The past few years for Thanksgiving I have chosen to veer from tradition and feature other types of protein aside from Turkey. This year, I wanted to return to turkey, but instead of just roasting a whole turkey, I decided to feature turkey three different ways! This way, I can use different cooking techniques and different flavoring for different parts of the turkey!
Earlier in Thanksgiving week, my very talented friend and mentor, Chef Moussalli, stopped by to school me on breaking down a turkey which I would need to do for my turkey three ways. I bought a chicken to try it out on, and kept the carcass and necks for poultry stock later. The best part of this practice session was the fried chicken that night!!
Three nights before thanksgiving, I had some help from my big brother on breaking the turkey down into individual parts; the thighs, the breast (intact, not halved), and the drumsticks. Then, I took the turkey carcass along from the chicken carcass earlier in the week to make the poultry stock for my gravy!
I wanted to stuff the turkey breast with a flavorful filling to accompany the tender breast meat. Sage, sausage, garlic and herb boursin cheese, and marsala steeped cranberries provided the perfect balance of savory, sweet, garlicky and cheesy!
I sure do miss the smoked turkey legs from Six Flags, so that was my inspiration for the legs. I brined the legs for 24 hours, rubbed them with cajun spices, then smoked them with cherrywood.
My inspiration for the thighs was the cast iron chicken thighs I love to make for dinner. I had some duck fat leftover from a recent cassoulet recipe, so I roasted the turkey thighs in the duck fat and also smothered the skin underneath (and on top) with roasted garlic and herbs.
Here’s the menu!
Goat Cheese and Roasted Shitaki Mushroom Wontons
This recipe was inspired by a restaurant I used to frequent when I was stationed in San Diego in the Navy. It was in the Gaslamp District which is a fun Friday night hotspot in downtown San Diego. It was a tiki bar named Mr. Tiki’s Mai Tai lounge which has since closed down. Here’s a picture of my best friend and I sharing a Tiki drink when she came to visit.
I was able to track down the executive chef at Mr. Tiki’s, Chef Jason Gethin, who was wonderful enough to share the basics of this awesome wonton recipe with me!
I roasted the mushrooms in a little olive oil and made a simple homemade teriyaki sauce to puree together with goat cheese. That filling is delicious!
Jalapeno Popper Corn Fritters are a tasty appetizer that everyone seems to love! With corn, fresh jalapeno and a squeeze of lime juice, cilantro, cream cheese and cheddar cheese, you get all the flavors of a jalapeno popper in a crispy pan fried corn fritter. They are even better when you sandwich avocado and thick cut maple bacon between two of these delicious fritters and top them with a creamy jalapeno popper sauce!
Fried Cauliflower: My attempt at adding a veggie dish to the appetizer hour. Ha!
I made apple cider mimosas and picked up some Schlafly Pumpkin Ale for some adult beverages.
On to the turkey!
Turkey Three Ways:
I. Turkey breast stuffed with sausage, sage, garlic herb boursin cheese, and marsala steeped cranberries
II. Cajun rubbed, cherrywood smoked turkey legs
III. Duck fat roasted turkey thighs
Stuffing Croquettes: I made stuffing the day before and pan fried them into crispy croquettes. Perfect with the turkey gravy!
Sweet potato and pineapple casserole with toasted marshmallows: My favorite dish from Thanksgiving as a kid. Love those toasted marshmallows on top!
Sweet potato ravioli with lemon brown butter sage sauce: This was a favorite from Thanksgiving last year. My dad passed down his old hand crank pasta machine to me and I absolutely love it. Now I can make all types of fancy raviolis!
Traditional mashed potatoes and gravy: I used Anthony Bourdain’s Turkey gravy recipe which proved time consuming, but delicious. It required me to reduce 3 quarts of turkey stock! Luckily I made tons of poultry stock!
Roasted brussels sprouts with aged balsamic reduction: My mom got me some really great Aged Balsamic from Queen Creek Olive Mill that I used for this recipe.
Sauteed green beans with bechamel and flash fried shallots: I took the basic idea of green bean casserole but in my version, I sauteed the green beans in my cast iron for a good half hour or so until tender; meanwhile I threw together a bechamel sauce and added some fresh parmesan to it. Finally, I thinly sliced up some shallots and flash fried them and threw them on top. This was seriously one of my favorite dishes of the whole meal!
Apple pie and cherry pie phyllo dough turnovers: Replace the pie crust with buttery flakey phyllo doughhhh yesssss!
Pumpkin Gingerbread Trifle
I love the way the gingerbread compliments the pumpkin in this perfect Thanksgiving dessert.
Happy Turkey Day Indeed!