November, 2014 — The Thanksgiving Issue
It probably comes as no surprise that here at Kalamazoo we think the best way to cook a turkey is by roasting it on the grill. You can achieve flavors that simply aren’t possible using indoor cooking methods. This month’s newsletter contains a delicious grill-roasted turkey recipe from Kalamazoo friend Chef Rick Bayless and a great fall stuffed squash side dish. We have also included a recipe for a festive rosemary and pear cocktail that will fit the holiday season perfectly. And lastly, we’ve provided some helpful tips from grilling expert Steven Raichlen on how to smoke-roast a turkey on the grill.
We hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday with your family and friends, filled with laughter, love and great food.
Roasted Acorn Squash Stuffed with Wild Rice and Cranberries
A tasty side with a lovely presentation, stuffed squash is perfect for the Thanksgiving table. The acorn squash removed from the shell goes back into the dish along with wild rice, fresh sage, sauteed leeks, dried cranberries and walnuts.
- 2 whole acorn squash
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh leeks
- 4 teaspoons finely chopped fresh sage
- 2 cups cooked wild rice
- Freshly-grated zest of 1 lemon
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt or kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Prepare the grill for indirect cooking at 350 to 375°F.
Place the whole squash in the indirect zone with the hood closed. Cook until softened, about 45 minutes, turning once. Remove from the grill and allow to cool. Cut the squash in half. Remove and discard the seeds.
Hollow out the squash, reserving the flesh and leaving between 1/4" and 1/2" of flesh all the way around. Coarsely chop the squash you removed from the shells. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat.
Add the leeks and sage, and sauté until the leeks start to become transparent. Add the rice, lemon zest, cranberries, walnuts and squash to the skillet and stir gently to combine. Season with salt and pepper.
Spoon the rice stuffing into the hollowed-out squash shells and return to the indirect zone on the grill. Heat the filled squash with the hood closed for about 20 minutes. Serve warm.
Rick Bayless’s Brined Turkey with Red Chile Adobo Sauce and Jícama-Cranberry Relish
This recipe is from long-time Kalamazoo friend and fan, chef Rick Bayless. Though in the past he has tackled the big roasted bird, basting and basting to ensure juiciness, for the past six years Bayless has opted to grill-roast it after an overnight briny bath. The method is easy. And honestly, it always yields the best bird—juicy, wonderfully aromatic from smoky wood chips, as lustrous as polished mahogany. Mesquite wood gives a traditional Mexican flavor, but for Thanksgiving he goes easy on the wood chips, creating a light smokiness that complements his traditional dressing and mashed potatoes. Though the turkey goes with any favorite Thanksgiving accompaniments, for a holiday diversion, Bayless suggests you replace gravy with a classic, robust red chile adobo sauce to drizzle on and jícama-cranberry relish to give the perfect counterpoint.
For the Turkey
- 1 whole fresh turkey, 12 to 14 pounds, well rinsed, giblets removed
- 2 gallons water
- 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
- 1 cup salt
- 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 2 cups mesquite wood chips
- 6 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
- 1 bunch fresh marjoram sprigs OR 1 tablespoon dried
- 1 bunch fresh thyme sprigs OR 1 tablespoon dried leaf thyme
- 10 to 12 bay leaves
Red Chile Adobo Sauce (makes about 5 cups)
- 1/3 cup vegetable oil
- 12 medium (about 6 ounces) dried ancho chiles, stemmed, seeded and torn into flat pieces
- 6 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano, preferably Mexican
- 1 teaspoon black pepper, preferably freshly ground
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin, preferably freshly ground
- 1/4 teaspoon cloves, preferably freshly ground
- 1/2 cup cider vinegar
- 4 cups chicken or turkey broth (use the turkey neck and giblets for making broth)
- 2 to 3 tablespoons sugar
Jícama-Cranberry Relish (makes about 3 1/2 cups)
- 1 large red onion, finely diced
- 1 1/2 cups finely diced peeled jícama
- 1/2 cup chopped dried cranberries
- 3 tablespoons cider vinegar
- Salt to taste
- 6 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
For the Turkey
Brining the turkey. If the turkey has a metal clamp on its legs, remove it. Place two large food-safe plastic bags (we like Reynolds turkey roasting bags) in a large, clean, deep dishpan or plastic bucket. Add 1 gallon of the water, the sugar, salt and pepper flakes. Stir the mixture to dissolve the sugar and salt. Add the remaining gallon of water and mix. Place the turkey in the mixture breast side down making sure it is completely covered in brine. Squeeze the air out of the bag and tie it shut. Refrigerate 12 hours or overnight.
Setting up the grill for indirect cooking. Soak 2 cups of mesquite chips in water to cover for at least 30 minutes. Prepare a grill for indirect cooking between 250 and 325 degrees. For hybrid grills, light a charcoal fire on one half the grill and let it burn just until the coals are covered with gray ash and very hot.
