Thanksgiving Dinner Southern Style

Thanksgiving Dinner Southern Style – Iced Tea

When it comes to special occasion dinners no Southern table is complete without a pitcher (or two) of iced tea.  As I wrote in my 2010 cookbook Third Coast Cuisine, “. . . iced tea is always sweet.  If you order iced tea at a restaurant or café you should expect and receive a glass of sweetened tea.  There is a drink who’s recipe closely resembles iced tea except for the omission of sweetener.  It is called “unsweetened tea,” not iced tea.  It is similar to iced tea in the same way that diet cola is similar to cola.  But they are not the same thing.”  I am no less resolute in that now.

Recently, I took up the subject of tea with a guy who knows a lot about it.  Richard Rosenfeld is the owner of Two Leaves and a Bud, a premium tea purveyor out of Aspen, CO.  Rosenfeld opened his company in 2005 with the mission of bringing the experience of the gardens back to his customers.  He personally visits the farmers in exotic locals like Darjeeling, Assam and Sri Lanka and hand picks (sometimes literally) the tea he decides to sell.  It’s safe to say the guy knows his tea.

Richard RosenfeldWhy do you think tea has become so popular with Americans?

I believe there are two major movements which have driven the growth in tea.  One is health (and the movement away from coffee).  And the other is the availability of better tasting tea, better quality tea in the US.

You know you’re drinking a good cup of tea because it doesn’t go bitter.

How does loose tea differ from the tea that comes in bags?

I look at it as wine from a bottle as opposed to wine from a box.  You know wine from a box can be very good but generally wine fom a bottle is considered a much better wine.  But how they are different specifically, you have two major types of tea –  whole leaf tea and dust tea.  There are lots of different dust teas out there and just because we don’t do dust doesn’t mean they’re bad.  But they tend to be a little more insipid.  They have a little less depth of flavor.  A good glass of tea should have a top note, it should have middle notes and it should have a finish.

How long should you steep whole leaf tea?

For whole leaf black teas you’re in the four to five minute area.  For whole leaf green teas you are in five plus.

 

So what’s my secret to a perfect pitcher of iced tea?  Well I start with Two Leaves and a Bud’s Assam Breakfast Black Tea.  I prefer the loose leaf but even the bags are still better than any tea you’ve ever had before.  Then another premium ingredient, Demarerra sugar.  Demerara is so named because originally it came from sugar cane fields in the colony of Demerara in Guyana.  It is an unrefined sugar like the more common Turbinado (popularly known as Sugar in the Raw which is also a great sugar for tea).  I like Demarerra because it has the subtle notes of brown sugar and molasses.  It usually comes in large caramel colored crystals.

The final ingredient is filtered water.  I don’t want any outside flavors disrupting my perfect pitcher of iced tea.  That’s also why I never steep more than five minutes.  Many people think this will make a stronger brew but that isn’t true at all.  It will only allow more outside flavors into the tea, then you have to use more sugar to cover them up.  If you want stronger tea, use more tea leaves.

Perfect Iced Tea
Recipe Type: Beverage
Author: Stuart Reb Donald
Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 2 hours
Total time: 2 hours 10 mins
Serves: 12
If you cannot get your hands on Two Leaves and a Bud I also recommend Community, Hill Brothers or Lipton Premium Black Pearl in the pyramid bags.
Ingredients
  • 4 tablespoons loose black tea
  • 1 cup Demerara sugar
  • 3 quarts filtered water
Instructions
  1. In a 2 quart saucepan bring 1 quart water to a boil.
  2. Add tea, cover, and remove from heat. Allow to steep for no more than five minutes.
  3. Strain the tea through a very fine sieve or coffee filter into a three-quart pitcher.
  4. Add sugar and stir until all sugar is dissolved.
  5. Add the remaining 2 quarts of water and refrigerate at least 2 hours.

