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Celebrating the Harvest with Turkey Ballontineby Pierre-Luc Moeys, chef/owner Oriole 9

In a famous letter to his daughter discussing the recently chosen national bird of the United States of America, Benjamin Franklin clearly preferred an alternative to the bald eagle. “For the Truth the Turkey is in Comparison a much more respectable Bird, and withal a true original Native of America... He is besides, though a little vain & silly, a Bird of Courage, and would not hesitate to attack a Grenadier of the British Guards who should presume to invade his Farm Yard with a red Coat on.” The bald eagle? “ (A) Bird of bad moral character. He does not get his Living honestly. You may have seen him perched on some dead Tree near the River, where, too lazy to fish for himself, he watches the Labour of the Fishing Hawk; and when that diligent Bird has at length taken a Fish, and is bearing it to his Nest for the Support of his Mate and young Ones, the Bald Eagle pursues him and takes it from him.”

Why do we eat so much turkey at Thanksgiving? Much credit is due to the favorite Thanksgiving myth of friendly Native Americans sharing their harvest bounty with newly arrived and starving colonists. The menu in 1621 would have been heavy on meat over vegetables this time of year, with most tribes observing a harvest feast, cooking up pretty much whatever was lying or running around. Wild turkeys were native, plentiful, versatile, large, and delicious. And easier to bag than bald eagles.

(The colonists didn’t come completely empty-handed. Though they get a bad rap for “bland” food, the British actually had quite a spice palette at their disposal: cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, black pepper, dried fruits. This may have helped improve their welcome.)

So if you’re inclined to enjoy your traditional turkey this year, we have a nice recipe from longtime Oriole 9 (since 2007) executive chef Mike Bernardo. Over the past few years Mike has further developed his culinary skills and fully articulated a personal style of cuisine, incorporating the freshest local ingredients available from growers and purveyors who share his passion for great simple food. Mike recently opened his own new restaurant on November 3: MIO, in Gardiner. We highly recommend visiting Café MIO soon! (And yes…we’ll miss Mike at Oriole 9.)

By the way, this recipe requires a de-boned turkey. Your neighborhood butcher can do this for you easily, or you can take a crash course in poultry de-boning at CIA in Hyde Park! Either way, be sure to save the skin, and keep the breasts and legs separate.

turkey

TURKEY BALLONTINE (serves 10)
what you need:

  • 1 whole turkey, 25 lbs., de-boned (we recommend Northwind Farms), with skin
  • 2 cups cranberries
  • 2 cups walnuts
  • 3 eggs, whites only
  • 2 lb. thinly sliced pancetta or bacon
  • some cracked peppercorns and juniper berries
  • salt/pepper

Finely chop and/or blender the leg meat, and mix together with cranberries, walnuts, egg whites, peppercorns, juniper berries, and some salt/pepper. Set aside mixture, and roll out enough aluminum foil to make a 30” X 15” rectangle on the counter.

Spread out turkey skin on top into a 20” X 10” inch rectangle, and layer the pancetta/bacon over that. Thinly slice the breast meat, and layer on top of the pancetta, covering the area. Spread leg meat mixture over that, leaving a 4” opening along the top. Now roll the “meat collage” up into a tight roll, wrap in foil, and put in the refrigerator to set for 30 min.

Bring a large pot of water (or stock) to a boil, and carefully place the foil-wrapped roll inside pot. Poach for 20 minutes, keeping water temperature just under boiling. Remove roll and refrigerate. (You can do this the day before serving if you like.) When ready to serve, slice off a 1¾” thick disk and fry in olive oil or butter.

fall pumpkin

SUNSHINE SQUASH
what you need:

  • 3 nice firm sunshine squashes (we recommend RSK Farms in Prattsville)
  • cinnamon
  • nutmeg
  • butter
  • 1 cup orange juice

Cut squash into nice pieces, mix with spices and butter, and bake in oven at medium heat, 10-15 minutes until squash is soft. Mash squash, blend in orange juice, and add salt and pepper to taste.

cranberries

APPLE, CRANBERRY, AND CHORIZO STUFFING
what you need:

  • 3-4 apples, whatever you prefer
  • 1 cup cranberries
  • 2 lbs. home made croutons
    (don’t even think of getting store bought! Look up any crouton recipe online, they’re very simple and worth the effort.)
  • 2 whole chorizo sausages
    (we recommend www.ingredientsgourmet.com)
  • water/stock/olive oil

Chop and mix up all ingredients, add a little water/stock/oil and salt/pepper, and bake at 350° until golden brown, for 20 min.


Enjoy this seasonal spin on Thanksgiving turkey. We hope you have much to be thankful for this holiday season!


Visit us at www.oriole9.com



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