Wednesday, November 14, 2018

A Terrific Thanksgiving Turkey Through Better Brine

Almost time for Thanksgiving and one way to ensure that you have a perfect roasted turkey: brine it.  And don't way until Turkey Day to baste that bird!  Amy Traverso with Yankee Magazine stopped by Tonia's Kitchen to talk turkey.  Specifically how to cook one that could be the best you've ever had! Amy told Tonia the secret to a crispy delicious skin is in the brine. In fact, Amy says you might never go back to an unbrined bird. She says the ideal is to start two days before Thanksgiving, and leave the turkey in the fridge, uncovered.  One more tip, Amy says you can use bacon while the bird is cooking.   Place the bacon on top of the bird and it's fat will render itself on the turkey.  Simply but, that's terrific!

Brined Bourbon–Pecan Turkey & Gravy

Total Time: About 3.5 hours, plus at least 8 hours brining
Hands On Time: 45 minutes
Yield: About 12 servings turkey, with 5 cups gravy

For the Brine:


    1 12- to 15-pound natural turkey (see “Note,” below)
    2 ½ gallons cold water
    2 ¼ cups kosher salt
    1 ¼ cups bourbon
    1 cup granulated sugar
    3 cloves garlic, crushed
    3 bay leaves


Remove the giblets and neck from the bird, saving the neck if you plan to make stock (for a recipe, go to: Set aside.

The evening before you roast the turkey, mix the water, salt, bourbon, sugar, garlic, and bay leaves in a lobster pot or other container large enough to accommodate the bird; stir until the salt and sugar have completely

Place the whole turkey in the brine, breast side down, and move it around a bit to expel air from the cavity. Place the container in the refrigerator (if brining outside, remember to add ice and secure the lid). Let the turkey rest in the brine 12 hours.

Remove the bird from the brine, and drain and pat dry. Let the turkey sit, uncovered, 30 minutes at room temperature before roasting. Discard the brine. Preheat your oven to 400° and set a rack to the lowest position.

Additional Notes:
This recipe works best with a natural, untreated turkey. If you’re using a kosher or pre-brined turkey, skip the brining step.

For the Basting sauce:

    ½ cup salted butter
    ½ cup bourbon
    ¼ cup chopped pecans
    1 ½ tablespoons maple syrup
    4 cups reduced-sodium chicken stock or turkey stock, divided


In a small saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. Put bourbon and pecans in a blender; blend until smooth. Add to the saucepan, along with the maple syrup. Do not boil.

Tie the turkey’s legs together with butcher’s twine. Place the turkey, breast side down, on a rack in a large roasting pan and brush the cavity with half of the Basting Sauce. Pour 2 cups of chicken or turkey stock into the bottom of the pan. Cover the turkey with tented aluminum foil; just pat it down over the meat (no need to seal).

Transfer to the oven and reduce the heat to 325°. Roast 1½ hours; then remove the foil and flip the bird breast side up and baste. Return it to the oven and roast, uncovered, basting with Basting Sauce every 30 minutes or so—and adding stock to the pan as needed to keep the drippings from burning—until the skin is golden brown and a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast to the bone registers 160°, another 1½ to 2 hours, depending on the size of your bird. Remove from the oven and transfer the bird to a carving board; tent it with foil. Reserve the drippings in the roasting pan. Let the turkey rest 20 minutes before carving.

For the Gravy:


    Drippings from the roasting pan
    Remaining Basting Sauce
    ½ cup all-purpose flour
    4 cups reduced-sodium chicken stock or turkey stock
    Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
    1 tablespoon bourbon


While the turkey is resting, make the gravy: Set the roasting pan with the drippings over two burners on your stove and set both to medium heat. Add the remaining Basting Sauce and whisk in the flour. Cook, whisking continuously to pick up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the stock and cook, stirring, until the gravy is thickened and smooth (if needed, run it through a strainer). Season with salt, pepper, and bourbon. Carve the turkey and serve with the gravy.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

This Chili is Sans Beef

But you won't miss it here!  Mark Bitman, who wrote the cookbook How To Cook Everything Vegetarian, told Tonia's Kitchen to give his vegetarian chili a try.  He told Tonia he starts with black beans, tomatoes and onions, then adds interesting spices like cumin and cinnamon.  Mark says he also adds queso fresco or sour cream along with cilantro and scallions.  He notes, if you're in a rush, you can use canned beans because the spices work nicely with them.  Mark says, if you follow the recipe, no one will say "where's the beef?"

1 pound dried pinto beans, washed, picked over, and soaked if you like
1 whole onion, unpeeled, plus 1 small onion, minced Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup bean-cooking liquid, vegetable stock, or water 1 fresh or dried hot chile, seeded and minced, or to taste (optional)
1 teaspoon ground cumin, or to taste (optional)
1 teaspoon minced fresh oregano leaves or 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano (optional)
1 tablespoon minced garlic
Chopped fresh cilantro for garnish
1. Put the beans in a large pot with water to cover and bring to a boil over high heat, skimming the foam if necessary. Add the whole onion. Adjust the heat so the beans bubble steadily but not violently and cover loosely.
2. When the beans begin to soften (30 minutes to an hour, depending on the type of bean and whether or not you soaked the beans), season with salt and pepper. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally and adding water if necessary, until the beans are quite tender but still intact (about as long as it took them to begin to soften).
3. Drain the beans, reserving the cooking liquid if you choose to use it. Discard the onion and add all the remaining ingredients except the cilantro. Turn the heat to medium and bring to a boil. Cover and turn the heat down to low.
4. Cook, stirring occasionally and adding more liquid if necessary, until the beans are very tender and the flavors have mellowed, about 15 minutes. Taste, adjust the seasoning, and garnish with cilantro. Serve with rice, crackers, or tortilla chips and bottled hot sauce.
Chili with Tomatoes.
This simple addition makes a big difference; you might also add 1/4 teaspoon or so of ground cinnamon: Substitute 2 cups peeled, seeded, and chopped tomato (canned is fine; don't bother to drain) for the bean or other liquid. Cook carefully, adding a little more liquid if needed. Top with freshly grated cheddar or other semihard cheese if you like.
Chili con Carne.
Try this with the preceding variation: While the beans are cooking, put 1 tablespoon neutral oil, like grapeseed or corn, in a large skillet over medium heat. Add 1 pound hand-chopped or ground beef, pork, turkey, or chicken and cook, stirring, until the meat has lost its color, about 10 minutes. Season the meat with salt, pepper, and about 2 teaspoons chili powder, or to taste. Stir it into the beans along with the other ingredients.
White Chili.
Substitute any kind of white beans for the pinto beans. In Step 3, when you discard the onion, stir in 2 cups shredded or chopped cooked chicken (grilled is terrific).

