So, we made it through Thanksgiving, some of us worse for the wear than others. I want to say up front that I went into Thanksgiving holiday fully expecting to cheat in the form of eating some rolls, pie or other such grain-containing goodness. Well, I didn’t. Weird, huh? and I didn’t miss any of it. The only ‘cheat’ I had was some brown sugar in the sweet potatoes we ate. Other than that, the turkey was delicious, I made the gravy out of the drippings and some coconut flour and I made an amazing pie crust out of almond flour, butter and egg. And the crazy thing is, I kept waiting for that tired, sleepy post-turkey nap to hit me. It never did. I think I finally fell asleep Thursday night around midnight. Woke up Friday morning in a great mood, feeling wonderful. I am sold on this Paleo for life. I just wish everyone else shared my positive experiences and felt this amazing!
In this post, I’ve included a couple of recipes of things that worked for me this Thanksgiving, although I apologize that they are after the fact, file them away and use them next year, or hey, make an excuse and make them again this year.
1. Brining Your Turkey: The best, most tender, juicy meat you’ll ever have
If you’ve never brined a turkey before, I absolutely recommend it. I stumbled across this technique last year and was totally sold on it and did it again this year. Needless to say, I’ll do it every year from here on out. Here’s what you’ll need:
2. Container large enough to hold turkey plus enough water to cover it.
3. Salt: about 1 cup of salt per 1 gallon of water, and you will need a minimum of 3 cups of salt per bird, the heavier it weighs the more salt you’ll want to use.
4. Other sugar or spices for flavor. You can get creative here and use spicy peppers and cilantro, or go the sweet route like I did and add brown sugar to the water, then some rosemary.
First, place your bird in the container. It can be a large oven bag, a large 5 gal bucket, or, in my case, I used my Coleman cooler because the bird was too damn big to fit in anything else.
For each gallon of water, dissolve 1 cup of salt, and up to 3/4 cup of sugar (or other spices). Make sure the salt is dissolved first before adding the water to the container. Keep adding the water until the entire bird is covered and no parts of it stick out of the water. Mine took about 5-6 gallons in the cooler.
As a general rule, the turkey needs to brine for about 1 hour per pound of bird. So you’ll most likely want to place it in the brine the night before you plan to cook it. Over-brining is worse that under-brining, so if its a matter of too much time or not enough, cut it short instead of leave it in the brine too long. If you have a container that is small enough to fit in your refrigerator, do that. You can also keep it outside overnight if it will not freeze or get raided by critters. I decided to keep mine safe in the garage next to the door where the cold air would hit it the most, but where it would not actually freeze.
Before you get ready to cook it, pull it out of the water and rinse the salt from it thoroughly. You can baste with a layer of olive oil or coconut oil on the skin before roasting.
2. Making Turkey Gravy, Paleo-Style
Here’s a great way to make paleo safe turkey gravy that is delicious!
You will need:
Turkey pan drippings
After you’ve taken the turkey out of the oven, drain the drippings from the pan into a large bowl or measuring cup. Skim the fat off the top and save it in a dish. Add broth until you have a total of 4 cups of dripping/broth. In a large saucepan, place 4 Tbsp of the saved fat and 4 Tbsp of coconut flour in the pan and heat over low-medium heat until they are smooth and are brownish in color, a couple of minutes. You want to keep stirring these constantly so they do not burn. This is called making a ‘roux’, which is the base for many sauces and gravies. Once the roux is brownish, slowly add the remaining drippings until the gravy reaches the consistency you want.
Here’s the really important thing I discovered when making this: If you brined your turkey, taste the gravy first before you add anything to it!!! The fat has absorbed a lot of the salt and flavorings from the brine and adding more to it can ruin it or make it way too salty.
This gravy should be eaten immediately, but it can be refrigerated and reconstituted and/or frozen. It will solidify in your fridge, so heat it long enough when reheating to get it liquid again.
3. Paleo Pie Crust
This was an amazingly easy recipe to make and it tasted better than regular pie crust, almost like shortbread.
3 cups almond flour
2 Tbsp sugar *optional
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
4 Tbsp butter
1 egg, beaten
In a bowl, combine the flour, sugar, salt and b. soda and cut the butter into smaller chunks and either cut in using a pastry cutter or a fork, or pick up handfuls of the dough and rub the flour and butter until it blends, forming chunks no larger than a pea-sized ball. Once the dough is uniform looking, add the egg and mix well. Refrigerate the dough for about 10-15 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350F. Take the dough out of the fridge, spread it into a pie pan and then refrigerate again for another 10-15 minutes. Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes until the dough is lightly brown and puffy. I LOVED this pie crust!
And finally, a big thanks to Nathan L. for this last suggestion. I really enjoy green bean casserole, call me a Thanksgiving purist, but when I went looking at the adaptability of this recipe for paleo, I was kind of frustrated at not being able to include the french fried onions, which, lets admit, provide all that good crunchiness in the otherwise soft and gooey dish. Nathan suggested using pecans instead of the onions, and wouldn’t you know, it was really good. Lots of flavor, lots of crunch and didn’t leave me feeling disgusting like I would have if I’d eaten the breaded onions. Here’s what mine looked like:
I’m interested to hear what everyone else did for the holiday, what you ate, what did you decide to ‘cheat’ on, whether you cheated at all, and how you felt after your holiday meals….Post your experiences and any recommendations or recipes to comments!!