Wednesday, December 6, 2006

"Giada's Family Dinners" by Giada De Laurentiis - Turkey with herbes de Provence and citrus plus Ciabatta stuffing

Dear reader, you can probably tell that I'm just now loading all my previously-made recipes into this blog, but the fact that I'm up to Thanksgiving and it's only December 6 is a good thing! You know what they say about the road to hell....

Date I made the recipes: November 23, 2006 – Thanksgiving Day

Giada’s Family Dinners by Giada De Laurentiis
Published by: Clarkson Potter Publishers
ISBN: 030723827X

Recipes: Turkey with herbes de Provence and Citrus – p. 190-92 and Ciabatta Stuffing with Chestnuts and Pancetta p. 193

Okay, first the confessions. My husband saw Giada making this on her show, Everyday Italian, on the Food Network (I ask you, is there a better channel on the planet?) and had to have these recipes for his family Thanksgiving. Since his mom was doing the shopping (we did the cooking), he emailed his mom a link to the website ( so she could pull the recipes straight from the website rather than have us provider her with photocopies from the book. It’s much easier to splash stuff on a photocopy than the actual book, trust me.

And then there’s the matter of the ingredients. My sister-in-law actually got the turkey started since we arrived later in the day, but didn’t use the herbes de Provence since the local grocery story didn’t carry them. Giada, we apologize, but the recipe actually was fantastic either way. (Note: if you can’t find herbes de Provence, you can always, if you are ambitious – which I am not – make up your own mix. Just Google “herbes de Provence” to find out more).

And then there was the little matter of the chestnuts for the stuffing. I honestly think that my sister-in-law had a senior moment at the grocery store because she’s actually a good cook yet left the store without chestnuts (she couldn’t find them) and instead bought two cans of water chestnuts. Giada, I know what you’re thinking but they actually worked out okay. (And to the rest of you, water chestnuts are NOT “chestnut” chestnuts. They are tuber vegetables that resemble regular chestnuts in shape and coloring. Let me just say how much I LOVE Google!)

And yet another confession: my mother-in-law bought a turkey with one of those pop up timers which are usually useless, as was proven in this case, because the thing never popped. We left our meat thermometer at home so had to resort to the old “put a knife in the thigh and if the juices run clear, it’s done” test and the meat was just fine. But seriously folks, those pop ups usually tell you when the meat is overdone rather than “nice and juicy” done. If you have to go with it, then fine, but I’d invest in a meat thermometer if I were you.

And finally, as happens every year, somebody uses up an ingredient/forgets to buy an ingredient for one of the dishes. This year, all the rosemary went into the turkey leaving not a crumb for the stuffing or for a roast pork recipe that we made from Cook’s Country newsletter. No matter. Everything came out okay.

But if I might share one little story: My mother-in-law doesn’t really like to cook much but one year, got on the detail of making the turkey and stuffing (with recipes we provided) and used up all the broth rather than leaving a good portion of it behind for my carrot dill soup. When the time came to make the soup, she innocently asked if she could just drain a can of Campbell’s Chicken Noodle soup and use that for the broth. Uh no. She also had 40 year old bouillon cubes and those got a “no” as well. Finally, my husband and brother-in-law got in the car, went to a Tom Thumb market, got the broth and saved the day. I still laugh about that story every year.

Turkey with Herbes de Provence and Citrus (8-10 servings)
1 14 to 15 pound turkey, neck and giblets reserved
1 orange, cut into wedges
1 lemon, cut into wedges
1 onion, cut into wedges
6 fresh rosemary sprigs
6 fresh oregano sprigs
7 T unsalted butter
2 T herbes De Provence (or not!)
1 T olive oil
1 ½ tsp salt, plus more to taste
1 ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
6 c. canned reduced-sodium chicken broth
1/3 c. all-purpose flour

To make the turkey: position the rack in the lowest third of the oven and preheat the oven to 400F. Rinse the turkey and pat it dry with paper towels.

Note: One year, some friends and I spent the holiday at my friend’s family cabin in Wisconsin. Most of the group got up early to make the bird, something they had never cooked before, and so I was quite pleased to awaken to the smell of a browning turkey in the oven. But when I asked them if they had any trouble taking out the giblets and neck and/or rinsing the bird, they looked at my like I was psycho. It seems they did not know that you need to take that packet out of the bird before cooking and the rinse cycle was totally lost on them. So, approximately one hour into the cooking cycle, I took the bird out of the oven, took the packet out, rinsed it most thoroughly and put it in to finish. Of course the bird was fine but I have to admit to eating very little of it as the whole thought of not removing the packet (nor rinsing) just had “salmonella” written all over it. I am so my mother’s daughter.

