His family had a turkey stuffing recipe that was handed down from generation to generation. The turkey was moist, savoury and satisfying. "But after having enjoyed this stuffing for more than 40 Thanksgivings in a row, frankly it’s getting a little boring," Lee Carney said. And, with apologies to his grandmother, he decided it was time for a change.
First, the stuffing
Carney looked to Asia for inspiration. With the assistance of two friends with "impeccable culinary skills," (Lee Man and Brian Chan), he developed a recipe for Chinese Sticky Rice Stuffing. Here’s how to make it:
- 2 teaspoons of sesame or peanut oil
- 4 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoons of fresh ginger, minced
- 2 scallions, thinly sliced
- 5 Chinese sausages cut into 1 cm diagonal slices
- 3-4 dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked in 2 cups of hot water until soft and puffed up. Remove the stems then cut into thin slices (reserve the soaking liquid)
- 500 grams glutinous rice, soaked overnight in enough cold water to cover by at least 2 inches, then drained
- Cilantro, chopped
In a wok or frying pan, heat oil on high heat.
Sauté garlic, ginger and scallions until fragrant, about 2 to 3 minutes
Add Chinese sausages and stir for 1 minute.
Add mushrooms and stir for 1 minute.
Turn off heat and add the glutinous rice and stir until everything is well mixed. Transfer the rice mixture into a rice cooker. Pour the 2 cups of shiitake soaking liquid into the pot. It should just be enough to cover all the rice mixture, if not you can add some more water to cover the entire rice mixture. Cook the rice as per the rice cooker’s instructions. When the rice cooker finishes, spread the cooked rice on a cookie sheet to cool to room temperature. Sprinkle the chopped cilantro over the cooled rice. Stuff the rice in the main and neck cavities of the turkey but don’t pack it too tightly.
For those of you seeking extra credit, add some duck meat to the stuffing and you can brag to your friends about having made an Asian Turducken.
Over the last couple of years, he had experimented with different ways to prepare turkey. His tests convinced him that roasting turkey in the oven is the best choice.
Carney offers advice on how to roast a turkey in the next section. He noted that all you need to do is replace the Sourdough Stuffing in that recipe, with Chinese Sticky Rice Stuffing. The rice will absorb the turkey juices that drip down from the meat while it cooks and give you an amazing side dish to enjoy with your friends and loved ones, he promised.
Then, the turkey recipe that won't let you down
Of all the holidays Carney's family celebrates, none is as food-focused as this one, he said. "We enjoy a turkey, stuffing, gravy and mashed potatoes like many other traditionalists. Over the years, I have developed a number of recipes that I follow and techniques that I use to produce consistently excellent results. There’s no need to serve a dried-out turkey or thin, tasteless gravy." Just follow these easy steps and treat yourself and your loved ones to an amazing Thanksgiving meal, he advised.
Pre-heat your oven to 350°F. Remove any packaged giblets and/or the neck from inside the turkey. Rinse the turkey inside and out with cold water then pat it dry with paper towels. Using your fingers, gently peel back the skin from the breast and insert slices of garlic, butter and thyme leaves. Stuff the cavity with stuffing (see recipe below) and insert a fork in the middle. Leave the end of the fork exposed, sticking out of the stuffing. This will conduct heat to the middle of the stuffing and help it cook evenly. Tuck the legs inside the loose skin around the cavity opening to close it. Rub the skin of the turkey with olive oil then sprinkle with salt and fresh thyme leaves.
Place the turkey in a heavy roasting pan with a ¼ cup of oil. Place the neck in the base of the roasting pan. Cover the turkey loosely with a paper grocery bag that has been brushed on the inside with oil, tucking the edges of the bag inside the pan.
Put the turkey in the oven. After one hour, remove the neck from the pan. After 2-1/2 hours, add 3 cups of low-salt chicken stock to the roasting pan. At the 3-1/2 hour mark, remove the paper bag from the turkey. Carefully pour off the pan juices in to a separate bowl to use in the gravy (see recipe below). Check the temperature of the turkey with an instant read thermometer. The thickest part of the thigh should be 165°F and the center of the stuffing should be 160° when finished. Return the turkey to the oven if needed otherwise cover the turkey with aluminum foil. Allow the turkey to rest for at least 30 minutes before carving.
Sourdough Stuffing with Apples, Bacon and Caramelized Onions
Cut 2 loaves of day-old sourdough bread in to 1” cubes. Spread the cubes out on a cookie sheet to dry. If time is short, you can put them in the oven on its lowest heat setting to dry them out quickly, but be very careful the bread does not burn.
Chop 8 oz. of bacon in to 1” squares. In a large skillet cook the bacon until it is crispy. Set the bacon aside and pour off all but 2 Tbsp. of the fat left in the pan, reserving it for later. Sauté 1-1/2 cups of diced onion (1/2” dice) in the bacon fat over medium heat until it is soft and light brown, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle 1 Tbsp. of sugar over the onion and continue to cook, stirring constantly to prevent burning. Cook the onions for another 3-5 minutes then scrape the pan contents in to a large mixing bowl.
Add 2 Tbsp. of the reserved bacon fat to the pan. Add 2 granny smith apples (peeled and diced in to ½” cubes) and 1-1/2 cups of chopped celery. Sauté 5-7 minutes until softened. Add 2/3 of a cup of chopped fresh flat leaf/Italian parsley, 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh sage, 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh thyme, ½ tsp. of salt and a few grinds of fresh black pepper. Sauté another minute then scrape contents of the pan in to the mixing bowl containing the caramelized onions.
