Thanksgiving Tradition, Apple Brined Turkey

First, start with Turkey 101. Got that? Then, resume with my apple turkey brine tradition below.

Hands down, my Apple Brined Turkey recipe is an all time winner for a moist and flavorful turkey. Need more kitchen? If your oven is all jammed up – take it outdoors and grill it. Or, a Thanksgiving turkey solution: Cook 1 turkey in the oven and 1 on the grill.   

George’s Apple Brined Roasted Turkey

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Brining is an overnight process requiring TWO days preparation.

If preparing a frozen turkey, be sure to thaw it in refrigerator well in advance. Brine the turkey in a large stockpot or a large food-safe-plastic bag.  The turkey needs to be completely submerged in brine, or you must turn turkey every couple hours. I prefer turkeys no larger than 12-14 pounds for best tenderness and flavor; and if grilling I have my butcher split the turkey for ease of brining and grilling. Cook additional turkeys if serving more than 12-14 people. As a guide, figure each pound of turkey on the bone feeds one person. 

STEP 1: First day

On the day prior to cooking: Brine for a 12-pound turkey; prepare a double brine recipe for larger turkey. 

Apple Brine Mixture

8 cups apple cider

1/4 cup Maple syrup

2/3 cup kosher salt

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 Tablespoon black peppercorns, coarsely crushed

2 bay leaves

To prepare brine, combine ingredients in a large saucepan; bring to a boil. Cook 5 minutes or until sugar and salt dissolve. Cool completely. 

STEP 2: First day

Add Flavor Ingredients to Apple Brine Mixture:

6 garlic cloves, peeled & cut in half

1 onion, quartered

1 rib celery, chopped into two inch pieces

2 Tablespoons fresh ginger, peeled & sliced

3 each sage leaves, rosemary sprigs, thyme

4 cups ice

Remove giblets and neck from turkey; reserve for making gravy. Rinse turkey with cold water; pat dry. Trim excess fat. Stuff body cavity with orange quarters, ice, onion, ginger, sage, rosemary and thyme. Place turkey in a large stockpot or food-safe-plastic bag. Pour apple brine mixture over turkey. Depending on size of turkey refrigerate for 6 hours for a split turkey, or 12 hours for a whole 12 pound, turning occasionally. Add one-hour bringing time per additional pound of turkey.

Spice Rub

1 Tablespoon fresh sage, chopped

1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

1/4 cup olive oil

To Roast:

1 yard kitchen twine

2 cups chicken broth or stock

4 Tablespoons butter

fresh ground black pepper

6 slices pancetta or bacon

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Remove turkey from brine, discard brine and orange quarters. Rinse turkey with cold water; pat dry. Lift wing tips up and over back; tuck under turkey. Tie legs together with kitchen twine. Place garlic, sage, thyme, parsley, onion, and broth in the bottom of a roasting pan. Place roasting rack in pan. Arrange turkey, breast side down, on roasting rack. Brush turkey back with 1 tablespoon butter; sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Bake at 450 degrees for 30 minutes.

Reduce oven temperature to 350º.

Remove turkey from oven. Carefully turn turkey over, breast side up. Put turkey neck and giblets in pan. Brush turkey breast with 1 tablespoon butter; sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon pepper; lay slices of pancetta over breasts. Bake at 350º for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until a thermometer inserted into the center meaty part of thigh registers 170º. 

Cover breast of turkey loosely with foil if it browns too quickly. Remove turkey from oven; let stand 30 minutes. Pour off drippings and remove turkey neck and giblets for gravy; cover turkey to keep warm. 

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Backyard Street Food

Celebrating Chef George's 24th Anniversary on PBS

Join me multiple times weekly + 

Tune-in GHL CreateTV Sun 8:30AMWed 8:30AM/2:30PM

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A national dish of Indonesia, the satay, is a marinated skewered meat with sauce, usually spicy. Satay is often served in Malaysia by street-side vendors. It's an easy and quick solution to backyard grilling. I thought this would be a fun dish to cook street-side on 67th Street in NYC on Live! The three of us had a blast making this on a NYC street - just imagine the fun you and your guests can have in your own backyard. It's also one of those informal dishes that doesn't require a fork and a knife. 

TIP: I always prefer using metal skewers as I find the food cooks faster and more uniformly. But, when in a pinch and when cleanup of the skewers is not practical, bamboo skewers are very handy. Just make sure to soak the bamboo skewers in water 10 minutes prior to threading, to avoid the skewers from burning up on the grill. 

