Recipe of the Month: Thanksgiving Dinner

The Turkey:
A turkey
Carrots
Onions
Celery
Garlic
Rosemary, Thyme, Sage (lots of all 3, fresh!)
Maple Syrup (real)
Salt and Pepper
Butter
Olive oil

Start with your stock (for the gravy). Put a big onion (sliced in half), several carrots, several celery stalks, the giblets and neck, and all 3 herbs plus salt and pepper in a medium pot with about a quart of water and set it over medium low heat. Let this stock gently boil, covered, all day (you may have to periodically add water to it).

Don’t stuff the turkey with stuffing. Instead, just include things you want to add to the gravy flavoring – apples, garlic, onions, and all 3 herbs.

Make a ½ pound of sage butter – two sticks of room temperature mixed with 3 heaping tablespoons of fresh finely chopped sage. Shove all the sage butter under the skin of the turkey, beginning at the neck and pushing and pressing it as far back as you can (before you actually put the butter under it, just push your hands under the skin to separate it from the meat – be careful not to tear the skin in the process). Rub olive oil on the skin and liberally salt and pepper it.

On the bottom of the roasting pan (I just use a baking sheet with a 1-inch lip), in place of a roasting rack, just lay down celery stocks and carrots to serve as a rack. Also lay down chopped onions and more of the herbs. Put the turkey in a 500 degree oven (not a typo) for 45 minutes to an hour – just until the skin looks nice and brown.

Then turn down the oven to 325 or 350, cover the top of the turkey with tin foil (to keep the skin from burning) and let it sit until it’s done (a couple more hours, depending on the size of the bird).

At this point, start basting it as well. Mix ½ cup real maple syrup with ½ cup water and pour this over the turkey. This will mix with the drippings accumulating at the bottom of the pan. Baste it with the now-mapley drippings every ½ hourish until it’s done.

When it’s done, make the gravy. Make a rue in a saucepan by heating ½ cube butter with ¼ cup flour over medium heat and mixing with a whisk. When it’s combined and starting to brown, whisk in the strained stock and the drippings from the roasting pan. Turn the heat up and keep whisking. When it’s properly thick, add salt (it will need it) and pepper to taste.

Mashed Potatoes:
10 lbs russets
5 lbs red
Fresh rosemary and thyme
Butter
Heavy cream
Salt and pepper

Peel the russets but keep the skin on the reds. Chop and boil them. Drain off the water and add a pint of heavy cream and 2 sticks of butter, along with 2 tablespoons each of the rosemary and thyme, finely chopped. Mash them to your liking and add lots of salt and pepper.

Sweet Potato Casserole:
8-10 large sweet potatoes
1 banana
Butter
Ground nutmeg
Honey
Maple syrup
Brown sugar
Flour
Pecans
Mini marshmallows

Roast the sweet potatoes (just poke them with a fork and stick them into the oven for an hour or so, depending on their size, just until they’re done). Roast a banana by sticking it in the oven with the potatoes for the last 10 minutes. It will turn dark brown. Peel the skin off the potatoes and mash them together with the banana, a stick of butter, 1/3 cup honey, 1 teaspoon of honey, and 2 tablespoons of maple syrup. Stick the mashed mix into a roasting pan.

Make a topping by mixing 2 cups of chopped pecans with a stick of butter and ½ cup flour and 1 1/2 cups brown sugar. Flatten the topping atop the potatoes and roast in the oven for like 20 minutes (the topping should start to brown a bit).

Pile as many of the marshmallows as you can fit over the top and stick it under the broiler for like 2 minutes (don’t forget about it!).

Stuffing:
1 onion
2 apples
1 orange
Fresh sage and thyme
1 box cranberry orange muffins (or just buy fresh ones at a bakery)
Chicken stock
Heavy cream
Butter
Olive oil

Chop the onion and apples and sauté them in butter and olive oil with salt and pepper, chopped thyme and LOTS of fresh sage.

Once they’re caramelized and soft, add 1 cup heavy cream, 1 cup stock, and the zest from the orange.

Lightly crumble the muffins (you want about 1 inch diameter pieces), enough to cover the bottom of a good size baking dish.

Pour the cream/stock/sauté over the muffin crumbs, gently combine, and bake at 350 until it’s done (depending on the size batch you make). In general, you just want the proper balance between wet ingredients and muffin crumbs for a good stuffing consistency. Add extra crumbs or chicken stock if you need to to balance things.

Cranberry Sauce:
A bag of fresh cranberries
Orange juice
An orange
Maple syrup
Brown sugar
Salt and pepper

Start the berries poaching over medium heat in just enough water to cover them. As the water reduces and the berries soften, add a cup of orange juice and the zest from the orange. Bring up the heat and add the a couple tablespoons of brown sugar and a tablespoon of maple syrup. Salt and pepper it as needed. Let it cook, covered, for at least an hour. The berries will be completely macerated and it will have a saucy consistency.

Important dishes not included here: rolls, candied carrots with dill weed, wassail, pie, homemade cinnamon nutmeg ice cream.

Yours truly,
Cinnamon J. Scudworth

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8 thoughts on “Recipe of the Month: Thanksgiving Dinner

  1. Good stuff. I’ve found that it’s easier to get herb butter well distributed under the skin if I chill it before applying to the bird. When it’s semi solid you can push it around from outside the skin. Also, I cut little slits in the skin on the back of the bird so I can apply herb butter to the thighs.

    Also, a nice way to get herb flavor into the gravy is to add some herb butter at the end. I also like the look of the green herbs in the gravy. For a little acidity I add some lemon juice.

    I always use sour cream in mashed potatoes instead of heavy cream. It gives them some welcome tang. I’ve never really liked heavy cream in potatoes.

  2. Besides preventing burning, the tin foil over the breasts helps the dark meat and light meat finish cooking around the same time so the people that like dark meat don’t die of food poisoning.

  3. Place a Cornish hen in the turkey cavity. After the turkey is brought to the table, say, “What’s this?” and remove the hen from the turkey cavity. Tell the astonished people that the turkey must have been pregnant.

  4. My mom soaked our turkey in a bucket of kosher salt and water and cooked it in an oven bag. It was moist and tender. I have heard if you rub butter on the turkey, then rub it with flour, and place a stalk of celery and an onion in the bird, it will turn out moist & good- I am going to try it.

  5. I only realized this when I actually made the Sweet Potato Casserole yesterday, but I forgot to include the brown sugar in the instructions for making the topping. I have dutifully amended the original post to reflect this careless sin of omission.

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