Thanksgiving Menu

Thanksgiving is my favorite cooking occasion. Christmas dinner is a close second, but since this one comes first and really the meal is the center of attention, no gifts trying to take the spotlight, it’s all about the food!

I have been pretty much making variations of the same menu for years. The most important piece in my opinion is the cranberry sauce. It really is the completer piece, and why this post doesn’t start with a photo of a turkey!

Included in this menu are:
Cranberry Chutney
Garlic Brussels Sprouts
Stuffing
Turkey
and of course pumpkin pie.

Where’s the gravy you ask? It’s my nemesis, I can’t make gravy that either doesn’t look like an oil slick, or lentil soup. I really struggle with it, it may also be cause I really don’t care for it, since I have my trusty cranberry sauce! Either way, no gravy instructions from me!

Prepare the meal in the order presented, it’s a simple plan, but it helps organize the work.

Turkey:

This is your first step, take it out 4-5 days before the meal is to be served, critical if you have an especially large and frozen bird.
I used to get a lovely fresh, free range organic bird, but now I go for the good old butterball. Nothing beats it for moistness, even if you can see the large holes where the butter was pumped in. It is good, the former is better but it’s suitable!

I like to cook my stuffing outside the bird, so basically once you clean it up and pat it dry, place a few cut onions, lemons and fresh herbs like rosemary and sage in the cavity and you are ready to roast.   Add water, wine or port to the roasting pan, and in my case keep checking that there is some in the bottom of the pan or it starts to burn, I add more water every hour or so. Since the bird is not stuffed you only have to go to 165F on the thigh to be sure it’s cooked through.  Roast at 325F for about 2-2.5 hours for 15lb bird.

Turkey

15lb (7.5 kg) turkey
2 tbsp (30 mL) extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp (10 mL) salt
½ tsp (2 mL) freshly ground black pepper
1 orange, quartered
1 lemon, quartered
1 onion, quartered
fresh rosemary and sage
wine or water (keep topping up as it evaporates)

1. Remove neck and giblets from turkey and reserve if making stock. Rub turkey with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Fill cavity with oranges, lemon, onions and herbs. Tie legs together to close if  are inclined.
2. Place turkey, breast side down, and roast for 30 minutes, then flip turkey.  If you are intimidated to flip the bird place it breast side up to start, and also if your bird is particularly large, don’t even attempt to turn it over.  Add Port, wine or water to pan.
3. Reduce heat to 325F (180C) and continue to roast for 2 to 2½ hours, or until a thermometer inserted into the thigh reads 165F. Baste every 30 minutes, and check pan to ensure there is some liquid, it it’s evaporated add more water, wine or stock.
4. When turkey is ready, remove fruit and vegetables from inside turkey and discard.  Tent the turkey with a  piece of aluminum foil and allow it to rest for at least 10min, but up to 1/2 and hour.

The brussels sprouts…. People hate them, people love them, like cilantro it is the great divider. But honestly, who could sit down to Thanksgiving without the little green mutant cabbages, really?!

This is a great recipe, from the Williams Sonoma Complete Entertaining Cookbook.

Cranberry Chutney

Make about six cups

2 c water
3 c sugar
2 unpeeled oranges, diced, seeded and finely chopped in a blender (or food processor)
two 2 inch pieces of fresh ginger, peeled and cut into thin slices
4 c cranberries (frozen or fresh)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cloves
1 cup raisins

Combine water and sugar in a deep saucepan and bring to boil.
Add oranges and ginger, reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 20min.
add cranberries, cinnamon, and cloves, simmer for 15min, should thicken.
Mix in raisins and simmer for another 7min or so until large bubbles start to form.
Pour into serving dish and cool.
Can be made ahead and stored in fridge for about a week.

Bread Stuffing,from Bonnie Stern’s Natioanl Post Column

Makes about 10-12 servings.

• 1/3 c vegetable oil or extra virgin olive oil
• 8 oz  chopped turkey bacon
• 3 onions, coarsely chopped
• ½ lb cremini mushrooms, sliced
• 10 cups crusty bread, cut into chunks (about 1 lb/500 g)
• 2 cups turkey or chicken stock
• 1 tbsp fresh thyme
• ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
• ¼ cup chopped fresh sage
• salt and pepper to taste
1. Heat butter or oil in a large deep skillet or Dutch oven. Add bacon and cook until almost crisp. Remove bacon and reserve. Return pan to heat and add onions. Cook about 15 to 20 minutes until onions are well-browned.
2. Add mushrooms and cook until any liquid evaporates. Return bacon to pan.
3. Add bread cubes and combine well. Add stock to moisten. Add parsley, sage and thyme and season with salt and pepper to taste.
4. Place dressing in a 10×15-inch (4 L) roasting pan and bake, covered, 30 minutes in a preheated 350F (180C) oven. Uncover and bake 30 minutes longer, spooning juices from cooked turkey over the top.
To make this vegetarian, skip the bacon, and use 1/3 c olive oil in the beginning instead.

Brussels Sprouts with Garlic and Parmesan
Serves 12, you can ratio to fit your crowd, this one is also from the Williams Sonoma Complete Entertaining Cookbook

3lbs Brussels sprouts
1/4 c unsalted butter
1/4 c olive oil
12 large cloves of minced garlic
1.5-2 c chicken stock
salt and pepper to taste
1.5 c Parmesan, freshly grated

Trim the ends and cut the sprouts in half lengthwise.
Heat the butter and oil in a large enough pan to hold most of the sprouts in a single layer.
Add the garlic and cook over low heat for 2min.
Add the sprouts, stock to cover the sprouts and cover the pan.
Simmer until tender crisp 5-8min.
Season with salt and pepper and parmesan cheese.
Serve at once!

And for the grand finale…

Pumpkin pie!

I have stated this here before, the canned pumpkin tastes tinny to me, so I always use fresh.  I roast some pumpkins and then freeze the puree in 1 cup portions.  That way I can use it for a variety of recipes.  This year I thought I would go with a recipe that used sweetened condensed milk, everything that I have made with this golden stuff is amazing!  This pie was good, but I think the regular ones are just as good.

Here’s the recipe  Prize Pumpkin Pie from Canadian Living.

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