Butter, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme: How to make a compound butter

Yes, I am spending an entire post writing about butter. Butter is an essential part of Thanksgiving. You rub it all over the turkey, spread it on warm rolls just out of the oven, put butter in the stuffing, melt it on top of roasted squash, cream together in the mashed potatoes and use it to finish off the gravy. I could keep going! I hope Julia Child would be proud.

butter

Because butter is such a big part of the meal, I like to make it more flavorful. It is very easy to do. Make a compound butter. That is a fancy name for a butter that you add flavor to. I usually make it a day or two before Thanksgiving. You can even make it today!

Rosemary, Sage, Thyme and Lemon Compound Butter

compound-butter-mixture

Ingredients

1 ½ cups of unsalted butter (3 sticks), softened/room temperature

1 Tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary

¼ teaspoon finely chopped fresh sage

1 tsp finely chopped fresh thyme

zest of one lemon

1 teaspoon of salt

A pinch of pepper

Directions

compound-butter

With a fork, mash together all of the ingredients in a small mixing bowl. Take 3-4 tablespoons of the butter and place on a small rectangle of parchment paper and make it into a roll. Place in fridge to cool, until Thanksgiving morning. Take it out, unroll it onto a plate and it will be ready for your table! This can be for your table for your guests to melt on warm rolls. The remainder of the butter should be covered and placed into the refrigerator until Wednesday night. Leave it on the counter so that it is spreadable on Thursday when you start to cook.

compound-butter-roll

If your stuffing mix or stuffing already has seasoning, use plain butter. Otherwise you can use this on any other part of the main meal.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions about your Thanksgiving meal!

Other helpful Thanksgiving posts:

Appetizer ideas for Thanksgiving

Cooking your Thanksgiving Turkey

Easy Thanksgiving Side Dish: My Favorite! Acorn Squash

I guess Thanksgiving is coming soon!  – Great make ahead mashed potato recipe!

Happy Cooking!

Cooking your Thanksgiving Turkey

I decided to post a bonus blog today, since Thanksgiving is next week and I have barely even mentioned the star of the show: the turkey! Everyone has their opinions on the best way to cook a turkey, so here is mine 🙂 First of all, if you are buying a frozen turkey, get it today or tomorrow, so that it has time to defrost safely or buy a fresh one on Monday. I started brining my turkey a few years ago and it makes such a huge difference in flavor. Don’t be scared, its easy!

Step One: Buy Turkey

Can turkeys have gluten? Yes they can. Many times poultry is injected with broth before you buy it. Make sure the brand you are buying or have ordered is gluten free. Butterball and Shady Brook Farms both say on their website that they are gluten free. Most of the time when you order a fresh one from a farm, they have not been injected with anything, just ask.

If frozen, let it thaw for 2 -3 days in a refrigerator or keep on ice in a cooler where the temperature doesn’t go above about 40 degrees.

Step Two: Butcher the Turkey (optional – you can still follow the other steps if you keep the turkey whole)

butchering-turkey

I have been doing this for years, after listening to some professional chefs talk about making the turkey this way. I separate the dark meat from the light meat but keep all the bones in. There are many YouTube videos on how to do this. If you do not want to do this, buy a fresh turkey and ask if the butcher will do it. Whole Foods has done it for me in the past, when I’ve asked ahead of time. My Dad did the honors last year as I was so sick I could barely stand! (I cooked the rest of the meal the next day with a surgical mask on).

Save the giblets, the stuff inside the bag! Keep reading and you see how it helps make the most delicious gravy.

Step Three: Brine the Turkey

brine-for-turkey

Get a large bucket. I use a bright orange one from Home Depot that serves as my brining bucket. I have found that using a oven bag designed for turkeys in the bucket, makes clean up easier.

Basic Brine Recipe (inspired by this one from Our Best Bites)

Ingredients

2 cups of salt

2 cups of brown sugar

1 cup of peppercorns

3 Tablespoons of coriander seeds

12 small sage leaves, roughly torn

8 sprigs of fresh thyme

4 stems of fresh rosemary

4 Tablespoons of onion powder

2 Tablespoons of cumin

8 cloves of garlic, smashed

20 cups of water (may need more water to cover turkey)

Directions

Mix all ingredients in a large stock pot. I use a lobster pot. Cook on medium high until it boils. Take off the heat and let it cool.

Once the brine is cool, you can pour it over the turkey inside the bag in the bucket. Add more water or even ice to the brine if the 12 cups do not completely immerse your turkey. If your garage is cool enough or you have a refrigerator that can fit the bucket great. If not keep ice and ice packs around it and change every few hours so that the temperature stays under 40 degrees.

Brining for a couple of days or even one day will help enhance the flavor and juiciness of your turkey. I am also building in an extra day for the turkey to “dry” in my refrigerator outside the brine, as I heard that it will allow the skin to crisp up more. I’ll let you know if that works.

Step Four: Cooking the Turkey

turkey-in-oven-bag

If you did not butcher your turkey, put the whole turkey into an oven bag on top of a bed of onions, garlic, chopped carrots, celery and fresh herbs. I even throw in a couple of sliced lemons for the bed of the turkey. Remember to shake gluten free flour or cornstarch around inside the bag first!

