_DSC5454-3 This week, we have a special guest contributor!  Shannon Brooks and her photographer husband, Rob, create crazy delicious meals using whole foods and fresh ingredients.  Their take on the traditional Thanksgiving meal was so incredibly scrumptious that I just had to get them to share it with you.  You are going to love Shannon’s easy style; it’s just like you are in the kitchen chatting while she cooks.  Shan has talked about having her own food blog for quite some time which I think would just be a knockout.  After you see the wonderful things she has for you here, I think you will agree!  To read more about Shannon, see her bio below.


 

 Gobble, Gobble… The Thanksgiving Bird

_DSC5525-20My hubby and I love to cook.  We especially love to cook using our Primo XL Ceramic Grill— our pride and joy.  We grill several nights a week.  All.  Year.  Round.  Grilling isn’t seasonal at our house.  It’s a requirement.

Through the years, we’ve made some great friends with other grilling/foodie people.  We all annoy our friends with photos of our food via Instagram and Facebook.  We pass around recipes and give and receive advice on technique.

The idea for this first recipe I’m about to share with you came from a grilling friend, so I can’t take full credit for it.  I honestly don’t_DSC5479-9 remember if I asked for a recipe or if it was just something he shared with me when I mentioned that we had planned to grill a turkey on our Primo.   But, either way, I am forever grateful.

He simply called it… Bacon Butter.  I was intrigued.  Those who know me well know that I love bacon.  My sweet mother-in-law even gifted me a kitchen towel which I keep hanging on my oven that says, “Bacon Makes Everything Better.”  Nothing could be closer to the truth.  It’s the food of the gods.

_DSC5497-11Anyway, this grilling master of a friend of mine, suggested making a concoction of bacon, butter, and other seasonings; slathering it under the skin, inside the cavity and all over the outside of a turkey and grilling it. What?!  Hold on, now.  That was one suggestion that he didn’t have to make twice!

Following his lead, this is the recipe I put together.  You could change the herbs and use other spices.  But, since its Thanksgiving, I figured I’d go with traditional herbs.

 

 

 

 

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Ingredients

  • ½ lb Uncooked Bacon
  • 1 Stick Softened Butter
  • 1 Medium Onion Chopped
  • 3-4 Cloves Minced Garlic
  • ¼ Cup Fresh Rosemary
  • ¼ Cup Fresh Thyme
  • ¼ Cup Fresh Sage
  • 1 Teaspoon Sea Salt
  • 1 Teaspoon Cracked Black Pepper
  • 1 Turkey – We used a 10 pounder

 

Preparation and Cooking

Add all the ingredients to a food processor (except the turkey) and pulse until well combined.  Now the fun begins!  Slather it under the skin over the breast of the turkey, inside the cavity of the bird and all over the outside of the skin.  It’s messy, but you’ll appreciate the mess once you have your first bite.

We learned the hard way that it’s best to pat the turkey good and dry before you apply the bacon butter or the butter won’t stick well.

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Now, if you don’t have a grill, it’s high time you purchased one.  But, you can always use this same mouthwatering Bacon Butter on your oven cooked turkey and cook!  And I am betting it would be great on a chicken, as well.

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We set our grill up for an indirect cook by using a ceramic deflector plate, but you can do the same with any charcoal grill by just building your fire on one side of the grill & cooking on the other.  We use lump charcoal and a combination of pecan and apple woods for flavor & color.  You’ll also want to put an aluminum drip pan under the bird for the cook.  Be sure to put the pan under the cooking grate & add about 2 cups of apple juice and a beer (non-alcoholic if you prefer).

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When your grill temperature is around 350 degrees, put your bird on the grill.  The temperature will drop at this point, so let it come back up to 300-325 degrees.  Depending on your grill & location, it should take between 12 -14 minutes per pound to cook.  We leave the bird alone for at least an hour & a half before opening the grill.  You will have to resist the temptation to look at all of that goodness!

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After a couple of hours (depending on the size of your turkey), check the temperature of the breast with a meat probe thermometer.  The USDA guidelines advise that the safe internal temperature of turkey is 165 degrees.  We’ll pull the bird off of the grill when the internal temperature gets to at least 160 degrees, then let it rest for 10-15 minutes before serving.  While resting, the bird will continue to cook, so you can check it after about 10 minutes to be sure the internal temperature of 165 degrees is achieved.


