Cook’s Corner

Chile-spiked, apple-brined turkey a taste sensation


Main Dish

Apple-Poblano Whole Roast Turkey

For the brine

8 cups apple cider

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1/3 cup kosher salt

2 tablespoons black peppercorns, crushed

1 jalapeño pepper, quartered lengthwise

For the turkey

1 (12-pound) organic fresh turkey

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1 teaspoon kosher salt

3/4 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper

1/4 teaspoon ground coriander

3 Gala apples, quartered

2 poblano chiles, quartered and seeded

1 cup cilantro leaves

Cooking spray

3 cups fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth, divided

2 tablespoons butter

2 cups chopped onion

5 garlic cloves, crushed

1/4 cup flour

1 cup apple cider

3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

Combine brine ingredients with 8 cups water and set aside.

Remove turkey giblets and neck; reserve. Trim excess fat. Place a turkey-sized oven bag inside a second bag to form a double thickness. Place bags in a large stockpot. Place turkey inside inner bag. Add brine. Secure bags with several twist ties. Refrigerate 12 to 24 hours.

Heat oven to 500 degrees. Remove turkey from bags; discard brine. Pat turkey dry. Starting at neck cavity, loosen skin from breast and drumsticks by inserting fingers, gently pushing between skin and meat.

Combine 1 tablespoon brown sugar, salt, oregano, cumin, black and red peppers and coriander in a small bowl. Rub spice mixture under loosened skin over flesh.

Place 1 apple quarter and 1 poblano quarter in the neck cavity; close skin flap. Arrange 5 apple quarters, 1 poblano quarter and 1 cup cilantro leaves in the body cavity. Secure legs with kitchen twine.

Arrange turkey, neck, and giblets on the rack of a roasting pan coated with cooking spray. Arrange remaining 6 apple quarters and 6 poblano quarters in bottom of roasting pan coated with cooking spray. Place rack with turkey in pan. Roast at 500 degrees for 30 minutes.

Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees (do not remove turkey from oven). Place a foil tent over turkey breast. Pour 3 cups water in bottom of pan.

Roast turkey at 350 for 40 minutes. Rotate turkey and baste with 3/4 cup broth. Roast for 30 minutes; rotate turkey. Baste with 3/4 cup broth. Roast 20 minutes or until a thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the thigh registers 165 degrees. Remove from oven.

Place turkey, breast side down, on a jelly-roll pan or cutting board. Let stand, covered, for 30 minutes.

Chop giblets. Discard neck. Strain pan drippings through a sieve into a bowl; discard solids.

Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion; sauté 5 minutes. Stir in reserved chopped giblets and garlic; sauté 2 minutes, stirring constantly.

Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup, and level with a knife. Sprinkle flour over onion mixture; sauté 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add drippings, remaining 1 1/2 cups broth, and 1 cup apple cider; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer until reduced to 3 cups (about 15 minutes). Strain through a sieve over a bowl, and discard solids. Stir in chopped cilantro and lime juice.

Discard turkey skin. Carve meat and serve with gravy. Makes 12 servings.

Per serving: 302 calories, 3.4 g fat (1.7 g saturated fat, 0.5 g monounsaturated fat, 0.8 g polyunsaturated fat), 154 mg cholesterol, 55 g protein, 9.7 g carbohydrate, 0.6 g fiber, 637 mg sodium.


Peach and Sage Turkey Gravy

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/4 finely minced shallots

2 teaspoons minced garlic

1/2 cup white wine vinegar

4 cups turkey stock or canned low-sodium chicken broth

3/4 cup peach preserves

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1/3 cup fresh sage leaves

Set a 2-quart saucepan over medium heat and add olive oil. Once oil is hot, add shallots and garlic and sauté, stirring often, until fragrant and lightly caramelized, about 1 minute. Add vinegar and cook until nearly reduced, about 1 minute. Add stock and preserves, and raise heat to high.

