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

chefgeorgehirsch.com | George Hirsch Lifestyle

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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Classic Brownie Cookies as seen on George Hirsch Lifestyle

Celebrating Chef George's 24th Anniversary on PBS

Join me + Tune-in GHL CreateTV

 Wed 8:30AM/2:30PM Sun 8:30AM

a Classic, cookies and milk on George Hirsch Lifestyle

Chocolate treat, under 30 minutes - mixing and baking. But can you wait 24 hours? Probably not, but just save a few because these cookies actually taste even better a few days after baked. Eyes-go-wide open on the first bite. Try my recipe for yourself and you'll agree. For best results use this good quality cocoa.

Classic Brownie Cookies

Makes 3 dozen large or 6 dozen small 

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1 1/3 cups butter

1 cup sugar

2/3 cup brown sugar

1 Tablespoon vanilla

2 each eggs

2 1/4 cups flour

2/3 cup cocoa

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2teaspoon salt

3 Tablespoons milk

1 1/2 cups pecans, chopped 

1 cup mini chocolate chips, semi sweet, or chopped chocolate

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cream butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar one minute, or until creamy.

Add eggs, one at a time, beating lightly after each.

Combine flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Add to creamed mixture alternately with milk beating at low speed about 1 minute, or just until blended.

Stir in nuts and chocolate chips.

Drop dough by heaping 2 Tablespoons spoonful on ungreased baking sheet. 

Bake at 350F for 10 to 12 minutes. Cookies will still appear soft and moist when baked, but firm up on cooling.

Cool slightly, then remove to cooling rack. About 3 dozen cookies.

Tip: Smaller cookies can be made using 1 Tablespoon dough for each cookie, baking for 8 to 10 minutes.

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Corned Beef and Cabbage

Since March is unofficially 'Irish Awareness Month', I want to offer you the luck of the Irish by kicking off a St. Patrick's Day food tradition with Corn Beef and Cabbage...umm Irish-American that is, and not really part of the repast on the Emerald Aisle. 

Since the early 1900s, Americans proclaimed corned beef and cabbage to be their favorite Irish dish, even though it really never had graced dinner tables in Ireland. Since then, Americans have embraced it as the meal of choice for St. Patrick's Day, March 17th. Corned beef got its name before refrigeration, when meat was preserved using coarse grains of salt, called 'corn'. Today, beef is corned with spices strictly for flavor, not for preservation, so the meat must be refrigerated. Whether you're a wee bit Irish or not, boost your luck by celebrating St. Patrick's Day with friends and a feast. 

It is said that President Grover Cleveland once noticed the aroma of Corned Beef and Cabbage coming from the servants quarters at the White House. He asked to trade his dinner for that of the staff meal. He commented "that this was the best dinner I had had in months.."

Lá Fhéile Pádraig Sona Duit, Gaelic for Saint Patrick's Day

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Corned Beef and Cabbage with Boiled Vegetables

Serves six-eight 

chefgeorgehirsch.comGeorge Hirsch Lifestyle

3 pound corned beef brisket 

4 cloves garlic, peeled 

Fresh ground black pepper 

2 Tablespoons pickling spices, 

3 bay leaves 

1/4cup sugar 

1/4cup cider vinegar 

1 large onion, peeled and quartered 

6 carrots, peeled 

6 Yukon potatoes, scrubbed 

3 turnips, peeled 

1 head cabbaged, leave core on and cut into eights 

Place corned beef brisket in a very large soup pot. Fill pot with cold water to cover meat. Add sugar, cider vinegar, pickling spices, bay leaves, and garlic. 

Bring to a boil over rather high heat. Boil for 5 to 6 minutes, skimming off the any scum that rises to the surface with a large spoon. 

Reduce heat to a simmer, cover the pot, and let simmer for 1-2 hours. Test the meat for tenderness with a large fork, it should have a little resistance, be careful not to overcook corned beef or the meat will become dry and stringy. If fully tender turn off the heat and let the meat rest in the liquid. 

One hour before serving and before the meat finishes, add all the vegetables in the pot with the meat. 

Timetable for the vegetables: 

• onions, simmer 1 hour 

• carrots, potatoes and turnips simmer 30 minutes 

• cabbage simmer 20-30 minutes 

Slice only as much meat as you will immediately serve, keeping the rest in one piece for future use. Serve with a variety of mustards and horseradish.

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Oscar

In honor of the 90th Academy Awards, it's time to celebrate the Oscars. There will be an estimated 30+ million people watching, entertaining + celebrating the Oscar's this Sunday. But there is another noteworthy Oscar that has been celebrated at many Waldorf parties, and would be welcomed winner in the top food category.

