Wild Rice Pilaf

I love to make wild rice pilaf at Thanksgiving. It goes great with poultry. Also please check out my other Thanksgiving tips on the Holiday tab of my Table of Contents.

Wild Rice Pilaf

Wild Rice Pilaf


  • 2 cups wild rice cup
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cups leeks, white part and light green
  • 2 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup diced mushrooms
  • 1 cup scallions cut into ¼ inch ½ circles


  1. Wash and drain rice.
  2. Heat stock in a sauce pan.
  3. In a heavy 2-3 quart sauce pan with a tight fitting cover, sauté the leeks for 3 minutes over medium low heat. Add the salt, pepper and turmeric, turn the heat to low and continue to sauté for another 2 minutes.
  4. Add the drained wild rice and stir to coat all the grains for another 2 minutes. Then add the hot stock, bring to a boil stir, cover, turn the heat to low and simmer 1 to 1 ½ hours or until the rice is tender. You may have to add heated stock if all the stock evaporates and the rice is not done. Check after 30 minutes and then again after another 15 minutes. Keep checking every 10 to 15 minutes after the first 45 minutes.
  5. While rice is cooking:
  6. Sauté the mushroom in an iron skillet.
  7. Heat skillet then add the oil and then the mushrooms. Sauté over medium heat until a little brown then add the scallions and continue to sauté for an additional minutes.
  8. Place rice in a serving bowl and top mushrooms, and
  9. scallions. Serve immediately or at room temperature.


  • Store mushrooms in a white paper bag or an open bowl, not plastic.
  • Buy mushrooms 3-5 days in advance.
  • You can eliminate the mushrooms and the scallion to save time.
  • Turmeric has been given credit for preventing: acid reflux, inflammation and cancer.
  • Wild rice pilaf keeps well for 5 days in the frig. You can re-heat the wild rice pilaf in a bain marie or micro wave.

Turkey Stock

I love to make stock out of the turkey carcass. So easy and so delicious.

Slice off any turkey meat, for sandwiches  and pull off the skin that is left to save for Turkey Fried Rice, which I will cover on Monday.

Break up the carcuss  then place it in a stock pot and add cold water (just barely to  cover).

Bring to a boil then turn the heat to low and simmer for 4 hours.

Stir the stock with a wooden spoon or bamboo chopsticks every hour or so.

Turn off the heat. Allow to cool one hour.

Strain into a stainless steel bowl.

I like to store the stock in a bain marie, which is a tall stainless steel vessel.  I buy them from

When the stock has completely cooled I put it in the refrigerator.  The next day I remove the fat.

You can keep the stock for 4 days in the frig or freeze it.

Great to use when making rice or soup or for braising vegetables.

When freezing, use plastic and allow at least 1½ inches of head space as the stock expands when frozen.

Cranberry Relish

Cranberry Relish


  • 1 bag cranberries
  • 1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water, scant
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 naval orange, for zesting
  • 1Tbsp. Grand Marnier, scant (optional)


  1. Pick over cranberries, looking to remove any cranberries that may be soft or rotten. Wash cranberries by submerging and lifting in a bowl of water, drain in a strainer.
  2. Place the orange juice, sugar and water in a wide mouth pot. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 5 minutes to reduce. Add the cranberries, dried cranberries, and zest from 1 whole orange. Simmer uncovered for 8 - 10 minutes. Turn off the heat. Add the Grand Marnier.
  3. Note: If the relish is too thick, add a small amount of boiling water.
  4. If you like the relish sweeter you can add an additional 2 tablespoons sugar. You could add the extra sugar by placing it in a small sauce pan with a equal parts of water and simmer for 5 minutes or until the sugar is dissolved. Then add this to the relish.
  5. You can prepare cranberry relish up to 5 days in advance.

Roasted Brussel Sprouts

I love to make these as a side dish for Thanksgiving dinner.  Cumin has been given credit for preventing Alzheimers.  I like to buy the whole cumin seed because of the enhanced flavor.  You can grind cumin with a motor and pestle or a Krups electric coffee mill, available on the second floor of Zabars.