When the grill is ready, add some of the soaked wood chips to the grill (for a gas grill, place them in smoker drawer; for a hybrid grill, place them on the hot coals).
Preparing the turkey for the grill. Remove the turkey from the brine and pat thoroughly dry with paper towel. (If you are not cooking the turkey at this point, place it in the outer baking bag, which should be dry and clean, and store it in the refrigerator. Discard the brine.) Rub the inside of the turkey cavity with the crushed garlic. Stuff the herbs and bay leaves inside, and then tie the legs together with a cotton string. Pull the skin over the neck opening and secure with a small skewer. Set the turkey on a roasting rack set inside a heavy-gauge foil pan. Brush turkey lightly with oil.
Grilling the turkey. Set the turkey in the pan on the cooking grate. Pour 1 cup water around the turkey into the pan. Close the grill and cook over medium heat. To maintain an even temperature with a charcoal grill, add more charcoal regularly (usually a few pieces every half hour or so). Keep adding wood chips as desired to give smokiness.
Check the turkey periodically, you may want to cover the wing tips and/or the whole turkey to prevent the skin from getting too brown. The turkey is done when its juices run clear and the internal temperature of the thickest part of the thigh is about 170 degrees. Estimate about 12 to 14 minutes per pound, typically 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Remove the turkey from the grill, cover loosely with foil and let stand 15 minutes. (The temperature will rise 5 to 10 degrees as the turkey rests.)
Carve the turkey, arrange on a warm platter and serve with the warm Red Chile Adobo Sauce (instructions below) and the Jícama-Cranberry Relish (instructions below).
Red Chile Adobo Sauce
The adobo puree. Measure the oil into a large skillet and set over medium heat. When hot, oil-toast the chiles 1 or 2 pieces at a time until very toasty smelling and blistered, only a few seconds per side. Pour off all but a generous film of oil from the skillet and set aside. Transfer the chiles to a large bowl and measure in 4 cups hot tap water; a small plate on top will keep the chiles submerged. Let rehydrate for about 20 minutes.
Measure the garlic, oregano, black pepper, cumin, cloves and vinegar into a blender or food processor. Add the rehydrated chiles and enough of the soaking liquid to allow the mixture to puree easily (do this in two batches if necessary). Process the mixture to a smooth puree. Press through a medium-mesh strainer set over a bowl. From puree to finished sauce. Set the chile-frying skillet over medium heat. When quite hot, add the adobo and stir until reduced to the thickness of tomato paste, about 10 to 20 minutes. Stir in the broth, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 30 minutes or so. The finished sauce should be quite light in texture—not watery, but just one stage thicker. (A good test is to pour a little on a plate and watch it spread: If it flows evenly, it's right; if it doesn't flow much and water begins separating around the edges, it's too thick.) Season with salt (usually about 1 tablespoon) and sugar—it should be a little sweet-sour with a hint of saltiness. Serve warm. The finished sauce will keep for days if refrigerated, well covered.
Combine the chopped onion, jícama, dried cranberries, and vinegar in a medium bowl. Taste and season with a little salt. Stir in the cilantro. The jícama relish is best made within a couple of hours of dinner.
Rosemary Pear Sparkling Martinis
Thank you to Chicago's North Shore Distillery for introducing me to the concept of rosemary simple syrup. Their recipes with the magic nectar sounded so good I had to do a little experimenting of my own. And here it is — my new favorite holiday cocktail.
- 1 ounce rosemary simple syrup (see below)
- 1 ounce meyer lemon juice
- 2 ounces pear juice
- 2 ounces pear brandy
- Sparkling Prosecco to top up
To make the syrup, combine 1 cup water, 1 cup sugar and 6 sprigs fresh rosemary in a pan over medium heat. Bring to a low boil and then reduce heat to simmer, stirring ocassionally until the leaves turn drab in color.
Discard the rosemary. Cover and store syrup in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
To make the martinis, combine the syrup, lemon juice, pear juice and brandy in a cocktail shaker half full of ice. Shake vigorously for 30 seconds.
Strain into martini glasses and top up with Prosecco. Optionally garnish with rosemary sprig tips.
Your Guide to Delicious Grill-Roasted Turkey
Nothing can compare to the incredible flavors you can create on a grill. Which is why we firmly believe that smoke-roasting your Thanksgiving turkey is the best way to go. When cooked right, your bird will be succulent, juicy, and infused with a delicious smoky wood flavor. In a recent blog post grilling expert Steven Raichlen shared his tips on how to smoke-roast your turkey to perfection on both charcoal and gas grills. And for a grilled turkey recipe that’s sure to impress every last one of your guests see Chef Rick Bayless’s recipe for his Brined Turkey with Red Chile Adobo Sauce and Jícama-Cranberry Relish.