Selected recipes from chapters 4 and 5.
Our Thanksgiving Turkey with "140" Cloves
Our Thanksgiving Turkey with "140" Cloves of Garlic
Serves 14 of our family and friends
Our Thanksgiving turkey is, first and foremost, inspired by Karen's Aunt Dora, who was always responsible for her family's annual bird. The centerpiece of a multicourse, vastly complicated gourmet feast prepared by Iris, Karen's cousin and Dora's daughter, the turkey came to the table redolent of garlic and pristine in its simple glory.
Credit, of course, is also due James Beard, who inspired countless converts with his classic interpretation of "chicken with 40 cloves of garlic." The confit fat basting is Ben's contribution and yields a gloriously deep mahogany skin and fantastic flavor.
Numerous sources are available for organic, hormone-free turkeys, which are vastly superior in every way. Exercise caution, however, as they cook much faster than commercially injected birds, and while the overcooked turkey may be traditional, it is a revelation to eat a juicy, moist Thanksgiving fowl.
Serve with all the side dishes traditional to your family, or consider our Southern greens, buttermilk mashed new potatoes, and wild mushroom bread pudding.
Ingredients for the Turkey
1 21- to 25-pound fresh turkey, preferably a free-range organic bird
4 large sprigs fresh sage
6 large sprigs fresh thyme
6-8 fresh bay leaves
as many peeled garlic cloves as you can stuff into the turkey cavities
2 cups cold rendered duck fat--or better, fat from duck confit
salt and black pepper
Ingredients for the "Gravy"
2 tablespoons duck fat or peanut oil
1/2 onion, sliced thin
2 bay leaves
1/2 cup sherry vinegar
1 1/2 cups Madeira
1 1/2 quarts roasted chicken stock
roasted garlic cloves (from the turkey)
1 tablespoon fresh sage leaves, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped
salt and black pepper to taste
Preparation for the Turkey
1. The day before, remove the turkey from its plastic wrapper. Remove the giblets and neck and set them aside. Wash the turkey inside and out; dry thoroughly and put it in the refrigerator overnight to dry out the skin and cavity. Remove the turkey from the refrigerator at least 1 hour before cooking.
2. Preheat oven to 350 degress. Season the interior cavity and neck cavity liberally with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Divide the sage, thyme, and bay leaves between the body cavity and neck cavity. Shove as many cloves of peeled garlic into each cavity as possible; secure the neck skin with a skewer or toothpick and reposition the legs or tie them with butcher's twine.
3. Using your hands, slather duck fat on all the exposed skin of the turkey until well coated. Season liberally with salt and pepper and position the bird in a roasting pan, breast-side down. Place the neck in the immediate proximity of its original location; reserve the remaining giblets for another use.
4. Roast the turkey, breast-side down, for 45 minutes on the bottom rack of the oven. Remove from the oven and, with an assistant, turn the bird breast-side up. Using a pastry brush, baste all surfaces of the bird with melted duck fat from the roasting pan.
5. Return the turkey to the oven and roast for 10 minutes per pound, basting thoroughly every 20-30 minutes with the duck fat renderings in the roasting pan. Be careful not to overcook; test doneness by inserting a skewer into the inner thigh muscle; juices should be barely pinkish and the flesh still moist.
6. Remove the turkey to a cutting board to rest for at least 20 minutes, preferably 30. Extract the garlic cloves from the cavity and complete the gravy. Pour off all fat from the roasting pan; set the neck on a plate to snack on while finishing the gravy. (The neck will be meltingly tender and thoroughly infused with the duck fat flavor; it is the cook's prize, but be generous and insist that everyone taste "a little bit.") Deglaze the roasting pan with a little chicken stock so you can add the juices to the gravy.
7. Carve the turkey and transfer the meat to a platter.
Preparation for the "Gravy"
In a medium saucepan, heat the duck fat or peanut oil over medium heat. Add the onion and bay leaves; cook until the onion is soft and beginning to caramelize. Add the sherry vinegar and Madeira, bring to a simmer, and reduce by two-thirds.
2. Add the stock, bring to a simmer, and reduce by two-thirds, skimming. Strain into a clean saucepot and reserve until the turkey is finished roasting.
3. Add as many roasted garlic cloves as you like to the gravy and strain in the juices from the deglazed roasting pan. Warm over low heat, stir in the herbs, and season, adding a dash of sherry vinegar if necessary to bring into balance. Pass the gravy separately at table.
Yields 3 dozen
Triple risen with yeast, baking powder, and soda, angel biscuits, also known as bride's biscuits, are virtually foolproof in nature--even novice bakers can turn out light and flaky biscuits using this recipe.
3/4 tablespoon yeast
2 tablespoons warm water
3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 tablespoons sugar
3/4 tablespoon salt
4 ounces vegetable shortening, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1. In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast in the warm water with a small pinch of sugar.
2. Place the flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, and salt in a mixing bowl. Cut in the shortening till evenly distributed. Add the buttermilk and the yeast mixture and mix till evenly moistened. This can be done with a stationary mixer if desired.
3. Place the dough in a greased storage container, cover, and refrigerate 8 to 36 hours.
4. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and roll out about 1/2 inch thick. Cut with a 2-inch biscuit cutter and place the biscuits 1 inch apart on a parchment-lined or lightly greased baking sheet. Allow to rise at room temperature approximately 1 hour, till puffy. Toward the end of the hour, preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
5. Bake 15 to 20 minutes, till lightly browned. These can be baked several hours ahead if desired. Store covered at room temperature; reheat before serving if desired.
Serves 8 to 10
Every Southern family has its own recipe for simple, down-home squash casserole. This version is based on a recipe from Ben's mother. It is just as delicious served at room temperature as it is hot, and it may be prepared in advance and reheated.
3 tablespoons rendered bacon fat
1 large onion, peeled and cut into small dice
3 pounds yellow squash, cut lengthwise into quarters and sliced 1/4 inch thick
1/4 cup water
1 cup grated Monterey Jack cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons chopped parsley
3 tablespoons chopped sage
4 eggs, beaten
salt, freshly ground black pepper, and Tabasco to taste
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Heat the bacon fat in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook till softened. Add the squash and sauté 5 minutes. Add the water and steam, covered, until tender.
3. Strain the squash mixture, discarding the liquid, and place the squash in a mixing bowl. Combine with the Jack cheese, Parmesan, parsley, sage, and eggs. Mix well and season to taste with salt, black pepper, and Tabasco.
4. Pour the mixture into a greased shallow 12-cup casserole.
5. Bake at 350 degress approximately 30 to 35 minutes, until set and golden brown.