Thanksgiving

One of my favourite jokes about Alberta goes something like this:  There are two seasons around here; July and Winter.  So darn true!  It seems as if the trees explode with colour and then shed their loveliness within DAYS of turning.  Born and raised in the Northeastern US, I still long for those months of slow and steady seasonal change.  Here, I feel a bit forced to inhale all of this splendour before it’s gone.  Talk about budgeting your time!   

Speaking of budgets and time, I’m also always struck at how quickly Canadian Thanksgiving creeps up in this neck of woods compared to what I was used to back in the states.  This year, Turkey Day will occur on October 13th, which is tomorrow.  For years, I’ve tried to re-create American Thanksgiving with less than stellar results.  It’s hard to celebrate a holiday like American Thanksgiving, where it seems the whole worlds stops to feast together and watch football, (I’m not a football fan, actually, but whatever, when in Rome…) when in Canadian reality it’s simply another workday. It’s left with me with no alternative; Canadian Thanksgiving has become something unto itself, and I’ve relented a bit in trying to recreate what was. And I’d love to share with you the learning that has come out of my little journey.

Canadian Thanksgiving

In keeping in tune with our October theme, Thanksgiving on a budget relates to frugality with respect to time as well as ingredients.   Luckily, whether in whole or in parts, Turkey is incredibly inexpensive.  It’s also incredibly bland.  Personally, I adore all of the accompaniments, which transforms the humble bird into a seasonal centrepiece, but in all honesty, life is too short for bland turkey, don’t you think? 

So here’s what I’ve found to be the ultimate game changer: Brine!!! 

plated

If you are not already using brines on your poultry, puh-leese give it a try.  It’s a workhorse!  And a magic one at that.  Brines are your low maintenance friends in the kitchen.  Give a few ingredients ten minutes of your time, ignore it for hours and it will create subtle transformation with whatever it touches. 

Here’s how to do it, with a loose recipe that I whipped up on a weeknight, simply because I was craving it and had some time to play with while I was working at home as the dinner hour approached.  

Enjoy with those you love and give thanks.

Love,
Elevenses

 

Easy (Yet Spectacular) Herbed Roasted Turkey Thighs with Pumpkin

From: Patricia Cardinal
Prep Time: 20 Mins Cooking Time: 45 Mins Total Time: 2 Hours 5 Mins

Ingredients:

  • 2 quarts vegetable stock
  • 1/2 cup salt (3/4 cup Kosher or coarse salt)
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon dried rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon dried sage (additional for roasting)
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme
  • 2 quarts cold water
  • Additional Coconut oil for  turkey pan and to coat squash
  • Turkey thighs, 4
  • 1 Kabocha  or 2 Acorn Squash; split, seeds removed, sliced into 1 inch slices
  • Several sprigs rosemary, Thyme, or whatever herb you can find.
  • At least 6 cloves garlic, halved (not peeled.)
  • Coarse salt and pepper (you guessed it, for the squash)

If you wish to make a sauce for your turkey:

  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • ½ cups good quality chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons cold butter
  • Pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. In a heavy bottomed, medium sized saucepan, combine the brine ingredients.  
  2. Bring ingredients to a boil, lower flame to low, cover and simmer for about 15 minutes until the salt is completely dissolved and your kitchen smells like absolute heaven.  
  3. Pour brine into a heatproof container and allow to cool.  
  4. Once cool, add two quarts cold water.  (The brine can now be stored for a day or two in a covered container)  
  5. Add your turkey pieces to the brine and soak for roughly an hour per pound of meat. 
  6. Prior to roasting, preheat oven to 450 F.
  7. After the brining time is complete, rinse the meat under cold water to remove brine.  (Neglecting this step will result in highly salty turkey; an absolute travesty.)  
  8. Dry Turkey thighs thoroughly, season with generous dashes of pepper, and rubbed sage.
  9. Set a heavy bottomed saucepan on high and add a generous tablespoon of fat.  I use coconut oil, as it’s paleo friendly and has a nice high tolerance for heat, however, any animal fat will do nicely.  
  10. Add your meat to the screaming hot pan, flesh side down.  
  11. At this point, do your turkey a favour and LEAVE IT ALONE!  Do not peak at the underside for at least two minutes, until you can see the meat turning white around the edges, indicating the skin is browning nicely.  
  12. Now you can turn the meat when it’s a lovely toasty brown.  
  13. Once you turn the meat, pop the pan into the pre-heated oven wth your rack adjusted to the middle shelf.  Allow at least 20 minutes before you begin temping the meat.  The goal is for the turkey to register about 150 F in the thickest area of the thigh. 
  14. Once your turkey is safely tucked into the oven, now is a wonderful time to pop your squash into the oven as well.  Nothing like double duty in the oven!
  15. Line your baking sheet with parchment paper. 
  16. Place your squash on the sheet.  
  17. Brush one side generously with melted coconut oil.  Turn your squash over and brush the other side with melted coconut oil.  
  18. Liberally scatter coarse salt and pepper over the squash and scatter your fresh herbs across the top so each piece has some contact with the herbs.  
  19. Then place a halved piece of garlic on each piece of squash.  Take a step back and admire your handy work.  
  20. Pop your squash into the oven a few inches below your roasting turkey.  
  21. Allow to roast for about 15 minutes.  At this point, either drizzle the squash with additional coconut oil, or if you’re feeling particularly brazen, scoop some of the lovely drippings from your roasting turkey things  and drizzle it over your roasting squash.  
  22. Your squash is done when the flesh is soft when pierced with a fork and lightly browned on the underside.  
  23. Discard the herbs before serving but savour the garlic action.  It’s delightful and mellow after roasting. 
  24. Once meat has reached it’s proper temperature, remove pan from the oven and transfer the turkey thighs to a heat proof plate.  
  25. Tent it with foil and let the meat rest.

