November 25 was a good day.
We had a nice little morning inside with coffee and gingerbread pancakes, a football afternoon followed by a toasty walk before supper, and then a stunning sunset. Cleaning, prep, baking and roasting tasks sprinkled here and there — a reprieve, having the equivalent of only one and half arms.
Candles lit and Cava poured, we toasted to family and all we are thankful for; not least of which the Thanksgiving spread before us.
+ Heidi’s Kale and Olive Oil Mashed Potatoes with Fried Shallots and Parm — Two dishes normally be served solo become one. Layers and layers of flavor and texture.
+ Ina’s Roasted Brussels Sprouts — On the table both years now, this is always first to be finished.Top with browned orange butter for a boost. “How delicious is that?”
+ Cranberry Apple Orange and Pecan relish — An attempt to recreate Grandma M’s raw cranberry-nut relish. Tart and fresh, leftovers cozy up with oatmeal and pancakes very well!
+ Smoked Turkey Legs and Wings — We agreed the caveman-style entrée is our signature Thanksgiving offering from now on. The spicy, fruity brine is a must for the most tender and flavorful turkey legs. They looked marvelous on our new (enormous) platter.
+ Deep Dish Pear-Gruyère Pie — If you watched ‘Pushing Daisies’ during its too-short run on TV, or like us, are watching via Netflix, Charlotte Charles’ creation might sound familiar. Forget apple pie with cheddar on top; pear pie with a Gruyère-infused crust is where it’s at!
What began as a 12-pound turkey became two legs and two wings for brining and smoking, 4 1/2 pounds ground turkey breast and thigh meat, and nearly five quarts of turkey broth. We certainly put our bird to work stocking the fridge and freezer!
Smoker or grill at your disposal, I hope you can find a way to give this recipe a taste. Simply delicious. And the leftover wings made for a “wow”-worthy soup
How was your November 25?
Smoked Turkey Leg Brine [makes 1 gallon]
8 turkey legs, rinsed (or a combination of legs and wings totaling 8 pieces)
1 gal water (or 3 qts water + 1 qt apple cider)
1 c kosher salt
1/2 c brown sugar
3 unpeeled navel oranges, washed well and sliced thickly
3 unpeeled apples, washed well and cut into wedges
1/2 c thinly sliced fresh unpeeled ginger
6 cloves garlic, minced
15 whole cloves
6 bay leaves
In a large, nonreactive saucepan, stir together the water (and apple cider, if using), brown sugar and salt. Simmer on the stove, stirring occasionally, until sugar and salt are dissolved. Set aside and allow to come to room temperature.
Pour the brine into your brining container (we used a large, circular tupperware) and place it into the refrigerator to cool overnight. The brine must be between 35 and 40° F to safely and effectively brine the turkey.
Into the brining container with the chilled brine add the remaining ingredients. Drop the legs into the brine and soak 4 to 6 hours in the refrigerator. Remove legs, rinse lightly, drain and dry well with paper towels. Smoke as desired in a smoker or with your grill. (Tip: Hickory, pecan and alder woods are good with this brine).