Sure a golden brown turkey is the centerpiece for Thanksgiving dinner, usually paired with stuffing and mashed potatoes. This year, take some advice from local Long Island chefs to kick up your feast a notch.
Brine = Best Bird
Chef Steven Scalesse of Tallulah’s in Bay Shore says the key to a moist, succulent turkey is to start preparing early. “One day before Thanksgiving go to Home Depot and grab yourself a five-gallon bucket,” he explained. He says his brine recipe will help you make “the best bird ever.”
With a defrosted turkey, combine the following ingredients to create a brine:
2 cups salt
4 cups sugar
4 lemons (halved and squeezed)
1 cup dry vermouth
1/2 cup mélange peppercorns
5 bay leaves
5 cloves garlic (crushed)
5 pieces clove
5 pieces star anise
1 tbs juniper berries
1 tbs yellow mustard seed
3 sprigs rosemary
Small bunch of thyme
Add all ingredients into 5 gallon bucket then cover with 2.5 gallons of warm water. Make room in your refrigerator.
Leave turkey in brine for one day before Thanksgiving.
Mom’s Sweet Potato Pecan Pie
No Thanksgiving meal is complete without an extensive selection of side dishes. Chef Scalesse relies on his mom’s Sweet Potato Pecan Pie recipe for a base, with his “twist on it.”
3 lbs sweet potatoes
1 lb pecans
8 oz butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 piece whole nutmeg
1 tbs cinnamon
1 cup small marshmallows
1 medium bakeware dish
Directions: Medium dice sweet potatoes and boil until fork tender then set aside in mixing bowl. Crush and toast pecans and set aside. Cube up 8 oz. of butter and add to mixing bowl with sweet potatoes. Add the brown sugar, cinnamon, maple syrup and grate about half a piece of nutmeg in bowl. Mix and incorporate all in ingredients well, then transfer to bakeware dish. Top with toasted pecans and scattered marshmallows. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes.
Deep-Fried Brussels Sprouts
To add a little green to your Thanksgiving tablescape, Ben Durham, Executive Chef of Prime in Huntington, suggests Deep-Fried Brussels Sprouts.
Remove the stem from the Brussels sprouts and split in half.
Deep fry till crispy at 350F, (about 2 minutes)
Drizzle with spicy honey mustard
1 cup honey
1 tbs spicy mustard powder
1 tbs lime juice
1 tbs fish sauce
Garnish with chopped scallions and mint, toasted almond slivers
For Ralph Perrazzo, chef/owner of BBDs (Beers, Burgers, Desserts) in Rocky Point, Thanksgiving is undoubtedly his favorite holiday. “What’s better than eating freshly cooked food with family and friends and then watching football with a full stomach?” Perrazzo said. While his traditional Turkey Day feast consists of roasted turkey, pan gravy, sausage-style stuffing, roasted sweet potatoes and spiral ham with caramelized brown sugar and maple syrup, perhaps its what he does with the leftovers is more impressive. He combines the previous day’s ingredients into what he calls. “Leftover Pot Pie.”
- When roasting your turkey, always put big cuts of vegetables and herbs underneath the turkey to sit on: carrots, onions, fennel, garlic, celery, red bliss potatoes, parsley, thyme, and sage. After the turkey is roasted remove vegetables and herbs and reserve.
- The day after Thanksgiving, cut up all extra turkey meat, ham, sweet potatoes, stuffing and roasted vegetables that where under the turkey from roasting.
- In a mixing bowl, combine all ingredients with the leftover gravy to form a loose style of stuffing.
- Use 4-inch aluminum pie tins and brush with soft butter or rendered chicken fat.
- Scoop the mix into the greased pie tins and let sit in the refrigerator for an hour.
- If using homemade fresh puff pastry, sheet out one-quarter inch thick and cut circles 5.5” wide and cover the top of pie tin creasing the sides. You can also use frozen puff pastry.
- Then score the top of the dough with a knife making even slits. Set in the freezer for puff pastry to refreeze. Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with sea salt and bake at 325 degrees, using a high convection fan for 30 minutes.
Note: Freeze the other pies for later use. Your baking time will be 50 minutes at the same temperature when you bake from frozen state.
If you have room in your belly and extra food in the fridge the following morning, Chef Durham suggests whipping up a breakfast frittata with the leftovers.
“Pretty much anything you have leftover should work,” he said.
Whisk eggs with cream and toss in turkey chunks, vegetables, stuffing, cheese, etc. Bake in the oven in a cast iron skillet or cake pan for about an hour at 350F.