Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday and so despite the looming law school finals, I ultimately decided that I was going to have myself a Thanksgiving feast…with some help from my beloved Trader Joe’s so that I don’t have to make everything. And what would Thanksgiving be without a touch of my favorite iron chef Michael Symon? So I took Michael Symon’s recipes for brussel sprouts and creamed corn. I also took some recipes from my other trusted sources: the recipes I’ve tried from Tyler Florence’s show, Tyler’s Ultimate, have all been quite good; other recipes from the Food Network website; and Cooks’ Illustrated. So here it is, what I am calling the “food network thanksgiving dinner with a touch of MS”:
Our thanksgiving menu for 3 began with cranberry bellini and smoked salmon platter, followed by Trader Joe’s carrot ginger soup (served with creme fraiche and chives); main course was a herb-roasted, brined bone-in turkey breast, served with Trader Joe’s turkey gravy, home-made cranberry-orange sauce and cornbread stuffing w/ caramelized onions and bacon, sides were made with recipes from the Iron Chef and included brussel sprouts w/ pecans and creamed corn; finally, dessert was a store-bought apple pie.
Ingredients: Prosecco or any sparking wine; cranberry juice
I think I did about 2/3 cranberry juice and 1/3 Prosecco. I liked the color and champagne flutes just adds to the festivity.
Costco’s Smoked Salmon with capers and minced onions (courtesy of the cousins)
Trader Joe’s Carrot Ginger Soup with Creme Fraiche and Chives
Ingredients: soup from TJ’s (duh), optional: creme fraiche/sour cream/yogurt, chives
I am a big fan of these ready-made soups from TJ’s. They come in a carton so you can keep them in the fridge after opening. I also love fall vegetables soups/bisques. To make the soup a little bit more over the top, I garnished it with a dollop of creme fraiche (can substitute with yogurt or sour cream) and some chopped chives.
Herb-Roasted brined Bone-in Turkey Breast
Ingredients: 1 whole bone-in turkey breast (avg 5-7 lbs), 4 tbsp softened butter, chopped rosemary, sage, thyme (about 1 tsp each), black pepper, 1 cup of water; For the brine: 3/4 cup kosher salt, 4 qt cold water
- Brine the turkey breast: dissolve 3/4 cup of kosher salt in 4 qt of cold water. Submerge the turkey breast in the brine. Refrigerate for up to 3 hours. (I got the instruction from Cook’s Illustrated.) After 3 hours, rinse the breast in cold water and pat dry.
- Preheat oven to 425 F.
- Combine softened butter, chopped herbs (rosemary, thyme, sage here), black pepper.
- With your fingers, carefully loosen/separate the skin of the breast from the meat. With a spoon, insert half of the butter mixture from step 3 into half of the breast. Now massage the skin to spread the butter mixture all over that side of the turkey breast. Repeat with the other side.
- Spray roasting rack with non-stick spray. Place rack inside roasting pan and then place turkey breast on roasting rack. Add 1 cup of water to the bottom of the roast pan to prevent drippings from burning.
- Roast the breast at 425 F for 30 minutes, then lower temperature to 325 F for about an hour or until internal temp in thickest part of the breast measures 160 F.
- Let meat rest for 20 min before carving.
- Serve w/ gravy and sides (we cheated and used Trader Joe’s instant turkey gravy in a box since with just the turkey breast, we did not have enough fat rendered to make our own gravy).
When it comes to turkey there seems to be 2 camps: brine or no brine. From all my readings and food network educating it seems like brining will give you a more moist bird but the texture of the meat may be more mushy? Decided to try the brine, and then fiddled around the web comparing different recipes. The recipe I used is a combination of Cook’s illustrated’s guide to a simple roast turkey breast (with their instruction on how to brine the turkey breast) and Ina Garten’s Herb-Roasted Turkey Breast. I also decided to go with Cook’s Illustrated’s instructions oven temperatures to get crispy skin: Cook’s called for roasting the breast at 425 F for the first 30 min and then lowering oven temp to 325 F for about 1 hr while most other recipes I found called for roasting at 325 F for roughly 1 3/4 to 2 hrs.
The result? The skin was super crispy. The breast meat was moist and it was flavorful. I also really liked the simple butter and herb paste that flavored the turkey breast. but I did feel that the texture of the meat was mushier. So which camp am I in? brine or no brine? I am still undecided.
Cornbread stuffing with bacon and caramelized onions
Ingredients: 1 store-bought cornbread, 1 large apple muffin, 2 eggs, 2 onions (chopped), 2-3 slices of bacon (chopped), handful of chopped sage, rosemary, thyme; salt & pepper, 1 cup chicken stock, 1/2 cup heavy cream
- pre-heat oven to 375 F.