Roasted Brussel Sprouts


  • 1 lb brussel sprouts
  • 1 ½ tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/3 tsp. of cumin


  1. Pre-heat oven to 375°. For every one pound of brussel sprouts, use 1 ½ Tbsp. of olive oil and 1/3 tsp. of cumin. If brussel sprouts are large then cut in half lengthwise after blanching.Wash then slice off 1/16 of an inch of the stem end of each brussel sprout then cut a crisscross on stem end.
  2. Blanch ½ pound at a time in 2 cups of rapidly boiling water for 1 minute. Drain. Place in bowl and toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Heat iron skillet on high heat for 2 minutes. Add brussel sprouts. Do not overcrowd.
  4. Roast at 375° for 10 - 15 minutes.
  5. After the first 5 minutes, sprinkle with the ground cumin. Shake pan to flip brussel sprouts.
  6. When done remove from oven and sprinkle with a little salt. Drizzle with remaining ½ tablespoon extra virgin olive oil.

Stuffing for Roast Turkey

This stuffing yields enough to stuff a 14 to 17 pound turkey.

Since I have called for a 10 to 12 pound turkey then use the balance of the stuffing to bake in a soufflé dish or baking dish greased with butter or olive oil. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes at 350 degrees. After 15 minutes drizzle with pan drippings from the roasted bird or moisten with a little turkey stock.

A stuffed 10 to 12 pound turkey will take about ½ hour longer to roast.  Remove stuffing from bird before refrigerating left over’s to avoid bacteria from forming.

I like to make the stuffing the day before , ie Wednesday.


1 lb. of Italian chestnuts- make a crisscross in each chestnut. Place in a large iron skillet and roast in a 375 degree oven for 20 minutes or more, peel while warm, then chop then set aside .

1 lb. of  cubed-bread Sourdough Pullman loaf from Sullivan Street Bakery 47th St. between 10th and 11th or Pullman loaf from Citeralla, made by Pain D’avignon or Tom Cat Brioche Rolls, purchased at Fairway.

Cube the bread in ¼ inch cubes 2 days before making the stuffing and leave out in a roasting pan. Cover loosely with wax paper or a sheet pan. If bread is not dry by Wednesday, then roast bread cubes in a pre-heated 250° oven, until dry with no color. About 15 to 20 minutes.

Heat 8 Tbsp. (1 stick or ½ cup of unsalted butter in a large skillet over medium heat until the foam subsides. Add:

  • 2 cups chopped onions
  • 1 cup finely chopped celery
  • 1 tsp. Bells poultry seasoning

Cook, stirring, until tender, about 5 minutes. Optional-Add ¼ to ½ lb. ground pork and cook until pork is white, if using pork then use less butter.

Remove from the heat and stir in:

  • ½ cup minced fresh parsley
  • 2 tsp. fresh thyme (or 2/3 teaspoon dried)
  • 2 tsp. fresh marjoram (or 2/3 teaspoon dried)
  • ¾ tsp. salt mixed with a pinch of cayenne
  • ¼ tsp. ground black pepper
  • ¼ to 1/3 cup turkey stock (or chicken stock)
  • 1 large egg, beaten

Stir in the bread cubes and then 1/3 cup turkey stock and toss until well combined. Let mixture cool.  Add chopped chestnuts to the stuffing mixture. When the mixture has cooled, stir in the  beaten  egg.

Because the stuffing expands while cooking, do not over stuff the bird.

Tips for Thanksgiving Turkey


It would be good to make some chicken stock or turkey stock.

Buy bread for stuffing. I like to use the Pullman loaf at Sullivan Street Bakery, 47th Street between Tenth and Eleventh Avenue or the Tom Cat brioche rolls at Fairway, or the Pullman loaf at Citeralla made by pain d’avignon.  To save time, ask for loaf to be sliced.  Cube the bread then loosely cover for a few days.

