I love planning for Thanksgiving. Every year I buy all the cooking magazines I can find to come up with new recipes for turkey, stuffing, side dishes and dessert. Sometimes I bring new cookbooks into the mix, too. This year I’m doing things a bit differently as I’ve chosen to find recipes that will use up food I may already have in my pantry, freezer and refrigerator,
Why turkey breast and not a whole turkey?
This year’s turkey recipe was chosen to use up some of the Dijon mustard that’s crowing my refrigerator door. It’s based on a Betty Crocker recipe that I found in Recipe.com magazine. With a few tweaks, I’ve changed the turkey recipe to work with my food sensitivities – agave nectar instead of honey, for example. I’ll also be smoking instead of grilling my turkey for optimum yummy goodness.
I decided to make a turkey breast this year instead of a whole turkey on the off chance that it would just be me and the kids at the Thanksgiving table. It wasn’t until a week ago that I learned my husband is flying in from his new job in Massachusetts! Also, my mother in law is coming up from Colorado Springs instead of going to see her other son in California. It’s a small group, but perfect for the amount of cooking I want to do.
What else is on the Thanksgiving menu?
I’m also serving:
- Holly Clegg’s easy, no cook cranberry sauce as I already had a batch in my freezer.
- Healthier Cherry Cornbread Stuffing based on a recipe from the Mirassou Winery’s website. (I’m also serving their Pinot Noir wine.)
- Brussels Sprouts with Bacon, Garlic and Shallots from Cooking Light magazine. This recipe is very similar to Mario Batali’s Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta I featured several year ago in my review of The Fantastic Mr. Fox.
- Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Caramelized Onions from Better Homes and Gardens. I’ll be substituting a buttery spread for the butter, coconut milk for the cow’s milk, and leaving out the sour cream entirely.
- Mixed Mushroom Skillet Gravy from Every Day with Rachael Ray magazine. I’ll be substituting a buttery spread for the butter, using homemade chicken broth from my freezer, and using brown rice flour to keep it gluten free.
- For dessert, I’m using the package of frozen, premade gluten free pie crusts that were in my freezer and filling them with Food Network’s basic pumpkin pie recipe. I’m using the no fat evaporated milk that’s already in my cupboard for that one and the ricotta that’s already in my refrigerator for their Pumpkin-Ricotta Pie variation. I’m also going to make Egg Free Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Cookies for my daughter, Lucie to use up some of the organic shortening, chocolate chips and flour I already have on hand.
What are you cooking up for Thanksgiving?
Smoked Agave-Dijon Brined Turkey Breast
- 11 cups cold water
- 1 cup agave nectar
- 1/2 cup Dijon mustard
- 1/3 cup kosher salt
- 1 bone-in whole turkey breast (5 to 6 pounds), thawed if frozen
- 3 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon dried marjoram leaves
- 1 teaspoon ground mustard
- 3/4 teaspoon garlic power
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- In 6-quart container or stockpot, stir water, agave nectar, Dijon mustard and salt until honey and salt are dissolved. Add turkey breast to brine mixture. Cover.
- Refrigerate at least 12 hours but no longer than 24 hours.
- Heat smoker to 225 -240 degrees F and be sure to have enough smoking wood to keep the smoke going for about 4 hours or so. (Smoking-Meat.com recommends 3 hours of cherry and 1 hour of pecan wood for optimum flavor.)
- Remove turkey from brine mixture. Rinse thoroughly under cool running water and pat dry. Discard brine.
- In small bowl, mix olive oil, dried marjoram, ground mustard, and pepper. Brush over turkey.
- Place the turkey directly on the grate breast side up. At around the 3 hour mark, insert a digital probe meat thermometer into the breast of the turkey to begin monitoring the internal temperature. Make sure the thermometer doesn’t touch bone or it will get a false reading.
- Once the breast reaches about 161-163 degrees, remove it from the smoker and immediately wrap it in a thick layer of heavy duty foil. Place the turkey in a couple of thick towels and lay it on the counter for about 30-45 minutes so the juices that were forced to the surface during the cooking process, redistribute throughout the meat. If you’re worried about the turkey getting cold, place it on a heating pad – seriously.
- Slice, serve and enjoy!
- Calories: 400
- Calories from Fat: 160
- Total Fat: 18g
- Saturated fat: 4.5g
- Unsaturated fat: 0g
- Sodium: 460mg
- Total Carbohydrates: 5g
- Sugar: 4g
- Fiber: 0g
- Protein: 54g
- Cholesterol: 145mg
I just got an email reminder for my kids to place their online football picks for week 8. Week 8? Boy has football season gone quickly! Even so, it’s never too late (or too cold) to do some weekend grilling and barbecuing for the big game or a tailgate party.
Recently, I took advantage of our unseasonably-warm-for-Colorado weekend weather to cook up some chicken in our Masterbuilt electric smoker. It’s so easy to smoke a chicken that I don’t know why I don’t do it more often. (It probably has something to do with all that fish and venison in our freezer! Chicken’s a rare treat at my house.)
World Harbors marinades make smoking chicken easy
Using a premade marinade like those from World Harbors® makes the process even easier. This time around I used World Harbors Maui Mountain Teriyaki and World Harbors Maui Mountain Sweet 'N Sour to marinate a couple of chickens. (You can use any variety you like!) Combined with the smoke from the sugar maple wood I used, both birds turned out moist and delicious. If you have a smoker or know how to smoke chicken using a grill, the process is easy.
This Mama’s tips
- Since most smokers are large enough do two or more birds at once, take advantage of the situation and smoke extra chicken(s). Eat one immediately while you’re watching football. The extra chicken is great the next day in salads, sandwiches, stir fry or soups or reheated in the oven or microwave.
- I like smoking fish (lake trout is wonderful) while I’m smoking the chicken. I place the fish under the chicken so the chicken fat drips on to the fish. Decadent!
- If you want your chicken to cook even faster, try spatchcocking it!
Smoked Marinated Chicken
- 1 whole chicken (3 to 4 pound fryer)
- 1 bottle of World Harbors marinade of your choice
- 1 sealable plastic baggie
- Remove giblets, liver and neck from chicken. (Set aside to make stock.)
- Place whole chicken in plastic bag.
- Pour in entire bottle of World Harbors marinade.
- Add some water if necessary so marinade completely covers the chicken.
- Seal bag and set in refrigerator overnight or for 24 hours. Turn bag once to evenly marinate chicken about half way through the process.
- Heat your smoker to 235 degrees F and add your favorite bird-friendly wood (apple, sugar maple, etc.)
- Remove the chicken from the marinade. Place the chicken in the smoker, breast side down to start. After 1 1/2 to 2 hours, turn it over to finish.
- Cook the chicken until it reaches 160 degrees F. Make sure to check the temperature of chicken at the meatiest part of the breast between the bones.
- Remove the chicken from the smoker and let it rest for at least 10 minutes before serving.
- Serving size: 1/2 pounds of meat per person
Disclosure: Mizkan, the parent company of World Harbors, provided compensation for this post. All opinions are my own.