Holiday Turkey and Ham

Turkey and HamI’m posting this recipes mainly to archive these recipes, since we only cook them once or twice a year.

After sufficient trial and error, we have settled upon these approaches for holiday bird and pig.  (And yes, when faced with the question of ‘turkey or ham?’ our family is an ‘all of the above’ family.)  Several years ago, we started cooking our turkey in an electric roaster, out of convenience, but have come to realize it is the absolutely best way to roast the bird.  As for ham, it is very straightforward, and the raisin sauce comes courtesy of my Grandma Mox.


For Turkey

  • Whole turkey, 10 to 12 pounds
  • 1 stick of salted butter, softened
  • 3 Tb. each, chopped fresh rosemary, thyme, sage, and parsley
  • 1 Tb. dried oregano
  • 1/2 Tb. ground black pepper
  • 1/2 Tb. granulated garlic
  • 1 tsp. celery seed
  • 1 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 3 whole sprigs rosemary
  • 1 small onion, quartered
  • 1 lemon, quartered
  • 2 to 3 Tb. olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

For Ham

  • 7 to 10 lb. bone-in ham
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 3 Tb. honey
  • 1 Tb. Dijon mustard
  • 1 Tb. raw organic apple cider

For Raisin Sauce

  • 1/3 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/3 blackcurrant jelly
  • 1/2 cup fresh-squeezed orange juice
  • 1/2 orange, zested
  • 2 Tb. dark brown sugar
  • 1 Tb. corn starch
  • 1/4 tsp. fresh ground allspice
  • Dash salt


  1. Assuming that your meats are thawed out and ready to go, preheat electric roaster to its maximum temperature.  Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Stir together butter, chopped herbs, oregano, black pepper, garlic, celery seed, nutmeg, ginger, and paprika.  Set aside.
  3. Place turkey on roasting rack. Stuff turkey with rosemary sprigs, quartered onion, and lemon.  Rub butter mixture underneath skin of turkey.  Coat turkey with olive oil and season liberally.  (Insert remote thermometer into thigh.)
  4. Place turkey inside roaster and cook at maximum temperature for 30 minutes, then reduce heat to 300.  Pay attention to your internal temperature readings and adjust heat accordingly.  Thigh meat should be cooked to 180 F – once that temperature is reached, hold at that temp for 20 to 30 minutes.  Most importantly – do not open the lid of the roaster until you are ready to carve.
  5. Place the ham, face-side down, in a large oval roasting pan.  Cover with aluminum foil and roast in oven for about an hour (depending on overall cooking time – you will need to reserve 45 minutes of cooking time at end for the glaze.)
  6. While meats are cooking, prepare glaze and sauce.  For glaze, stir together brown sugar, honey, Dijon mustard, and cider and simmer.
  7. For raisin sauce, mix together all ingredients and simmer until thickened.
  8. Pour glaze all over ham to coat for last 45 minutes.  Recover ham with foil.
  9. Remove turkey and rest for about 15 minutes (or 30…).  Carve and serve!

Braised Chicken in Mushroom-Wine Sauce

Red Dutch OvenSo we finally ‘retired’ our old Royal Prestige Dutch oven (i.e. it got pretty wrecked, so we threw it out), and since we love our Lodge cast iron skillets so much, we decided to get one of their enamel Dutch ovens.

So on the day that it came, we didn’t really have any dinner ingredients on hand, so we improvised, as follows:


  • 4 chicken leg quarters
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tblsp olive oil
  • 1 1/2 lbs. potatoes, quartered to bite-size chunks
  • 1 large yellow onion, roughly chopped
  • 6 oz. peeled baby carrots
  • 1/2 tsp each of dried thyme, sage, and rosemary
  • 1/2 cup white wine (I used Riesling)
  • 1 can of Campbell’s cream of mushroom soup


  1. Preheat oven to 350F.  Heat oil in 6.5 qt. cast-iron Dutch oven (preferably red).  Salt and pepper chicken, then brown on both sides.  Remove to plate.
  2. Add in onions, potatoes, and carrots.  Salt and cook for 5 minutes or so.
  3. Whisk together wine and soup and add to Dutch oven.  Stir well, scraping up anything stuck to the bottom of the pan.  Add in herbs and add salt and pepper, as necessary.
  4. Add back in chicken, cover, and place in oven.  Cook for at least one hour, until chicken is fork tender.

