Feast like a chef!


The chefs at University of Arkansas – Pulaski Tech College’s Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management Institute in Little Rock prepared Thanksgiving dinner for our November issue.  Look for more holiday recipes from the chefs and students at the school featured again next month for our December issue. You can find more of our favorite recipes on this site by clicking on the Recipes tab above.

Citrus Roast Turkey

by Jill McDonald, Certified Executive Chef (CEC)

1 whole turkey, thawed and dried                

2 sticks of butter, room temperature


1 tbsp. smoked paprika

1 tbsp. poultry seasoning

2 tbsp. Cavender’s Seasoning

1 orange, quartered

1 lemon, quartered

1 lime, quartered

4 sprigs fresh rosemary

6 sprigs fresh thyme

2 stems fresh sage

2 onions, quartered

6 stalks celery in 2-inch pieces

1 cup of chicken, vegetable, turkey or duck stock

Preheat oven to 450 F. Mix butter, paprika, poultry seasoning and Cavender’s. Dry turkey skin with paper towels. Place butter mixture UNDER skin of turkey, spreading around to cover as much of the meat as possible. Be sure to do legs and thighs. Melt remaining butter in microwave and reserve. Stuff the cavity with citrus fruits and herbs. In bottom of roasting pan, create a “rack” of onions, celery, and stock. When heated, place the turkey on top of celery and onions, place in oven for 30 – 40 minutes, uncovered.


When the skin has browned, baste the breast with melted, seasoned butter, cover loosely with aluminum foil, and drop the temperature of the oven to 325 F. Continue to cook until the thigh joint reaches an internal temperature of 160 degrees. (A probe thermometer works fantastic for this; you can set the temperature you want to reach and an alarm will go off when the bird reaches temperature. 160 degrees is enough because even when you remove the turkey from the oven it will continue to cook but stay juicy.)

Be sure to cover completely with aluminum foil, and allow to rest at least 30 minutes. Strain drippings in the bottom of the pan for gravy. Carve, serve and enjoy.

*If you prefer to smoke your turkey, this recipe transitions well to that cooking method.

Turkey Gravy 

by Jill McDonald, CEC

3 tbsp. butter

3 tbsp. all-purpose flour

turkey drippings

½ tsp. black pepper

1 ½ cups stock for thinning (chicken, turkey, duck, or vegetable)

Melt butter and whisk in flour. Cook slowly, until just blonde. Add turkey drippings and pepper. Add at least 1 cup of stock. If gravy is too thick, add more stock until desired consistency is reached. You must bring the mixture to a simmer or very low boil to activate the roux completely. Let barely simmer for 15 minutes to cook out flour. Taste and season with black pepper and maybe salt. The turkey drippings should have enough salt that it is unnecessary to add more salt.

Cornbread Dressing

by Jill McDonald, CEC

1 pan of homemade cornbread, crumbled, not finely (your grandmother’s recipe will work)

1 loaf of day old bread, toasted and crumbled (wheat or white)

2 medium onions, diced

½ bunch of celery, chopped

1 stick of butter

2 tbsp. poultry seasoning

1 tbsp. chopped fresh sage

1 tsp. fresh thyme

1 tbsp. black pepper

1 tbsp. salt

1-2 quarts of stock (chicken, turkey, duck or vegetable)

5 eggs, whisked

Sauté onion and celery in butter. Add to crumbled breads with seasonings. Slowly add the stock. There is a variance in the amount of stock used because of the dryness of the breads, it will change. When you mix the two together do it gently, leaving some larger pieces of bread for texture. Add stock until there is a very slight pooling of stock in the mixing bowl. At this point, you can still taste the dressing to make seasoning adjustments. When the seasoning is adjusted, add eggs. Place in baking dish (roughly a 9”x13” Pyrex). Bake at 350 F uncovered, until a knife stuck in the middle comes out clean.

Simple Mashed Potatoes

by Jill McDonald, CEC

6 russet potatoes, peeled and chopped

1 stick of butter

Heavy cream

Salt and pepper

Always start potatoes in cold, salted water. Boil until potatoes are tender, drain well. Add butter to potatoes, and then began adding cream. The amount of potatoes dictates the amount of cream. It is to your advantage to add a ½ a cup at a time. Add cream until desired consistency is achieved. Careful, if you get too much you can’t take it out. Mash with a potato masher or a stiff whisk. There will be some small lumps. Season with salt and pepper.

