By Tim Bruderek
This past week I attended ICE’s New Thanksgiving Meal, taught by Chef Anthony Sasso, an ICE alumnus and the chef du cuisine at New York City’s Casa Mono. This fabulous menu featured modern twists on classic Thanksgiving flavors, with the hope of offering creative ways to present guests with the traditional ingredients we all love. All of the recipes were easy enough to take home and try out for friends and family this holiday season.
When it comes to Thanksgiving, it’s all about the bird (there’s a reason it’s called “Turkey Day” after all). People typically roast the whole turkey just so we can see it perched majestically at the center of the dining room table. But like most cooks, I find it nearly impossible to prepare the perfect roasted turkey. Since different parts of the bird cook at different times and temperatures, there’s a reason why you have overdone breast meat and undercooked legs. Call me crazy, but I’m getting a bit sick of the same dry turkey, and having to pour gravy over the whole thing to moisten it up!
This class helped solve the problem of having to contend with dry Thanksgiving turkey. The menu included Smoked Mushroom Stuffed Turkey Breasts, prepared in a roulade style and cooked using an at-home smoker. With a flavorful stuffing of sautéed oyster mushrooms, onions, garlic, herbs and LOTS of butter, the turkey breasts were smoked then finished in the oven to ensure a moist and flavorful roast that made for the perfect replacement for that whole bird we’ve all grown tired of. (For those of you who’d like to try it at home, scroll down for the recipe, courtesy of Chef Sasso).
Offering up another twist, the class learned how to get the most out of another popular part of the turkey – the legs – by making Pulled Turkey BLTs. By slowly roasting then braising the turkey legs, the meat gets incredibly juicy and falls right off the bone. Pile it on some toasted bread and dress it with a fresh and tangy cranberry vinaigrette to get modern version on the classic pairing of turkey and cranberry sauce.
And you can’t forget the sides (arguably the best part of every Thanksgiving meal). Along with these great turkey dishes, we enjoyed a silky saffron cauliflower soup with roasted brussels sprouts, mashed potatoes with truffle oil and parmigiano reggiano and curried butternut squash and rainbow carrots with pomegranate yogurt, to name a few. And to top it all off, for dessert the class whipped up a deliciously creamy butternut squash mousse with candied ginger pecans, while getting into the holiday spirit with a sinful sweet sherry eggnog.
Throughout the class, Chef Sasso taught us some valuable tips on maximizing flavors, such as using a food mill to get the perfect mashed potato texture and how to make an easy yet flavorful pan gravy.
For those of us who were looking to impress our guests this year and move away from the same old dishes, this class was a huge success!
SMOKED MUSHROOM STUFFED TURKEY BREASTS
Yield: Serves 8
3 turkey breasts, skin on
Olive oil for sautéing
1 pound oyster mushrooms
1 stick butter (cut in half)
¼ cup sherry vinegar
4 fresh bay leaves
6 sprigs thyme
2 quarts chicken stock
1. Set up a smoker on the top of the stove by arranging two hotel pans on top of each other (deep one on the bottom, shallow perforated one on top). Line the bottom pan with aluminum foil and a few pieces of wood and newspaper. You want the wood to be cut into thin splinter-like pieces, over a pile of the crumpled paper. Light these on fire and allow the flame to burn for 1 minute. Cover with the perforated pan, making a homemade smoker where the smoke from the bottom pan seeps through the holes and infuses the ingredients on top. Season the turkey on both sides with salt and pepper and place them on top of the perforated pan, then cover the whole thing with foil. Set over a couple of burners set to low heat and leave to smoke for 30 to 45 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, sauté the mushrooms in a hot pan with some olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. You don’t want to overcrowd the pan or the mushrooms will never turn brown. Add ½ stick of butter and the chopped garlic and cook another minute. Then add the sherry vinegar, reduce until dry and cool.
3. Preheat the oven to 375° F
4. Stuff the smoked turkey breasts with the sautéed mushrooms, bay leaves and thyme, splitting the ingredients evenly among the breasts. Rub the skin with the remaining butter and place in a casserole in the oven with the chicken stock coming half way up the meat (you may not need all of the stock). Cook for another 30 minutes until fully cooked.
ICE has everything to help you wow your friends and family this holiday season. Click here for a full list of our upcoming Recreational classes.