Pancetta-Sage Turkey With Pancetta Gravy

It’s almost that time of year again… time to cook up a storm, gather up friends and family in big embraces, eat, eat and then eat some more! It’s Thanksgiving!!!! Which is incidentally also my favorite holiday. Not only is it nice to take a moment and be thankful for everything you have in your life – – whether that be loved ones, your dream job, a cute dog or even just the best book to climb into bed with at night – – eating food and celebrating life with people you care about is just about as good as it gets in my opinion.

Last year Judd and I cooked our first turkey together. It was a special moment for a lot of reasons; first off, our parents were meeting which meant the food needed to be extra tasty. Second, and more importantly, did I mention this was our first turkey! With proud smiles on our faces and puffed up chests (I am only imagining this part happened), we presented our families with this beautifully magnificent bird! I mean, look at it… it was perfect.

The skin was crispy and golden brown while the meat of the bird was moist and oozing flavor. If the idea of pulverizing butter, pancetta and herbs into a thick paste doesn’t get your goat, then this might not be the recipe for you. As if pancetta butter wasn’t delectable enough… we smeared it on and under the turkey’s skin!!! It was essentially like wrapping an entire 15 pound turkey in bacon…. mmmmm. Stuffed with fresh sage and rosemary, this little feathered friend was certainly sacrificed for a worthy cause… my belly. We topped the entire meal off with a thick gravy of turkey stock, pan drippings, sage and more pancetta. Perfect. Just Perfect.

So, Happy Thanksgiving to everyone out there. And to my favorite person…. I can’t wait to cook more turkey’s with you!

Pancetta-Sage Butter
4 garlic cloves, peeled
4 ounces thinly sliced pancetta (Italian bacon), chopped
1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons minced shallot
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

Turkey
1 14- to 16-pound turkey, rinsed, patted dry inside and out; neck, heart, and gizzard reserved for Shortcut Turkey Stock
8 fresh sage sprigs
4 fresh rosemary sprigs
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups Shortcut Turkey Stock or water

Gravy
1/2 cup diced thinly sliced pancetta (Italian bacon; about 3 ounces)
1/4 cup chopped shallots
1/4 cup all purpose flour
3 cups Shortcut Turkey Stock
1 cup dry white wine
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon chopped fresh sage

Shortcut Turkey Stock
8 cups low-salt chicken broth
2 scrubbed unpeeled carrots, cut into chunks
2 celery stalks,cut into chunks
1 rinsed unpeeled large onion, quartered
stems from 1 bunch fresh italian parsley
Reserved turkey neck, heart, and gizzard

For pancetta-sage butter
With machine running, drop garlic down feed tube of processor and chop. Add pancetta. Pulse to chop finely. Add all remaining ingredients. Pulse blending to coarse paste. Transfer to small bowl. DO AHEAD: Can be made 2 days ahead. Cover and chill. Bring to room temperature before using.

For turkey
Set rack at lowest position in oven and preheat to 325°F. Sprinkle main turkey cavity with salt and pepper. Spread with 2 tablespoons pancetta-sage butter. Starting at neck end, slide hand between skin and meat of breast, thighs, and upper drumsticks to loosen skin. Spread remaining butter over thighs, drumsticks, and breast meat under skin. Fill main cavity with herb sprigs. Tie legs loosely to hold shape. Tuck wing tips under.

Place turkey on rack set in large roasting pan. Rub turkey all over with oil; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Pour 2 cups stock into pan.

Roast turkey until thermometer inserted into thickest part of thigh registers 165°F to 170°F, about 3 hours. Tilt turkey so juices run into pan. Transfer turkey to platter. Tent with foil; let rest at least 30 minutes (temperature will rise 5 to 10 degrees). Reserve pan.

For gravy
Scrape juices and browned bits from roasting pan into large glass measuring cup. Spoon off fat. Reserve 2 tablespoons. Heat 2 tablespoons reserved fat in large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add pancetta; sauté until beginning to crisp, about 5 minutes. Add shallots; sauté 1 minute. Reduce heat to medium. Add flour; whisk until golden, about 4 minutes. Whisk in 3 cups stock, wine, and degreased pan juices. Bring to boil, whisking. Cook to desired consistency, about 5 minutes. Whisk in rosemary and sage; season to taste with salt and pepper.

For shortcut turkey stock
In large saucepan, combine low-salt chicken broth, carrots, celery, onion, parsley stems, and reserved turkey neck, heart, and gizzard. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to very low; simmer gently until gizzard is tender, about 1 1/2 hours. Transfer neck, heart, and gizzard to plate. Strain stock into medium bowl and cool. If adding giblets to gravy, pull meat from turkey neck. Chop neck meat, heart, and gizzard. DO AHEAD: Cover stock and wrap giblets. Chill up to 3 days.

