Giving Thanks…

…this weekend for a wonderful holiday spent with family & close friends! In fact, I got the chance to make & enjoy Turkey Day twice this week, score! One 19 pound bird & a second large turkey breast later, and I’m currently in post-holiday-coma bliss. Growing up, Thanksgiving was the cooking extravaganza of the year and nothing has changed! I love all of the traditional fare associated with this day – warm comfort dishes with seasonal inspiration. I make a classic Southern-style menu including, but not always limited to: one large roasted birdie stuffed with cornbread dressing, rich Southern mashed potatoes, brussels with bacon, fried corn, fresh cranberry sauce, sweet potato casserole, stuffed celery, pumpkin & apple pies, oh and let’s not forget the most crucial meal element – homemade, brown turkey gravy. I feel like I should go run 15 miles just writing down that menu, but it’s so very worth it!

The big bird was for a larger crowd of around 15, but the full turkey breast was perfect for a smaller gathering with enough for leftovers! 

Roasting turkey always reminds me of this turkey carving scene in Christmas Vacation! Luckily, both of ours ended up juicy and tender, and though it’s not Xmas just yet…Clark would be proud…

The heart of this menu stems from my Mom and her traditional holiday fare. I make the cornbread dressing almost the same way she does, and can’t imagine changing its goodness one bit! Stuffing from the bird is one of the most flavorful, and my favorite parts of this menu. Well, maybe it’s a tie with the mashed potatoes with cream & butter, which really deserve their own plate. Tackling a meal with this many components, especially for a large crowd, can be overwhelming and time consuming. I can say that after many years of trying to find a way to reduce the stress, the solution is prepping ahead! I pre chop, organize, and ready all of ingredients possible. Taking this dish-by-dish and pre-making the cranberries, pie and casseroles, is a huge TDay timesaver! Also, I do the large full bird in a Nesco Turkey Convection oven, which cooks a 19 lb bird in only ~ 4.5 hrs, and it turns out absolutely juicy with very crisp skin… just the way we like ’em! It’s time to pour a celebratory glass of Champagne & get our aprons ready… Here are some highlights from my Turkey Day table, enjoy!:

The Bird & The Savory…

keeping it green..well, just a little! 

5 from 1 reviews
Sautéed Brussels & Bacon
Brussels sprouts may not sound too exiting, but sauté them with the likes of bacon, onion, garlic and some bread crumbs and you have one green side dish on Thanksgiving that will have your guests asking for seconds! This is a house favorite at turkey day and Christmas both!
Serves: 2 lbs worth enough for 6 people
Prep time: 
Total time: 
What to get:
  • 2 lbs Brussels Sprouts, trimmed & cleaned
  • 4 strips bacon
  • ½ sweet white onion, diced finely
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup white wine
  • 1 cup freshly toasted sourdough bread crumbs
  • 2 T butter for browning bread crumbs
  • S&P to taste
What to do:
  1. Pre-make toasted sourdough bread crumbs using day old sour dough baguette and melted butter, and set aside.
  2. Trim, wash & drain all sprouts.
  3. Par-steam sprouts in large pot on stove, till only slightly tender but not too soft.
  4. Rinse cooked sprouts under cool water, drain and set aside.
  5. In large skillet on stove cook bacon slices till crispy, set aide to drain, but reserve all drippings.
  6. In pan with drippings on medium, sauté the onion & garlic till tender/translucent.
  7. Add the par steamed brussels to pan & coat mixture, adding the white wine slowly as needed to continue to sauté the sprouts till tender (test with fork).
  8. Add salt & pepper to taste.
  9. Transfer brussels mix onto a foil lined baking sheet, to go under oven broiler with breadcrumbs added, for 3 minutes, or till slightly crisped but not burned.
  10. Top brussels mix with crumbled, crisp bacon and serve immediately!
Notes:
This is easy and very flavorful. Pre steaming, sautéing and then broiling the little brussels, allows them to lose their bitterness and they become salty sweet with the likes of delicious bacon! The smaller the brussels sprout, the more sweet and tender. I always try to pick the smallest ones and they are also, usually the most tender! This can be made ahead up until the broiling step, that should be done right before serving!
Serving size: try one, then you