Thanksgiving Dinner Southern Style – Oyster & Andouille Dressing

I love oysters.  Perhaps that is why I have always loved Oyster Dressing.  Oyster Dressing is easy to make too so that helps.  Take your standard cornbread dressing recipe and just stir in a dozen or so raw oysters.  Or you can really up the “Wow!” factor by making this amazing Oyster & Andouille Dressing

Oyster & Andouille Dressing
Recipe Type: Side
Author: Stuart Reb Donald
Prep time: 20 mins
Cook time: 45 mins
Total time: 1 hour 5 mins
Serves: 8
If you do not like oysters, just leave them out. I won’t judge ya. You’ll still have an amazing Andouille Dressing.
Ingredients
  • 1/2 pound andouille, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 5 TBL unsalted butter
  • 1 cup chopped yellow onions
  • 2 TBL minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup whole kernal corn (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano
  • Basic cornbread, dried overnight, enough to fill a 9 X 13 dish
  • 3 slices stale white or whole wheat bread, torn into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 to 2 dozen raw Gulf oysters
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 to 3 cups homemade chicken stock, as needed
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Rub 1 TBL butter in a 13 by 9-inch baking dish and set aside.
  2. In a large skillet, cook the sausage until brown and the fat is rendered, about 5 minutes. Add remaining butter, onions, garlic, fresh thyme, fresh oregano and corn then cook for 3-5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat and transfer to a large bowl to cool.
  3. With your fingers, crumble the corn bread into the bowl, add bread, then sausage mixture, oysters and mix well with your hands. Add enough broth, 1/2 cup at a time, to moisten the dressing, being careful not to make it too mushy.
  4. Transfer to the buttered dish and cover with aluminum foil. Bake until heated through, about 25 minutes. Uncover and bake until golden brown, about 15 – 20 minutes.
Notes

If the dressing doesn’t have the right browned crust after 45 minutes place it under the broiler for a few minutes until you get the desired crunchification.

Oyster & Andouille Dressing

Thanksgiving Dinner Southern Style – Pies

Chris Lilly of world famous Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q in Decatur, AL is talking turkey, well actually pies – grilled pies.  Chris is fresh off his appearance on Best in Smoke on the Food Network and winning Grand Champion at the 2011 Memphis in May but he was nice enough to chat with me about all things Thanksgiving Southern Style.  He was also nice enough to give me a couple of recipes for his amazing grilled pies and one for grilled turkey.  What a guy.  The recipes are below the Q&A.

Chris Lilly Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-QHow has your appearance on Best in Smoke effected your business?

I never realized how many people watched Food Network until I did the series Best in Smoke. This show was different because you not only had barbecue enthusiasts watching it but people who just love food in general. We could instantly see a spike in sales both at our restaurant and on our website. The good thing is that most were new customers who were trying Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q for the first time.

What are your memories of Thanksgiving growing up?

Most of my Thanksgiving memories are traditional.  Growing up in a large family meant an overflowing Thanksgiving dinner table with all of the traditional food such as; turkey, ham, dressing, cranberry salad, green beans, black eyed peas, cornbread, mashed potatoes and gravy.  It was a relaxing time with nothing on the agenda but food!

What is Thanksgiving like at the Lilly household today?

Thanksgiving today is a little more hectic.  With two kids in college and extended family spread out across Northern Alabama it takes a little holiday magic to get everyone together for the family dinner.  Sometimes I even have to eat two Thanksgiving meals in one day to make sure we get to all the family dinner parties!  Don’t feel sorry for me.

It seems that my charcoal grill is always hot around Thanksgiving, personally I like to fire up with Kingsford Charcoal. Now I’m the default turkey and ham cooker for the holiday. I always like to throw in an extra surprise for the meal like grilled cranberries to make a more flavorful sauce.

What is your favorite part of Thanksgiving dinner?

Without a doubt my favorite part about Thanksgivings past and future is family. The chance to spend the day catching up around the charcoal grill in the backyard and the dinner table is something I look forward to the most. Thanksgiving is a happy time for my family and what better way to enjoy it than cooking and eating.

Do you have any new recipes that you are making this year?

Whenever I have free time during the year you will often find me in my backyard around the grill trying out new recipes. This year one of my favorite experiments turned out to be grilled pies. I wanted to take the traditional Southern fried pie and give it an extra punch of flavor by cooking it over charcoal. This is easier said than done because most homemade crusts are not grill grate ready! I’m happy to report that I’ve put together the perfect grilled crust recipe. Now I can satisfy my sweet tooth with grilled peach, apple, or caramel pecan pie. You can take it a step further and make grilled breakfast pies or something savory such as a grilled tomato pie.

