Lemon Thyme and Ginger

Wild Rice Stuffing with Mushrooms and Cranberries

Wild Rice Stuffing with Mushrooms and Cranberries recipe.

When you want something different from the traditional bread stuffing on Thanksgiving, wild rice stuffing is a great alternative. Wild rice has an earthy appeal that is so well suited for fall and winter meals. It is generously filled with complementary fall flavors with grains, wild mushrooms, caramelized onions, and toasted nuts. To liven up these woodsy fall notes I added dried cranberries for a sweet and tangy zing and lots of fresh herbs. It is everything you expect in a stuffing recipe minus the bread.

I love wild rice and have always wanted to make wild rice stuffing, yet it has taken me all these years to finally do so. Tradition has a strong hold on what I make for our holiday meal. If it were only up to me, I would experiment and try new recipes every year. Yet, tradition overrules. Everyone has their favorite food that must be on the menu because Thanksgiving is not Thanksgiving without it.  For my sons, that special holiday dish is pineapple stuffing, for me, it is all of the side dishes, but I particularly like my favorite stuffing recipe and pumpkin pie.

Wild Rice Stuffing with Mushrooms and Cranberries recipe.

Wild Rice Stuffing

In the past, I sampled wild rice stuffing made with all wild rice and aromatics. As much as I like wild rice, I prefer it in a blend with long grain white or brown rice. The rice blend flavor is less overpowering and doesn’t compete with the other foods. Within this recipe layers of flavor builds from slowly caramelizing the onions then sautéing the mushrooms in the same pan. These flavors take time to develop, so be patient and cook the onions slowly until they turn golden and sweet. I promise it is worth it.

Wild Rice Stuffing with Mushrooms and Cranberries recipe.

Wild Rice Stuffing with Mushrooms and Cranberries recipe.

I adapted this recipe from an old Thanksgiving Menu article in Bon Appetite Magazine, Wild Rice Stuffing with Wild Mushrooms. My cookbook collection is filled with binders of old food magazine articles I read since the early 1990’s.  At the time, any recipe for Thanksgiving and Christmas were hard to part with as I was dreaming of the day when it will be my turn to host a family holiday meal. I own binders full of recipes from old food magazines that still hold my interest 20 years later.

You have two choices for finishing the stuffing. One, stuff the turkey with the wild rice stuffing. Or, bake the stuffing in a baking dish. Both options have their advantages. If you stuff the turkey with wild rice stuffing, the stuffing absorbs the flavors of your turkey and gets very moist. The opposite happens, if you bake the stuffing. The stuffing stays moist, but the top gets crispy. The crunchy bits are Joe’s favorite part of the stuffing.

If you choose to stuff the turkey with wild rice stuffing, you must cook the stuffing until it reaches an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C) because it is cooked inside a raw turkey. Often, the turkey finishes cooking before the stuffing reaches an internal temperature of 165°F. If that is the case, remove the stuffing and finish it in a baking dish covered with foil in a 350°F (176°C) oven, until it reaches the proper temperature.

Wild Rice Stuffing with Mushrooms and Cranberries recipe.

Stuffing or Pilaf?

You can prepare this recipe with two options. First, prepare the wild rice stuffing as directed using the two-stage cooking process. However, if you want to make this for a regular dinner, as a side with a roast pork or chicken, serve the rice after it finishes cooking on the stove. The rice is plenty done plus it saves you 40 minutes if you skip the baking. For extra flavor toast the wild rice and white rice in butter and make this recipe as a pilaf.

Wild Rice Stuffing with Mushrooms and Cranberries recipe.

Dietary Challenges Creating a Holiday Menu

When I make a holiday meal for my family, there are many types of diets I must take into consideration. Generally speaking, my meal needs to satisfy an omnivore diet, plus vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free diets. Sometimes dairy-free, low salt restrictions, and nut free restrictions need consideration. Satisfying everyone in the family requires some thoughtful planning.

Fortunately, wild rice stuffing is one of those side dishes that easily fits into all my dietary considerations. It is in the one size fits all category. First, it is gluten-free, so you can check consideration off your list. Second, cook the rice in vegetable stock and bake it in the oven for a plant-based meal. You get bonus points with your vegetarian and vegan friends because combining wild rice, white rice, and nuts create a meal with complementary proteins. Low or no salt store-bought stocks are good options, but homemade stock is even better for keeping salt intake down.

Fortunately, when I host a holiday meal, I do not have to make it all by myself. People enjoy contributing to a portion of the dinner. It makes them feel connected to the event and not burden the host with all the work and expense. Recruit as much help as you need and don’t be shy about it.

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Wild Rice Stuffing with Mushrooms and Cranberries recipe.

Wild Rice Stuffing with Mushrooms and Cranberries

Wild rice stuffing is a great alternative to bread stuffing. It has all the flavors you love in stuffing from the caramelized onions, sautéed wild mushrooms, and toasted walnuts with an added boost from dried cranberries and fresh herbs. This is a great gluten-free stuffing alternative that all will enjoy. 

This recipe is slightly adapted from Bon Appetite Magazine,  Wild Rice Stuffing with Wild Mushrooms, I believe dating back to 2000. 

You can prepare the wild rice stuffing a day or two in advance kept covered in the refrigerator then bake in the oven when needed. This recipe is easily scaled up or down as needed.  

