It’s the most wonderful time of the year, or is it??? ‘Tis the season for headaches, hangovers, nervous breakdowns, and Chapter 13 bankruptcies. Like it or not the holiday season is here. Bust out your Christmas list and get to shoppin’. I personally hate Christmas shoppin’, and have determined that my hell will be one continuous Black Friday Sale at the mall. Save yourself the agony of Black Friday and just do all of your Christmas shopping at smaller local shops. (Side Note: My etsy site is https://www.etsy.com/shop/KookiesDragWares I’m just saying…) Try not to let your Christmas shopping spoil your holidays. Lord knows you have bigger fish to fry; literally, like who the hell is going to cook the Thanksgiving feast??? Not to worry, Kookie Baker is here to take the stress out of Thanksgiving Dinner. It’s just a turkey no need to double up on your nerve pills just yet. Wait until your family comes over and you’re done with the cookin’. Just think of a turkey as a HUGE chicken. If you can bake a chicken, you can cook a turkey. I have included a super easy Brown Bag Special Turkey complete with a Herbaceous Brine to insure that the turkey is moist and delicious. Let’s face it, there is nothing worse than a dry ass turkey!!! (Well, there is now that I think about it, an undercooked turkey. That turns your meal into an out of body experience. Like dinner prepared by Typhoid Mary.) So, what goes with turkey??? That’s right, cranberry sauce. Don’t you dare serve that crap from a can!!! You are preparing a Holiday Feast. Think Norman Rockwell’s Freedom from Want and not National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. Follow my super easy Bourbon Spiced Cranberry Sauce recipe for the perfect accompaniment to any turkey. Don’t forget you need side dishes too… Fear not, I have you covered. Try my delicious Corn Puddin’ and Andouille, Shrimp and Mirliton Dressin’. The secret to preparing a fabulous dinner is planning ahead. Most of these dishes can be made days ahead of time.
Herbaceous Turkey Brine
3 cups apple cider
4 sprigs of rosemary
4 sprigs of thyme
4 sprigs of oregano
5 cloves garlic (minced)
1-1/2 cup Kosher salt
2 cups brown sugar
3 tablespoons peppercorns
5 whole bay leaves
peel of 3 large oranges
1 red onion ( roughly chopped)
2 quarts water
1 1/2 gallon iced water
Combine all ingredients except iced water in a large pot. Bring to a boil, then turn off heat and cover.
Allow to cool then add iced water, then pour into a large brining bag or pot. I like to place a clean unscented trash bag into a pot, then fill with uncooked turkey and cold brine solution.
Refrigerate for 16 to 24 hours. Don’t forget to remove the giblets and the neck from inside the turkey’s cavity. And don’t worry, even if it was a male turkey that is in fact the NECK… Save those for later roasting.
When ready to roast the turkey, remove it from the brine. Submerge turkey in a pot or sink of fresh, cold water. Allow to sit in clean water for 15 minutes to remove excess salt from the outside.
Discard brine. Remove turkey from clean water, pat dry, and cook according to your normal roasting method.
*Plan Ahead: This brine can be made a couple days ahead of time, just don’t add the gallon and a half of water and store in the refrigerator. When ready to soak the turkey, just add the additional water and continue*
Brown Bag Special Turkey
1 turkey (10 to 20 lbs) brought to room temperature
1 onion(peeled and cut into large pieces)
3 celery sticks (chopped)
3 carrots (chopped)
1 lemon (quartered)
3 oranges (quartered)
6 tbsp butter (softened)
1 cup chicken broth
Brown paper shopping bag (I used a very large bag from a recent takeout order)
First you need to be sure your bag is large enough to fit the turkey. If your bag is not large enough, you can combine 2 bags with a stapler. Basically, you need to make the brown paper bag long enough so the end can be closed once the turkey is in it.
Remove the brined turkey and let it sit out at room temperature for 2 hours before cooking. It’s important to bring the turkey to room temperature so the cooking time is not affected (cold turkey will take longer to cook).
Preheat the oven to 375F.
Put all the vegetables and citrus inside the turkey, and put the giblets and neck in there too. Dry the outside of the turkey with paper towels, and then rub with 4 tablespoons of butter.
Butter the inside of the brown paper bag with the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. Put the turkey inside the brown paper bag. Put the brown paper bag with the turkey in a roasting pan. Pour the chicken broth inside the turkey cavity. Fold the paper bag closed, and staple it with a stapler so it stays closed.
Put the turkey in the oven. Estimated cooking time – it’s 2.5 hours for the first 10 lbs, plus 12 minutes for each additional pound (for example, the cooking time for 12 lb turkey is 2.5 hours + 12 minutes + 12 minutes = 2 hours 54 minutes). Set the timer for the cooking time and forget about the turkey until the timer beeps!
When the timer beeps, take out the turkey and leave it in a bag for 15 minutes to rest. Then cut the bag open and take out the super delicious, perfectly brown and moist turkey! Enjoy your Thanksgiving feast! *Side Note: Be sure to save the price tag from your turkey. You need to have the weight to ensure proper cooking time.*
Bourbon Spiced Cranberry Sauce
2 (12 oz.) packages of cranberries
2/3 cup white sugar
1 1/3 cups brown sugar
3/4 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
3/4 cup water
zest of one orange, plus extra for garnish
1 cinnamon stick
1-3 tablespoons bourbon (to taste)
Place all the ingredients in a medium saucepan and cook on medium-high for 15-20 minutes or until most of the liquid has reduced, stirring occasionally. Once most of the cranberries have popped, remove from heat and let rest for at least 15 minutes. *You can refrigerate for up to 1 week.
Kookies’s Corn Puddin’
2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
6 tablespoons butter (melted)
1 ¾ cups milk
2 cups corn kernels
Blend butter, sugar, flour, and salt. Add eggs, beating well. Stir in corn and milk. Pour into a greased casserole dish and bake for 20 minutes at 325 degrees. Take out and give the mixture a stir. Then continue to bake for about 20 minutes. When done the mixture will be golden brown and thick like custard. Be sure not to overtake.
Mirliton, Andouille and Shrimp Dressin’
4 tablespoons olive oil
4 tablespoons butter
1 pound Andouille sausage (cut into small pieces)
2 onions (chopped)
2 bell peppers (chopped)
4 celery stalks (chopped)
2 tsp oregano
4 tsp thyme salt
2-3 bay leaves
4-5 garlic cloves (minced)
1 lb. of fresh shrimp (peeled)
14.5 ounce can of chicken stock
2 quarts crumbled cornbread (store bought or mix made is fine)
½ green onions (sliced)
1 cup shredded Italian four cheese blend
Boil mirlitons whole until tender, but not mushy. Peel, if necessary; remove seed in center and cut into cubes. Set aside.
In a large pan, sauté sausage in oil and butter until brown; add vegetables and herbs. Cook for about 30 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
Add shrimp and cook about one minute.
Add chopped mirlitons and chicken stock. Cook for 5 minutes more.
Add green onions and Italian cheese. Stir well. Place in a greased casserole dish and cover with foil.
Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Then uncover and bake for 15 minutes more.