EATS & DRINKS

Holiday Cravings with a Twist  

RLR_2368_sm.jpg

By Case Dighero | Photos by Meredith Mashburn

 

It’s December, which can only mean one thing: hardcore holiday cravings. Of course, I LOVE all the family classics like green beans and bacon, buttery mashed potatoes, and roasted yams with marshmallows, but I’m also excited to try some new recipes that have potential to be showstoppers at this year’s holiday dinner party. So this December, I’ve devised several new holiday recipes that are guaranteed to be a hit. Get ready, because your holiday dinner is about to get a lot funkier

HERBED BUTTER-RED CURRY ROASTED TURKEY

PREP, COOK TIME: 2 DAYS, 3 HOURS | SERVES: 8 TO 10

RLR_2345_sm.jpg

This is my favorite holiday turkey recipe of all time; the brine ensures a moist and tender bird, but if you’re short on time, omit the brine altogether and you’ll still have one of the best turkey dinners ever…guaranteed.

 

INGREDIENTS

BRINE

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons kosher salt

3/4 cup sugar

1 carrot, chopped

1 large onion, peeled, chopped

1/4 cup diced celery

2 large sprigs rosemary

2 bay leaves

1 tablespoon black peppercorns

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

 

TURKEY

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature, divided

1 2.4 ounce pouch Blue Elephant red curry paste

2 teaspoons fresh thyme plus 5 fresh thyme sprigs, divided

2 teaspoons fresh tarragon plus 5 sprigs, divided

2 teaspoons fresh rosemary plus 5 sprigs, divided

1 14- to 16-pound thawed turkey

4 cups chicken broth, divided

 

RED GRAVY

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter

Turkey neck, liver, gizzard and heart

2 cups diced onions

1 cup carrots, peeled and diced

1 cup diced celery

6 cups (or more) low-salt chicken broth

RLR_2325_sm.jpg

TECHNIQUE

BRINE

Bring salt, sugar and 4 cups water to a boil in a large pot, whisking until salt and sugar are dissolved. Remove from heat, then add remaining ingredients to brine base. Chill in the refrigerator or cold garage, uncovered, until cold. Combine the brine base with 6 quarts cold water in a pot, bucket or cooler large enough to hold both the liquid and turkey; add turkey. Cover and leave for up to 48 hours, making sure the turkey remains at a chilled temperature. The turkey needs to rest below 40 degrees throughout the brining process — best done by keeping the turkey in the fridge or packed with ice, only kept in the garage or outdoors if covered and consistently under the recommended temperature.

 

TURKEY

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Mix 1/2 cup butter, Blue Elephant red curry paste and all minced herbs in a bowl; season with salt and pepper. Transfer 3 tablespoons of this herb butter mixture to another small bowl and reserve for gravy; let sit at room temperature.

Rinse turkey inside and out; pat completely dry with paper towels. Discard paper towels. Rub 4 tablespoons herb butter over breast meat under skin. Place turkey on rack in large roasting pan. Sprinkle turkey’s main cavity generously with salt and pepper. Place 4 tablespoons plain butter and fresh herb sprigs in main cavity, setting aside a couple sprigs each for final garnish. Tuck wing tips under the breasts, and then tie legs together with twine. Rub remaining herb butter over outside of turkey, and sprinkle entire bird generously with salt and pepper.

Place turkey in oven and roast 30 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F. Roast turkey 30 minutes; pour 1 cup broth over entire body and add 1 tablespoon plain butter to pan. Roast turkey additional 30 minutes; pour 1 cup broth over and add 1 tablespoon butter to pan. Cover turkey loosely with foil. Roast turkey, basting with pan juices every 30 minutes until a thermometer inserted into thickest part of breast registers 175°F, about 2 hours. Transfer turkey to platter; let stand 30 minutes, garnish with remaining herb sprigs.

 

RED GRAVY

Melt butter in heavy deep skillet over high heat. Add turkey neck, liver, gizzard and heart; sauté until deep brown. Add onions, carrots and celery; sauté until vegetables are brown, about 15 minutes. Add 6 cups chicken broth and bring to rolling boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer uncovered for about an hour.

Pour gravy base through strainer and reserve 4 cups. If needed, add enough chicken broth to measure 4 cups.

Strain pan juices from turkey roasting pan into bowl; whisk in gravy base. Melt reserved 3 tablespoons red curry-herb butter in heavy large saucepan over medium heat; add flour and whisk constantly until golden brown. Gradually add pan drippings-gravy base mixture; increase heat and whisk constantly until gravy thickens, boils and is smooth. Reduce heat to medium; simmer gently until gravy is reduced a bit, whisking often, about 10 minutes. Season gravy with salt and pepper.

BLANCHED ASPARAGUS WITH JAMMY EGGS

PREP, COOK TIME:  30 MINUTES | SERVES 6 TO 8

 

Everyone should learn how to make a six-minute egg, and this recipe is not only the perfect learning tool, but also absolutely delicious. Light, nuanced and an exquisite counterbalance to the overindulgence that comes with most holiday meals.

INGREDIENTS

2 pounds fresh asparagus

8 fresh eggs

½ cup marcona almonds, roasted and salted

1 navel orange, juiced and zested

Ocean’s Balance Spicy Seaweed Sprinkle

Salt and pepper

Olive oil

TECHNIQUE

Fill a deep pan with salted water, heat to a simmer, add asparagus and cook for about two minutes until slightly tender and bright green. Remove, drain and submerge asparagus in a bowl of ice-cold water. Drain, pat dry and set aside.