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Prosciutto Wrapped Pork Loin with Roasted Apples

It’s officially Fall, my favorite time of year, and with Fall, comes slow roasted meats slathered in herbaceous marinades and rubs. When my Bon Appétit arrived last month, this dish beckoned to me… “make me, please… make me.” So I did and I found that the pork on pork on pork action is not as wrong as it sounds. In fact, it was a lovely precursor to the fast approaching Thanksgiving holiday.

Every year, we make turkey… delicious delicious turkey. If you are looking for a bird alternative this upcoming Turkey Day, I would say, this Prosciutto Wrapped Pork Loin is jam packed with holiday flavors. The smoky prosciutto casing is only the beginning on this dish. Jump in a little further and you’ll find a moist pork loin stuffed with sautéed mushrooms, dried applies, kale, fresh herbs and of course… butter. The filling alone can be eaten with a spoon (I won’t lie… I ate a little before building this log of goodness).

Make this. Eat this. Impress some folks. Enjoy!


Filling
1 ounce (1 cup) dried whole porcini mushrooms
2 ounces (3/4 cup) dried apples
1 pound kale, bottom stems trimmed
2 teaspoons kosher salt plus more
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter
1 cup minced onion
1 tablespoon finely minced garlic
1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 1/2 teaspoons dried rosemary
2 tablespoons brandy or Calvados
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pound ground pork

Pork
1 (trimmed) 2 1/2–3 pound pork loin
1 teaspoon kosher salt plus more for seasoning
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper plus more for seasoning
3 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto
5 sprigs rosemary
4 medium apples (such as Granny Smith or Fuji), quartered, or 8 small apples, halved
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup dry hard cider
1/2 cup low-salt chicken stock

For filling
Place dried mushrooms and dried apples in separate small bowls. Add 1 cup boiling water to each bowl. Let mushrooms and apples soak until very soft, about 30 minutes. Strain mushrooms. Cover and chill soaking liquid (about 3/4 cup). Drain apples, discarding soaking liquid. Finely chop mushrooms and apples, combine in a small bowl, and set mushroom and apple mixture aside.

Meanwhile, blanch kale in boiling salted water just until wilted, about 1 minute. Using tongs, transfer kale to a rimmed baking sheet. Refrigerate until cool. Remove any large, tough ribs.

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion; cook, stirring often, until soft and lightly golden, about 8 minutes. Add mushrooms and apples; cook, stirring occasionally, until flavors meld, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic, thyme, and rosemary; cook for 1 minute. Add brandy and cook until liquid is absorbed, about 1 minute. Stir in 2 teaspoons salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Transfer mixture to a bowl and let cool completely. Add ground pork and stir to combine well.

For pork
To butterfly, put pork loin on a work surface with short end facing you. Holding a long, thin sharp knife parallel to work surface and beginning along one long side, cut 1/2″ above underside of roast. Continue slicing inward, pulling back the meat with your free hand and unrolling the roast like a carpet, until the entire loin is flat. Cover with a sheet of plastic wrap. Using a meat mallet, pound to an even thickness.

Uncover pork. Season with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Place kale leaves on top of loin in an even layer, overlapping as needed and leaving a 1″ border. Spread filling on top of kale. Roll pork into a tight cylinder. Wrap one layer of prosciutto around roast. Tie roast securely with kitchen twine in 1″ intervals. Tuck rosemary sprigs under twine, spacing apart. DO AHEAD: Pork roast can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill. Let stand at room temperature for 1 hour before continuing.

Preheat oven to 400°F. Place apples in a roasting pan. Melt 1 tablespoon butter with oil in a large skillet. Brown pork on all sides, about 5 minutes total, then set on top of apples in pan. Add cider and 1/2 cup water to skillet and bring to a boil, scraping up browned bits. Pour mixture into roasting pan. Roast pork until an instant-read thermometer inserted into center of loin registers 140°F (it will be cooked medium but still slightly pink), about 1 hour 40 minutes. Let roast rest for at least 20 minutes and up to 2 hours.

Put roast on a platter. Reserve apples from roasting pan; spoon off fat from juices in pan. Place pan on top of stove over medium-high heat. Add chicken stock. Pour in reserved mushroom liquid, leaving any sediment behind, and cook, scraping bottom of pan to release any browned bits, until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Whisk in remaining 2 tablespoons butter and season to taste with salt and pepper. Strain sauce; slice pork. Serve sauce and apples alongside sliced pork.

