Eat and Be Merry | Holiday Guide | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Eat and Be Merry

Roasted Turkey Stuffed with Brown Rice and Topped with Pumpkin Curry

Chef: Norraset Nareedokmai, Silk Elephant Thai Tapas and Bangkok Balcony, Squirrel Hill


10- to 12-ounce turkey breast
8-10 oz. of Asian pumpkin, diced in 1-to-2-inch cubes
(butternut squash or sweet potato can be substituted)
1 cup of brown rice
1/3 cup of wild rice
1 onion, chopped
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
1/2 stalk lemongrass, peeled and minced
10-15 leaves Thai sweet basil
1 stalk celery, chopped
Butcher's string

Curry Sauce:
2 tbsp. of namprik gaeng daeng (or substitute store-bought red-curry paste)
1 can of coconut milk
3/4 cup of chicken (or vegetable) stock
1 tbsp. of salt
2 tbsp. of fish sauce
1 1/2 tbsp. of palm sugar
2 oz. of sliced red and green peppers
Thai sweet basil leaves for garnish

Preparation of Turkey Breast and Brown Rice Stuffing

Bring 1 1/2 cups of lightly salted water to a boil. While water is heating up, rinse the wild rice under running water in a strainer. When water is boiling, add both wild and brown rice, cover, turn heat to low and cook for about 30 minutes, until tender. Do not overcook. You will most likely have excess water when rice is cooked properly. Strain cooked rice and set aside in a large bowl. (To add flavor, you can boil the brown rice in salted water or in chicken stock)

Heat 1 tbsp. of chicken broth in a large stainless steel skillet. Sauté onion in broth over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add mushrooms, lemongrass, basil and celery and continue to sauté for another 2-3 minutes.

Mix all the stuffing ingredients together with rice in bowl and season with salt and pepper. Always stuff the turkey just before roasting to avoid harmful bacteria.

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Butterfly the turkey breast with the skin intact.

Place a thin layer of the rice mixture on the breast.

Roll the bottom layer halfway; then fold the skin side of the breast on top of it.

Tie with the butcher's string.

Roast at 350 F for 45-60 minutes, until the turkey reaches the internal temperature of 165 F.

Let the turkey rest for 10-15 minutes before you slice it.

Curry Sauce

Heat 1 1/2 tbsp. of vegetable oil and sauté the curry paste for 3-5 minutes until fragrant.

Add the coconut milk and remaining chicken stock.

Add fish sauce, sugar and salt.

Add the pumpkin cubes and simmer until cooked, about 7-10 minutes.

Spoon over the stuffed turkey breast and garnish with basil.

Serves 4.


Ribollita, My Way, with Big Anchovy Croutons

Chef: Bill Fuller, corporate chef, big Burrito Restaurant Group


1/2 cup olive oil
1 cup onion, diced
15-20 cloves garlic sliced thinly
2 cups carrots, peeled and diced
1 cup celery, diced
2 lbs. white potatoes, diced large
2 cups butternut squash, peeled and diced large
2 quarts stock (chicken or pork)
2 lbs. chicken breast
1 lb. loose Italian sausage (spicy or mild) rolled into meatballs
1 bunch rapini, stems sliced thinly and leaves chopped
1 cup white beans, cooked and drained
2 cups good tomato sauce/puree
Another 1/2 cup olive oil
4 1-inch thick slices of stale bread
2 salted anchovies
Salt and pepper
Red pepper flakes

Place a little olive oil in the bottom of a large pot over medium-high heat. Add onions and brown lightly. Add 2/3 of the sliced garlic, carrots, celery, potatoes and squash. Cover with stock, bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer.

Heat a wide skillet over high heat. Season chicken breast with salt and pepper and brown on both sides until cooked. Remove from pan and allow to cool slightly. Slice and reserve.

While chicken is cooling, return pan to heat. Place olive oil in pan and brown meatballs. Remove.