 

Grilled Caramel Pecan Pie
Recipe Type: Dessert
Author: Courtesy of Chris Lilly from Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q
Prep time: 45 mins
Cook time: 6 mins
Total time: 51 mins
Serves: 8 pies
Take one of the South’s richest culinary traditions from the oven to the grill for more flavor. Pecans, caramel and filling are nestled in a half-moon pouch of dough and grilled directly over hot coals to form a crisp shell with a rich gooey center.
Ingredients
    Dough

  • 1 cup butter (2 sticks)
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup flour for rolling out dough
    Pie

  • 8 store bought caramels cut in half
  • 1/2 cup pecan pieces
  • 1/4 cup dark corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 tablespoon oil
Instructions
  1. Cut butter into 1/2 inch cubes and refrigerate. Measure the water and refrigerate. In a small mixing bowl add flour and salt and mix well. Add in the cold butter until the mixture resembles coarse bread crumbs. Slowly add water, mixing continuously, until a dough ball is formed. Seal the dough ball in GLAD® ClingWrap and place in the refrigerator overnight.
  2. Sprinkle countertop or cutting board generously with flour. Remove dough from the refrigerator and place onto the floured prep area, roll out to a thickness of 1/8 inch. Cut the dough into 5- to 6-inch diameter circles. Removing extra dough from the prep area to reroll and make more pie shells. Immediately peal, lift and flip the dough circles making sure they don’t stick. Yield should be 8 pie shells.
  3. Preheat the grill using Kingsford® charcoal, until the internal temperature reaches 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  4. Place 2 caramel halves and 1 tablespoon of pecans onto the center of each dough circle.
  5. Combine corn syrup, sugar, butter, vanilla extract and salt in a small saucepan over low heat. Mix until the ingredients are combined. Remove from the heat and stir in the egg once the mixture has cooled. Chill the filling for 15 minutes or until it has thickened slightly. Add 4 teaspoons of the cold filling mixture over the caramels and pecans onto the center of each dough circle.
  6. Lightly moisten the edges of the dough with water. Fold the dough in half creating a half moon with peach filling. Gently press the pie edges together and crimp them with a fork.
  7. Prep the charcoal grill grate by using a grill brush and to brush on a light coat of oil. Transfer the pies to the grill and cook over direct heat, uncovered, for 3 minutes on each side or until the dough turns a crispy golden brown. Remove from the grill and serve.
Notes

Recipe created by world champion pitmaster, Chris Lilly on behalf of Kingsford® charcoal.

Old-Fashioned Grilled Peach Pie
Recipe Type: Dessert
Author: Courtesy of Chris Lilly of Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q
Prep time: 45 mins
Cook time: 10 mins
Total time: 55 mins
Serves: 8 pies
In the South, mouths drool whenever fried pies are mentioned. Traditionally they are fried in a pan with butter until crisp and brown. To heat things up, I have taken this traditional dessert to the backyard barbecue. By grilling the peaches prior to making the filling and then crisping the dough pocket over hot charcoal, you can make this Southern dessert a coal-fired masterpiece.
Ingredients
    Dough

  • 2 sticks butter
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup flour for rolling out dough
    Sugar Rub

  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/16 teaspoon nutmeg
    Pies