Course Grain, Side Dish, Vegan, Vegetarian
Cuisine American
Keyword wild rice stuffing
Prep Time 58 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 33 minutes
Author Ginger

Ingredients

  • 4-5 onions around 2- 2 ½ lbs (1 kg
  • 1 cup (3 oz / 87 g) walnuts
  • 8 TB (113 g) butter, divided one stick
  • 1 ¼ lb (575 g) assorted wild mushrooms like crimini and shiitake stemmed and sliced
  • 3 TB chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt divided
  • 2 TB (30 ml) Brandy or Dry Sherry optional
  • 5 cups (750 ml) vegetable or chicken stock
  • 3 tsp fresh sage minced
  • 1 1/3 cup (226 g / 8 oz) wild rice
  • 1 ¼ cup (245 g / 8.5 oz) long grain white rice
  • 1 cup (123 g) dried cranberries
  • 2 tsp fresh rosemary minced
  • 6 -8 large sprigs of Italian Parsley

Instructions

Preparation

  1. Peel and slice the onions in half lengthwise then thinly slice each half in half-moons. Set aside.
  2. Heat a heavy-duty skillet over high heat, to just before smoking hot. Toast the walnuts in the hot skillet. Keep the walnuts moving and jumping around the skillet so they do not brown and burn. The walnuts are toasted when you get a nutty aroma and the skillet seems shinier from the oils released from the walnuts, about 2-3 minutes. Immediately turn off the heat and tip the walnuts onto a plate to cool. Set aside.
  3. Melt 4 TB (56 g) butter in a large pot or skillet over medium-high heat. Once the butter stops sizzling, add the onions slices and turn down the heat to medium-low. Stir to coat the onions with butter and cook the onions until caramelized about 30 minutes or longer. It is important to caramelize the onions slowly otherwise they will burn. Stir the onions every now and then to make sure the onions do not stick to the bottom of the pan and burn. The browner you let the onions get the more flavor they bring to the wild rice stuffing. Add in a pinch of Kosher salt. 

  4. Once the onions are caramelized, scrape them into a bowl and set aside. Place the pot or sauté pan back on the stove with the heat up to medium-high.
  5. Melt the remaining 4 TB (56 g) butter then add the mushrooms, pinch of the Kosher salt, and 1 tsp minced thyme. Stir to coat the mushrooms with butter, then sauté until the mushrooms release their liquid and cooked all the way through. There are too many mushrooms in on pot for them to brown, but if you get some browning on the mushroom all the better as it adds flavor. Add the brandy or sherry (optional), and cook until the liquid is almost evaporated. Add the mushrooms to the bowl with the onions.

  6. Meanwhile, while the onions and mushrooms are cooking, heat up the stock with 2 tsp minced sage and 1 TB thyme and remaining Kosher salt in a large Dutch Oven with at least a 5 qt capacity to a boil. Add the wild rice and bring back to a boil, then cover the pot and turn down the heat to a simmer. Simmer for 25 minutes. 

  7. Mix in the white rice and cover. Simmer until the white rice is just getting tender and most of the liquid is absorbed about 15 minutes.

  8. Stir in the caramelized onions, mushrooms, cranberries, walnuts with the remaining tablespoon of thyme, 1 tsp minced sage, and 1 tablespoon of minced fresh rosemary. Cover and cook for 5 more minutes.  

  9. Finish by stuffing the turkey with the wild rice stuffing or bake the stuffing in a 9 x 13 x 2-inch (23 x 33 x 5 cm) baking dish. 

To bake stuffing in the turkey:

  1. Chop 4 of the parsley sprigs and add to the wild rice stuffing. Stir to combine. Loosely fill the neck and main cavities of the turkey with the stuffing. Loosely sew the skin flap over the neck area to secure the rice in place. Truss the legs of the turkey together. Add the remaining stuffing to a buttered baking dish large enough to hold the leftovers. Cover with buttered foil and bake in the oven with the turkey, until heated through about 25 minutes. Uncover stuffing then bake until the top of the stuffing is slightly crisp. 

    Bake the stuffing in the turkey until the turkey is done,  and remove the stuffing while the turkey rests. Immediately check the internal temperature of the stuffing. The stuffing is done when it reaches 165°F (74°C). If the internal temperature is lower than 165°F (74°C) remove the stuffing from the cavities and place in a baking dish and cover with foil. Continue to bake the stuffing until the temperature reaches 165°F (74°C)

  2. Remove the stuffing from the cavities and spoon into a serving bowl. Mince the remaining parsley and sprinkle over the top. Keep warm until time to serve. Serve hot. 

To bake stuffing in a baking dish:

  1. Butter a 9 – 13- 2-inch baking dish. Add half of the minced parsley to the rice stuffing and stir to combine. Tip the rice stuffing into the baking dish then cover with a buttered piece of foil, butter side down. Bake in a 350°F (176°C) for 30 minutes or until heated through. Remove the foil and bake until it starts to crisp on top, another 20 minutes or so. You do not have to concern yourself with the internal temperature reaching 165°F (74°C) because it was not cooked inside a turkey.  Chop the remaining parsley and sprinkle over the top. Serve hot. 

Recipe Notes

I believe the wild rice stuffing is delicious and ready to serve just after cooking on the stove. If you do not want to go through the extra step of baking it, however, this extra step gives you a crispy top, feel free to do so. Wild rice with mushrooms and cranberries makes a great rice side dish. This is a hearty flavored rice meal and will work well with oven roasted or grilled meats, and fish like sea bass, tuna, salmon or swordfish. 

You can substitute the long grain white rice with long grain brown rice. Cooking times will vary and take longer with brown rice. 

Extra mushroom flavor

For extra wild mushroom flavor, add 1 tablespoon of porcini mushroom powder to the stock. You can also reconstitute some dried wild mushrooms like porcini or chanterelle mushrooms, then chop them up. Add them to the sautéed mushrooms. 

Wild Rice Stuffing with Mushrooms and Cranberries recipe. Wild rice stuffings is a gluten-free alternative to traditional stuffing on Thanksgiving. It also makes a hearty side dish for all the other fall and winter nights. Pair with roasted meats or fish.

© 2018, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.

Hickory Smoked Turkey

Hickory Smoked Turkey recipe.

If you ever want to impress someone with an incredible meal, there is no need to look further then this recipe. Apple cider brined, hickory smoked turkey is impressive and the best turkey I have ever had. I am not exaggerating. Oh my god, this smoked turkey is so good you will dream about it and want to eat turkey more than once a year.

