Dry Brined Turkey with No-Cook Orange Cranberry Relish

There are a lot of arguments out there on ways to brine a turkey and we knew we wanted to try one this Friendsgiving. The question then became dry brine or wet brine? I’ve done the research for you and if you are space challenged like our Tiny Kitchen is, dry brining is definitely the way to go!

Without getting into the technicalities that I wouldn’t even begin to explain properly, the main reason we chose a dry brine was for ease and space. Doing a wet brine requires the turkey to be completely submerged and kept cool for a long period of time. Being that I don’t have an extra refrigerator, 5 gallon bucket, or an ice maker, the choice was simple. The other perk from the many, many articles and tutorials I researched is that dry brining gives a juicier, more meaty consistency than wet brining.

The biggest perk about this recipe is that it was very hands-off and produced a beautifully golden juicy turkey. The no-cook orange cranberry relish was also a cinch and a perfect accompaniment to the Friendsgiving table!

Dry Brined Turkey:

1 turkey, thawed (ours was about 10 lbs)

1/2 cup kosher salt

1 tbsp fresh cracked pepper

1 tsp paprika

2 tbsp baking powder (for crispy skin)

Herb Butter:

2 tbsp butter at room temperature

minced herbs and spices (we used thyme, rosemary, sage, parsley, salt & pepper)

No-Cook Orange Cranberry Relish:

1 12 oz bag cranberries

1 medium size orange

splash of liqueur (I used Amaro but cognac or even some red wine would work)

1/4 cup sugar

pinch of salt

For the dry brine turkey, combine all dry brine ingredients in a small bowl. Pat turkey dry inside and out and place on a baking sheet. Truss your turkey before brining. Generously sprinkle brine mixture all over outside and inside of turkey. Place in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours, uncovered. If the thought of an uncovered raw bird sitting in your fridge is gross, loosely cover it with some plastic wrap.

For the herb butter, mix all dry ingredients into room temperature butter. Cover and set aside until the day of cooking.

For the no-cook cranberry relish, zest the entire orange and then segment and remove seeds. This is surprisingly easier than it seems. Just make sure there is no white pith as that will make the relish bitter. Add cranberries, orange segments and zest, sugar, salt, and splash of liqueur to food processor. Process until desired consistency and refrigerate until the day of to let the flavors mix together.no-cook orange cranberry relishno-cook orange cranberry relishdry brined turkeyAbove is what our turkey looked like after 1.5 days of dry brining. There was a slightly pink tint to the meat which happens when you cure meat. On the day of cooking, remove the turkey and herb butter at least 1 hour prior to cooking to get to room temperature. Set the oven to 350° and remove top rack. The turkey should be on the bottom rack and should be the only thing cooking so the heat will be consistent throughout.

Rinse the outside and inside of the turkey and pat dry. Once the turkey is about room temperature, begin working the skin of the breast away from the meat using your fingers. Do this gently so the skin does not tear. Rub about 1/3 of the herb butter under the skin of the breast meat and the rest of the butter all over the turkey, including the legs, thighs and wings.dry brined turkey with herb butter

Time to cook your bird! The estimated time that we used was 15 minutes per pound. At 10 lbs, our turkey cooked for 2.5 hours and we used a meat thermometer to make sure the temperature at the thigh reached 165°.

An important note about dry brining: it produces less drippings and there is no need for basting! This means that any drippings will likely burn on your sheet pan if there is not some other liquid in the pan. What we did was put about 1.5 cups of water in the sheet pan to absorb the drippings. Also, some of this water will evaporate so it’s best to check on it periodically and add water as needed.

Allow at least 30-45 minutes to rest before carving so all the juices aren’t lost. dry brined turkey with herb butterServe with your favorite gravy recipe, orange cranberry relish and all those amazing thanksgiving sides!

Friendsgiving Dinner Menu

It’s almost Thanksgiving (my favorite holiday) and to celebrate, our Tiny Kitchen hosted a Friendsgiving dinner! Friendsgiving is near and dear to me since college when we would get all our friends together since everyone would be spending Thanksgiving with family.

This year, we hosted 12 friends and asked everyone to bring something of their own. Our menu was:

Deviled eggs with pickled toppings

Dry Brined Turkey with No-Cook Orange Cranberry Relish

Rotisserie Porchetta with Brussels Sprouts and Fingerling Potatoes

Green Bean Casserole with Fried Shallots

Rustic Stuffing

I’m working on posting the recipes which will all be linked back to this page once I’ve finished. Until then, let me know which recipes you’re most interested in so I can work on those first!

