Delaware’s culinary experts dish on what they serve on their Thanksgiving tables, and how you can add it to your own spread.
Brining a turkey hours before cooking makes the meat moist and gives it flavor, according to Dan Tagle, executive chef of Krazy Kat’s in Montchanin. Here is his basic go-to brine. Add your preferred herbs.
In a large pot, add salt, sugar and the 2 cups water. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. When the salt and sugar have dissolved, add cold water and some ice cubes.
Place the brine in a large container with turkey (or pork) and add bay leaf, peppercorns, lemon juice and lemon halves. Brine for 4 to 12 hours. You can add herbs, oranges, teabags and coriander for different flavors.
Lean ground beef lends a surprising but welcome touch of richness to Maggie Cellitto’s oyster stuffing. Cellitto, the executive chef at Matt’s Fish Camp in Bethany Beach, helps make a Thanksgiving feast so large that the family washes the dishes in shifts.
Brown the ground beef, drain and save the grease. Sauté vegetables in the saved grease until they’re just tender. Add the oysters, beef, herbs, salt and pepper.
In a large bowl, combine everything with the bread cubes. Add chicken stock one cup at a time. (The ingredients should be damp — not soggy.) Transfer the mix to a casserole pan, cover tightly with aluminum foil. Bake at 325 F for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and let rest, covered, for 15 minutes. Fluff with a fork before serving.
If you don’t like gooey marshmallows, Doug Ruley offers this take on the standard sweet potato side. The heat of the chile offsets the sweetness of the brown sugar.
Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a small baking tray with parchment paper.
Wash potatoes and slice into thirds about 2 inches thick. (You can leave the skin on or peel it off.) Put the potatoes in a grid pattern on the tray. Melt the butter and generously brush each potato with it, saving some butter for the next step.
Spoon 2 tablespoons of brown sugar on top of each potato and drizzle with butter. Sprinkle the chopped herbs on each potato slice. Season with sea salt and cracked pepper. Liberally grate cinnamon stick on top of each potato. Bake until golden brown and fork tender, about 35 to 40 minutes.
While potatoes are roasting, put maple and chile paste in a small bowl. Mix well. Once the potatoes are cooked, arrange them on a platter. Spoon the maple-chile sauce over the top. Garnish with sprigs of thyme and rosemary.
Not content to serve the standard roast turkey, David Leo Banks of Bank’s Seafood Kitchen and Raw Bar creates an attractive roulade. You’ll need knife skills for this dish, and keep the twine handy.
Gently boil the leg, thigh, wings and carcass for dark meat and to make gravy stock.
Remove the turkey breasts by following the keel and rib cage bones with a sharp knife. Keep the skin intact and attached to the breast. Using a sharp knife again, butterfly the breasts until they’re flat and about 1½ inches thick.
Place the breasts on a baking pan. Season with the poultry season. (This can be done in advance. Refrigerate to allow the seasonings to “cure” and flavor the turkey.)
Preheat the oven to 400 F. Pat stuffing on two-thirds of the turkey breast, leaving edges clean. Gently roll the breast into a cylindrical shape and secure it with twine. Season with salt and pepper and rub softened butter on the skin.
Bake at 400 F until brown and crisp, reduce heat to 300 F and cook to an internal temperature of at least 145 degrees. Remove, and let rest for 10 minutes before slicing and presenting.
If you have a smoker or smoker attachment for your grill, consider this recipe by Doug Ruley, vice president of culinary operations for SoDel Concepts.
Rinse the turkey under cold water and pat dry with paper towels. Place on a deep baking sheet.
Combine dry brine ingredients in a small bowl and rub on the turkey exterior and internal cavity. Place turkey in refrigerator for 2 hours.
Preheat smoker to 310 F. Loosen the skin around the turkey breast by inserting your hand and rub the softened butter under the skin. Place the fresh sage in the cavity.
In a small bowl, mix olive oil and maple syrup. Brush turkey with olive oil and maple mix. Sprinkle on black pepper, garlic powder and paprika. Tent with foil and smoke at 310 F for 1½ hours. Remove foil and smoke for another 3 hours or until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees when measured in the thick part of a breast. At every half-hour, rotate between basting the turkey with pan drippings and glazing it with the olive oil-maple mixture.
Remove from the smoker and tent with foil again and let it rest 20 minutes before slicing and serving.