Let's Dish With Linda Lou

Where You Taste The Love

Stuffing Muffins

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My Stuffing Muffins are a twist on a traditional dish. Family and friends are always amazed when they see these on the table.

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Olive Oil

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Onions

Stuffing (2)

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Stuffing (5)

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Flat Leaf Italian Parsley

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Rosemary

Rosemary (2)

Sage

Sage (2)

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Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Yields: 12 muffins
Equipment: 1 (12-inch) sauté pan, 1 (12-cup) muffin-tin pan, 1 small mixing bowl, 2 medium-size mixing bowls, 1 large mixing bowl, chef’s knife, large ice cream scoop, mini food processor, rubber spatula

Ingredients:
1 pound of sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
2 tablespoon of olive oil
1 stick of butter, unsalted
4 ribs of celery, diced
1 sweet onion, chopped
1/2 cup of golden raisins
2 tablespoon poultry seasoning
1 teaspoon of dried oregano
3 large eggs, beaten (cage-free)
1/2 cup of whole milk ricotta cheese, room temperature
3/4 cup of Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
1-quart of chicken stock, unsalted
1 sprig plus 1 tablespoon of fresh rosemary leaves, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons fresh sage leaves, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon of fresh thyme, roughly chopped
1/4 cup of Italian flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon of Kosher salt
1 teaspoon plus 1/2 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
8 cups of Ciabatta bread, cubed
1-quart of chicken stock, unsalted

Directions For The Oven Bake Method.
Preheat oven to 400-degrees F.
Start by evenly dividing the bread cubes out onto two rimmed baking sheet pans. Add olive oil, Kosher salt, and fresh ground black pepper, toss to evenly coat the bread cubes. Spread the bread cubes evenly into a single layer. Bake for 15 minutes turning them once halfway through the cooking process to make sure they brown evenly. Transfer to a large mixing bowl. Set aside to cool.

Directions:
Adjust oven temperature to 375-degrees F.
Start by spraying a muffin-tin pan with a buttered flavored non-stick cooking spray.

Preheat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil, 1 sprig of rosemary, and sausage. Using a wooden spoon break the sausage apart and cook until no longer pink and brown, about 10 to 15 minutes. Drain the excess fat completely, transfer to a medium-size mixing bowl. Allow to cool and set aside.

In the same sautè pan over medium heat, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 4 tablespoons of butter. While the butter is melting add 1 tablespoon of freshly chopped sage leaves. Add the diced onions, and celery. Add Kosher salt, fresh ground black pepper, golden raisins, and poultry seasoning. Stirring frequently, cook for 5 to 6 minutes until the vegetables soften. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.

In a medium-size mixing bowl add the eggs, ricotta cheese, dried oregano, 1 teaspoon of Kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon of fresh ground black pepper, 1 tablespoon of fresh chopped rosemary, 1 tablespoon sage leaves, thyme, and flat-leaf Italian parsley. Whisk to combine.

Add the cooled veggies and cooked sausage to the bowl containing the croutons. Using a rubber spatula, gently mix to combine. Finally, slowly pour the chicken broth over all the ingredients, allowing all the bread cubes to absorb the liquid. Gently continually stirring as you add the liquid. There will most likely be extra liquid in the bowl and will be absorbed during the baking process.

Using an ice cream scoop, scoop out a large helping, of the stuffing, into the muffin tins. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until set and crisp on top. Keep a close eye on them as they cook, time may vary slightly.

To serve, carefully remove the Stuffing Muffins arranging them on a large serving platter and serve hot or at room temperature.

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Maple Bourbon Brined Turkey

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This is my traditional turkey recipe and the one my family insists on year after year. My Maple Bourbon Brined Turkey. Echoing those flavors, I finish, with a Maple Bourbon Gravy.

The brining process starts 24 hours before the bird goes into the oven. There are three parts, all of which are necessary, to have the most flavorful, juicy, and tender turkey you’ll ever have. It’s really all in the planning.

Before starting the whole brine process, the turkey must be completely thawed. My recipe is listed in 3 parts. Part 1 is the brine. Part 2 is the prep of the turkey for the oven. Part 3 is cooking the turkey and making the gravy.

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Part 1. The Brine
Prep Time: 40 to 45 minutes
Inactive Prep Time: 24 hours 15 minutes
Cook Time: 7 to 10 minutes
Equipment: 1 (8-quart) plastic container with a tight-fitting lid, 1 large stockpot

Ingredients:
1 (12-pound) turkey
2 quarts water
2 orange peels
1 lemon peel
3 cloves of garlic, smashed
1/4 cup of Kosher salt
1 1/2 cups of bourbon
1 1/2 (12-ounce) bottles of pure maple syrup
15 sprigs of thyme  (no need to strip leaves)
1 large sprig of Rosemary ( no need to strip leaves)
5 bay leaves (dried)
2 tablespoons of tricolor peppercorns
1 1/2 cups of organic apple juice
1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar

Directions:
Prep all the ingredients for the brine including measuring out the water. Place all the ingredients listed above in a large stockpot. Turn stove on medium-high heat and bring everything up to a boil, 7 to 10 minutes. Immediately remove from the heat source. Let the brine cool down, then place it into the frig, uncovered to chill, for around 30 to 35 minutes or until completely cool.

