Posts Tagged ‘cranberry’

Clearly, I’m a fan of Good Eats, and I have really enjoyed every episode I have completed… until now. The 55th episode of Good Eats, which was the first to air in season 5, was just kind of a flop. Both the episode and the recipes in this episode lacked the creativity and excitement that I expect from Alton Brown and Good Eats. In short, this episode was all about gelatin molds. Now, there’s nothing wrong with a gelatin mold, but gelatin can be used for so much more than just that; it is used in marshmallows, aspics, and candies, among others. I feel that the Good Eats team failed their subject in this episode.

Sparkling Gingered Face

Yes, you read that recipe title correctly. The first recipe in the gelatin episode is indeed for a face-shaped gelatin mold. The original air date of this episode was October 24th, 2001, so keep in mind that Alton was probably going for a Halloween theme of sorts. To make the face, you’ll need a face-shaped gelatin mold, cold ginger beer, powdered gelatin, and cold sparkling wine. The online recipe also calls for some sugar, but Alton did not add sugar in the episode.

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Ingredients for Alton’s sparkling gingered face: ginger beer, gelatin, and sparkling wine.

You will need to adjust the amounts of the ingredients for the size of your gelatin mold. Ideally, you will want equal volumes of ginger beer and sparkling wine, and you will use one package of gelatin per cup of liquid. My mold has a capacity of nine cups, so I wanted to use 4.5 C each of ginger beer and sparkling wine, and 9 packages of gelatin. I will confess that I altered this slightly, as I only had one bottle of sparkling wine. Since a bottle of sparkling wine is about 3 C, I used 6 C of ginger beer. To begin, pour your cold ginger beer (always bloom gelatin in cold liquid) in a microwave-safe container. Sprinkle your gelatin over the liquid and give it a good shake or stir. Allow the gelatin to bloom for 5 minutes.

Microwave the gelatin mixture until it reaches a temperature of 150 degrees, giving it a stir every minute. My gelatin took 7 minutes to hit 150 degrees.

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Gelatin/ginger beer mixture after reaching 150 degrees.

Once your ginger beer/gelatin is at 150 degrees, add your cold sparkling wine, swirling the container as you add.

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Sparkling wine to add to ginger beer/gelatin.

Note:  You should always pour cold liquid into warm to avoid getting gelatin clumps. Refrigerate this mixture for about an hour, or until it reaches egg white consistency.

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Sparkling ginger mixture, after being refrigerated for about an hour. Ready to go in mold.

Pour the gelatin into your mold (I oiled mine) and refrigerate overnight. If your mold does not have a flat bottom, you can place it in a bowl to keep it level. It is not easy to transport a full gelatin mold, so you may want to fill your mold in the refrigerator.

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Gelatin mixture poured into my mold.

To unmold your set gelatin, use your fingers to pull the gelatin away from the sides of the mold. Place a serving dish on top of the mold and invert the mold onto the dish.

We ate this for dessert one evening and it was okay, though the texture was quite firm. The flavors of both the ginger beer and the sparkling wine were apparent, and you actually got a slight fizzy sensation on your tongue. Really though, this did not do much for us, and it’s just a bit odd to eat a gelatin face.

Spooky Edible Eyes

Alton did not officially prepare this recipe in the episode, but he did mention that the recipe was online, so I figured I should make it. For this one, you will need an eyeball-shaped mold, powdered gelatin, low-fat milk, water, sugar, coconut extract, and spray oil.

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Ingredients for edible eyeballs: coconut flavor, oil spray, gelatin, low-fat milk, food color, sugar, and water.

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My eyeball mold.

Begin by blooming 1 package of gelatin in 1/2 C low-fat milk for 5 minutes.

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Gelatin blooming in milk.

Meanwhile, put 1/2 C water, 3 T sugar, and 1/4 t coconut extract in a saucepan and bring this mixture to a boil.

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1/2 C water, 3 T sugar, and 1/4 t coconut extract, being brought to a boil.

Pour the hot mixture into the cold gelatin/milk (this is the opposite of what Alton told you to do in the first recipe), stirring until dissolved.

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Water/sugar mixture added to milk/gelatin.

Pour the liquid into oiled molds and refrigerate until set – about an hour.

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The eyeball mixture poured into the mold to set.

Once set, remove the eyes from their molds.