  • 2 pounds ripe peaches (3 large or 4 medium)
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 6 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 tablespoon orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon oil
Instructions
  1. Cut butter into 1/2 inch cubes and refrigerate. Measure the water and refrigerate. In a small mixing bowl add flour and salt and mix well. Add in the cold butter until the mixture resembles coarse bread crumbs. Slowly add water, mixing continuously, until a dough ball is formed. Seal the dough ball in GLAD® ClingWrap and place in the refrigerator overnight.
  2. Sprinkle countertop or cutting board generously with flour. Remove dough from the refrigerator and place onto the floured prep area, roll out to a thickness of 1/8 inch. Cut the dough into 5- to 6-inch diameter circles. Removing extra dough from the prep area to re-roll and make more pie shells. Immediately peal, lift and flip the dough circles making sure they don’t stick. Yield should be 8 pie shells.
  3. Preheat the grill using Kingsford® charcoal, until the internal temperature reaches 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  4. In a small bowl add the sugar rub ingredients and mix well.
  5. Remove the pit from the peaches and cut each peach into 8 wedges and remove skin. Generously coat the peach wedges with the sugar rub mix. Immediately place the peaches on the grill grate for 2 minutes on each side, or until they caramelize. Remove the peaches from the grill and dice them into 1/2 inch pieces. Place the peaches and butter into a medium mixing bowl. When the butter melts, add the brown sugar and flour and mix well. Stir in orange juice.
  6. Place 2 heaping tablespoons of peach filling onto the center of each circle of dough. Lightly moisten the edges of the dough with water. Fold the dough in half creating a half moon with peach filling. Gently press the pie edges together and crimp them with a fork.
  7. Prep the charcoal grill grate by using a grill brush and to brush on a light coat of oil. Transfer the pies to the grill and cook over direct heat, uncovered, for 3 minutes on each side or until the dough turns a crispy golden brown. Remove from the grill and serve.
Notes

Recipe created by world champion pitmaster, Chris Lilly on behalf of Kingsford® charcoal.

Charcoal-Grilled Turkey with Fresh Herb Butter
Recipe Type: Entree
Author: Courtesy of Chris Lilly of Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q
Prep time: 20 mins
Cook time: 3 hours 45 mins
Total time: 4 hours 5 mins
Serves: 10
Recipe created by champion pitmaster, Chris Lilly, on behalf of Kingsford® charcoal.
Ingredients
    Bird

  • 1 whole turkey (12 pounds)
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Coarse ground black pepper
    Fresh Herb Butter

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter
  • cup chopped Italian parsley
  • cup chopped green onion tops
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 ½ teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1½ teaspoon celery salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
    Gravy

  • 2 cups turkey stock (as directed)
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 4 teaspoons cornstarch
Instructions
  1. Place the whole turkey breast side down on a cutting board. Remove the neck and giblets and set aside to make the turkey stock. With a sharp knife or a pair of kitchen shears, cut the turkey down each side of the backbone, removing it completely. Open the turkey and press it flat on the cutting board. Using a sharp knife, loosen the breast bone from between the turkey breasts and remove it with your fingers. This will enable the turkey to open completely flat. Apply a light coat of olive oil to the turkey skin and liberally season the skin with kosher salt and black pepper.
  2. Build a charcoal fire for direct grilling. The heat over the coals should be hot, (approximately 450 to 500 degrees F).
  3. Melt the butter in a medium sauce pan. Add the remaining fresh herb butter ingredients, mix well, and keep warm until needed.
  4. To make turkey stock, add 3½ cups water, 1 ¾ teaspoons salt, turkey neck and giblets to a medium sauce pan. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 1½ hours.
  5. Place the butterflied turkey directly over the coals, skin side down, and baste with the fresh herb butter. Grill the turkey for 5 to 7 minutes or until the skin starts to turn golden brown and begins to crisp. Transfer the turkey to a 10”x10” baking dish skin side up, place it back on the grill, and baste with fresh herb butter. Cover the grill and close the air dampers reducing the cooking temperature to 350 degrees F. Cook for 2½ hours basting every hour with the remaining fresh herb butter. The internal temperature of turkey thigh should reach 175 to 180 degrees F while the breast meat should reach 160 to 165 degrees F. Remove the turkey from the grill, cover it with foil, and let it rest for 15 minutes prior to carving.
  6. To make the gravy, scrape all of the drippings and liquid from the bottom of the roasting pan into a small bowl. Skim the grease from the top of the liquid. Pour the seasoned liquid, about ¾ cup, into a small sauce pan. In a small bowl, whisk the two tablespoons water with the cornstarch until smooth. Add the cornstarch slurry and two cups of the pre-made turkey broth to the sauce pan and heat. Serve drizzled over the turkey or on the side as table gravy.

