Beth Dooley's Thanksgiving Recipes: Fast Bird, Turkey Gravy, Cranberry Wild Rice Pilaf

By Beth Dooley
The Northern Heartland Kitchen

THANKSGIVING BIRD - FAST!
Serves about 10

Ingredients:
1 (10- to 14-pound) turkey, neck and giblets, removed and reserved for another use Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups water

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees and put the rack at the lowest position. Rinse the turkey inside and out and pat it dry. Season the turkey inside and out with salt and freshly ground pepper. Fold the neck skin under the body and tuck the wings under the body.

Put the turkey breast-side down on a roasting rack in a roasting pan. Add 1 cup of water to the pan. Roast without basting for about 20 minutes, adding water to the pan as necessary to maintain 1 cup. Reduce the heat to 350, carefully flip the bird over (using two wooden spoons or pot holders) so the breast is up, and roast until a meat thermometer inserted into the thigh (without touching the bone) registers about 165 degrees, about 2 to 3 hours depending on the turkey's size.

When the turkey is cooked, carefully tilt the turkey so the juices from the cavity run into the roasting pan, then remove the turkey to a platter to rest (the temperature will continue to rise to 180 degrees) while you make the gravy.

TURKEY GRAVY

Ingredients:
2 to 3 cups turkey or chicken stock
½ cup butter
3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons cider vinegar

Directions:
Deglaze your metal roasting pan on the stovetop to capture every bit of flavor for your gravy. If you used a glass baking dish for roasting, however, simply transfer the pan juices and drippings to a saucepan.

Pour the pan juices through a strainer into a measuring cup and skim off and discard the fat. Place the roasting pan across two burners and add 1 cup of the stock. Deglaze the pan by boiling the stock over high heat and scraping up the browned bits. Pour the turkey juices and more stock (you should have 3 to 4 cups of liquid altogether) into the pan, stir, and continue boiling for at least 2 minutes to reduce the liquid.

Melt the butter in a heavy 4-quart pot over moderate heat. Whisk in the flour and cook for about 5 minutes to make a thick roux. Add the stock and juices in a slow, steady stream, whisking constantly to prevent lumps. Bring the gravy to a boil, whisking until it is smooth. Simmer until the gravy is the thickness you desire, between 3 to 5 minutes. Season the gravy with salt, pepper, and vinegar to taste.

HARVEST STUFFED SQUASH
Serves 8

Ingredients:
4 small Cinderella pumpkins or acorn squash, halved and seeded
2 tablespoons sunflower oil or olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 fennel bulb, diced
1 red bell pepper, seeded, deveined, and chopped
1 large carrot, finely diced
1/4 cup chopped hazelnuts
2 cups cooked wild rice or barley
1/2 cup chopped parsley
2 tablespoons rubbed sage
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Place the squash cut-side down on a baking sheet and bake until it is tender, about 40 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet and saute the onion, garlic, fennel, red pepper, carrot, and hazelnuts until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the wild rice and herbs, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove the squash from the oven, turn it over, and place it cut-side up on the baking sheet. Fill the squash with the stuffing. Return the squash to the oven and bake it an additional 30 minutes.

WILD RICE CRANBERRY PILAF
Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients:
1/2 cup wild rice*, rinsed under cold water
1-1/4 cups chicken stock or water
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 (2-inch) sprig fresh rosemary
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
1∕3 cup fresh orange juice, or to taste
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup chopped toasted walnuts*

Directions:
In a large saucepan, combine the rice with the chicken stock. Bring the stock to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes to 1-1/4 hours*. The rice should be tender but not mushy.

While the rice is cooking, melt the butter in a medium skillet over medium heat and saute the shallot and onion with the parsley and rosemary until the onion is translucent, about 2 to 4 minutes. Stir in the cranberries, orange zest, and orange juice and cook about 2 minutes. Remove the rosemary sprig. Toss the onion mixture into the rice and season with salt and pepper to taste. Fold in the walnuts. Serve hot or at room temperature.

*Note: To toast walnuts, spread the nuts on a baking sheet and toast them in a preheated 350-degree oven until they begin to smell nutty, about 3 to 5 minutes. Remove and chop.

*Note: The cooking time will depend on the type of rice. Hand harvested truly wild rice will cook in about 30 minutes. Cultivated paddy rice requires about 1 to 1-/4 hours. Find the truly wild, hand harvested rice at farmers markets and natural food co-ops.

CRANBERRY SORBET
Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients:
4 cups fresh cranberries, picked through
1 cup sugar
Juice and grated zest of 1 small orange

Directions:
In a medium saucepan set over medium heat, cook the cranberries in just enough water to cover them (about 1 cup) until they pop. Stir in the orange juice, zest, and sugar and continue cooking until the liquid is reduced and the cranberries are quite soft.

Turn the mixture into a food processor fitted with a steel blade and puree it. Transfer the puree into an ice cream machine and freeze it according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Instead of using an ice cream machine, you can spread the puree in a baking dish and set it in the freezer. After 20 minutes, remove the dish, stir, and return it to the freezer. Stir one more time until the sorbet is frozen. To serve, temper the sorbet at room temperature until it is soft enough to scoop.

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