11/19/10

Thanksgiving Turkey and Butternut Squash Gratin


Last night I did a 'Pre-Thanksgiving' Test Run. I found a new turkey recipe and wanted to try it out before the big day. I also tried out a delicious new side dish that I wanted to share with you today, it is soooo yummy!

 First the turkey. I am not one who likes an extravagent turkey, you know the ones that have glazes, I just want a plain, yet juicy & tasy, Thanksgiving Turkey. So I found a recipe that sounded so easy. But in the end I think I like my brined turkey better. I shared this recipe last year, but I wanted to share it again.

Brining your turkey produces the most moist and flavorful turkey without putting alot of work into it. So, I think that is what I am going to do this year. Here is the Brine recipe I use:

from: Alton Brown @ Food Network

1 (14-16 lb.) Turkey

For the Brine:
1 Gallon Vegetable Broth
1 Cup Kosher Salt (or reg. salt)
1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
1 Tbsp. Peppercorns
1 1/2 Tbsp. All Spice Berries
1 1/2 Tbsp. Candied ginger (I couldn't find this so I just use reg. ginger)
1 Gallon heavily iced water

For the aromatics:
1 red apple, sliced
1/2 onion, sliced
1 cinnamon stick (I have never added the cinnamon stick, I actually forgot this was part of the original recipe)
1 cup water
4 sprigs rosemary
6 leaves sage
Canola oil

2 to 3 days before roasting:
Begin thawing the turkey in the refrigerator or in a cooler kept at 38 degrees F.

Combine the vegetable stock, salt, brown sugar, peppercorns, allspice berries, and candied ginger in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Stir occasionally to dissolve solids and bring to a boil. Then remove the brine from the heat, cool to room temperature, and refrigerate.
Early on the day or the night before you'd like to eat:
Combine the brine, water and ice in the 5-gallon bucket. Place the thawed turkey (with innards removed) breast side down in brine. If necessary, weigh down the bird to ensure it is fully immersed, cover, and refrigerate or set in cool area for 8 to 16 hours, turning the bird once half way through brining. (I always do mine the night before).

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. Remove the bird from brine and rinse inside and out with cold water. Discard the brine.

Place the bird on roasting rack inside a half sheet pan and pat dry with paper towels.

Combine the apple, onion, cinnamon stick, and 1 cup of water in a microwave safe dish and microwave on high for 5 minutes. Add steeped aromatics to the turkey's cavity along with the rosemary and sage. Tuck the wings underneath the bird and coat the skin liberally with canola oil.


Roast the turkey on lowest level of the oven at 500 degrees F for 30 minutes. After the 30 minutes reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F.
A 14 to 16 pound bird should require a total of 2 to 2 1/2 hours of roasting. A meat thermometer should read 170 degrees when inserted into the thickest part of the thigh (but not touching the bone).
Take a Rest:
No, I don't mean for you to take a rest. :) Another very important step in cooking your Turkey is letting it rest. Take your turkey out of the oven cover it with foil and leave it alone for 30 min. to 1 hour.

And remember your Turkey will continue to cook a bit during the resting period, so keep track of your turkeys temperature. Last night I took mine out when the thermometer read about 167 degrees.
 
One thing I read while researching about cooking a turkey:
Take your turkey out of your fridge 2 hours before you plan to cook it. Bringing the meat up to room temperature will both cut down on the cooking time and ensure the turkey cooks evenly. 
(from: simplebites.net)
 
And there's the turkey recipe I will be using this year. It has never failed me the 4 years I have used it.
 
 
 
 
from: simplebites.net
 
When I saw this on Simple Bites I knew I had to give it a try. I love squash and this looked delicous. I'm glad I gave it a try because it was great. My Father-in-law, who hates squash, ate it and really liked it (the only reason he tried it is because he thought it was potatoes, hahaha). So here's a new side dish for you to try this Thanksgiving.

3 C. Butternut Squash, in 3/4 in. chunks
1 C. sweet onion, finely chopped
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 egg
1/2 tsp. Salt
2 Tbsp. Mayo
2/3 C. Parmesan, grated (or strong cheddar)
1/3 C. Panko (or breadcrumbs)
Pepper to taste

Heat oven to 350°F. Butter an 8-inch baking dish, round or square.

In a medium pot, cover squash with cold water, place a lid on top and bring to a boil over high heat. When boiling, reduce heat so that the water just simmers and cook squash for about 15 min. or until tender. Rinse under cold water; drain. (Do-Ahead: at this point the squash can be stored for up to two days until you are ready to assemble the gratin.)

Heat olive oil in a non-stick pan and add onions. Sauté on medium heat, stirring often, until softened. Set aside to cool slightly.
In a medium bowl, beat egg, salt and mayonnaise together. Add 1/3 cup of Parmesan, panko, sautéed onion and squash and fold together gently to combine. Season with pepper and more salt, if needed.

Spoon in to prepared baking dish and top with remaining 1/3 cup of cheese. Bake 1 hour or until heated through and cheese is slightly browned. Serve hot.

Recipe serves up to 8 people.

Do-Ahead: Remove gratin from oven after 30 minutes and cool completely. Cover well with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to one day. To serve: remove plastic wrap and place in hot oven. Bake for about 20 minutes until heated through and cheese is melted.

I cut up my squash and cooked my onions the night before. That made it so simple to put together the next day. If you're looking for a new dish for Thanksgiving give this recipe a try.



I hope all of you have a great weekend.
Check back in a few days for some yummy Thanksgiving desserts!

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