- brown bacon over medium heat until crispy; remove bacon from pan, add in chopped onions and cook over medium heat until onions are golden brown.
- combine bacon, onions, chopped herbs. Break the cornbread and apple muffins into large chunks and add them to the onion/bacon/herb mixture. Season with pepper (the bacon is salty already).
- In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, cream and chicken stock. Combine with the cornbread mixture.
- Spoon mixture into a buttered baking dish (I used a 9×9 pan). Bake for about 30 minutes until crispy and golden brown on top.
This is an adaptation/modification of Tyler Florence’s cornbread dressing with cameralized onions. What did I change? I added bacon (Mmm….BACON), and instead of using all cornbread (the recipe called for 6 large corn muffins), I used store-bought cornbread and crumbs from an apple muffin because I thought the flavor of the apple would work well in there. Also, I am convinced that the original recipe on food network’s website cannot be right in terms of the amount of eggs, heavy cream and chicken stock, because the dressing looked really dry, so I modified that as well…nonetheless, the stuffing came out a bit on the dry side for me. The top was also slightly burnt, but it was nice and crispy. Also, I think the combination of the cornbread and apple muffin made the dressing a little bit too sweet. This was a slight disappointment, especially since stuffing is my favorite part of any Thanksgiving dinner. Oh well, a work in progress.
Home-made cranberry-orange sauce
Ingredients: bag of Ocean Spray fresh or frozen cranberries, juice and zest (cut in thin strips) of 1 orange, 1/2 cup of brown sugar, 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- Put everything into a pan and heat over medium heat. Simmer for about 20 minutes until the sauce thickens. Chill and serve.
Sorry! this is the only photo of it. Recipe courtesy of Tyler Florence: the only thing I changed was I added vanilla extract instead of cinnamon stix because the I knew one of my cousins did not like cinnamon…and earlier that week I had seen Bobby Flay add vanilla (but I think he used vanilla bean and bourbon) to his cranberry sauce on Iron Chef America: Thanksgiving Showdown.
I also made 2 side dishes using my favorite Iron Chef Michael Symon’s recipes:
Brussel sprouts with pecans, mustard and lemon
Ingredients: 1 lb brussel sprouts (quartered), 1/4 lb smoked bacon (diced), 1 clove of garlic (minced), 1 shallot (minced), 1/2 cup chopped pecans, 2 tbsp grain mustard, 1/2 cup chicken stock, juice of 1 lemon, 2 tbsp butter, 1 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
- Blanch the brussel sprouts for 3-5 minutes then set aside in ice bath to stop the cooking process. Drain.
- Heat half of the butter (1tbsp) over medium heat, Add in brussel sprouts, cook for about 3 minutes. Set aside
- In another pan, heat bacon over medium-high heat until crispy, about 3 minutes, then add in pecans, garlic and shallots, continue to cook over medium heat for about a minute.
- Deglaze the pan with chicken stock and lemon juice. Then fold in the remaining butter (1tbsp), mustard and parsley. Finally incorporate brussel sprouts.
I absolutely loved this dish! Thank you chef Symon for putting this recipe up on his blog! This was different from the deep-fried brussel sprouts that we had at Roast in Detroit but just as delicious. The chopped pecans added a nice crunch to the dish, and the fat from the bacon added the flavor. The tanginess from the lemon juice and grain mustard helped cut through the bacon and butter so the brussel sprouts were extremely flavorful but not too rich. I am definitely making more of this in the future!
Ingredients: 4 shallots (minced), 4 ears of corn (shucked), 2 tbsp butter, 2 tbsp flour, 1 cup heavy cream, 1 cup chicken stock, salt/pepper
- Let shallots and jaleno sweat in butter over medium heat. Add corn.
- Add flour to make a roux, then add cream and chicken stock.
- season with salt/pepper. Simmer for 30 minutes.
When we were at Roast restaurant in Detroit earlier this month, my cousin had wanted to order creamed corn as a side dish, but we ultimately decided against the creamed corn and ordered a bunch of other stuff instead, so I decided to make creamed corn as one of the side dishes and came across a creamed corn recipe by the Iron Chef Michael Symon. His original recipe also called for bacon (the man does love pork), but I skipped out on the bacon (I know! shame on me!) just because we already have bacon in our stuffing and the brussel sprouts (see recipe above). Nontheless, the creamed corn was delicious, sweet…and um..creamy =)
Cheated our way through dessert (time saver! reminder! law student a week away from finals!) with a store-bought apple pie (because I like all things made with pumpkin except for pumpkin pie…I don’t like custard pies). It was perfect.