Merry Christmas my fellow La Caja China fans!
Now, I know my Cuban friends will be enjoying their Lechon Asado on Christmas day, but I thought I’d prepare and post a menu for those of us who were raised in the “turkey and all the trimmings” tradition, as well!
My favorite part about preparing this menu (besides the gut-busting feast that follows) is the fact that, by cooking my turkeys and stuffing in the roasting box, my oven is free for the rolls, dessert, etc.
La Caja China Christmas Menu ala Burnin’ Love BBQ
Salt Brined Roast Turkey
Garlic Mushroom Stuffing
Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Cranberry BBQ Sauce
Simple Grilled Asparagus
Pumpkin Praline Pie
Here are the recipes I’m using this year. I did two turkeys, and my garlic mushroom stuffing in my Semi Pro (had to do a test run, of course), and it all came out VERY nice.
Just a note…I will never…I mean never…roast another chicken or turkey without brining it first! The differences in the flavor, the tenderness, and the juiciness of the meat are indescribable.
If you don’t have a La Caja China…yet…you can get similar results in a 350 degree oven. I’m telling you, though, I’ve done this both ways, and the oven just doesn’t compare the the roasting box for flavor, or, obviously…volume.
“In the Box” Cooking Instructions:
Place brined turkeys on the counter and allow to come to room temperature, 3-4 hours.
Place each brined turkey (see recipe below) in a disposable roasting pan, breast down, tent each loosely with foil, and place pans in La Caja China. Start 15 pounds of charcoal in two even piles, allow to burn 30 minutes and then spread evenly. Cooking time starts now.
Roast turkeys 2 hours, adding 7lbs of coals every 30 minutes. Dump ashes after the first hour. Just FYI…5.5lbs of coals is exactly one full Weber chimney.
Flip turkeys (breast up) and tent again with foil. Cook 60 minutes, adding 5.5lbs of coals every 30 minutes. Dump ashes after an hour.
Remove foil from the turkeys. Add stuffing to box now (see recipe below.) Add the last 7lbs of coals, and brown the tops of the turkeys for another hour.
Total cooking time: 4 hours
Remove turkeys from La Caja China, re-tent loosely, and allow to rest 1 hour before slicing. Remove foil from stuffing pan and return to La Caja China to brown. Do not add more coals.
Place grill grates over the box and roast asparagus for the last 15 minutes, before slicing the turkey.
Save drippings for gravy (see recipe below), or mix a little with the stuffing.
Serve turkey with Cranberry BBQ Sauce on the side.
Simple Brined Turkeys in La Caja China
(2) 12-14lb turkeys, thawed and rinsed
4 C salt
4 C sugar
1/2 cup Adobo Criollo spices
Water to cover
Boil 1 gallon of water, add salt and sugar, stir to dissolve. Allow to cool.
Place turkeys in a water-tight container, large enough to allow a little space around each.
Poor the cooled brine over the turkeys, add enough cold water to cover. Move turkeys to a cool area, or refrigerate 8-10 hours.
Discard brine and rinse turkeys thoroughly, rub each turkey with a little peanut oil, and sprinkle liberally with Mojo Criollo spices, including inside the cavity.
Perry’s Garlic Mushroom Stuffing
2 pkg Unseasoned Stuffing Mix, 13 oz each
2 cubes sweet cream butter
2 large onion, coarsely chopped
4 stalks celery, coarsely chopped
4 cups mushrooms, thick-sliced
4 cups turkey stock
2 cups cooked turkey and giblets, shredded
2 teaspoons rubbed sage
2 tablespoons fresh garlic, minced
pepper to taste
Generously butter a disposable turkey roasting pan
Melt 1 cube of the butter in a medium frying pan over medium heat. Stir in the onion and celery and saute 5 minutes, add mushrooms and garlic, and cook another 5 minutes, until soft. Remove from heat and drain. Mix in the pepper, sage, and shredded meat* Don’t add salt – the brined stock will make it salty enough.
Place the crumbs in a large bowl, add meat and veggie mixture and mix well. Stir in turkey stock* 1/4 cup at a time. The mixture should be moist, but not mushy.
Press the mixture into the roasting, reserving 1/4 cup for gravy. Dot the top with remaining butter, and cover with foil.
*Stock and meat: I usually buy a half-dozen extra turkey thighs, and brine them with the turkey. Rinse and place in a stock pot with the giblets and neck from the turkeys. Cover with cold water (about 6 cups) and bring to a simmer, covered. Simmer 2-3 hours, adding water as necessary to maintain 8 cups of liquid.
