Thanksgiving Dinner: The Guest of Honor

Oh yeah. It’s time to talk about the bird. And this is a very special friend. This has to be my best turkey to date. I’m sorry to gloat, but this turned out perfectly. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a firm believer in brining turkey. It keeps it moist and juicy and adds a lot of flavor while cooking.

Different from what I’ve done before, I rubbed in an herbed butter before roasting this bird. And since I was going for that Latin flavor, I added achiote paste too. Let me tell you how this all came together.

Achiote & Herbs Turkey with Garlic Butter Gravy

First, the brine. I added a large onion, garlic cloves, bay leaves, celery, Jugo Maggi, salt, sugar and some spices to a large pot of water and brought it to a boil. Allowed it to simmer for about 15 minutes, to infuse the flavors in the water. I then allowed that to cool completely before pouring it into a cooler. Followed by the turkey (giblets removed), then filled with cool water and topped it with plenty of ice to keep it cold overnight.

If you go back a few months, you’ll remember a post I shared for roast chicken, I followed the same principles for the turkey. Incidentally, I want to give a shout out to Noelle over at Portland Palattes, she sent me a note after she followed the same post and ended up with a delicious chicken.

Back to the turkey. I combined¬†2 sticks of butter (I know!) with achiote paste, garlic, parsley, green onions, orange zest, salt and pepper. After draining and drying the turkey, I then squished the butter under the skin while the oven preheated to 475¬į. I filled the cavity with whole garlic cloves, quartered orange, celery and carrots, and threw some more at the bottom of the roasting pan.

After inserting the electronic thermometer (love that thing!) I placed the whole¬†thing in the oven for 15 minutes, then lowered the temperature to 325¬į and roasted it, undisturbed until the internal temp read 185¬į–about 3 extra hours. No basting, no¬†turning, no nothing. ¬†Once it was done, it got a foil blanket and took a little nap for about 30 minutes before I began carving.

The fact that *I* had to do the carving this time explains why there are no pictures of that part. Sorry, I was in a panic at the thought of it. I didn’t do too badly. Look at these shots and tell me you don’t want some turkey like NOW!

Gravy. You see that pretty gravy? Of course, you can’t have turkey without some gravy, so gravy I made. I poured the cooking liquid out of the roasting pan. Once the fat raised to the top, I scooped out about 4 tablespoons of it and heated it in a saucepan. To that I added 2 cloves of garlic¬†finely diced,¬†cooked them¬†for a couple of minutes before adding¬†4 tablespoons of flour, stirred it in and allowed it to cook for about 5 minutes stirring constantly.

Add the reserved liquid (not the fat), be sure to keep stirring or you’ll end up with lumps and bumps. Once it boils, it will begin to thicken. At this point you can adjust the seasoning as necessary. Keep warm and pour over the sliced turkey.

And here it is. I always always always have cranberry with my turkey. Straight out of the can, I love the stuff. But, this is a Latin Thanksgiving, so no cranberries for you. Instead…

Guayaba Sauce

Guayaba, or guava as it’s known in the US, is similar in color and temperament to cranberry. By temperament I mean they have very similar flavor profiles, they’re both sweet and tart, though guayaba doesn’t have that tangy bite cranberries do. This sauce was easy to make and DELICIOUS with the turkey.

I combined about 6 ozs of guayaba paste with the juice of 2 oranges and the zest of 1 and¬†1 diced shallot, brought it all to a boil and seasoned with a dash of salt just before serving. That’s it!

To see the recipes for the rest of this incredible meal, follow this link. To see the other food porn shots, click here.

Gobble gobble!
Cookingly yours,


Chef School – Lesson 5

Roux and the White Gravy.

Thanks for coming back for another tip or trip in the Chef School corner. This time we’ll take a look at Roux. This is the base behind a number of sauces, as well as most gravies. A roux will help thicken any sauce and add more depth of flavor.

A roux will be lighter or darker depending on the type of sauce you plan on creating. Lighter roux can easily be made with butter, however, if you plan on a dark sauce/gravy, it may be best to use fat with a higher smoking point. a vegetable, you will cook your roux

Making a Roux

In a medium pan, heat the fat over medium heat. Then add flour. The ratio is 1:1, although bumping the flour a bit can be¬†helpful and lowers the fat content. So, for every tablespoon of fat add 1-1/2 tablespoon of flour. Using a whisk incorporate¬†the flour into the fat. Keep whisking until it reaches the desired color. The objective¬†at this point is to cook the flour, that’s why the temperature shouldn’t be too high.

That’s it.

If you decided to make a gray with this roux, be mindful not to add hot liquids, instead, add broth, water or milk that is at room temperature or warm. Also, add them a little at a time, making sure to stir vigorously to avoid creating lumps in the gravy. Also remember that in order to achieve its full thickening potential, you must allow the sauce to boil lightly before turning it off.