Remove turkey from its packaging and remove the neck and innards from the cavities of the bird. The only part I keep is the neck to make turkey stock from. I’ll tell you about that in a minute. Completely pat dry the turkey really well. Place the bird into the brine container and back into the frig until the brine liquid has cooled.

Once the brine is ready and completely cooled, take the turkey in the brine container out and pour the liquid over the bird. The bird should be completely submerged in the liquid. Place the lid on and refrigerate for 24 hours.

Note: Take notice of what time you place the bird into the brine. This will give you an idea of when the bird will be going into the oven. Allow an extra 20 minutes for rinsing the brine off the bird and letting it soak in clean water for 15 minutes. This will remove any extra salt flavor still on the bird. Then once again you will need to dry the turkey completely before part 2.

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Part 2. Prepping Turkey
Prep Time: 15 to 20 minutes
Total Time: approx. 2 hours 40 minutes
Total Time: approx. 3 hours
Equipment: Roasting pan with rack

Ingredients:
1 stick of softened butter, unsalted
1 orange, zested
1 lemon, zested
2 cloves of garlic, freshly grated
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon of Kosher salt
2 teaspoons plus 1/2 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
1 onion, skin on and quartered
1 head of garlic cut in half lengthwise
10 sprigs of fresh thyme
4 sprigs of rosemary
1/4 cup olive oil
2 quarts of chicken stock, unsalted (generally 2 cups (enough to fill the bottom of the roasting pan with liquid, the level of liquid about 1 inch high) 1 quart is used to make the turkey stock)

Preheat oven to 450-degrees F.
Once the bird has come out of the brine and well dried, it’s time to make a *compound butter for the turkey. In a medium-size mixing bowl prepare the *compound butter. Add softened butter, the zest of both the lemon and orange, freshly grated garlic, Kosher salt, and fresh ground black pepper, mix to combine. Moving on, release the bird’s legs from their packaging position as you see in the pictures.

With my clean hands, lift up the skin on the breast area and slather as much of the butter underneath the skin as possible. Reaching as far around with breaking or tearing the skin. Next, I fill both cavities of the bird with flavorings.

Next, cut the same lemon and orange that have already been zested, in half, placing half of each one into each of the cavities. Same with the halved head of garlic, and the quartered onion in both cavities. Finally, divide the sprigs of herbs up and place them into both cavities.

Now I rub the compound butter underneath the skin, reaching as far as I can without breaking the skin. Next, rub the olive oil all over the outside of the bird. Then sprinkle the Kosher salt and black pepper all over the turkey. Finally, add the 2 cups of broth to the bottom of the roasting pan.

Part 3. Cooking Turkey:
Reduce oven temperature to 350-degrees F.

Place the turkey on the center rack in the oven. Every 30 to 45 minutes remove the turkey from the oven. Close the oven door to keep the heat in, and baste the turkey, using the juices from the bottom of the pan. About halfway through the cooking process, take the temperature of the turkey using a meat thermometer.

Place the thermometer between the thigh and the breast meat for the best reading. This allows you to see how fast the bird is cooking and to gauge the time better. If you see the top is browning too quickly, place a foil tent over the turkey for the time remaining. Keep in mind,  you still need to baste the turkey every 30 to 45 minutes. Once the turkey’s temperature reaches 165-degrees F. around 2 hours 40 minutes, take the bird out of the oven.

While the turkey is in the oven, this is what I’m doing on top of the stove.

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Sage

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Equipment: 1 (6-quart) saucepot, fat separator

Ingredients For Turkey Stock:
Turkey neck
1 quart plus 2 cups of chicken stock, unsalted
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon of fresh ground black pepper
3 sprigs of fresh thyme

Ingredients For Maple Gravy:
1 turkey neck
3 tablespoons of bourbon
1/4 cup of pure maple syrup
12 sage leaves (reserve 4 leaves chopped for the finished gravy)
1 1/2 cups of homemade turkey stock
1 cup of chicken stock, unsalted
3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) of butter, unsalted
3/4 cup of all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon of Kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Part 3 Continues.
Directions For Turkey Stock:
In a large saucepot add the turkey neck and cover with 1 quart of unsalted chicken stock, Kosher salt, fresh ground black pepper, and 3 sprigs of thyme. Turn the heat up to med-high heat, bring this up to a boil. Reduce it to a simmer, cover, and cook, on medium-low heat, for 1 /1/2 hours.

