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Tom Fitzmorris's Louisiana Thanksgiving



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"Tom Fitzmorris is New Orleans' leading restaurant critic and the writer
and publisher of the New Orleans Menu. Tom was born on Mardi Gras in
New Orleans and has never left town for more than three weeks at a time.
His passion for eating began with his mother's classic Creole cooking and
grows in intensity every day.
Writing about restaurants has been the focus of his 30-year career in
journalism. Tom's first restaurant review was published in 1972, and
they've come out at least weekly ever since. They're currently found in
New Orleans City Business. He also writes regularly for many local
and national publications.
In 1986, Tom achieved the distinction of Certified Culinary Professional
from the International Association of Culinary Professionals, a national
association of food writers and cooking instructors. He is one of only two
CCPs in the state of Louisiana."

We trust Tom's opinion implicitly. We've relied on his judgment for many,
many years and have never been disappointed. We hope you'll have the
same success and that his recommendations (and his recipes!) will bring
you at least as many hours of dining pleasure as we've experienced.


Tom Fitzmorris's Thanksgiving Feast

"Here are the Thanksgiving recipes everybody always asks me for.
(And which I cook for my own family every year.) Now get that
turkey thawed and get started!"

Smoke-Roasted Turkey
Italian Sausage, Cornbread and Fennel Stuffing
Turkey Giblet Gravy
Savory Mushroom Bread Pudding

Root Beer-Glazed Ham
Sweet Potato Cheesecake

Smoke-Roasted Turkey

"I cook my Thanksgiving turkeys in my barbecue pit. (It's one of those barrel-
shaped Char-Grillers.) It gets hotter than a smoker, but because I keep the
turkey away from direct heat, it cooks slowly and absorbs a lot of smoky flavor.
The crisp skin takes on an appealing bronze color. It also smells wonderful,
and the meat inside is moister than it is with any other cooking method.
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
you need to cook or bake."

STEP ONE: Thaw the turkey, if frozen. This takes at least three days,
and should 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
really works, and doesn't make the turkey salty. It keeps the bird very
moist 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
to cover it. Dissolve one cup of salt per gallon of water (the amount is
not critical). Add enough ice to keep the bird safely refrigerated.
STEP THREE: Fire up the grill. Whether you use gas or charcoal (I
greatly prefer the latter), you need something to generate smoke. I use
sugar cane. I make a trip to the sugar plantations along the river and
gather their 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
holding them together. Remove the giblets. Season the outside with
salt and pepper.
Then stuff the cavity with...

2 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

Then the turkey goes on a wire rack, which in turn is place into an
aluminum pan. 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
in smoke.
Close the cover and add coals throughout the morning to maintain
a temperature of 200 to 250 degrees [F] inside the pit. It takes about
five and a half to seven hours for the internal temperature of the turkey
to reach about 175 degrees [F]. Use a meat thermometer for this; the
little pop-up plastic thermometer only pops when the turkey is a touch
overcooked. 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
making gravy.


Italian Sausage, Cornbread and
Fennel Stuffing

"When we started smoking our Thanksgiving turkey, the smoky cornbread-
andouille stuffing we used to make became one smoky thing too many. So
I changed the recipe to use Italian sausage, and since that had an anise
flavor I just kept going with it."

1 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

1. 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
large bowl and mix well. Pack loosely into a baking dish and bake
until toasty on top. If the stuffing seems a little dry (this depends
largely on the quality 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

1. Bring two quarts of water to a boil and add the turkey necks, the
giblets, onion, celery, parsley, and carrot. Put the thyme, marjoram,
peppercorns, 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 about half.
2. Strain the stock and chill until the turkey's ready.
3. After removing the turkey from the roasting pan, pour the drippings
into a gravy separator or small bowl and let stand to allow the fat to
rise to the top. Meanwhile, add a little water to the pan and scrape
up the browned bits on the inside bottom. Add this to the drippings.
4. Remove all the fat you can from the drippings, but save about one-
fourth of a cup of the fat. Use this with the flour to make a light
roux in a separate pan.
5. Combine the stock, the defatted drippings and the roux in a saucepan
over low heat. Whisk as it comes to a boil to get a smooth texture.
Add salt and pepper, if needed, to taste.

 © 2001 Tom Fitzmorris. All rights reserved.

Louisiana Thanksgiving Feast, continued

Featured Archive Recipes:
Emeril's "Funky" Brined Turkey
Julia Child's Roast Turkey
Frankye's Eggplant, Shrimp and Rice Dressing
Holiday Dressing/Stuffing Recipes
Julee Rosso's Classic Turkey Stuffing
New Orleans Thanksgiving Traditions


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Thanksgiving Recipe Index
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