Thursday, January 3, 2013

Thanksgiving 2012 - Soy-Sauce and Honey-Glazed Turkey, Mark Bittman's Green Beans with Crisp Shallots, Cranberry-Reisling Compote and Sweet Potato Gratin with Chile Spiced Pecans

I came up with the menu for Thanksgiving back in mid-November after spending a little while pouring through the Food & Wine website.  I quickly realized that they had a slideshow for various ethnic and regional Thanksgiving feats, including an "Asian-American Thanksgiving."  I was instantly hooked.  Alex's favorite thing about Thanksgiving with my parents has always been the Sichuan cucumbers that my mother makes and the Soy-Sauce and Honey-Glazed Turkey sounded like the perfect centerpiece to a meal featuring my American father, my Chinese mother, a number of her Chinese siblings and a batch of Sichuan cucumbers.  We only ended up making one dish from the slideshow, but since it was the turkey I think that deserves a shout out. 

I thought the turkey had really good flavor and was very moist, although I wish that the flavors of the honey and soy-sauce mixture really seeped down into the meat a little more.  With that said, I think it was the best turkey we have made for Thanksgiving to date, although I think we have made better gravies.  Unfortunately the picture looks a little ridiculous - nothing that I did made the turkey lay flat on its back.  It just kept keeling over left and right until I admitted defeat.  The sweet potatoes were perhaps my second favorite dish from Thanksgiving.  They were really good.  I was a little worried about the dish for a number of reasons, including the fact that I bought white sweet potatoes and didn't realize that the flesh inside would be this weird light yellow color (which looked kind of sickly against the roasted marshmallows), but the flavor was really good.  They almost looked like applesauce mixed into mashed potatoes.  The color was really weird and slightly off-putting.  I actually considered leaving the sweet potatoes at home rather than bringing them with me because they were such an odd color. I wish I had taken a picture (even thought the picture would have been horrible), but I didn't have time.  I was also worried that they would be too sweet, but in the end I think they were just right.  Mark Bittman's green beans were nice, although the shallots and almonds tended to fall straight to the bottom and without any shallots or almonds to liven them up, they were a little blah.  The cranberry compote marked our third attempt at cranberry sauce, none of which has been a smashing success.  I'm not sure if the heirloom cranberries we are buying at the farmers' market are more bitter than your average grocery store cranberry or if I am extremely sensitive to bitterness, but the past few batches have been too bitter to eat without the addition of a large amount of additional honey or sugar.  I would say that these cranberries ended up being our most successful to date by far, but I added about 1/4 cup of honey to them after they cooled to get them to that point.

P.S.  Sorry for the delay on this post but there was a whole camera/hard drive debacle.  If you want to read more about it, you can look at my Thanksgiving 2012 Desserts post.  I'm not going to repeat the whole story here, but suffice it to say that I am a wee bit forgetful sometimes. 

Recipes (and more pictures) after the jump!


Soy-Sauce and Honey-Glazed Turkey
Available at Food & Wine

2 cups soy sauce
1 cup honey
1/4 cup toasted sesame oil
1/2 cup thinly sliced fresh ginger
One 14- to 16-pound turkey
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons Chinese five-spice powder
6 scallions, cut into 2-inch lengths
2 cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup all-purpose flour

In a very large bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, honey, sesame oil and half of the ginger. Put the turkey in the bowl, breast side down, and marinate at room temperature for 45 minutes. Turn the turkey and marinate breast side up for 15 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350°. Set a rack in a large roasting pan. In a small bowl, combine the salt, pepper and five-spice powder. Remove the turkey from the marinade; reserve the marinade. Set the turkey on the rack, breast side up, and season it inside and out with the salt mixture. Stuff the cavity with the scallions and the remaining ginger. Turn the turkey breast side down on the rack. Add 2 cups of water to the roasting pan. Loosely cover the turkey with a foil tent.

Roast the turkey for 4 hours, basting with some of the reserved marinade every hour and adding a total of 3 cups of water to the pan during roasting. Turn the turkey breast side up and baste well with the reserved marinade. Roast uncovered for 30 minutes, basting once halfway through cooking. The turkey is done when an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thigh registers 165°.