What is so special about hickory smoked turkey? Everything. First off, the turkey bathes in an apple cider brine for 24 hours. This is not your ordinary brine, but one built with layers of flavor from oranges, fresh ginger, cloves, garlic, and bay leaves. Next, more flavor permeates the turkey from the smoke in a charcoal grill. Hickory wood chips scattered over hot briquettes create a smoke with sweet and woody notes that pair nicely with the apple cider infused turkey. The end result is a turkey that is moist and tender, with a fall fruit-smokiness and love in every bite.

Hickory Smoked Turkey recipe.

I realize that I am on a trend of making absolute, “This is the one recipe you ever need” statements like I also made for my roasted vegetable stock recipe. I promise not to make this a habit because when I do say it, I want you to believe it. Honestly, I have never tasted turkey so good. Even my daughter-in-law, who does not like turkey, stated she loves this smoked turkey and will eat it without any hesitation or obligation. You know the meal is a success when everyone keeps picking away at the remaining pieces of turkey on the platter throughout the night.  I started to wonder if there was going to be any leftovers for turkey sandwiches.

Mastering Smoked Turkey

First off, the brine recipe and smoking technique are from my trusted grilling source, Weber.com. I own a kettle charcoal grill, so this recipe is written using a charcoal grill. If you own a gas grill, brine the turkey with the apple cider brine then, follow these directions for smoking a turkey on a gas grill.

Other than the turkey and brining ingredients,  you also need some special equipment.

  • Container large enough to hold the turkey with the brine, or large plastic bag
  • Cooler or refrigerator
  • A couple of bags of ice for the cooler
  • 2-3 large heavy-duty aluminum roasting pans. One for the bottom of the grill to fill with water, the other for the turkey. I use two pans to hold the turkey for extra reinforcement.
  • 100% cotton kitchen string to tie the legs together
  • Grill
  • Charcoal for a charcoal grill
  • Hickory wood chips for smoking
  • Matches
  • Charcoal chimney
  • BBQ gloves
  • Tongs
  • Instant read thermometer
  • Oven thermometer if your grill does not have a built-in temperature gauge.
  • Timer

Hickory Smoked Turkey recipe.

Hickory Smoked Turkey recipe.

Grilling and Smoking a Turkey

The biggest challenge for outdoor grilling during the fall/winter season in the northeastern part of the US is getting the coals lit and maintaining the temperature of the grill. When I mentioned this at dinner, one son responded, “If you want to get it “lit”, you need loud music and more booze.” As fun as that sounds, whenever you are cooking over an open flame, I recommend keeping the parting to a minimum, at least until the food is cooked and the fire is out.

On a windy day, it is important to watch the fire in the charcoal chimney and make sure the paper fire catches and lights the coals. Once lit, the charcoal will heat up in about 15 minutes.

The few times I grilled a turkey for Thanksgiving dinner was when the temperature was mild for a November day in New York. That means, above freezing and preferably around 40°F (4.°C) or above. However, if you have a grill that is well insulated, keeping your grill at 350°F (177°C) should not be so difficult.

It takes around 3-4 hours to cook a 12 – 15 lb. (5.4 – 7 kg) turkey in a grill. To keep the coals hot and burning, locate your grill outside in a protected area with easy to access to and from your kitchen. To maintain the grill’s temperature at 350°F (177°C),  add fresh charcoal to the hot fire, every hour. Keep track of the temperature with an oven thermometer placed on the grill rack, or a built-in temperature gauge on the grill.

Hickory Smoked Turkey recipe.

 

Hickory Smoked Turkey recipe.

If you are lucky enough to live in a milder climate you should not have any problems maintaining the temperature.

For the smoke, I used hickory wood chips, but any purchased wood chips will work. Each type of wood has its own unique flavor so pick one you like. If you can find apple wood chips, they will complement the apple cider brine nicely.

Food Safety

When cooking with poultry it is important to keep food safety in mind, especially when brining a turkey for 24 hours. It is crucial the brine and turkey stays between 35°- 40°F (1.6°- 4.4°C). If the temperature in your cooler goes above 40°F you run the risk of developing harmful bacteria like salmonella, which will make you very sick.

Brining a turkey for 24 hours in a refrigerator is the safest and easiest option. However, if there is no room in your refrigerator, a good quality cooler is the next best thing. Fill the space in the cooler around the plastic bag filled with brine and the turkey, with ice and close the lid tightly. Periodically check the cooler to see that the ice is not melting. Replenish the ice as needed. A good quality cooler will maintain the temperature for several hours, just make sure you fill it with fresh ice before you go to bed.

Hickory Smoked Turkey recipe.

Some words of advice

Brining and cooking a turkey is an involved process, even when you cook it conventionally in the oven. All the steps are not so difficult; however, it takes time and constant monitoring. If you can, buy a fresh turkey and save yourself 4-5 days of worrying about defrosting the turkey. I often use frozen turkeys, but it adds 4 more days to your timeframe just to defrost the darn thing in the refrigerator.

I quickly thaw a frozen turkey by submerging a sealed turkey in a leak-proof bag in my cooler filled with ice water. A 14-pound turkey will defrost in about 8 hours if the temperature of the ice water is between 38-40°F (3.3 – 4.4°C). It is important to check the temperature of the ice water every hour until the turkey is fully thawed.

Because you are brining the turkey, make sure the turkey you buy is not already injected with a saltwater solution. Some commercial brands, like Butterball and Kosher Turkeys, have a saltwater solution already injected in their turkeys. Carefully read the label to make sure.

If you are having difficulty maintaining the temperature of your grill at 350°F, preheat your oven and finish cooking the turkey in the oven. You will not get as much of the smoked flavor, but you will get a properly cooked turkey and that is what is important.

You can do this. Cooking a turkey is an occasion by itself and just think how ecstatic you will feel when you are done. Although, this recipe might not be the easiest starting point if you never cooked a turkey before, or you are a novice griller. It is good to have some experience before one starts to experiment. Fortunately, the apple cider brine adds lovely fruit flavor and moisture to turkey no matter how it is cooked. So, feel free to use it for a conventional roast turkey.

