It seems as though everytime a holiday comes around, Thanksgiving, Christmas or Easter for instance, that those traditional family gatherings arrive with questions. Especially, questions from the kitchen. What shall I make for a special breakfast? Or, is there a different way to make mashed potatoes? Or, how do I brine a turkey?
All are good questions and I suppose there are many, many answers. After searching the web and aking questions from some Chef friends and venders at the Saturday Market, here are three suggestions. I’m going to try each one of these and I really believe that they will turn out really good. So here are the three recipes for “How To Brine A Turkey“, “Mashed Potatoes in a Slow Cooker” and “Salsa Ranchera” for Huevos Rancheros. Enjoy and if you use any of these, tell us how it came out. Cheers and Happy Holidays! Left-Click these photos to see them enlarged.

How To Brine a Turkey
Makes 1 turkey

1 turkey
4 quarts water
1 cup coarse kosher salt, or 3/4 cup table salt
Aromatics: bay leaf, peppercorns, cloves, juniper berries, allspice berries, orange peels, lemon peels, etc.

1 large pot or bucket with a lid
Measuring cups and spoons
Paper towels

1) Find a pot and make fridge space: Find a pot or food-safe bucket large enough that you will be able to entirely submerge your turkey. Next, clear some fridge space and make sure your pot will fit.
2) Place the turkey in the pot: Unwrap your turkey and remove the giblets, then transfer it to your pot. Add any aromatics you’d like to use.

Mix the brine solution: Heat 1 quart of water in the microwave until warmed — it doesn’t need to come to a boil, just be warm enough to dissolve the salt. Add the salt and stir until the salt has dissolved. Let the liquid cool slightly; it’s fine if it’s still a touch warm.
Pour the brine solution over the turkey. Pour the remaining 3 quarts of water over the turkey: This dilutes the salt solution to the best ratio for brining and also helps further cool the solution.
2) Make sure the turkey is completely submerged: If necessary, prepare additional brine solution at a ratio of 1/4 cup per quart of water to completely submerge the turkey.
Cover and refrigerate: If the turkey floats, weigh it down with a dinner plate. Cover the pot and place it in the refrigerator.
3) Brine for 12 to 24 hours.
4) Rinse the turkey in cool water and pat dry. Clean your sink thoroughly after doing this step to avoid cross-contamination. Pat the turkey dry with paper towels. Dry for another 24 hours for crispier skin.
Optional: If you have time, let the turkey air-dry overnight in the fridge. Place it on a roasting rack set inside a roasting pan and cover loosely with plastic bags to avoid cross contamination. This drying step will give your turkey crispier skin.
5) Roast as usual, but check your turkey early: You can roast the turkey either immediately after brining or after air-drying. I’ve found that brined turkeys tend to cook a bit more quickly, so cook as usual, but start checking the turkey’s temperature an hour before the end of your estimated cooking time.

Mashed Potatoes in the Slow Cooker
Serves: 8 to 10
Source: adapted from The Kitchn

5 lbs Russet Potatoes
3 to 4 cloves Garlic, optional
1 t Celtic Sea Salt, plus more to taste
Freshly ground Tellicherry Black Pepper, to taste
3 to 3½ c Whole Milk, or a mixture of milk and cream
½ c unsalted Butter

Peel and chop the potatoes: Lightly grease the slow cooker insert with butter or cooking spray. Peel the potatoes and chop into small pieces about 1 inch to a side. The smaller the potatoes, the faster they will cook, obviously. Transfer the potatoes to the slow cooker.
Add the seasonings: Smash the garlic cloves, if using, and drop on top of the potatoes. Stir in the salt and a generous quantity of black pepper.
Pour in 1½ cups milk: Pour in 1½ cups milk and stir the potatoes once.
Cook until tender: Cover the slow cooker and cook 4 to 5 hours on HIGH or until the potatoes are very tender and soft. Turn the heat to WARM.

Melt the butter: When the potatoes are done, melt the butter in a saucepan over low heat.

Warm the dairy: Stir 2 cups milk, or a mixture of milk and cream, into the melted butter and warm gently over low heat.

Mash the potatoes: If you used garlic but don’t want the potatoes super garlicky, remove the garlic cloves and discard. Use a spoon to scoop out and discard any browned bits on the sides of the pot. Use a potato masher or ricer to mash the potatoes right in the pot.

Slowly stir in the dairy: When the potatoes are as smooth as you like, slowly stir in the warmed dairy and butter. The potatoes will look soupy at first but the potatoes will quickly soak up the liquid. Add an additional ½ cup of milk or cream if you want them to be even creamier.

Taste and season: Taste and season with additional salt or pepper if desired.

Keep warm: To keep the potatoes warm, leave in the covered slow cooker on the WARM setting for up to 4 hours.

Salsa Ranchera

Salsa Ranchera Recipe from Mexico
(Cómo preparar una Salsa Ranchera auténtica en tu casa)
[huevos rancheros—”rancher’s-style” eggs]

Source: adapted from mexgrocer
Preparation: 10 Cook Time: 1 Servings: 6

2 Roma Tomatoes, diced
½ white Onion, diced
2 cloves Garlic, diced
1 T Vegetable Oil
Serrano chile as desired
2 1/2 T Oregano
1 t Cumin
Juice of half a Lime
Celtic Sea Salt

Submerge the tomatoes in boiling water for a few seconds. Peel them, dice them and put them in what will be your salsa bowl. Chop up the onion, chili, and garlic and mix with the tomato. Add the oil and the lime juice and sprinkle with oregano.

Huevos Ranchera

Huevos Rancheros
An Easy Mexican Recipe

Source: adapted from

2 lg Eggs
2 Corn Tortillas
¼ Onion, chopped
BlackmRefried beans (homemade or store bought)
2 med Potatoes
Thick cut Ham, cut into cubes
Salsa Ranchero
Celtic Sea Salt, fresh ground Tellicherry Black Pepper to taste
Queso Fresco and Cilantro to garnish.

Sauté the potatoes, onion, and ham in a small amount of olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
Lightly fry the tortillas, and pat dry. Put on a plate. Warm up the refried beans, and spread onto the tortillas.
Fry an egg to your preferred level of doneness, and put on top of the tortilla and beans. Top with salsa ranchero, queso fresco, and fresh cilantro. Serve with the potato, onion, and ham mix.