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Nov 25, 200912:00 AM
Haute Plates

Our weekly blog on the New Orleans fine dining scene

Thanksgiving Recipes for the Tardy

We* here at the Haute Plates blog hope that you have a happy Thanksgiving. We* also hope that you are not, at this late hour, attempting to figure out what to cook. If you are, you might find the following recipes from local chefs helpful.

To start, how about Oyster and Cornbread Stuffing by chef Donald Link? The recipe is from his cookbook, Real Cajun, released earlier this year:

The recipe starts with turkey stock, of which you need 3 cups. To make the stock, Link calls for a turkey neck and a cup of gizzards or livers combined with 4 cups of water or chicken broth and five bay leaves. Cook on low heat for two hours, and then strain the liquid. Remove the meat from the neck, chop the gizzards or livers, and retain.

The recipe also calls for a half-recipe of Link’s Crusty Cornbread, crumbled finely. By my estimation, you’ll want around 4 cups of crumbled cornbread. So:

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 celery stalks, finely chopped
1 medium green bell pepper, cored, seeded and finely chopped
Approximately 4 cups of crumbled cornbread
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups shucked oysters, cut into thirds
1/2 bunch flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped (about 1/2 cup)
2 and 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 and 1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper
1 and 1/2 teaspoons poultry seasoning (usually thyme, sage, marjoram and savory)
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme

Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions, celery and green pepper, and cook, stirring, for 5 to 8 minutes, until the vegetables begin to soften. Remove from the heat, and set aside.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-inch-by-12-inch baking dish with vegetable shortening. In a large mixing bowl, combine the cornbread with the stock, the chopped turkey meat, the sautéed vegetables, the eggs, oysters, scallions, parsley and seasonings. Mix well with your hands, and then transfer the mixture to the prepared baking dish, cover with foil, and bake for 1 hour. Uncover the dish, and bake an additional 20 minutes, until the top is golden brown and crusty. Let the stuffing sit at least 15 minutes before serving.

Next up, a recipe from John Besh’s My New Orleans, also released this year. He has a recipe for whole roast stuffed turkey that’s pretty stellar. You have bought your turkey by now, right?  This is a long recipe, and I am therefore cutting out a few of the “optional” bits. You should really buy the book anyway, you know:

For the turkey:

2 cups sugar
2 cups plus 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt (divided)
1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 15-pound turkey, giblets and neck removed
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 to 3 tablespoons canola oil
1 teaspoon minced fresh sage leaves
Leaves from 1 sprig fresh thyme
Flour (optional)

For the stuffing:

4 tablespoons butter
2 large onions, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 green onion, chopped
Leaves from 1 sprig fresh thyme
Leaves from 1 sprig fresh rosemary, minced
4 cups diced day-old French bread
3 cups basic chicken stock

For the turkey, put 1 gallon of cold water into a large stockpot big enough to hold the turkey plus a total of 2 gallons of liquid. Stir in the sugar, 2 cups of the salt and the pepper flakes, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat, and simmer for a minute, stirring to dissolve. Remove the pot from the heat, add another gallon of cold water, and allow to cool to room temperature.

Submerge the turkey in the cooled brine, and let it soak in the refrigerator or a very cool place for between 12 and 24 hours.

For the stuffing, melt the butter in a large skillet over moderate heat. Add the onions, celery and bell peppers, and cook, stirring often, until the vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic, green onions and fresh herbs, and cook for an additional minute.

Transfer the cooked vegetables to a large mixing bowl. Add the French bread, and gently toss to combine. Add the chicken stock, 1 cup at a time, gently mixing it in until the bread cubes are soft. Set the stuffing aside.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Scatter the chopped carrots, onions, celery and garlic in the bottom of a large, sturdy roasting pan, and add 3 cups of water. Set a roasting rack in the pan. Remove the turkey from the brine, and pat it dry with paper towels inside and out. Slather the bird with canola oil, and sprinkle it with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon of salt and the sage and thyme.

