Thanksgiving

Families seem to be divided into two categories – the ones where nobody wants to cook Thanksgiving dinner and the ones where everybody wants to.  Sadly for me, I am in the latter category and will not be fixing Thanksgiving dinner again this year.  I’ve been looking at some intriguing ideas in food magazines recently.  If I was cooking Thanksgiving, I would have to go with my classic menu for one year.  If I was cooking Thanksgiving every year, I think I would experiment with one different thing each year.  For example, I love the spicy broccoli but those brussels sprouts that I’ve been making recently would be awfully good.  Depending on how many people I was serving, I might go with Ina’s suggestion of cooking just a turkey breast or her stuffed turkey roulade.  For now, it’s a moot point.  Here are my recipes for classics.

Happy Thanksgiving all!

Thanksgiving Menu

  • Roast Turkey with Chestnut Stuffing and Giblet Gravy
  • Scalloped Oysters
  • Spiced Sweet Potatoes
  • Cranberry Apple Crisp
  • Sauerkraut
  • Spicy Broccoli
  • Pumpkin Pecan Pie

Turkey

There are lots of articles about how to roast turkey so I’m not going to duplicate that information.  I will say that I would buy organic.  The turkey won’t be as big, but it will be better.  I would also spread the turkey with softened butter before cooking, baste during cooking and put the stuffing in the turkey.  (I know this offends some on the safety front – don’t put the stuffing in while it is hot and don’t let it sit around in the turkey after it’s cooked.)

Chestnut Stuffing

Makes enough for a 12 – 14 pound turkey

  • 8 – 10 cups of fresh bread crumbs
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 cup chopped chestnuts (I can remember my mother roasting chestnuts and getting them out of the shells – you can buy them in a jar at Williams-Sonoma)
  • 1 1/2 cups finely chopped onion
  • 1 1/2 cups finely chopped celery
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp poultry seasoning
  • 1 tsp sage

Melt butter and cook celery and onion until soft.  Mix chestnuts and bread crumbs together in a large baking pan.  (if the bread is not dry, put in oven at low temperature for about 15 minutes).  Combine onions and celery and seasonings with bread crumbs.  Stuff turkey in front and back.  (If you feel more comfortable cooking the stuffing separately, put into a baking dish and pour 2 cups of chicken stock over stuffing and bake.)

Giblet Gravy

  • Giblets from turkey
  • 1 stalk celery
  • 1/2 onion
  • flour

Remove giblet package from turkey and place in a saucepan with water to cover.  Add celery stalk, onion, salt and pepper.  Simmer for 2 – 3 hours.  Strain stock, discard celery onion, neck and heart.  Reserve liver and chop into small pieces.

After turkey is cooked, remove turkey from roasting pan.  Skim fat reserving brown “essence” in roasting pan.  Place roasting pan over stove burners on low heat.  Add flour in amount approximately equal to essence in roasting pan and stir.  Gradually add stock, stirring over heat until gravy is thick.  Add chopped livers and serve hot.

Scalloped Oysters

  • 2 pints oysters
  • 3 cups oyster crackers
  • 8 TB oyster liquor (drained from oysters)
  • 1 cup melted butter
  • 4 TB cream

Preheat oven to 450.  Drain oysters reserving liquor and wash oysters, checking for bits of shell.  Marinate crackers in melted butter.  Grease a shallow baking dish and layer crackers, oysters, crackers, oysters and crackers.  Pour reserved oyster liquor and cream over top.  Bake 30 minutes.  (This is also excellent with ham and will make another appearance at Christmas!)

Spiced Sweet Potatoes

  • 3 lbs sweet potatoes
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 4 TB butter
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 4 TB cream
  • 1/4 cup rum

Boil potatoes until soft.  Peel and mash.  Mash in butter and seasonings and put mixture in a casserole dish.  Bake in hot oven (you can put in with the oysters after the turkey comes out) for 15 – 30 minutes or until hot.  (Casserole can be made the day before and refrigerated – make sure to cook until hot.)

