Saffron Rice Pilaf

  • 1  (5 ounce) package saffron yellow rice mix
  • ½ red bell pepper, diced
  • ½ cup currants or raisins
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh thyme

Prepare the saffron rice according to the package directions.  Stir in the bell pepper, currants/raisins and thyme.  Heat through and serve with the chicken.    Coming across this recipe again has reminded me of how good and simple it is!  I think I know what I’ll be making for dinner tonight…..

Maple-Balsamic Chicken with Saffron Rice Pilaf

  • 8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (can substitute 4 boneless, skinless breasts if you like)
  • ¾ tsp sea salt
  • ¾ tsp paprika
  • ¾ tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 can chicken broth (14 ½ oz)
  • 1/3  cup maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar (did you know that the quality of balsamic vinegar is denoted by the number of grape leaves on the label?  Who knew!?)
  • ½ tsp freshly ground pepper
  • ¼ tsp ground red pepper (cayenne)
  • 3 tbsp. chunky peanut butter

Sprinkle the chicken evenly with salt, paprika, and thyme.  Saute in hot oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat for 2 minutes on each side or until golden brown.  Stir in chicken broth and next 4 ingredients and bring to a boil.  Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 15 minutes.  Remove chicken to a serving platter and keep warm.  Reserve liquid in skillet.  Whisk in peanut butter to the reserved liquid and boil over medium-high heat, uncovered, for 5 minutes or until sauce is thickened.  Spoon evenly over the chicken.

Because I like to keep things simple, I use packaged saffron yellow rice mix.  You can find this either in the ethnic foods section of most grocery stores or in the rice/beans/boxed dinners section.

This Year’s Stuffing Recipe

  • 1 package Speckled Hen Farm Apple Brats (you might like to substitute the Tart Cherry Sausage) uncooked, casings removed
  • 8 cups ciabatta or French bread (about a pound) cut into 1 ½ inch cubes
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 6 stalks celery, coarsely chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 2 cups nut and dried fruit trail mix (without coconut) coarsely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon fresh sage, finely chopped
  • ½ cup parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 cup chicken or turkey broth
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter to top the stuffing after placing in the baking pan

Leave the bread cubes out overnight on a cookie sheet so they can dry out.  Turn once so they dry evenly.  In a large skillet, heat oil and 3 tbsp of the butter on medium heat.  Saute the onion until nicely softened.  Add the celery  and continue sautéing until the celery is just crisp-tender.  Season with salt and pepper and transfer to a large bowl.

In the same pan, brown the sausage for about 5 minutes.  Let it cool and then add it to the vegetables.  Add the trail mix, fresh herbs and bread cubes.  Mix to combine.  Slowly add the broth, mixing carefully, making sure the stuffing is moist but not too compact.  Taste and add more salt and pepper if necessary.

If not stuffing the turkey (which I and the USDA do not recommend) butter a 10 cup ovenproof baking dish and transfer the stuffing into it.  Pat the top with butter and cover with foil.

Bake in a preheated oven at 375 for about 45 minutes.  Remove the foil and bake another 15 minutes until the top is brown.

A Favorite Stuffing Recipe

  • 1lb of Speckled Hen Breakfast Sausage
  • ¾ cup finely diced onion
  • 1 ½ cup chopped celery
  • ¾ cup butter, melted (plus enough butter to lightly sauté the onions and celery)
  • 8 cups soft bread cubes
  • 3 teaspoons poultry seasoning
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper

Lightly saute the onion and celery until just tender.  Place all of the ingredients into a bowl and mix together. Taste, maybe season with a little salt if you think it needs it.  Place in a lightly buttered baking dish, cover with aluminum foil and bake in a preheated oven at 375 degrees for about 45 minutes. Uncover and bake for another 15 minutes until the top is lightly browned.

Honey-Brined Smoked turkey

  • 1 gallon hot water
  • 1 pound kosher salt
  • 2 quarts vegetable broth
  • 1 pound honey
  • 1 (7-pound) bag of ice
  • 1 (15 to 20-pound) turkey, with giblets removed
  • Vegetable oil, for rubbing turkey

Combine the hot water and the salt. Stir until the salt dissolves. Stir in the vegetable broth and the honey. Add the ice and stir. Place the turkey in the brine.  If the bird isn’t completely submerged, plan on flipping it about halfway through.  Brine overnight, up to 12 hours.

Remove the turkey from the brine and dry thoroughly. Rub the bird thoroughly with the vegetable oil.

Heat the grill to 400 degrees F.

Using a double thickness of heavy-duty aluminum foil, build a smoke bomb. Place a cup of hickory wood chips in the center of the foil and gather up the edges, making a small pouch. Leave the pouch open at the top. Set this directly on the charcoal or on the metal bar over the gas flame. Set the turkey over indirect heat, insert a probe thermometer into the thickest part of the breast meat, and set the alarm for 160 degrees F. Close the lid and cook for 1 hour.   After 1 hour check the bird; if the skin is golden brown, cover with aluminum foil and continue cooking. Also, after 1 hour, replace wood chips with second cup.

Once the bird reaches 160 degrees F, remove from grill, cover with aluminum foil, and allow to rest for 1 hour. Carve and serve.  This recipe is from Alton Brown.  I love him!

Maple Brined Turkey

  •  8 quarts water
  • 2 cups kosher salt
  • 2 cups pure maple syrup
  • 2 bunches fresh thyme
  • 6 bay leaves
  • 4 large garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 3 tablespoons black peppercorns
  • 1 Turkey

Place all the ingredients, except the turkey, in a large pot and bring to a boil, stirring until the salt dissolves. Remove from the heat and let cool.  Line a large stockpot (or a new 5 gallon bucket) with an unscented garbage bag and put the turkey into the pot. Pour the cooled brine over the bird, close and seal the bag, and refrigerate overnight (I leave mine in the garage).Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Remove the turkey from the brine, dry well, and discard the brine.   I like to slather the bird with a butter that complements the brine, so for this recipe I would make a maple butter (whip butter and add maple syrup until the butter “glistens” and is easily spreadable).  Using your fingers, rub the turkey UNDER the skin with the maple butter.  You can separate the skin from the meat at the breast and over the back and push your hand as far in as possible to place butter on the bird.  Once you’ve coated the bird as well as you can under the skin, rub the skin with a little bit of the maple butter, too.

Roast the turkey as you normally would, approximately 15 minutes a pound. Let stand for 30 minutes before carving.

Buttermilk Brine for Turkey or Chicken

  • 15lb turkey
  • 1c Kosher salt
  • 1 gallon cold buttermilk
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 4 cloves garlic crushed
  • 2 tablespoons whole peppercorns, crushed

12 hours before you plan to cook your turkey,  mix all ingredients together  in a container (I’ve used a new 5 gallon bucket for this) and then submerge your turkey.  Make sure you remove the giblets and neck from inside the bird before you brine.  Place in a cool place, such as the garage.  Remove the bird from the brine 1 hour before you plan to place into the oven to let it warm to room temperature. Cook as you normally would.  This recipe came from Marilou Suszko’s  Farms and Foods of Ohio cookbook.  Speckled Hen was featured in the poultry section!  I used this recipe last year and I really liked it.