Bonus: Deglaze your pan if you would like the most amazing sauce for your turkey.  Your mouth will thank you – trust me.

    To Deglaze Pan:

    1. Pour off all but a tablespoon of fat from your pan.  
    2. Turn heat to medium high.  
    3. Add about a half cup of white wine to pan, and scrape off the fond from the bottom of your pan rigorously with a wooden spoon or something sturdy that will help remove those lovely meaty remains coating the bottom of your skillet.  
    4. Once this is done, add our wine to the skillet, turn the heat to high and allow the wine to reduce by half, which should take roughly 2 to 4 minutes.  
    5. Add about a cup and a half of chicken stock to your pan, turn heat to high and allow to reduce by half.  
    6. Now remove your pan from the heat, and whisk in two tablespoons of cold butter.  
    7. Season to taste with white or black pepper. Do not add salt, as the drippings from a brined meat do not need further salting!  
    8. Spoon your pan jus over anything and everything.

    One of my favourite jokes about Alberta goes something like this:  There are two seasons around here; July and Winter.  So darn true!  It seems as if the trees explode with colour and then shed their loveliness within DAYS of turning.  Born and raised in the Northeastern US, I still long for those months of slow and steady seasonal change.  Here, I feel a bit forced to inhale all of this splendour before it’s gone.  Talk about budgeting your time!   

    Speaking of budgets and time, I’m also always struck at how quickly Canadian Thanksgiving creeps up in this neck of woods compared to what I was used to back in the states.  This year, Turkey Day will occur on October 13th, which is tomorrow.  For years, I’ve tried to re-create American Thanksgiving with less than stellar results.  It’s hard to celebrate a holiday like American Thanksgiving, where it seems the whole worlds stops to feast together and watch football, (I’m not a football fan, actually, but whatever, when in Rome…) when in Canadian reality it’s simply another workday. It’s left with me with no alternative; Canadian Thanksgiving has become something unto itself, and I’ve relented a bit in trying to recreate what was. And I’d love to share with you the learning that has come out of my little journey.

    Canadian Thanksgiving

    In keeping in tune with our October theme, Thanksgiving on a budget relates to frugality with respect to time as well as ingredients.   Luckily, whether in whole or in parts, Turkey is incredibly inexpensive.  It’s also incredibly bland.  Personally, I adore all of the accompaniments, which transforms the humble bird into a seasonal centrepiece, but in all honesty, life is too short for bland turkey, don’t you think? 

    So here’s what I’ve found to be the ultimate game changer: Brine!!! 

    plated

    If you are not already using brines on your poultry, puh-leese give it a try.  It’s a workhorse!  And a magic one at that.  Brines are your low maintenance friends in the kitchen.  Give a few ingredients ten minutes of your time, ignore it for hours and it will create subtle transformation with whatever it touches. 

    Here’s how to do it, with a loose recipe that I whipped up on a weeknight, simply because I was craving it and had some time to play with while I was working at home as the dinner hour approached.  

    Enjoy with those you love and give thanks.

