Roasting the squash makes it easier to peel and seed, and deepens the flavor, producing a richer, more flavorful soup.
2 large butternut squashes, each 1 1–2 to 2 lb.
1⁄3 cup hazelnuts
6 Tablespoons (3⁄4 stick) unsalted butter
2 yellow onions, chopped
8 fresh sage leaves, shredded
6 cups chicken or vegetable stock
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Ground nutmeg, to taste
Optional pinch of sugar
Preheat oven to 400° F. Prick each squash several times with the tip of a knife before baking. Place the whole squashes on a baking sheet and roast until they feel somewhat soft to the touch and a knife penetrates the skin easily, about 1 hour. Remove from the oven and, when cool enough to handle, cut in half lengthwise and remove and discard the seeds and fibers. Scoop out the pulp into a bowl and set aside.
While the squashes are cooling, reduce the oven temperature to 350° F. Spread the hazelnuts on a baking sheet and toast until fragrant and the skins have loosened, about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and, while still warm, place the nuts in a clean kitchen towel. Rub the towel vigorously to remove the skins; do not worry if small bits of skin remain. Chop and set aside.
Melt the butter in a large pot over low heat. Add the onions and half of the sage and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are tender and translucent, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the stock and squash pulp, raise the heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for a few minutes to combine the flavors. Remove from the heat.
Let the soup cool and, working in batches, puree the soup in a blender or food processor. Return to a clean saucepan. (If using an immersion blender, blend right away, in pot.) Reheat gently over medium–low heat. Season with salt and pepper. Taste and, if the squash is starchy rather than sweet, add a little nutmeg. If the nutmeg does not give the proper flavor balance, add a pinch of sugar.
Ladle into warmed bowls and garnish with the hazelnuts and remaining sage. Serve immediately.
Smoked turkey can be more flavorful and tender than one roasted in the oven. Since you don't stuff a smoked turkey, we have a delicious stovetop stuffing recipe (provided below) for you and your guests to enjoy.
Soaking chicken in a seasoned saltwater brine ensures the bird will emerge flavorful and, most importantly, moist. Consequently, the timing is a little less fussy when you're cooking: it's no big deal if you leave the chicken on the grill or in the oven a few minutes too long. After placing the poultry in the brine, refrigerate until ready to cook.
Basic Poultry Brine
8 cups water
5 Tablespoons kosher salt
2 Tablespoons dried basil
2 Tablespoons coriander seeds
1 Tablespoon peppercorns
1 Tablespoon yellow mustard seeds
1 teaspoon. granulated garlic
2 bay leaves
In a large bowl, combine the water, salt, basil, coriander, peppercorns, mustard seeds, granulated garlic and bay leaves, and stir until the salt dissolves. Use immediately. Makes about 8 cups, or enough for 1 chicken.
1 (12 pound) whole turkey, neck and giblets removed
1 (20 pound) bag high quality charcoal briquettes
Hickory chips or chunks
Place the charcoal into the bottom pan of the smoker. Light the coals and wait for the temperature of the smoker to come to 240° F (115° C).
Lightly oil grate.
Rinse turkey under cold water, and pat dry. Place hickory chips into a pan with water to cover.
Place turkey onto the prepared grate. Add 2 handfuls damp chips at start of cooking, and add a handful every couple of hours during the cooking process. Keeping the heat in is key — leave the lid on and do not over check the turkey. This will add to the cooking time. Continue smoking until the internal temperature of the turkey reaches180° F (82° C), or until the coals die out.
Stove–Top Turkey Stuffing
1 loaf of day old French bread, cut into 3⁄4–inch cubes (about 10–12 cups)
1 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
2 cups each, chopped onion and celery
6 Tablespoons butter
1 green apple, peeled, cored and chopped
3⁄4 cup of currants or raisins
Stock from the turkey giblets (1 cup to 2 cups); or chicken stock can be substituted
1⁄4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning or ground sage (to taste)
Salt and freshly ground pepper (to taste)
To make the stock, take the turkey giblets and put them in a small saucepan, cover with water and add a little salt. Bring to a boil, and then simmer for about an hour, uncovered. Strain the stock into a container for use with the stuffing. Alternatively, you can use chicken stock with this recipe.
Heat a large sauté pan on medium heat. Melt 3 tablespoons butter in the pan, add the bread cubes, and stir to coat the bread pieces with the melted butter. Let the bread toast; only turning when they have browned a little on the sides. Note: if you are not working with somewhat dried–out day–old bread, lay the cubes of bread in a baking sheet and put them in a hot oven for 10 minutes to dry them out first, before toasting them in butter on the stove top
In a large Dutch oven, sauté chopped onions and celery on medium high heat with the remaining 3 tablespoons butter until cooked through, about 5–10 minutes. Add the bread, chopped walnuts, chopped green apple, currants, raisins, and parsley. Add one cup of the stock from cooking the turkey giblets or chicken stock (enough to keep the stuffing moist while you are cooking it). Add sage, poultry seasoning, salt & pepper. Cover, turn heat to low and cook for an hour, or until the apples are cooked through. Check every ten minutes or so and add stock or water, as needed, to keep the stuffing moist.
Fresh Cranberry & Orange Relish
1 bag (12 ounces) whole fresh cranberries, well washed and patted dry
1 thin skinned, seedless orange, well washed and dried
1⁄2 Granny Smith apple, peeled and cored
1 cup granulated sugar
Roughly cut the orange and chop the apple into 1 inch pieces. Place the raw cranberries, orange, and apple into a food processor and gently blend. Do not over process — chunky is better. Transfer to glass or ceramic serving bowl and add the sugar. Cover with plastic and let stand for 24 hours in the refrigerator. Use fresh orange peel as garnish.