Like Thanksgiving itself, turkey is subject to holiday drama. It may not bitch about being unloved by its parents, start a sports argument, or spout off with a racism-laden drunken rant it’s been holding back since last Thanksgiving, but other than that, it can be pretty high maintenance. Cooking it can be a little temperamental, carving it is a bit of a chore, and, well, you get the idea. That all being said, alternative stars to the Thanksgiving show abound; here are some we like that you can audition the next time you want one less prima donna to deal with on the holiday.
To make the rub, combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Store any unused rub in a sealed container in the freezer. (The yield is approximately 2/3 cup.)
First, remove the roast from the refrigerator three hours before you plan to smoke and cover it with the rub. This will allow the roast to come to room temperature.
Prepare your smoker for cooking. Then place the prime rib in the smoker on a flat baking sheet and avoid checking it constantly. The temperature in the smoker should be 200 to 225 degrees F. For prime rib, a finished internal temperature of 130 degrees F. is rare, 140 degrees F. is medium-rare, and 150 degrees F. is medium. The keys to success are lightly smoking with mild wood, such as oak or pecan, in small amounts, using a meat thermometer, and avoiding checking on the roast.
Smoke the prime rib to the desired degree of cooking. This can take 7-8 hours of smoking but as always, use internal temperature as a guide over cooking time.
A technique increasing the crust on the roast is to remove it from the smoker when the internal temperature is 25 degrees less than the doneness you are aiming for. Then the roast is placed in a 400 degree F. oven and heat is turned off. The roast remains in the oven for about 20 minutes, then it is removed and tented with aluminum foil and allowed to “rest” for another 20 minutes. Even if you don’t use the oven technique, rest the smoked roast from the smoker in the same manner.
Remove any silverskin and extraneous fat from the tenderloins.
Prepare the marinade by combining all the ingredients in a medium mixing bowl. Place the tenderloins in a resealable food-grade bag, add the marinade and marinate the tenderloins, refrigerated, at least 4 hours or up to overnight.
Meanwhile, prepare the stuffing. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil. Saute the onion and celery until soft, about 5 to 8 minutes. Add apples and garlic and cook 2 to 3 minutes. Add the hard cider and bread cubes and cook until moisture evaporates. Stir in herbs, salt and pepper. Adjust seasoning to taste. Cool completely. (Stuffing may be prepared one day ahead and held, covered and refrigerated.)
Remove the tenderloins from the marinade; discard marinade. Using paper towels, pat the tenderloins dry.
Brush the inside surface of the tenderloins with the cranberry-habanero jelly. Put a layer of stuffing atop one of the tenderloins. Place the second tenderloin, jelly side down, on top of the stuffing and tie the tenderloins together with butcher's twine. Spoon any remaining stuffing in a buttered casserole dish and reserve. (If desired, the remaining stuffing could be cooked in a buttered casserole dish, covered, in a 350 degrees F. oven for 30 to 40 minutes.)
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Roast the stuffed tenderloins for 30 minutes. Brush melted jelly atop the stuffed tenderloins and continue cooking for another 20 to 25 minutes or to an internal temperature of 155 degrees F. Let the pork rest, tented with aluminum foil, for 5 to 10 minutes then bias-slice into 1/2-inch slices.
Whisk together all the marinade ingredients. Marinate the lamb in the mixture, covered, in the refrigerator, for at least 4 hours or overnight.
Set up your grill to cook on low to medium heat. Place the lamb on the grill, fat side down, and cook for 40 minutes. Turn and cook for an additional 20 to 50 minutes, until it reaches your desired doneness.
Preheat the grill to medium high (375 degrees F) and set up for indirect cooking.
Remove the “goodies” from inside the chicken (and the pop-up thermometer if there is one). Rinse and dry the chicken thoroughly with paper towels. Rub olive oil over outside of chicken. Rub the Cajun spice and crushed rosemary all over the outside of the chicken.
Put the chopped vegetables in the bottom of a roasting pan. Add two cups of chicken stock and the peppercorns. Put the chicken on a roasting rack in the pan, put the pan on the unheated side of the cooking grate, and roast for 20 minutes per pound or until the thigh has an internal temperature of 165 degrees F.
Let the chicken rest for 10 minutes before carving.