Carefully pour the juices from the turkey cavity into the roasting pan and transfer the turkey to a carving board. Let rest in a warm place for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, strain the pan juices into a large saucepan and skim off the fat. Add the chicken stock to the juices along with 3 cups of water and bring to a boil.

In a medium bowl, blend the butter with the flour to make a smooth paste. Gradually whisk in 2 cups of the hot pan juices until smooth. Whisk the mixture into the saucepan and bring the gravy to a simmer, whisking constantly, until thickened. Simmer the gravy over low heat, whisking occasionally, until no floury taste remains, about 8 minutes. Carve the turkey; pass the gravy at the table.      

Sweet Potato Gratin with Chile Spiced Pecans
Adapted from Food & Wine

5 pounds sweet potatoes
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cups pecans (8 ounces)
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon chipotle chile powder
Kosher salt
1/4 cup honey
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
generous 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
generous 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 cup heavy cream
Freshly ground pepper
2 cups mini marshmallows

Preheat the oven to 375°. Roast the sweet potatoes on a large baking sheet for about 1 hour and 10 minutes, until tender.

Meanwhile, in a skillet, melt the butter. Add the pecans, sugar and chipotle powder and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until the sugar starts to caramelize and the pecans are well-coated, 8 minutes. Spread the pecans on a parchment-lined baking sheet, sprinkle with salt and let cool.

Cut the potatoes in half lengthwise and scoop the flesh into the bowl of a food processor; discard the skins. Add the honey, cinnamon, allspice and cloves to the processor and puree. Add the cream and puree. Season with salt and pepper.

Scrape the potatoes into a 9-by-13-inch baking dish; scatter the marshmallows on top. Bake in the top third of the oven for 25 minutes, until the marshmallows are golden. Sprinkle with the pecans and serve.

Make Ahead The sweet potato puree can be refrigerated overnight. Bring to room temperature and top with the marshmallows before baking. The spiced nuts can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Mark Bittman's Green Beans with Crisp Shallots 
Available at Serious Eats   

1 1/2 pounds green beans
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
2 medium shallots, thinly sliced
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup sliced almonds, optional

Bring a stockpot of water to a boil and salt it. Fill a large bowl with cold water and lots of ice cubes and keep a colander handy. To trim the beans, snap or cut off the stem end and any brown spots. Cut them into 2-inch pieces or leave them whole.

Add the green beans to the boiling water and cook until they just start to get tender but remain quite crunchy, 3 to 5 minutes depending on the size of the beans. Drain the beans and immediately plunge them into the ice water. Let them sit for a minute to cool thoroughly, then drain them. (You can prepare the beans up to a day before finishing the dish; cover well and refrigerate.)

Put the oil and butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When the butter melts, add the shallots and cook, stirring once or twice, until they’re golden brown and crisp, 5 to 10 minutes. Transfer the shallots to a plate lined with paper towels. Leave the fat in the pan.

Add the green beans to the skillet, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the beans are crisp-tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning and serve hot or warm with the shallots on top and almonds sprinkled over if you’re using them.

Cranberry-Reisling Compote
Adapted from Tasting Table

1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup sweet Riesling
2 pounds fresh cranberries, cleaned and picked through (any wrinkled or discolored cranberries discarded)
1 medium whole orange, quartered and deseeded
1/2 cinnamon stick
2 whole allspice berries
1 dried bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 cup honey

Heat a medium saucepan over medium heat and add the sugar and wine. Stir to combine, bring to a simmer and cook until the sugar dissolves and the mixture simmers with thick, slow bubbles, 6 to 8 minutes (the temperature will be between 234° and 240° on an instant-read thermometer).

Add the cranberries, stir to combine and reduce the heat to low. Cook for 3 minutes, then squeeze the juice from the orange quarters into the pan and add the squeezed orange quarters along with the cinnamon stick, allspice berries, bay leaf and salt. Cook, stirring often, until the cranberries begin to burst and the sauce thickens, 10 to 15 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat and set aside to cool for 10 minutes.  Remove and discard the orange quarters, cinnamon stick, allspice berries and bay leaf, and set the compote aside to cool completely.  Season with honey and additional salt to taste.  The cranberry compote can be left as is or transferred to a blender and puréed until smooth. Store the compote in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

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