To make stock, buy a chicken or chicken bones or a turkey. Wash by submerging and lifting in a big bowl of water. then put the chicken in stock pot filled 2/3 of the way with water.  Bring to a boil, turn the heat to low, skim the scum then add cut-up vegetables: celery, carrot, onion, leek greens, parsley stems, parsnip and/or turnip, bay leaf. Simmer 6 hours, no cover. cool, strain, refrigerate.


Remove the fat from the stock.

Buy your turkey. I like the kosher turkeys the best as the koshering process is like brining and that makes the turkey juicy. Organic turkeys are good too. In nyc I like Elberly or D’artagnon. Buy or order a turkey between 10 and 12 pounds (small turkeys are more tender and have more flavor). If you are having a crowd then buy two. Figure one pound of turkey per person to insure leftovers.  Remove from bag and wipe the turkey down with a damp paper towel inside and out. Using another piece of paper towel remove the kidneys located in the cavity near the tail end (they look like liver but are not and they are bitter when cooked).  Place a few whole sage leaves in-between the skin and meat of the breast. Put the turkey breast-side up on a rack resting on a shallow roasting pan. First choice roasting pan is stainless steel or enamel, second choice is aluminum. Do not use Teflon.

I use rack make out of bamboo chopsticks in a tic tack toe pattern. I buy them at Can Man, 200 Canal Street in Chinatown.

Let the turkey air-out in the refrigerator for 2 days.  This dries the skin and produces a crispy skin when roasted.


Make a seasoning mixture of 1 teaspoon salt, one teaspoon black pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon cayenne. Rub down the turkey with extra virgin olive oil and then the seasoning mixture (just on the outside skin). Place a bunch of rosemary in the cavity along with a lemon cut in half, a few cloves of crushed garlic, green stem removed and one or two shallots, peeled and cut into quarters.

Pre heat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the turkey breast side down on a rack  resting on the roasting pan and roast for 1 and 1/4  hours. Turn the bird breast side up and continue to roast for about an additional 1 and 1/4 hours or longer if needed. If the bird is not browning well, paint on a tablespoon of melted butter. No basting. Basting draws the juices out of the bird and prevents the skin from becoming crusty. During the first hour of baking check every 30 minutes to make sure the juices on the bottom of the pan are  “not” getting too dark. If they are then add 1/2 chicken or turkey stock to the pan.

A 10 to 12 pound bird will take 2½ to 3 hours. I like to test the temperature with a Taylor instant meat thermometer (buy it at Gracious homes or Zabars).  175 is the internal temperature you are looking for.  I know all the books say 165 or 170 but I find that a lower temperature produces bloody thigh meat.

Before carving let the bird rest 20 minutes on a big wooden board or china serving platter (not plastic). You can make the sauce while the bird is resting. Make the sauce by first pouring the juices from the roasting pan into a Pyrex measuring cup or anything glass or stainless steel that is tall.  Remove the fat with a spoon.  The last little bit of fat can be removed by floating torn pieces of paper towel on the top. Pour the defatted juice back into the roasting pan along with 1/ 2 cup of white wine and reduce a few minutes, no cover and over a medium heat. Add 2 cups of stock and reduce a few minutes. Then thicken by making a slurry of 2 level Tablespoons of arrowroot dissolved in 2 tablespoons of cold water. stir with one hand and pour very slowly with the other hand until the sauce thickens. you may not need all of the slurry so just add it gradually. season with  salt and pepper if necessary (if you are using a kosher bird then no salt). When thickening the sauce, pour in the slurry in one spot and stir with a wooden spoon at the same time.

Carve turkey by removing the breast from one side and then the other side.  Then slice breast.  Wings and legs can be removed whole by cutting at the joint. Any skin that is not crisp can be returned to the oven for 15 -20 minutes in an iron skillet and roasted in 375 degree oven.

If you follow these instructions, you will have moist meat and a crusty skin, i.e., raves from your guests.

Tomorrow I will talk about stuffing.