Even though this turkey is moist, tender and juicy—the gravy puts it over the top. What you have here is a classic turkey with some added depth and flavor. The meat tastes of sage, rosemary, and thyme.
Here we are, the third and final post for my pre-Thanksgiving dinner. I bought a 9 1/2 pound fresh petite Diestel Turkey (I call it the Gerlinde butterball). I can hear you all say that's too small, but it isn't. So far, we had eight servings and several turkey sandwiches —and there is still some left. In the past, I have bought 12 -16 pound turkeys. The Diestel turkey farm is in the Sierra foothills and we drive right by it when we go to the mountains.
My turkey has several components. It is dry brined with herbed salt. I then put herbed butter under the breast skin and cover the top of the bird with cheesecloth soaked in butter and turkey stock. I make my own turkey stock the day before, using the neck bone and gizzard. The stock adds great flavor to the turkey and the gravy.
You will be rewarded for all this work with a great-tasting bird. My photos of the turkey are horrible, as I had no time and it shows. I will replace the photos when I make this turkey again—but in the meantime, bear with me.
There is always something to be thankful for
Wishing you all a Happy Thanksgiving with friends and family
I'm trying to organize my Thanksgiving and holiday recipes. In my previous post, I shared my cranberry ketchup and cranberry sauce recipe with you.
For me, the most important dishes for the Thanksgiving dinner table are cranberry sauce, gravy and stuffing. Forget the turkey. I did for years when I was a vegetarian. In those days, I often created lavish Thanksgiving dinners for friends and family. Since the stuffing was the centerpiece, I would bake it in a pumpkin or some sort of squash, using vegetable broth and making a vegetarian gravy. Now that the turkey has fallen back into grace at our table, I still make the stuffing, but most of the time I bake it in a pretty dish. So if you are a little pressed for time (who isn't these days?), use a casserole dish instead of a pumpkin. Although If you do use a pumpkin or squash, you will most likely end up with extra stuffing that you bake in a dish.
I made the stuffing for my pre-Thanksgiving dinner in our cabin. I removed the seeds and some of the flesh from a little red Kabocha Squash and filled it with some of my stuffing. The leftover stuffing went into a greased iron casserole. The stuffing in the squash was moist while the stuffing in the casserole was crunchy and dry. I preferred the crunchier version but enjoyed the stuffed squash for leftovers. It makes a great lunch with some sauce and pieces of the squash.
I love roasted chestnuts and I think they add a wonderful flavor to the stuffing. What I don't like is getting the nuts out of the shells. It is a tedious, nasty job and I have yet to come up with a solution. If anybody knows an easy way—please, please let me know. My husband and I have tried several techniques but none of them have been easy. Perhaps the best alternative is to buy the chestnuts already cleaned.
My husband made the croutons and peeled the chestnuts the day before.
This cranberry ketchup and my simple cranberry sauce are a tasty addition to any meal—and not just for the holidays. Freeze some extra bags of cranberries to make throughout the year.
Life is full of surprises with ups and downs like a roller coaster. One moment you are on top of the world (knowing that it won't last), full of anticipation and fear of the unknown as you contemplate the ride down. Personally, I don't like roller coasters, I prefer a gentle ride on a carousel. Last November and December were such roller coaster months for me. I had a wonderful visit with my mom in Germany. Afterwards, my husband and I went to Berlin, Prague, and Nürnberg. I came home and got ready for Christmas in the Sierras, baked cookies, tarts, made cranberry ketchup and cranberry sauce. Two days before Christmas, we loaded all our goodies into the car and left for the mountains. As we began our journey, I got messages from my niece saying that my mom had fallen and broken her hip badly. She was in an ambulance on the way to the hospital. On the first summit, I decided to turn around and go back home to make arrangements to leave for Germany. I was on the plane 24 hours later, and landed in Germany on Christmas Day. By then, my mom had peacefully passed away with my brother's family around her. I am so thankful for their love and care.
Last year, while looking through my folders, I came upon a recipe for cranberry ketchup. Since I love cranberries, I decided to make some. It was still in my fridge when I returned from Germany after my mom’s funeral. It was comforting to put on my sandwiches and added flavor and richness to many meals. I promised myself to make it again. This year, I will be in Germany for Thanksgiving to celebrate my brother's birthday. So, I decided to have a pre-Thanksgiving dinner in the Sierras in our cabin with my sister-in-law and her husband. The late fall here is gorgeous. There are very few people there now and we were expecting a dusting of snow for the weekend.
I made the cranberry ketchup and cranberry sauce several days before we drove up. The ketchup is fantastic and a spoonful will enhance most any meal. It lasts for a long time in the fridge and needs to sit for a couple of days to develops its full flavor.
Every time I cook a turkey, I make cranberry sauce. Turkey without cranberry sauce is not an option on my table. For many years, I have made the same recipe—not because it is the best or special—but because it is the one my family and I like the best. It is simple and easy to make. I always make it ahead of time and keep it in the fridge. There have been fleeting moments when I thought about adding ginger or a minced jalapeño, but I haven't. Maybe someday I will.
The amount of sugar depends how tart you want it to be: I used ¼ cup this time, but I think I will use ½ cup the next time. The tartness of cranberries has to be balanced with something sweet like orange juice and sugar. All my tasters liked the tartness of the thick sauce.
WELCOME TO SUNNY COVE CHEF
Thank you for visiting my blog. My two passions are cooking and traveling. Traveling exposes me to a wide variety of food and experiences. I walk around cities looking for markets, restaurants, bakeries, shops, you name it, and if it is related to food you will find me there, tasting, smelling, talking to vendors, and having a great time.