    Love,
    Elevenses

     

    Easy (Yet Spectacular) Herbed Roasted Turkey Thighs with Pumpkin

    From: Patricia Cardinal
    Prep Time: 20 Mins Cooking Time: 45 Mins Total Time: 2 Hours 5 Mins

    Ingredients:

    • 2 quarts vegetable stock
    • 1/2 cup salt (3/4 cup Kosher or coarse salt)
    • 1/2 cup white sugar
    • 1 tablespoon dried rosemary
    • 1 tablespoon dried sage (additional for roasting)
    • 1 tablespoon dried thyme
    • 2 quarts cold water
    • Additional Coconut oil for  turkey pan and to coat squash
    • Turkey thighs, 4
    • 1 Kabocha  or 2 Acorn Squash; split, seeds removed, sliced into 1 inch slices
    • Several sprigs rosemary, Thyme, or whatever herb you can find.
    • At least 6 cloves garlic, halved (not peeled.)
    • Coarse salt and pepper (you guessed it, for the squash)

    If you wish to make a sauce for your turkey:

    • ½ cup dry white wine
    • ½ cups good quality chicken stock
    • 2 tablespoons cold butter
    • Pepper to taste

    Directions:

    1. In a heavy bottomed, medium sized saucepan, combine the brine ingredients.  
    2. Bring ingredients to a boil, lower flame to low, cover and simmer for about 15 minutes until the salt is completely dissolved and your kitchen smells like absolute heaven.  
    3. Pour brine into a heatproof container and allow to cool.  
    4. Once cool, add two quarts cold water.  (The brine can now be stored for a day or two in a covered container)  
    5. Add your turkey pieces to the brine and soak for roughly an hour per pound of meat. 
    6. Prior to roasting, preheat oven to 450 F.
    7. After the brining time is complete, rinse the meat under cold water to remove brine.  (Neglecting this step will result in highly salty turkey; an absolute travesty.)  
    8. Dry Turkey thighs thoroughly, season with generous dashes of pepper, and rubbed sage.
    9. Set a heavy bottomed saucepan on high and add a generous tablespoon of fat.  I use coconut oil, as it’s paleo friendly and has a nice high tolerance for heat, however, any animal fat will do nicely.  
    10. Add your meat to the screaming hot pan, flesh side down.  
    11. At this point, do your turkey a favour and LEAVE IT ALONE!  Do not peak at the underside for at least two minutes, until you can see the meat turning white around the edges, indicating the skin is browning nicely.  
    12. Now you can turn the meat when it’s a lovely toasty brown.  
    13. Once you turn the meat, pop the pan into the pre-heated oven wth your rack adjusted to the middle shelf.  Allow at least 20 minutes before you begin temping the meat.  The goal is for the turkey to register about 150 F in the thickest area of the thigh. 
    14. Once your turkey is safely tucked into the oven, now is a wonderful time to pop your squash into the oven as well.  Nothing like double duty in the oven!
    15. Line your baking sheet with parchment paper. 
    16. Place your squash on the sheet.  
    17. Brush one side generously with melted coconut oil.  Turn your squash over and brush the other side with melted coconut oil.  
    18. Liberally scatter coarse salt and pepper over the squash and scatter your fresh herbs across the top so each piece has some contact with the herbs.  
    19. Then place a halved piece of garlic on each piece of squash.  Take a step back and admire your handy work.  
    20. Pop your squash into the oven a few inches below your roasting turkey.  
    21. Allow to roast for about 15 minutes.  At this point, either drizzle the squash with additional coconut oil, or if you’re feeling particularly brazen, scoop some of the lovely drippings from your roasting turkey things  and drizzle it over your roasting squash.  
    22. Your squash is done when the flesh is soft when pierced with a fork and lightly browned on the underside.  
    23. Discard the herbs before serving but savour the garlic action.  It’s delightful and mellow after roasting. 
    24. Once meat has reached it’s proper temperature, remove pan from the oven and transfer the turkey thighs to a heat proof plate.  
    25. Tent it with foil and let the meat rest.

    Bonus: Deglaze your pan if you would like the most amazing sauce for your turkey.  Your mouth will thank you – trust me.

      To Deglaze Pan:

      1. Pour off all but a tablespoon of fat from your pan.  
      2. Turn heat to medium high.  
      3. Add about a half cup of white wine to pan, and scrape off the fond from the bottom of your pan rigorously with a wooden spoon or something sturdy that will help remove those lovely meaty remains coating the bottom of your skillet.  
      4. Once this is done, add our wine to the skillet, turn the heat to high and allow the wine to reduce by half, which should take roughly 2 to 4 minutes.  
      5. Add about a cup and a half of chicken stock to your pan, turn heat to high and allow to reduce by half.  
      6. Now remove your pan from the heat, and whisk in two tablespoons of cold butter.  
      7. Season to taste with white or black pepper. Do not add salt, as the drippings from a brined meat do not need further salting!  
      8. Spoon your pan jus over anything and everything.

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