Sunday, November 28, 2010

Cider-Brined, Maple-Glazed Roast Turkey

This year our Thanksgiving "theme" was back to the basics. As a family, we all brain-stormed our favorite Thanksgiving dishes from the last 20 years, and then re-invented them. This Turkey has always been a favorite, but brining the turkey in cider was a new addition to an old recipe that only basted the turkey with cider.

WOW what an amazing difference this brine made. As the turkey roasted it filled the house with scent of mulled cider. The bird needed only occasional basting (every 45 minutes as opposed to every 20 minutes), and was aromatic and incredibly juicy and moist. The gravy made from the pan droppings was also exceptional.... with the woodsy sweet flavors of apple and maple mingled with roast turkey.

Cider-Brined, Maple-Glazed Roast Turkey

1 14 lb turkey, thawed (if frozen)
2 quarts apple cider
2 quarts water
3/4 cup Kosher salt
1 cup dark molasses
1/4 cup dried allspice berries
3 sticks cinnamon
4 bay leaves

1/2 stick unsalted butter
1/2 cup good quality maple syrup (I used Lahaie Farms Maple Syrup from Cheboygan, Michigan).

2-days before serving:
In a stock pot large enough to hold your turkey with some extra room at the top, combine cider, water, salt, molasses, allspice, cinnamon and bay leaves. Bring Brine to a simmer over high heat. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature (this will take several hours).

Rinse turkey and then slowly lower into brine, making certain the bird is completely submerged. If need, more water can be added to the brine until the bird is just covered. Place in a refrigerator or cold place and allow the bird to brine for 24-36 hours.

Serving Day:
Remove Turkey from Brine, and pat dry with paper towels. Place Turkey on rack in roasting pan and baste with melted butter. Ten the bird with aluminum foil and roast at 325 for approx 4-5 hours, basting with pan juices every 45 minutes and rotating the bird a 1/4 turn with each basting (for even browning). In the last hour before bird is finished, remove foil tent and baste the bird with maple syrup. This will turn the bird a deep mahogany color.

Remove pan drippings from pan to a large pyrex bowl and skim as much fat from the top as possible (reserving 1/4 cup of fat). In a large sauce pan, add reserved turkey fat and 1/4 flour. Cook over medium heat 5 minutes, then add strained pan drippings and whisk until smooth. Add additional turkey or chicken stock (if needed) for desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper.

Wild Mushroom Tart with Smoked Gouda

Lord, it has been a loooong time since I last posted. In August right after Tizzi and Valerio and Hillary visited I was made a full time professor at my college and was asked to teach two classes I have not taught before, so had precious little time for cooking, let alone blogging about it! I am happy to say things have calmed down significantly since then and I am going to begin writing about food again! YAY!

The kids came down from DC for Thanksgiving and only just left about an hour ago with tupperwares full of pie and leftovers. So now, faced with a strangely quiet and empty house, I am faced with the opportunity to blog one of the Thanksgiving recipes: Wild Mushroom Tart with Smoked Gouda.

This recipe began as something I made decades ago from the famed Silver Palate cookbooks (see recommended cookbook section). I love the recipe from the Silver Palate, but it always tasted a little too much like a quiche with some mushrooms in it. My version turns that idea upside down. This tart is definitely a mushroom tart, held together with a little quiche custard... very little. The tart literally screams autumn, with wild mushrooms sauteed in butter and then deglazed with cider and cognac, and reduced until syrupy and golden.

It used to be incredibly difficult to find wild mushrooms, but now they can be found virtually everywhere, in both grocery chains like Whole Foods and at many Farmer's markets. You can choose whatever mushrooms suite your taste and budget. Although, this recipe doesn't use cultivated button mushrooms, they can be substituted for some of the mushrooms. Cooking cultivated mushrooms along with wild mushrooms gives all the flavor without the out-of-pocket expense.

I like to serve this tart with a simple arugula salad with red wine vinegar and olive oil and a few pomegranate seeds. The salad cuts the richness of the tart.

Wild Mushroom Tart with Smoked Gouda
(serves 8 appetizer portions)

Pate Brisee
1 1/2 cups pastry flour (I use White Lilly all purpose)
8 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 tsp salt
3 Tbsp ice water

Mushroom filling
1 cup apple cider
1/4 oz. dried morel mushrooms
4 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 shallot finely diced
12 oz. mixed fresh wild mushrooms (I used oyster and chanterelle mushrooms) coarsely chopped
1/4 cup cognac
salt and freshly ground black pepper

4 oz. shredded smoked gouda
1/4 grated parmesan cheese

1 egg
1/4 cup cream

To make the Pate Brisee (pie crust), place flour and salt in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with the chopping blad, and pulse briefly to combine. Cut butter into small pieces and add to flour, process until flour resembles coarse corn meal. Add ice water and pulse just until dough pulls together. Remove dough from work bowl, wrap in plastic wrap and chill for one hour.

Preheat oven to 375. Roll dough until about 1/4 inch thick and line an 8-inch metal tart pan with removable bottom with dough, trimming off excess. pierce the bottom of the tart shell with a fork to allow ventilation. Line tart shell with parchment paper or aluminum foil and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake 20 minutes until tart shell is set. Remove from oven and allow to cool before removing parchment and pie weights.

Heat cider in a glass bowl in microwave on high power for 2-3 minutes until almost boiling. Add dried morel mushrooms and allow to steep for 20 minutes. Melt butter in a large non-stick skillet, add shallots and saute on medium high heat until tender (3 minutes). Add fresh mushrooms and saute over medium high heat tossing occasionaly until mushrooms are golden brown (DO NOT ADD SALT UNTIL END OF RECIPE or the mushrooms will be rubbery). While mushrooms are sauteing, remove morels from cider (reserve liquid) and chop into thin rings, add to skillet. Strain cider through cheesecloth (to trap any grit) into skillet. Add Cognac and ignite with a match to burn off the alcohol. Continue to saute until liquid has evaporated and mushrooms are glazed (about 10-15 minutes). Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Place 1/2 of the smoked gouga and parmesan cheese in the bottom of the tart shell. Top with mushroom mixture. Combine egg and cream in a small bowl and whisk briefly with fork until combined. Slowly pour egg/cream mixture over mushrooms. Top with remaining cheeses. Bake at 375 for 30-40 minutes until golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly before removing from tart pan. Serve hot or at room temperature.