Making up for Lost Time

Can you believe that after all these years together, that I’ve never shared my turkey recipe with ya’ll?

Today, not only am I sharing my tips for the perfect bird, but also my favorite Garlic Roasted Mashed Potatoes and the most decadent way to end your feast with my friend, Marta’s gooey rich Chocolate Pecan Pie.

Fear Not the Turkey, She’s Just a Big Bird

Talk Turkey Ingredients_Pamela Morgan_Flirting with Flavors

I know that the roasted turkey can be daunting for you, but there’s no need to fear it—it’s really just a big chicken! The key is in the planning and timing.

Don’t Forget the D’artagnan

Talk Turkey from Dartagnan_Pamela Morgan_Flirting with Flavors

Order your turkey ahead of time—so if you haven’t done that by now, get to it! There is a huge difference in the taste of a conventional bird that comes with a pop-up thermometer, found in the freezer section of your local supermarket and a fresh organic bird that comes from a trusted source like D’artagnan.

Our friends at D’artagnan should definitely be a part of your annual prep list. They’ll fedex your turkey overnight so that you can get to brining ASAP!

The Beauty of the Dry-Brine

Talk Turkey Dry-Brine_Pamela Morgan_Flirting with Flavors

The turkey itself often gets bad press because the meat doesn’t have much flavor to it, so that’s why I’ve taken to dry brining my bird at least a day in advance so that the salt soaks into the meat.

It’s a win-win situation from the delicious and tender meat of your organic bird, and the seasoning from the brine. Once you try these tips you’ll never go back!

Giving Thanks, Texas-Style

Talking Turkey_Pamela Morgan_flirting with Flavors

My childhood memories are of sitting around a Thanksgiving table in Wichita Falls, Texas, when the weather was finally cool.  My mom made my Dad turn off the football game and she set a gorgeous table set with her own mums from our garden.

My brother, sister and I were always so hungry. It seemed to take forever to make that turkey.

The Perfect Side Dish

Talk Turkey Potato Ingredients_Pamela Morgan_flirting with Flavors

The secret to my Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes is really all about the butter and cream! Diet plan? No! But it’s a great spoon full of comfort and will complement your turkey day table.

Talk Turkey Pie Ingredients_Pamela Morgan_Flirting with Flavors

Triple Threat: Singing, Baking, and Laughing

The real icing on the cake—or the pie was cooking with Marta Sanders Cooper. My first encounter with her was when I heard her sing at the  Cabaret Convention in preparation for my own show next year.

She gave a true showstopping performance of “What Did I Have That I Don’t Have.” I was so awestruck by her power and her talent that I couldn’t wait to meet her face to face (luckily for me, my assistant is her daughter!).

When I heard that in addition to being a mind-blowing songstress, that she was a talented home baker, I knew we had to cook together. And just in time for Thanksgiving she generously offered to share her Chocolate Pecan Pie recipe.

A Pie to Grow With

Texan Chocolate Pecan Pie Pamela Morgan & Marta Sanders_Flirting with Flavors

We had so much fun in the kitchen and bonded over our love of music and our Texas roots. This dessert was definitely one of my absolute favorites growing up

. Now, with the guidance of Marta, I feel confident that I will wow my guests with this pie—and perhaps event throw a little bourbon into it. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving Day with lots of love, laughter, and spectacular food!

Give Yourself the Gift of Cooking Tools

Talking Turkey Food 52 Cutting Board_Pamela Morgan_flirting with Flavors

Here are some tools that will help you win on Thanksgiving:

Dry-Brined Roasted Turkey
Dry-Brined Roasted Turkey
Print Recipe Dry-Brined Roasted Turkey
Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 1 day 6 hours
Course: Entree
Servings: 16 people
Author: Food 52

Ingredients

Dry Brine

  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons smoky paprika
  • 2 tablespoons thyme
  • orange zest
  • fresh rosemary
  • 1 turkey (12-16 pounds)

Compound Butter

  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 sprig rosemary, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon smoky paprika
  • orange zest

Roasted Turkey

  • 1 brined turkey
  • compound butter
  • ½ orange for cavity
  • rosemary for cavity
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • ½ cup white wine, such as Chardonnay
  • juice of 1/2 an orange

Gravy

  • 2 cups turkey broth
  • pan drippings from roasted turkey
  • juice of half an orange
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour

Instructions

Dry Brine & Turkey Broth

  • Remove turkey neck and giblets, place into a pot with 4 cups of water, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer for at least an hour, and up to 6 hours. When you're happy with flavor, discard the neck and giblets, strain and cool liquid. Refrigerate for use when making gravy.
  • Wash the turkey inside and out, pat it dry, and weigh it. Measure 1 tablespoon of salt into a bowl for every 5 pounds the turkey weighs (for a 15-pound turkey, you'd have 3 tablespoons). Flavor the salt with smoky paprika, thyme, and rosemary. Grind together with the salt in a spice grinder, small food processor, or mortar and pestle.
  • Sprinkle the inside of the turkey lightly with the flavored salt. Place the turkey on its back and season the skin of the breasts, concentrating the it in the center, where the meat is thickest. You'll probably use a little more than a tablespoon.
  • Turn the turkey on one side and sprinkle the entire side with salt blend, concentrating on the thigh. You should use a little less than a tablespoon. Flip the turkey over and do the same with the opposite side.
  • Place the turkey in a 2 1/2-gallon sealable plastic bag, press out the air and seal tightly. (If you can't find a resealable bag this big, you can use a turkey oven bag, but be prepared for it to leak, or wrap the bird in a few layers of plastic wrap.) Place the turkey breast-side up in the refrigerator. Chill for 1-3 days. Rub the seasoning around once a day if you remember. Liquid might collect in the bag as you go—this is normal!
  • For the crispiest skin, the night before, remove the turkey from the bag. There should be no salt visible on the surface and the skin should be moist but not wet. Place the turkey breast-side up on a plate and refrigerate uncovered for at least 8 hours.
  • On the day it is to be cooked, remove the turkey from the refrigerator and leave it at room temperature at least 1 hour (do not rinse—it's not needed, and rinsing will make the skin less crispy). If you're concerned with the saltiness, you may wipe the bird with a towel, which will remove the excess salt. If you choose to do this, then you can sprinkle some more herbs over the bird before you put it in the oven.

Compound Butter

  • In a small bowl, stir together the butter, rosemary, orange zest, and smoky paprika. The butter can be prepared up to 3 days ahead and refrigerated, or frozen for up to 1 month. Soften to room temperature before using.

Roasted Turkey

  • Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 325.
  • Set the turkey on a rack while in a shallow roasting pan just large enough to hold it comfortably. Working from the vent end of the turkey, carefully slide your fingers between the skin and the meat of the breast and thighs. Spread about three-fourths of the butter mixture under the skin of the breast and thigh meat. Rub the remaining butter mixture over the turkey skin. Season lightly with salt.
  • Set the turkey in the oven and roast undisturbed for 1 hour. Add the stock, wine and orange juice to the pan. Tilt the turkey to combine any melted butter mixture from the cavity with the pan juices. Roast the turkey, basting it every 10-15 minutes with the pan juices, adding a cup or so of water to the pan if the juices eventually evaporate, until the skin is richly browned, and the dark meat remains juicy, another 1 hour. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh should register at 160 to 170 degrees. Continue to cook in 15 minute increments if it's not at the correct temperature. Transfer the turkey to a cutting board.
  • Tent the turkey with foil and let it rest for at least 15 minutes before carving. Reserve drippings for gravy.

Gravy

  • Heat turkey broth over medium heat. Remove drippings and pour into gravy strainer, to separate the fat from the juices. Pour into a bowl and mix in orange juice and butter. Whisk in flour until smooth, add more flour, if you prefer a thicker consistency for your gravy.
  • Slowly add the thickened dripping mixture into your turkey broth, until you reach desired flavor and texture. Please note that the brining process will create a very salty pan sauce, which is why you want to use is as a flavoring and thickening agent, rather than the base of your gravy. Serve with roasted turkey.

Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Print Recipe Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Course: Comfort, Fall, Holiday, Vegetarian, Winter
Servings: 8 people

Ingredients

Mashed Potatoes

  • 4 pounds russet (baking potatoes), peeled and cut into 2-inch chunks
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup roasted garlic purée
  • salt
  • 2/3 cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened

Roasted Garlic Purée

  • 2 very large heads regular (not elephant) garlic, about 1/2 pound total
  • 2 small sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 2 tablespoons dry white wine
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon herbes de Provence, crumbled

Instructions

Mashed Potatoes

  • In a large pan, cover the potatoes with cold water. Set over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Partially cover and cook, stirring once or twice, until the potatoes are very tender, about 25 minutes. Drain, reserving 1/3 cup of the potato cooking water.
  • Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine the cream, garlic puree, and 2 teaspoons salt. Bring the mixture to a simmer over low heat, while whisking to combine the ingredients, then remove from the heat and keep hot.
  • Immediately force the potatoes through a ricer into a medium-sized pot, or place them in the pot and mash them with a potato masher. Set over low heat and stir the mashed potatoes constantly, but not whisking, for 1 minute. Then gradually stir in the cream mixture, the reserved potato water, the sour cream and the pepper. Vigorously beat the potatoes for 30 seconds or so, adding the butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, as you beat. Add additional salt to taste. Serve immediately.