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My eyeballs, unmolded.

To make different colored eyes, bloom 1/2 a package (3 g) of gelatin in 1/4 C cold water for 5 minutes.

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1/2 package of gelatin blooming in 1/4 C water.

Add 1/4 C boiling water to the gelatin and stir to dissolve. Divide this clear gelatin among bowls and add food coloring to create different colors.

The online recipe tells you to use an eyedropper to add the colors to the irises on the eyes; I did not have one, so I used Q-tips. For the pupils, combine equal amounts of each food coloring in a dish, and use a Q-tip to form the pupil. I made my eyes bloodshot, using a toothpick to “paint” red food coloring blood vessels.

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My finished edible eyeballs.

I was actually quite happy with how these turned out appearance-wise, and they’d be great for a Halloween party. They honestly didn’t taste too bad either, though I wouldn’t call them delicious.

Cinnamon Cherry Heart

Continuing on with the gelatin organ theme, next up is a gelatin heart. This one is pretty straight-forward, requiring only powdered gelatin, cherry juice, and cinnamon extract… oh, and a heart-shaped gelatin mold.

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Ingredients for gelatin heart: gelatin, cherry juice, and cinnamon (or almond for me) extract.

I had difficulty finding cinnamon extract, so I wound up using almond extract in my heart. As with all of the recipes in this episode, the first step is to bloom 2 packages of gelatin in 1 C cherry juice for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring the other cup of juice, along with the extract, to a boil.

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Cherry juice and extract being brought to a boil.

Add the hot juice to the gelatin/juice mixture and stir to dissolve the gelatin. Pour the mixture into your mold (I oiled my mold) and let it refrigerate for at least six hours before unmolding.

This gelatin mold tasted decent, but the texture was a bit too firm, making it somewhat unappealing. This one was just blah.

Panna Cotta Brain with Cranberry Glaze

Of all the recipes in this episode, I was most excited for the panna cotta, though the idea of it being in the shape of a brain made it slightly less appealing. The ingredients for this one are evaporated milk, powdered gelatin, sugar, a vanilla bean, heavy cream, fresh mint, fresh basil, food coloring, and bourbon (optional).

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Panna cotta ingredients: evaporated milk, gelatin, sugar, food coloring, vanilla bean, heavy cream, fresh mint, and fresh basil.

In a large container, bloom 4 packages of gelatin in 12 ounces evaporated milk for 5 minutes.

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Gelatin blooming in evaporated milk.

While the gelatin blooms, combine in a saucepan 24 ounces evaporated milk, 3/4 C sugar, 1/2 a vanilla bean, 1 1/2 C heavy cream, and a jigger of bourbon, if using. Bring this mixture to a bare simmer over medium heat, whisking to dissolve the sugar. Also add one sprig each of crushed fresh mint and basil.

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Evaporated milk, sugar, vanilla bean, heavy cream, fresh mint, and fresh basil being brought to a simmer.

Remove the pan from the heat as soon as you start to see bubbles.

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After coming to a bare simmer.

Strain the cream mixture into the blooming gelatin and stir to dissolve the gelatin. There will be lots of lumps in the mixture, so you will have to stir for a little while.

To make the panna cotta really look like gray matter, add 2 drops of red food coloring and 4 drops of green.

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For a gray brain, add 2 drops of red food coloring and 4 drops of green food coloring.

Allow the panna cotta to cool to room temperature before pouring into a 6-cup brain mold, and refrigerate overnight. I noticed some lumps in my panna cotta, so I strained my panna cotta a second time as I poured it into the mold. I also oiled my brain mold to make unmolding easier.

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My gray panna cotta, poured into my mold.

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My panna cotta brain.

If you wish to serve your brain with some cranberry blood, you can make a cranberry glaze by blooming 1 package of gelatin in 1/2 C cranberry juice for 10 minutes.

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Ingredients for cranberry glaze: cranberry juice and gelatin.

Dissolve the gelatin with an additional cup of boiling cranberry juice, add a few drops of blue food coloring, and let cool to room temperature.

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Additional cup of cranberry juice, being brought to a boil under careful supervision.

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Blue food coloring added to cranberry glaze.

Unmold your brain, and drizzle some cranberry glaze over the top.

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My brain with cranberry glaze.