Fill the same deep pan with salted water, heat to a boil, then with a slotted spoon carefully add the eggs one at a time to the bottom of the pan, taking care not to crack the shells. Set timer for 6 minutes and continue to boil. Prepare a large bowl of ice-cold water; after precisely 6 minutes, remove each egg one at a time and carefully submerge in cold water. Allow to rest for a few minutes, then carefully remove and peel each egg. Cut each egg down the center from top to bottom — the yolks should be thick and jammy.

Arrange asparagus on a serving platter, then top with halved eggs, yolk side up, the juice from the orange, marcona almonds, Ocean’s Blend spicy seaweed sprinkle, salt, pepper, orange zest, and a generous drizzle of olive oil.

CAULIFLOWER AND LUMP CRAB GRATIN

PREP, COOK TIME:  1 ½ HOURS

SERVES:  8 TO 10

This one is rich, delicious and probably my favorite recipe of the holiday season; I mean, how can you go wrong with cream, cauliflower, and lump crab? Still, if you have guests with shellfish allergies, simply omit the crab from this dish and you’ll still be destined for greatness.

INGREDIENTS

1 2-pound head of cauliflower, trimmed,

   cut into small florets

1 pound lump crabmeat, fresh or from a can

3 cups heavy whipping cream

1 medium yellow onion, chopped

1 tablespoon fresh thyme, minced

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs

1/2 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted

3 cups grated Parmesan cheese

RLR_2421_sm.jpg

TECHNIQUE

Fill a large stock pot with salted water, heat to a simmer, add cauliflower and cook for about five minutes until tender but not falling apart. Remove, drain and submerge cauliflower in a bowl of ice-cold water. Drain, pat dry and set aside.

Combine cream, yellow onion and thyme in large saucepan. Bring to boil. Reduce heat; simmer until mixture is reduced to 2 1/2 cups, about 15 to 20 minutes. Season with salt. Remove from heat and allow to cool a bit.

Preheat oven to 375°F.  Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add breadcrumbs; stir until beginning to brown, about 4 minutes. Transfer to bowl; add pine nuts. Season with salt and pepper.

Butter a 9-inch cast iron skillet or 13x9x2-inch baking dish; add cauliflower, then lump crab.  Season with salt and pepper, then Parmesan.

Pour cream mixture evenly over cauliflower, crab and Parmesan. Cover with foil; bake covered for 30 minutes. Uncover; sprinkle breadcrumb topping over and bake uncovered for addition 15 minutes.

RLR_2400_sm.jpg

CITRUS SALAD WITH FRIED BASIL AND OLIVES

PREP TIME:  25 MINUTES | SERVES:  4 TO 6

 

This one is not only a hit with vegetarians, but also with anyone (like me) who loves citrus during the holidays. I could eat this pseudo salad every day between Christmas and New Year’s Eve. There’s just something wonderfully satisfying about the juxtaposition of flavor and texture from the sweet of the oranges, the salt of the olives and the delicate crunch of the fried basil.

INGREDIENTS

3 blood oranges

3 navel oranges

1 grapefruit

4 golden beets, boiled, peeled and sliced

1 bunch fresh basil

½ cup black olives

½ cup green olives

Olive oil

Salt and pepper

TECHNIQUE

Add olive oil to a small heavy saucepan to a depth of 1 inch. Heat over medium-high until very hot, approximately 350°. Add three or four basil leaves to oil and fry until crisp and bright green, taking care to flip after about 5 or 6 seconds. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate; season lightly with salt. Repeat until you have about 20 fried basil leaves. Set aside. Halve the black and green olives. Peel and slice crosswise in an octagon shape all citrus about 1/2 inch thick. Then arrange in unique designs on a platter and top with a generous drizzle of olive oil, halved olives and fried basil leaves. Finally, season with salt and pepper.

RLR_2329_sm.jpg

HOTTIE PUMPKIN SEED BRITTLE

PREP, COOK TIME:  50 MINUTES | SERVES 4 TO 6

 

Peanut brittle was a staple sweet snack when I was a kid during the holidays, and I have poignant memories of my Grandma Dighero carefully watching the candy thermometer when preparing it every holiday season. In this recipe, I’ve swapped peanuts with pumpkin seeds and added some heat from cayenne pepper… and decided to trust my sight rather than the old candy thermometers of yester-year. You may have to make this a few times this year because EVERYONE loves it!  

INGREDIENTS

¾ cup sugar

¼ cup light corn syrup

3 tablespoons water

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 cup RAW pumpkin seeds

¾ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

⅛ teaspoon ground cinnamon

⅛ teaspoon cayenne

¼ teaspoon coarse sea salt

TECHNIQUE

In a heavy-bottom saucepan, combine the sugar, corn syrup and water over medium-high heat until the sugar melts. Best to use a wooden spoon here.

Change the heat to medium-low and continue to stir (taking care not to splash on the side of the pan) until the sugar has become a light golden-brown color, around 10 minutes. Add the butter and allow to melt, then add pumpkin seeds. Cook, stirring constantly, until golden brown, another 2 minutes. Add the baking soda, salt, cinnamon and cayenne and stir for 1 minute.

Pour the brittle mixture onto a parchment-lined, half-sheet pan. Spread the brittle into an even layer using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon.

Sprinkle the coarse sea salt on top of the brittle and allow to cool at room temperature for about 30 minutes. Once cooled, break into interesting shapes.

Case Dighero is a culinary and cultural influencer, and contributing food editor for Citiscapes, working and residing in Northwest Arkansas for more than 20 years. Join Case for interactive cooking lessons as he guides participants through these recipes and more ! This virtual experience includes a Zoom link as well as recipes and locations to purchase ingredients. Visit www.edibleculture.net to learn more.

SHARE THIS STORY