Ah Thanksgiving! This time of year always feels like an official ending to the season for us here on the farm. We were at Stonewall Farm this past weekend for their annual farm fare and had our turkey pick-up at the farm store so it was a pretty busy day. Every year for the past few years we have set up a table at Stonewall to sell our pasture-raised turkeys. We could not believe the line of people patiently waiting to purchase the centerpiece of their Thanksgiving meal. What an honor as farmers! Since we spend most of our time here on the farm it was great to be out and have the opportunity to talk with our customers and hear all about how they will prepare their turkey this Thanksgiving.
There is something extraordianry about being part of the Thanksgiving meal of more than one-hundred families. Chris and I are grateful for the amazing amount of people who are on a quest to support small, local farms and to bring back heritage breeds. We are continuously amazed by the generosity and goodness of those who support us in our farming endeavors and are honored to have our turkeys who were raised with love, on the tables of so many of our friends and neighbors. We thank you all for your ongoing support and we wish you the best this Thanksgiving.
And here are two of our favorite Thanksgiving recipes that will be sure to wow your guests this holiday:
Oyster and Chestnut Stuffing
Chris makes this delicious stuffing each year and I love that the recipe calls for items that our pioneering ancestors could have used in 1621...that makes it all the more special!
6 cups of bread crumbs (from homemade bread made with wheat, cornmeal or a combination, toasted and coarsely grated) 1 to 2 tablespoons (total) finely chopped fresh sage, or thyme, basil, summer savory, marjoram or whatever smells good to you alone or in combination (or 1 to 2 teaspoons dried) 2 or 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley 1 large onion, chopped 2 or 3 stalks of celery with leaves, chopped 1 1/2 sticks butter, melted half the turkey giblets simmered in water and chopped (use the rest and the broth in your gravy) (optional) 1/2 pound chestnuts, chopped (optional)* 1 pint of oysters, whole if small, chopped if large (optional) optional broth from cooking giblets and or oysters** 1 egg, beaten (optional, for a moister stuffing) 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon salt (to taste)
*To peel chestnuts, first cut deep crosses into the flat side of the nuts. Place them in a pot of salted water; bring to a boil and simmer for about 15 minutes. Then drain, cover chestnuts with lukewarm water and peel away the outer shell and inner skin. (This can be done ahead of time.) **Cook the oysters ahead of time by bringing them to a boil in 1 cup of water. Let them simmer for 15 minutes. Drain, chop and add to the stuffing mixture. Put the bread crumbs in a large mixing bowl and blend in the herbs. Sauté the onion and celery in 2 or 3 tablespoons of the butter and add to the bread mixture. Mix in the giblets, chestnuts and oysters. Add the melted butter, beaten egg and enough other liquid to make the stuffing as moist as you want. Do not stuff your bird ahead of time, as stuffing is a perfect medium for bacteria to grow in. Just before roasting, spoon the stuffing into your bird loosely to give it room to expand-then off to the oven PDQ.
This recipe reprinted from The Baking Sheet Newsletter, Vol. III, No. 1, November 1991 issue.
This is a wonderful and scrumptious way to use up all the parts of your turkey this Thanksgiving.
You can enrich the stock for this gravy with any odd poultry parts that you may have in your freezer. Make the stock while the turkey roasts in its foil wrapper, then finish the gravy with the turkey drippings while the bird continues to roast unwrapped.
Turkey giblets (including neck) and wing tips from a 12–14-lb. turkey, rinsed 5 shiitake mushrooms, trimmed and coarsely chopped 2 ribs celery, coarsely chopped 2 medium yellow onions, peeled and coarsely chopped 2 medium carrots, peeled, trimmed, and coarsely chopped 2 cloves garlic, crushed and peeled 5 sprigs of one fresh herb or a mixture, such as thyme, oregano, savory, tarragon, and basil 1 bay leaf 1⁄2 cup white wine or dry vermouth 6 tbsp. turkey fat skimmed from reserved turkey drippings 6 tbsp. flour 2 cups reserved turkey drippings, skimmed of fat, or enough turkey drippings with the addition of chicken stock or water to yield 2 cups Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Put giblets, wing tips, mushrooms, celery, onions, carrots, garlic, herbs, bay leaf, wine, and 5 1/2 cups water into a medium pot. Bring to a boil over high heat, skimming any foam that rises to the surface. Reduce heat to medium and gently boil until stock has reduced to about 2 cups, 1–1 1/2 hours. Strain stock into a bowl, setting neck aside, and discard solids. Pick meat off neck bone, add to stock, and discard bones. Skim off any fat from stock and set stock aside.
2. Heat turkey fat in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 4–5 minutes. Gradually whisk in stock and neck meat, then the turkey drippings, and simmer, stirring often, until gravy thickens, 10–15 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve warm in a gravy boat, if you like. From Saveur magazine.