The key to yummy Thanksgiving is good ingredients. I know food costs a lot these days, but Thanksgiving is a time when I like to splurge. Purchase better brands of ingredients, local and organic when possible, and yes better brand names. It really does make a significant difference in the finished dish. I also try to take the time and make each component from scratch when possible. (for example I make the cornbread for the stuffing and dry croutons from a load of bread)

the Menu

Drunken Turkey & Gravy

Coconutgoddess Cranberry Sauce

Ultimate Mashed Potatoes

Cornbread and Sausage Dressing

Corn Spoonbread

turkey

Drunken Turkey

  • Large Turkey* 21-24lbs
  • 1 bottle of dry white wine
  • 1.5 lb unsalted butter (soften two sticks)
  • 1 cheese cloth
  • non-stick foil
  • kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper
  • HEAVY roasting pan.

First lets talk Turkey. I always purchase a big bird at least 21lbs as big as 32 once. I like a big bird because I like lots of leftovers. I also look for local free range birds when ever possible. How long you will cook your turkey is totally determined by the size of the turkey. So I recommend doing a quick google search for turkey sizes and cooking times. It really does vary depending on altitude, oven size, etc. I use a standard non-convection oven. Be sure to use a nice heavy bottomed good quart roasting pan that has a wire rack included. I NEVER use those aluminum things. Investing in a good roasting pan will last a lifetime and help yield perfect results. Personally I also prefer one that is NOT non-stick so that the brown bits really develop – allowing for a yummy gravy.

Pour the bottle of wine into a saucepan and add 1lb of butter. Heat until melted. Remove from heat.

Take the cheese cloth out of the package and completely unfold. Now refold it up so you end of with a piece that is several layers thick and approximately 15″x15″ – no precision needed here. Just want it to be big enough to cover the bird and not have too much overhang. Soak the cheese cloth in the buttery winey goodness.

Wash the bird. Dry the bird. Let come to room temperature – about 2 hours. Rub the entire outside of the bird with some of the softened butter, also place a layer of butter between the skin and meat of the breast. Salt and Pepper the bird. Place into the roasting pan.

Cover the wing tips with foil. Now place the wet cheese cloth on top of the bird draping it in the magic elixir.

Place in a 425 degree oven. In 30 minutes, baste the bird with the wine mixture.

Reduce heat to 350 degrees and continue to baste every 30 minutes. Remove the cheese cloth after 2 hours of cooking and continue to carefully baste and roast until the bird is done. The bird is done when it has reached 165 degrees in the thigh. Be sure to not hit the bone when taking the temp. Use an instant read thermometer – NEVER those little plastic pop up things.

When cooked, remove the turkey from the oven and allow to rest on the counter, uncovered for 30 minutes. Perfect time for you to bake up the rolls and make the gravy.

cranberry

Coconutgoddess Cranberry Sauce

  • 1 package fresh cranberries
  • 1 can crushed pineapple
  • 1/4 c Medjool Dates
  • 1 orange – juiced
  • grated zest from 1 orange
  • 1/2 c sugar (I use raw sugar, white works as well)
  • 1/2 dark brown sugar

This is  a great dish to make a few days ahead of time. The longer it sits the better it gets. After the big day, try this on your turkey sandwich.. it is delish.

Combine all ingredients in a heavy bottomed pot. Heat over medium high heat stirring occasionally until the cranberries “pop” and the liquid is reduced by about a third. Remove from heat and refrigerate until ready to serve.

potatoes

Ultimate Mashed Potatoes

  • 5 lbs yukon gold potatoes
  • 2 lbs unsalted butter – softened and cut into small pieces
  • 8 oz cream cheese – softened and cut into small piece
  • 1 cup heavy cream – warmed
  • salt and pepper

I try to time this so that they are cooked and being kept warm about an hour or so before we will be ready to eat. For the butter I use a good quality european style butter that contains higher butter fat. These potatoes are extremely rich and indulgent.

Peel the potatoes and cut in half. Place into a large pot and cover with cold water. Add salt to the water, enough so that it is salty to the taste, about a half cup is usually where I end up.  Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Once boiling reduce heat to medium and cook until tender. DO NOT over cook the potatoes or they will be water logged.

Drain into a colander and let “dry” for just about a minute. Using a potato ricer, mash the potatoes back into the cooking pot. Add the butter and cream cheese. Mix until everything is incorporated. Add a little of the warmed cream and stir. Add enough that you end up with a soft mash that you like. Season with salt and pepper.

To “hold” until dinner, place over very low heat or over a double boiler that is barely at a simmer. Just give the potatoes a good stir before serving.

dressing

 

Cornbread and Sausage Dressing

  • 6 c cornbread – cubed and dried*
  • 2 c small cubed croutons*
  • 1 stick unsalted butter plus more for topping
  • 2 yellow onions chopped
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 2 T minced garlic
  • 1/4 lb diced ham
  • 1lb spicy sausage browned and chopped
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon flat italian parsley – minced
  • 10 fresh sage leaves – minced
  • 2 sprigs thyme – leaves removed and chopped
  • 3-4 cups of chicken stock

Note: You can also add some chopped pecans and dried cranberries to this. I just happen to not like it, but lots of people do. So do what you like.

Place the breads into a large mixing bowl. Melt the butter in a pan and add the onions, celery, and garlic. Cook over medium high heat until wilted but not browned. Add to the bread mixture. Add the ham, sausage, and herbs stir in the heavy cream and toss the entire thing so it is well mixed. Add enough of the chicken stock so everything is nice and  moist. I tend to make mine on the wetter side as it will dry up a bit in the oven. Check seasoning for salt and pepper.

Place the entire mixture into a buttered casserole dish. Dot the top with bits of butter.

Cover with foil and bake in a 350 degree oven for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and let bake another 15 minutes until golden brown.

** I make my own breads two days before and let them sit out so they get nice and dry. For the croutons, I small dice a loaf of country style bread, toss in olive oil and bake on 375 – tossing every few minutes until they bread is dried and toasted.

Corn Spoonbread

  • 2/3 c all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 c yellow cornmeal
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 2 eggs – lightly beaten
  • 1 c sour cream
  • 1 stick melted butter
  • 1 c shredded cheddar cheese, plus more for topping
  • 1 can sweet corn – drained
  • 1 can creamed corn

Mix all the ingredients together and pour into a casserole dish.  Cover with foil. Bake on 350 degrees for about 45 minutes. Remove foil and top with shredded cheese and bake another 1o minutes. Serve hot.