*Note if you prefer whipped potatoes, you can use a mixer to smooth them out. Be sure not to over whip, as too much starch can be released and the texture will be sticky and starchy.

Orange Brandy Cranberry Sauce

by Jill McDonald, CEC

1 bag of fresh cranberries

½ small onion, diced

1 clove of garlic, minced

2 tbsp. butter

1 orange, zested and juiced

¼ c. brandy

½ c. brown sugar, packed

1 stem of rosemary

4 stems of thyme

½ tsp. crushed red pepper

Salt and pepper to taste

Saute Onion in butter until translucent, add all remaining ingredients. Cook until all cranberries have burst and mixture has become jamlike. Remove the herb stems. Pour into serving dish and refrigerate.

Apricot Cranberry Pecan Compote

by Jill McDonald, CEC

3 tbsp. butter                                          

1 cup dried Cranberries

1 cup dried Apricots, chopped

1 cup chopped pecans

1 cup chopped onion

1 clove garlic, minced

2 cups of water

½ c. brown sugar, packed

¼ c. Apple Cider Vinegar

¼ c. Brandy

½ tsp. crushed red pepper

Salt and pepper to taste

Saute onion, cranberries, apricots, and garlic in butter until fragrant. Add water, then allow to reduce by half. Then add all remaining ingredients and reduce until thickened. Serve over a soft cheese of choice; we recommend a brie or triple crème. It would even be good over cream cheese. Almost any dried fruit would be interchangeable.

Pumpkin Crème Brûlée

By Cathy Kincaid, Certified Executive Pastry Chef (CEPC)

3 egg yolks                                             

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 cup heavy cream

1 cup pumpkin puree

1/2 tsp. ground allspice

1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg

1 pinch salt

1/2 cup white sugar

Preheat the oven to 325 F. Whisk egg yolks and brown sugar together in a large bowl. Stir in the cream, pumpkin puree, allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Divide pumpkin mixture between six ramekins and fill to about 1/2 inch from the top.

Place the ramekins in a baking dish and fill with the baking dish hot water. The hot water should reach about half way up the side of the ramekins. Bake in preheated oven for about 30 to 35 minutes. The mixture should just be set. Remove ramekins and refrigerate until completely cool or for at least 2 hours.

Sprinkle each ramekin with about 1 tablespoon of sugar. Melt the sugar with a chef’s torch or place under oven broiler until crisp and dark brown. Allow to cool before serving.

Brown Sugar Shortbread

By Cathy Kincaid, CEPC

1 cup soft butter

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour

I cup granulated sugar

2 tbsp. ground cinnamon for topping cookies.

Preheat oven to 300 F. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Gradually stir in flour and mix well. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead slightly until smooth. Roll dough to about ¼ inch thickness.

Use desired cookie cutters to cut out. Mix sugar and cinnamon, then sprinkle over cookies. Place 1” apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 300 F for 25 minutes or until bottoms are lightly browned. Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack. Yield: 3 ½ dozen.

Butternut Squash Tart with Pancetta and Fried Sage

By UA-PTC Food IV Student Alicia Watson and her sister, Diana Chambers
[adapted from Naomi Pomeroy’s “Taste And Technique: Recipes to Elevate Your Home Cooking“]

1 lb. butternut squash, peeled and seeded, cut into 1-1.5″ pieces

3 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil                               

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 head of garlic

Puff pastry (recipe follows)

Fresh sage leaves

8 tbsp. butter

4-5 slices of pancetta

 Preheat oven to 375 F. In a bowl, toss the squash with 2 tsp. olive oil and salt, then spread the squash in an even layer on a baking sheet. Cut off the top 1/5 of the garlic head, set on baking sheet, and generously drizzle with 1 tsp. of olive oil. Roast in 375 F oven until squash and garlic are completely tender and can be easily mashed with a fork, about 25-35 min.

