Main and Side Dishes: Roasted Turkey Rubbed with Jalapeno, Fresh Sage and Orange Butter and Bread Stuffing with Pears, Bacon, and Caramelized Onions

This is the moment everyone has been waiting for all day. After the exuberant and frenzied unwrapping of presents, after the trips outside to play in the snow, after the unique and tasty starter dishes, it has come down to this; the main course, the pièce de résistance. While we like to mix things up, push fruit to its culinary boundaries and share our recipe stories, we also have a strong sense of tradition. For many Americans, no Christmas dinner is complete without turkey, and we kind of feel the same way. But while we may have chosen a traditional dish, we of course are going to mix things up and feature fruit in every aspect of this Christmas Feast.

We begin with the turkey. Basted with fresh pressed orange juice, butter, orange zest, jalapenos and sage leaves, this tropical inspired dish will become an instant classic. Basting takes work, but the result is culinary perfection; meat that falls off the bone, flavored throughout by the perfectly spiced orange jalapeno rub. While you want to make sure to remove the jalapeno seeds, the turkey is not overly spicy instead absorbing all of the rich jalapeno flavor. The sage balances the powerful flavors of the orange and jalapeno and provides that classic smell and taste. The recipe called for the turkey to be roasted at 450 degrees before reducing the heat to 375. We found this a little too hot unless you prefer your bird’s skin to be dark and crispy. Setting the oven to 350 and cooking for twice as long makes for a more balanced dish and really allows the flavors to permeate the meat.

Orange juice is all fine and good, but what about some real fresh fruit thrown into the mix? While apple stuffing recipes are common, pear stuffing is a little more unique. We chose Green D’Anjou Pears as they hold up well when cooked without having the gritty texture of Bosc Pears. This recipe was another one from our friends at USA Pears and is one of the best tasting stuffing recipes you will ever try. Call us nostalgic, but we like to stuff the turkey instead of cooking the stuffing separate. This allows both dishes to flavor each other, and the jalapeno orange essence of the turkey definitely enhanced this already outstanding dish. The amount of liquid was a little too much, especially if you stuff the bird. We actually added some left over crostini  to absorb and balance the four cups of chicken broth. Regardless of how you cook it, the stuffing is the perfect counterpoint to the turkey, and you may find yourself without any leftovers the next day.

To complement and complete the meal we chose a bottle of Sheffield Harvest Crush Cider. This non-alcoholic apple and wine grape cider is produced by a local northwest company and a favorite at The Fruit Company. Check out all of our brand new cider gifts featuring this cider on our cider and fruit gifts page at thefruitcompany.com.

Roasted Turkey Rubbed with Roasted Jalapeno, Fresh Sage and Orange Butter

Ingredients

2 cups fresh orange juice (we used fresh pressed Navel Oranges)

2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature

Zest of 1 orange, finely grated

3 jalapenos, roasted peeled, seeded

¼ cup fresh sage leaves

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 fresh turkey (16 pounds)

Directions

Put orange juice in a small nonreactive saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Cook until reduced about 1/4 cup. Let cool to room temperature.

Put the butter, cool orange syrup, zest, jalapeno and sage in a food processor and process until smooth, season with salt and pepper. Scrape into a bowl. Can be made 1 day in advance and stored, covered in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature before using.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Remove neck and gizzard from the turkey and discard. Rinse the bird thoroughly with cold water and pat dry. Rub the entire surface with 1/2 of the butter. Season the skin and the cavity liberally with salt and pepper. Truss the turkey and place on rack in a large roasting pan.

Roast the turkey for 30 minutes, then turn the temperature down to 375 degrees and continue roasting for 1 1/2 hours or until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F, brushing with the remaining butter every 15 minutes. Remove the turkey from the oven and let rest for 20 minutes before carving.

Makes 6 servings.

Recipe courtesy of foodnetwork.com

Bread Stuffing with Pears, Bacon, and Caramelized Onions

Ingredients

1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened

10 cups unseasoned dry bread cubes

8 ounces bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 ¼ pounds frozen pearl onion, thawed and blotted dry

1 tablespoon golden brown sugar

3 firm but ripe Bosc or Anjou pears, peeled, halved lengthwise, cored, and cut into ¾-inch dice

3 large ribs celery, chopped

2/3 cup minced fresh parsley

1 ½ tablespoons fresh thyme leaves

1 ½ tablespoons minced fresh sage

1 ½ teaspoons salt

Freshly ground pepper

3 large eggs, lightly beaten

4 cups canned low-sodium chicken broth

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Coat a deep 9-by-13-inch baking pan with the butter. Place the bread cubes in a very large mixing bowl. In a 10-inch saute pan, cook the bacon over medium heat until crisp. Using a slotted spoon drain the bacon and add to the bread in the bowl. Remove all but 2 tablespoons of the bacon fat from the pan, reserving the extra. Add the onions to the pan and saute over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until soft and lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Sprinkle the sugar over the onions and saute, stirring constantly, until the onions turn golden and the edges caramelize, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add to the bread in the bowl.

Return the pan to medium heat, add 2 tablespoons of the reserved bacon fat and swirl to coat the pan. Add the pears and celery and saute, stirring frequently, until softened, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add the parsley, thyme, sage, salt, and a few grinds of pepper, and saute 1 minute longer. Add this mixture to the bread cubes, and stir to combine. Add the beaten eggs and stock to the bowl, and mix well. Place the stuffing in the prepared pan and bake, uncovered, until the top is lightly browned and crusty, about 1 hour.

Makes 12 servings.

Recipe courtesy of usapears.org

The Fruit Company® got its start in 1942 when Roy Webster began selling apples and pears from his orchards located in Hood River, Oregon. The area was perfect for growing fruit thanks to the volcanically enriched soil and glacial water from the nearby Mt. Hood. The fruit was exceptional. The company was passed down from father to son and today is owned and operated by Roy's Grandson Scott Webster.

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