Giving Thanks

Over the weekend when I shared this meal with my family, an overwhelming sense of gratitude and love filled my heart and home. It was the generosity of spirit and the positive attitudes from each of my children and their significant others, that moved me more than anything. As delicious as the food was, it was only the exclamation mark to a wonderful time, not the meaning or purpose. It was an I don’t want this evening to end, kind of night. Don’t wait for Thanksgiving to show gratitude and love and make something delicious and unexpected to share. Seize the moments as they come. Light up your life with family, friends, and food in your own special way creating those moments you never want to end.

Hickory Smoked Turkey recipe.

 

Thanksgiving Sides

Pineapple stuffing

My Favorite Stuffing Recipe

Green Beans with Caramelized Onions

Triple C Cranberry Sauce

Ginger Plum and Pear Crisp

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Hickory Smoked Turkey recipe.

Hickory Smoked Turkey

This is one of the best recipes for making a turkey I know. Like any roast turkey recipe, it takes time and constant monitoring, but it is well worth the effort. The hickory smoke steeps into the apple cider brined turkey, creating a light smoke flavor that is sweet and woodsy with dark and crispy skin. 

To determine the size turkey you need, the general rule of thumb is 1 - 1½ pounds (500 - 750 g) of turkey per person. You want leftovers for sandwiches and turkey pot pie, so you cannot err on the side of buying too much turkey. Keep in mind the smaller the turkey the lower ratio of meat to bone. 

Plan ahead and give yourself lots of extra time to cook the turkey. 24 hours for brining the turkey. 1 hour to prep the vegetables, bring the turkey up to room temperature, soak the wood chips and light your coals. Cook the turkey for 15 to 20 minutes per pound depending on the temperature of your grill.  

This recipe and grilling technique is by Jamie Purviance on weber.com

Course Dinner
Cuisine American
Keyword Smoked Turkey, Thanksgiving, Turkey
Prep Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Cook Time 4 hours
Brining Time 1 day
Total Time 5 hours 15 minutes
Author Ginger

Ingredients

Brine

  • 2 qt. (1 liter) apple cider
  • 1 lb. (2 cups packed / 456 g) light brown sugar
  • 1 cup (250 ml) kosher salt
  • 3 qt. (1.5 liters) water
  • 3 oranges quarter
  • 4 oz. (125 g) fresh ginger peeled and sliced thin
  • 15 whole cloves
  • 6 bay leaves
  • 6 large garlic cloves peeled and smashed

Turkey

  • 1 recipe Apple cider brine
  • 1 12 -15 lb. (5.4 - 6.8 kg) turkey (thawed if frozen)
  • 1 orange cut in wedges
  • 1 lemon cut in wedges
  • Enough extra virgin olive oil to coat the turkey
  • Kosher salt
  • Black pepper
  • 1-2 TB Herbs de Provence
  • 1 sprig fresh sage
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary
  • 2 ½ cups (600 ml) chicken stock

Instructions

Make the Brine

  1. Pour the apple cider in a saucepan and place on a burner set at high heat. Add the sugar and kosher salt and bring to a boil. Stir occasionally to make sure the sugar and salt dissolve. Cook at a boil for 1 minute then remove the pan from the heat to cool. If using the same day, cool the brine to room temperature before adding to the turkey. You can make the brine 24 hours in advance and keep in the refrigerator overnight in an airtight container.

Brine the Turkey

  1. You need a five-gallon food grade bucket, or another large food-safe container large enough to hold your turkey and brine, or 2 large plastic bags (I use two to prevent the brine from leaking.)* Add the remaining brine ingredients to your container, stir to combine then submerge the turkey in the liquid. 

    If you are using plastic bags, place the bags in the cooler or container first, then add the turkey. Mix the apple cider brine and remaining ingredients in another bowl then add to the turkey. Bring the bag ends together in a way that shapes the brine around the entire turkey.  Tie a knot near the top of the turkey to seal the bags and prevent the brine from leaking. 

  2. Place the turkey with the brine in the refrigerator or cooler for 24 hours. If you are using a cooler, add ice to either side of the turkey and check the temperature periodically to ensure the cooler is maintaining a constant 36°- 40°F (2.2 - 4.4°C) temperature. You do not what the temperature to go above 40° F. Add ice to the cooler as needed. Make sure to add fresh ice to the cooler just before you go to sleep for the night. 

Prepare the turkey

  1. Remove the turkey from the brine after 24 hours. Discard the brine and place the turkey on a rimmed baking sheet. Pat the turkey dry with paper towels and allow it rest on the counter for one hour to bring it up to room temperature.

  2. Meanwhile, add 4 large handfuls of hickory wood chips in a pan and spread out in an even layer. Add water to cover the chips and soak them for a minimum of 30 minutes. Set aside.

  3. Just before you want to start grilling, dry off the turkey again with paper towels. Stuff the cavity with orange wedges, lemon wedges, and fresh herbs. If the legs are floppy, tie the drumsticks together at the tips with kitchen string. Baste the entire surface of the turkey with the olive oil then season with Kosher salt, black pepper, and Herbs de Provence.

  4. Add the chopped celery, carrots and onion to a large heavy-duty aluminum roasting pan in an even layer. 

  5. Add the chicken stock to the vegetables then place the turkey, breast side down in the pan.

Prepare your Grill

  1. Light your coals 20 minutes before you want to begin grilling. When the coals are ready, place a large aluminum foil baking pan in the center of the lower grate and arrange the hot coals around the pan in a horseshoe shape. Fill the pan with a tea kettle amount of warm water. Add some more coals to the hotbed of coals and allow them to heat up for a few minutes.

  2. Add two handfuls of the soaked wood chips evenly over the hot coals. Place your grill grate in the grill. Cover your grill with the vents open all the way and wait for the smoke to appear. 

Cook the Turkey

  1. Once you see smoke, position the roasting pan with the turkey on the grill grate with the legs pointing to the hottest part of the grill, the arch of the horseshoe. Cover the grill with the vents open. Cook for one hour.