Sausage and Okra Gumbo

We can have an argument about ‘authenticity’ if you like, but I believe that ‘authentic’ gumbo is whatever you happen to like (and have on hand).  Having been in Texas for so long, we are partial to beef smoked sausage, and with other roots in the Dirty South, we try to work okra into as many dishes as possible.  Sure, some shrimp or lump crab meat would have been good, too, but those ingredients are fairly expensive in Chicago!

In my book, gumbo ought to be po’ folk food, so if it starts to get expensive or glamorous, you’re doing it wrong.


  • 1/2 cup bacon drippings
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 bell pepper, diced fine
  • 1 rib celery, diced fine
  • 1 medium onion, diced fine
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 lb. beef smoked sausage, sliced
  • 5 cups beef broth
  • 3 cups water
  • 1/2 tbls sugar
  • salt, to taste
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tbls Crystal hot sauce
  • 1 tsp. Tony Chachere’s Cajun seasoning, or to taste
  • 1 tsp. fresh thyme leaves, chopped
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can of stewed tomatoes
  • 1/2 (6 oz) can of tomato sauce
  • 1 lb. package of chopped, frozen okra
  • 1 tbls white vinegar
  • 1 tbls Worcestershire sauce


  1. Heat bacon drippings over medium heat in a large stockpot.  Whisk in flour to make a roux, stirring constantly until a medium-light-brown color is reached (mahogany?).  This may take 20 minutes or more – watch the heat and stir frequently to avoid burning the roux.
  2. Stir in vegetables and saute for a few minutes, until softened.  Add in sausage, stir, and heat through, until fat begins to render.
  3. Add in stock and water.  Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and add in sugar, salt, hot sauce, seasoning blend, bay leaves, thyme, tomatoes, and tomato sauce.  Simmer over low heat for about 1 hour.
  4. After the hour, heat 1 tbls of oil or bacon drippings in a skillet, add okra and salt to taste, and saute until heated through.  Add vinegar and Worcestershire and continue to saute for a few minutes.
  5. Remove okra from skillet with slotted spoon and add to gumbo.  Simmer for as long as you can stand it, but at least for 20 minutes more.  Serve over cooked rice and with fresh French bread.

Pintos Rápido

Pinto BeansSo I’m pretty sure that I’ve mentioned elsewhere that I love beans.  As a former resident of Texas (and a general Tex-Mex enthusiast), the pinto bean occupies a special place in my culinary heart.  They are full-bodied and earthy with a pleasing texture, they are nutritionally dense, and, of course, they are incredibly inexpensive.

I usually don’t have several hours to properly slow cook them, and I’m usually to rushed in the morning to drop them in a crock pot.  So, when we decide to have pintos with dinner, I pull out the pressure cooker.


  • 2 tsp. bacon grease (more or less to taste)
  • 1 white onion, diced
  • 4 to 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 to 6 dried chile pequin, crushed*
  • 1 lb. dried pinto beans
  • 2 to 3 bay leaves
  • Salt and pepper, to taste


  1. If time allows, soak beans in cold water, drain, and rinse.
  2. Heat grease in bottom of pressure cooker.  Add onion and saute until onion begins to turn translucent.  Add garlic and crushed peppers, stir, and saute for an additional minute or two (don’t let the garlic burn).
  3. Add 4 cups of cold water.  Add in beans and enough additional water to cover beans by at least two inches.  Stir, affix the lid of the pressure cooker, and bring up to steam.  Allow to cook at full pressure for about 30 minutes.
  4. After 30 minutes at full pressure, remove lid and continue simmering for an additional 30 minutes to 1 hour, until beans are cooked.  Check beans – once they are soft (but not fully cooked), add in bay leaves, salt, and pepper.

*I don’t think I’ve ever seen pequin peppers in the store – they grow all over Texas, and if you happen to know anyone with a bush, they’ll have piles and piles of them to share.  I suppose you could use regular red chile flakes.

