Thursday, November 28, 2013

First time cooking a heritage turkey - Plus, my grain free stuffing recipe!

Thanksgiving 2012 at the Yikes homestead.
Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. I’m not exactly sure why that’s so, but I suspect mostly it’s the food.

Delicious aromas wafting through the house for days. Comforting and filling dishes harkening back to childhood. Everyone gathering to eat the bountiful feast and feeling thankful for all we have. It all makes me so happy.

Going Paleo has certainly added its challenges to the Thanksgiving repertory. I have eliminated most sweeteners and all grains. Though I am relaxing a bit on the sweet part for this special occasion, the grains are nonnegotiable.

Being a person of the paleo persuasion presents a special challenge when it comes to Thanksgiving stuffing. Especially this year as we have an 18 lb heritage turkey awaiting in the fridge.

We are new to the heritage bird world. This is a turkey that is free ranging and has not been bred to have an abnormally huge breast. They are also a lot leaner. The heritage turkeys more closely resemble a wild turkey.

We bought our bird from Old Ackley Farm in Blue Hill Maine. I had met Bob at the Saturday farmer’s market in Ellsworth. While I was tending the gallery, I would sneak out to do my shopping and fell in love with the chicken, eggs and other meats that this farmer produces. He had a sign-up for Thanksgiving turkeys and I was right on that!

Well, now that I have my bird chillin' in the fridge I had to figure out how best to cook it and needed a really great stuffing to go with it. Last year’s stuffing was ok. Not bad, but not super great. So far, I think this year’s is going to be fantastic! I modified a recipe I found on the Level Health blog. I really wanted to use pork in my stuffing and changed up the seasoning a bit but I am thankful for the great foundation from Level Health.

Here’s how I did it!

Grain-free ‘cornbread’ stuffing with pork

For "Bread":

  • 6 eggs 1/2 cup butter, melted 
  • 3/4 cup coconut milk 
  • 1 Tbsp sage 
  • 1 Tsp thyme 
  • 1tsp marjoram 
  • 1/2 tsp white pepper 
  • 1 tsp sea salt 
  • 3/4 cup organic coconut flour, sifted 
  • 1 tsp baking soda 
  • ½ tsp cream of tartar 
  • ½ cup arrowroot

For Sautee:

  • 3 Tbsp grass fed butter 
  • 6 stalks celery, chopped 
  • 1 medium onion, chopped 
  • 4 cloves garlic handful chopped 
  • fresh parsley handful chopped 
  • fresh sage, salt, and ground pepper 
  • 2 lbs ground pork 
  • 1 cup chicken or turkey stock

Bread Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. In a large bowl, whisk eggs, butter and coconut milk
  3. Add sage, thyme, marjoram, white pepper, salt , baking soda, cream of tartar, coconut flour and arrowroot and mix until smooth
  4. Pour batter into a buttered 9 x 11 baking dish and bake for 25 minutes
  5. Meanwhile, heat large cast iron skillet and add butter
  6. When butter is melted, add celery, onion and garlic. Sautee until onions are transparent – about 10 minutes
  7. Add ground pork and cook till pork begins to brown.

When bread is fully cooked, remove from oven, let cool and break apart a bit with a fork and dump into a large bowl. Add sautéed pork mixture to the bowl and stir lightly. Drizzle and fold stock into the stuffing. Add additional salt and ground pepper if needed.

Fold to combine, careful not to break the bread chunks down too much.

Return everything to the cast iron skillet and place in the 350 oven for 30 minutes.

Stuffing or not?

Since this bird is going to cook at a very high temp for a shorter time I am choosing not to stuff. I’ll keep the stuffing in its own dish but will put slices of orange and apple into the cavity of the turkey instead.

Now go stuff yourself !

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