It’s been just over a week since Thanksgiving and I’m just about recovered from 17 hours of cooking over three days for thirty minutes of consumption. Clearly I have issues, but once again, it was totally worth it and I hope that you and yours had a fantastic day, however you chose to spend it.
Last year I tried my hand at preparing turkey three ways by going all Dexter on my turkey. It was so well received that my wife asked if I could make this our family Thanksgiving tradition after over five years of major overhauls to the holiday menu. I agreed in principle to prepare turkey three ways, but being me I couldn’t leave well enough alone.
Thanksgiving in our house is an intimate affair, as I usually only have four to six people to feed. So, it gives me the ability to go a little insane, culinarily speaking. If I had to cook for more than that, I would in all likelihood revert to a more traditional, family style meal.
The madness started a month or two before Thanksgiving. I wanted to keep the same three ways I prepared the turkey, but I wanted to be a little more playful in how I presented the meal. I decided that my three preparations would be presented to my family as breakfast (turkey sausage served on a waffle with a cranberry maple syrup), lunch (turkey confit with a roasted beet salad and a pumpkin seed vinaigrette), and dinner (turkey wellington served with green beans, duck fat fingerling potatoes, and, of course, cranberry sauce).
I bought new plates just for the day. I labored over every detail, every ingredient. I wrote a game plan covering the three days of preparation it would require to make every element of every dish from scratch. Finally, I made a list, checked it twice and then spent the GDP of a small island nation at Whole Paycheck.
It was a crazy idea, crazy delicious. I’ll probably never do anything like that again, but it was so worth it just to hear to oohs and aahs as I presented everyone with their dinner plates that night.
And, of the three presentations, my clear favorite was lunch. I’ve recently become enamored with beets and combined with the turkey confit, pumpkin seed vinaigrette, and pomegranate seeds it was a wonderfully flavorful and playful dish that I will likely make again all on its own.
It is a little time consuming to prepare, but this is something you can prepare in advance for a crowd or make a lot of and have as leftovers a few times.
If you’re looking for something new and interesting, I hope you’ll consider giving this a try.
Turkey Confit with Roasted Beet Salad
Cure (about 6 turkey legs and wings)
- 1 cup kosher salt
- 25 black peppercorns, crushed
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 2 teaspoons ground white pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 3 bay leaves, crushed
- 2 teaspoons dried thyme
- Cured turkey legs and wings
- 6 to 8 cloves garlic, smashed
- 1/2 tablespoon cracked black peppercorns
- 4 to 5 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- Turkey stock, to cover
- 2 bunches of red beets (about six in total)
- 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
- 2 tablespoons shallots, roughly chopped
- zest and juice of one orange
- kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste
- olive oil
Pumpkin Seed Vinaigrette
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 tablespoons shallot, finely minced
- 1 clove garlic, finely minced
- 1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
- 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
- 2/3 cup canola oil
- 2 tablespoons pumpkin seed oil
- 2 tablespoons toasted pumpkin seeds
- Mix the cure ingredients together and set aside; wash the turkey legs and wings and pat dry
- Liberally apply the cure, wrap tightly in plastic, then refrigerate overnight, or up to 12 hours
- Remove from refrigerator, unwrap and wash off cure under cold water
- Place the turkey in a cooking vessel large enough to hold them, then add garlic, cracked peppercorns, sprigs of thyme, and bay leaves; cover with turkey stock (or, if you want to be more traditional, use canola oil)
- Put in 300 degree oven for about 3 hours until cooked through and falling apart
- While turkey confit is in the oven, begin prepping the beets. Scrub the beets clean, cut off the tops and bottoms so they sit flat and arrange on a sheet of aluminum foil.
- Drizzle olive oil over the beets; add the garlic, shallots, orange zest and juice, and salt and pepper, then wrap them up in the aluminum foil and put them in the oven for about one and half to two hours, or until fork tender
- In a nonreactive bowl, add the honey, kosher salt, shallot, garlic, orange juice, and white wine vinegar and whisk to combine.
- Begin drizzling in the canola oil and whisk rapidly until an emulsion is achieved, then add the pumpkin seed oil, and finally the pumpkin seeds
- Set the dressing aside until ready to dress the beets (the dressing will separate, simply whisk back together before using it)
- When the turkey is done, remove it from the liquid, separate the meat from the fat and bone. Shred the meat with two forks, just as you would do with pulled pork; add a few tablespoons of the hot liquid to the shredded meat, cover with foil, and set aside
- Allow the beets to cool slightly, then while running them under cold water remove the outer layer and dice (gloves are a good idea, as your hands will turn purplish red otherwise)
- After the diced beets have cooled slightly, dress them with some of the pumpkin seed vinaigrette; let the roasted beet salad rest for 10-15 minutes, then taste and dress again with the vinaigrette, if necessary, to taste
- Plate this by spooning a serving of beets onto the middle of a plate, then arrange some of the confit on top of the beets and garnish, if desired, with pomegranate seeds