“Lazy” Golabki Casserole

So today Kristine requested Golabki (Polish cabbage rolls).  I was very, very tired, so I offered instead a lazy version.  I know my mom has done this before, so I just sort of modified my personal golabki recipe, as follows:


  • 1 lb. ground beef (85/15 or 90/10
  • 1/2 to 3/4 lb. ground pork
  • 1 ½ – 2 chopped white onion
  • Salt, peper, to taste
  • 2 tsp garlic
  • 2 small cans tomato sauce
  • 2 cans stewed tomatoes
  • 1 tblsp brown sugar
  • 2 tsp each of sweet basil, celery seed, garlic, paprika, and fresh-ground nutmeg
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 ½ cups uncooked white rice
  • ½ – 1 head of cabbage, chopped
  • 1/2 cup to 1 cup of tomato juice, as needed


  1. Brown meat in a pan.  Salt liberally, add pepper and garlic while browning.
  2. When nearly browned, add in chopped onion and cook until onion is soft.
  3. Drain meat and return to pan.  Add tomato sauce, 1 can stewed tomatoes, salt (a lot), pepper, garlic, spice mixture, and Worcestershire sauce.  Bring to a simmer for about 10 minutes
  4. Add in uncooked rice and simmer for an additional 15 minutes
  5. Put 1/2 of chopped cabbage in a (very) large casserole dish (or two).  Pour meat mixture over top of cabbage, top with remaining cabbage, and then top with 1 can of stewed tomatoes.
  6. Bake covered at 350 F for one hour.  Add tomato juice as necessary if casserole dries out.

Serve with pierogi and dark rye bread.  And sauerkraut and kielbasa if you’re really, really hungry.

Hungarian Goulash

PaprikaSo don’t ask why, but we had a couple of pounds of stew beef in the freezer, so we decided to make ‘real’ goulash, which is a dish we haven’t had for several years.  It’s hard not to notice that almost every ethnic cuisine has a dish like this, whether it’s carne y papas (meat and potatoes) or beef tips and gravy.  It’s very simple and somehow feels very luxurious.


  • 2 lbs. stew beef, cut into smallish chunks
  • Oil
  • Flour, to coat beef
  • 2 yellow onions, sliced thin
  • 2 tblsp Hungarian paprika
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 1/2 cups of (good quality) beef broth
  • 3 tblsp flour
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  1. Heat oil in dutch oven or large stock pot; dredge beef chunks in flour and then brown nicely (don’t cook – just brown).  Remove with slotted spoon and set aside.
  2. Saute onions until browned at edges
  3. Add back meat; stir well and add spices
  4. Add beef broth, bring to simmer, and reduce heat to very, very low.  Simmer gently for at least 1 hour
  5. Mix flour with 1/3 cup of water and stir into sauce, to thicken
  6. Turn of heat and fold in sour cream
Serve with a cucumber and onion salad.
Beer pairing: A hefeweizen actually works pretty well.  I had Sierra Nevada’s Kellerweiss.

Mox Haus Kale

We eat this kale about once or twice a week.  It’s a great side dish with almost any meat dish (I recommend pork loin) and is especially great with salmon.  The flavor marries really well with sweet potatoes.  Try it as part of a “country dinner,” with baked sweet potatoes, black eyed peas, and cornbread!


  • 1 bunch fresh kale, chopped
  • 2 to 4 tblsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 to 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • Salt & pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes, to taste
  • zest of 1/2 lemon


  1. Chop kale into bite-sized pieces (discard most of stalks); wash and drain in colander
  2. Heat wok to med-high to high heat; heat 1/2 of oil
  3. Add kale to pan in batches, letting it cook down a bit.  Be sure to salt vigorously and stir.  Drizzle on remaining olive oil as needed
  4. When whole batch of kale has cooked down to half of original volume (about 3 to 5 minutes), mix in garlic and stir-fry for 2 to 3 minutes
  5. Mix in red pepper flakes, lemon zest, and black pepper to taste.  Stir-fry for 2 to 3 minutes!


MeatloafOK, so this one isn’t so “fru-fru,” but it’s just good ol’ fashion PWT food.  We absolutely destroyed this loaf!  We remembered meatloaf being boring, but with a few ‘updates,’ this old tried-and-true dish can be pretty exciting again.

Serve with scalloped potatoes and some green beans.  (And don’t use a box or a can).


  • 1 1/2 lbs. of ground beef (lean will do)
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 2-4 carrots, finely diced
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tbls. each fresh parsley and thyme, finely chopped

For the glaze (courtesy of Alton Brown)

  • 1/2 cup catsup (or ketchup, whichever you prefer)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Dash Worcestershire sauce
  • Dash hot pepper sauce
  • 1 tablespoon honey


  1. Preheat oven to 350F.  In a large mixing bowl combine all ingredients for the meatloaf by hand.  In a separate bowl, mix ingredients for glaze
  2. Grease a bread loaf pan; pour in meat mixture and shape into loaf.  Spread about 1/3 of the glaze on top of the loaf
  3. Bake at 350F for about 1 hour to 90 minutes.  Baste with remaining glaze twice during cooking.