Mushrooms, if you love them like I do, can add so much earthy depth to a gravy. King of Prussia, PA, where this cooking class is, has a location called Kenneth Square in Philadelphia close by…and they are the mushroom capital of the world. We had our pick of wild mushrooms like chanterelle, shiitake and cremini mushrooms. We also add the herbs to this gravy to give it some green goodness and add a complexity that cuts the richness of such a plentiful meal.
The buttermilk mashed potatoes were rich, velvety and added a softness to contrast the thick, salty crust of the dry brined turkey. If you like, you can add some chopped parsley on top.
Overall, Sur La Table shared some of their best tips and tricks and we all felt like family as we sat together and ate the fruits of our 2 1/2 hour labor in this class. Always color your cooking with <3 Enjoy!
Dry-Brined Turkey with Savory Herb Butter
1 (12 to 14 pound turkey, neck and giblets removed and reserved for stock
2-3 tablespoons sea salt
4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley, thyme, sage and rosemary leaves
1-2 cups turkey stock, plus more as needed
1 large yellow onion, diced into 1-inch pieces
2 large carrots, peeled and diced into 1-inch pieces
2 large stalks celery, diced into 1-inch pieces
To dry bring – Pat turkey dry with paper towels. Place the turkey into a roasting pan and run your hand or handle of a wooden spoon gently between the skin and meat to loosen the skin, being careful not to tear it. Loosen as much skin as possible over the breasts, legs, and thighs. Rub the meat under the skin with salt to coat the meat evenly, again, taking care not to rip the skin. Transfer turkey uncovered to the bottom shelf of the refrigerator for at least 8 hours and up to 24 hours.
To dress the roast turkey: Remove turkey from refrigerator and let stand at room temperature for 45 minutes. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F and place a rack in the lower third. To a small bowl, add butter and herbs; stir to combine. Rub the turkey with the butter mixture, coating all parts equally. If needed, gently stretch skin to cover breast meat completely. Using kitchen twine, tie the legs together at the ankles and tuck wing tips under breasts.
Place a heavy roasting rack inside a large roasting pan and lightly oil the rack. Place turkey, breast side up, on roasting rack, transfer to oven and roast for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, add 1 cup stock to the roasting pan, to prevent pan drippings from scorching.
After 60 minutes, remove roasting pan from oven and reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Baste the turkey with pan juices. Scatter onion, carrot and celery pieces across the bottom of roasting pan, stirring to coat with pan juices. Return a turkey to oven and continue roasting until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the thigh registers to 165 degrees F, 2 hours or more, depending on the weight of the turkey. General rule for roasting poultry is to roast for 15-20 minutes per pound.
Remove turkey from oven and transfer to a large platter. Tent turkey loosely with aluminum foil and keep warm and rest for at least 20-30 minutes before carving.
Strain pan drippings through a fine -meshstrainer set over a heatproof vessel, making sure to scrape off all browned bits from bottom of roasting pan. Once cool, fat can be skimmed off and saved for other recipes; save the drippings for making the gravy.
To serve: Using a carving knife, remove the legs and thighs from the turkey. Slice breasts into 1/4 inch slices and place a serving platter with legs and thighs. Serve immediately.
Wild Mushroom Gravy
Makes 8 cups
5 cups turkey stock or low-sodium chicken broth (divided)
1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 pound fresh mushrooms such as chanterelle, shiitake, and cremini mushrooms, stemmed and sliced
1/2 cup dry white wine
4 tablespoons turkey fat drippings or unsalted butter
1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
2 large shallots, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
3 large garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage leaves
1/2 cup creme fraiche
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh tarragon
To a medium saucepan, set over medium-high heat, add 1 cup stock and dried porcini mushrooms. Bring stock to simmer and reduce heat to low; cover and steep dried mushrooms until softened. Once soft, strain mushrooms out and thinly slice. Reserve the stock.
To a large skillet set over medium-high heat, add butter. When butter melts and foam subsides, add both fresh and rehydrated mushrooms and season with salt and pepper; cook until browned and tender, about 8 minutes. Deglaze the pan with wine, scraping browned bits from bottom of pan. When wine is almost completely evaporated, transfer mushrooms to plate or bowl and set aside.
To the same large skillet set over medium-high heat, add turkey fat drippings. Add shallot and garlic and cook until translucent, about 2 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low, whisk in flour to make a thick paste, called a roux. Cook, whisking continuously until flour colors lightly and smells like toasted almonds, about 2 minutes.
Increase heat to medium-high. Slowly pour reserved stock and remaining 4 cups stock into the skillet while whisking vigorously. Once gravy is thickened and bubbling, add sautéed mushrooms and herbs. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until gravy has a rich, velvety texture, about ten minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
To finish gravy: Whisk creme fraiche and tarragon into gravy, taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper; serve immediately.
Perfect Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes
5 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons sea salt, divided
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 cup whole milk
2/3 cup buttermilk
4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 -inch pieces
Freshly ground black pepper
To a large pot, add the potatoes and cover with cold water by 3 inches. Bring to a boil over high heat and add 2 tablespoon of salt. Lower heat to medium, cover partially, and simmer until potatoes are tender and can be pierced with a fork with little to no resistance, 15-20 minutes. Drain potatoes in a colander.
While potatoes are cooking, to a small saucepan, set over medium-low heat, add cream, milk buttermilk, butter and remaining 2 teaspoons of salt. Cook until butter is melted, 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat.
Set a potato ricer on the rim of the pot used to cook potatoes. Fill the ricer halfway with cooked potatoes and press them through. Continue until all the potatoes have been riced.
Fold a little bit of the cream mixture at a pimento the riced potatoes, using a silicone spatula until desired consistency is reached. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
To serve: Mound potatoes in a warmed serving bowl and serve immediately. Potatoes can also be made a few hours ahead, dotted with 2 tablespoon of butter, loosely covered with foil and kept in a warm oven.
Pumpkin Mousse with Bourbon Whipped Cream
2 teaspoon unflavored gelatin powder
1/4 cup bourbon
5 large egg yolks
1 3/4 cups heavy whipping cream, divided
3/4 cup granulated sugar
12 ounces pumpkin puree
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla paste
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
Bourbon Whipped Cream:
1 tablespoon bourbon
1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla paste
1 cup heavy whipping cream
To prepare mousse: To a small bowl, add gelatin and bourbon; stir to combine and set aside to allow gelatin to bloom.
To a medium saucepan, let over medium heat, add yolks, 1/2 cup cream, sugar, pumpkin puree, vanilla, spices and salt. Using a silicone spatula, cook, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens, about 5 minutes. Whisk gelatin into pumpkin mixture and transfer to refrigerator to cool for about 15 minutes.
To a large bowl, add remaining heavy cream. Whisk vigorously until medium peaks form. Using silicone spatula, gently fold whipped cream into cooled pumpkin mixture.
Divide mousse between 8, 4-ounce ramekins and refrigerate until set, minimum of 1 hour.
To prepare whipped cream: To a small bowl, add bourbon, sugar, and vanilla; stir to dissolve sugar.
To a large bowl, add heavy cream. Whisk vigorously until medium peaks form (or use a mixer). Pour in bourbon mixture and continue to whisk to combine.
To serve: Top each mousse cup with a dollop of whipped cream and serve immediately