Bourbon Pumpkin Cheesecake

Thanksgiving might be over, but this cheesecake is still vivid in my memory!

At some point over the past 10 years, I found this recipe and it forever changed my approach to Thanksgiving traditions. While in graduate school, my ritual was to fly home to my parents house late in the evening on Wednesday and start baking this cake around 11pm. I was so determined to serve up this dessert on the Thanksgiving table… even if it meant staying up until 2 in the morning.

All these years later, I have somehow managed to find time to make this cake during day light hours, but it remains my Thanksgiving tradition nonetheless.

In all starts with the crust… syrupy and crunchy from the brown sugar, graham crackers and pecans as they meld together in gooey harmony. Not only does the crust give this cake its base, but it is also steals the show. Yum! Next comes the sumptuous pumpkin spice mixture that gets whipped into a creamy cheese batter. The addition of 3 large eggs adds fluff that is seldom seen in other cheesecakes. The bourbon punches up the flavors without being boozy (although, boozy isn’t always a bad thing, is it?) Just as the kitchen begins to smell wonderfully of nutmeg and ginger, it’s time for the completion of the cake to begin… with the topping. Not only does the sour cream topping give the cake a beautiful 3 tiered effect, but it also adds a sourness that will delight your taste buds as it balances this decadent dessert.

So, with Thanksgiving in our wake, this year for Christmas or New Years add a new cake to the traditional holiday spread. If Christmas is not your thing, I am sure you have an extra can of pumpkin that is just begging to be whipped into a delightful creation for no reason whatsoever. Make this cheesecake… it will impress your friends. I promise!

For crust
3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs (from five 4 3/4- by 2 1/4-inch crackers)
1/2 cup pecans (1 3/4 ounces), finely chopped
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

For filling
1 1/2 cups canned solid-pack pumpkin
3 large eggs
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon bourbon liqueur or bourbon (optional)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature

For topping
2 cups sour cream (20 ounces)
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon bourbon liqueur or bourbon (optional)

Garnish: pecan halves

Make crust:
Invert bottom of a 9-inch springform pan (to create flat bottom, which will make it easier to remove cake from pan), then lock on side and butter pan.

Stir together crumbs, pecans, sugars, and butter in a bowl until combined well. Press crumb mixture evenly onto bottom and 1/2 inch up side of pan, then chill crust, 1 hour.

Make filling and bake cheesecake:
Put oven rack in middle position and Preheat oven to 350°F.

Whisk together pumpkin, eggs, brown sugar, cream, vanilla, and liqueur (if using) in a bowl until combined.

Stir together granulated sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and salt in large bowl. Add cream cheese and beat with an electric mixer at high speed until creamy and smooth, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to medium, then add pumpkin mixture and beat until smooth.

Pour filling into crust, smoothing top, then put springform pan in a shallow baking pan (in case springform leaks). Bake until center is just set, 50 to 60 minutes. Transfer to rack and cool 5 minutes. (Leave oven on.)

Make topping:
Whisk together sour cream, sugar, and liqueur (if using) in a bowl, then spread on top of cheesecake and bake 5 minutes.

Cool cheesecake completely in pan on rack, about 3 hours.

Chill, covered, until cold, at least 4 hours. Remove side of pan and bring to room temperature before serving.

Spiced Pumpkin Bread

When I was fifteen I picked up my parents Bon Appétit magazine and took a stab at this recipe. I was pleased with how delicious and moist these pumpkin loaves turned out and almost fifteen years later, this recipe still is what kicks off the holidays and defines Thanksgiving for me. Nothing tops the smell of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves mingling with pumpkin in the oven. I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I do. Let the countdown to Turkey day begin! Gobble, Gobble, Gobble!

Serve with vanilla bean ice cream or simply sliced up with a cup of coffee or tea.

Makes 2 loaves

3 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs
1 16-ounce can solid pack pumpkin
3 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour two 9x5x3-inch loaf pans. Beat sugar and oil in large bowl to blend. Mix in eggs and pumpkin. Sift flour, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, salt and baking powder into another large bowl. Stir into pumpkin mixture in 2 additions.

Divide batter equally between prepared pans. Bake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 1 hour 10 minutes. Transfer to racks and cool 10 minutes. Using sharp knife, cut around edge of loaves. Turn loaves out onto racks and cool completely.

Note: These loaves can be eaten the day you bake them or you can wrap them in foil and freeze up to one month.