Monday, November 24, 2008

Sunday Supper 11.23.08 - A "Zuni Thanksgiving"

Sunday Supper 11.23.08
This past Sunday, we hosted a Sunday Supper at our house. Though it wasn't Thanksgiving just yet, we wanted to roast a turkey - so we decided to pretend as if it was. I decorated the table with some dusky pumpkins and squash that I picked up at Schaner Farms' stand at the Saturday Little Italy Mercato - along with this lovely little herb bouquet that I hung on the front door. (Schaner also sells at the Santa Monica Farmers Market in Los Angeles.)
Herbs from Schaner Farms
The party favors were little 2 piece boxes from Eclipse Chocolat containing one each of their Pomegranate Sage and Pumpkin Muscovado chocolates.
November 23 2008 090
Having used the Zuni method for roasting chicken many times with great success, I decided to try Judy Rogers' method for turkey, along with my own Thanksgiving-esque version of the Zuni Bread Salad. This was our menu:
Zuni Turkey - Sunday Supper 11.23.08

Sunday Supper
"Mock" Thanksgiving


Zuni-Style Roast Turkey
Bread Salad with Chestnuts, Bitter Greens and
Homemade Pork Sausage with Pepper and Sage.
Brussel Sprout Gratin
Roasted Cranberry Relish
2007 Sinister Hand

Pumpkin Tartlets with
Homemade Ginger Ice Cream
Kalyra Port

I bought the fresh turkey at Homegrown Meats, up in La Jolla and picked it up on Saturday morning. The Zuni method involves a dry brine, so I rubbed the salt over it and under the skin and pushed a few herbs under the skin and in the cavity. It dried out nicely and absorbed the salt, but I think an additional day of brining might have been beneficial. The method really recommends that the turkey spend a day or two in a bag, and then dry uncovered for a few hours.

The bird cooks upside down for 30 mins at 450, and is then flipped over to cook for about 3 more hours at 325. The result is succulent, crispy skinned and juicy, just like the chicken - and it looks just lovely with that bronzed skin. My only regret was that I cooked it a little too early - it finished at about 2:30 PM, and I had guests arriving at 4 - but I had to free up the oven for the bread salad and I needed the drippings in order to make it - so I didn't really have much choice in the matter. If you have two ovens (or even a larger oven) you won't have that problem.
Bread Salad - Sunday Supper 11.23.08
For the bread salad, I made some homemade sausage with pepper and sage (which was delicious by itself and dead easy) which I cooked in a big skillet - then I sauteed the onion and some slivered celery in the drippings from that and added in the sliced chestnuts. I tossed the toasted bread cubes with vinegar, broth and pan drippings, added the sausage, celery and chestnuts, and put it the pan in the oven to warm. When that came out, I tossed it with Sage Mountain's baby spicy greens mix, and served it all up in a big salad bowl. Friends Jora and Angie helped out with decadent and delicious Brussel Sprout Gratin and miniature pumpkin tarts with spicy and creamy ginger ice cream. I also roasted some cranberries based on a recipe I found in Saveur.
Oyster - Sunday Supper 11.23.08
The oysters came from The Better Half Shell on a recommendation from Catalina Offshore Products. I was a little concerned about keeping them alive in the fridge for 24 hours, but I just put them on a towel lined half sheet pan tray and covered them with another wet towel. We had a bit of a scare when we pulled them out and the towels were frozen - but luckily they were still kicking underneath. Thanks to Candice for coming over and being our designated shucker - she did an amazing job, and James was even able to get in there and learn how to do it for the next party.
James shucking oysters - Sunday Supper 11.23.08
One of my favorite things about this supper was the fact that it started so early - at 4 PM. It was wonderful to enjoy the company of friends and a full meal (after dark) and still have the kitchen cleaned by 8 PM - and I'm sure our friends found it just as refreshing to get home before midnight!

Here are the recipes:

Zuni-fied Dry Brined Roast Turkey (aka The Judy Bird)
adapted from the LA Times and the Zuni Cafe Cookbook

1 12-18 pound turkey (I cooked a 16 pounder from Homegrown Meats)
1 cup of kosher salt (it does have to be kosher)
fresh sage and thyme

48 hours before you plan to roast it (or 24 if you're pressed for time like I was) remove the giblets and any twine or wire on the turkey and rinse and dry it well with paper towels. Put your salt in a dish and start by generously rubbing a few tablespoons on the inside. Slide your fingers underneath the breast skin and rub the salt up underneath the skin as far as your fingers will go. Flip the bird around and slip your fingers under the other side and rub salt under the skin. Pat salt on the outside of the breast.

Massage salt on the outside of the legs and thighs - pulling them apart to get it all over the skin. cut slits in the top of the legs and slip your hand in under the skin, massaging salt over the leg and thigh meat. Slip some sage leaves under the skin and place sage and thyme in the cavity of the bird. Place the turkey in a large plastic bag and put it in the fridge overnight. Massage again the next day to work the salt into the meat. 8 hours before you plan to roast it, take the turkey out of the bag and place it on a tray or plate on multiple layers of paper towels. Put it in the fridge uncovered on the tray to dry out. About 2 hours before you plan to roast it, remove from the fridge to come to room temperature - at that time, change the towels underneath it so it's completely dry when it goes in the oven. (If you only have 24 hours, just massage salt into the bird once, and place it on a paper towel lined plate uncovered in the fridge until you take it out to come to room temp.)

