The photos depict meals from various places and diets, sampled via Flickr. Click on the image for more.
I’m breaking new ground this Thanksgiving: organizing a holiday menu, being away from my family for turkey dinner (sniff), and killing two birds with one stone (heh) and visiting both families during the weekend. We’ll be cooking with Matt’s family for Thanksgiving and then dropping in on my own on Saturday. Cooking in a new kitchen always levels you: there’s unknown oven heating times, range heat differences, the challenge of remembering every single ingredient you need in advance, and the unknown palettes to please. We are going to cook the hell out of this meal.
This year Thanksgiving is going to be different. Let’s face it, most of us are concerned with budgets and the economy, and probably haven’t had as much time to plan. Yet we’re all going to spend at least Thursday with family. Part of me just wants to curl up and read a book. So long as we can show some courtesy and hospitality for people around us, Thanksgiving can be a welcome break and shared warmth. The great thing about Thanksgiving is that it has few ground rules and a lot of creative leeway. The good memories (or happy accidents) form traditions, which eventually include new people and evolve into new traditions.
Below are some of my mother’s classics, flavors I have grown up with that I can’t give up the opportunity to share with others. I owe thanks to two mothers this year: my own for handing over these favorites of mine, and JoAnn for allowing me to cook some of them in her home and forgo some of her own family’s traditions.
I deliver them to you in advance of their preparation knowing that we’re all curious of each others’ menus. Some of us will be cooking for the first time, some looking for new tricks, and some enjoying the controversy surrounding the somehow never tiresome topic of the best way to cook a turkey. Whatever the reason, read up, eat up, and Happy Thanksgiving.
Herb and butter rubbed turkey w/ dressings two ways
Recipes for 15 pound bird
This is how my mom does turkey. She always rubs, never bastes. It’s super moist, flavorful, and easy peasy. We much prefer the stuffing in a casserole dish, not from the turkey. I give you two options below, one dressed with herbs, one with stuffing.
Make sure the rack is in the bottom third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 325.
Unwrap the bird and remove the giblets from the neck cavity. Wash the outside with running water. Run the water through both cavities of the bird. Dry off completely. Salt and pepper both cavities. Place on your metal rack in the roasting pan. Break the wing tips by bending them backwards and prop the turkey atop them. Stuff the turkey, rub it. Bend the bone ends of drumsticks over the cavity and secure them with twine (figure 8 and tie a knot). Fold over the neck.
Cook in the oven for about 4 hours (add 20-30 minutes if dressed with stuffing). Don’t baste. Look for browning juices in the bottom of the pan. Insert the meat thermometer into the fleshiest part of the breast. The bird should be 165. If it’s done, take it out. Other signs of it being done are the drumsticks being able to move in their sockets. Leave to rest for at least a half hour after removing from the oven.
Dressing w/ herbs
1 onion, quartered
1 shallot, quartered
3 cloves garlic, lightly crushed
4 sprigs rosemary
A few whole sage leaves
Place 1 quarter onion, shallot, 1 garlic clove, 1 sprig rosemary, and 1 sage leave in the neck of the turkey. Put the rest in the body. This is not a seance. No need for neat arrangements or ceremony. If you decide to vary the ingredients, go ahead. Just use the general 1/3 ratio used above.
Dressing w/ stuffing
If you’re dressing, just remember not to stuff the bird full. You want some breathing room. Also remember this increases the cooking time by 5 minutes per pound.
3 tablespoons ghee (or unsalted butter)
3/4 teaspoon salt
20 grinds of pepper
2 cloves garlic, pressed through press
2 sprigs of rosemary (4”), stripped and coarsely chopped
Mix together and smear over the bird with your hands trying to coat the entire surface evenly.
2 sticks celery, cut in half
2 medium carrot cut in half lengthwise
1 onion, quartered
3 clove garlic peeled and bruised
All giblets including neck
Enough water to cover it
3 bay leaves
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon peppercorns
1/2 cup dry red wine
3 sprigs thyme
3 sage leaves
2 rosemary branch
Bring to a boil and then simmer for 1 1/2 hours with the lid cocked.
1/2 cup unbleached all purpose flour
A few sprigs rosemary, minced
A few sprigs thyme, minced
Prior to making the gravy, cook the giblets. Strain off all the liquid and reserve. Remove the giblets, mince the heart and the liver, and set them aside.
Remove the turkey from the oven and place on a preheated platter to rest. Pour off all the drippings in a bowl. Skim off and reserve all the fat from the drippings. Turn two burners on low and place the roasting pan over the stove. Once hot, add 1/2 cup of fat back into the pan. If you don’t have enough, add in some olive oil. Whisk in the flour. Begin to add in the giblet broth and turkey drippings, up to 8 cups. Turn up to medium-low and let it come to a boil. Turn down to simmer for 15 minutes. Once it starts to thicken, you can add the giblets back in. Taste. Adjust salt. Add in fresh herb if you need it. Continue to cook until you have the right consistency.
