If you cook it, they will come

by J. Allen Shults

Southern holidays in my GLBT family have been a gathering to say the least. Cooking dinner together and mixing new martini recipes was so much fun last year. One of my friends came up with one of the tastiest martinis I had ever come across. The recipe is below, but be careful these can sneak right up on you.  This light holiday gathering menu begins with an elegant potpourri of tasty and special recipes along with some great memories.

Lemon Thyme Martini
1 oz of Lemon Vodka
1 oz Lemon Liqueur or Lemonchello
Fresh thyme sprig
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup of water

Combine the sugar, thyme and water in a saucepan, and heat till you smell the thyme. Chill in the freezer. Combine the vodka, and the lemon liqueur in a shaker, and add 1 oz of the syrup along with some ice and shake very well and then serve in your favorite glass.

Last year we had a potluck style dinner with everything from baked mac and cheese to green bean almandine. My best girlfriend brought something that was very similar to the hash brown casserole served at Cracker Barrel. Maybe it was the Cracker Barrel bag that gave it away.  I didn’t want to bake a whole turkey or a whole ham, so I baked an herb crusted turkey breast. I loved it and there weren’t any of those disgusting bones to deal with.

Herbed Crusted Turkey Breast
4 Tblsp Poultry Seasoning
4 Tblsp freshly chopped thyme
4 Tblsp freshly chopped sage
4 Tblsp freshly chopped rosemary
16 cloves of minced garlic
6 Tblsp kosher salt
1/2 stick of butter

1 Large onion
4 celery stalks
4 carrots
4 parsnips
4 cups crimini mushrooms
2 cups chicken stock
7lb Boneless turkey breast

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Combine the first 7 ingredients in a food processor and create a compound butter. Essentially you’re making a rub for the turkey. Chop the vegetables into bite sized pieces. Wash and dry the turkey breast.  Place into a roasting pan.

Arrange the vegetables around the turkey and slowly add the stock. Rub the dried turkey breast with the compound butter. Reserve some to baste the turkey with later. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes. After the 30 minutes are over turn the temperature down to 350 and bake covered with foil until the internal temperature is 160 about 1 hour later. Let the breast rest for about 20 minutes before you carve it up.

Now strain the leftover liquid or broth into a saucepan. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Skim off any fat that rises to the top. You can thicken this with 2 tblsp of Corn Starch, and 1/2 cup of water. Just mix the both to form a smooth liquid. Pour into boiling stock and it will begin to thicken. Boil for about 5 minutes continually stirring the gravy. If mixture gets to thick, just dilute with a little chicken or turkey stock.

I know everyone is busy during the holidays, but we, as a community need to get our friends together and celebrate our lives with each other. I hope everyone makes special memories this holiday season. If you would like any recipe or party ideas contact me at jallenshults@outandaboutnewspaper.com


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