Friendsgiving Table

coconut seed and nut granola

Here’s the story behind this granola:

One day, we had some awesome yogurt (this yogurt to be exact) and some amazing new honey from a trip we took. We thought “what’s missing?” and realized that we needed to test our granola making skills.

I started researching granola proportions and science and realized it was more like baking and less like cooking, in that you have to be a little more precise than I normally like to be. I went ahead and did the math, figured out those ridiculous ratios, and experimented with many batches for all of us so here goes!

This formula can easily be doubled, but as is makes about 3-4 mason jars of granola. Also, honey can be swapped for maple syrup, turbinado sugar can be swapped for regular sugar, and the mix ins can be whatever you prefer or have on hand.

ingredients:

2 oz honey

4 tbsp turbinado sugar

2 oz coconut oil

2 1/4 cups thick old fashioned oats

1 1/4 cups seed and nut mix ins (we use chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, almonds, & pistachios)

1/4 cup sweetened shredded coconut

couple pinches of salt

1/2 cup fruit mix ins (we have used all types of combos and any dried/dehydrated fruit is fair game. some favorites: golden raisins & cranberries; papaya, blueberries & cranberries; mango, figs & cranberries)

directions:

Preheat oven to 285°. Combine honey, sugar, and coconut oil in a small saucepan over low heat.

Measure out oats, seeds and nuts and shredded coconut and mix in a large bowl. Measure out fruit mix ins and set aside.

Stir liquid mix but note that if you use turbinado sugar, it will not melt completely (which I personally love!). Mix liquid into oat mixture and stir well. Spread evenly onto a parchment lined baking sheet.

Bake for 20 minutes, stir & add salt, bake for another 20 minutes, stir. It should be golden and beautiful by now (similar to below). Add fruit mix ins and stir again to combine. Spread evenly on the baking sheet and allow to cool completely. Once cooled, cut into bars or crumble into smaller chunks. coconut nut and seed granolacoconut granola

Eat with yogurt, milk, or just plain as a snack. Enjoy!!

Cured Salmon (Gravlax)

Do you have a brunch to prepare for? A craving for lox but a need to DIY? A lonely bagel in need of a friend? Well, my friends, I have the answer. Gravlax!

Gravlax is a traditional Nordic dish that is usually eaten as an appetizer with mustard sauce on bread, but to me, it is the simple homemade alternative to lox and is the perfect accompaniment to a bagel on a Sunday morning. Here is a great article that explains the difference between lox and gravlax. There are many different variations in terms of spices and proportions of ingredients, all of which we plan to experiment with, but for now this is our simplified version.

ingredients:

1 pound salmon (we used the second cut filet piece)

2 tbsp salt

2 tbsp sugar (we used white granulated)

1 tsp fresh ground pepper

1 bunch dill

fennel fronds from 1 fennel bulb

zest of 1 large lemon

fresh horseradish (optional)

also needed: two dishes, plastic wrap, heavy cans for weight

directions:

Begin by halving the salmon, cutting down the bloodline to make two (hopefully) equal parts. Pat dry and check for any pin bones, removing if you find any. Mix salt, sugar and pepper in a bowl to combine. Place the halves skin side down in bigger dish and sprinkle salt/sugar/pepper equally onto salmon, patting it on and making sure all sides are coated. Add lemon zest and horseradish and top with dill and fennel fronds.

cured salmon

salmon sandwich

Place one half onto the other, essentially making a dill/fennel sandwich with the salmon. Skin will be on the top and bottom, flesh inside. Cover top of the dish loosely with plastic wrap and place smaller dish on top with cans inside for weight. Leave on the counter for about an hour to let it “sweat” before  putting everything into the fridge. Refrigerate for 2 days, flipping the salmon sandwich once a day.

To serve, remove from dish and rinse or wipe off with a paper towel. As an experiment, we did both methods and did not find any difference. Slice thinly on a diagonal and serve with NYC bagels for best results.gravlax    sunday brunch   cured salmon and capers

Enjoy!

