Showstopping Holiday Recipes + Wine Pairings

Looking for a few showstopping recipes to wow your guests this holiday season?  Look no further than Dry-Brined Roast Turkey, Harvest Stuffing, and Old-Fashioned Pecan Pie.

Recipe 1: Dry-Brined Roast Turkey. 
Recipe 2: Harvest Stuffing. 
Recipe 3: Old-Fashioned Pecan Pie. 

dry brined turkeyDry-Brined Roast Turkey 
With 2013 Las Hermanas Vineyard Pinot Noir

Dry brining renders a bird that has a delicious turkey flavor and firm, juicy meat. Salt alone works exceptionally well, but you can add other flavors if so inclined (Minced rosemary is a nice touch.) Remember that you should salt/season the turkey by Monday night at the latest to have it at its best by Thursday.

Pair with 2013 Samsara Wine Co Las Hermanas Vineyard Pinot Noir.  The natural acidity (from limestone soils) in this wine pairs very well with turkey and most components of this dinner. 

Total time: 3 hours to cook, plus 3 days to brine
Source: Los Angeles Times
Servings: 11 to 15

1 (12- to 16-pound) turkey
Kosher salt

1. Wash your turkey inside and out, pat it dry and weigh it. Measure 1.5 tablespoon of kosher salt or the appropriate amount of a seasoned salt into a bowl for every 5 pounds the turkey weighs (for a 15-pound turkey, you’d have 4.5 tablespoons kosher salt).

2. Sprinkle the inside of the bird lightly with salt. Place the turkey on its back and salt the breasts, concentrating the salt in the center, where the meat is thickest. You’ll probably use a little more than a tablespoon. It should look liberally seasoned but not over-salted.

3. Turn the turkey on one side and sprinkle the entire side with salt, concentrating on the thigh. Use a little less than a tablespoon. Flip the turkey over and do the same with the other side.

4. Place the turkey in a 2 1/2 -gallon seal-able plastic bag, press out the air and seal tightly. Place the turkey breast-side up in the refrigerator. Chill for 3 days, leaving it in the bag but turning it and massaging the salt into the skin every day. Between 24 to 48 hours into brining, your bag will look swollen with water as the bird “rejects” its juices. Never fear, between 48 and 72 hours the bird will entirely reabsorb all of the lost moisture before its ready to cook.

5. Remove the turkey from the bag. There should be no salt visible on the surface, and the skin should be moist but not wet. Wipe the turkey dry with a paper towel, place it breast-side up on a plate and refrigerate uncovered for at least 8 hours.

6. On the day it is to be cooked, remove the turkey from the refrigerator and leave it at room temperature at least 1 hour. Preheat the oven or gas grill to 425 degrees. (Using your backyard gas grill to roast the turkey keeps your house cool and odor free for when guests arrive.)

7. Place the turkey on a roasting rack in a roasting pan; put it in the oven or gas grill. After 30 minutes, reduce the temperature to 325 degrees, and roast until a thermometer inserted in the deepest part of the thigh, but not touching the bone, reads 165 degrees, about 2 3/4 hours total roasting.

8. Remove the turkey from the oven or grill, transfer it to a warm platter or carving board; tent loosely with foil. Let stand at least 30 minutes to let the juices redistribute through the meat. Carve and serve.

Harvest Stuffing

With 2013 Rancho La Vina Pinot Noir

Harvest Cornbread StuffingThis Harvest Stuffing sets the new standard for flavor in a traditional holiday stuffing.  Flavor and texture collide at the heart of this recipe and the finished product always adds depth and character to the plate.  Finish with your family’s gravy recipe and our 2013 Rancho La Vina Vineyard Pinot Noir.

The Rancho La Vina Pinot goes great with darker meats and rich stuffing due to its great structure. Clay soils in the vineyard, as well as the whole cluster fermentation adding more tannins and stand up next to rich flavors.

Total time: 1 hour, 45 minutes
Source: The Farm of Beverly Hills
Servings: 16+

1 pound Jimmy Dean pork sausage, crumbled
2 large onions, minced
1/2 cup minced parsley
2 cups chopped celery
3/4 cup butter
2 (16-ounce) Pepperidge Farm cornbread stuffing mix
2 green apples, diced
1 1/2 cups dried cranberries
1 (8-ounce) can water chestnuts, drained and diced
1 1/2 cup pecan pieces
1 cup seedless prunes, cut into quarters
1 cup dried apricots, cut into quarters
2 teaspoons salt
Pepper to taste
4 eggs, lightly beaten
3 cups chicken broth

1. Brown onions, and celery in 1/4 stick of butter over medium heat.

2. Brown sausage, drain and squeeze out extra fat

3. In a bowl, put browned sausage, cranberries, water chestnuts, chopped pecans, prunes, apricots, parsley, onions, and celery. Add diced apple last to keep it from turning brown.

4. In a separate bowl, mix eggs, broth, and 1/2 cup butter (melted).

5. Place stuffing mix in large bowl and add meat/fruit/vegetable mixture. Mix well. Add eggs/broth/butter mixture. Mix until evenly “wet”, but don’t over mix or the stuffing will get “gummy”.

6. Bake at 400 degrees in one 13″x9″ and a one 9″x9″ inch baking dishes for 45-50 minutes. Top should be crisp, without burning.

Old-Fashioned Pecan Pie
With . . . 

Old Fashioned Pecan PieThis recipe makes, quite simply, one of the best pecan pies you’ll ever eat.  Made with maple syrup instead of the corn syrup typically found in many pecan pie recipes, this maple-y masterpiece is sure to wow the grumpiest of in-laws.

The rule of thumb for pairing is that the wine must be sweeter than a dessert or else the wine falls flat on the palate. While SAMsARA has aa late harvest Viognier in the works, for just this type of pairing, it won’t be available for this holiday season.

For pairing with this Old Fashioned Pecan Pie, we recommend a Sauterne from the Graves region in Bordeaux, France, or its lesser known neighbor, Barsac (Sauternes from Barsac are tremendous wines with lower prices). These wines are sweet, but not fortified, and are typically made from Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc and Muscadelle grapes that are affected by Botrytis or Noble Rot, causing them to raisin on the vine and are very sweet at harvest. The best examples have some age on them and are light or deep orange in color, and pair wonderfully with sweeter deserts like pecan pie.

Total Time: 1 hour prep, 1 hour bake time
Source: Cooks Country Magazine
Servings: 8-10

1 cup maple syrup
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon molasses
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
1-1/2 cup pecans, toasted and chopped
9-inch unbaked pie shell

1. Make filling: Adjust over rack to lowest position, heat oven to 450 degrees F. In a saucepan over medium heat, heat the maple syrup, sugar, cream, and molasses stirring occasionally until the sugar dissolves, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool for 5 minutes. Whisk butter and salt into syrup mixture until combined. Whisk in the egg yolks until thoroughly blended.

2. Bake pie: Scatter the chopped pecans in the pie plate and carefully pour filling over the pecans. Place pie in oven and immediately reduce the temperature to 325 degrees F. Bake for about 45 to 60 minutes, until the filling is set and the center jiggles slightly when the pie plate is gently shaken. Cool on a rack for 1 hour, then refrigerate until completely set (about 3 hours, or up to 1 day).

3. Bring to room temperature before serving.