I had high hopes for this, but neither Ted or I liked it at all. I thought the flavor of the panna cotta was good, but its texture was unappealingly firm. And, the cranberry glaze did not set up on the panna cotta, as Alton’s did in the episode. Instead, it puddled around the bottom of the panna cotta. We ended up throwing the rest of the panna cotta in the trash. Maybe we just do not care for panna cotta?

Layered Gelatin Mold

Alton did not use a specific recipe for a layered gelatin mold, but gave options and tips for making one. His tips were to use roughly a cup of each gelatin flavor per layer, to add a new flavor when the previous one is still sticky, and to use a hair dryer to unmold metal molds. To make opaque layers, you can add sour cream to the gelatin, or you can add fruit between layers. I made a layered mold with altering opaque and clear layers, and using a bundt pan. It turned out to be my favorite thing from this entire episode.

Seeing as I am putting myself through (what I call) the Alton Brown Culinary School of Good Eats, I would be remiss if I did not write a little bit about the day I had yesterday. I was awoken at 5:07 am by my adorable Coonhound, Hitcher, who was suffering from one of his occasional fits of morning sickness. While I stood in the dark kitchen, waiting for him to finish grazing in the back yard, I decided to make a quick check of Facebook, or Twitter, or one of the other online giants. Staring back at me from the feed of none other than Alton Brown was a pair of latitude and longitude coordinates for the location of an autograph signing he would be having in Spokane at noon. The coordinates were for the Spokane Convention Center.

After a few more hours of sleep, I had to decide whether to do my planned 15 mile run, or to try to meet Alton; I split the difference, ran 8.5 miles, and dragged Ted to the Convention Center with me, along with our giant metal spoon and my Alton Brown cookbook. Somehow, I don’t think Ted looked too out-of-place on Spokane’s downtown streets with his spoon, as I think of the gentleman I used to always see, riding a bicycle with a huge Finding Nemo hat. We ended up waiting in line for about 45 minutes, briefly met Alton, had our photo taken with him, and got a few autographs. I will somewhat shamelessly admit how stoked I was about this. Secretly, I think Ted thought it was pretty cool too.

Ted and me with Alton.

Ted and me with Alton.

My custom Alton post-it.

My custom Alton post-it.

To cap off the day, we took my parents to see Alton perform his Edible Inevitable show. Though I did not know what to expect, I knew I would enjoy the show, but it far exceeded my expectations. I cannot remember the last time I laughed as hard as I did last night. Seriously, if you have the chance to see Alton perform live, you really should take that opportunity.

In a Cranberry Jam

Last November, I cooked an early Good Eats Thanksgiving dinner for my parents and us, following it up with a Thanksgiving dinner with Ted’s parents on Thanksgiving day; that meant we had two Good Eats turkeys in a matter of days. I wrote about the early Thanksgiving dinner here. When I wrote about the Thanksgiving special, I failed to realize that the 32nd episode of the show would entail making recipes with the leftovers from the Thanksgiving special. So… we had Thanksgiving dinner again in February. Last Thursday, I again made Alton’s Tart Cranberry Dipping Sauce, Sweet Corn Bread Pudding, and the Good Eats Roast Turkey.

A February Good Eats turkey.

A February Good Eats turkey.

Sweet corn bread pudding.

Sweet corn bread pudding.

After a Thanksgiving-like dinner Thursday, I made Alton’s recipes for Thanksgiving leftovers on Friday, the first of which was for his cranberry jam. This recipe is really simple. To make it, you combine 2 C of leftover cranberry dipping sauce with a cup of sugar and a half cup of ginger ale.

Ingredients for cranberry jam:  leftover cranberry dipping sauce, ginger ale, and sugar.

Ingredients for cranberry jam: leftover cranberry dipping sauce, ginger ale, and sugar.

The mixture is cooked over low heat until it reduces to the consistency of loose jam, which took a couple of hours for mine.

Dipping sauce, ginger ale, and sugar in a saucepan.

Dipping sauce, ginger ale, and sugar in a saucepan.

Reduced cranberry dipping sauce.

Reduced cranberry dipping sauce.

Finished cranberry jam.

Finished cranberry jam.

The resulting jam was really delicious, and we have since used it for turkey sandwiches, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and our morning toast.

Sandwich made with leftover turkey and cranberry jam.

