Cooking creates some stress in people and that stress increases
even more when it’s for a holiday and large numbers of people. Don’t let it
stress you out! Take help from the store or take others up on their offer to
bring a specific item, make what you can ahead of time and keep it simple of
the day of!!
Here is my plan this year for Thanksgiving (recipes are
gratin or sweet potato soup.
Salad with roasted butternut squash, goat cheese and raspberry vinaigrette
even thought about appetizers yet!!! Simple is best though because a big meal is
coming. I'll probably just put out a simple veggie tray with
hummus, a cheese plate and salami, prosciutto plate.
I cook my turkey in
pieces. I know, I know, not traditional, but after listening to many chefs
being interviewed on the Splendid Table (http://splendidtable.publicradio.org/
over the last few years, I have followed their lead and roast the white meat in
the oven while the dark meat, bones, and giblets braise on the stove. This is actually faster, only a couple of
hours for a 12-15 pound bird. If you want to brine the turkey go for it. I did
last year in water, salt, lemon, pepper and garlic over night. The morning of
Thanksgiving, dry the breasts thoroughly. In a separate bowl mix butter, sage,
rosemary, thyme , salt and lemon pepper. Take the butter and rub it all over
the breasts, including under the skin. Roast the breasts in an oven safe bag on
top of sliced lemons, chopped onions, carrots, garlic + whatever veggies you
like. Depending on the weight of your
turkey, about an hour and a half (I think that is how long the breasts from my
12 pound bird took last year), until the right temperature. Check out the USDA
sight on safe poultry handling for time and temperatures: http://www.fsis.usda.gov/factsheets/lets_talk_turkey/index.asp
The dark meat and the giblets I brown in 1 part butter, 1
part olive oil in a very large sauce pan after rubbing with salt and lemon
pepper. Then I add a chopped onion, clove of garlic and the braising liquid.
The braising liquid is one part chicken stock, one part beef stock, 1/8 part
white balsamic vinegar, thyme, rosemary and sage. Cover and braise on medium
for 2-3 hours (depending on the size of your bird). Make sure liquid is about ¾ way up the
The Chew is talking turkey today and here is a link their turkey recipes
. Food network and many other cooking blogs have tons of recipes for turkey. If you get overwhelmed, stop searching! You will find a million different ways to make a turkey, so just read a couple of recipes and think about how you roast a chicken and keep it simple! Simple = delicious!
When the dark meat is done, take it out and let it rest on
the platter under foil. Reduce the
braising liquid by ½. Take out the veggies.
Taste the liquid and add water or stock if too strong or if you want
more of a vinegar flavor add more vinegar. You can use wine instead of vinegar.
It all depends on your own taste. To thicken the gravy put a tablespoon of
cornstarch in a mug and ladle some of the liquid into the mug and mix. Then
pour it into the pan and whisk. Repeat until desired thickness. Strain to get
out any lumps. Finish by whisking in a
couple pats of butter. TIP: I usually serve gravy in travel coffee mugs. That
way it stays warm all through dinner.
Everyone has their own preference and I am one of those people who LOVE the cranberry sauce out of a can. So good! I usually have a can of cranberry sauce + a can of the whole berry one so that there is a variety for people. If someone asks what they can bring and homemade cranberry sauce is their thing, by all means, they can bring it.
For the past few years while we lived in Seattle I have
served salmon alongside the turkey to add a little Pacific Northwest flair to
the meal. Now that we are back in New England we were talking with my brother
about what would be a good Boston flair to the meal. His idea was to bring
already steamed lobster. I’ll never say no to that!
This is where I take some help from the store. Maybe it is
nostalgia, but I love Stove Top stuffing. I buy the savory herb blend. To make
it a little more my own, I brown up some mild Italian sausage and some chopped
apples and add it to the stuffing after cooking it according to the directions
on the box. Put it in a casserole dish covered to stay warm, putting it in the
oven if you need to. If its drying out, add a little chicken/turkey or beef
stock and cover to allow the steam to moisten the stuffing.
Sweet potato dish
Peel and dice the potatoes (You don’t have to peel them if
you don’t want to). Put them in a pot and pour enough milk over to cover the
potatoes. Add a little garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper and stir.
Turn on heat to medium/medium high and watch to make sure milk doesn’t boil
over. Simmer until potatoes are soft.
Drain potatoes leaving a little milk in the pot. Add butter, couple of
tablespoons of cream cheese, salt and pepper. Mash, taste and add more butter, milk,
salt or pepper to your taste.
Spinach Salad with roasted butternut squash, goat cheese
and raspberry vinaigrette
Thanks Lauren for this! This is so good! First, peel and cube a fall/winter squash of your choice.
Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. I also add some Trader Joe’s Everyday
seasoning, a coriander mix on a sheet pan.
Roast for about 20-25 minutes at 375 degrees. While its roasting arrange
fresh spinach leaves on a platter. When squash is browning around the edges,
take out and place on top of spinach. Top with some crumbled goat cheese and
drizzle with a raspberry vinaigrette of your choice. Sooo good!
Here is another option for a squash salad
from Sally, using items from your local farmer's market.
I also take some help from the store or local bakery with this one. Here is a tip
from Our Best Bites to make store bought rolls a little fancier with some fresh herbs:
This may sound fancy but is really simple and delicious! I
take a couple of sticks of butter and leave on counter to soften. Once soft,
then mix it in a bowl with some lemon zest and fresh thyme (or whatever other
fresh herbs you have on hand). Either put it in a small shallow bowl and
refrigerate or make a log out of it and wrap in plastic wrap or wax paper and
refrigerate or (what I’m going to do this year) put in a shallow flat pan and
refrigerate. Once cooled and hardened then use cookie cutters to cut out little
shapes. I found some cute leaves, acorns, pumpkin ones that will look very
fancy, but without much work! I found the idea in an old Martha Stewart
I’m not really much of a baker, so when people are coming to
Thanksgiving at my place and ask what they can bring, I usually say dessert. I have made some
things in the past from Our Best Bites. This pumpkin crumble is amazing!!
Wine – good
pinot noir or Riesling – whatever you like the best.
Beer – Have
on hand what you know your guests will like.
martinis – My favorite fall drink! 1 part butterscotch schnapps, 1 part vodka,
shake and serve.
TIP for the kids:
Have a little project or puzzle handy for each kid (dollar store is a
great resource) to give them after dinner so they have something to keep them
occupied until dessert, especially if is raining. If not raining have one, two
or more adults play with them outside until dessert.
Labels: martinis, mashed potatoes, rolls, salad, spinach, stuffing, sweet potatoes, Thanksgiving, turkey