Thanksgiving Dinner Dry Run

Turkey Wellington | Thanksgiving Test Run | Digital Dads
Another year, another quest to find a Thanksgiving meal I want to actually stick with for the long haul. Last year I wrote about how I’m not one for the traditional Thanksgiving with a large, majestic turkey sitting in all of its roasted glory at the center of my holiday table. Having tried osso bucco style turkey legs and a roulade in recent years, I decided to take things in a different direction and try my hand at turkey two ways.

The first of my two way turkey feast would be to confit the legs and thighs, so when I pick up my turkey this year I won’t be applying a dry brine to it like I normally do. Rather, I will be butchering it down, seasoning the legs and thighs skin on with a light overnight cure before subjecting them to a very long, slow bath in some duck fat in my oven. At the same time I will roast the carcass and the bones so that I can make a turkey stock or demi glace.

The second act of my holiday meal will be to turn the turkey breasts into turkey wellington by carefully rolling them with layers of proscuitto and a sausage and cornmeal stuffing before covering it all up in puff pastry.

Since we will be having a small audience at Thanksgiving this year I’m keeping the sides simple with some garlic sauteed haricot vert, parmesan mascarpone mashed potatoes and, of course, cranberry sauce. However, in keeping with the “two ways” theme, I’ll be offering two very different cranberry sauces. In addition to my spiced cranberry sauce that my family insists on every year, I’ve also devised a more savory cranberry and hard cider reduction sauce, as I thought it would pair better with the confit.

While I have no qualms about using my family as guinea pigs to entertain my every culinary whim, I do like to do a practice run of things to give myself a chance to test out my recipes and ideas so that I don’t have a Thanksgiving day calamity. Earlier this week I tested both my turkey wellington and cranberry and hard cider reduction recipes and was for the most part was pleased with the results.

I wasn’t at my most graceful when I rolled up my test turkey wellington and I used my grandmother’s Italian stuffing in place of the cornbread stuffing I intend to use on Thanksgiving, but the final product was very close to what I had originally envisioned. Plus, it tasted great.

There was a split opinion on the cranberry and hard cider reduction sauce. My wife liked it, but would have preferred a more traditional cranberry sauce with the turkey wellington. Personally, I enjoyed the more pronounced tartness and acidity that the reduction sauce brought to the wellington even though I had intended it to dress the turkey confit.

Either way you sauce it, I know it is going to be another great Thanksgiving in our house.  From my family to yours I wish you all the best for a great holiday.

Turkey Wellington

Software

  • 1 boneless turkey breast
  • 18 slices of proscuitto (or ham, or pancetta)
  • Stuffing or dressing recipe of choice
  • 1 sheet puff pastry
  • egg wash

Assemblage

  1. Place a cookie sheet in your over and preheat to 350 degrees
  2. On a sheet of parchment or wax paper, create two overlapping rows of proscuitto to form the base for the internal wellington roll
  3. Spread a layer of your stuffing or dressing recipe of choice on top of the sheet of proscuitto leaving about an inch on all sides
  4. Lay the boneless turkey breast on top of the stuffing with the thinner ends slightly overlapping to make the thickness as uniform as possible
  5. Using the parchment or wax paper for leverage, roll the layers up until you can seal one end of the sheet of proscuitto with the other
  6. Dust your cutting board or countertop with some flour and roll out the puff pastry sheet until it is big enough to wrap around your proscuitto and stuffing encased turkey breast
  7. Place the turkey breast roll a few inches from the start of the puff pastry closest to you and roll until the puff pastry overlaps
  8. Beat one egg with a few drops of water to make an egg wash, using a pastry brush add a thin layer of the egg wash to the seams and the ends as you tuck and pinch them closed
  9. Remove the cookie sheet you’ve been warming up in the oven as it preheats, place a sheet of parchment paper on top and then add your turkey wellington roll
  10. Apply a thin coat of the egg wash to the entire roll and place in the center rack for 40 to 45 minutes
  11. Check on things after 20 to 25 minutes and tent the turkey wellington with aluminum foil so that it doesn’t burn
  12. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 5 to 10 minutes, then cut into slices, garnish and serve

Cranberry Hard Cider Reduction

Software

  • 1 bag of cranberries, washed and picked through
  • 1 12 oz bottle of hard apple cider
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon canola (or other neutral) oil
  • 1 tablespoon finely minced shallots
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Assemblage

  1. In a medium saucepan heat the oil, then add the shallots and cook for three to five minutes
  2. Add the washed and picked through cranberries and cook on medium high until they begin popping open, adding splashes of the water, if necessary
  3. After the cranberries have reduced down, turn up the heat and pour in the bottle of hard cider
  4. Give the cider a minute or so to burn of the alcohol, then add the sugar and sprigs of thyme
  5. Turn the heat to medium low and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring regularly
  6. Using an immersion blender, or transferring to stand blender, puree the reduction and add any water, if necessary
  7. Strain through a sieve or a fine mesh strainer and return to the sauces pan to either reduce further or to keep the sauce warm until ready to serve

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PJ Mullen is a stay at home dad, husband, amateur chef, craft beer enthusiast, prolific air drummer and the Stig in a minivan. Currently in between blogs, PJ has been littering the Internet with his drivel since 2006 when he started a wordpress.com account and blogged about a home renovation project. That proved to be a gateway drug to self-hosting where he went on to blog about football, his life as a stay at home dad and his culinary adventures. While he chooses a new domain to sully, he can be found here at Digital Dads writing about food and craft beer. He was a member of the Bumble Bee Foods "Bee Squad" from 2011 to 2012, contributed to Man of the House, was a member of the Shared Tastes Panel at Ready Set Eat, has worked with several brands including Sony, RedEnvelope, Conair, Lands End and Baby Brezza, and won the 2010 Perdue Verifiably Good Video Contest.

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