Sandwich made with leftover turkey and cranberry jam.

The jam is tart-sweet, has a rich red color, and is easily spreadable. I liked the cranberry dipping sauce the first time around, and being able to make this jam from the leftovers makes it even more worthwhile. I will be making this one again.

Turkey Re-Hash

What better thing to eat for breakfast than Alton’s turkey hash? This recipe utilizes both the leftover turkey meat and the leftover corn bread pudding.

Ingredients for turkey hash:  breakfast sausage, onion, jalapeno, bell pepper, cooked red potatoes, black beans, leftover corn bread pudding, leftover turkey, cayenne, salt, and pepper.

Ingredients for turkey hash: breakfast sausage, onion, jalapeno, bell pepper, cooked red potatoes, black beans, leftover corn bread pudding, leftover turkey, cayenne, salt, and pepper.

To start, Alton tells you to heat a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Since we have a brand new smooth top range, I opted not to use cast iron, as I have heard that it can scratch a smooth top range. Instead, I used a heavy non-stick skillet. Once the pan is hot, add a half pound of breakfast sausage and cook it until it renders some of its fat; I used a spicy Italian sausage.

Sausage rendering fat.

Sausage rendering fat.

To the sausage, add half an onion and half a jalapeno, chopped.

Onion and jalapeno added to pan.

Onion and jalapeno added to pan.

When the onion is translucent, add a half cup of chopped red bell pepper and cook for a minute or two.

Bell pepper added.

Bell pepper added.

Next, add 1.5 C of cooked, cubed red potatoes (Note: I cooked my potatoes the night before by simmering them in salted water until tender). To get some good brown color on the potatoes, increase the heat to high.

Potatoes added to hash.

Potatoes added to hash.

Then, add a can of black beans, drained and rinsed, followed by a couple cups of the leftover corn bread pudding, cubed.

Black beans in the pan.

Black beans in the pan.

The addition of leftover corn bread pudding.

The addition of leftover corn bread pudding.

Stir everything and add a cup of cubed turkey meat.

Leftover cubed turkey added.

Leftover cubed turkey added.

Season the hash with some cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper.

Seasonings added to the hash.

Seasonings added to the hash.

The completed hash.

The completed hash.

Turkey Re-Hash.

Turkey Re-Hash.

Serve hot. This hash was good, but not mind-blowing. It really was a perfect leftover recipe, as you could easily make this your own, adding whatever you have in the house. We rarely eat hot breakfasts during the week, so that was a treat in itself. The hash had a nice medley of textures and a pretty good level of heat, which we really like. This is a recipe I wouldn’t seek out, but I will not be surprised if I end up making a version of this again in the future with the leftovers we have on hand. Next time, though, I will likely make Alton’s mentioned additions of a couple of eggs and some cheese. Even better!

Bird to the Last Drop

Alton’s last Thanksgiving leftover recipe is for turkey soup. Allow a few hours for making this soup, as it will be better if it has longer to cook.

Ingredients for turkey soup:  vegetable broth, turkey carcass, frozen vegetables, rice, cubed turkey, Old Bay, thyme, salt, and pepper.

Ingredients for turkey soup: vegetable broth, turkey carcass, frozen vegetables, rice, cubed turkey, Old Bay, thyme, salt, and pepper.

To make it, combine two quarts of vegetable broth with the remains of your turkey carcass.

Broken down turkey carcass.

Broken down turkey carcass.

Turkey carcass and vegetable broth.

Turkey carcass and vegetable broth.

Cover this and simmer it over low heat. While the online recipe tells you to cook this for an hour, it will only be better if you can cook it longer. I simmered my bones for 2.5 hours.

Turkey carcass after simmering for 2.5 hours.

Turkey carcass after simmering for 2.5 hours.

After a good simmer, add 10 ounces of frozen vegetables (I added 12 oz), 1/2 C of rice, 2 C of cubed turkey meat, 1 t of Old Bay Seasoning, 2 t of dried thyme, salt, and pepper.

Addition of frozen vegetables.

Addition of frozen vegetables.

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Addition of rice.

Addition of rice.

Addition of leftover turkey meat.

Addition of leftover turkey meat.

Salt, pepper, and thyme added to soup.

Salt, pepper, and thyme added to soup.

