Even though I’m not living in America right now and even if I were, I’ve kind of shunned Thanksgiving, this year I’ve had a craving for some delicious Thanksgiving Dressing and I thought why not do a Turkey Day light?!
I’m sure you’re wondering what Thanksgiving has ever done to me to make me shun it. The truth is that I do enjoy the whole family aspect of the holiday. Some of my favorite memories are getting up early and trekking from the Chicago suburbs into the city to my Granny’s house, where she inevitably had a stove, table and countertop full of food waiting for us. I got to see my cousins, and eventually their children, and just have a nice day of family.
But as I got older it just began to ring false to me. Not the family time, that’s always incredible. But the rest of it; celebrating a time right before an entire culture was basically eradicated. It just didn’t sit right with me and you combine that with the doses of unhealthy food served and I began to wonder if this holiday was doing the nation as a whole, more harm than good. I mean, with a growing obesity epidemic it hardly seems right to ply ourselves and children with tons of simple carbs that are consumed throughout the day with no regard for health or nutrition.
So for the last few years we have kind of skipped over it. Sure we’ll cook some good food and give thanks, but usually I try out some different world cuisine like Greek (spanakopita or moussaka), Korean (kimchi), or even Moroccan (pigeon pie). This way we are celebrating other types of culture and still enjoying time together. Honestly I wish I had spent some time when I was still in America learning more about Native American cuisine because growing up in Illinois there is no shortage of the culture but very little of the food culture.
Besides I think we should be giving thanks to one another for what we do and what we have on a daily basis instead of treating one another like crap 364 days and being kind on one. But hey…that’s just me.
This year I went the simple route: no big ass turkey with all the trimmings. Just a few turkey breasts without the skin and a nice dish of dressing. I decided to skip over the cranberry sauce, partly because I couldn’t find fresh cranberries this week and partly because I had an idea that an apple compote might be perfect for the type of dressing I was thinking of making.
I easily found the ingredients I needed and got to work.
- 2 turkey breasts (one for today and one for tomorrow)
- 2 tbsp. olive oil, divided
- 1 bag of dressing (bread cubes)
- 1 egg
- 2.5 cups of vegetable broth
- 1 ½ tsp. each: basil & sage
- Sea salt & Pepper to taste
- 2 Granny Smith apples, peeled & chopped
- 2 Pink Lady apples, peeled & chopped
- 1 tbsp. cinnamon
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- 3 celery ribs, rinsed & rough chopped
- 2 yellow onions, chopped
- ¼ cup each; raisins & cranberries
- 1/3 cup chopped pecans
- ½ long red pepper
- ½ tbsp. each: oregano, basil, thyme and marjoram
- 1 tbsp. Irish butter (I use Kerry Gold)
Since this meal has 3 different components we’ll just take them one by one. But I recommend you prep everything and then just start cooking; it’ll make the process quicker and more enjoyable. But don’t forget the tunes because you can’t really cook without music…can you?
You’ll need to preheat the oven, I used 375 so I could cook the turkey and dressing at the same time, but they have different cook times so you’ll need 2 timers. I just relied on my mobile phone. Yay technology!
For The Turkey
- Poke small holes on both sides of the breasts with a fork then slather with 1 tbsp. of olive oil.
- Season with salt, pepper, basil and sage on both sides.
- Place breasts on aluminum foil and cover, creating a bubble so the foil isn’t touching the breasts. Leave 2 sides open so it kind of bake/steams them.
- Cook for 15 to 20 minutes or until internal temperature is 155-160.
For The Apples
- Add butter and half the brown sugar to a sauce pan over medium-high heat until butter melts.
- Add apples and sprinkle cinnamon and remaining sugar on top.
- Stir frequently until apples begin to caramelize, about 10-12 minutes.
- When the apples begin to soften and a sauce forms, reduce to simmer for 5 to 7 minutes then remove from heat.
For The Dressing
- Heat remaining olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat.
- Warm broth in a small pot over medium heat.
- Add onions, celery and red pepper to skillet then season with salt and pepper.
- Cook for about 10 minutes or until vegetables soften, then add cranberries and raisins.
- Cook 5 more minutes or until cranberries and raisins begin to plump.
- Meanwhile in a large mixing bowl, pour in bread cubes and remaining herbs. Slowly 2 or 3 ladles of broth into bread in until it begins to soften, stirring frequently.
- Add cooked vegetables and berries to the bowl and add more broth until it starts to resemble a thick batter.
- Beat egg and then pour over mixture, stirring with wooden spoon or your hands.
- Add more broth as needed then stir in pecans and transfer to oven safe baking dish.
- Cook covered for 45 minutes and then uncover and cook 5 to 10 additional minutes.
- Serve dressing with apple compote on top.
I’m a red wine fan when I’m not drinking Whiskey of the Irish variety so I enjoyed a dry Italian red with my meal.