When vegetables are soft, add chicken, sausage, rapini, beans and tomato sauce. Return to a simmer and cook as long as you want.

When ready to serve, heat second half-cup of olive oil in a wide skillet over medium heat. Place anchovies and remaining sliced garlic in the pan. Lay in the slices of bread and brown on both sides. Be careful to brown bread while not burning anchovies or garlic. You will be tempted to eat this toasted bread on its own, and I say, go ahead. Just toast more!


Lamb Ragout

Chef: Kate Romane, Flying Biscotti Catering

During the stress of the holiday season, how does one make the fabulous happen and still not miss the party? This recipe is it. Simple and yummy. I saw a big fat leg of lamb hanging out in the meat case and decided that would be fun to cook. I have probably used this recipe six times in the past two months. It goes great with a cozy sweater and your favorite pair of boots -- and plenty of loved ones.


One big leg o' lamb (bone in)
1 #10 can of San Marzano tomatoes
1 bottle of cabernet
Sea salt
Black pepper
5 large carrots, roughly chopped
2 Spanish onions, diced large
7 cloves of garlic
Olive oil
Mint, chopped
Italian parsley, chopped

This dish is easy and seriously no mess, but it takes a good six hours to cook. You will also need a large roasting pan.

Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees. Prep your lamb leg by rubbing her down with just a touch of olive oil. Salt and pepper the leg. Dust with ground cinnamon, making sure to cover the leg well with these three ingredients.

To minimize the mess, stick her in the oven for about 20 minutes until she is efficiently seared or a bit brown. Add garlic, onion and carrots to the pan. Roast 15 more minutes. Remove from the oven. Add wine, tomatoes and just enough water to ensure adequate braising liquid. Cover with aluminum foil. Stick pan back in the oven and sit back.

Six hours later ... remove aluminum foil. Meat should be falling off the bone. Use a pair of tongs to pull meat from the bone, reserving bones for stock or a lucky doggie.

Add salt and pepper to pulled meat, if needed. Top with fresh mint and chopped parsley. Fresh, crusty bread is a recommended accompaniment.

Serves 20.


All-Purpose Holiday Shortbread

Even CP staffers take a break from virtually non-stop wordsmithing to attend the occasional party. But with precious time, deflated wallets and little culinary imagination, it's no wonder the following Scottish shortbread has become the default office-party treat. Fast, cheap, easy and redeemed by that most prosaic of kitchen aids: colored sugar.


2 sticks salted butter, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 cups flour
Good-sized pinch each of salt and baking powder
Assorted colored sugar (optional)

Preheat over to 350 degrees. Cream the butter (easiest with an electric mixer but those with upper-body strength can use a wooden spoon like the Highlanders of yore). Add sugar and mix well. In separate bowl, combine flour, salt and baking powder. Add to sugar-butter, and mix. When fully combined, mixture will be crumbly.

Dust cutting board with powdered sugar (tastier than flour). Using hands, form crumbly mixture into a couple of dough balls, a little larger than golf balls. Use heel of hand to pound balls against board into more-or-less evenly flat blobs. The thinner you can get the dough, the more deliciously melt-away the cookie.

Use a table knife to cut flattened dough into any shape you like. A 2-inch-by-4-inch rectangle makes a recognizable cookie. But these cookies are so tasty that nobody notices if they're in random shapes (saves a lot of time). Place cookies on an ungreased (yay!) cookie sheet. Cookies do not expand in oven, so you can rack 'em close. If desired, sprinkle with sugar.

Bake for 10-15 minutes, depending on thickness of dough. Cookies should come out of the oven just as their edges are turning golden. This recipe makes a couple dozen cookies, depending what size cookie you cut out. The recipe is easily halved for a smaller budget.


Now you're ready for any holiday: red and green sugar for Christmas; blue for Hanukkah; red, black and green for Kwanzaa; red, white and blue for Patriots Day; orange and black for Halloween; and, as pictured, red, blue and yellow for the NFL's high holy days.