Nick Rosen |
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We all know its an orgy of pointless over-consumption. But despite our moaning, most of us succumb to the jingle of bells and the mulling of wine, telling each other its “for the children” or “the old folks.”

So later in the week we will feature the founder of freecycle.org telling us how to give the gift of giving. Today we give you recipes for organic Christmas dinner, and tomorrow some suppliers of the basic ingredients that will warm your heart on the coldest of nights. But also, a way of making Christmas decorations out of cheap and recycled materials — as if it will salve our consciences! (click below for more)

Cook up a great meal
have an organic Christmas

First the decorations. Then the turkey dinner.

Super Stars White Wire Hangers
You will need wire hangers (2 per ornament), wire cutter, silicone craft glue, string, sequins (about 0.6 oz per ornament), needle-nose pliers

cheap decorations
re-used metal coat-hangers

1. Snip the hook off one hanger, leaving the triangle intact. Set aside.

2. Pull down the bottom of the second hanger, to form an oval.

3. Indent the bottom of the oval-shaped hanger toward the hook with needle-nose pliers to form an upside-down V.

4. Layer the two hangers to make a star and tie them tightly with string where they cross. Secure with glue. Snip the string close to the knot, coat the star with glue, and sprinkle with sequins.

Now for the main event

Roasted Organic Turkey with Herb and Apple Stuffing and Gravy

Organic and natural turkeys tend to cook faster than conventional ones, so test for doneness early with an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh. Because there is often less fat on the breast, you may need to cover the bird with a double-thickness aluminum foil tent to keep it from drying out (an alternative is organic bacon). Stuffing the bird also helps it remain moist and flavorful. Although the USDA recommends cooking turkey to a temperature of 180, doing so generally results in dry, leathery meat. We roast ours to 170. The temperature will continue to rise as it rests before carving. Note: An unstuffed bird will roast in less time about two to three hours.

Preparation time 30 minutes
Serves 10 – 12

1 14- to 16-pound fresh turkey, neck and giblets (excluding liver) reserved for making stock
Herb and Apple Stuffing
Carrots, quartered onions, and celery stalks, enough to cover bottom of roasting pan
6 T (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
1/4 c turkey or chicken stock
For gravy
Pan juices reserved from turkey
4 c turkey stock
1/4 c all-purpose flour

1. The day before cooking, brine the turkey (see below). Make the turkey stock and stuffing.

2. Preheat the oven to 425. Stuff and truss the turkey. Transfer any remaining stuffing to a buttered shallow baking dish, cover with foil, and refrigerate.

3. Add a single layer of carrots, onions, and celery stalks to the bottom of a low-sided roasting pan and place turkey on top. Roast in middle of oven 30 minutes. Melt 4 tablespoons butter. Reduce oven temperature to 325 and pour melted butter over turkey. Roast turkey, basting every hour, an additional 3 to 3hours, or until a thermometer inserted in center of stuffing in body cavity registers 165 (thigh should be about 170).

4. Transfer turkey to a heated platter. Transfer vegetables to a plate and serve as a side dish, if desired. Keep juices in pan. Remove skewers from turkey and discard twine. Transfer stuffing from cavity to a serving dish and keep warm. Let turkey rest 30 to 45 minutes before carving.

5. Bake the uncooked stuffing: Increase oven temperature to 375. Stir together cup turkey stock and cup water, and drizzle over baking dish of uncooked stuffing. Dot stuffing with remaining 2 tablespoons butter; bake in middle of oven 40 minutes while turkey rests. For moist stuffing, bake covered entire time; for a crisp top, uncover after 10 minutes.

6. Make the gravy: Skim fat from turkey pan juices, reserving cup fat. Place roasting pan on top of stove over medium-high heat. Add turkey stock and cook, stirring, scraping up brown bits. In a large saucepan, whisk together reserved fat and flour and cook over low heat, whisking, 3 minutes, until browned. Add hot stock mixture, whisking constantly to prevent lumps. Simmer, whisking occasionally, until thick (about 10 minutes). Stir in juices from turkey platter. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Brining the turkey With less fat than conventional birds, organic or natural turkeys really benefit from brining one to two days before cooking. It helps keep them moist and adds seasoning. The turkey should be fresh or fully thawed before brining. Use a nonreactive container large enough to submerge the entire bird, such as a stockpot or a clean bucket. If you live in a cool climate, use a cooler and leave it outside (this also frees up the fridge). To brine a turkey, remove the neck and giblets, reserving them for stock. Discard any plastic pop-up devices. Rinse the bird and put it in the brine container; cover with cold water. (If you are leaving the turkey outside, replace some of the water with ice to keep the water temperature below 40.) Add 1 cup kosher (coarse) salt for every gallon of water used. Stir until salt is mostly dissolved. Add a few fresh sage leaves and a tablespoon of peppercorns, if you wish. Store in the refrigerator or a cool place (33 to 40) for 24 to 36 hours, turning the turkey once.

