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Get ready for Thanksgiving turkey!

Get ready for Thanksgiving turkey!

As a young girl my family would travel every year to share Thanksgiving dinner with family. I remember singing “Over the river and through the woods…” ad nauseam at least one of those trips. I grew more and more excited as the car crossed the Connecticut River, then through the mountain forests; the Appalachian Mountains. I knew with each landmark I was that much closer to seeing my cousins and the feast they would have prepared. Images of the giant bird, dripping with juicy gravy, made me anxious to arrive.

The turkey is the star of any Thanksgiving dinner, I learned that at an early age. Every year that I have hosted a Thanksgiving meal I have tried to design the perfect recipe for the bird; to make others drool as I had before. It was only a few years ago that I discovered where the turkey was raised had a distinct impact on my final dish. Birds that live a more stress free existence develop much healthier, and that is particularly noticeable in the flesh. Free range is the best way to go.

A bit further north from where I would spend the long, late November weekend as a child, is Misty Knoll Farm. Great care is taken at this Vermont farm to provide the healthiest birds possible. They feed the birds a diet of healthy whole grains without antibiotics or animal byproducts. The turkeys at Misty Knoll Farm are also allowed free reign of the farm’s lush pastures and an open barn shelter. There are no cages, so there is no stress. I have yet to find a tastier bird.

Turkeys at Misty Knoll Farm

Turkeys at Misty Knoll Farm

There are many ways to prepare a Thanksgiving turkey; I could devote an entire cookbook to that one meal, especially given the number of different ways I’ve prepared the main dish! Something I have found imperative to the process is brine. Soaking the bird in a salt solution helps to tenderize the flesh and add flavor to each bite.

Here is one of my favorite recipes:

1/2 gallon apple cider
4 cups water
1 cup kosher salt
2 tbsp Tellicherry peppercorns
1 tbsp juniper berries
2 bay leaves
1 large or 2 small sticks of cinnamon
4 allspice berries

Heat the water to near boiling, add the salt and spices. Allow the salt to dissolve and remove from heat. Add the cider and allow to cool completely. Be sure to remove the giblets and neck from the body of the bird, then submerge the turkey in the liquid and refrigerate 8-24 hours.

Fresh sliced Thanksgiving turkey

Fresh sliced Thanksgiving turkey

When you are ready to cook the bird, preheat the oven to 350ºF (175ºC). Discard the brine and roast the turkey on a rack or atop aromatics (celery, carrots, onion) until a thermometer stuck in the thickest part of the thigh reads 160ºF (70ºC). You may baste the turkey throughout the roasting time, but remember: opening the oven decreases its temperature and increases the cooking time, so do so sparingly. I also like to glaze the turkey in its final half hour with boiled cider or cider syrup. It adds a depth of flavor to the skin and gravy that is unsurpassable!

For the gravy:

Strain the turkey drippings into a fat separator. Pour off the fat and return the drippings to a sauce pan. Add a roux of 1tbsp flour/1tbsp butter. whisk constantly over heat until preferred thickness.

 

Misty Knoll Turkeys are available at Formaggio Kitchen through special order. More information on their farm and instructions on placing an order are available on our website. Order yours now through November 13th! Turkeys will be available for pick-up on Tuesday, November 25 (after 2pm) or Wednesday, November 26 (9am-6pm) at the Cambridge shop.

 

Nicole Roach is a keen kitchen experimenter and a member of the produce, register, and operations teams at Formaggio Kitchen Cambridge.

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I Clivi in Corno di Rosazzo

I Clivi in Corno di Rosazzo

This year, we decided to let each of our wine buyers choose their number one pick for a Thanksgiving wine. Here we have an Italian bubbly from Gemma, an off-dry German white from Julie, and a French red from Jessica. Happy sipping and have a safe and delicious holiday! (more…)

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Thanksgiving Wine and CheeseAs tradition goes, Pinot Noir or Beaujolais are typically served with turkey and its many accompaniments. That said, it’s not always so easy to predict what will appear at the Thanksgiving feast, whether it’s Aunt Liz’s sweet potatoes with marshmallows, Uncle Mike’s maple-bacon Brussels sprouts, or Zia Della’s baked ziti. Such varied cuisine calls for Zelig-like wines. They must accommodate the potential for sweet, salty, savory, and bitter all in the same bite and therefore require plenty of freshness and acidity with the ability to cleanse the palate. However, they must also show enough ripeness to work with sweetness.

The following are a few selections that meet the above criteria and will drink well alongside your Thanksgiving dinner. A discount of 10% will be offered on six or twelve bottles of these featured wines. (more…)

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Thanksgiving Cheese Spread

We love Thanksgiving. It may mean a variety of things to a variety of people but there are many common threads – turkey, family, friends, cranberries, football, a full stomach and, in many cases, an afternoon nap or walk. This year, we checked in with our domestic cheese buyer, Tripp, who has put together a wonderful Thanksgiving cheese board, incorporating a cross-section of milk types and textures. He draws on some old favorites but also includes a couple of newer cheeses that we think are destined to become classics in their own right! (more…)

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Formaggio Kitchen Wine ShelvesWondering what to serve with your Thanksgiving meal? Leave it to Formaggio Kitchen’s wine buyers to handle those details for you! South End Wine Buyer, Julie Cappellano, and Cambridge Wine Buyer, Gemma Iannoni, have chosen three delicious wines that will save you the time and effort:

Molière ’11 Beaujolas Nouveau (Burgundy, France)

There aren’t many producers out there that go to the lengths that Bruno and Isabelle of Domaine des Côtes de la Molière do – they make biodynamic Beaujolais Nouveau without added sulfites! (more…)

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Isabelle and Bruno Perraud's Beaujolais Nouveau

In the Beaujolais region of Burgundy the third Thursday of November marks the release of the young wine that is made from indigenous Gamay grape. The infamous Beaujolais Nouveau is made by carbonic maceration, a way of fermenting the juice while it is still inside the grape by placing whole bunches of grapes in a closed vat. As the grapes on the bottom of the vat are crushed under the weight of the grapes above they burst and begin to ferment, releasing carbon dioxide that starts the fermentation process in the other grapes. This fermentation takes only four to five days, and produces a soft, fruity wine with little to no tannins. (more…)

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