Monday, November 12, 2018

A Classic Holiday Pie

As pies go, Pecan tends to be among the more challenging, simply because of the complexity of the filling. But here's a recipe that's bound to be surefire!  Melissa Sperka, author of Melissa's Southern Kitchen stopped by Tonia's Kitchen with a great pecan pie that people love!  It's a great addition to your Thanksgiving table. Melissa tells Tonia she mixes all the ingredients together, but arranges the pecans before she bakes the pie, so it's aesthetically pleasing. Melissa says you can do that with a fork or other utensil.

  • 1 9-inch deep dish pie crust, homemade or frozen
  • 1 cup Karo® Light Corn Syrup
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 4 tablespoons butter melted
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups whole pecan halves roughly chopped 
  • 1/2 cup bits-o-brickle toffee bits plus1 Tbsp
  • Chantilly Cream:
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Fit pie crust into dish. Crimp the edges as desired. Set aside. If using frozen, remove from packaging and set on baking sheet.
  2. Mix together the corn syrup, eggs, brown sugar, butter and vanilla using a spoon until fully combined
  3. Stir in pecans and 1/2 cup toffee bits stirring until evenly distributed. Pour the filling into pie crust.Sprinkle with 1 Tbsp toffee bits.
  4. Bake on center rack of oven for 60 to 70 minutes until puffed and golden or the filling slightly jiggles when gently shaken.
  5. Check at 45 minutes and cover the edge of the crust with foil to prevent over browning, if needed.
  6. Cool completely on a wire rack before cutting.
  7. To make the Chantilly cream: Chill metal mixing bowl and beaters.Using an electric mixer beat the cream and vanilla in chilled bowl, gradually adding the sugar until stiff peaks form.
  8. Chill until serving with pie

Friday, November 9, 2018

A True Italian Cookie

It seems we've making basic cookie dough the same way since the dawn of time, but one cool chef told Tonia about a different kind of snack.  Gina Del Palma with Mario Battali's restaurant Babo in New York City says you can make cookies with Polenta.  Del Palma, the author of Dolce Italiano says you can make Zaletti cookies with instant polenta in almost no time!  Just add butter, flour, sugar egg-anything you might add to cookie dough, into the mixer.  It should take no more than 10 minutes.  Once you have the dough, shape it as desired.  Del Palma recommends diamonds!

¾ cup dried currants

  • ¼ cup boiling water
  • 3 tablespoons grappa
  • 1 ¾ cups unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1 cup instant or fine polenta
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar, plus more for garnish
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • ½ cup (1 stick/4 ounces) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • Finely grated zest of 1 lemon

  • Directions

    Place the currants in a small heatproof bowl, pour the boiling water and grappa over them, and stir briefly to combine. Set the bowl aside to let the currants plump and cool.
    Place the flour, polenta, sugar, salt, and baking powder in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on low speed for 30 seconds to combine them. In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg and egg yolk to break them up, then whisk in the melted butter and lemon zest. Add the egg mixture to the dry ingredients and beat on medium speed to combine thoroughly, about 1 minute. Add the currants and their liquid and beat them into dough on medium speed for about 30 seconds. Remove the dough from the bowl, flatten it into a disk, wrap it in plastic, and chill until it is firm enough to roll, about 1 hour.

    Preheat the oven to 325°F. Lightly grease two baking sheets with nonstick cooking spray or butter or line them with parchment paper.

    To form the cookies, use lightly floured fingers to pull off tablespoonfuls of dough and shape each one into a small, plump log about 1 ½ inches long. Press the log down to flatten it and pinch the ends together to taper them, creating a diamond shape. Place the diamonds on the baking sheets, spaced 1 inch apart. Sprinkle the tops of the cookies lightly with granulated sugar.

    Bake the cookies for 15 minutes, or until they are lightly golden brown around the edges and firm to the touch, rotating the sheets 180 degrees halfway through the baking time to ensure even browning. Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheets for 1 to 2 minutes, then use a spatula to remove them gently to a wire rack to cool completely.

    Thursday, November 8, 2018

    Beyond Peanut Butter or Chocolate Chip

    Is it cookie time yet? Chances are, you might be craving a cookie every now and again. And why not? They're incredibly delicious. But maybe you're yearning for something more than just the standby chocolate chip or peanut butter? If that's you, then Tonia's Kitchen has you covered. Tiffany King, who wrote the cookbook, Eat at Home Tonight, told Tonia about her recipe for Apricot Almond Cookies which are simply scrumptious. Tiffany says these cookies are very easy to make and very soft. Use almond butter along with standard cookie ingredients, almonds, dried apricots and white chocolate chips. You might say this is your new standard sweet tooth-satisfying cookie!