Brussels Sprouts with Pecan Brown Butter

Adapted from Organic Style magazine

If your farmers’ market is still open, seek out Brussels sprouts on the stem for the freshest and sweetest-tasting buds.

Preparation time 20 minutes
Serves 10 – 12

3 pounds Brussels sprouts, trimmed, and an X cut into the base of each sprout
1/4 c extra-virgin olive oil
4 T unsalted butter
3/4 c chopped pecans
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Pinch of brown sugar

1. In a steamer set over boiling water, steam the Brussels sprouts, covered, 7 to 8 minutes, until just tender. Drain under cold running water to stop them from cooking. (You can do this step up to 1 day in advance.)

2. In a large skillet, heat the oil and butter. Add nuts; cook over medium heat until golden brown. Add sprouts, salt, pepper, and sugar; saute 1 to 2 minutes, until heated through.

Fresh Cranberry Sauce

Adapted from Organic Style magazine

You can use fresh or frozen cranberries. For optimal flavor, make the sauce at least one day (or up to three) ahead.

Preparation time 10 minutes
Serves 10 – 12

1 bag (12 oz) fresh or thawed frozen cranberries, picked over (about 3 cups)
1/2 c honey
1 T fresh lemon juice
1/3 c slivered almonds, lightly toasted
1 stalk celery, deribbed and chopped
1 Granny Smith apple, cored and chopped

Place cranberries and honey in the bowl of a food processor fitted with metal blade. Pulse to finely chop (do not puree). Add lemon juice, almonds, celery, and apple, and pulse to incorporate. Transfer to a bowl and add just enough honey to sweeten to taste. Chill sauce, covered, at least 1 day and up to 3.

Maple-Ginger Glazed Sweet Potatoes

Adapted from Organic Style magazine

Long slender potatoes work best for this recipe. Boil them ahead and broil just before serving.

Preparation time 45 minutes
Serves 10 – 12

3 1/2 pounds medium sweet potatoes (about 6 potatoes)
1/3 c maple syrup
1 2-inch piece fresh gingerroot, peeled and chopped
6 T (3/4 stick) unsalted butter

1. Place potatoes in a large pot. Cover with cold water and bring to a boil; lower heat and simmer 30 to 35 minutes, until tender. Drain; set aside to cool.

2. Place syrup, 1 tablespoon warm water, and ginger in a blender. Puree until nearly liquefied. Strain into a small saucepan. Add butter and bring to a simmer; cook on low heat 3 minutes. Set aside.

3. Arrange oven rack 6 inches below broiler. Preheat to high. Peel potatoes and cut into inch-thick slices. Place on a baking sheet; drizzle with maple butter. Broil until potatoes are hot and slightly caramelized, about 3 to 5 minutes.

Turkey Stock

Adapted from Organic Style magazine

Use this broth in stuffing and gravy.

Preparation time 5 minutes
Serves 2quarts

2 qt organic chicken broth
4 c water
Wing tips, neck, and giblets (excluding liver) from turkey
1 onion, peeled and quartered
1 lg carrot, quartered
1 bay leaf

Place all ingredients in a large stockpot and bring to a boil; lower heat and gently simmer at least 1 hours. Strain and skim off any fat. If desired, chop up giblet meat and add to gravy.

Herbed Carrot Salad

To allow the strong flavors in the dressing to blend, let it sit for a couple of hours. Toss the dressing with freshly steamed carrots shortly before serving.

Preparation time 20 minutes
Serves 8 to 10

1 t cumin seed
1/4 c cilantro leaves, finely chopped
Scant 1/4 cup mint, finely chopped
1/2 t salt
1/4 c olive oil
2 T red wine vinegar
1/4 t white sugar
3 pounds carrots, scrubbed and thinly sliced (about 18 carrots)
1/4 c plain yogurt
Freshly grated black pepper

1. Using a mortar and pestle or a spice grinder, grind cumin seed to a coarse powder. Transfer to a bowl or glass jar and stir in green herbs and salt, pressing herbs with the back of a spoon to crush them. Add oil, vinegar, and sugar, and mix well. Seal and let stand in refrigerator 1 hours or up to 6 hours to let flavors blend.

2. Steam carrots. Before serving, remove dressing from refrigerator and stir in yogurt. In a medium bowl, combine the carrots, dressing, and pepper, and toss well. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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2 Responses to “Organic Christmas Recipes”

  1. Trudy Clarke

    Recipes look very interesting and will definitely give them a try for this years dinner.

    Reply
  2. Beeja Wilson

    Thanks for posting this (6 years ago)! Ever since Organic Style went out of print I’ve periodically lost and then found this article that I had torn from the pages. I even went to the library once and copied it from the archives. So nice in a pinch to just have it online to refer to, as it’s pretty much my go-to Thanksgiving method (with changes that have happened here and there over the years, like lemon juice–local to SoCal–instead of ginger–decidedly not local, since famers around here just don’t seem to grow it for whatever reason–for the sweet potatoes, and just not bothering with the brussels sprouts, which were a pain in the neck).

    Reply

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