…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!
- 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
- Pre-make toasted sourdough bread crumbs using day old sour dough baguette and melted butter, and set aside.
- Trim, wash & drain all sprouts.
- Par-steam sprouts in large pot on stove, till only slightly tender but not too soft.
- Rinse cooked sprouts under cool water, drain and set aside.
- In large skillet on stove cook bacon slices till crispy, set aide to drain, but reserve all drippings.
- In pan with drippings on medium, sauté the onion & garlic till tender/translucent.
- 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).
- Add salt & pepper to taste.
- 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.
- Top brussels mix with crumbled, crisp bacon and serve immediately!
onto the main event…
- 1 18-lb fresh turkey, thawed
- ¼ cup canola oil
- sea salt for seasoning uncooked bird
- 1 stick butter, melted for basting
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- Add dry seasoning to taste including poultry seasoning, salt, pepper.
- Add fresh thyme & herbox.
- Taste to confirm spices are as desired & add slightly beaten egg, some chicken stock to moisten mixture for stuffing bird.
- Bird should be thoroughly defrosted, removed from package, rinsed, internals removed, and patted dry.
- 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.
- Spoon or manually pack stuffing mix into bird's main cavity, do not over pack as stuffing will expand while cooking.
- Fix bird in roaster on spray oiled rack, or in turkey convection oven on oiled rack, breast side up!
- Add little of remaining stuffing to smaller neck cavity, securing skin flap fold over the cavity opening and securing with toothpicks as possible.
- Secure end of turkey legs through skin flap near cavity if still intact, or use cooking twine to secure ends of legs together.
- 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.
- Baste bird with melted butter every 40 minites-1 hour.
- 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.
- 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.
- When turkey is golden brown & at temperature, remove from oven letting bird rest for ~40 minutes before carving.
- Remove stuffing from internal cavities and transfer to serving dish before carving.
- Reserve all turkey drippings for use in making the brown gravy (using drippings, gravy flour, water, chicken broth, bullion, pepper & white wine as needed).
- Turkey time!
On The Sweeter Side…
- 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
- In large bowl of an electric mixer combine sugar, salt & cornstarch, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, pumpkin & 3 eggs, beating well.
- Add evaporated milk and combine for a minute, set aside.
- Grease a 9 inch pie dish with butter & flour.
- 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).
- Carefully roll out pie dough round into pie plate evenly.
- Crimp outer edges of pie dough into a scalloped pattern.
- In small bowl combine egg yolk & cream, whisking to combine.
- With a basting brush, brush pie dough edges with.
- Roll out 2nd pie dough round on same floured surface, and cut out shapes with small seasonal cookie cutters or pie stamps for topping.
- Brush cut outs with some of the same egg yolk/cream mixture to enable browning.
- Pour pie mixture onto pie dough in pan, and bake for 10 minutes at 425 degrees.
- Then reduce oven temperature to 350 and bake an additional 30 minutes, adding the pie dough shapes 5 minutes into 2nd baking.
- When pie crust is browned and filling set, remove from oven and let cool completely on a wire rack.
- Serve room temperature with whipped cream and/or ice cream!
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!