  2. After an hour, carefully turn the turkey over and position it the breast side up. Add more charcoals if needed and more wood chips. Cover the grill and continue roasting. After an hour and a half check the turkey and cover the wing tips and drumstick tips with foil if they are getting too dark. Add more coals and wood chips as needed. Maintain the grill temperature at 350 °F (177°C) for the duration of time while cooking the turkey. 

  3. Cook the turkey until the internal temperature reads 165°F (74°C) at the thickest part of the thigh away from the bone. Check the breast meat for the same temperature reading. Usually, unstuffed turkey takes 15-20 minutes per pound to cook. While the turkey is smoking, check the coals periodically to make sure it maintains a constant 350°F temperature. 

  4. Once the turkey is done, remove it from the grill and roasting pan and place on a cutting board. Cover loosely with aluminum foil and rest for 15 – 20 minutes before carving.

Pan Juices

  1. Use the pan juices for gravy. Remove the vegetables with a slotted spoon and discard or serve them with the turkey if they are not spent. I was able to save the carrots and onions, but the celery was overdone.  Pour the pan juices in a fat separator or skim off the top layer of fat from the pan juices with a spoon. Pour the pan juices in a saucepan and bring to a boil.

  2. Turn down the heat and simmer until ready to serve. The pan juices have a lot of flavor from the apple cider brine and smoke, so it should not need any seasoning. Taste first before you add any salt or pepper. This makes a light sauce, not a gravy, which is how I like it.

  3. If you want a thicker gravy-like sauce, make a roux then add the warm pan juices. Melt 1 -2 TB of unsalted butter in a saucepan then add the same amount of all-purpose flour to the pot. Whisk the flour and butter together and turn down the temperature to medium. Cook the roux, until it has a light golden color and the flour taste is gone. Add the hot pan juices to the roux and whisk until smooth. Taste and correct the seasoning. Simmer for 5 minutes stirring occasionally until ready to serve.

Hickory Smoked Turkey recipe. The ultimate turkey recipe. How to brine, grill and smoke a turkey using a charcoal grill. Apple cider brine recipe included.

© 2018, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.

Two Summer Salad Menu Ideas

Summer Salad Menu Ideas.

No matter where you are on Independence Day, dinner needs some planning to make sure there is enough time afterwards to watch the fireworks.  Even if you are home for the holiday, it is possible to put together a summer holiday feast that makes everyone feel like they are on a vacation. With hot summer days and vacation dreams in mind, I developed two summer salad menus. One salad menu is focused around a vegetable and steak salad and a second salad menu is for a vegetarian meal. Both salad menus are perfect for 4th of July or any summer weekend at home or away.

One full meal is easily made by pairing several salads each with distinct and complimentary flavors. One perk for using a salad menu is, a good chunk of the work can easily get done in advance. Additionally, salads give you some flexibility in timing as they taste great either at room temperature or chilled.  At mealtime, all that is left are the final touches and adding fresh herbs and the dressing. Once done, you can relax and enjoy the company of your friends and family. 

Steak Summer Salad Menu

Appetizer

Fig and Prosciutto Salad

Main Course

Summer Vegetable and Steak Salad

Garden Vegetable Pasta Salad 

or 

Potato Salad with Sorrel Dressing

Dessert

Nectarine Blueberry Galette

or

Point Reyes Baby Blue Cheesecake with sliced Figs

 

Appetizer

Summer Salad Menu Ideas.

 

Jamie Oliver refers to the Fig and Prosciutto Salad as the sexiest salad in the world. That may be true, but it is totally family friendly. Besides, wrapping a fig in prosciutto might be the only way you can get your child to eat a fig. It is a light and flavorful salad with mozzarella cheese squeezed in the middle of each fig with a drizzle of honey and lemon juice.  Also, fig and prosciutto salad is perfectly delicious and acceptable as a light dinner on those hot summer nights when you do not want to cook. Serve a green salad and a glass of chilled rosé and unwind.

Main Course

Summer Salad Menu Ideas.

The main course for this summer salad menu is a steak dinner loaded with fresh vegetables. It is like two salads in one.  Summer Vegetable and Steak Salad is full of summer produce like green beans, grape tomatoes and peaches or nectarines and paired with grilled steak. Along with the vegetables the citrus vinaigrette makes the salad very refreshing. There are some spice notes in the citrus dressing because that is the way I like it. However, you can easily omit the sriracha if you prefer.

Summer Salad Menu Ideas

Summer Salad Menu Ideas.

A creamy salad like Potato Salad with Sorrel Dressing pairs nicely with the green beans and grilled steak. Sorrel is difficult to find so substitute is with some lemon zest and juice. Serve the potato salad chilled.

If you do not want to make potato salad, an alternative is the Garden Vegetable Pasta Salad. It is a true work horse salad that everyone loves. It has the salty, creamy and fresh flavors scattered throughout the salad and satisfies those creamy cravings without being heavy.

Dessert

Summer Salad Menu Ideas

Galettes are really easy to make and always appreciated. I love mixing fruits together like Nectarine Blueberry Galette. For variety, you can substitute the blueberries with black cherries. Make the pie dough the night before and keep in the refrigerator, then assemble and bake the galette in the morning or early afternoon. You just want to make sure to give yourself plenty of time to allow for the galette to cool. Serve with vanilla ice cream.

Summer Salad Menu Ideas.

Another make ahead, and sophisticated dessert is sweet with a slightly savory bite from my favorite blue cheese, Point Reyes Baby Blue Cheesecakes. For a summer variation, garnish the cheesecakes with sliced figs or any summer fruit that pairs well with blue cheese. The blue cheese flavor is subtle, and well suited as either an appetizer or a dessert.

Vegetarian Summer Salad Menu

Appetizers

Muhammarra with herb pita chips

Blue cheese Dip with Caramelized Shallots

Main Course

Tortellini Salad with Basil Pesto

Green Bean Salad with Lemon Dressing

Leafy Green Salad with Lemon Cream Dressing

Dessert

Strawberry Basil No-churn Ice Cream with fresh Strawberries

and/or

Fudgy Brownies with Sea Salt and Caramel

 

Appetizers

Summer Salad Menu Ideas.

