The December issue of the Washingtonian is out and readers have picked their favorite restaurants. We are thrilled that Indique and Indique Heights have been chosen among the top three Indian restaurants in the Washington metropolitan area. Cheers!
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Benjamin Franklin, who wasn't in favor of the bald eagle being the official symbol of the United States, much preferred the turkey, which he called a "respectable bird, and withal a true original native of America." Historians aren't sure whether that's why the tom headlines on most Thanksgiving tables, but one thing's certain: Part of the reason you're serving a Butterball or heritage American Bronze is due to the fowl's versatility. "Turkey is a blank slate, ready to receive any flavor imprints. The meat is mild and the breast is porous, so it absorbs seasonings well. If you brine it, the salty, spicy liquid can permeate all the way to the bone," says Grace Parisi, senior recipe developer at Food & Wine magazine. So, if you want to send your turkey on a round-the-world taste trip, check out these relatively simple recipes from three top D.C. chefs.
An Asian Angle Like duck, turkey stands up well to strong, spicy flavors — which might be why many Southern tables let good times roll with a turducken — a Cajun combination of a chicken stuffed in a duck stuffed in a turkey. Scott Drewno, executive chef atWolfgang Puck's Asian fusion temple, The Source (575 Pennsylvania Ave. NW; 202-637-6100), takes that idea a bit further afield, using Chinese spices to lacquer the whole bird. "No matter how you decide to cook your turkey for Thanksgiving, brine it," he says. "That ensures you get a terrific taste."
Chef Scott Drewno's Chinese Gobbler
Ingredients: 1 8-10 pound turkey Brine 3 gallons water 5 carrots 5 stalks celery 10 onions, chopped 1/2 cup garlic cloves, smashed 2 tablespoons smashed ginger 2 tablespoons black peppercorns 1 1/2 cups salt 1 1/2 cups rice wine vinegar 3/4 cup sugar
Turkey marinade and stuffing: Szechuan pepper and sea salt as needed Chinese sausage fried rice (optional) Peanut oil as needed
Method Combine all brine ingredients in a large pot. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat and allow the brine to come to room temperature.
Add turkey to the brine, cover and leave overnight in the refrigerator.
Remove turkey from brine and pat dry. Pre-heat oven to 450 F.
Season generously inside and out with Szechuan pepper and sea salt. Optional: Stuff it with Chinese sausage fried rice you make or take-out.
Place turkey in roasting pan and roast for 20 minutes. Brush skin with peanut oil and lower heat to 350 F. Cover turkey loosely with foil and roast until internal temp reaches 160 F. Remove from the oven and let it rest for 20 minutes before carving.
Pour Szechuan sauce over the top before serving.
Spicy Chinese Turkey Sauce
Ingredients: 1/4 cup chili oil 1 tablespoon sesame oil 1/2 cup chopped garlic 1/2 cup chopped shallots 2 tablespoons soy sauce 1 tablespoon ground Szechuan pepper 1/4 cup sambal or Chinese chili paste 2 tablespoons palm sugar 1 tablespoon sweet paprika 1/2 cup Shaoxing wine or dry sherry 1 quart chicken stock
Warm the chili oil and sesame oil in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the chopped garlic and chopped shallots. Cook for a couple of minutes, just to soften the garlic and shallots but not to brown them.
Add the soy sauce, ground Szechuan pepper, sambal, palm sugar, sweet paprika, wine and chicken stock.
Simmer uncovered until it thickens to your desired consistency—but watch out for the spicy fumes!
On the Side: Try ginger-glazed yams, Szechuan-style green beans and to sip, a pinot noir.
Indian Interest You won't find turkey curry on menus in India. But K.N. Vinod, co-owner of Indique Heights (2 Wisconsin Circle, Chevy Chase; 301-656-4822) tasted it there in 1980. "I was working at a hotel in South India. A group of homesick Americans was staying there during Thanksgiving," he recalls. "I found a Christian priest, who sold me a turkey and surprised them with a traditional Thanksgiving dinner." Vinod says turkey has a great affinity for Indian spices; so do his kitchen cohorts S.B. Bala Murugan (right) and Edwin Dass (left), who helped him with this recipe.
Chef K.N. Vinod's Turkey Seekh Kebabs
Yields: 20 kebabs
Ingredients: 1 pound ground turkey 1/4 cup chopped red onion 1 tablespoon minced ginger 1 teaspoon crushed garlic 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds 2 teaspoons chopped cilantro 1 teaspoon garam masala (store-bought or homemade Indian spice mix) 1 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon minced fresh red chili paste
Method In a large bowl, combine the turkey, onion, ginger, garlic, cumin, cilantro, garam masala, salt and red chile paste.
Divide the mixture into 20 balls; place them on a lightly oiled baking sheet and flatten into patties.
Bake at 350 F for 12 to 15 minutes, until cooked through.
On the Side: Serve with mixed vegetables, rice pilaf with dried fruits and nuts and cranberry chutney. To sip? Masala chai.
A Spanish Tale Haidar Karoum, executive chef of Proof (775 G St. NW; 202-737-7663) andEstadio (1520 14th St. NW; 202-319-1404), has never met a gobbler when visiting Spain. But he thinks gobbler breast makes a good base for bold Spanish flavors such as garlic, smoked paprika and sherry. "When I think about turkey on Thanksgiving, it is not just about the bird but also the combination of the meat with gravy, stuffing, cranberries and yams," he says.
Chef Haidar Karoum's Sauteed Spanish Turkey Breast
Ingredients: 4 tablespoons olive oil 1 1/2 pounds turkey breast, boneless, skinless Salt to taste 1 red bell pepper, diced 1 green bell pepper, diced 1/2 yellow onion, diced 2 garlic cloves, minced 1/4 cup green olives, pitted, chopped 3 tablespoons parsley, minced 1 teaspoon smoked paprika (pimenton) 6 tablespoons dry sherry
Method Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
While the oil is heating, slice 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless turkey breast into 1/4-inch slices. Season with kosher salt and gently lay them in the hot pan. Work in batches if your skillet won't hold all the slices in a single layer.
Flip the turkey slices once they start to brown on the bottom, about two minutes. Cook for two minutes more on the other side. Transfer to a platter and keep warm.
Add another 2 tablespoons of oil to the same skillet and lower the heat to medium. Add the diced bell peppers, diced onion and garlic cloves, and cook, stirring, for a minute. Add the chopped olives and the pimenton, and cook for a minute more.
Stir in the sherry and parsley, and cook just until it bubbles. The vegetables should remain a bit crisp. Spoon the pepper mixture over the turkey slices and serve.
On the Side: Sauteed Catalan-style spinach (with raisins, pine nuts, onion and apple), and roasted young potatoes with sliced leeks and chorizo. To drink? A light Spanish red such as a Garnacha.
Locate a Local Bird Score a fowl that's scratched and gobbled nearby at these local markets. Most of these places require pre-ordering your turkey.
FRESHFARM Markets Many of the market locations — inclu-ding Foggy Bottom, Crystal City and Bethesda — host local farmers who will be selling turkeys. You can pick up whole birds, half-birds or just breasts.
Groff's Content Farm This Rocky Ridge, Md., outfit offers free-range pastured birds. Go toGroffscontentfarm.com for more details on local farmers markets that'll be selling the birds.
Maple Lawn Farms This Fulton, Md., farm sells frozen turkeys throughout the year and fresh turkeys for Thanksgiving. It has a large selection of fowl products, including whole turkeys, turkey sausages and smoked turkeys.