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Baby Huey's Thanksgiving: It's like Son-in-Law but without that Pauly Shore douchebag!
by Baby Huey
I had to come up with a good title for this week's column, but at the same time, I needed to come up with a full Thanksgiving spread (hehehe, I said "spread"). So I figured, let's take a look at my internal dialog when I started writing.
Ok, Josh, let's get crackin. Gotta come up with a good title. Shit! Writer's block. Ok, time to plagiarize. Punchline to a joke? Naw, too hard. Album title? Too obscure. I'VE GOT IT. Thanksgiving-themed movies! Ok, let's run down some options.
Ok, now that I've got that done, I have to come up with a witty intro. Aw shit, a witty intro? Dammit! Oh wait, I should just write down my spastic thought process on the title! That'll work. Yeah.Besides, these aren't just any old recipes that I'm coming up with out of nowhere to tell the folks at home. Now that I'm a homeowner, the parents are coming to visit and I'm doing Thanksgiving for mom, stepdad, and brother. Just tell 'em what I'm making! Score. This'll be the easiest column ever!*
Cider-brined turkey breast
Normally, I wouldn't list hardware, but the cast iron skillet is absolutely necessary here, honestly. You're not gonna get the good crispy skin without it. If you don't have one, buy one. A 12" cast iron skillet is like $20 or 25, and worth every penny.
Put the turkey breast in a cooler just big enough to fit it. Cover it with the ice. In a sauce pan, add the cider, salt, sugar, whole sage leaves, peppercorns, bay, and orange zest and heat till the salt and sugar are dissolved. As soon as they're dissolved, pour over the ice and make sure it's covering the turkey. Close the cooler and let it brine in the refrigerator for 8 - 12 hours.
Put the skillet and the weight in a cold oven and heat it to 400 degrees. While the pans are heating up, take the turkey out of the brine and rinse it off. Pat it dry with paper towels. Sprinkle the skin side with salt, pepper, and the rubbed sage. Don't be shy.
When the oven is heated up, pull the skillet out of the oven and put over medium-high heat (make sure to use a potholder, Alfred Einstein). Lower the oven heat to 350. Melt the butter in the skillet and when it's finished foaming, place the breast, skin side down, in the skillet. You should get some smoke and a lot of sizzle. Season the meat side with salt and pepper. Take the brick out of the oven (again, don't be a dumbass and use a pot holder) and press the weight (brick, 2nd skillet, whatever) into the meat. Cook on the stovetop for about 7 minutes to get a nice dark sear on the skin, it's going to make it nice and crispy. Put that in your 350 degree oven for about 35 minutes, or until a thermometer inserted into the center of the meat reads 155 degrees. Take the skillet out and move the weight out of the way, it's done its all. Put the turkey on a plate and cover lightly with foil, and let it rest for AT LEAST 20 minutes. There are 2 reasons for this. First, turkey breast is actually done at about 165 degrees -- a piece of meat this side does not just stop cooking when you take it out. It'll coast those last 10 degrees. Secondly, if you cut into it as soon as you take it out, the juice will run out and it'll be dry. That'd make me a sad messenger of Satan.
Now that you've made this kickass turkey, DO NOT TOUCH THAT SKILLET, because you're ready for ...
Heat the same skillet you cooked the turkey in over medium heat and melt the butter. Once the foam is gone, add the flour and stir to combine with a wooden spoon or whisk. You've made a roux, and it's what's going to thicken your gravy. Now, roux can be scary at first, so realize that it's going to go through a couple of stages. At first, it's going to look like paste and be very thick. As it continues to cook, it will look like it's melting. That's good. Once it's "melted", cook it for another 5 to 7 minutes, till it smells nice and nutty. Whisking vigorously, add the cider and stir to combine. Once it's all combined, add 1 3/4 c of the stock and bring just to a simmer. As soon as you see bubbles, add the sage and stir to combine. Drop the heat to low, and cook for about 15 minutes. This will help the flavors smooth out and create a nice, rich gravy.
After 15 minutes, check the consistency of the gravy. If it is too thin, turn the heat up a bit. If it's just how you want it, add the remaining quarter cup of stock, and stir to combine. See, gravies thickened by flour actually get thicker as they cool down. If it's perfect in the pan, it'll be too thick at the table (don't just take my word for it, I learned this from Alton Brown!). Put it in a gravy bowl and serve with the turkey and ...
Put the bread on a cookie sheet and put in a 200 degree oven for 10 minutes, to dry it out.
In a skillet over medium heat, melt 1 Tbsp of the butter and add the onion, celery, apple, and cranberries. Add some salt and pepper as well as the herbs. Cook for about 5 minutes. Put in a bowl and let cool down for about 10 minutes. After it's cooled, add the egg and stir to combine. Add the bread cubes and stir thoroughly. Add 2 c of the broth and stir lightly to combine. You want the bread to be wet, not mushy (I apologize to anyone that is depressed by wet bread). If it's still too dry, add some or all of the rest of the liquid. Put in a greased baking dish and put in a 350 degree oven for 30 - 45 minute, till the top is brown and crusty.
I feel like I've given you some great Thanksgiving mainstays here, but if I didn't include a cranberry sauce of some kind, I'm pretty sure I'd be lynched.
Mom's Cranberry Relish
In a food processor, zap the orange (yes, peel and all) till it's nice and fine. Add the pecans and zap again -- you want these chunkier than the orange. Add the cranberries last, because you want them very chunky. Zap until they're just chopped up a little bit. Dump into a bowl, and make sure you get all that juice. Add the sugar and jello mix. Stir to combine thoroughly. Cover with tinfoil, and let it sit in the fridge for at least 2 hours. That'll let some of the juice come out of the cranberries, and mix with the jello and set up.
Now that I've given you a taste for sweet, time for another side dish, and maybe it's one you haven't had before ...
1 head of cauliflower, broken into florets
Combine all the ingredients in a baking dish, making sure to coat the cauliflower evenly with the oil. Put in a 425 degree oven for about 35 minutes, till it's started to get nice and golden brown.
Ok, seriously? Cooking all this stuff is going to be a blast, but writing these recipes? Tough! I'm almost done, and it's time for dessert. This is a shoutout to Kali, who asked for something special, so here you go, doll.
Mini Pecan Tarts
Put everything in a bowl and mix with your hands till it just makes a dough ball. Don't overmix, though. Roll into 48 small balls. Press each one into a cup of a mini-muffin tin and make sure the crust goes all the way up the side.
For the filling:
Mix all the ingredients together. Fill each muffin crust about 3/4 full. Bake at 375 for 20 - 25 minutes, until just brown around the edges. Sprinkle the top with powdered sugar when they come out.
As for this week's metal review, take a look at my note above, and that's my excuse for going back in the vault a ways to pull out a "classic" metal review.
The Devin Townsend Band
This album is so awesome, and so all over the place, that I'm just
Baby Huey owns every Pauly Shore movie on Betamax.