Summer Salad Menu Ideas.

Dips are easy to make with some dips, like these two, you can make in advance. Often, dips taste better given some time for the flavors to meld. Muhammara and Blue Cheese Dip with Caramelized Shallots are two of my favorite dips.

If you want something that is on the lighter side, make an artichoke or black olive tapenade and serve with cut up vegetables or crackers. Olive tapenade is delicious with goat cheese as well.

Main Course

Summer Salad Menu Ideas

For a vegetarian main course, pasta salad makes a great main course meal. Make my Tortellini with Basil Pesto recipe into a salad by rinsing the cooked tortellini under cold water to stop the cooking. Shake out any excess water and add the tortellini to a large mixing bowl along with the pesto and grape tomatoes. Omit the green beans because you will have them with the three bean salad. I prefer this salad at room temperature, but you can make this ahead then refrigerate it until time to serve. Here is a link for my pesto recipe. You will find a link for the pesto recipe with the tortellini recipe as well.

Summer Salad Menu Ideas

Photos for blog post, 3 bean salad

This is not your ordinary green bean salad. It is made with green beans, yellow wax beans and kidney beans, essentially it is a three bean salad. It is perfect for the summer or anytime you have vegetarian or vegan guests. The ginger in the lemon vinaigrette recipe does not pair well with the pesto so replace it with fresh basil or parsley. If you cannot find yellow wax beans, as they are not quite in season yet, substitute is with another legume like black beans or chick peas.

Dessert

Summer Salad Menu Ideas.

Summer Salad Menu Ideas.

Everyone loves ice cream and brownies and these recipes are real crowd pleaser. Strawberry Basil No-churn Ice Cream is delicious served alone or with some fudgy brownies with sea salt and caramel. This best brownie recipe ranks up there as one of the best I have ever had.

Lemon Cream Dressing

This recipe is from Joshua McFadden’s cookbook, Six Seasons.

Toss the green salad with any dressing you prefer, but since the green bean salad has a vinaigrette I thought it would be nice for something that was different yet compliment the other salads in the meal.  Despite the cream, Lemon Cream Dressing is very light. Infuse 4 smashed and peeled garlic cloves in a half cup (125 ml) of heavy cream for two hours in the refrigerator. Once the garlic is infused, remove the cloves and add a pinch of Kosher salt, several rounds of freshly ground black pepper, and zest from a quarter of a lemon. Whisk the cream. As soon as it starts to thicken add two tablespoons (30 ml) of lemon juice and 2 tablespoons (30 ml) of extra virgin olive oil. Continue to whisk the cream until the dressing is light and airy. You are not making full-out whipped cream, but one you can pour that has a light and creamy texture.

Final Thoughts

Each salad menu has unique and flavorful salads that compliment each other. They also create a balanced dinner filled with summer produce. The amount of  servings per salad is the same as the number of servings stated in the original recipe. Unless otherwise stated, each menu will feed a family of 4-5. Fortunately, each recipe is easily scaled up to serve any number of guests. Depending on how many guests you are planning for, you might need additional appetizers like guacamoledeviled eggs, or roasted shrimp cocktail, and desserts like Nifty Cake or peach sabayon.

Hope you get to see some fireworks. Have a delicious and happy Independence Day.

© 2018, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.

Spiral Sliced Ham with Orange Pineapple Glaze

Spiral Sliced Ham with Orange Pineapple Glaze, a recipe.

Today is the first day of Spring but you would not know it from looking outside my window. The fourth nor’easter of the month is hidden behind the current dusting of baby snowflakes. Despite the unpredictable weather, I love spring. Here in the Hudson Valley it arrives just in time to boost up our winter weary mood. At this time of year, I search for that first bright green blade of grass, or the first crocus leaves pushing towards the sun under a bed of winter debris, and seeing fuzzy fresh buds ready to bust open and leaf out. Witnessing nature wake up after its winter nap makes me feel like a kid given free run of a toy store, excitedly scurrying from flower bed to wooded acre not knowing where to first look.

Sadly, there are no spring blooms yet, so my focus is inside, planning our meals for spring celebrations and family gatherings. In my family, cured ham is a favorite choice for a spring or Easter dinner served with pineapple stuffing, a green vegetable such as Asparagus with Orange Mayonnaise and a green salad. I am not sure if my family uses ham as an excuse for pineapple stuffing, or the other way around. Either way, ham and pineapple stuffing make a mandatory appearance for our Easter dinner.

 How to cook a Spiral Sliced Ham

Nothing could be easier than cooking up a cured ham. Essentially all you need to do is heat it in the oven and make a glaze. Unfortunately, if one is not careful the ham will dry out while cooking in the oven, especially a spiral sliced ham. After a couple of dried out hams, I adopted the technique created by Cooks Illustrated for heating up spiral-sliced ham. It has a two-step heating process. The first step requires a container large enough for the ham to soak in. With the second step requiring a large oven bag for roasting the ham.

This technique was created with the understanding, that the less time the ham roasts in the oven, the less likely it will dry out and over cook. To gently encourage the process along, the ham soaks (with its plastic covering still intact) in hot tap water for 90 minutes. After soaking the ham in hot water and removing the plastic coverings, the ham gets sealed in a large oven bag. This cooking method seals in any juices and keeps the ham moist.

Cooks Illustrated recommends heating the spiral sliced ham in the oven bag until it reaches an internal temperature of 100°F (38°C). Then open and roll down the oven bag and baste the ham with a glaze. At this point you only need to cook the ham until the glaze heats up and gets sticky.

I find the 100°F (38°C) is on the cool side of warm and I like my ham slightly warmer. Cooks Illustrated reasoning for stopping at the 100 degree mark is cooking the ham longer will dry it out. Plus, ham tastes delicious either hot or at room temperature. Though, I read on the Reynolds Oven Bag link they recommend cooking to 140°F (60°C). This high temperature could easily dry out a spiral sliced ham. However, I believe there is a happy medium in the middle at 120°F (49°C).