Once finished, strain the liquid, using a mesh sieve, over a bowl to catch this delicious stock. Now I have a container of turkey stock along with a container with my leftover unsalted chicken stock (remember I only used 2 cups for the bottom of the roasting pan) to make my gravy.

At this point, remove the bird from the pan. I like to tilt the bird slightly over the roasting pan so that any juices that are in the cavities will fall to the bottom of the pan. Place the turkey on a large board and cover with foil until you’re ready to carve. Leave all the ingredients, in the cavities.

First, add 8 sage leaves while the juices are still really hot. Allow the sage to steep in the juices for a couple of minutes, then remove them. I use one of those gadgets that separate the fat from the juices that accumulated in the bottom of the roasting pan. I discard the fat and pour the juices into a bowl.

I return the empty roasting pan to the stove, over medium-high heat. Add 1/4 cup of the homemade turkey stock, I made earlier. Scraping the bits off the bottom (*deglazing) until they all release. I combined these juices with the pan juices in the bowl. Now my pan juices have no fat but the extra flavor from the bits that came off the bottom of the pan.

Start by making a *roux for the gravy.
Working with a clean roasting pan again, over medium heat. Add butter, let the butter melt before adding the flour. Whisking continuously until all the raw flour has cooked out. Next, add the pan juices (I reserved in the bowl) along with bourbon, maple syrup, chicken stock, and turkey stock. I turn the heat back up to medium-high, still whisking, and let all those ingredients come up to a bubble and thicken. I also add in the reserved chopped sage leaves for color and flavor in the gravy.

This is my Maple Bourbon Brined Turkey With Maple Bourbon Gravy.

*Compound Butter is a mixture of butter and other supplementary ingredients, such as herbs, seasonings, acid, or and another flavorful and aromatic ingredient. Used to enhance flavor.

*Deglazing is a cooking technique for removing and dissolving browned food residue from a pan to flavor sauces, soups, and gravies.

*Roux is a mixture of fat (especially butter) and flour using in making sauces.

My Hanging Organic Herb Garden And Summertime Flowers

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Gnocchi In A Brown Butter Sauce

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Every region has it’s own version of a dumpling. Well, the Gnocchi is the Italian dumpling. This one, made from potatoes, and is like little soft pillows of goodness in every bite.

Now, of course, you could make Gnocchi from scratch, and they would be so delicious. For a weeknight meal, I’m taking some help from my grocery store. Today the grocery store offers some great choices where the work is done for you. I promise this recipe can be on the table in 15 minutes. This is my Gnocchi In A Brown Butter Sauce.

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Colander-Style Spoon

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Sage

Sage (2)

sage

Flat Leaf Italian Parsley

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Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cooking Time: 12 to 15 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Yields: 2 servings
Equipment: 1 (6-quart) saucepot, 1 (12-inch) sauté pan, mesh sieve, a medium-size bowl, colander spoon, Microplane

Ingredients:
1 (17-ounce) package of store-bought Gnocchi
2 cups of frozen peas, thawed
1 lemon, zested and juiced
1 tablespoon of fresh sage leaves, julienned and finely chopped
1 stick of butter, unsalted
1 teaspoon of Kosher salt
1/2 a teaspoon of fresh ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes, optional
1 cup of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, freshly grated (extra for garnishing each dish)
2 tablespoons of Italian flat-leaf parsley for garnish,  finely chopped for garnish

Directions:
Start by having a large pot of salted boiling water ready on the stove, to go, for the gnocchi.

Also, in a large sauté pan over medium heat melt the butter. Continue cooking the butter until it produces a milky foam all around. Once the foam disappears and the butter becomes light brown in color and has a nutty flavor and aroma, around 7 to 10 minutes, it’s reached the *brown butter stage. The time for this process may vary.

Drop the gnocchi.

Add the sage, lemon juice, crushed red pepper flakes, Kosher salt, and fresh ground black pepper (Don’t be alarmed if the sage should turn brown). Once the gnocchi begins to float to the top, using a colander spoon, transfer the gnocchi to the pan. Toss the gnocchi with brown butter.

Add the peas into the pasta water to heat through. Transfer the peas using the colander spoon to the pan. Add the lemon zest, toss to combine. Remove the pan from the heat. Add the grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, and toss.

Ladle the gnocchi into a porcelain serving bowl, grate more cheese, and a sprinkling of parsley over the top, and serve. There you have it, Gnocchi In A Brown Butter Sauce.

*Brown Butter: This is the process where butter that’s been heated in a pan becomes light brown color and has a nutty flavor and aroma. Cooking time may vary depending on how much butter you’re using. Keep in mind the milk solids contained in butter are what caramelize and turn brown in color, not the butter itself.

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