While stock is coming to boil, combine butter and flour in small bowl and, using back of spoon, blend to form smooth paste. Add paste to stock and use whisk to stir in, making sure it is well-incorporated.

Bring gravy to boil, season with salt and pepper, and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook until gravy has reduced by one quarter, about 20 minutes. Remove pan from heat and add sage leaves. Allow flavors to steep for about 3 minutes, and then strain and serve. Makes about 3 cups.

Per tablespoon: 33 calories (36 percent from fat), 1.3 g fat (0.4 g saturated, 0.6 g monounsaturated), 1.9 mg cholesterol, 0.6 g protein, 4.6 g carbohydrates, 0 fiber, 43 mg sodium.


S’more Bars

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1  1/3 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 (2.6-ounce) milk chocolate bars, or equivalent

1 1/2 cups marshmallow cream (from a jar)

Grease an 8-inch square baking pan. Heat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, beat butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. In a small bowl, whisk flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking powder and salt. Add to butter mixture and mix at a low speed until combined.

Press half the dough into an even layer in the bottom of the prepared pan. Place chocolate bars over dough. (Two king-sized Hershey’s bars fit perfectly side by side. If using other chocolate break to fit in a single layer no more than 1/4 inch thick.) Spread marshmallow cream on top with hot, wet spoon. Place remaining dough in a single layer on top.

Bake 30 to 35 minutes, until lightly browned. Cool completely before cutting into bars. Makes 3 dozen.

Per serving: 122 calories (30 percent from fat), 4.1 g fat (2.4 g saturated, 1 g monounsaturated), 13 mg cholesterol, 1.1 g protein, 20.4 g carbohydrates, 0.3 g fiber, 69 mg sodium.

Sleuth’s Corner

Q. Back in the ’80s a co-worker who came from Pittsburgh shared a recipe with me for scalloped potatoes that were the best I have ever had. Unfortunately I have lost the recipe. It had thin sliced potatoes and onions and a cheese sauce. All I remember is that it came from a cookbook that had the name Pittsburgh in the title. Can one of your readers help me find it?


Q. I have been making your Cuban turkey recipe for at least 20 years. My husband normally won’t eat turkey, so you saved our Thanksgivings with that recipe because it gave the meat a lot of flavor with the bacon and the sour oranges and all that garlicky butter. But this year we have to do things differently because he has had a heart attack and we must be careful what he eats. Do you have any ideas?

Joan L., Miami Shores

I highly recommend the recipe here from The New Way to Cook Light (Oxmoor House, $34.95), which produces a very juicy and flavorful turkey with a Southwestern flair. You soak the bird in an apple brine, then rub a spice mixture under the skin and roast. There are minimal fats added, and the skin is removed before serving. If you’re leary of poblano peppers, substitute a sweet variety.

The cookbook is one of the best I’ve found for those of us trying to eat more healthfully without compromising on flavor.

Q. Last year a coworker gave everyone S’more Bars as a holiday gift. They were amazing. I asked her for a recipe but she kept putting me off. Now she has moved to a different company. Is there a chance you’ve got the recipe?

Donna, Watertown, N.Y.

I bet your coworker didn’t want to admit how easy these are to make. It is more like putting together a puzzle than baking a cookie. The flavor certainly brings back memories of Girl Scout campouts where S’mores were the dessert of choice.

Turkey Gravy

One of the problems I’ve encountered when employing one of the popular brining methods is making a good gravy. The drippings tend to have way too much salt. So when I saw the recipe here for gravy made with peach preserves and fresh sage from Emeril Lagasse in the November-December issue of the Saturday Evening Post I couldn’t wait to try it.

Lagasse says those two ingredients “add a bold yet approachable flavor that’s perfect for fall.” The peach preserves give it a wonderful color as well.

The magazine also has Emeril’s recipe for a turkey roulade — a nice option for those planning a simple Thanksgiving for two.

Send questions and responses to or Food, 1 Herald Plaza, Miami, FL 33132. Personal replies are not possible.

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