Roasted Garlic Purée

  • Position rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350F.
  • With a serrated knife, cut off the top quarter of the garlic heads, exposing the cloves inside. Set each garlic head in a 9-inch square of heavy-duty foil and partially draw up the sides. Lay the rosemary sprigs atop the garlic. Drizzle the wine and then the olive oil into and around he heads of garlic. Sprinkle the crumbled herbs over all. Enclose the garlic tightly in the foil.
  • Set the packets on the rack and bake until the garlic inside the peels is very tender, 1 hour and 15 minutes. Cool the garlic to room temperature.
    Makes about 1/2 cup

Texas Chocolate Pecan Pie
Texas Chocolate Pecan Pie
Print Recipe Texas Chocolate Pecan Pie
Prep Time: 12 hours
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 13 hours
Course: Comfort, Dessert, Fall, Holiday, Vegetarian, Winter
Servings: 8 people

Ingredients

Pie Crust

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, chopped into cubes
  • 1 tablespoon beaten egg
  • 1 teaspoon vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons cold water

Chocolate Pecan Pie

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter
  • 1 ½ cups chocolate chips
  • 4 eggs
  • ¾ cup dark corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ teaspoon teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups chopped pecans
  • 1/3 cup whole pecans to decorate top

Instructions

Pie Crust

  • Add the flour, salt, and butter in a food processor and pulse until you have an oatmeal-like consistency. Remove the blade from the processor.
  • In another bowl beat egg, vinegar, and water until fluffy and pour into flour and mix to combine. Roll out about 8 inches of wax paper onto a clean, hard surface. Place the dough onto the paper.
  • Knead the dough into a ball, but be careful not to overwork it. Wrap the ball in wax paper and chill in your refrigerator overnight. You may also freeze the dough for at least an hour, or up to a week. Be sure to let the dough stand at room temperature for 20 minutes or so, if frozen, so that you can work with it when you're ready to make your shell.
  • When your dough is ready, flour your clean flat surface, and roll it out with a rolling pin. You want about 1/4 inch thickness, and you want to be sure it's large enough to fill your 9-inch pie pan. When your dough is ready, get your pan in place next to you, roll the dough onto your pin and raise it over your pan so that you can roll the flat dough over and into the pan without tearing it.
  • Take a knife to cut the excess dough off from around the pan. You want about an inch or so of extra dough to be able to crimp into the perfect crust. Save the leftover scraps. With your fingers, go around the pan gathering the extra dough to fold and pinch into little peaks. If you have a hot kitchen, you can put your pie shell into the refrigerator while you make the filling.

Chocolate Pecan Pie

  • Preheat oven to 350
  • Take the leftover crust scraps and place them on a baking sheet and sprinkle a little sugar over them, then place in the oven for 10-15 minutes until they're just crisp and enjoy with your kitchen helpers as you finish making the filling.
  • In a saucepan over medium low heat, melt sugar, butter, and chocolate, about 5 minutes. Turn off heat, and let cool slightly.
  • In a large bowl whisk together eggs, corn syrup, vanilla, and salt. Stir in melted chocolate mixture and chopped pecans.
  • Pour mixture into uncooked pastry shell. Decorate with whole pecans. If you purchased the shell protector listed above, you can cover your crust with it and then put your pie into the oven. You may also try using some aluminum foil. This prevents the edges from burning. Bake for 45 minutes and remove the protector or foil and then put back into the oven for another 10-15 minutes. Test your pie with a toothpick to see if it's cooked in the center--it should enter and exit the pie dry. Your pie filling may rise while it's hot--don't be alarmed as it will return to a normal shape once it's cooled. Once it's cooked through, remove from the oven and cool on a rack for at least 10 minutes. Serve warm with some vanilla ice cream or whipped cream if you'd like.