Almost Forgot About Pie

With all that’s been going on lately, I almost forgot to go into more detail about the various pies that we had on Thanksgiving. My wife made two pies from scratch – an apple crumble and a pecan pie. My daughter brought over a no-bake chocolate pumpkin pie.

No-bake Chocolate Pumpkin Pie

The chocolate pumpkin pie was totally new to me. I’d never even heard of such a thing. I was also quite surprised that it was not baked like most pies. Then again, a normal chocolate pie isn’t baked so I guess it may make some sense after all. Mixing chocolate and pumpkin seemed like a strange idea. I’ve tried chocolate covered fruit before and didn’t care for it. I’m a chocoholic, so I’m very picky about my chocolate. Don’t go tainting it with fruit or vegetables. It looked a bit like a normal chocolate pie, but it definitely didn’t taste like one. It used the darker, less sweet chocolate and had a strange aftertaste that I just didn’t like.

Homemade Pecan Pie

The pecan pie was one my wife really thought I’d like. It is supposed to be very sweet and since I have a sweet tooth, I had high hopes for this one. She said the pecans kind of dissolve into a sweet gooey filling. The middle of the pie certainly did, but the top still has distinct pecans. I’m not really into nuts, except peanuts which aren’t really a nut anyway. They are legumes. When I tried some of the pie, it had a very sweet taste, but also a very nutty aftertaste which ruined it for me.

The final pie we had for Thanksgiving was an apple pie. Linda made it from scratch and used a lot of cinnamon, which I love. I failed to take a picture of it, but it looked pretty good. The crumble topping was really tasty too. The middle of the pie was OK. I’m not really into apples, but with the cinnamon it was something I could probably learn to like. Of the 3 pies, this was definitely the best. If she makes another one for Christmas I’ll probably give it another try.

Open Faced Turkey Sandwich

Open Faced Turkey Sandwich

Candied Yams aren’t the only dish I put off for too long. I can’t believe I avoided a simple open faced turkey sandwich until now. I think it has been the gravy that always had me nervous about it. I like turkey. I like bread. All that’s left is the gravy.

As is typical with many households, we had leftover turkey after Thanksgiving. We also had lots of bread since my wife made some delicious honey whole wheat bread from scratch. Since I tried some of her homemade gravy on the turkey for Thanksgiving and liked it, Linda suggested I try an open faced sandwich. I’m glad she did.

She made McCormick turkey gravy since the homemade gravy was gone. Then she cut up pieces of the turkey and added them to the gravy. Once it all had a chance to heat up a bit, she poured it over her homemade bread. I had some of the leftover candied yams with it and even let them touch on the plate.

I now have another thing to look forward to during the holidays.

Alton Brown Turkey Brine Recipe

We decided to try things a little different this Thanksgiving. My wife found this interesting brine recipe for turkey and it looked good enough to give a try. It’s good for a bird 14-16 pounds, although I’m sure it could be adjusted for other sizes as needed. You’ll need your turkey thawed at least a day or two before roasting to give it time to marinate in the brine.

Brine Ingredients:

  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 gallon vegetable stock
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground allspice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 gallon heavily iced water

Aromatic Ingredients:

  • 1 red apple, sliced
  • 1/2 onion, sliced
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 sprigs rosemary
  • 6 leaves sage
  • Canola oil

Directions:

  1. Combine the vegetable stock, salt, brown sugar, black pepper, allspice, and ginger in a large stockpot over medium-high heat.
  2. Stir occasionally to dissolve solids and bring to a boil.
  3. Remove the brine from the heat, cool to room temperature, and refrigerate.
  4. Combine the brine, water and ice in a 5-gallon pot. Place the thawed turkey with innards removed breast side down in brine.
  5. Cover, and refrigerate or set in cool area for 8 to 16 hours, turning the bird once half way through brining.
  6. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F.
  7. Remove the bird from brine and rinse inside and out with cold water, discarding the brine.
  8. Place the bird on roasting rack and pat dry with paper towels.
  9. Combine the apple, onion, cinnamon stick, and 1 cup of water in a microwave safe dish and microwave on high for 5 minutes.
  10. Add steeped aromatics to the turkeys cavity along with the rosemary and sage.
  11. Tuck the wings underneath the bird and coat the skin liberally with canola oil.
  12. Roast the turkey on lowest level of the oven at 500 degrees F for 30 minutes.
  13. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F for approximately 2 to 2 1/2 hours of roasting until the internal temperature reaches 161 degrees F.
  14. Let the turkey rest, loosely covered with foil or a large mixing bowl for 15 minutes before carving.

via Good Eats Roast Turkey Recipe : Alton Brown : Recipes : Food Network.

