Posted on November 23, 2010
Our talented and gracious chef Sharon Wetteland has created this delectable recipe for our Thanksgiving feast. Enjoy!
Salad Girl Pomegranate Pear Stuffed Turkey
I prepared a 12# turkey. You will need to increase the amount of ingredients for a larger bird.
1 fresh free range turkey
1 large ripe organic pear
¼ cup pomegranate seeds
¼ cup chopped onion
6 -8 sprigs fresh thyme leaves
¼ cup lightly toasted walnuts or pecans, chopped
About 4 cups cubed, dried or lightly toasted bread (I used Ciabatta)
8 ounces Salad Girl Organic Pomegranate Pear Dressing
3 ounces butter, melt 1 ounce and 2 ounces separately
½ to 1 cup chicken stock
Remove any giblets from inside the bird. Rinse lightly and drain. Pat the outside dry, and season the interior with salt and freshly ground pepper. Loosen the skin of the bird by carefully lifting the skin from the breast and sliding your hand between the skin and the meat. Reserve 4 ounces of the salad dressing for the stuffing. Pour the remainder under the skin of the turkey breast on each side.
Cut a pear into 6 slices, each about 1/4” thick without removing the stem or seeds. Slide 2 of the middle pear slices under the skin on each side. Add a couple of thyme sprigs under the skin on each side as well. These will show through the skin when the turkey is fully roasted as well as add flavor and moisture to the breasts. Note: At this point the turkey could be refrigerated overnight, stuffed the next day, and roasted.
Rough chop the remaining pear pieces, the onion, nuts, and the toasted bread. Combine these ingredients with the pomegranate seeds, 1 ounce of the melted butter, and a couple of sprigs of chopped fresh thyme. Toss with enough of the stock to make a lightly moist dough. Don’t overdo the stock. As the bird roasts, juices from the bird will add moisture to the stuffing. Taste the stuffing and adjust the seasonings.
Stuff the inside of the bird as well as the neck cavity. Do not pack the stuffing. It will expand as the bird roasts and the stuffing heats through. Once the bird is stuffed, brush the remaining butter over the exterior of the bird covering all of the surfaces. Cover the bird and roast approximately 20 minutes per pound. In the last hour, remove the cover and allow the bird to brown, basting occasionally. When the internal temperature of the bird is 165 degrees (check the thickest part of the meat but away from the bone as well as the center of the stuffing) pull the bird from the oven and allow it to rest for 15 minutes. The bird will continue to cook slightly, juices will redistribute in the meat, and the temperature will rise further.
Notes on ingredients:
Turkey: If you are still buying rock solid, frozen, industrial-style turkey, you are missing out. There is nothing like the flavor of a never frozen, free-range, organic turkey. In some areas, you can even find Heritage breeds. This is turkey that tastes like turkey, rather than the bland, injected, imitation we have come to expect from giant commercial producers.
Fresh vs. Dried Herbs: You can use either fresh or dried herbs in most recipes. Just remember that dried herbs are more concentrated, and you will not need to use as much (think raisins vs. grapes). Rubbing the herbs vigorously before adding them releases the oils and opens up the flavor. I grow herbs indoors and dry herbs from the summer garden, but better grocery stores now feature a variety of fresh and dried organic herbs.
Real Bread: I use only breads made without bromated flour or chemical ‘dough conditioners’. They taste better, smell better, have real texture, and are better for you. In this recipe, I used Ciabatta. Focaccia is another great choice. Whatever you use, cut and dry the bread overnight or toast it in the oven to dry it out. Dried or toasted bread holds its texture in stuffings and absorbs all of those wonderful flavors as it bakes.
Pop Up Timer? These are designed to react at 180 degrees or more giving you a dry-as-a-bone turkey breast. Buy a good stem thermometer. There is no blood remaining in poultry at 165 degrees, but remember to take the stuffing into account. Always take your temperature in several locations including the thickest part of the meat as well as the center of the stuffing.
HOLIDAYS by Sharon Wetteland
When I was growing up in a house with 8 siblings, the holidays were, well, mayhem. Aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents would all collide for the family feast — grandfather at the head of the table feeding the dog in secret and younger children at the dreaded ‘kids table’ in the adjacent room.
This was the classic Norman Rockwell Midwestern feast: potatoes slathered in butter and cream, bowls brimming with vegetables, cranberry sauce, and the requisite Jello salad. The table was enormous, the turkey the size of a small child, roasted until the pop-up timer told us it was overdone, and the Nebraska football game would soon be the center of attention.
Things are a little quieter these days. My two children are in their 30′s. There are no grandchildren on the horizon, and the table is more likely populated with friends and neighbors than extended family. The table now includes vegetarian entrees as well, and instead of, “boil ‘em and butter ‘em” style vegetables. You are more likely to see a tagine of Moroccan spiced vegetables or a variety of roasted root vegetables tossed in Salad Girl Organic Crisp Apple Maple Dressing with a sprinkle of cinnamon.