Remove meat, cool, and shred, disposing of any bones. Don’t add salt – brining will make it salty enough. Allow liquid to cool then separate the fat from the broth. Use half of each for the stuffing, and the remainder for the Giblet Gravy.
Vickie’s Favorite Garlic Mashed Potatoes
7 pounds russet potatoes
4 tablespoons fine sea salt
32 fluid ounces (4 cups) half-and-half
32 fluid ounces (4 cups) low-sodium chicken broth
1 cube sweet cream butter, melted
12 cloves garlic, crushed
12 ounces grated Asiago cheese
Peel and dice potatoes, making sure all are relatively the same size. Place in a large saucepan, and cover with milk and broth (add more of each, in equal amounts to cover, if necessary.) Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and then reduce heat to maintain a simmer. Cook until potatoes fall apart when poked with a fork.
Heat the butter and the garlic in a small saucepan over medium heat.. Remove from heat and set aside.
Remove the potatoes from the heat and drain off extra fluid, reserving. Mash and add the garlic-butter mixture and asiago cheese, add reserved fluid, as needed, to reach desired consistency.
Let stand for 5 minutes so that mixture thickens and then serve with Giblet Gravy.
Grandpa Frank’s Giblet Gravy
Giblets/reserved meat from turkey, cooked
4 cups turkey stock
2 teaspoons poultry seasoning
2 heaping tablespoons reserved uncooked stuffing mixture
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/3 cup cold water
Freshly ground pepper
Using a sauce-pot, bring the stock to a boil. Add the shredded meat and giblets, poultry seasoning, and raw stuffing to the mixture.
In a separate bowl, mix the cornstarch and water, and add to the boiling stock, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat and continue to cook for 2 to 3 minutes.
Add pepper, to taste.
Cranberry Barbeque Sauce
1 Can Cranberry Sauce (jellied).
1/4 Cup Brown Sugar
1/2 Jalapeño, seeded, rinsed, and finely diced
1/4 Cup Orange Juice
1/4 Cup Ketchup
1/4 Cup Apple Cider Vinegar
1 Tsp Yellow Mustard
Empty cranberry sauce into 2 quart saucepan, whisk, add the remaining ingredients, whisk again, and cook, over medium heat, until simmering.
Cook until the mixture is thick like barbecue sauce.
Simple Grilled Asparagus
3 pound fresh asparagus, trimmed and peeled
12 tablespoons olive oil
6 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3 teaspoon salt
Place asparagus on a plate. Drizzle oil and lemon juice over the asparagus and turn spears until they are coated. Sprinkle with salt and turn again.
Grill asparagus for 5 minutes on La Caja China grill racks. Each minute or so, roll each spear 1/4 turn. Asparagus should begin to brown in spots (indicating that the natural sugars are caramelizing) but should it not be allowed to char. Dripping oil may cause flare-ups. Keep a glass, or spray bottle of water handy to spritz on coals, if necessary.
Remove from grill and serve immediately.
2 tablespoon active dry yeast
4 1/2 cups warm water (110° to 115°)
2/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup shortening
1/2 cup powdered nondairy creamer
4 1/2 teaspoons salt
12 to 14 cups bread flour
In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Add the sugar, shortening, creamer, salt and 5 cups flour. Beat until smooth. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough (dough will be sticky).
Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Place in a bowl coated with cooking spray, turning once to coat the top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.
Punch dough down. Turn onto a lightly floured surface; divide into 24 pieces. Shape each into a roll. Place 2 in. apart on baking sheets coated with cooking spray. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes.
Bake at 350° for 12-15 minutes (while pies are finishing) or until lightly browned. Remove from pans to wire racks. Yield: 4 dozen.
Pumpkin Praline Pie
3 cups pumpkin puree
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
3 cups evaporated milk
2 prepared 10-inch pie crust (uncooked)
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 cup flour
1/2 cup firm butter
1 cup chopped pecans
In a large bowl, beat together the pumpkin puree, eggs, sugar, cornstarch, spice, and evaporated milk until well combined.
Divide the pumpkin mixture between the pie crusts. In a medium bowl, use a fork to combine the brown sugar, flour, and butter until it resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in pecans and sprinkle on top of the pies.
Bake in an oven preheated to 400 degrees for 10 minutes, then reduce the oven heat to 350 degrees and bake an additional 40-45 minutes, until all but the very center of the pies are set. Remove and let cool before serving with fresh whipped cream.