With less than a week left for the American Thanksgiving celebration, many of us are looking for ways to bring turkey meat with all the delightful trimmings into our special meal.
Of course, my newly released book ‘Spice Up Your Celebration’ makes it easier to cook for such occasions; offering detailed step-wise directions for turkey and holiday meat recipes, as well as celebration worthy appetizers, sides and desserts. The cookbook is filled with value at $3.99 and globally available in an easy portable e-book format, for use on any electronic media; plus you can print out the recipes as required.
Now, you’ll know my love for experimentation with food and giving modern twists to old favorites. However, when it comes to Thanksgiving, I’m a bit of a purist. I like the rustic traditional look-n-feel of this special autumn celebration, which makes each of us take a moment out of our lives ‘just to be thankful.’
This time, my new Californian lifestyle has inspired me to lighten things up with a fresh citrus and mint flavored marinade for the Thanksgiving bird. Accompanying moist slices of turkey breast is my signature cranberry sauce, lightly spiced with whole Indian spices, a hint of ginger and fresh mint.
Wish all my readers a very Happy Thanksgiving…Even if you’re not in America, this is a great day to take a moment to pause, look around at our loved ones, family and friends, and express gratitude for all that we are fortunate to have in our lives.
- 12-14 lb whole turkey
- 1 cup mint leaves
- ½ oz (about 1 cup) cilantro leaves and thin stems
- 2 oz (about ½ cup) roughly chopped red onion
- 1-2 Thai or Serrano green chili pepper, based on size and desired spice levels
- 1 teaspoon grated ginger
- 4-6 (1 oz) garlic cloves, peeled
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- 1½ teaspoon cracked black pepper
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt (less if using table salt)
- ½ teaspoon brown sugar (refined sugar is also fine)
- 1/3 cup lemon juice
- ¼ cup orange juice
- 1 cup white wine
- 1 cup chicken stock or water
- 1 lemon or lime, quartered
- 1 orange, quartered
- ½ medium onion, cut in quarters
- Sprigs of mint leaves and cilantro leaves
- Canola oil and ½ teaspoons each of salt & cracked black pepper, to rub over turkey skin
- (Recipe can be doubled, if required)
- 2 cups fresh cranberries
- 1 teaspoon canola oil
- 3 whole cloves
- 1 cinnamon stick, 1 inch long
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons regular sugar
- 1 tablespoon chopped mint leaves
- Pinch of salt
- Wash the turkey well, inside and outside, and pat it dry completely; a dry turkey makes it easier to spread the marinade.
- In a mini food processor, grind all the ingredients for the turkey marinade to a very finely chopped consistency. (It doesn't have to be a smooth paste.)
- Gently loosen the skin from the turkey; the back of a spoon works well with the rounded side up against the skin. Smear the citrus, spices and herbs marinade under the skin on the meat, covering the meat as evenly as possible, and then spread remaining marinade over the outside of the skin. Cover and refrigerate the turkey for 2-3 hours (overnight is best.)
- Preheat the oven to 400F.
- Prepare the turkey pan by pouring white wine and chicken stock in the pan along with orange and lemon halves, onion quarters and herbs.
- Prepare the turkey by stuffing the cavity of the turkey with quartered lemons and onions, as well as slices of ginger and whole unpeeled garlic cloves to absorb ‘nasty’ juices from inside the bird. Tie legs together with kitchen twine to close the cavity. (Discard lemon/onion, etc. when the turkey has finished cooking.)
- Rub canola oil over the skin along with ½ teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Pour the remaining marinade into bottom of the turkey pan.
- First, cook the turkey breast-side down, and flip the turkey over about 40 minutes into the cook time. Since the turkey legs take longer to cook, this step helps the breast stay moist.
- Start cooking the turkey at 400F for the first 40 minutes to seal in the juices of the bird. Reduce oven temperature to 325F for the remaining cooking time to let the bird cook slower, which makes the inside meat more tender. Baste the turkey with pan drippings intermittently.
- The turkey is done when the thickest part of the breast registers 160F on a meat thermometer. Once cooked, cover the turkey with foil and let it rest for 15-30 minutes. (Note: Recommended temperature for turkey breast is 165F for safe consumption, but I prefer to pull it out at 160F for a moister outcome; turkey continues to cook further on standing.)
- To make the Lightly Spiced Cranberry Sauce: In a saucepan on a medium low flame, heat the canola oil and whole cloves, cinnamon stick. In a minute, the whole spices will have infused the oil. Then add cranberries, brown and white sugar, mint leaves and pinch of salt along with 1 cup of water; cook for 7-10 minutes (add more water only if required for cooking). Once it reaches a thick sauce-like consistency, turn off the flame. Keep in mind that the sauce will thicken further upon cooling. Discard the cinnamon stick and whole cloves prior to serving.
- Lightly spiced cranberry sauce makes an ideal accompaniment to slices of moist turkey breast arranged on a platter.