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Oscars Award Banquet, 1940, The Ambassador Hotel

Oscar Tschirky, maître d’hôtel of Delmonico’s Restaurant and the Waldorf Astoria in NYC is known as the creator of such popular classic dishes as Waldorf Salad, Veal Oscar, Eggs Benedict and Thousand Island Dressing. It may just be the name implies thousands of recipes - for this dressing, and rumors abound as to the true creator. I can assure you it was not Kraft or Wish-Bone though. This is the story I believe to be true or Oscar of The Waldorf has the best PR agency ever!

At the turn of the century, self-made multi-millionaire and hotel magnate George C. Boldt, (I have my own Thousand Island story, but it doesn’t involve dressing, so it will have to wait) owner of the New York City's Waldorf Astoria enjoyed vacationing in the 1000 Islands. Mr. Boldt and his wife Louise enjoyed this area of the St. Lawrence River region so much so that George had Boldt Castle built for his wife. Nice guy. He would entertain many wealthy friends and business associates on the island.  

Many times Oscar accompanied Mr. Boldt on his trips to the 1000 Islands and to George Boldt's Castle. On one trip aboard the yacht, Oscar improvised with the ingredients he had aboard the yacht, and concocted the dressing for which the region is now known for around the globe. Afterwards, Mr. Boldt started serving the dressing at his hotels.

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The wide appeal of this dressing has gone far beyond elegant salads served aboard yachts on the St. Lawrence River. Burger joints have topped their meat patties for years with this special sauce - remember that jingle? Then there’s of course my preferred In-N-Out-Burgers, where all burgers come standard with Thousand Island dressing. BTW, a secret menu item called "Animal Style"; fries come with Thousand Island Dressing in addition to grilled onions and melted cheese. But when I hear Thousand Island Dressing I think of a dish with a little more of a classical take; like the topping on a Dungeness Crab or Shrimp Louis. I am sure that would make Oscar smile!  

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Could this be Oscar’s classic Thousand Island Dressing Recipe? It just might be...

Take one cup mayonnaise dressing, mix, with one-half cup whipped cream, add small amount of Tarragon vinegar, one-half teaspoonful of Imperial Sauce, then chop one hard boiled egg, one green pepper, one pimento, one pinch chives, mix well together and squeeze the juice of one lemon before serving. This sauce can be served with any kind of salad."

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Oven Fried Garlic Chicken, as seen on George Hirsch Lifestyle

Tune-in GHL Create TV Marathon Cold Weather Comfort Sat Dec 2nd 7AM, 11AM/ 7PM, 11PM + Sun Dec 3rd 1PM + 5PM  

Many of you have requested this recipe from George Hirsch Lifestyle TV series. I am delighted to share.

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Who doesn’t like Fried Chicken? But frying chicken in the traditional manner can make for health concerns and take a long time to prepare it correctly. Solution, my Oven Fried Garlic Chicken. It is as good as it looks. Perfect for making and taking to the tailgate or picnic. When prepared ahead, tastes even better the next day! That's if you have any left. 

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George’s Oven Fried Garlic Chicken

Makes 8-10 pieces

 chefgeorgehirsch.com | George Hirsch Lifestyle

1 whole chicken cut into 8 - 10 pieces, or pre cut from butcher

Juice of 1/2 fresh lemon 

2 cups flour, approximate

paper bag or food safe plastic bag

For The Chicken Rub

1 teaspoon each: dried basil, oregano, thyme, sweet paprika

1/2 Tablespoon garlic powder

Pinch of fresh ground nutmeg

Pinch sea salt and ground black pepper to taste

Combine all seasonings for chicken. 

Add seasoning rub to chicken coating each piece, then squeeze lemon juice over chicken. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or overnight. 

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Place half of flour in bag and add additional flour as needed. 

Place two pieces of chicken in the bag of flour at a time, close tightly and shake bag coating chicken evenly. Remove flour coated chicken with tongs and shake off any excess flour. Place flour coated chicken in a low-sided heavy gauge roasting pan. Repeat until all chicken has been coated with flour. Make sure chicken is not over crowed in roasting pan. See Tips. 

Place chicken in oven at 425 degrees F. for first 15 min or until chicken begins to color (you will smell aroma), then lower oven to 350 degrees F. for 30 - 35 minutes until golden brown or until done. Time depends on size of chicken pieces. 

After removing from oven, let chicken rest for 5 minutes and serve. 

Tips: 

- For crispy chicken, use a heavy gauge low sided pan (to prevent chicken from steaming). 

- Do not overcrowd chicken in pan, allow for air circulation.

- The oven baked chicken fries in its own fat. Using just breasts (white meat) does not oven fry as well due to lower fat content. For best results cook with a mixture white and dark meat that has a higher fat content.

- Trust the cooking times. Try not to open the oven door to peak at chicken while cooking. It will still be there. Each time you open the oven door the temperature drops in the oven causing chicken to steam. 

- To keep chicken crisp after cooking, place chicken on a wire baking screen until cool.  

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