Simmer the soup for an additional 20 minutes, remove the bones, and serve.

Turkey soup after final 20 minute simmer.

Turkey soup after final 20 minute simmer.

Turkey soup after fishing bones out.

Turkey soup after fishing bones out.

I made the soup a day prior to serving it. We returned home Saturday, after doing a mountain bike race in Oregon, and this turkey soup was the perfect meal to come home to. It was the epitome of comfort food, with a super rich mouthfeel, a variety of textures, and the flavor of a slow-cooked stock with lots of thyme.

Finished turkey soup.

Finished turkey soup.

We thought this turkey soup was great, and I will surely be making this with our future turkey leftovers. Delicious and easy! The richness of the soup makes it a meal in itself. Keep this one in mind for Thanksgiving this year, or should you need an excuse to make a Good Eats turkey at any time in the year!

 

When Alton Brown was filming Good Eats, he and his crew produced eight special episodes, in addition to the regular seasonal episodes. Seeing as Ted and I will be having our Thanksgiving dinner with his parents this year, we decided we would have my parents over to our house for an early Thanksgiving dinner, which we had yesterday. It just so happens that the first of the Good Eats special episodes has a Thanksgiving theme, so, of course, I used the recipes from this special episode to fill our (first – lucky us!) Thanksgiving table this year.

Ted and I have only hosted Thanksgiving once at our house. In 2010, we hosted both sets of our parents, along with Ted’s aunt and uncle. It was particularly cold and snowy that year, and Ted was in charge of cooking the turkey. My dad contributed our family’s favorite stuffing with blue cornbread and chorizo sausage, and everyone else brought a side dish or two to share. Ted chose to follow Alton’s turkey recipe from this episode of Good Eats. He’ll tell you it turned out dry, but the rest of us thought it was very good. The highlight of the day was when Ted and my dad were carving the turkey. As we did not have a carving board, they were carving the bird on a pull-out cutting board under the kitchen counter. The bird was quite hefty, causing the cutting board to slant toward the kitchen floor, and all of the turkey’s juices began running off the edge of the board. We all saw a huge mess about to form, but Hitcher, the hound, stepped in to save the day, positioning himself perfectly so the juices would run straight into his open, waiting mouth. Ellie, my now mother-in-law, was laughing so hard that I thought she was going to fall over.

Good Eats Roast Turkey

I was nervous yesterday, as I was cooking my first turkey. While I have always contributed something to Thanksgiving dinner, I have never before had the responsibility of cooking the almighty bird. I carefully watched Alton’s preparation of the recipe. For this recipe, he recommends a 14-16 pound turkey, but we purchased a 13 pound turkey since we would only have four people eating. To begin, you want to thaw your turkey for two-three days prior to Thanksgiving. I started thawing my turkey Monday evening. To thaw, Alton recommends putting your turkey (in a pan) inside a Styrofoam cooler with ice packs. Since we have two hounds, my turkey thawed safely in the guest bathroom shower.To monitor the temperature, he suggests sticking a probe thermometer through the top of the cooler, with an alarm set to go off at 38 degrees. We did not have a probe thermometer, but after watching the episode, I realized it would really be a necessity to properly prepare a turkey the Alton way. I purchased this thermometer at Amazon, which happens to be the same one Alton uses in the episode.

Turkey thawing in cooler.

Turkey thawing in cooler.

As an alternative, if you need to thaw your turkey very quickly, you can put your turkey in a five-gallon bucket of cool water, changing the water every three to four hours; it should take ~six to eight hours. Note:  Always thaw your turkey in its original wrapping. Did you know that turkeys are only technically considered frozen if they are below zero degrees? A refrigerated turkey is one between one and 24 degrees, while a fresh turkey is at, or above, 26 degrees. My probe thermometer went above 40 degrees, but the turkey still felt quite frozen, so I left it in the cooler until late Wednesday night. Sometime while your turkey is thawing, you want to make your brine. You can make the brine up to two days ahead, and you will want to make it early since it needs to chill. For the brine, combine vegetable stock, Kosher salt, brown sugar, peppercorns, allspice berries, and candied ginger in a pot. I ended up adding my ginger later, as I did not have any in the house.

Brine ingredients:  vegetable broth, brown sugar, allspice berries, Kosher salt, and peppercorns. Not pictured:  candied ginger.