Sunday Sauce with Giant Meatballs

There is something beautiful about a sauce simmering all day long in preparation for a Sunday Supper of saucy spaghetti and oversized meatballs. I am secretly super jealous of all my Italian-American friends whose parents and/or grandparents make Sunday Sauce/Gravy and have the whole family over so I decided why not pretend to be one of those families. We cooked enough for 6 and ended up eating spaghetti and meatballs all week, which was perfectly fine with me!

The sauce can be varied to your taste, I happen to love a lot of garlic, and for an even easier all-day-long preparation, you can make this meal in the slow cooker.

Sunday Sauce:

1 can whole peeled Italian tomatoes (28 oz.)

1 can crushed Italian tomatoes (28 oz.)

1 whole bulb garlic

1 medium onion

1 cup good red wine

1 tbsp red pepper flakes (this will give your sauce just enough kick)

olive oil, salt & pepper

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375. Cut whole garlic bulb across the middle, so you have 2 halves. Season garlic with salt, pepper and olive oil and place cut side down on foil. Roast for 30-45 minutes.

While garlic is roasting, dice onions and prepare tomatoes. In a large bowl, empty both cans and begin crushing whole tomatoes with your hands. Crush to desired consistency, I like some tomato chunks for that rustic feel, and set aside. (If you are still waiting for the garlic to roast, begin prepping the meatballs–see below) When garlic is soft and caramelized, mash it into a paste with a fork or mortar and pestle, adding olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

In a large sauce pot or dutch oven, heat olive oil and begin cooking onions over medium heat. Once softened and translucent, add mashed garlic  and red pepper flakes and more olive oil, if needed. Saute for 1-2 minutes. Add the red wine and simmer for about 5 minutes. Lower heat and add tomatoes, simmering for at least 1-2 hours. Before adding meatballs, add salt and pepper to taste. You might need a generous amount of salt to bring out all that great tomato flavor.

Giant Meatballs:

1.5 lbs meatball mix (equal parts beef, pork, and veal)

1 egg

1/2 cup breadcrumbs

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 small onion, finely diced or grated

2 tsp dried oregano

2 tsp dried basil

1 tsp salt & pepper

Directions:

In a large bowl with your hands, or kitchenaid with the paddle attachment, mix all ingredients until just combined. We wanted giant meatballs so the measurement was a little smaller than fist sized. Form your meatballs lightly, being sure not to press or squeeze the meat which will make dense meatballs. Our technique is to spoon the meat into one hand then gently move and shape the meatball, passing from hand to hand.

In a large pan, heat about 2 tbsp olive oil over medium high heat. Saute the meatballs until browned on each side. They will not be cooked through and will finish in the sauce. **NOTE: do not skip this step, even if cooking in slow cooker. Searing the meat holds the meatball together and adds great flavor that would be missing if you add the raw meatball directly to the sauce.

  • Add seared meatballs to sauce and stir so the meatballs are coated in sauce. They might not be fully submerged, which is ok, just remember to stir every hour or so.sunday sauce and giant meatballsWhen you’re almost ready to eat, begin cooking the pasta. Here are some tips for the perfect spaghetti:
    • Consider buying a slightly more expensive spaghetti. There is something to be said for those hand-crafted pastas right next to the Ronzoni and Barilla. They may be $1-2 more but the quality is well worth it.
    • Cooking to al dente is essential. This means the spaghetti will have a slight bite to it as if it isn’t fully cooked through.
    • We cook to al dente because finishing the pasta in sauce is also essential. Doing this brings the sauce and the pasta together and finishes cooking the pasta.
    • Save a little pasta water to incorporate into the sauce.

For this dish, cook spaghetti until al dente, save some of the pasta water and drain the pasta. In the same pot, add a few ladles of sauce over medium heat and add pasta. Add a splash or two of pasta water and cook for 1-2 minutes to finish the pasta. Serve pasta with a giant meatball and some extra sauce on top. Top with grated Parmesan and enjoy!spaghetti and meatballs

Game Day Deliciousness: Wings, Loaded Mashed Potatoes & Brussels Sprouts Caesar Salad

In preparation for Super Bowl Sunday— aka the end of football season aka the saddest day of winter– we have cooked up a meal that’s sure to be a fan favorite: Brussels Sprouts Caesar Salad with homemade croutons, Loaded Mashed Potatoes with caramelized onions, bacon & bleu cheese,  and “Poppa Jay” Wings (Steve Jay’s famous recipe). This menu serves 4 so adjust based on crowd size. The wings cook low & slow for about 2 hours and the sides can be prepared ahead of time to optimize tailgating time!

