December 9, 2009

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner

Last night, my humble kitchen (red diner booth and all) was filled with holiday cheer and lots of food. My family friend and foodie mentor, Bill, owner of the delicious Absinthe Brasserie & Bar, and his wonderful family joined Boy and me for a post Thanksgiving, turkey feast which included recipes from the Frog Hollow Farm Cooking Class and a side dish from my new Thomas Keller cookbook which I am officially in love with.

Two hours, one minor shopping mishap (ended up with one turkey breast instead of two), and a pot of slightly gummy rice later – dinner was served and devoured.

Beyond being salt free, this menu was rich in sweetness from fresh fruit and the Frog Hollow preserves. There was tang from cooking sherry and champagne vinegar and earthiness from browned butter. And fresh herbs, like dill, rosemary, and Italian parsley, gave the dishes extra brightness.

I braved new cooking techniques, like tying my turkey with twine and braising my vegetables, and discovered how delicious cooked radishes can be. The heat brings out a surprisingly deep caramel flavor. Who knew. Well, I guess sir Keller did.

So enjoy the following recipes and share them with your family and friends over the holidays. I am breaking the menu into a few installments – first the turkey, then the saffron rice, and finally, my take on Thomas Keller’s Sprouts and Radishes.

Enjoy and chow on.

Pan Roasted Turkey Breast with Frog Hollow Farm Pear Sauce


  • 2 turkey breast halves still connected (no bone), totaling 21/2-3 lb
  • 2 T fresh Italian parsley, chopped
  • 2 T fresh rosemary
  • Smoked paprika, pepper, and Herbes de Provence to taste
  • 2 medium shallots, chopped
  • 1 ½ cups of dried plums (aka prunes), soaked in red wine
  • ½ cup of dried cherries, soaked in red wine
  • 2 T olive oil
  • Zest and juice from one medium orange
  • 1 – 9oz jar of Frog Hollow Organic Pear Fruit Topping
  • 1 D’Anjou pear, chopped
  • ¼ cup dry sherry
  • 4 T champagne vinegar or white wine vinegar
  • 1 ½ cup chicken stock
  • Cooking twine
  • Meat thermometer


1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees

2. Before prepping your herbs and shallots, soak the prunes and cherries in red wine for at least an hour. I used a half-used Malbec leftover from a holiday party the day before – remember to cook with wine that you would want to drink.

3. When finished soaking, take the prunes and cherries out of the wine and chop into ½ inch chunks.

4. Mix parsley, half of your chopped rosemary, shallots and fruit together in a bowl.

5. Open your turkey breast so that the two breast halves look like butterfly wings and fill one breast with the cherry, herb stuffing.

6. Sprinkle pepper, paprika, and left over rosemary on the inside of the turkey breasts.

7. Fold the other breast on top and tie together with the twine. This is a good video to use for tying instructions.

8. Spread pepper, smoked paprika, orange zest, and Herbes de Provence on the outside of the turkey breasts.

9. Heat olive oil in an oven safe pan over medium heat and brown both sides of the turkey – 4 minutes each.

10. Put leftover fruit stuffing and orange juice in the pan and cover with a foil tent – turkey camping!

11. Transfer oven to pan and roast for about 1.5 hours or until the thermometer inserted into center reads 165 degrees. To make sure you are testing the temperature of the meat and not the stuffing, do not insert into the absolute center but just above where you think the stuffing is. Also, if guests are on their way but the temperature is not quite right, take off the foil tent and turn your broiler on low for about 10 minutes. This should do the trick.

12. Remove the turkey from oven and let stand for 10-20 minutes. Wrap the turkey in the tinfoil tent to keep warm. Take the left over and now crispy stuffing and keep warm in a covered bowl or snack on it while you are cooking the rest of the meal.

13. Take the pan – which is now turkey free but filled with its juices – and reheat over a medium flame. Add the chopped pear pieces and sauté for 4 minutes until caramelized.

14. Add sherry, vinegar, stock, and bottle of Frog Hollow Pear Topping. Simmer until reduced to about ¾ cup or until it looks and tastes like a perfectly syrupy sauce.

15. To finish, slice the turkey crosswise so that you can see the rounds of the beautiful stuffing and serve with the pear sauce.

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