Coming around to the idea of Thanksgiving was a little bit of an adjustment for Waterloo & City chef Brendan Collins, a native Brit. "As an Englishman, when I first moved to the States, Thanksgiving felt like having a second Christmas, as it's almost identical to the lunch we serve on Christmas Day," he says. "But now I have been here a while and have my own family, it's certainly become an enjoyable tradition to hang out with family and close friends. I'm still not sure about American football, though!"
As visitors to his Culver City gastropub know, Collins has a sure hand when it comes to any kind of meat. He offers up this spice-laden turkey recipe, which sounds like something you'd find at a medieval London feast. It incorporates apples, ginger, garlic, sage, basil, black peppercorns, allspice, coriander seeds, rosemary, thyme and star anise. Can't you just see Henry VIII gnawing on one of those turkey legs?
"This turkey recipe is very simple. The wet-roasting method is the key to help with the meat not drying out, and also results in a brilliantly rich and meaty gravy," Collins says. "Make sure to use the giblets, as they intensify your sauce and add a wonderful gaminess that can only come from that little bag."
If this sounds so good that you've now decided you'd rather have Collins cook for you, you can always head to his restaurant instead. Waterloo & City will be serving an all-you-can-eat Thanksgiving buffet -- with a definite British influence -- from noon to 5 p.m. on Thursday ($59 for adults, $20 for children). The buffet will include an oyster bar, charcuterie and crudo, soups and salads, roast turkey with all the trimmings, ribeye with Yorkshire pudding and horseradish cream, salmon Wellington, pumpkin and pecan pie and sticky toffee pudding. "We'll have the big game on!" they promise -- although it might not be the right kind of game, according to the chef.
From: Brendan Collins of Waterloo & City
Serves: About 18-20
1 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 gallon vegetable stock
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1 1/2 teaspoons each allspice berries, star anise and coriander seed
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped ginger
1 gallon heavily iced water
1 red apple, sliced
1/2 onion, sliced
1 cinnamon stick
1 cup water
4 sprigs rosemary and thyme
6 leaves each of sage and bay leaf
Turkey and gravy:
1 14- to 16-lb. organic turkey
peanut or olive oil for brushing the turkey
2 peeled and chopped carrots
2 onions, chopped
4 sticks celery
2 heads of garlic, cut in half
1 leek, washed thoroughly and chopped
turkey neck and giblets chopped into small pieces
1 bottle white wine
1 gallon of low-sodium chicken stock (plus more for your gravy later)
6 ounces butter
6 ounces of all-purpose flour
1. Place the brine ingredients into a large pot and bring to a boil. Simmer for 20 minutes. Add the iced water.
2. Place the turkey in a large bag or bucket. Pour the cold brine over it and place it in the refrigerator for between eight and 16 hours, turning the bird once halfway through brining.
3. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. Remove the bird from the brine and rinse inside and out with cold water. Discard the brine.
4. Place the bird on a roasting rack inside a half sheet pan and pat dry with paper towels. Brush the bird with olive or peanut oil.
5. Place the vegetables in a neat mound in the middle of your roasting tray. Put the bird on top and pour the bottle of white wine and 2 quarts of low-sodium chicken stock into the tray.
6. Roast the turkey on lowest level of the oven at 500 degrees F for 30 minutes. Insert a probe thermometer into thickest part of the breast and reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Set the thermometer alarm (if available) to 161 degrees.
7. Brush with oil every 15-20 minutes. A 14- to 16-pound bird should require a total of 2 to 2 1/2 hours of roasting (if necessary add more stock or water halfway through roasting -- you don't want the tray to evaporate dry).
8. Let the turkey rest, loosely covered with foil or a large mixing bowl, for 15 minutes before carving.
9. To make the gravy, strain off the stock from the roasting pan, and pass through a fine sieve. Leave the vegetables and giblets in the roasting tray. Place it on your stovetop over medium to high heat. Add 6 ounces of butter and allow it to melt with a little foam -- it should smell somewhat nutty and sweet.
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10. Add 6 ounces of all-purpose flour and incorporate with a wooden or plastic spoon until you get a smooth paste. Reduce heat to low, add your stock from both the roasting tray and more chicken stock one ladle at a time and whisk. Bring to a simmer, cook for about 10 minutes, then season and strain through a fine sieve.
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