Thanksgiving Dinner recipes

Here are my Thanksgiving day recipes. It has a bit of an international flavor and it has the benefit of keeping the turkey moist without brining for a day before, which in my experience tends to dry out the skin.

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Roast Turkey

1 free-range turkey, 8-10 pounds, with giblets and neck, wing tips removed and reserved
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large onion, peeled and halved
1 carrot, peeled
1 bouquet garni (2 sprigs fresh thyme, 1 bay leaf, 6 stems parsley and 2 sprigs chervil)
1 whole clove
1 quart chicken or turkey broth
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

* Remove the turkey and the butter from the refrigerator 1 hour in advance.
* Put the turkey into a large Dutch oven and add the onion, carrot, bouquet garni, clove, neck (cut in half), giblets and wing tips. Pour the broth over and cover the pot with aluminum foil. Put the lid on top (if it doesn’t fit, just make sure the foil is very snug around the rim) and cook over low heat for 35 minutes.
* Remove the turkey from the pot of broth and put it on a deep platter. With a skimmer or slotted spoon, remove the vegetables and giblets to the platter, too. Pour most of the broth into a small saucepan, leaving just a little in the large pot.
* Spread the softened butter all over the turkey, adding any extra to the pot. Season the turkey with salt and pepper. To keep them from burning, wrap the ends of the drumsticks with aluminum foil. Put the turkey back into the large pot on its side, along with the vegetables and giblets. Pour any juices that collected under the turkey into the saucepan of broth.
* Put the turkey, uncovered, into the oven. Set the oven temperature to 400 degrees (the oven should not be preheated) and cook until a thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the thigh registers 165 degrees, about 1 hour and 40 minutes. Start by roasting the turkey for 40 minutes on the first side, then 40 minutes on the second side, 10 minutes on its back, and finally 10 minutes on its breast, turning the turkey with sturdy tongs. Baste the turkey with its cooking juices at least once every 30 minutes.
* When you turn the turkey on its back (after 1 hour and 20 minutes), begin to prepare the sauce: Bring the small saucepan to a boil and simmer for 20-25 minutes, or until the turkey comes out of the oven.
* When the turkey is cooked, remove it to a platter. Put the vegetables on the serving platter, but discard the clove and the bouquet garni. You can eat the roasted giblets if you like or save them to make broth.
* Spoon as much fat out of the turkey pot as possible. Keep the brown cooking juices. Pour the broth from the small saucepan into the large pot and boil for 10 minutes. Put this sauce through a fine strainer and serve it on top of the carved turkey or on the side in a sauceboat.

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Sweet Mashed Potatoes

8 medium sweet potatoes
2 cups coconut milk, approximately
1 cinnamon stick
Salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

* Set the sweet potatoes in the oven and bake for 45 minutes to an hour. After 20 minutes, perforate the potatoes in several places to prevent bursting. They are done when they can be easily pierced with a fork all the way through their thickest part.
* Let cool, then peel. Cut up roughly and process two or three at a time until smooth. Transfer to a large saucepan.
* Bring the coconut milk to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes with the cinnamon stick and, if you are using it, the brown sugar. Strain and whisk into the sweet potato purée. Add the coconut milk a cup at a time until you get the consistency you like.
* Add salt and pepper to taste. Cover and reheat just before serving. Brown sugar can also be added to sweeten.

Pan-broiled Salmon

Here is a quick and easy recipe that I’ve been using for sake nanban-yaki, or pan-broiled salmon. It tastes great, it doesn’t take much effort, and all of the ingredients are common. If you’re looking to get into cooking at home and making healthier dishes, I think this is a great place to start (especially compared to some of the family dinner recipes which are quite involved and expensive).