Next dish…

I love turkey but honestly, when it comes to the Thanksgiving meal, the side dishes are my favorite.  So while your turkey is cooking, let’s get to the other stuff!

Thanks to one of my “recipe experiments,” this year we decided we won’t be doing the typical sides.  A few weeks ago we grilled some sweet potato wedges and had about 2 cups worth left over. So, I saved them for later.  We’re pretty good about eating leftovers around here, but I decided I wanted to make something else with these sweet potatoes.  It was a cool fall day, so why not soup?  I remembered a recipe for a Pumpkin Coconut Curry soup that I made some time ago and used it as guide to make something new.   While enjoying a bowl, we determined that this would go on the Thanksgiving menu this year.  Here is what I came up with.

Savory Sweet Potato Pumpkin Soup

Ingredients

  • 1 Tablespoon Coconut Oil or Bu_DSC5518-18tter
  • 1 Small Onion Chopped
  • 1 Small Clove Minced Garlic
  • 1 Tablespoon Fresh Minced Thyme
  • 1 Teaspoon Ground Ginger
  • 4 Medium Cooked Sweet Potatoes, skins removed and rough chopped
  • 1 Can Pumpkin Puree (Or roast your own fresh pumpkin if you wish!)
  • 1 Can Unsweetened Coconut Milk – Full Fat
  • 32 Ounce Carton Chicken Stock
  • Salt/Pepper to Taste

 

Preparation and Cooking

I am a big fan of cast iron, so I love using my ceramic coated cast iron Dutch oven. It’s well-loved as you see in the photos. But you could use any 5-6 qt. stock pot for this soup.

After halving these sweet potatoes, brushing them a little coconut oil, and sprinkling them with salt and pepper, I removed the skins and rough chopped them. You could grill yours or simply bake them in the oven. Either way works fine. Also, since I am already using the coconut milk in this recipe, I went with the coconut oil, but you could brush them with butter or my favorite— bacon grease!

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In your Dutch oven (or stock pot), over medium high heat, sauté the onion and garlic in the coconut oil until the onion is clear. Then add the thyme and ginger and sauté until fragrant. Finally, add the sweet potatoes, pumpkin, coconut milk, and chicken stock. Simmer together on a medium low heat for 15-20 mins. Then puree the entire pot of soup with an emulsifier (or you can carefully blend in small batches in your blender.) Then salt/pepper to your liking.

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This soup is wonderful all by itself, but this year, it’ll be hanging out on our Thanksgiving table with our Grilled Bacon Butter Turkey! I think it would be wonderful topped with a little goat cheese or a dollop of sour cream.


 Last but not least…

Through the years I’ve always been a fan of green bean casserole, but lately all of the sides traditionally served with the turkey just seem mushy with not a lot of texture. Green bean casserole, sweet potato casserole, corn casserole, mashed potatoes. All soft and mushy.

So I got an idea. Why not Prosciutto wrapped green bean bundles on… you guessed it… the grill? This recipe has just a few ingredients, and it’s a fairly simple process. I wrapped 5 whole beans with a slice of prosciutto and figured each person might eat 2 bundles a piece. Some simple math and you’ll figure out how many beans you’ll need to serve your guests.

(Pssst… just in case you were wondering, prosciutto is the little sister to bacon. In my opinion, anyway.)

Grilled Prosciutto Wrapped Green Bean Bundles

Ingredients_DSC5587-36

  • Whole Fresh Green Beans – Blanched
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Garlic Powder
  • Thinly Sliced Prosciutto

 

Preparation and Cooking

Be sure you wash your green beans and snap off any stems.

Bring a pot of water to a boil. Once the water is boiling, toss in the beans and let them blanch for 3-4 minutes.

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Then take then out of the boiling water and over into a bath of ice water. This stops the cooking process and helps keep the beans vibrant color.

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Once cooled, drain the beans over some paper towels.

Toss them in enough olive oil to lightly coat the beans and then add salt, pepper and garlic powder to your taste.

Wrap 5 beans in the prosciutto to make a bundle.

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Grill them over indirect heat until the prosciutto is slightly crispy.

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And there you have it…  A Thanksgiving meal fit for kings, with all of your favorite foods, free of mushy sides, and a bonus of bacon. So what are you waiting for? Fire up that grill and make this Thanksgiving something traditional but unexpected!

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Shannon is a bona fide foodie, a singer, recently converted fitness buff… to read more, click the photo.