We made a few changes to the original recipe due to some ingredients we couldn’t find. We used black pepper instead of black peppercorns, ground allspice instead of allspice berries, and ground ginger instead of chopped candied ginger. We also allowed it to marinate for 24 hours or so before cooking.

The brine had a really nice smell while it was cooking on the stove top. That gave me a lot of hope that the turkey would come out tasty. We used a big lobster pot so we could cook, cool, and marinate in the same pot.

After we let it boil, we set it aside for a few hours to cool. We let it sit in the fridge overnight. The next morning we added the ice water to it.

The recipe calls for getting the whole turkey submerged, but that just wasn’t possible. We just made sure to flip the turkey in the brine so it all was covered at some point.

When we were ready to cook the turkey, we removed it from the brine and patted it dry. Then we coated it with canola oil. This was a big change for us. Usually my wife slices just under the skin and puts butter underneath. To our surprise, the turkey gets very golden brown using the canola oil.

This was by far the best looking turkey we have cooked. We were all commenting on how it was so golden brown that it looked fake – like some picture you’d see in a food magazine. After letting it sit while we finished up some side dished, I started slicing the turkey. I think we left it in a little bit long. It wasn’t as juicy as I would have liked.

Overall, I’d call this recipe a success. The skin wasn’t salty or over seasoned.  The flavor really seemed to get cooked thru the whole bird. This certainly isn’t a last minute recipe, but if you’ve got the time for it, the results are well worth it.

A Fussy Feast – Thanksgiving with a Fussy Eater

There is no better time to spot a fussy eater than Thanksgiving when most plates are overflowing with a wide variety of food. Growing up my plate was typically filled with lots of turkey (with no gravy), corn, peas, a dinner roll, and (if I was feeling very adventurous) a small serving of mashed potatoes. Times have certainly changed. Much of what was on my plate this year would never have been in the past.

I’m just going to go over the various dishes and what I thought of them for now. I will be posting recipes for many of them individually in the coming days.

We tried something different with the turkey this year. Instead of just sprinkling a lot of seasoning on the turkey just before sticking it in the oven, my wife found an interesting brine recipe. It had brown sugar, cinnamon and red pepper in it. This was quite a departure for us, but it came out really good and I had seconds and even a small third helping.

Linda made homemade mashed potatoes and gravy. I’m usually more a fan of Betty Crocker Butter and Herb potatoes, but these were good. Her gravy was also pretty good, even though I didn’t have much of it. She also made homemade stuffing. Everyone else seemed to enjoy it, but I didn’t care for it at all.

Our daughter came over with a parsnip dish with a creamy cheese sauce. I only tried a little bit of it, but I didn’t like it at all. She used a Gruyere cheese. I’m not sure if it was the cheese or the parsnips that I didn’t like – or both. We may try to make the dish with Parmesan cheese to see if that tastes better.

Linda also made a dish she usually makes for the holidays that I can’t believe I never tried before – candied yams. With all the brown sugar and marshmallows it was right up my alley. I went back for seconds and had leftovers the next day too.

Dessert wasn’t like past years. Usually, Linda makes me a chocolate pie or some other chocolate treat. This year, she made pecan pie and apple pie from scratch. Our daughter brought a no-bake chocolate pumpkin pie. The pecan pie was sweet, but I didn’t care for the nutty taste. The apple pie was OK. I might be able to learn to enjoy it with more cinnamon. The chocolate pumpkin pie was made with a very dark chocolate so it wasn’t very sweet. I didn’t care for the pumpkin aftertaste. I’ve already learned that I don’t care for winter squash like butternut squash or acorn squash. Pumpkin is another one I don’t like.

I almost forgot that Linda also made homemade honey wheat bread. It didn’t rise as much as we would have liked, but it was still delicious.

All in all, it was a great holiday. I hope you all enjoyed yours and tried something different. Let me know some of the new dishes you tried and I’ll check them out as well.

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