An Eco-Soul Thanksgiving

Anxious about your Turkey Day menu? No worries. Bryant Terry is back with healthy, eco-friendly recipes and a soundtrack to get you cooking.

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·        If necessary, remove the neck, giblets and liver from the cavity of the turkey and discard. Rinse the turkey inside and out under cold running water. Set aside in a clean roasting pan.
·        In an upright blender, combine 12 sprigs thyme, 6 sprigs oregano, 6 sprigs rosemary, and 6 sprigs sage with 2 cups of water.  Blend well for 1 minute. 
·        In a large stockpot over medium-low heat, combine the herb-water, with 1 gallon of fresh water, 1 3/4 cup salt, the sugar, 1 tablespoon orange zest and 1 teaspoon lemon zest. Stir well until the sugar and salt are completely dissolved. Cool to room temperature.
·        In a large non-reactive container (such as a stockpot, sanitized plastic bucket, or clean, heavy-duty plastic bag), combine the brine with 2 gallons of fresh water.  Transfer the turkey to the brine. The turkey should be completely submersed, so if you have a big turkey and need more brine, use 1/2 cup sea salt and 1/2 cup raw organic cane sugar for every additional gallon of water.
·        Soak the turkey in the brine, covered and refrigerated, for at least 4 hours and up to 24 hours.

Cooking the Turkey

·        Preheat the oven to 325°F.
·        Remove the turkey from the brine, and rinse well under cold running water. Pat dry with paper towels, inside and out.
·        Loosen the skin from the turkey breast by gently inserting your fingers between the skin and the flesh. Rub the turkey on all sides with the olive oil, and season lightly (inside and out) with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. Be sure to oil and season beneath the skin on the breast. Tuck 6 sprigs or thyme, 3 sprigs or oregano and 3 sprigs of rosemary beneath the skin of the breast. Place the turkey, breast side down, in a large heavy roasting pan and set aside. 
·        Squeeze the juice of 8 oranges to make about 4 cups of juice. Cut the remaining oranges in quarters. Squeeze the juice of 4 lemons to make about 1/4 cup of juice.
·        Stuff the turkey with the orange quarters, the remaining herbs and onions. Loosely tie the drumsticks together with kitchen string.
·        Pour the orange juice in the bottom of the roasting pan. Transfer the turkey to the oven, and roast, uncovered, breast side down for 1 hour.
·        Remove from the oven. Turn and baste with 1 cup orange juice from the pan. Continue roasting with the breast side up until an instant-read meat thermometer registers 165° F when inserted into the largest section of thigh (avoiding the bone) and juices in the thigh run clear when pierced with a fork, about 2 3/4 to 3 hours total cooking time. Baste the turkey once every 30 minutes with 1 cup of orange juice from the pan.
·        Remove from the oven. Place on a platter. Tent with aluminum foil and let rest for 15 minutes.
·        Carve turkey, as desired, and serve with sides.

All recipes for 4 to 6 unless otherwise noted.

Mac 4 Cheese (with Leeks)

Soundtrack: "Amampondo" by Miriam Makeba from Africa

This is a reinvention of the macaroni and cheese that my mom made when I was growing up. With leeks, too.

5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 thinly sliced large leeks*, white and light green parts only
Coarse salt
2 cups uncooked whole wheat elbow macaroni
3 tablespoons whole wheat flour
3 cups whole milk
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
1 cup grated pepper jack cheese
1/2 cup grated fresh mozzarella
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon paprika
Pinch cayenne
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary

·        Preheat oven to 375°F and lightly grease a 2-quart shallow baking dish.
·        Bring a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta. Add 2 teaspoons salt. When the water returns to a boil, stir in the pasta and cook until al dente (about 6 minutes). Drain the pasta and set aside.
·        Meanwhile, in a medium sauté pan over medium heat, warm 2 tablespoons of the oil. Add leeks and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Sauté for 5-7 minutes until they start browning. Set aside.
·        Warm the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat and whisk in the flour. Cook for 3-4 minutes, whisking every 30 seconds, until a darker shade of brown.
·        Raise the heat to medium. Add the milk, whisking constantly, bring to a simmer, and simmer for 10 minutes, until thickened.
·        Reduce the heat to low, add the balsamic vinegar, paprika, cayenne pepper, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 1/2 cup of the cheddar, 1/2 cup of the pepper jack, the mozzarella, and Parmesan to the white sauce and stir until smooth. Season with black pepper to taste.
·        Add the leeks and macaroni to the white sauce. Gently stir well and pour into the baking dish.
·        Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup cheddar and 1/2 cup pepper jack over the top and garnish with the chopped rosemary.
·        Bake 35-40 minutes until lightly brown and crispy on the top. Serve hot.