Brussels Sprouts Caesar Salad:

3/4 lb Brussels sprouts

1 small baguette, diced into cubes

Parmesan cheese

For the dressing:

2 egg yolks

6 anchovy fillets (sub fish sauce if you don’t have anchovies)

2 cloves garlic

2 tsp Worcestershire sauce

2 tbsp grated Parmesan

olive oil

salt & pepper

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375. Toss cubed bread with olive oil, salt, pepper & garlic powder and bake until crispy and golden. With a mandolin (or sharp knife and a steady hand) thinly slice Brussels. If using a mandolin, hold the stem of the Brussels and begin slicing the rounded end first like so:mandolin and brusselsTo make the dressing, mash together anchovies and garlic into a paste. If using fish sauce, mash garlic into a paste on it’s own and add fish sauce after. In a separate bowl, separate 2 egg yolks and whisk in paste. Slowly add olive oil, whisking as you add, until creamy and desired consistency. Whisk in Worcestershire sauce, cheese & pepper, add salt to taste. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

When the time is right, drizzle dressing over croutons and Brussels and toss to coat. Top with shaved Parmesan.brussels sprouts caesar saladbrussels sprouts caesar salad

Loaded Mashed Potatoes:

4 russet potatoes, peeled and cubed

2 slices bacon

1 medium yellow onion, diced

2 tbsp butter

splash of milk

4 oz sour cream + more if desired

bleu cheese crumbles

salt & pepper to taste

Directions:

Boil potatoes in a large pot until fork tender. As potatoes are cooking, begin cooking bacon until crispy. Remove bacon, leaving bacon fat to cook onions in. Saute onions until golden brown, soft, and sweet. Dice bacon into bacon bits.

Drain potatoes and begin mashing while they’re hot, mixing in butter & milk in order to get to desired consistency. Stir in sour cream & caramelized onion. Top with bacon and bleu cheese and place under the broiler until bubbly.

Note: If making ahead, prepare until all ingredients are stirred in and hold off on topping until the very end. If you’re timing everything right, these can be put in the broiler with the wings (below) as they get crispy!loaded mashed potatoes

Poppa Jay Wings:

3 lbs wings

soy sauce

olive oil

1 tsp cayenne pepper (less if spicy isn’t your thing, more if it is)

2 tsp paprika

1 tsp chili powder

2 tsp sugar

2 cloves garlic, minced

salt & pepper

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees and oil casserole dish. In a large bowl, toss wings in all dry ingredients. Pour in enough soy sauce to coat all the wings and toss to combine. Place wings in dish, cover with foil and bake for 1.5 hours. Uncover and broil until brown and crispy. 

Sadly, we were way too hungry to think about things like, you know, taking pictures, so you’ll have to imagine these crispy, caramelized, golden delicious wings until you make them yourselves.

Enjoy! Until football season returns next year…

 

Quick & Easy Carbonara

Confession: I’d eat pasta on a daily basis if I could. I see nothing wrong with this. The truth is, it is just so easy to make and you can make literally hundreds of variations, typically with things that are just laying around in your pantry or fridge. We began experimenting with Carbonara, a traditional Roman dish, and I completely fell in love. Since the beginning stages, we’ve experimented with many different techniques and ingredients, again, based on what we had lying around and this is my version of this classic Roman pasta.

Ingredients:

Pasta (it can be spaghetti, linguine, bucatini, really any long noodles would work)

1 thick slice Bacon/Pancetta/Guanciale chopped into bite sized pieces

1/2 small red onion, diced (white onion works if you only have that on hand)

1 egg

1/4 cup grated Parmigiano cheese, plus more for topping

1/4 cup milk

salt & pepper

Directions:

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Begin cooking bacon/pancetta/guanciale over medium-high heat. As it is beginning to crisp, add the onions to the pan. Your pasta should be cooking by now and with this recipe, timing is everything as you’ll need the pasta fresh out of the water. In a small bowl, mix egg, cheese and milk and reserve. Drain pasta, reserving some pasta water for sauce if needed. Return the pasta to the hot pan it was cooking in, add the bacon & onions, tossing to coat, then quickly add egg, cheese and milk mixture, combining pasta and mixture in order to cook the egg with the hot pasta. Season with salt & pepper. If you want a creamier sauce, add hot pasta water little by little to desired consistency. Top with more cheese and pepper. Enjoy!pasta carbonara