Spiral Sliced Ham with Orange Pineapple Glaze, a recipe.

Glaze for Spiral Sliced Ham

For the glaze I mixed and simmered some orange marmalade and leftover canned pineapple juice from the pineapple stuffing. I also mixed in Dijon mustard, brown sugar, rum, ground clove, cayenne pepper and cinnamon. It sounds like the works, but each ingredient adds a little more depth and blends well together. The amount of spice is just a pinch of each, so it is not overpowering. I also believe sweet sauces taste better when cut with some heat.

The glaze is multi-dimensional. In addition to coating the spiral sliced ham, I mix it with pan juices for a pan sauce. Additionally, I like the glaze mixed with some grainy mustard making a condiment to serve with the ham. Feel free to adjust the amounts of each ingredient but remember you need enough to use in three different ways.

Spiral Slice Ham with Orange Pineapple Glaze, a recipe.

Need a dessert? Make my Pavolva with Kiwi, Berries and Passion Fruit Glaze.

Left Over Recipe Ideas for Spiral Sliced Ham

Add chopped ham to a pasta dinner for another family favorite treat.

Make a cheese omelet and add some chopped ham with the cheese or your choice.

Add ham to my Onion Tart for a recipe similar to Quiche Loraine.

There is nothing like a good ham and Swiss cheese sandwich on good crusty or whole grain bread. Spread the bread with some Dijon mustard (or leftover mustard from your ham dinner) and mayonnaise, then add some crispy lettuce and you are good to go. Or make a Cuban Sandwich.

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Spiral Sliced Ham with Orange Pineapple Glaze, a recipe.

Spiral-Sliced Ham with Orange Pineapple Glaze

A fool-proof method for making a moist spiral sliced ham and enough glaze to add to pan juices and extra mustard on the side. This technique is borrowed from Cooks Illustrated recipe for Glazed Spiral Sliced Ham. The ham is slowly warmed up in a water bath then heated in the oven. I basted the ham with an orange pineapple glaze for a sweet and slightly spicy seasoning. The ground cayenne is optional.

Special equipment

A container large enough to hold the ham with water.

A large oven bag for roasting. See link in blog post.

Roasting pan 

Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Warm Soaking time 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 35 minutes
Servings 10 people
Author Ginger

Ingredients

  • 8-10 lb Spiral Sliced bone t half Ham butt or shank end
  • Orange Pineapple Glaze
  • ½ cup (140 g) orange marmalade or peach or apricot jam
  • 2 TB (27 g) brown sugar
  • 4 TB (34 g) Dijon mustard
  • 2 TB dark rum brandy, or bourbon
  • 4 TB pineapple juice apple juice/ orange juice
  • 1/8 tsp ground clove
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • Fresh ground black pepper to taste
  • Dash ground cinnamon

Instructions

  1. Cooking the ham

    Place the ham, still in its sealed plastic covering, in a container large enough to fit the ham and cover the entire ham with water. Add enough hot tap water to completely cover the ham. Rest on the counter for 45 minutes. Drain the water and fill the container again with hot tap water and rest for another 45 minutes. 

  2. Meanwhile preheat the oven to 250°F / 120°C / Gas Mark 1/2 and place the rack at the lowest position. 

  3. After the ham has warmed up in its water bath for an hour and a half, drain out the water then remove the ham from its plastic cover. Check to see if there is a plastic disk over the bone or other plastic covers, and remove it. Place the ham, cut side down into a large oven bag. Gather up the ends and tie together just above the top of the ham. Make 4 two-inch (5 cm) slits in the oven bag, just a couple of inches down from the tied end and placed equidistant around the circumference of the bag. One on each side of the ham. Place the ham on a roasting pan then place on the rack in the oven. Roast until the internal temperature reaches 100°F (38°C), about an hour and a half depending on the size of your ham. It roasts 10 minutes a pound. 

  4. Remove the ham from the oven and turn up the temperature to 350°F / 175°C / Gas Mark 4. Open the oven bag and roll the sides down to expose the ham. Baste the ham with about a third of the glaze and return the ham to the oven.  If the glaze is too thick warm it up over medium heat until it thins out. Bake until the glaze is sticky and congealed, about 10-15 minutes. 

  5. Remove the ham from the oven and place on a cutting board. Loosely cover the ham with aluminum foil and let it rest for 15 minutes.

  6. Carve the ham and serve with the sauce and or country style Dijon mustard. 

  7. Make the Orange Pineapple Glaze

    While the ham is roasting, combine the ingredients to a small sauce pan set over medium heat. Stir the glaze until it reaches a simmer. Taste and adjust the seasoning to your tastes. Simmer until the glaze thickens, about 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and set aside. 

  8. Make the pan juices 

    While the ham is resting on the carving board, add about a third of the glaze with 4 tablespoons of pan juices to a sauce pan over medium high heat. Simmer until the juices thicken slightly. Taste and adjust the seasoning. For a smooth pan sauce, strain the sauce through a fine mesh strainer into a serving container. Or keep it chunky. 

  9. Make the Orange Glaze Mustard 

    Add 3 TB of mustard to 1 TB of the glaze in a small bowl. Stir to mix. Taste and adjust with more or less mustard and glaze to suit your taste. 

  10. Baste any remaining glaze over the ham before carving. 

Spiral sliced Ham with Orange Pineapple Glaze, Recipe for how to cook a spiral sliced ham. A two step process of warming up the ham, first submerged in hot water, then roasted inside an oven bag. The ham is tender and moist and glazed with a orange pineapple glaze.

© 2018, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.

Brussels Sprouts with Pomegranate Glaze

Brussels Sprouts with Pomegranate Glaze, recipe.

Most of us had, and possibly still have, foods we did not, or still won’t, eat. Currently, raw oysters are on my list of undesirable foods, but when I was a kid I disliked peas, mushrooms and Brussels sprouts. Honestly, it is a miracle I overcame any of my childhood food prejudices, especially vegetables. Mom only made frozen vegetables and she burnt them 8 times out of 10. Over time I grew to love all vegetables with Brussels sprouts being the last holdout.

