Latest Adventures

A SLYFoodie Thanksgiving


Category :

'Tis the season...to give thanks for family, friends and abundant blessings. Moreover, with Thanksgiving, the internal need to stuff one's self beyond imagination kicks into overdrive. This year was no different. We served a traditional, homemade Thanksgiving meal for 2.5 people, which means leftovers galore.

On the menu:
Roasted Turkey
Cornbread Stuffing
Mashed Potatoes
Macaroni and Cheese
Cranberry Fruit Conserve
Turkey Gravy
Pumpkin Pie

First up, the turkey. I purchased the bird the day before, so it just chilled in the fridge (pun intended) overnight. Took it out, rinsed it, patted it dry, and then proceeded to stuff its cavity with an onion, a head of garlic, some thyme sprigs, one orange and one lemon. Make sure to season the cavity first, before placing the aromatics in it. Did I mention the butter? A stick of butter also goes inside the cavity. I've been told that it is supposed to help make the bird moist as it cooks. Afterwards, the skin is liberally seasoned with salt and pepper, and then the legs and wings are tied close to the body before it's placed on the roaster. A little chicken broth on the bottom of the roaster, and the turkey is ready to be roasted in a 350-degree oven for about 2½ hours or so, until the juices run clear when you cut between the thigh area.

Next, was the cornbread stuffing. I made my own cornbread, following the directions on a box of cornmeal. I then proceeded to brown some maple sausage in a pan, setting it aside once it was cooked. Then, sauté some onions, celery, mushrooms, an apple in the same pan with the sausage drippings. I added finely chopped fresh sage and thyme leaves, and seasoned to taste. Once that was done, I combined all the ingredients in a large bowl and just added enough chicken stock to moisten the mixture and break down the cornbread. I placed the mixture in a casserole dish and baked in an oven for about 30 minutes, at 350 degrees.

Mashed potatoes are incredibly easy to make. Cut up some potatoes and place in a pot of water. Bring to a boil and cook for about 12-15 minutes, or until a fork or knife easily cuts into the potato. Drain, then place in either a bowl or the same pot and start to smash using a potato masher. I added butter, sour cream and a drizzle of heavy cream, and seasoned to taste. One can get pretty creative here at this point and add ingredients such as caramelized shallots, crispy shallots, roasted garlic, parmesan cheese, wasabi, horseradish, etc.

Macaroni and cheese was also fairly easy to make, as well. Cook pasta according to box directions, set aside. Melt some butter, add a few tablespoons of flour to start the bechamel sauce, add milk and some ground nutmeg and ground mustard, then season to taste. Whisk until mixture is smooth, then add desired amount of cheese (I just used cheddar on this dish). Once the cheese melted into the sauce, I added the pasta into it. Ideally, this would be baked with bread crumbs on top, but since we were hungry (and ran out of bread crumbs), we ate it straight out of the pot, which was just as good.

I followed the Barefoot Contessa's recipe for Cranberry Fruit Conserve, except I didn't add raisins or walnuts. This is something I do every year, and it's awesome on turkey sandwiches for leftovers.

Turkey gravy was another simple thing to make. Once the turkey is done and resting on the platter, I took the roaster where all the yummy drippings are, and skimmed off some of the fat. Then, put it on the stovetop and added a couple tablespoons of all purpose flour. Whisk for a couple of minutes, allowing the flour to cook, then slowly add chicken stock. It thickens after several minutes, and just season to taste. You could add a little heavy cream to make it richer. Some add brandy or cognac or white wine to add a depth of flavor. I was just going for simple.

You can see all the elements on the plate pictured below:
The pumpkin pies were also homemade, following Libby's Famous Pumpkin Pie recipe. Honestly, I think next time, I would add a little less ground ginger, and maybe put a little nutmeg into it instead. But the pies also came out pretty good. Don't mind the crack in the middle; I was a little overzealous checking it for doneness. =/
All this was done in about 5 hours or less - totally doable, relatively stress free. I would do it all over again...tomorrow. No, seriously, I have to cook another meal tomorrow. Happy Thanksgiving, all!