Brine ingredients: vegetable broth, brown sugar, allspice berries, Kosher salt, and peppercorns. Not pictured: candied ginger.

Brine on the stove, minus the candied ginger.

Brine on the stove, minus the candied ginger.

Bring this mixture to a boil, and then allow it to cool to room temperature with a lid on the pot. Once cool, you want to thoroughly chill the brine in the refrigerator.

Candied ginger. I added this after my brine had cooled, as I did not have any.

Candied ginger. I added this after my brine had cooled, as I did not have any.

Cooled brine with candied ginger added.

Cooled brine with candied ginger added.

Thanksgiving morning, or late the night before (this is what I did), combine your brine with a gallon of heavily iced water in a five-gallon bucket.

Brine plus ice water in a bucket.

Brine plus ice water in a bucket.

Remove the turkey’s guts, give him a rinse, and place him into the brine, breast down. You want to put the breast down since it tends to dry out the fastest. Alton tells you to leave your turkey in the brine for six to eight hours, though the online recipe says you can leave the bird in the brine for up to 16 hours. Since Alton tells you in the episode that you can begin the brining process late in the evening prior to your cooking day, I went with that. Regardless of how long you choose to brine your turkey, you want to flip it over once in the middle of the brining period. What about stuffing? Alton calls stuffing “evil” in this episode. Why? Not only is it potentially unsafe to cook stuffing in the bird because of possible foodborne illness, but it also causes your turkey to take longer to cook, which can result in a dry bird. Now, I grew up with parents who always stuffed the bird, and none of us have ever gotten sick because of it, so I am not overly frightened of stuffing. But, since the goal of my blog project is to cook all of the Good Eats recipes as closely to how Alton does them on the show, there was no stuffing in my bird yesterday. Instead, once I was ready to cook my turkey, I removed it from the brine, rinsed it off, and patted it dry, placing it on a rack over a sheet pan.

My 13 pounder.

My 13 pounder.

I microwaved a sliced onion and a sliced red apple in some water for a minute on high. When you remove the apple and onion from the microwave, throw a cinnamon stick into the liquid to steep for a couple of minutes also.

Sliced apple and onion, microwaved with some water, and steeped with a cinnamon stick.

Sliced apple and onion, microwaved with some water, and steeped with a cinnamon stick.

While this is steeping, put some fresh rosemary and sage into the cavity of the bird; I did two big sprigs of rosemary and one bunch of sage.

Sage and rosemary to go in turkey's cavity.

Sage and rosemary to go in turkey’s cavity.

Rosemary and sage in the bird.

Rosemary and sage in the bird.

You want to tuck the turkey’s wings up under its body to prevent them from burning. If your bird has its legs tied, leave this on. My turkey did not have its legs tied, but I tucked them inside its skin, which held them in place nicely. After a few minutes of steeping, add the apple, onion, and cinnamon stick to the cavity of the bird. It is easiest to use tongs to do this. I crammed as much of these aromatics into the bird as I could fit.

Apple, onion, and cinnamon stick placed in the bird.

Apple, onion, and cinnamon stick placed in the bird.

Leave the turkey popper thermometer in the bird, but ignore it. Here is where one of the biggest tricks of Alton’s recipe comes in, and this is not mentioned in the online recipe. You want to take a large piece of foil and fold it into a large triangle.

Turkey triangle.

Turkey triangle.

Oil this “turkey triangle” and mold it so it covers the breast of the bird, and then set it aside for later.

Oiled turkey triangle.

Oiled turkey triangle.

Molding the turkey triangle to the breast.

Molding the turkey triangle to the breast.

What is the purpose of the turkey triangle? Dark meat is perfectly cooked at 180 degrees, while white meat is ready at 161 degrees. Since there is this discrepancy in temperature, you will use the triangle to protect the breast meat, while allowing the dark meat to cook more quickly. This will result in a bird that has perfectly cooked white AND dark meat. Now, coat the outside of your turkey with oil and insert your probe thermometer into the thickest part of the breast, ensuring that you do not hit any bones, as that can result in a false temperature reading.

Turkey, filled with aromatics and oiled up.

Turkey, filled with aromatics and oiled up.

Probe inserted into deepest part of breast.

Probe inserted into deepest part of breast.

Set your alarm to go off when your turkey’s temperature hits 161 degrees.

