14 November, 2009

Thanksgiving in a Tube

Thanksgiving sausage

Turkey and mushroom sausage recipe. Make it as meatballs for your next holiday buffet.

November is in the air yo, and that means it's time to dust of those old copies of Gourmet magazine and find granny's favorite recipe for green bean casserole. But how about something different? Have you ever wondered if you could capture the flavors of Thanksgiving in a sausage? Dude I have. I started imagining everything stuffed in a casing, potatoes, dressing, greens, gravy...My mom suggested dried cranberries, but why not sauce Ma? Thanksgiving is THE All-American holiday and what's more American than using a little innovation to cram dinner into a neat easy to eat tube? While I didn't manage to get the entire meal into one sausage, I think I have come up with something that works. Let's take a look at the ingredients.


The Turkey

Don't get me started on turkey. I am a fan of buying from local producer, but in the end I don't care where you get it. Walking to the supermarket to buy your turkey (take a wagon) counts as buying local. The magic of a meal should happen in the kitchen not where you fork over the money. Try to find one that is not frozen, there may be still time to order one from the meat counter, ask. If you buy a frozen one allow a week for it to thaw in the fridge, quick thawing a turkey really effects the texture and moisture, try to avoid that. Oops, I got started.

For this sausage recipe I used a whole turkey, I got 5.75 pounds of ground meat from a 11.5 pound bird and made stock with the bones. I like using the whole bird beacuse that mix of fat/lean/skin that make for good texture. Besides since I have a meat grinder, I rarely buy anything ground. However I realize you may not want to go to the trouble. I will write the recipe using just a couple of pounds of ground turkey.

Mushroom Duxelles

Stuffing not filler.

Essential to the Thanksgiving experience is stuffing. I used to get so mad at my brother because he would not eat stuffing, I didn't get it, I could eat stuffing all day long, I wished Thanksgiving was everyday so I could eat stuffing. How could he not like the magical combination of bread, sausage and herbs? For this recipe I knew I didn't want fuss with bread, and I already making sausage, so to get the flavor and texture of stuffing I turned to an old French standard, Mushroom Duxelles. I know what your thinking, and no, using a French recipe does not make this sausage any less American. Remember the French helped us with a thing called the Revolution, and Ben Franklin, booster and friend to the turkey, loved to party in Paris.

Mushroom Duxelles was the first thing I cooked in culinary school. As it was with 25 students cooking on 12 stoves, we didn't get much of an explanation of what we were doing or why, we were told chop, cook, don't burn. In the end everything was scraped into a large hotel pan, it was one of those forest/tree deals, I was so worried about getting rapped on the knuckles with a wooden spoon that I worked quickly sweating every detail and did not know what I was supposed to do with the end product. Our next lesson was de-boning poussins (tiny chickens). We then stuffed the birds with the Duxelles and roasted them. After tasting, a light went on: Ah, the essential flavor of stuffing. The recipe for Duxelles is centuries old, so I wont be trampling on anybody's copyright if I give it to you. While I can't give its exact origin, some say named after the town of Uxel other say named after La Varenne's boss, I can say it was a method of saving and preserving mushrooms that were going bad. For this recipe I used regular white mushrooms which are fine, you could use wild mushrooms for more fanciful flavor, but since the buttons where on sale I couldn't pass them up.

Sage, Rosemary, Thyme

The Herbs.

Sage, rosemary and thyme and you got Thanksgiving. It pains me to recommend that you buy fresh sprigs packed in plastic for two and a half bucks a pop, but fresh sometimes makes a big difference. Dried Sage has little resemblance to fresh you gotta find it, rosemary I have never used dried so I couldn't say, but thyme you can get away with using dried in certain circumstances, such as stocks and sausages. However we need fresh thyme for the sauce later so you might as well bite the bullet. Better yet if you don't have one, think about starting an herb garden. Not now, in the Spring. Sage grows easily, thyme like a weed, but rosemary is a little fussy. If you are interested about growing and cooking with herbs check out The Herbfarm Cookbook, by Jerry Traunfeld, it's a great book.


You'll also need some fresh parsley. Chop up the leaf for the recipe and save the stems for making stock (or broth if you live in the D.C. area and are unsure of the difference. Hint: Bones=stock, meat=broth).

Chap Book Cover 1895

Of all the gifts the Pilgrims received on that first Thanksgiving the greatest one was the cranberry. When I first started thinking about this project, I definitely wanted cranberry sauce inside the Thanksgiving sausage. I started with the recipe on the side of the cranberry package, 1 cup water 1 cup of sugar boil and strain, I tired a few experiments. I got great color, but all I could taste was the sweet and the syurp was effecting the texture. I tried less sugar, citrus, vinegar, but things got worse. Finally I realized that I should let the cranberry sauce be just caranberry sauce. I took of my dotted sausage making hat and popped on my saucier touque to find the right sauce.

Cranberries, Thyme

I didn't want to get to crazy with a sauce but cranberries needed a little punch. That thought back to my Advance sauces class and remembered the great combo of red wine, shallot and thyme.

Thyme, shallot, wine au sec

I softened the shallot then added the wine and thyme and reduced to dry. I added the berries water and sugar and boiled.

Cooked cranberries

Cranberries through the strainer

I ran the mixture through a stainer to get a nice smooth sauce. Here are the quantities

15g/ 1 T Butter
20g/ heaping T Shallot, minced
60ml/2oz/ 1/4c Red wine
2 Sprigs fresh thyme

225g/8oz/ 1 cup of water
170g/6oz Sugar
Zest from 1 lemon
340g/12oz/1 package cranberries, sorted and rinsed.
Salt, cayenne pepper

Heat medium sauce pan add butter and soften shallot. Add wine and thyme reduce au sec. Add water stir in sugar, sprinkle lemon zest and bring to a boil. Add cranberries cook until soft, 10 minutes. Push through metal strainer with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon. Salt TT. Also for a little more zip try stirring in a little cayenne.


Mushroom Duxelles

15g/ 1 T Butter
20g/ heaping T Shallot, minced
1 clove garlic minced
225g/8oz Mushrooms, cleaned, chopped fine.
1 T parsley, chopped fine

Heat large sauté pan add butter and soften shallot and garlic.
Add chopped mushrooms stir and cook until dry, 10 minutes.
Stir in parsley, Salt and pepper TT, set aside.

Yield 145g.

Time to set the table with some Thanksgiving Sausage.

900g/2 lb Turkey ground
14g/2tsp Salt
5g/1tsp (heaping) Black pepper
4g/2tsp Fennel (nice if toasted in dry skillet)
4g/2tsp Coriander seed (toast with the fennel)
2g/1tsp Brown mustard seed
3g/1tsp Ground ginger
8 leaves fresh sage chopped
1g/1T fresh thyme
1g/1T fresh rosemary
2 juniper berries
1 Duxelles recipe

120g/4 oz/ 1/2cup ice water
15ml/1 T cider vinegar

Put the salt and spices and herbs together in a spice mill and pulverize. Using either stand mixer with paddle attachment or a wooden spoon with a big arm, gently but thoroughly mix herb/spice mixture into ground turkey, then toss in mushroom duxelles, then stream in water and vinegar.

You can stuff the into casings for the hip sausage look or you can:

Lihapullat for Pikkujoulu

make meatballs (about 35 1oz portions) for the Office party

Turkey Burger "Slider" with cranberry sauce and goat cheese

make mini bugers (AKA Sliders)

Thanksgiving Pie

Or the ultimate in comfort food, the Thanskgiving pie.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving and have fun cooking.