Add the bread cubes and the bacon to the mixing bowl and toss. Beat 3 large eggs then combine them with 2 cups of low-salt chicken stock. Add this to the mixing bowl and toss until stuffing is well blended and moist.
Thyme and Apple Cider Gravy
The day before Thanksgiving, begin making a roux by melting 8 Tbsp. of butter in a heavy saucepan. Add in 2/3 of a cup of flour, whisking it until it is smooth. Over very low heat cook the roux for 20 minutes, stirring frequently. Do not let the roux burn or darken. Remove from heat and store in the refrigerator in a covered container.
Remove the roux from the refrigerator far enough in advance to allow it reach room temperature before using. Once the turkey has roasted for one house, combine 3 cups of apple cider, 1 cup of white wine, 1 apple (peeled and diced) 2 shallots (finely chopped), 1-1/2 cups of low salt chicken stock and the turkey neck in a large saucepan. Bring the stock to a boil over high heat and reduce it by half. Remove the neck from the pan and discard it (or save it if you plan to make stock from the turkey carcass the following day). Set the stock mixture aside.
When the turkey is finished roasting and has begun to rest, allow the reserved pan juices to rest for 10 to 20 minutes. Skim off the fat that rises to the surface and add the remaining juices to the pot with the cider stock. Bring the mixture back to a gentle boil then gradually whisk in small amounts of the roux. The more roux you add, the thicker the gravy so continue adding roux until you get the thickness you want. Strain the gravy and add salt & pepper to taste. Stir in 1 Tbsp. of chopped fresh thyme and serve.
Now, pass the spuds, please
No turkey dinner is complete without a side of spuds, though, Carney added. "The recipe is one you shouldn't eat regularly (it's not exactly heart-friendly) but it's so delicious that I'm willing to loosen my belt after dinner once or twice a year."
The beauty of this recipe, he observed, is that you can dial up or dial down the decadence, depending on your tolerance for excess.
Completely Decadent Mashed Potatoes
- 5 lb bag Russet Baking Potatoes
- Whole Milk (can substitute 2% or even skim for a lower fat version)
- Goat Cheese
- Roasted Garlic
- Reggiano Parmesan Cheese (grated)
- Salt and pepper to taste
Peel and wash potatoes. Add the peeled potatoes to a stock pot of boiling water. Cook the potatoes until a fork slides easily inside. Drain the potatoes and return them to the stock pot.
Mash the potatoes with butter and milk, adding enough of the later two ingredients to obtain your preferred thickness. Stir in the goat cheese and roasted garlic.
Transfer the mashed potatoes to a baking dish. Top the potatoes with grated Parmesan cheese. Bake at 350°C for 30 minutes and serve hot.
Don't blame the turkey!
We all know that on Thanksgiving, diet plans tend to be derailed the moment juicy turkey, mashed potatoes with gravy, and an assortment of sugar-heavy desserts are piled up on the table. Whether you love or hate this button-busting holiday, one thing is certain: if you want to avoid having to loosen your belt, it's important to stick to a plan.
Canadian clinical hypnotherapist Success Through Manipulation author Colin Christopher has provided some guilt-free tips on how to stick to your diet during the holiday:
Don’t skip meals leading up to Thanksgiving
Just because you avoid dinner the night before doesn’t mean you can squeeze in more fatty food during your main meal.
“This will guarantee your failure as it leads to increased hunger, binge eating and depriving your body of necessary calories to convert to energy,” Christopher advises.
There’s no such thing as eating healthy now to balance out bad meals later
Eating your quinoa salads for a week doesn’t entitle you to stuff your face with pumpkin pie and mashed potatoes if you’re really committed to losing weight.
Learn to say no
If you’re really serious about your diet, let your family know you’re committed. Christopher suggests that family members will understand if you decline desserts in order to stay healthy.
Exercise doesn’t give you the right to eat poorly
You may think that a few sessions on the treadmill will give you extra room to consume more calories, but this doesn’t give you the thumbs up to make it a habit. “Working out and exercise is great, but it’s never a pass to load up on bad food at the holidays,” Christopher said.
Traveling for the holiday is no excuse
A lot people believe spending their long weekends at airports gives them free license to eat fast food and bags of chips. But if you wouldn't eat such food normally, don't slip into the habit. “When traveling, pack a healthy meal before you board your flight or hit the road this holiday.”
You are responsible
Any weight gained from this holiday is on you. Don’t blame the turkey or the delicious dessert, said Christopher. “It’s very possible to control what you eat this Thanksgiving but it’s ultimately your responsibility,” he added.
Here are additional tips:
Skip the skin
As soon as you get your piece of the turkey, skim off the top layer. The skin is loaded with bad fat. A skinless breast is a perfectly healthy choice.
Be stingy with your desserts
There’s no need to drown your turkey in cranberry sauce. Aim for a couple of teaspoons. You don’t have to forget about one of the most exciting parts of the meal, just seek ways to cut calories. Skip the a la mode pie and swap it for a plain pie, it will save you 250 calories.
Eat well, drink water
Fill your plate (about one-third) with lots of vegetables, and drink lots of water before and during your meal.
Have a great time!
Cherish your loved ones. Don't sweat the small stuff. Get outside! Breathe...
Whatever the case, we hope you enjoy a lovely long weekend with family and friends.