Prepare your roasting rack and pan and preheat the oven to 450. Place the bird breast-side down on the rack, and roast for 30 minutes. Flip it over (using your hands and some kitchen towels) and reduce the heat to 325. Roast until the thickest part of the breast meat registers 160 on a meat thermometer or until the juices run clear coming from the thigh - about 2.5 to 3 hours. (You can start collecting drippings from the pan using a turkey baster anytime after the first two hours.)

Remove from the oven and allow to rest for at least 30 mins before carving.

Thanksgiving Style Bread Salad

1-2 loaves of day old french bread
3 cups of pork sausage with pepper and sage (see below)
2 celery ribs thinly sliced
1 bunch of scallions, sliced diagonally - including some of the green part
3-4 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
At least 4 cups of arugula or other bitter greens
red wine vinegar
2 cups of homemade chicken or turkey stock
1.4 cups of steamed chestnuts, sliced - or dried currants
1/2 cup pecan pieces or pine nuts
champagne vinegar
drippings from the turkey

Cut most of the crust off of the bread and half the loaf lengthwise.
Toast under the broiler on a baking sheet until lightly browned. Flip over and toast the other side. Tear the bread into irregular chunks ranging between 2 inches and 1/2inch - put in a large shallow bowl.

If using dried currants, warm some red wine vinegar slightly and pour it over the currants to absorb.

Make a tart viniagrette of 1/4 cup of olive oil or turkey drippings if you have them, and 2-3 tablespoons of champagne vinegar, in a small bowl or cup. Drizzle over the bread and toss thoroughly. Taste for tartness and seasoning and adjust accordingly.

Put the pecans or pine nuts in a dish in the oven to heat for a few minutes.

Heat a large skillet and tear off 1 inch chunks of sausage and drop them into the pan. Fry until well browned. Remove the sausage from the pan and add the scallions, celery and slivered garlic to the drippings. Saute until the softened. Add the sausage, onion mixture and slivered chestnuts or drained currants to the bread. Add a few grinds of pepper, and toss with a half cup of broth and another generous drizzle of drippings and vinegar, until everything is well moistened and well seasoned.

Place the bread salad in a large pan and cover loosely with foil. Place in the oven to warm the for about 30-45 mins. If your turkey also needs warming, you can carve it and warm it in the oven for 15 mins.

When you remove the bread salad from the oven, toss it with the arugula, salt and pepper and more drippings or viniagrette to taste. Don't be shy with the greens - they wilt and shrink when tossed with the warm bread.

Pile the bread salad on a platter or into a large bowl and serve with the carved turkey.

Fresh Pork Sausage with Pepper and Sage
adapted from Bon Appetit

2 pounds boneless pork shoulder, cut into 1-inch cubes, chilled
1/2 pound fresh pork fat, cut into 1-inch pieces, chilled
3 tablespoons cold water
1 tablespoon potent dried rubbed sage
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons dried crushed red pepper
1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

Pulse the pork and fat in batches in the food processor until finely ground. Place in a large bowl - add the rest of the ingredients and blend with moistened hands just until combined. Wrap in Saran Wrap and press and roll to form a log. Refrigerate overnight or at least a few hours before using.

Roasted Cranberries
adapted from Saveur

2 pounds of fresh cranberries
1 orange - zested, zest cut into 1.5 inch strips
and 2 tablespoons of juice reserved
2 cinnamon sticks
4 cloves
1 small jalapeno, seeded and minced
2 cups of sugar (or a little less if you like them tart - I'd go with 1.5 myself)
2 tablespoons champagne or rice vinegar
2 tablespoons of port
2 tablespoons of water (if needed)

Preheat the oven to 450. In a large bowl, toss the cranberries with the orange zest, cloves, cinnamon sticks, jalapeno and sugar. Spread on a parchment lined rimmed half sheet pan, avoiding the edges of the pan (you will need to do at least two batches) and cover loosely with parchment. Place in the oven for about 10-12 mins, until the cranberries burst and release their juices. Scrape the cranberries into a bowl and repeat the process until all of the cranberries are roasted.

Stir in the orange juice, port, and vinegar, adding a little water if it still seems too thick. Allow to cool and refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.


  1. Re roasted cranberries. Now you tell me! It sounds delicious. I'm glad I got to see it in the market stage! Hope you have a great holiday!

  2. All looks delish! I'll try the recipe too.

  3. Wow- these recipes all look phenomenal. That turkey is such a perfect color!

    And if you manage to get that recipe for brussels sprouts gratin, I'd love to try it out. I love brussels sprouts to begin with, and I'm a firm believer that cheese makes everything better...

  4. Sounds like the turkey turned out great! It certainly looks beautiful! I roasted some cranberries the other night (as an experiment) with green beans and garlic. I didn't get to finish it the way I wanted because I realized at the last minute I was out of balsamic vinegar but it did make me think about trying a sweet roasted cranberry dish. I'm bookmarking this one!

  5. I tasted the Zuni chicken with friends in San Francisco earlier this summer, and those friends surprised me with the Zuni cookbook for my birthday. I have been dying to try their method of cooking chicken! It was so perfect when I tasted it at the restaurant — not overcooked at all, and served with that bread salad and mustard greens, it was just to die for. Your bird looks beautiful and your menu sounds incredible.

    Happy Thanksgiving!

  6. Catt Fields White11/23/10, 6:13 AM

    It all looks delightful - love that bread salad as a side, sort of like stuffing punched up with greens. We do the weekend before every year: Faux Thanksgiving!

  7. Our family has been using the Zuni Bird Turkey Recipe for the past 4 years.

  8. Link exсhange is nothing еlse but it is
    just ρlacіng the οther рerson's web site link on your page at proper place and other person will also do same in support of you.
    Here is my site :: how to stop snoring at night