Thanksgiving Dinner Southern Style – White Truffle Butter

Norman Rockwell ThanksgivingThanksgiving dinner is one of the great unifiers of Americans.  With few exceptions we all eat on the same day, enjoy the same dishes and have the same responses (falling asleep).  Granted there are subtle regional differences like wild rice in Minnesota or hatch chilies in New Mexico so I intend to look at some things customary to a Turkey Day menu in the South but I’m not doing it alone.

My good friend Gene Fox of Deep South Cooking Outfitters will show us how to deep fry a turkey without deep frying our house (HERE).  Chris Lilly of world famous Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q in Decatur, AL will be talking turkey, well actually pies – grilled pies..  Chris is fresh off his appearance on Best in Smoke on the Food Network and winning Grand Champion at the 2011 Memphis in May.  Also lending a hand will be Richard Rosenfeld of premium tea company Two Leaves and a Bud because no Southern Thanksgiving table is complete without a pitcher of Alabama Table Wine – iced tea.  And I’ll be Going Coastal with dressing made with plenty of cornbread, Andouille sausage and Gulf oysters.

415WMlqRNZL. SL500 AA300  Thanksgiving Dinner Southern Style   White Truffle ButterIn the coming days I’ll be dropping each of these little nuggets on you but today I’m going to discuss making a great compound butter.  A “compound butter” is real butter flavored with herbs or spices.  Making a compound butter is easy – just let a stick or two of real unsalted butter come to room temperature, add it to a mixing bowl and using an electric mixer cream the butter like you would for frosting.  Then add your flavor additive, a pinch of salt and cream it just long enough to combine.  Spread the butter onto some wax paper or plastic wrap and shape into a log.  Seal tightly and refrigerate for at least two hours.  Serve for topping hot dinner rolls or cornbread.

You can use any fresh or dried herb or spice mixes like Cajun seasoning or Tabasco sauce.  In this instance I am making an elegant and luxurious compound butter like you might find at one of those great Southern white tablecloth restaurants in Charleston, Savannah or New Orleans. White Truffle Butter.

White Truffle Butter
Recipe Type: Condiment
Author: Stuart Reb Donald
Prep time: 5 mins
Cook time: 2 hours
Total time: 2 hours 5 mins
Serves: 12
Ingredients
  • 1 pound unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 TBL white truffle oil or to taste
  • 2 pinches of salt or to taste
Instructions
  1. Place room temperature in a mixing bowl and using an electric mixer cream the butter like you would for frosting.
  2. Add your white truffle oil, a pinch of salt and cream it just long enough to combine.
  3. Spread the butter onto some wax paper or plastic wrap and shape into a log.
  4. Seal tightly and refrigerate for at least two hours.

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Stuart is a celebrity chef, food activist and award-winning food writer. He penned the cookbooks Third Coast Cuisine: Recipes of the Gulf of Mexico, No Sides Needed: 34 Recipes To Simplify Life and Amigeauxs - Mexican/Creole Fusion Cuisine. He hosts two Internet cooking shows "Everyday Gourmet" and "Little Grill Big Flavor." His recipes have been featured in Current, Lagniappe, Southern Tailgater, The Kitchen Hotline and on the Cooking Channel.

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Stuart’s Honors & Awards

2015 1st Place Luck of the Irish Cook-off
2015 4th Place Downtown Cajun Cook-off
2015 2nd Place Fins' Wings & Chili Cook-off
2014 2015 4th Place LA Gumbo Cook-off
2012 Taste Award nominee for best chef (web)
2012 Finalist in the Safeway Next Chef Contest
2011 Taste Award Nominee for Little Grill Big Flavor
2011, 12 Member: Council of Media Tastemakers
2011 Judge: 29th Chef's of the Coast Cook-off
2011 Judge: Dauphin Island Wing Cook-off
2011 Cooking Channel Perfect 3 Recipe Finalist
2011 Judge: Dauphin Island Gumbo Cook-off
2011 Culinary Hall of Fame Member
2010 Tasty Awards Judge
2010 Judge: Bayou La Batre Gumbo Cook-off
2010 Gourmand World Cookbook Award Nominee
2010 Chef2Chef Top 10 Best Food Blogs
2010 Denay's Top 10 Best Food Blogs
2009 2nd Place Bay Area Food Bank Chef Challenge
2008 Tava: Discovery Contest Runner-up

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