Starting temperature of my turkey (42), and end goal temperature (161).

Starting temperature of my turkey (42), and end goal temperature (161).

Now, the turkey is ready for the oven. Place it in a 500 degree oven for 30 minutes. When the 30 minutes are up, place the previously molded turkey triangle onto the bird, protecting the breast. I did not get a picture when I did this. Decrease the oven temperature to 350 degrees and wait for your alarm to sound. How easy is that? Alton recommends that you place the turkey in the oven legs first, but my turkey would only fit sideways. According to Alton, a 14 pound bird will take about two hours to cook, but my 13 pound bird took two hours and 45 minutes. Cooking time will depend on the starting temperature of your bird (mine was at 42 degrees), the size of your turkey, and your oven. When your bird is done cooking, remove it from the oven and let it rest for 15 minutes.

Turkey, photo bombed by the hound.

Turkey, photo bombed by the hound.

Turkey, fresh from the oven.

Turkey, fresh from the oven.

If you have a classic round charcoal grill, you can use the lid of your grill to cover your turkey while it rests. If not, foil will suffice.

Turkey resting under foil.

Turkey resting under foil.

When ready to carve, use an electric knife. To best carve your turkey, carve between the legs and the body first, going down until you hit the joint. Press on the leg with your hand until it pops, and then use the knife to cut the rest of the way through. Next, to carve the breast, cut horizontally toward the center of the bird at the wing line, and then make slices perpendicularly down to the initial cut. This will result in perfect slices of white meat. My turkey could not have turned out any better. It was golden brown on the outside, while incredibly juicy and moist on the inside. The white meat, in particular, shocked everyone with how moist it was.

Moist, flavorful, perfectly cooked white AND dark meat.

Moist, flavorful, perfectly cooked white AND dark meat.

The turkey was loaded with flavor, without being salty. We all agreed that it was great, including the Coonhounds, who howled while the turkey was carved and were all too willing to clean up the turkey juice trail that led from the kitchen to the garage; when you live with hounds, and an always-hungry cat, you must hide your Turkey in the garage while you eat your Thanksgiving dinner. Though this was my first turkey, I cannot imagine that I will ever prepare a turkey another way, but I do have to say that my dad has cooked some amazing turkeys with his basted, grilled method too. Oh, and if you have leftover turkey, Alton says it freezes very well – just be sure to wrap it in both foil and plastic before freezing. Seeing as Ted and I both just finished delectable leftover turkey sandwiches, I do not think our leftovers will need to be frozen! Long story short, if you do not yet have a turkey plan for Thanksgiving, try Alton’s turkey. It is wonderful.

Here is a synopsis of my turkey timeline to give you an idea of how this recipe plays out:

  • Sunday afternoon – purchased turkey.
  • Monday, 5:30 pm – began thawing turkey in cooler.
  • Wednesday morning – made and chilled brine.
  • Wednesday, 11:45 pm – put bird in brine.
  • Thursday, 4:00 pm – took bird out of brine.
  • Thursday, 4:30 pm – put bird in oven.
  • Thursday, 7:15 pm – bird done when temperature reached 161 degrees.
  • Thursday, 7:30 pm – carved bird.

 

Tart Cranberry Dipping Sauce

To go along with your perfect turkey, in the Thanksgiving special, Alton shows you how to make a cranberry dipping sauce. The recipe for this sauce can be found here, which for some reason shows up as under a different Good Eats episode. I happen to like the gelatinous cranberry sauce you can buy in a can, but it truly does not compare to a dish made with fresh cranberries. For Alton’s cranberry concoction, combine 12 ounces of frozen cranberries (the online recipe calls for a pound), orange juice, ginger ale, maple syrup, light brown sugar, the zest of an orange, and a pinch of Kosher salt in a saucepan. I could not find frozen cranberries, so I used fresh cranberries.

Sauce ingredients: cranberries, OJ, ginger ale, maple syrup, brown sugar, Kosher salt, and the zest of an orange.

Sauce ingredients: cranberries, OJ, ginger ale, maple syrup, brown sugar, Kosher salt, and the zest of an orange.

All of the ingredients in a saucepan.

All of the ingredients in a saucepan.

Bring this mixture to a boil, decrease the heat to medium, and cook it for 30 minutes. A skin will form on the surface of the sauce, so skim that off.

