Friday, November 12, 2010

Pardon the Turkey, with an Elegant Cornish Game Hen OR Roast Turkey with Brandy Spiked Gravy for Traditionalists!

It’s a heck of a disclaimer to begin with, but Top Nana is a meat lover. I have entire blogs devoted to grass fed, humanely raised poultry and beef. One of my favorite Thanksgiving stories centers around a farm raised turkey named Henry, fattened up in Elk Banner, NC, compliments of my hunter-enthusiast of a brother; it really did add something special to our annual sit-down holiday feast. But I digress. I stand by my belief that animals deserve to be humanely treated, even if the ultimate goal is to raise them as a healthful link in the food chain; as a Nana of 3, I have started to appreciate that explaining how the turkey arrived on the dinner table might be traumatic for them—and it led me to consider an alternative twist on the Thanksgiving bird.

Paprika Spiced Cornish Game Hen with Lemon Tarragon Sauce is not only classy, tasty, and so tender you can pull the meat right from the bone—but allows your little humanitarians to better enjoy the annual turkey pardon, broadcast across America when Obama pardons two great big turkeys, and sends them to Disneyland as grand marshals of the Thanksgiving Day parade.

A Thanksgiving Side Note on Turkey Pardoning

Here’s a fact that makes a Nana feel old! Do you find this as unbelievable as I do? The first White House turkey pardon was 21 years ago during the first Bush presidency! Time flies much faster than turkeys, doesn’t it…Last year, when Obama did his first turkey pardon, he joked about the very real history of presidents prior to Mr. Bush, eating the live turkeys delivered to the White House doorstep each November. While Obama joked that he was “tempted”, he sent the 40-pound bird, named “Courage” to Disneyland. Interestingly, Farm Sanctuary (you can click on the link to sign the petition) is appealing to the White House for a special addendum on this year’s pardon. Because the turkeys in question have been raised in a certain way, they aren’t likely to survive the harrowing trip to America’s greatest theme park, and so they are asking for signatures to send the birds to a farm shelter in New Jersey instead.

And now for Oven Roasted Turkey with Brandy Spiked Gravy for You Traditionalists!

As much as my heart goes out to turkeys everywhere this November, I can’t resist this particular call to the wild; I happen to love this recipe!!! I’m not tellin’, but I have a dressing from my own Grandma on what to additionally ladle over this sumptuous bird. I will share the best wine paring you could possibly hope for to accompany this recipe: Morgan 2006 Gary’s Vineyard Pinot Noir—order up a bottle by clicking on the link. You can contact David Morgan Lee (he’s no relation…wish he were) at 831-751-7777 to arrange a purchase. But this turkey entrée speaks for itself—and already advocates a nice soak in liquer for the apples in its stuffing.

Marinating Notes for Both Recipes

If you have the time, you can insure a tender, moist turkey by marinating it overnight; this is a perfect technique to use with a small turkey or Cornish game hen! Place the turkey in a large soup pot. Combine, ½ cup brown sugar, 4 cups apple juice, ½ cup apple cider vinegar, ½ cup brandy, salt, pepper, 4 bay leaves, fresh rosemary and thyme leaves in a bowl. Stir until the sugar dissolves. Pour this mixture over the turkey. Pour cold water over the turkey until it is completely covered. You can use a weight (heavy tomato can) to keep the turkey submerged in the marinade. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight. Remove the turkey from the marinade and pat dry to continue with the recipe.

Good luck and happy stuffing—here’s to eating like you’ve got a wooden leg!

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