Savor the Flavor: Explore our Delectable Thanksgiving Menu and Recipes
If you are like me and do the cooking for Thanksgiving Day, this is the post for you! Getting all the ingredients ahead of time is so helpful so you can prepare recipes before the big day. Each year we have our tried and true family traditional dishes and often, I will experiment with one or two new ones. So here is the Thanksgiving menu I served last year.
The Main Star~the Turkey
Typically I get a 20-25 lb. turkey because I love the leftover meat. Over the last few years my culinarily adventurous son convinced me to part from the traditional method of roasting the bird, to faster, and tastier methods. Here are my top two ways to cook a turkey:
Expertly Spiced and Glazed Roast Turkey
This recipe, by Bon Appetit, was developed “to miraculously roast a turkey that is well seasoned, juicy, and—can we type this loudly enough?—PROPERLY COOKED! Every part of the bird deserves equal love and appreciation, without a dry bite in the house. The absolute inarguably best way to cook a turkey is to break it down into parts, dry-brine it, and roast it on a wire rack in a baking sheet. The parts expose every piece for even cooking”.
Here is why I love this recipe.
- The cooking time is very fast. For a 15 lb. bird, the turkey is done in approximately 100 minutes (depending on your oven, thickness of breast, etc.). The glaze for this is D.E.L.I.C.I.O.U.S!
- You can prep this up to 2 days in advance. There is a easy rub to make and once you apply that, the refrigerator does the rest. There are very detailed instructions on how to separate the turkey. If you are not comfortable doing that, ask your local butcher.
- All you need to bake this is a wire rack and a rimmed baking sheet
Click here for the recipe.
Super Crispy Skin Turkey with a Dry Brine
We tried this different approach to preparing the turkey in 2019 and again, the turkey is juicy and the skin is extra crispy. Simply combine one part baking powder with three to four parts kosher salt (about a teaspoon of baking powder per tablespoon of kosher salt will work), add some black pepper to taste, then sprinkle it evenly over the surface of the skin. Then—and this is key—let it rest, uncovered, in the refrigerator for 12 to 24 hours. The best part of this recipe:
- Can prepare it up to 24 hours in advance
- Simple dry brine which is easy to make and spread over the bird
- There is no basting during the cooking time
- Fabulous results
- You can present a whole cooked turkey to your guests
You can find this Serious Eats recipe here.
Typically, I make Martha Stewart’s Herbed Corn Bread Dressing from her 1982 book Entertaining. But this year, I made the Serious Easts Classic Sage and Sausage Stuffing recipe (see it here). It is clearly a winner. Again, this can be made a day in advance, which helps reduce the chaos in the kitchen.
Why I like this recipe~
- I like making my own bread crumbs which is super easy and far better than the ones you buy in the store
- With the turkey parts leftover from separating the turkey, I easily made my own stock for the recipe. Made me feel like I am using all parts of the turkey and not being wasteful.
- Since I did not buy enough sage sausage, I did add the remaining 1/2 pound needed with hot sausage and the results are fine
- Able to use fresh herbs from my garden
Plan on doubling this recipe as there is never enough gravy. This is another recipe you can make ahead of time~up to 5 days in advance. I really like Costco’s organic chicken stock but homemade or other store brands will work too. The recipe asks for 1/4 teaspoon of Marmite, which I didn’t add. I’m not really sure what it is but eliminating it didn’t seem to affect the flavor or consistency. This is a lighter colored gravy~just FYI. See recipe here.
Every year we make what we call Drunken Sweet Potatoes, based on a fun Thanksgiving where my in-laws were adding more and more bourbon~mostly to their mouths and then some to the recipe! From a very worn and tattered 1974 The Family Circle Cookbook, there are no marshmallows, just sweet potatoes, butter, bourbon, orange juice, spices and topped with pecans. Easy to make, easy to bake. This, too, can be prepared ahead of time. See recipe below.
My family loves this Trader Joe’s recipe (see it here). Who doesn’t love something roasted in maple syrup and olive oil? The Brussels sprouts caramelize to a gorgeous color. Spoon the maple syrup sauce over and sprinkle with either fresh pomegranate arils or dried cranberries. You can either roast a whole stalk of Brussels sprouts or use bags of individual ones.
I try not to have the menu be carbohydrate loaded so any opportunity to add more vegetables I take. With the greens being so delicious and abundant in the garden, a simple salad is made. Just greens and grated Parmesan cheese, homemade croutons and my friend, Chloe’s Caesar dressing. This is now my favorite go-to dressing for a Caesar salad. You can see it here.
Making the croutons is easy as I just cut up some bread, seasoned it with salt, pepper, garlic powder and some black truffle sea salt (which is yummy on just about anything), drizzle with olive oil and bake until crispy. Another easy recipe that is so much better than store-bought croutons.
There is nothing easier to make than cranberry sauce. All it takes is cranberries and sugar and water. Boom. That’s it. Heat until the berries start to wrinkle. Turn off the heat and it all becomes a nice, thick cranberry sauce. You really don’t need anything else, unless you want to spruce it up. Personally, I like the plain old simple recipe. We use the leftover cranberry sauce as a spread on sandwiches too. Just yummy. Recipe is generally on the bag of berries. And you can make it way ahead of time too.
For our dinner last year, we did keep the desserts simple. Two pumpkin pies and one apple. My husband makes the pumpkin pies and they are so delicious. A happy error in one ingredient many years ago is why his pies are the best and in demand year after year.
I am always experimenting with apple pies and I am a bit fond of this new recipe. Again, it is a Serious Eats one with the title, A Perfect Apple Pie. You can see the recipe here.
Have a wonderful Tuesday and I hope you will enjoy some of these recipes for your holiday cooking.
Bourbon Sweet Potatoes
- 4 pounds sweet potatoes or yams
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
- 1/3 cup bourbon (or more to taste)
- 1/3 cup orange juice (I use fresh squeezed)
- 1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp apple-pie spice
- 1/3 cup chopped pecans
Scrub potatoes. Cook, covered in boiling salted water to cover in a large saucepan, about 35 minutes, or just until tender. Drain; cool slightly; peel.
Place potatoes in a large bowl; mash. Add the butter, bourbon, orange juice, rown sugar, salt and apple-pie spice; beat until fluffy smooth.
Spoon into a buttered, 6-cup baking dish; sprinkle nuts around the edge.
Bake in moderate oven at 350° for 45 minutes, or until lightly brown.
If you enjoy this post, please share on Pinterest.