A skin formed after 30 minutes on the stove.

A skin formed after 30 minutes on the stove.

After skimming off the skin.

After skimming off the skin.

If you have an immersion blender, you can use that to blend the sauce. Our immersion blender is incapacitated, so I used a traditional blender to blend my sauce.

Into the blender.

Into the blender.

Completed cranberry sauce.

Completed cranberry sauce.

Tart cranberry dipping sauce.

Tart cranberry dipping sauce.

Serve this sauce in individual ramekins for each diner to dip their turkey in. This sauce really does pair nicely with turkey, as it is quite tart and contrasts nicely with the meat. It is loaded with cranberry and orange flavor, and is a brilliant cranberry red, which also adds a lot of color to the Thanksgiving table. Also, you can make this sauce ahead of time and reheat it while your turkey is resting. I would definitely make this again to pair with turkey. It does make quite a large volume of sauce, so I am already thinking of other ways to use it. Perhaps we will have to have this with some homemade pound cake and vanilla ice cream for dessert one night! If you are looking for a new way to incorporate cranberries into your Thanksgiving dinner, or an alternative to gravy, this is a fun (and easy!) one to try.

Sweet Corn Bread Pudding

The final recipe Alton prepares in “Romancing the Bird” is for his Sweet Corn Bread Pudding. I happen to love stuffing, especially my dad’s, at Thanksgiving, so I was happy to see that Alton made this bread pudding, as it is along the lines of stuffing. Again, this is a nice recipe for Thanksgiving, as you can make it early in the day and reheat it in the oven while your turkey is resting, which means you are not scrambling to make a bunch of things at the last second.

Ingredients for bread pudding:  pepper, Kosher salt, onion, creamed corn, butter, cream, eggs, baking powder, cornmeal, rosemary, thyme, and Parmesan.

Ingredients for bread pudding: pepper, Kosher salt, onion, creamed corn, butter, cream, eggs, baking powder, cornmeal, rosemary, thyme, and Parmesan.

To begin, heat an iron skillet and melt some butter.

Preheating iron skillet.

Preheating iron skillet.

Melting butter.

Melting butter.

Add a diced onion (the online recipe calls for half an onion, but Alton uses a whole onion in the show) and some chopped, fresh rosemary and thyme.

Onion sweating in butter.

Onion sweating in butter.

Onion, butter, rosemary, and thyme.

Onion, butter, rosemary, and thyme.

In the meantime, mix together, in a bowl, a can of creamed corn, heavy cream, two eggs, cornmeal, baking powder, Kosher salt, and some pepper.

Creamed corn, cream, eggs, cornmeal, baking powder,  Kosher salt, and pepper.

Creamed corn, cream, eggs, cornmeal, baking powder, Kosher salt, and pepper.

Once this is combined, fold in some shredded Parmesan cheese and cubed bread; the recipe calls for French bread and Alton uses Italian bread in the show.

Whisked mixture.

Whisked mixture.

Folding in Parmesan.

Folding in Parmesan.

Folding in bread cubes.

Folding in bread cubes.

11-21-14 023 Pour this over the onion, butter, and herbs in the iron skillet and put it in a 350 degree oven for 50 minutes.

Bread mixture added to skillet.

Bread mixture added to skillet.

Corn bread pudding straight from the oven.

Corn bread pudding straight from the oven.

I have kind of a negative perception of bread pudding in general, as I have had some very soggy, wet bread puddings. This recipe, however, produced a pudding with the texture of a moist cornbread, which reminded me of the texture of my dad’s stuffing when it is cooked inside the turkey. The flavor of the herbs, especially the rosemary, really came through, along with the onion. You could also taste the Parmesan cheese, yet the pudding was hardly cheesy. I thought this was great, especially as a stuffing stand-in. And, again, it was super easy! I could see making this to serve with chili too. We all liked this too, and I foresee making it again in the future, though I would opt for Dad’s stuffing, if given the choice.

All in all, our Thanksgiving dinner was quite successful and delicious. We all liked all of the dishes and they will likely appear on our table again, especially the turkey. You cannot go wrong with any of Alton’s Thanksgiving recipes.

A decent Thanksgiving dinner, if I say so myself.

A decent Thanksgiving dinner, if I say so myself.