Tom Fitzmorris's Thanksgiving Feast
"Here are the Thanksgiving recipes everybody always asks me for.
cook for my own family every year.) Now get that
thawed and get
Italian Sausage, Cornbread and Fennel Stuffing
Turkey Giblet Gravy
Root Beer-Glazed Ham
Sweet Potato Cheesecake
"I cook my Thanksgiving turkeys in my barbecue pit. (It's one of those
shaped Char-Grillers.) It gets hotter than a smoker, but because I
turkey away from direct heat, it cooks slowly and absorbs a lot of
The crisp skin takes on an appealing bronze color. It also
and the meat inside is moister than it is with any other
Even if I wanted to
try a different style, my family
wouldn't let me.
Another advantage: it gives you plenty of room in the oven for other dishes
need to cook or bake."
ONE: Thaw the turkey, if frozen. This takes at least three days,
be done in the refrigerator. Put it into the pan you'll roast it
in to catch
any leaks—and to remind you to get a pan.
STEP TWO: Marinate the turkey in salt water overnight. This old trick
works, and doesn't make the turkey salty. It keeps the bird very
during cooking, and that's the big challenge in roasting a turkey.
Put the turkey in an ice chest or covered container with enough water
cover it. Dissolve one cup of salt per gallon of water (the amount is
critical). Add enough ice to keep the bird safely refrigerated.
STEP THREE: Fire up the grill. Whether you use gas or charcoal (I
prefer the latter), you need something to generate smoke. I use
I make a trip to the sugar plantations along the river and
leftovers. But any good smoking wood can be used. The
best results come from
wrapping them in a packet of aluminum foil
and putting them right next to
the fire. That fire should be on the op-
posite end of the grill from where
you're going to put the turkeys.
Remove the turkeys from the marinade. Disengage the metal gizmos
them together. Remove the giblets. Season the outside with
salt and pepper.
Then stuff the cavity with...
ribs celery, cut up
1 onion, cut up
1 orange, cut into eighths
1 lemon, cut into quarters
A shake of tarragon
A stem of fresh rosemary
the turkey goes on a wire rack, which in turn is place into an
Make a tent of foil over the top. Place the turkey as
far as possible away
from the fire. All heat should get to the bird
Close the cover and add coals throughout the morning to maintain
temperature of 200 to 250 degrees [F] inside the pit. It takes about
and a half to seven hours for the internal temperature of the turkey
reach about 175 degrees [F]. Use a meat thermometer for this; the
pop-up plastic thermometer only pops when the turkey is a touch
Take the turkeys out and put them on the table to rest and
cool for 30
minutes before carving. Save the juices in the pan for
Italian Sausage, Cornbread and
"When we started smoking our Thanksgiving turkey, the smoky
andouille stuffing we used to make became one smoky thing too
I changed the recipe to use Italian sausage, and since that had an
flavor I just kept going with it."
1/4 pound bulk Italian sausage
1 stick butter
2 medium onions, chopped
2 bunches fennel, bulbs and lower inch
of stems only, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
One 10-ounce package of fresh spinach,
cooked and chopped
1 shotglass Herbsaint
1 large pan of cornbread, crumbled
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
In a skillet, fry the sausage, breaking it up with a fork, until fully
cooked. Remove from the pan and set aside.
2. Add the butter to the pan. When it begins to bubble, add the onions,
fennel, and celery. Cook until the celery and fennel are soft. Add the
spinach and the Herbsaint, and cook until there is very little liquid left
in the pan.
3. Combine the pan contents, sausage, cornbread, salt and pepper in a
bowl and mix well. Pack loosely into a baking dish and bake
top. If the stuffing seems a little dry (this depends
of the cornbread), add a little turkey stock
to moisten it.
Turkey Giblet Gravy
Turkey neck and wing tips
Giblets other than liver
1 onion, cut up
1 rib celery, cut up
Stems from a bunch of parsley
1 small carrot, cut up
1/4 tsp. leaf thyme
1/4 tsp. marjoram
1/2 tsp. black peppercorns
1 bay leaf
Pan juices and drippings from turkey
1/4 cup flour
Bring two quarts of water to a boil and add the turkey necks, the
onion, celery, parsley, and carrot. Put the thyme, marjoram,
and bay leaf into an herb infuser or cheesecloth pouch
and add to the pot.
Keep at a low boil for two hours, or long enough
to reduce the liquid by
2. Strain the stock and chill until the turkey's ready.
3. After removing the turkey from the roasting pan, pour the drippings
a gravy separator or small bowl and let stand to allow the fat to
the top. Meanwhile, add a little water to the pan and scrape
bits on the inside bottom. Add this to the drippings.
4. Remove all the fat you can from the drippings, but save about one-
of a cup of the fat. Use this with the flour to make a light
roux in a
5. Combine the stock, the defatted drippings and the roux in a saucepan
low heat. Whisk as it comes to a boil to get a smooth texture.
pepper, if needed, to taste.
2001 Tom Fitzmorris. All rights
Thanksgiving Feast, continued
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