Monday, December 01, 2003

Thanksgiving has come and gone and there is STILL turkey left in the fridge! We brined a 20 lb turkey for 24 hours in 3 gallons of water, 2 cups salt, 2 cups dark rum, cayanne pepper, and cilantro. We then cooked it over low heat on the gas grill for three hours and it was just as tender as can be. I am a brining fan from now on!
I cooked a lot of food over several days and so there was no real stress about 10 people for dinner. I found a wonderful dried cranberry and orange yeast bread and tweaked it a bit to make it my own. Greg declared it his new favorite and wants me to make loaves for each of his family members for Christmas presents (I also have to make chocolate almond bark by request for his sisters) So the recipe for the bread is as follows:

3 cups (or more) bread flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 envelopes quick-rising dry yeast
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup milk
2 large eggs
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted, hot
1 1/2 tablespoons orange zest
Juice from one orange
1/3 cup (about) hot water (120°F to 130°F)
1 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans

1 large egg, beaten to blend (for glaze)

Stir 3 cups flour, sugar, yeast and salt in large bowl to blend. Add milk, 2 eggs, melted butter and orange zest and juice and stir vigorously until well blended. Gradually stir in enough hot water to form soft, slightly sticky dough. Transfer dough to floured work surface. Knead dough until smooth and slightly tacky but not sticky, adding more flour if necessary, about 7 minutes. Knead in dried cranberries 1/3 cup at a time; then knead in pecans. Form dough into ball.

Oil large bowl. Add dough to bowl, turning to coat with oil. Cover bowl with plastic wrap, then towel. Let dough rise in warm draft-free area until doubled in volume, about 1 1/2 hours.

Lightly oil heavy large baking sheet. Punch down dough. Turn dough out onto floured surface. Divide dough into 4 equal pieces; then divide 1 dough piece into 3 equal pieces and reserve. Using palms of hands, roll out each of remaining 3 large pieces on work surface to 13-inch-long ropes. Braid ropes together. Tuck ends under and pinch together. Transfer braid to prepared baking sheet. Roll out each of reserved 3 small dough pieces to 10-inch-long ropes. Braid ropes together. Tuck ends under and pinch together. Brush large braid with some of egg glaze. Place small braid atop center of large braid. Brush small braid with some of egg glaze. Let rise uncovered in warm area until almost doubled in volume, about 1 hour 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 325°F. Brush loaf again with egg glaze. Bake until loaf is deep golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped on bottom, about 45 minutes. Transfer loaf to rack and cool at least 45 minutes before slicing. (Can be prepared ahead. Cool completely. Wrap tightly in foil and freeze up to 2 weeks. Uncover and thaw at room temperature.)

Makes 1 loaf.

Other highlights of the Turkey day feast were the ginger candied carrots and butternut squash. MM MMM MMM. I cut baby carrots and butternut squash in to bite sized pieces and sauteed with butter, fresh orange juice, fresh ginger, and salt and pepper..the results were great!
That along with traditional whole cranberry sauce, a good zucchini bread and the spiced pumpkin soup that is elsewhere on this site made a great dinner. Others brought other dishes, so the feast was a sight to behold.
Til next time!