Cranberry Apple Crisp

  • 2 cups raw cranberries
  • 3 cups sliced apples
  • 3/4 cup sugar

Topping

  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup oatmeal
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 3/4 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup sugar

Mix cranberries, apples and sugar together and place in a buttered 2 qt casserole (or double recipe in a 9 x 13 pan).  Melt butter and mix in topping ingredients and spread over fruit mixture.  Bake 1 hour at 350.  Can be made ahead.  (Leftovers are wonderful for breakfast or warmed with ice cream for dessert.)

Sauerkraut

  • 2 lbs sauerkraut, drained
  • 3 country spareribs
  • 1 TB olive oil
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup white wine

In a heavy saucepan, cook spareribs in oil until browned on all sides.  Add onion and garlic and brown.  Add sauerkraut and liquid.  Add water as needed to cover.  Simmer on stove for 1 – 2 hours, adding additional liquid (water, wine or stock) if needed.

I understand that sauerkraut for Thanksgiving is a regional thing and prevalent among the Pennsylvania Dutch.  Once you try it, you’ll be hooked.  It’s also a great thing to have leftover with the turkey because you can make Turkey Reubens.

Spicy Broccoli

  • 2 heads of broccoli, trimmed into florets
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

Steam broccoli until tender crisp.  Heat oil with garlic and red pepper.  Put broccoli in a serving dish and toss with oil mixture.  Serve.

Historically my mother had hot little rolls at Thanksgiving which nobody needs because there is so much starch in the stuffing, the oysters and the potatoes so I’d skip that.  We also always had a relish tray with olives, celery and watermelon pickle.  I loved the watermelon pickle as a child but it seems to me that one of my jobs as a child was putting the olives, celery and watermelon pickle that were not eaten away.  I don’t know that I’d bother with it.  My mother-in-law makes a wonderful apple pie (I need to get her recipe for that) but my husband got me hooked on the pumpkin pecan pie made from the pumpkin pecan mix sold at Williams-Sonoma.

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About emenuplan
I love to cook and love to eat. I work full time and have a family so managing good meals during the week requires organization. I'm hoping to share my weekly menu plans and recipes to make things a little easier for those who want to follow along.

One Response to Thanksgiving

  1. Claire Inayatullah says:

    To you and my friend Michelle who are deprived of cooking the Turk et al this year, here is a strong suggestion. For years, when church still did Thanksgiving service with all those wonderful pilgrim style hymns, my day would be run to church, walk dog or dogs, and go eat my mother’s turkey though I loved to cook more than she did and I made much more fun sides than her peas boiled since dawn. My inner Julia child was sooooo frustrated. Then my mother developed Alzheimer’s and needed to live at an excellent place forty minutes away. So instead of her turkey, we got on the highway, spent most of the day at the nursing home and ate “hospital” or “boarding school” turkey and mashed with her. But we needed yum and I needed to let inner Julia feel her oats, and my dogs needed to spend hours with noses twitching while awaiting their holiday share. My husband actually lost any desire for turkey after overdosing on hospital cafeteria turkey as a medical resident so he could care less if a year went by with no such beast in our oven.but finally introduced to my succulent bird, he happily tucks in after frequent sniffs of the kitchen. How to deal with others preempting my passion? But the solution was “elementary my dear Watson”! No decent early settler would let that bird get away, so a home bird remains caught and roasted in this household when We declare it’s turkey feast day and whatever the competition, another Julia clone, a medical crisis, a neighborhood power outage, an early blizzard, hoho hoho it’s off to market I go and it may be a gobble here Friday or Saturday or Sunday or or or and there we sit and all give thanks for life and love and pets and friends and anyone who grabbed the chef’s toque on the official Thursday. I think even the house says thank you for a day of smelling so good. Everyone is happy except the turkey who is actually in a Better Place. And with days and days of delicious leftovers, he’s earned that place. But somehow I suspect there’s a rebel turkey up there who has flown over chick fil-a and see their ad with cows holding eat chiming posters. And the rebel turkey is muttering eat beef through clenched beak and hoping he won’t be tossed to a hotter place than the oven for his rebellious attitude. Ah, dear bird, it can always be turkey today and beef tomorrow. You freeze beautifully! Happy cooking happy eating Sent from my iPhoneu

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