I made a white gravy with the roux. I started out with bacon fat, about 2 tablespoons and 3 tbsp of flour. I cooked the flour until lightly golden, about 5 minutes, then added about 2 cps of whole milk.

Once thickened, I seasoned it with sea salt, freshly ground pepper and a dash of nutmeg.  It became the background for my Bacon & Asparagus Gravy.  It was delicious!

Chicken and Gravy, but wait…

There’s more! I’ll tell you in a minute, first, humor me.

I was down to the last chicken breast I purchased for the V-Day¬†recipes and I didn’t know what to do with it. I had the chicken and some asparagus left. You may remember I mentioned not preferring chicken breast. I find it dull, dry and almost flavorless. What can I say? I’m a dark meat kinda girl.

But, I had a chicken breast leftover. As I drove home from work, I kept pondering my options. It wasn’t enough for Hubby’s yummy chicken tenders. Scratch. I’m trying to keep my carb intake down, so adding it to pasta was not an option. Scratch that too. But something with a crunch is what my brain wanted. Then, lightbulb! How ’bout Chicken Fried Chicken(ish), Gravy and Asparagus.

I came up with Chicken Fried Chicken with Asparagus and Bacon Gravy. Don’t ask me how that happened, but you’ll be glad it did! Here’s the awesome recipe.

Chicken Fried Chicken
For the chicken:
1 chicken breast, skinless & boneless
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/2 tsp Herbs d’Provence
1-1/2 cps panko crumbs

Let’s make that lonely chicken breast multiple, shall we? Butterfly that breast, why don’t you! The idea is to split the breast in half and even it out. Make sure your knife is very sharp. Carefully work the knife through the breast, you now have 2 halves.

Now that it’s butterflied, you will need to even out the thickness. Cut 2 sides of a large ziploc¬†bag. Lay the breast down on one side of the bag, top it with the other end then use a mallet or a flat heavy pan to flatten the breasts out. This is also known as Paillard.

This is what it looks like before:

And this is it after:

Now that the chicken breast has been thinned out, combine the oil, S&P, garlic and Herbs dProvence in a bowl and add the breast meat. Spin it around to coat all sides and set aside.

For the Bacon Asparagus Gravy:
3 slices bacon, finely chopped
Bacon drippings, about 2 tbsp
3 tbsp flour
10 asparagus spears, chopped
2-1/2 cps whole milk
Sea salt & Fresh pepper
Dash of nutmeg

Brown the bacon in a medium pan. Once golden brown, remove the bacon to a bowl. Drain out most of the drippings, but do not discard the fat, you will need it to make the gravy.

After you’ve peeled and trimmed the asparagus, cut them to pieces that are about 1-inch long.¬†Heat the pan you cooked the bacon in and add the asparagus, throw in a pinch¬†of salt and pepper. Toss the asparagus around a few times, then cover with a tight-fitting lid. Allow it to cook for about 2-3 minutes, just until the asparagus is al¬†dente. Remove and add to the bowl with the bacon. Set aside.

In that same pan, add the rest of the bacon fat over medium heat. When it is hot, add the flour and stir with a whisk. You’re now making a roux. This is a white gravy, so the flour shouldn’t brown. However, in order to¬†improve the taste of the gravy, you need to make sure the flour is cooked. The color should be that of light honey.

Once the roux is the right color, slowly begin to add the milk. Make sure you’re stirring while you add the milk or you’ll end up with lumps. Once all the milk has been added, continue stirring and allow it to come to a boil.

Once it boils, lower the temperature and stir some more until it thickens. When it reaches the consistency you’re looking for, add the asparagus and bacon. Taste and adjust the seasonings as necessary. Set aside.

Now is time to cook the chicken. In a medium skillet, heat enough vegetable oil to cover the bottom of the pan. Spread out the panko crumbs on wax paper and dip the chicken pieces in it. Once the oil is hot, fry the chicken pieces to a golden brown. Remember the chicken is very thin now and will not need to cook for long, probably 2 minutes per side. Remove and drain.

To plate, place a piece of chicken on a plate, then add the gravy right next or on top of the chicken. Enjoy it!

Cookingly yours,

Making whoopie. I mean, gravy

Every turkey and dressing needs it. You must have gravy. It’s just the way it is, don’t ask why, don’t try to make sense of it. Just whip some up. Here’s my ode to gravy.


After you pulled the bird out of the oven, you’ll want to collect the drippings. I got about 6 cps of liquid, including fat; separate the fat from the liquid. Preheat a saucepan over medium high¬†and add 5 tbsp of the fat collected. Once it is hot, add 5 tbsp flour and mix vigorously to make sure no lumps are formed. Keep stirring for about¬†5 minutes or¬†until the roux is golden brown .


Quickly add 3 cps of reserved drippings and 1 cp beer. You  need to allow the gravy to come to a boil in order for it to thicken. Season as necessary and serve.