November 23, 2016

Dear friends,

I finally wised up that Tony takes a hunting trip immediately after Thanksgiving each year. Last November I ate almost an entire turkey myself because he left town on Black Friday, just after my backup turkey came from the oven.

Although I didn’t mind eating a whole turkey, I felt kind of selfish. So this year I grill-smoked my backup turkey Tuesday so Tony can have a couple of sandwiches before he heads to the woods on Saturday with his buddies.

(A backup turkey is the one you make at home for yourself when you dine out on the holiday. But you probably already know that.)

My favorite way to eat leftover turkey is, of course, snuggled between two slices of bread with cranberry sauce and a sheen of mayo. I will eat several of these sandwiches before I even think of branching out. There’s no greater November meal. In my opinion, not even the big feast itself can compare.

Maybe by Saturday I will be ready for something different – not an alternative to turkey, but an alternate way to eat it. I have a box of phyllo dough in the freezer for the occasion. I will thaw it and layer it in a pie pan with a hot filling of sautéed onions, shredded turkey, cinnamon and other spices moistened with chicken broth. I will sprinkle the filling with almonds and gather the buttered, papery dough around the mixture before baking.

This is my version of bisteeya, the iconic dish of Morocco that usually takes hours to make. I will make my quick version for a splendid solitary meal while Tony shivers in a tree all day and later dines with the guys on pork and sauerkraut. When he calls, I’ll tell him that the turkey and I miss him.

SHORT-CUT BISTEEYA
2 tbsp. margarine
1 cup chopped onions
Salt, pepper
1/8 to 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
2 tbsp. flour
1/3 cup lemon juice
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
2 cups shredded cooked turkey or chicken
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
6 sheets phyllo dough
Butter-flavored non-stick spray
1/4 cup sliced almonds

Melt margarine in a heavy, 10-inch skillet and sauté onions until limp. Season with salt, pepper and cayenne pepper. Sprinkle flour over onions and cook and stir over medium-high heat for about 2 minutes, until flour begins to change color. Whisk in lemon juice and chicken broth until smooth. Whisk and simmer until mixture thickens. Stir in turkey and cinnamon. Simmer until very thick.

Peel off two sheets of phyllo, spray the top sheet lightly with butter-flavored spray, and fold in half, butter-side in. Spray the top of the folded sheets and place in a 9-inch pie pan. Repeat with two more sheets of dough, arranging phyllo squares so excess extends beyond the rim of the pie plate, all the way around.

Pour hot filling over dough in pan. Sprinkle with almonds. Spray and fold two more sheets, tucking the square in the pan on top of the filling. Fold the overhanging dough up and over the top pastry.

Spray top of pie. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes, until pastry is golden and filling is hot. Let rest 15 minutes before cutting’ into wedges. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

HELP U COOK

Baking season begins in earnest this weekend, and to put you on the right track, here are some tips on why your cookies may spread during baking:

• Make sure your sugar is pure granulated sugar, not a dextrose blend. Read the ingredients list, which should say merely “sugar.” Dextrose blends react like corn syrup, making cookies spread and prevent candies from setting up.

• Many margarine’s contain water, which will affect the texture of your cookies.

• Unbleached flour has a slightly higher protein content than bleached flour. The higher protein can cause cookies to spread and flatten.

• Letting cookie dough stand too long at room temperature also can cause cookies to spread and flatten, so refrigerate the dough between batches.

THE MAILBAG

From David G.:
I’m trying to find onion juice and garlic juice for a turkey injection recipe. I’ve struck out at Market District, Earth Fare and Mustard Seed.

Any suggestion on where else I might try locally?

Dear David: I tried Penzey’s, Trader Joe’s and Heather’s Heat and Flavor (the latter in Hudson) with no luck. Walmart online carries both, but not your closest Walmart megastore in Wadsworth. I think
you’ll have to make your own.

Caveat: bottled onion juice, at least, according to food writer John Thorne, is pretty mild. He says it tastes like juice from boiled onions. So I would use way less homemade juice in your recipe. Old, old Fanny Farmer cookbooks have you add mere drops to recipes.

To make onion juice: Peel and grate an onion on the smallest holes of a box grater set in a fine mesh strainer over a small, deep bowl. Press the pulp with the back of a spoon to extract as much juice as possible. Wear goggles! Wash your hands afterward with salt.

To make garlic juice: Separate a whole head of garlic into cloves. Place in a lidded jar and shake to remove skins. Press the cloves in a garlic press over a fine mesh strainer set over a small bowl. Scrape pulp in press into the strainer and press with the back of a spoon to extract juice. Again, clean hands with salt to eliminate odor.

It might be easier to just use another recipe. But you probably want to do Thanksgiving the hard way….

From Sandy T.:
You mentioned that your favorite way to cook a turkey is on the grill. Could you give us the directions?

Dear Sandy: Sure. The down side is you cannot stuff the turkey when you roast it this way. The upsides are many, though. The turkey will taste better than any you’ve ever roasted in the oven. It will cook in just two to three hours (for up to an 18-pounder).

Did I mention it will taste incredible?

Here are directions:

GRILL-SMOKED TURKEY

Build a large charcoal fire (about 30 briquettes) in the bottom of one side a lidded grill, and place a 9-by-12-inch foil pan in the bottom of the other half.

Rub or spray an unstuffed turkey (preferably brined) all over with oil or butter. When the coals ash over, place the turkey on the grill over the pan. Scatter wood chips over the coals. Close lid, leaving vents wide open. Grill for 2 to 3 hours for a 10 to 18-pound turkey. Note that the air temperature and wind can lengthen cooking time.

While roasting, add 6 to 8 charcoal briquettes every 45 minutes, and turn turkey quickly at the same time to rotate the side closest to the coals. Otherwise, do not open lid or heat will escape and lengthen the cooking time. Cook turkey until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the thigh registers 175 degrees.

Transfer to a platter, wrap tightly with foil and let rest for about 30 minutes before carving.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

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