When Larry and Rachel Gebaide of Tastebuds Catering in Davie, Fla., told me they had a recipe for roasting a 20-pound turkey safely and easily in two hours I was skeptical. But I was also intrigued.
Like most people, I have only one oven, which makes it pretty tough to bake homemade rolls, pies and stuffing and roast vegetables for Thanksgiving dinner while a big old turkey is hogging the space for six hours.
So I pulled a turkey out of the freezer - not a premium bird, but a self-basting one - let it thaw in the refrigerator for a couple of days, and then called some friends to come and watch the process and sample the result. I had a backup plan for Chinese takeout in case the method didn't work.
Two hours later, I was a believer. The turkey was evenly cooked through. It was moist, if possibly a bit less tender than a slow-roasted turkey. The method was safe, with no vats of sizzling oil from a deep fryer. The skin was crispy. The method even produced a delicious light gravy that was perfectly seasoned, requiring no effort beyond skimming fat from the pan juices.
The method evolved when the Gebaides started catering in 1995 on a tight budget, and learned too late that the used oven they had purchased only worked on broil. They had to adapt, and the two-hour roast turkey was born.
Learn from my mistake: My turkey was only 16 pounds, but because I was sure it would need at least the full two hours, I failed to watch it closely. At the two-hour mark it was at 170 degrees, so I over-roasted. I also realized too late how important it is to not leave a thick coating of the flour rub, as this burns. To avoid this, make sure the rinsed turkey is absolutely dry before rubbing, and use a pastry brush to remove excess.
And be careful: Because of the water, the pan will be quite heavy. Do not rely on a disposable aluminum pan unless you put a sturdy baking pan underneath. To reduce the weight, use a ladle to remove most of the pan juices before pulling it out of the oven.
Q: Fifteen years ago I got a recipe around the holidays for a cranberry relish made with jalapenos. I gave it out for gifts at Christmas and served it at Thanksgiving. I cannot find it anywhere. I am wondering if you can send it to me and also suggest you share with your readers and friends. It is excellent - sweet, with a little spice, just the way the holidays should be!
-Charlotte Smith, Macon, Ga.
A: The addition of jalapenos to the usual cranberry-orange combination really makes it pop. I like to keep it simple, but I've known cooks who add a teaspoon or so of ginger, cumin or ground coriander to the basic recipe. You could also add chopped pecans or apples or dried fruits and/or add a tablespoon or so of orange or hazelnut-flavored liqueur. Or make it a salsa by adding garlic, onion and cumin.
Q: Many years ago a wonderful Jewish lady told me about a brisket she made with cranberry sauce and onion that was moist and tender. I didn't ask if it was the jellied kind or the berried sauce. Any ideas? Thanks much.
-Sheila Bell, North Miami
A: This recipe has been around about as long as the grape jelly and chili sauce version, but seems particularly appropriate this year with Thanksgiving coinciding with the first night of Hanukkah. I think whole berry sauce makes a nicer presentation, but I'm sure jellied cranberry sauce would work. You can find a parve onion soup mix in the kosher section of the supermarket, or substitute finely chopped onions, salt and seasonings to taste if you keep kosher.
ST. HONORE PIE
Becky Gardner of Myrtle Beach, S.C., asked for help finding a recipe for a pie titled St. Honore that her grandmother loved ordering at a Charleston restaurant. Marlene Dixon, Bess W. Metcalf and Katharine Michaels all sent recipes, crediting Perditas, a restaurant that was considered the ultimate in Old Charleston fine dining during the 1960s and '70s. It closed in the 1980s.
"The story I've heard about the name is that the real Perditas during the British occupation was a bordello, and the madam got her name from the character in Shakespeare's 'A Winter's Tale'," wrote Michaels, in a 1978 book published by Benson & Hedges cigarettes titled "Recipes from 100 of the Greatest Restaurants."
Karl Boreau tells us the name almost certainly refers to St. Honore, patron saint of bakers and pastry chefs. Thanks also to Geraldine Amy, who found the cake recipe in her 1950 "Gourmet Cookbook."
TASTEBUDS CATERING'S 20-POUND ROAST TURKEY IN 2 HOURS
2 cups all-purpose flour
4 ounces granulated garlic
6 ounces kosher salt
Vegetable oil spray
Thaw turkey in refrigerator for 2 to 3 days. Remove gizzards and neck from turkey and rinse inside and out with cool water. Dry thoroughly with paper towels. Heat oven to 475 degrees. Whisk together in a bowl the flour, garlic, paprika and salt. Coat the bottom of a roasting pan large enough to hold the turkey comfortably with vegetable oil spray.
Rub the dried turkey with the flour mixture evenly and thoroughly on the outside only, making sure to lift and rub areas under the wings and drumsticks.
Place turkey in pan and add 4 cups of water to the pan - pour around the sides, not over the turkey. The water should be about an inch deep.
Place turkey in oven, uncovered.
Roast 30 minutes and add 1 more cup of warm water, this time pouring over the entire turkey to moisten. Return to oven.