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Pan-broiled salmon

Yield: 4 servings

4 salmon fillets, about .5 lb each and 3/4 inch thick
oil
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp rice vinegar
2 tbsp mirin
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 cup chopped green onion

* About 45 min before cooking, salt both sides of fish and let it sit at room temperature
* In a large frying pan, heat the oil and fry both sides of the salmon at high heat for 2 min
* Discard the oil, then add the butter. Coat the fish with butter, then remove fish from the pan onto serving plates.
* Add rice vinegar, mirin, and soy sauce to the butter and glaze in the pan. Stir over high heat for 1 min. Add green onion until well mixed
* Spoon the green onion sauce over each fish and serve. Garnish with lemon if desired.

Poetry of the Day 2008-11-20

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate;
I am the captain of my soul.

-Invictus by William Ernest Henley

Quote of the Day 2008-11-12

“Don’t worry about genius and don’t worry about not being clever. Trust rather to hard work, perseverance, and determination. The best motto for a long march is ‘Don’t grumble. Plug on.’

You hold your future in your own hands. Never waver in this belief. Don’t swagger. The boy who swaggers – like the man who swaggers – has little else that he can do. He is a cheap-Jack crying his own paltry wares. It is the empty tin that rattles most. Be honest. Be loyal. Be kind. Remember that the hardest thing to acquire is the faculty of being unselfish. As a quality it is one of the finest attributes of manliness.

Love the sea, the ringing beach, and the open downs.

Keep clean, body and mind.”

-Sir Frederick Treves

Miso Salmon recipe

Here’s a great recipe from a sushi despot down in LA. He’s a guy that kicks out customers for violating Japanese customs like asking for miso soup before entrees, pouring soy sauce over sushi, and ordering California rolls. His justification is that you would never go to a three-star French restaurant and ask for ketchup, so you shouldn’t trample on Japanese culture and its proud culinary history either. Asking a sushi chef who has decades of training for a roll with cheese in it is the American equivalent to showing up to Thanksgiving dinner with pizza. Someone in Japan would fight you for that faux pas.

Actually, his philosophy has given me a lot of motivation to learn to pack sushi in the correct manner. Here’s a brief list of ways that you know a sushi restaurant is low class and probably not Japanese:

-rolls are offered with mayonnaise or spicy sauce (to cover up the taste of bad fish)
-the restaurant lets you pour your own soy sauce (all the food is bad, sushi despots dole out soy sauce by the drop)
-you ask for extra rice (you should be eating fish, good chefs are at the docks at 5 AM examining purchases)
-the sushi does not have wasabi in it (the chef doesn’t know what he’s doing)
-the rice falls apart when you pick up the sushi (the chef is just a monkey who copies what sushi looks like but doesn’t know how to actually pack it)

Anyways, the recipe is magnificent. This recipe makes the fish perfectly cooked and the miso sauce is heavenly. This was one of the best dishes I’ve ever cooked.

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Miso Sauce

Yield: about 1 cup

1/4 cup sake
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon S&B hot-mustard powder or other mustard powder
1 cup fine white miso paste, also known as shiro miso
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons rice vinegar (not seasoned)
A drop of yuzu (a Japanese citrus fruit) or lemon juice
A drop of toasted sesame oil

* Bring the sake to a boil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Boil for 20 seconds to evaporate the alcohol. Set aside to let cool.
* Transfer about a tablespoon of the sake into a small bowl and mix in the mustard powder until dissolved; return to the pot. Add the miso, sugar, vinegar, yuzu or lemon juice, and sesame oil and whisk until smooth and well-combined.

Oven-Roasted Salmon With Miso Sauce

Serves 4

4 (6 ounce, 1-inch thick) skinless, boneless salmon (or other thick white fish such as halibut) fillets
6 to 8 tablespoons miso sauce

* Preheat oven to 400 F. Line a sheet pan with aluminum foil.
* Pat fish dry. Generously slather fish all over with miso sauce. Arrange fish in a single layer, skin side down, on the prepared sheet pan. Roast until fish is just slightly undercooked in the center, 6 to 7 minutes.
* Preheat broiler and broil fish 4 inches from the heating source, until the sauce on the fish is lightly golden and fish is just opaque in the center, about another 2 minutes. Transfer fish to 4 plates and serve immediately.