Brussels Sprouts with Pomegranate Glaze, recipe.

Brussels Sprouts with Pomegranate Glaze, recipe.

About 15 years ago at a holiday celebration, a beautiful plate of Brussels sprouts was served with dinner. Up until then I did not give this cruciferous vegetable any thought or attention, but out of politeness and curiosity I put aside my childhood opinion and ate them. After one small spoonful of Brussels sprouts, my attitude changed forever. I cannot remember how my sister-in-law made them, but what I do remember was how surprisingly sweet they tasted. Even with the innate bitter components found in all types of cabbages, a tender and sweet flavor emerged. My sister-in-law’s meal tasted nothing like the Brussels sprouts of my childhood.

It is possible my attitude changed because now I tolerate bitter flavors. Whatever the reason, Brussels sprouts are one of my favorite vegetables during the fall and winter seasons. The key to delicious and sweeter tasting Brussels sprouts is cooking them properly. What I learned over the years is, they taste their best with fast cooking methods because the longer they cook the more bitter they taste. The cooking method that retains the most amount of nutritional benefits is steaming them. This is true for all vegetables. Yet, I like to sauté, braise or roast Brussels sprouts. Each technique creates a caramelized sear on the sprouts that add contrasting color and flavor. They are not as quick to prepare as green beans or asparagus,, but like most green vegetables they finish cooking within 20 minutes.

Brussels Sprouts with Pomegranate Glaze, recipe.

How to Cook Brussels Sprouts

This recipe uses two cooking methods. I first sear them in a hot skillet. Once they are nicely browned I add garlic, shallots and add some hot red pepper flakes then sauté them with the Brussels sprouts. For this recipe, I add the garlic after I sear the Brussels sprouts because I do not want the garlic to brown or burn. Then, I braise them in stock or water until they are just tender. I believe the steam from the liquid cooks them faster than they would if only sautéed. Plus the liquid gives the Brussels sprouts a nice coating for the pomegranate glaze to adhere to. Once they finish cooking, I add a glaze of butter and pomegranate molasses over the tender sprouts. It is just that simple.

The pomegranate molasses has a bitter-sweet taste adding just a touch of acid to brighten up the flavor. You can find pomegranate molasses at specialty markets, like Middle Eastern markets or Asian markets, or online.  Or, you can make it. I recommend store-bought pomegranate molasses because it has a long shelf life. You can also use pomegranate molasses in a variety of recipes like, Muhammara.

There are so many variations for additions and garnishes for this meal. I added pomegranate seeds for a pop of color and compliment the pomegranate molasses. A touch of acid like lemon juice brightens the meal, but too much lemon juice, or any acid, will change the color to a drab green.

Other nice additions are crispy pancetta or fried prosciutto. Anything salty like cured meats or anchovies will cut out some of the bitter flavor. If you use anchovies, omit the pomegranate molasses.

Brussels Sprouts with Pomegranate Glaze, recipe.

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Brussels Sprouts with Pomegranate Glaze, recipe

Brussels Sprouts with Pomegranate Glaze

Brussels sprouts are gently seared until golden brown then braised creating Brussels sprouts that are very tender and delicious. A glaze of butter and pomegranate molasses lightly coats the Brussels sprouts giving them a luxurious sheen. You can substitute the butter with extra virgin olive oil for a vegan meal. Garnish with pomegranate seeds, lemon zest or nuts like salted cashews or pistachios. Serve immediately. Special equipment: For 1.5 lbs (750 g) of Brussels sprouts you need an extra large skillet or sauté pan, 12-14 inches (30 -36 cm)
Course Vegetable Side Dish
Cuisine American
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 6 servings
Author Ginger

Ingredients

  • 1.5 lbs (750 g) Brussels Sprouts
  • 2 TB extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp Kosher salt plus more to taste
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 cloves shallots thinly sliced in half moons
  • 1/2 tsp Aleppo pepper or dried red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 - 2/3 cup (125 - 150 ml) chicken stock, vegetable stock or water
  • 2 TB butter
  • 2 tsp pomegranate molasses
  • Fresh ground black pepper to Taste
  • Garnish with pomegranate seeds or fried slices of prosciutto, or crispy pancetta (optional)

Instructions

  1. Wash and dry the Brussels sprouts. Cut off the bottom stem then slice the Brussels sprouts in half lengthwise. Remove any loose outer leaves that are not in good shape.
  2. Add 2 TB of extra virgin olive oil to a very large skillet and turn the heat to medium-high. Once the olive oil starts to shimmer add the Brussels sprouts and lay them cut side down. Sear the Brussels Sprouts until golden about 2-3 minutes. Once seared to your desired color, stir them around then add the minced garlic and sliced shallots. Cook until the shallots start to soften, about 2 minutes.
  3. Add the stock or water, cover with a tight fitting lid and cook until the Brussels sprouts are tender in the middle, when pierced with a fork. about 7-9 minutes.
  4. When the Brussels Sprouts are tender, remove the lid and cook off any remaining liquid in the pan.
  5. Once the pan is just dry, add the butter, or 1 TB olive oil for a vegan dish, and pomegranate molasses, stir to combine. Taste and add salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Garnish with pomegranate molasses, lemon zest, and or crispy prosciutto.
  7. Serve immediately

Recipe Notes

If you are cooking for a large crowd, roasting Brussels sprouts is the easiest way to prepare them. Coat them in extra virgin olive oil and roast in a 400°F / 200°C oven for about 35 minutes on rimmed sheet pans. Turn them over from time to time during roasting. Add the pomegranate molasses immediately after they finish roasting with extra olive oil or melted butter and salt and pepper to taste. 

Nutrition Facts
Brussels Sprouts with Pomegranate Glaze
Amount Per Serving (4 g)
Calories 0
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
How to cook Brussels sprouts . Brussels sprouts are seared in a skillet then braised until tender. They are finished with a glaze of butter and pomegranate molasses.

© 2017 – 2018, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.

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