Turkey Thighs with Thyme Butter and Porcini

Thanksgivings in our wild savory kitchen have been a memorable feast for many years, always featuring our Tandoori turkey.  Sometimes twelve folks, sometimes eighteen or more, we always had two Harvest Tables that were eight feet long each.  Side by side, we feasted with family and friends every year.  And many times we had single guests with no families nearby, and sometimes new friends in need… it was all a joy, and we always have an attitude of gratitude.   Tandoori turkeys are big boys and by far the best turkey we have ever tasted.  But lately we’ve been thinking about the folks who are not able to make a whole turkey at the holidays… single people far away from home on work or studies, newlyweds looking to begin their own traditions, single moms, families with both vegetarians and turkey lovers, folks with small kitchens or no oven, or small apartments that can’t handle the crowds, exhausted couples with a baby who want to celebrate but can’t handle a big turkey, and retired folks who have done it all and just want to keep it simple.  In this post we have just the roast turkey for you, a feast that almost anyone can make, even if they only have a toaster oven.   We begin with turkey thighs, from two to four.  The concept is to put all of our umami ingredients under the skin and also under the thighs, as they slowly roast. If you love rich dark meat and savory umami richness, you will love this easy turkey feast. Here is the recipe for the best tasting turkey we have ever eaten (other than our Tandoori turkey!).  Ingredients 2 to 4 big turkey thighs 4 large carrots, peeled, split, and cut into two inch pieces 1 pound of brown cremini mushrooms 3/4 pound french string […]

Shepherd’s Pie

I first tasted this classic New England meal, appropriately enough, in the food hall of Harrod’s in London, many years ago. It was a revelation. It has a timeless wildness to it, that speaks of a life lived outdoors and long ago, and of the fireplace and hearth, the warmth of home in a rugged country. This is a meal created by rural working folks and those who hunted and labored in the outdoors and in the garden. The term “shepherd’s pie” did not appear until 1877 or so, and was essentially a meat pie with potato crust. But its origins are solidly within the Leekley family’s land of origin (we arrived in New Hampshire from Northern England in the 1820’s) and it connects us to our roots in England and Scotland. It is filled with tasty treats and savory nuggets, and is a delightful feast to enjoy with friends and family. We made this one from smoked lamb sausage, smoked pork kielbasa sausage, smoked turkey chunks and smoked duck breast. It’s crazy savory and umami wonderful with it’s own light gravy made from bone broths from previous meals. Just like making quiche and other elaborate pies, most of the work is in the preparation and planning for a Shepherd’s Pie. Most importantly is to accumulate flavorful reduced sauces and broths. We use meats from our favorite previously made meals like Duck Confit and Porcini Turkey Thighs, as well as roasted chicken and lamb. If possible, it’s important to have duck fat on hand – it’s magical – or some rich, left-over gravy. This is a wonderful meal to make in the days after a Holiday, using up all the leftovers. Also, this pie is best when using several different kinds of meat combined, like duck, turkey, fresh sausage and […]

Wild Rice with Roasted Duck and Smoked Sausage

This feast comes from the heart of the North Country pines… northern Minnesota, the place where I did my real growing up, from boy to man, hunting and fishing in the wilds.  This iconic feast, legendary among the native peoples who live there, is the essence of wildness.  When you prepare the ingredients, and then feast on it, you can almost hear the cry of the loons out on the lake, in the dusk… and again at first light, as you ease your boat into the lily pads, casting for large mouth bass and northern pike.  It is so deep in my heart that every scrap of my DNA cries out to be there again, one day.