Roast 20 minutes more and remove turkey from oven. Baste with natural juices from the bottom of the pan using a ladle. Return to oven.
Roast an additional 20 minutes and again baste turkey with natural juices from the bottom of the pan. At this point the ends of the turkey wings and drumsticks may start to turn darker. If so, wrap tips of the wings and exposed bone part of the drum sticks with aluminum foil. Return to oven.
Remove turkey from oven. Remove to a cutting board or to another greased roasting pan. Pour the drippings into a separate saucepan to be used for basting and to make a natural gravy. If you want to stuff the turkey now is the time. Use the extra skin to cover the opening. Baste the turkey with the drippings. Check the temperature with a thermometer placed in the deepest area, half way into the breast. It should read between 100 and 110 degrees at this point.
Lower oven temperature to 400 degrees. Return turkey to oven and check on the turkey every 10 to 15 minutes, basting and reading the temperature. When temperature reaches 155 to 160, it is done. Allow to stand before carving. Makes 20 servings.
Per serving: 328 calorie (26 percent calories from fat), 9 g fat (2.7 g saturated, 0 monounsaturated), 135 mg cholesterol, 52 g protein, 6.6 g carbohydrate, 0.2 g fiber, 772 mg sodium.
ST. HONORE PIE
1 baked 9-inch pastry shell
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
1/2 cup sugar, divided
11/2 cups milk
3 eggs, separated
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons brandy or rum
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup soft macaroon crumbs
1/2 cup pecans, finely chopped or chestnuts, finely chopped
1/3 cup raisins, chopped
2 tablespoons almonds, ground
1 cup fresh strawberries
1 cup whipping cream
Pecan halves for garnish
In a saucepan, combine gelatin and 1/4 cup of the sugar; add milk, slightly beaten egg yolks and salt. Cook and stir until mixture is slightly thickened and gelatin is dissolved. Stir in brandy and vanilla. Chill till partially set (about 30 to 40 minutes). Stir in macaroon crumbs, 1/2 cup pecans, raisins and almonds. In a mixer bowl, beat egg whites to soft peaks; gradually add remaining 1/4 cup sugar, beating to stiff peaks. Fold into gelatin mixture. Turn into prepared pastry shell. Chill until set. Slice strawberries and arrange on top of pie. Whip cream to soft peaks. Spoon on top and garnish with pecan halves. Makes 8 servings.
Per serving: 469 calories (55 percent calories from fat), 30 g fat (12.1 g saturated, 11 g monounsaturated), 115 mg cholesterol, 8.3 g protein, 42.3 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber, 251 mg sodium.
Q: I'm looking for a pumpkin roll recipe that has meringue in the cake batter; also there is whipped cream in the cream cheese filling. I've looked on the Internet and found only the traditional recipes. Hopefully someone can help me.
- S. Miller, Elyria, Ohio
CRANBERRY-ORANGE JALAPENO RELISH
12-ounce bag fresh or frozen cranberries
1 large unpeeled orange, quartered, seeds removed
1/4 unpeeled lemon, seeds removed, cut in half
2 to 3 jalapeno peppers, seeds and stems removed (to taste)
1 cup sugar (about)
1/2 bunch cilantro, leaves only, chopped
Place about half the cranberries, the orange and lemon pieces and the jalapenos in a food processor and pulse until finely and uniformly chopped - do not let mixture puree. Remove to a glass or other non-metal bowl. Chop the remaining cranberries about 4 to 5 times until coarsely chopped. Add the sugar and stir thoroughly. Let stand 5 minutes and then taste to be sure no additional sugar is needed. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes and up to a week. Just before serving, stir in the cilantro. Makes about 3 cups, 12 servings.
Per serving: 84 calories 1 percent calories from fat), 0 fat, 0 cholesterol, 0.2 g protein, 22.2 g carbohydrate, 1.8 g fiber, 1 mg sodium.
PERFECT CRANBERRY BRISKET
1 beef brisket, about 6 pounds
2 (14-ounce) cans whole cranberry sauce
2 (1-ounce) envelopes dry onion soup mix
Brown the brisket in a Dutch oven or other oven-proof dish with a lid. In a bowl, stir together the dry onion soup mix with the cranberry sauce. Pour over the brisket, put on the lid (or cover with aluminum foil if lid does not fit tightly). Bake at 350 degrees for 2 hours, then remove the lid and bake another hour. Let the brisket rest about 15 minutes. Slice and serve with the sauce. Makes 10 servings.
Per serving: 479 calories (26 percent calories from fat), 14 g fat (5 g saturated, 7.4 g monounsaturated), 182 mg cholesterol, 58.6 g protein, 30.6 g carbohydrate, 1.2 g fiber, 390 mg sodium.
(Send questions and responses to LindaCiceroCooks@aol.com or Food, The Miami Herald, 3511 NW 91st Ave., Doral, FL 33172. Replies cannot be guaranteed.)