Remove squash and garlic from oven. Squeeze out roasted garlic ‘meat’ into bowl. Mash/puree squash and garlic either in a food processor (for smoother consistency) or in a bowl with a fork/potato ricer (for a slightly chunky consistency).

Roll out sheet of puff pastry and make 3 cuts, lengthwise, to yield four long strips. Place on lightly greased baking sheet and bake according to instructions (e.g. 400 F for 10 minutes) until fully puffed and medium golden in color. Remove from oven.

Pluck sage leaves from stems, wash and dry. Melt 6-8 tbsp. of butter in a small pot over medium heat. Fry sage leaves a few at a time (butter is hot enough when it starts bubbling around the edges of a leaf placed into it) until the edges of the leaf start curling and the leaf turns a deep translucent green. Gently remove from the pot with silicone-tipped tongs and let drain on a paper towel-lined plate. Sprinkle with sea salt while still hot.

Slice pancetta into 1″ thick strips. In a saucepan over medium-low heat, gently fry prosciutto slices until crisp. Drain on a paper towel-lined plate.

Using a spoon and your fingers, spread a 1/3″ thick layer of squash and garlic mixture along the baked pastry strips, leaving 1/4″ of pastry uncovered around the edges. Return tarts to 375oF oven for 4-6 minutes, until the pastry is dark golden brown. Remove from the oven and top with fried sage leaves and prosciutto. Cut crosswise into pieces and serve hot.

Puff Pastry

By UA-PTC Food IV Student Alicia Watson and her sister, Diana Chambers

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp. salt

2 tsp. baking powder

16 tbsp. cold butter, cut into 1⁄2-inch cubes and refrigerated until needed

1 cup cold crème fraîche or sour cream, refrigerated until needed

1 egg

1 tbsp. heavy cream

In a food processor, combine the flour, salt, and baking powder and process briefly to mix. Using the pulse function, add the butter, a few cubes at a time, pulsing 15 to 20 times until the butter is reduced to pea-size pieces. Work quickly to ensure the butter doesn’t warm up too much. Add the crème fraîche directly from the refrigerator and pulse 4 to 6 times to incorporate. Then pulse another 4 to 6 times, until the dough begins to have a slightly uniform but pebbly texture and no dry flour remains.

Stretch a 2-foot-long sheet of plastic wrap across a clean work surface. Turn the dough out onto the plastic wrap. Gather all of the edges of the plastic wrap around the dough, press together, and form the dough into a ball. Tap the dough ball on the countertop to shape it into a rectangle about 6 by 10 inches, flattening the top surface at the end to create an even shape. Chill the dough in the refrigerator for at least 1 or for up to 24 hours.

Unwrap the dough and allow it to rest for no more than 15 to 20 minutes, just until it is slightly pliable. Lightly flour a clean work surface. Using a rolling pin, whack the dough several times across its surface to soften it. Pick up the dough, flour the work surface again ever so slightly, and return the dough to the surface.

Roll out the dough into a rectangle about 8 by 12 inches, with the long side parallel to the countertop’s edge. Fold the rectangle in thirds, like a letter. The dough will look like a book: with a spine (the folded edge) on one side and the open edge on the other. Now rotate the “book” so the spine is facing your body, parallel to the countertop’s edge. Roll the dough out again to an 8 by 12-inch rectangle. Fold the rectangle in thirds again. Rotate the “book” one more time so the spine is facing your body and roll out the dough a third time to a 9 by 15-inch rectangle that’s about 1⁄4 inch thick. Cut the rectangle lengthwise into three strips, each 3 by 15 inches. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the dough strips, not touching, on the prepared baking sheet and prick all over with a fork, leaving a 1⁄4-inch boundary around the edge. Put the baking sheet with the dough into the freezer for about 15 minutes. Preheat the oven to 425 F.

 In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and cream until well blended.

Remove the dough strips from the freezer and, using a pastry brush, brush each with egg wash, then bake for 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven, turn down the oven to 375°F, and wait for a few minutes for the temperature to adjust. Return the baking sheet to the oven and bake for 12 to 15 minutes more, until the pastry is rich golden brown. Carefully lift up the pastry with a metal spatula to ensure that the bottom is also toasted brown.