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Pork Satay with Sesame Dipping Sauce

Makes 6 servings 

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1 1/2 pound pork tenderloin, cut crosswise into 3-inch-long pieces 

For the Marinade:

1/3 cup sweet onion, chopped fine

1 teaspoon tumeric

1 Tablespoon cilantro, chopped 

3 Tablespoons vegetable oil 

2 Tablespoons oyster sauce (Chinese BBQ sauce) 

2 Tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted 

Juice from two limes 

3 cloves garlic, chopped 

2 teaspoons each soy sauce and sesame oil 

1 green onion, chopped 

6 long skewers

Mix marinade ingredients in medium bowl. 

Cut pork lengthwise into thin 1/4-inch slices. Tip: It is easier to cut meat when it is very cold. 

Thread pork onto each of six skewers. Reserve 1/3 cup of marinade in a small bowl. Brush remaining marinade over both sides of pork. Cover pork, refrigerate for one hour. 

Preheat grill to high heat. Grill pork until cooked through, two-four minutes per side. Brush pork with reserved marinade. Serve on a fresh banana or ty leaf if available and top with chopped green onion or red onion.

Although it is very common to serve a peanut dipping sauce with a satay I find my Sesame Dipping Sauce to go better with the pork. 

For the Sesame Dipping Sauce

Recipe George Hirsch | Makes one cup

1/2 cup rice wine vinegar 

 1/4 cup lite soy sauce 

 2 Tablespoons honey 

 2 Tablespoons ketchup 

 1 Tablespoon sesame oil 

 2 cloves garlic, chopped 

 1 Tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and chopped 

 1 Tablespoon fresh cilantro

Mix all ingredients in a small bowl one hour before serving. Serve as a dipping sauce for Satay, steamed dumplings or summer rolls. 

Optional: to make spicy add 1 teaspoon chili sauce or hot pepper flakes.

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Know Your Fire Fridays: Ancient Grilling

Celebrating Chef George's 24th Anniversary on PBS

Join me + Tune-in GHL CreateTV

 Wed 8:30AM/2:30PM Sun 8:30AM

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One of the oldest cooking techniques in existence, the art of grilling meat on a skewer was derived from medieval Turkish soldiers who used their swords to cook meat over open fires. An Adana kebabi from the south of Turkey is a savory mixture of minced lamb, cumin, cayenne, black pepper, dried oregano and mint. The meat is shaped into a long cylindrical shape like a long hot dog or sausage, then pierced onto a long metal skewer and grilled in one piece. It is served removed from the skewer and cut up.

Adana is named after the 5th largest city in Turkey, Adana. There are very strict guidelines and inspections that must be passed by The Adana Chamber of Commerce in order to be an authentic Adana kebabi vendor.

Adana kebabi has to be made from the meat of a male lamb. The skewered meat, must be roasted on fireless, charcoal embers exclusively from oak wood. The skewers are frequently turned during grilling using caution so the melting fat is not dripped on the embers causing a flair up. The Adana is served on flat bread by pressing the meat off the skewers after cooking; when wrapped and served in a flat bread, it's called a Dürüm. Authentic accompaniments served with adana include; charred tomatoes, green or red peppers, onions and parsley seasoned with sumac or lemon pepper seasoning, and warm hummus.

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Adana or Kiyma Kebabi

Makes 4 servings

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1 pound ground lamb or ground beef 

1/4 teaspoon ground red (cayenne) pepper

1/2 teaspoon each; ground cumin, dried oregano

1 Tablespoon each: fresh parsley and fresh mint

1 egg white

Fresh ground black pepper, to taste

Pinch Sea salt

Olive oil

2 fresh lemons, quartered

Fresh Mint 

1 cup plain Greek yogurt, optional. Or, serve with Tzatziki Sauce

Mix the meat with the cayenne, cumin, oregano, parsley, mint, black pepper, and salt in a bowl. Add the egg white and continue to combine until the mixture is well blended.

Grease skewers with cooking spray or oil. If possible, use long, flat metal skewers. Divide the meat mixture into 2-4 (depending on the length of skewer), 2 inch wide thick sausage shapes. Push the skewer through the middle, lengthwise, and squeeze the mixture up and down the skewer, spreading it evenly. Repeat with the other skewer. 

Cover and place in refrigerator to chill for 30 minutes. This will help the meat hold together. When ready to grill, brush the outside of meat with olive oil.

Preheat the grill to high. 

Place skewers on very hot grill. Grill 5 minutes, turning frequently, or until cooked through. Serve immediately with sides of yogurt, fresh lemon, fresh chopped mint, and an onion & parsley salad.

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