1 9” square pan
1 teaspoon ghee (or butter), for greasing
2 cups organic whole cornmeal flour
1/2 cup spelt
1/2 cup amaranth
1 cup unbleached all-purpose organic flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 7/8 cup buttermilk
3/8 cup maple syrup
2 large eggs
1/2 cup ghee, melted
Preheat the oven to 400. Grease the baking pan and set aside.
Whisk the cornmeal, flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk the buttermilk, maple syrup, eggs, and melted butter. Add all at once to the dry ingredients, stirring quickly and lightly just until evenly combined. Pour into the prepared pan and bake until golden brown and an inserted toothpick comes out clean, about 30 to 35 minutes. Remove from the oven.
If you’re making it in advance of the stuffing, let the cornbread cool entirely. Cut it into squares and put them into plastic bags and keep in the freezer. Before starting the stuffing, take out the cornbread to thaw. Break it up into little squares.
Cornbread and whole wheat stuffing w/ cranberries, chestnuts, onions, and herbs
1 teaspoon ghee for greasing
6 tablespoons ghee
1 bunch of organic celery hearts, washed and coarsely chopped
2 shallots, peeled and finely diced
2 cups medium yellow onions, peeled and finely diced
A few crumbled sage leaves
1 jar whole chestnuts, drained and chopped
5 cups crumbled, day-old buttermilk cornbread (above)
4 cups of torn up, slightly-dried whole wheat bread (if not, break it into chunks and dry out in the oven for 10 mins on 325)
1 cup fresh cranberries, washed, rinsed, chopped in a food processor (or dried, sweetened, cranberries, plumped and chopped)
1 1/4 teaspoons dried thyme
3 4” sprigs rosemary, stemmed and chopped
Freshly ground black pepper
2 cups low-sodium organic canned chicken broth
3 large eggs, well beaten
Make sure the rack is in the lower third and set the oven to 325. Grease a 9×13 pan with ghee.
Melt the ghee (or butter) in a saute pan on medium-low heat. Once hot, add the celery and saute for 8 minutes until starting to soften. Add the onions and shallots and saute until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add in the sage and saute for 20 seconds. Season with salt and pepper. Add the chestnuts and saute for a minute to warm. Remove from heat.
Put the cornbread, bread, cranberries, and sauteed ingredients in a large bowl. Lightly toss with salad servers. Add in the fresh and dried herbs and salt and pepper. In a smaller bowl, beat the eggs and chicken broth together. Pour the liquid onto the stuffing and toss again lightly. Pour into the greased pan and cook in the oven until slightly browned, about an hour.
Tip: You want the eggs to set but you don’t want to dry it out or burn the top. If it starts to brown too soon place loose tinfoil over the top.
Garlic mashed potatoes
Serves 10, general 1 potato per person
10 yukon gold potatoes, washed, bruises etc removed, peeled with some skin left on (your discretion)
1 tablespoon salt
1 stick butter (or ghee)
1 teaspoon salt
2 cloves garlic, mashed
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 cup warm milk
Freshly ground black pepper
Fresh dill sprigs (optional)
Place the potatoes in a pot, cover with cold water and add the salt. Bring to a boil. Let boil for 10 minutes. Check with a fork to make sure they are nice and tender. Heat a saute pan on medium and add some ghee. Once hot, drop in the garlic and saute until golden. Remove from heat. Cut the butter into chunks in a large bowl. Place the potatoes in there hot, and then add in the salt, milk, thyme, and garlic. Grind in lots of black pepper. Say it with me, lots. Beat the potatoes an electric mixer or hand held food processor on medium. If they’re too thick, add a little more milk. Adjust salt and pepper. Serve hot.
Peas with mint and cremini mushrooms
Dab of ghee (or butter)
1 1/2 bags of Organic frozen peas
1 tablespoon Madeira or other Sherry
1 shallot, sliced thinly
Handful of cremini mushrooms
1 teaspoon dried mint
1 teaspoon dried thyme
Take the peas out to thaw. Heat the ghee in a saute pan on medium heat. Once hot, drop in the shallot and saute until soft and translucent. Add in the thyme and saute for 20 seconds more. Season with a little salt. Add in the peas and the Madeira. Saute the peas until tender, no more than 5 minutes. Saute in the dried mint for 30 seconds. Salt and pepper. Taste and adjust seasonings. Serve hot.
This is what it looks like to move your kitchen to another household.
What Thanksgiving recipe for you makes the meal?