onto the main event…

5 from 1 reviews
Roasted Turkey & Cornbread Stuffing
Roasted turkey at its best, with traditional Cornbread stuffing! This one turns out moist and golden every time. Perfect for turkey day or any holiday with lots of family & friends!
Serves: lots of leftovers
Prep time: 
Total time: 
What to get:
For the Turkey:
  • 1 18-lb fresh turkey, thawed
  • ¼ cup canola oil
  • sea salt for seasoning uncooked bird
  • 1 stick butter, melted for basting
For the Cornbread Stuffing:
  • 1 pan freshly-made cornbread (according to yellow corn meal directions, omit any sugar)
  • 1 bunch celery, trimmed, and finely chopped (I use food processor)
  • 1 large sweet onion, or 2 small, finely chopped (I use food processor)
  • 1 stick of butter (for sauteeing onion & celery)
  • Poultry Seasoning
  • 1.5 T fresh thyme leaves, chopped
  • 1.5 T fresh Italian flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • ½ tsp Herbox, chicken bullion powder
  • kosher salt, to taste
  • ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 egg
  • 1 can chicken stock, low-sodium, to moisten & bind stuffing before stuffing bird
What to do:
Make the Stuffing:
  1. Make a pan of cornbread according to the corn meal package directions, but omitting any sugar, let cool, and then crumble coarsely in large mixing bowl.
  2. In large skillet melt 1 stick of butter, sauté onion and celery till tender, add entire pans contents & remaining juices to bowl with cornbread, stirring to combine.
  3. Add dry seasoning to taste including poultry seasoning, salt, pepper.
  4. Add fresh thyme & herbox.
  5. Taste to confirm spices are as desired & add slightly beaten egg, some chicken stock to moisten mixture for stuffing bird.
Prep & Stuff the Bird:
  1. Bird should be thoroughly defrosted, removed from package, rinsed, internals removed, and patted dry.
  2. Rub uncooked bird with some of canola oil on outside & salt lightly, also adding some salt into inside cavities in neck and rear where stuffing will go.
  3. Spoon or manually pack stuffing mix into bird's main cavity, do not over pack as stuffing will expand while cooking.
  4. Fix bird in roaster on spray oiled rack, or in turkey convection oven on oiled rack, breast side up!
  5. Add little of remaining stuffing to smaller neck cavity, securing skin flap fold over the cavity opening and securing with toothpicks as possible.
  6. Secure end of turkey legs through skin flap near cavity if still intact, or use cooking twine to secure ends of legs together.
Roast the Bird:
  1. Roast bird according to convection oven directions (at around 325-375 degrees), until internal breast temperature reaches 180 degrees and internal stuffing temp reaches 165 degrees.
  2. Baste bird with melted butter every 40 minites-1 hour.
  3. In a table top turkey convection oven liked I used, bake 18 lb bird for first hour at 425 degrees, then reducing to 400 degrees for remaining 3.5 hours or until meat thermometer shows correct temp.
  4. In a standard oven for a large turkey breast I roasted at 325 for 1.5-2.5 hours or until done. Mine took about 2 hours and was 5 lbs.
  5. When turkey is golden brown & at temperature, remove from oven letting bird rest for ~40 minutes before carving.
  6. Remove stuffing from internal cavities and transfer to serving dish before carving.
  7. Reserve all turkey drippings for use in making the brown gravy (using drippings, gravy flour, water, chicken broth, bullion, pepper & white wine as needed).
  8. Turkey time!
Notes:
I cook my 18 lb bird in a special, table top, turkey convection oven, which keeps the bird amazingly moist and cooks fairly quickly. The turkey and a turkey breast also do great stuffed, in a regular oven, with reduced heat and consistent basting. Stuffing a turkey breast cavity is similar to the bird, but you essentially rest turkey breast on top of the stuffing, covering it mostly and I add an extra egg to the stuffing in a turkey breast to keep it extra moistened throughout cooking. Whether a turkey breast or full bird, the bird is always roasted breast side up.

On The Sweeter Side…

5 from 1 reviews
Dinnervine Pumpkin Pie
Nothing could make a Thanksgiving meal more complete than a slice of freshly made spiced pumpkin pie. We get a little festive with some Fall-inspired pie crust cutouts to adorn the top! This one is a timeless classic and a crowd favorite, i make it every year and it is easy to do ahead!
Serves: One 9" pie
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
What to get:
  • 1.5 cups canned pumpkin (non spiced)
  • 1.5 cups evaporated milk
  • 1 T cornstarch
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ground cloves
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 fresh pie dough rounds (pre made or store bought, room temp)
  • 1 egg yolk (for washing dough edges)
  • 2 T whipping cream (for washing dough edges)
  • whipped cream for topping pie
What to do:
  1. In large bowl of an electric mixer combine sugar, salt & cornstarch, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, pumpkin & 3 eggs, beating well.
  2. Add evaporated milk and combine for a minute, set aside.
  3. Grease a 9 inch pie dish with butter & flour.
  4. On clean, dry surface dusted with flour, roll out pie crust to fit 9 inch pie dish, with room enough to fall over edges, this can be homemade ahead or store bought (refrigerated kind).
  5. Carefully roll out pie dough round into pie plate evenly.
  6. Crimp outer edges of pie dough into a scalloped pattern.
  7. In small bowl combine egg yolk & cream, whisking to combine.
  8. With a basting brush, brush pie dough edges with.
  9. Roll out 2nd pie dough round on same floured surface, and cut out shapes with small seasonal cookie cutters or pie stamps for topping.
  10. Brush cut outs with some of the same egg yolk/cream mixture to enable browning.
  11. Pour pie mixture onto pie dough in pan, and bake for 10 minutes at 425 degrees.
  12. Then reduce oven temperature to 350 and bake an additional 30 minutes, adding the pie dough shapes 5 minutes into 2nd baking.
  13. When pie crust is browned and filling set, remove from oven and let cool completely on a wire rack.
  14. Serve room temperature with whipped cream and/or ice cream!
Notes:
This one is pretty standard, but pretty delicious! Best to let this pie rest at room temp long before trying to slice and serve. Stores easily in the fridge if there are leftovers. Perfectly pairs with whipped cream & the pie dough cutouts are easy, yet optional.

We served up some delicious red and white wines to go along with the vast spread. From a smooth Wiens Pinot Noir, to a favorite, crisp apple wine from J. Jenkins called Dolcezza, there was a glass for every taste. I look back very thankful to have been with such great people, who also love a great Thanksgiving meal, and really just any good excuse to celebrate!

Alas, with countless ingredients chopped, dishes cleaned, calories consumed and leftovers stored… We can cheers to the end of the weekend & successful Turkey Day(s) 2012! 

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Welcome to the dinnervine!

Thank you for visiting the dinnervine! In the words of Julia Child, "People who love to eat, are always the best people," and I couldn't agree more. I hope you enjoy these dishes as much as I did making them. Here's to creating new recipes and memories with friends & family, cheers! 

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