Saturday, November 26, 2011

Thanksgiving Dinner, Part 1

For this year's Thanksgiving feast, Rusty prepared a luscious organic turkey with oyster and shiitake mushroom stuffing. This is one of the turkeys shown in the film What's Cooking?, directed by Gurinder Chadha, and is featured in our chapter on the movie in our book Cooking with the Movies: Meals on Reels.

For those who would like to enjoy the meal vicariously--and, next year, perhaps in actuality--here's the recipe:

Organic Turkey

1 20–24 lb. fresh organic turkey
½ c. melted butter
½ c. dried sage
½ c. dried tarragon
¼ c. paprika
2 Tbsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. lime pepper
1 tsp. salt
mushroom stuffing (see next)
½ c. water
1 pkg. fresh spinach leaves

Preheat oven to 325°F.

Wash the turkey inside and out, making sure to remove the neck and giblets that are usually stuffed inside the cavity of the bird. Pat dry. Place in a large roasting pan on sheets of aluminum foil set perpendicular to one another so that the pan is completely covered and there is enough foil left to lift the bird from the pan when holding all sides. Stuff the turkey just before placing it in the oven as per the instructions that follow. Pour the melted butter over the top of the turkey. Mix all the dry ingredients together in a small bowl, then spoon them over the bird, making sure to cover the legs as well as the breast. Pour the water around the sides of the turkey, and bake uncovered for 4 –5 hours, basting about every 20 –30 minutes with its own juices. (If desired, test with a meat thermometer to ensure that it is thoroughly cooked [165°F for inner breast, 180°F for the legs] and safe to serve.)

Remove turkey from the oven and let it stand for 20 –30 minutes before slicing. Place the
turkey on a large serving tray that has been completely laid out with spinach leaves as decoration (presentation is everything!).

Yield: 15–18 servings

Mrs. Williams’s Special Oyster and Shiitake Mushroom Stuffing

2 c. hot water
1 oz. dried porcini mushrooms
1¾ lb. bread, crust trimmed, cubed
6 Tbsp. unsalted butter
3 leeks, chopped
1 c. shallots, chopped
1¼ lb. oyster mushrooms
½ lb. Shiitake mushrooms
2 c. celery, chopped
1 c. dry hazelnuts, chopped
2 Tbsp. fresh sage
salt and pepper to taste
2 eggs, beaten
¾ c. chicken stock

Combine hot water and porcini mushrooms in a bowl. Let stand until mushrooms are soft,
about 30 minutes. Drain, reserving liquid. Chop porcini mushrooms. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 325°F. Bake cubed bread on baking sheets until brown, about 15 minutes.
Cool, then transfer to a large bowl.

Melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add leeks, shallots, and oyster and Shiitake mushrooms. Sauté until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Mix in the celery and porcini mushrooms and sauté another 5 minutes. Transfer mixture to the bowl with the bread cubes. Mix in the hazelnuts and sage. Season with salt and pepper and stir in the eggs and chicken stock. Stuff into turkey.

Any stuffing that remains, spoon into a buttered baking dish, covered with buttered foil. Bake stuffing in dish alongside turkey until heated through, about 30 minutes. Uncover and bake until top is crisp, about 15 minutes.

Yield: 12 servings

The lusciousness of an organic turkey is a real treat for the taste buds. Cooking is the same as for any other turkey, but an organic bird will be a bit more costly. Still, it’s worth the extra expense.