Spoon the stuffing into the cavity of the bird. Tie the legs together with kitchen string if you like. Set the turkey on the rack above the vegetables. Roast the turkey in the oven, basting it every 30 minutes or so with the pan drippings until the thigh juices runs clear when the thigh is pricked and the internal temperature of the stuffing reaches 165 degrees: about 3 and 1/2 to 4 and 1/2 hours.

Transfer the turkey to a carving board or serving platter, loosely cover it with foil, and allow it to rest for 15 minutes before carving.

For dessert?  How about a recipe from native son David Guas (who, I should point out, is also my cousin). His cookbook DamGoodSweet has just been released. He has a recipe for Calas Fried Rice Fritters that speaks to his love of New Orleans.

1/2 cup long-grain white rice (Mahatma brand if you can find it)
Peanut oil for frying
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 large eggs
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
Cane syrup for serving

Bring 1 cup of water and a pinch of salt to a boil in a small saucepan. Add the rice, stir once, reduce the heat to low, and cover the pan. Cook for 18 to 20 minutes or until the grains of rice are plump and fluff apart with a fork. Turn the rice out onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet, let it cool for 15 minutes, and then transfer it to a plastic container (don’t pack it in). Cover with plastic wrap, and then poke a few holes in the top. Refrigerate for at least 8 hours and up to 2 days.

Pour enough peanut oil into a large pot to fill it to a 3-inch depth, and bring it to a temperature between 350 and 360 degrees over medium heat. Line a plate with paper towels, and set it aside.

While the oil heats up, place the flour, baking powder and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Using a stand mixer or a hand mixer, beat the eggs, sugar and vanilla on high speed until foamy and tripled in volume, about 2 minutes. Sift in half of the dry ingredients, add the salt, and mix on low speed until only a few dry streaks remain. Sift in the remaining dry ingredients, and mix on low speed for a few turns. Add the rice, and mix until the fritter batter just comes together into a loose, roughly textured ball.

Once your oil is hot, dip a teaspoon into the hot oil and then into the batter, and scoop out a heaping teaspoonful. Hold the spoon close to the oil, and let the batter roll off and into the oil. Repeat with the remaining batter, using a slotted spoon. Turn and baste the fritters occasionally, allowing them to become golden brown on all sides. (Fry the fritters in two batches if your pot becomes overcrowded.) If the temperature of the oil dips below 350 degrees, increase the heat to medium-high. Once the fritters are golden brown, transfer them to the prepared plate to cool slightly. Serve on a small plate drizzled with lots of cane syrup.

We* here at the Haute Plates blog hope that your Thanksgiving is a good one and that these recipes may be of some assistance to those of you procrastinating until the bitter end.

*We here at the Haute Plates blog like to refer to ourselves using the Royal We. Please do not hold it against us.

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Haute Plates

Our weekly blog on the New Orleans fine dining scene


Robert D. Peyton was born at Ochsner Hospital and, apart from four years in Tennessee for college and three years in Baton Rouge for law school, has lived in New Orleans his entire life. He is a strong believer in the importance of food to our local culture and in the importance of our local food culture, generally. He has practiced law since 1994, and began writing about food on his website, www.appetites.us, in 1999. He mainly wrote about partying that year, obviously.

In 2006, New Orleans Magazine named Appetites the best food blog in New Orleans. The choice was made relatively easy due to the fact that Appetites was, at the time, the only food blog in New Orleans.

He began writing the Restaurant Insider column for New Orleans Magazine in 2007 and has been published in St. Charles Avenue, Louisiana Life and New Orleans Homes and Lifestyles magazines. He is the only person he knows personally who has been interviewed in GQ magazine, albeit for calling Alan Richman a nasty name. He is not proud of that, incidentally. (Yes, he is.)

Robert’s maternal grandmother is responsible for his love of good food, and he has never since had fried chicken or homemade biscuits as good as hers. He developed his curiosity about restaurant cooking in part from the venerable PBS cooking show "Great Chefs" and has an extensive collection of cookbooks, many of which do not require coloring, and some of which have not been defaced.

Robert lives in Mid-City with his wife Eve and their three children, and is fond of receiving comments and emails. Please humor him.




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