Stuff some of the bed into the cavity of the turkey or if you did butcher it, you’ll have just the turkey breasts still on the bone. Rub butter or olive oil all over the turkey. I often make a compound butter (fancy name for mixing some of the herbs, salt, pepper and lemon zest in with some softened butter) and spread that all over. Close up the bag and cook accordingly with how many pounds of turkey you have. The breasts alone will cook faster. I roast it at 375 until the breast registers about 170 degrees. The dark meat (wings, etc should register about 180 degrees).

braising-turkey

If you braved the butchering, the dark meat is braised on the stove. A large heavy bottomed pot is what you will need. First brown the meat and then add onions, garlic, chopped carrots and celery with fresh sage, thyme and rosemary. Pour chicken or turkey stock about 1/2 up the meat. Add the giblets and make sure they are covered with stock. Braise for about 1.5 to 2 hours until the meat registers 180 degrees. Save the braising liquid to make the gravy!

Let the turkey rest for 30 to 45 minutes before carving!

cooked-turkey-breast

Step Five: The Gravy

Pour the braising liquid through a strainer and then pour it into a sauce pot on medium heat. Let it reduce a little and then taste it. Add 1 Tablespoon of corn starch and whisk.  Repeat adding 1/2 teaspoon at a time until it is the consistency you would like. Add a splash of balsamic vinegar and adjust the seasonings to your taste. Just before serving, add a tablespoon of butter and whisk it in.

I serve gravy in insulated coffee mugs. That way it doesn’t get cold! Not fancy, but practical. I think everyone has come to expect the old Westlaw mug at the table 🙂

Ok. Breathe. That seems like a lot of work, but it is so worth it!  This is the star of the show. The actual cooking time is shorter when you cook the dark and light meat separate.

Please let me know if you have questions. There are buttons all over this page now that will put you in touch with me or make a comment and I’ll respond!

If you have missed any of my recent Thanksgiving posts, here are some easy gluten-free side dish ideas:

My Favorite! Acorn Squash

Holiday Mashed Potatoes

Easy comfort food

Continuing with my “choose your own adventure” meals, today I’m writing about comfort food. Comfort food is different for each person. It is whatever food is soul satisfying to you. For some its fried food, a good steak, chicken pot pie or pizza. I am a meat and potatoes girl! With veggies on the side now for the kids 🙂

Whether you are cooking pork, beef or chicken, this recipe works well.

Ingredients:

Coriander

Garlic
Salt
Pepper
Worcestershire sauce
Vinegar (Balsamic, red wine vinegar, white wine vinegar – whatever you have on hand)
Soy sauce

Olive oil (when searing meat and making marinade)
Butter (optional, add to finish gravy)
Onion powder (optional, or chopped onion, caramelized onions, shallots – whatever you have)
Cornstarch/flour (optional, depending if you like a thicker sauce/gravy)
Chicken Stock/Beef stock (optional, if you want to mellow out the flavor a little. I keep bouillon cubes on hand, so I can make as many cups as a I need of stock).

I used these ingredients the other night to make an easy version of chicken pot pie.

First you start a basic rue, which I learned how to do a couple of years ago for making mac-n-cheese. Melt butter in large sauce pan and then whisk in an equal amount of flour and cook for 2-3 minutes. I think it did about a 1/3 of a cup of each here. Then add a couple of cups of chicken stock and keep adding if too thick. Continue whisking. Add in about a palm full of coriander, ½ teaspoon minced garlic, 2-3 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce, 3 Tablespoons vinegar, 3 Tablespoons soy sauce. Taste and add salt and pepper to your liking.

Toss in 2 handfuls of frozen mixed vegetables, let cook for a few minutes. Then toss in leftover chicken that has been cubed or shredded (I used the Garlic chicken I made the night before). Take a can of biscuit dough (I used Pillsbury) and peel each biscuit in half and bake in the oven (I baked it directly on top of the sauce and it didn’t cook through, so this way will work much better!). After baked, place on top of chicken, vegetable and sauce mixture and serve! I kept a couple of biscuits aside and filled them with some extra chicken + frozen veggies that I thawed separately in the microwave, and then cooked them. These were great little pockets for the boys to pick up and eat. Much less messy than the pot pie would have been!

You can also use these ingredients to make a marinade. To marinade steak, pour equal parts Worcestershire sauce, vinegar (balsamic or red wine vinegar is best here), soy sauce and olive oil into a large Ziploc bag. Add a couple of tablespoons of coriander, a teaspoon of minced garlic and a ¼ teaspoon pepper. Close bag and shake (make sure its closed!) or massage with your hand. Insert steaks and make sure covered. Marinade at least 4 hours, but can do it over night.

I used this on Father’s day with petit sirloin (seared on the indoor grill and then baked at 400 degrees for 7 minutes for rare to medium rare). I served the steak with a sweet potato salad (bake equal amounts of sweet potatoes and white or yellow potatoes, cube, mix with miracle whip, mustard, salt and pepper) and roasted corn on the cob.

These ingredients are very versatile. You can use them as I have mentioned above to make a thick gravy for chick pot pie or a marinade for steak. Most often however, I use the dry spices on pork, beef or chicken and then use the wet ingredients to make a braising liquid. I usually prep dinner while the kids are taking their afternoon nap and braising takes 2-3 hours, so it is perfect timing for getting the food on the table for dinner. Sear the meat + then pour in braising liquid (1 part Worcestershire sauce, 1 part vinegar, 1 part soy sauce and 2 parts beef or chicken broth, a couple of tablespoons of coriander, a teaspoon of minced garlic and a ¼ teaspoon pepper and ¼ teaspoon salt.) Cover and put in low oven (around 275/300) for a couple of hours. When done (use a meat thermometer) take meat out to rest and add a couple of tablespoons of cornstarch to a mug and pour in some of the braising liquid and mix together, then add back to the saucepan and rest of braising liquid and bring to a boil. Taste and add more spices as you need. Finish off with a pat of butter and take off heat for the perfect gravy!