Place the (thoroughly rinsed and de-packeted) turkey on a rack set inside a large roasting pan. Stuff the orange and lemon wedges, onion and 2 springs each of the fresh herbs into the main turkey cavity. Using kitchen twine (or, in our case, the metal drumstick holder that came with the bird), tie the legs together to hold the shape of the turkey.

In a small saucepan, stir 2 T of the butter, the herbes de Provence (or not!), oil and 1 ½ teaspoons each of the salt and pepper over medium heat just until the butter melts. Rub the butter mixture all over the turkey and between the turkey breast and the skin. Place the turkey neck and giblets in the roasting pan. (The turkey can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before roasting).

Cover the turkey breast with foil and roast for 20 minutes. Pour 3 cups of the broth into the pan and stir to scrape up any brown bits on the bottom of the pan around the turkey. Add the remaining sprigs of fresh herbs to the pan juices. Return the pan to the oven and roast the turkey for 40 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350F and discard the foil. Pour 1 cup of broth into the pan. Continue roasting the turkey, basting occasionally with pan juices, until an instant-read meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh registers 160F (not the method we used) or (the method we did use) until the juices run clear when the thickest part of the thigh is pierced with a skewer, about 1 hour 30 minutes longer.

Transfer the turkey to a platter and tent with foil. Let stand for 30 minutes while you prepare the gravy. (Note, we didn’t bring the gravy recipe but my brother-in-law is our resident gravy expert and he made one that worked just fine).

Despite the missing ingredients, this recipe was delicious and we probably would have made a soup out of the carcass had not my sister-in-law’s overly-helpful guest thrown the carcass in the garbage before I could stop him. I mean, who does that??!! That’s practically criminal behavior on a day such as this. Next year, I’m staying close to the stove during the cleanup portion of our program.

Ciabatta stuffing with chestnuts and pancetta
Notes: Ciabatta is an Italian bread that is increasingly found in more and more grocery stores but if you can’t find it, use country-style white bread. Pancetta is basically a thicker version of our American bacon only it’s not cured, smoked, honeyed or otherwise altered. Giada says you can use regular bacon if you’d like but we used Pancetta.

6 T (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for baking dish
8 oz. thinly sliced pancetta or bacon, cut into ¼-inch dice
2 large onions, finely chopped
2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
3 celery stalks, finely chopped
2 T chopped fresh rosemary
3 garlic cloves, chopped
2 (7.4 oz) jars roasted peeled whole chestnuts, coarsely broken
1 pound day-old Ciabatta or other country-style white bread, cut into 3/4-inch cubes (about 12 cups)
2/3 c. freshly grated parmesan cheese
¼ c. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 c. canned reduced-sodium chicken broth, or more as needed
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 large eggs, beaten to blend (Note: do not do as I did when I read this instruction and interpret it as “beaten to death.” I must have had criminal law on the brain that day…)

Preheat the oven to 350F. Butter a 15 x 10 x 2-inch glass baking dish. Melt 2 T of the butter in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the pancetta and sauté until crisp and golden, about 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pancetta to a large bowl. Melt the remaining 4 T of butter in the same skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion, carrots, celery, rosemary and garlic. Sauté until the onions are very tender, about 12 minutes. Gently stir in the chestnuts. Transfer the onion mixture to the large bowl with the pancetta. Add the bread, Parmesan cheese and parsley and toss to coat. Add enough broth to the stuffing mixture to moisten. Season the stuffing to taste with salt and pepper. Mix in the eggs.

Transfer the stuffing to the prepared dish. Covered with buttered foil, buttered side down, and bake until the stuffing is heated through, about 30 minutes. Uncover and continue baking until the top is crisp and golden, about 15 minutes longer.

And now, a word about the size of bread cubes. When I was growing up, we didn’t have any of the artisan breads that are out there today so when we cubed the bread, the cubes were always rather small because the loves were small…and white. You had white bread or you didn’t have bread, it was that easy. (I actually begged my mother to buy Wonder Bread, because it was so fun to squish, but she wasn’t having any of that, at all).

But artisan breads are fun to rip and so the bread chunks tend to be rather large. I am not a fan of large,“chunky” dressing/stuffing cubes. I’m just saying. I want a nice, mushy ball of stuffing when the day is through but it’s your call. My husband, who was in charge of “cubing” the bread, ignored the instruction to cut it into cubes and ripped the heck out of the loaf. Naturally, the cubes were gigantic. (Think ice cube proportions). We had a discussion afterwards and I’m pretty comfortable that he will not make the same “error” again.

No comments: