I bet you woke up this morning with mixed emotions, lots of anxiety, and hopefully, a deep sense of gratefulness. From what I have been seeing the last 10 to 15 years, Thanksgiving is still a time a family gathers together for some good ole’ bonding time. Mothers and Daughters, Wives and Husbands spend hours slaving in the kitchen only to be exhausted when that last plate is washed and put away, while the rest of the family is snoring so loud on the couch, the dog is pissed off. The huge build-up to this historical day comes and goes so quickly, we have tended to loose sight of what Thanksgiving is really all about.
Thanksgiving began in this country in 1621. It was celebrated by some folks from England who escaped tyranny and sailed dangerously across the North Atlantic ocean so that they could have religious freedom, not family and friend bonding, not overstuffed stomachs and exhaustion……..Religious Freedom! They thanked God for many things that First Thanksgiving:
1. They had survived the horrendous sea voyage on the rickety old sailboat.
2. They had not been attacked and savagely killed by the inhabitants they met upon arrival. Matter of fact, they became friends.
3. They thanked God for the harvest of food that he had provided them. For the wild turkeys that ran throughout the woods. They thanked God that they were not starving to death.
4. And most of all they were thankful for their freedom to pursue their God and worship with no fear.
So sometime before the chaos starts, and just before everyone starts the long nutritional nap, take a few minutes to think back on 1621, and why this holiday started in the first place. Think of how fortunate you are, how blessed you are. You can worship who you choose to, you are most likely not going to be scalped today, and you will be full.
I wanted to share a Thanksgiving menu with y’all that is a true blend of some great cooks and chefs around the country. You will see Southern influence as well as West Coast inflection in these dishes, and everywhere else too. But if you are looking for a few different, cool, ideas to serve this year, try one out and let me know what you think.
Crisp Apple-Scented Roast Turkey with Cider-Calvados Gravy
- Apple Roasted Turkey With Cider Gravy
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 10–12-lb. turkey
2 lbs. mixed chicken legs and thighs
1 cup kosher salt, plus extra for seasoning
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper, plus more for seasoning
5 yellow onions
39 garlic cloves
4 celery ribs with leaves
1/2 cup calvados (apple brandy), plus 4 teaspoons
6 1/2 cups dry white wine
1⁄3 packed cup dark brown sugar
1⁄3 cup ground ancho chile powder
8 1/3 cups fresh apple cider
6 granny smith apples
2 lightly packed cups fresh basil leaves, plus 8 leaves for garnish
4 tbsp. softened butter
1⁄4 cup flour
1. The broth for the gravy may be made up to 3 days in advance. Lightly coat the bottom of a 12″ skillet with extra-virgin olive oil and heat over medium-high. Add the neck and giblets from the turkey and mixed chicken legs and thighs; season to taste with salt and pepper. Brown on both sides; transfer to a 6-quart pot. Pour half of the fat out of the skillet; heat over medium-high. Stir in 2 chopped yellow onions, 2 cloves crushed garlic, 2 whole cloves, 1 chopped carrot, and 1 chopped celery rib with leaves and cook until just browned, 12–14 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and add 1⁄4 cup of the calvados and 2 cups of the wine. Return to heat, bring to a boil, and scrape up the brown bits on the bottom of the skillet. Transfer the vegetable mixture to the 6-quart pot of meat. Add enough water to cover the mixture to a depth of 1″; bring to a slow simmer. Partially cover and cook, without stirring, for 4–5 hours. (Add more water as necessary to keep solids covered.) Remove from heat, let cool, strain (as shown), and refrigerate broth. You should have about 12 cups
2. A day before serving, brine the turkey, calculating 1 hour of brining for each pound. In a large plastic brining bag or stockpot, combine 1 cup of the salt, brown sugar, and chile powder. Put 2 cups of the cider, 35 cloves garlic, and 4 unpeeled, cored, and coarsely chopped granny smith apples into a food processor and purée. Add purée to the brining bag along with 6 cups of the cider and 4 quarts cold water. Whisk to dissolve the salt and sugar.
3. Put turkey into brining bag. The turkey must be kept cold (brine should be 33°), so refrigerate it or bury the bag in ice in an oversize cooler, adding ice as necessary. Before cooking, bring the turkey close to
4. Remove the oven’s center rack and arrange the remaining rack as low as possible. Heat oven to 450°. Choose a large shallow roasting pan, ideally 2″ deep; if the pan is too deep, the turkey will steam instead of roasting. In the pan, cluster together remaining celery ribs halved crosswise, leaves removed; remaining 3 carrots halved crosswise, and remainign 3 onions cut into thick rounds so that the vegetables become a sturdy rack for the turkey. Scatter 1 unpeeled, cored, and coarsely chopped granny smith apple and 1 1⁄2 cups basil leaves over the top. Add 4 cups of the wine to cover the bottom of the pan with 1⁄2″ of liquid.
5. Remove the turkey from the brine and pat it dry with paper towels. Set the turkey on the vegetables breast down (a technique that draws juices down into the breast while also protecting the meat from the heat) and tuck remaining unpeeled, cored, and coarsely chopped granny smith apple and remaining 1⁄2 cup basil leaves into the cavity. Dot the turkey with butter and dust all over with 1⁄2 tsp. pepper. Begin roasting.
6. As the bird cooks, baste it with the pan juices every 20 minutes using a spoon. After the first hour, remove the roasting pan from oven and, using two pot holders, carefully turn the turkey breast side up. Baste it with the pan juices and continue roasting. (Cover the turkey loosely with foil if it threatens to burn.) When an instant-read thermometer inserted in a thigh (without touching bone) reaches 165°–170° (after about 2 hours), move the turkey to a platter and let it rest in a warm place for 20 minutes.
7. Meanwhile, set the roasting pan over 2 burners to make the gravy. Skim off excess fat from pan juices and remove two-thirds of the vegetables from the pan. Cut the rest of the vegetables into small pieces. Add remaining 1⁄3 cup calvados, remaining 1⁄2 cup wine, and remaining 1⁄3 cup cider. Bring to a boil over high heat and, using a wooden spatula to scrape up all the caramelized bits, cook the liquid down to a syrup, 6–8 minutes.
8. Remove broth from refrigerator; skim off fat. Reheat all but 1 cup. Add two-thirds of the heated broth to the pan. Boil, stirring constantly, until reduced by half, about 15 minutes. Stir the remainder of the heated broth into the pan and bring to a boil. To thicken the gravy, add flour to a tall glass. Stir the 1 cup of reserved, chilled broth into the flour until there are no lumps. You’ve made a slurry. Whisk it into the bubbling gravy. Keep simmering and whisking until gravy is smooth and thick enough to lightly coat the back of a spoon, about 20 minutes. Now taste it. If you taste raw flour, simmer the gravy for another minute.
9. Stir 8 torn basil leaves into the gravy and season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, if necessary. Pour the gravy into a bowl or another serving vessel. Carve the turkey and arrange on a large platter. Serve with the gravy passed separately.
SERVES 8 – 10
Spicy Pimento Cheese
Start The Meal Off With A Kick
It stinks. It really stinks! And yet, you keep leaning in to smell more. It’s gross. It’s really gross! And yet, you can’t look away. It tastes weird. It tastes really weird! And yet, you keep going in for another bite.
This scenario pertains to me as a kid and pimento cheese. It scared me. I wasn’t sure what it was. The stuff was bright orange. But, for some reason, I loved it. It could have been that in my mind pimentos were some magical creatures, but it was yummy and weird, all at the same time.
I’d like to think my more mature, and delicate palate appreciates the subtle nuances that make this delicacy a staple on most Southern tables. Or maybe, I just realized that it’s full of cheese and tiny little red things.
And to answer your question, pimentos are cherry peppers – round, red peppers with a sweet flavor and the ability to rock with some smoky cheese!
Spicy Pimento Cheese
6 ounces cream cheese, softened
8 ounces smoked cheddar cheese, shredded
8 ounces smoked Gouda, shredded
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 4-ounce jar chopped pimentos
1 tablespoon grated onion
1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground Chipotle pepper
In the bowl of a large mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, beat cream cheese on medium speed, until fluffy.
Add cheddar, Gouda, mayonnaise, pimentos, onion, liquid smoke, paprika, salt, pepper and Chipotle pepper. Beat on high for approximately 3 minutes, until ingredients are well combined.
Cover and chill for 2 hours. Serve with crackers, veggies, or toasted baguette.
Skinny Mashed Potatoes
Looks Mashed To Me
***Best Mock Mashed Potatoes Every Made***
What you will need:
- 1 head of cauliflower
- 1 tablespoon of cream cheese
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 teaspoon of minced garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon of salt
- 5 or so dashes of pepper
- Chives for garnish
- Wash and cut cauliflower into small pieces. Boil in a pot of water for about 10-15 minutes or until soft and cooked.
- Drain and dry using paper towels. Immediately place in food processor or blender. You do not want the cauliflower to cool.
- Puree the cauliflower with the cream cheese, Parmesan cheese, garlic, salt and pepper.
- Sprinkle the top with chives and a few dashes of pepper. Serve!
These are seriously unbelievable! Definitely make these for Thanksgiving. They are creamy and smooth, just like mashed potatoes should be. Such a delicious alternative… plus you don’t need to feel guilty if you go back for seconds or thirds since they are virtually carb free! This is also a great side dish to bring if you still plan on making the real thing.
Sesame Seed Garlic Beans
Sesame Garlic Green Beans Recipe
fresh green beans, trimmed
olive oil or coconut oil for sautéing
lots of fresh minced garlic
lightly toasted sesame seeds
salt & pepper, to tasteDirections
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Toss in the green beans and sauté until the beans are starting to get golden and crisp (don’t let them get to the mushy stage!)
toss in the garlic and let cook for a few seconds.Remove from the heat, drizzle with a bit of sesame oil, toss with the toasted sesame seeds and season with salt & pepper if you’d like. Serve immediately!
Caraway Parker House Rolls
Nothing Smells Better
- ACTIVE: 45 MIN
- TOTAL TIME: 4 HRS
- SERVINGS: MAKES 2 DOZEN ROLLS
The Parker House Hotel in Boston claimed to have invented these famously buttery pull-apart rolls. To create their unique shape, they are formed into rounds, folded in half, and arranged in a dish and baked. Using a metal pan gives the edges of the rolls a nice crust while the inside stays puffy and moist. Bread flour makes the rolls pleasantly chewy, but all-purpose flour works well too.
- 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1/4 cup warm water
- 1 1/2 cups milk
- 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened, plus more for the pan
- 5 1/2 cups bread flour
- 2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- 1 teaspoon caraway seeds
- 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt, crushed
- In a small bowl, combine the yeast with the sugar and warm water and let stand until foamy, 5 minutes. In a medium saucepan, heat the milk with 10 tablespoons of the butter until just melted. Remove the saucepan from the heat and let cool slightly. Stir in the foamy yeast mixture.
- In the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the flour with the kosher salt. With the machine on, gradually add the warm milk mixture and the eggs and beat at medium speed until a smooth, silky dough forms, about 10 minutes. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
- Lightly butter a 9-by-13-inch metal baking pan. In a small saucepan, melt the remaining 6 tablespoons of butter over moderate heat. Punch down the dough and divide it into 24 pieces. Let the pieces rest for 5 minutes. Roll each piece of dough into a ball. Using buttered fingers, press the balls into 3-inch rounds. Brush all over with some of the melted butter and fold each one in half. Arrange the rolls in the prepared pan, seams down, in even rows. Brush any remaining melted butter over the rolls. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise until nearly doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
- Preheat the oven to 350. Sprinkle the rolls with the caraway seeds and sea salt and bake in the center of the oven for 50 minutes, until puffy and golden. Transfer the pan to a rack and let cool for 15 minutes. Invert the rolls onto a platter, then invert them again onto the rack. Let cool slightly before serving.
MAKE AHEAD The rolls can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days at room temperature. Rewarm before serving.
Ruth Chris Sweet Potato Casserole
3468 Calories Per Serving
Ruth’s Chris Special Sweet Potato Casserole
Recipe By :Ruth’s Chris
Serving Size : 0 Preparation Time :0:00
Categories : Try This
Amount Measure Ingredient — Preparation Method
——– ———— ——————————–
1 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup flour
1 cup chopped nuts (pecans preferred)
1/3 stick butter — melted
SWEET POTATO MIXTURE
3 cups mashed sweet potatoes
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs — well beaten
1 stick butter — ( 1/2 cup) melted
Combine brown sugar, flour, nuts and butter in mixing bowl. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine sweet potatoes, sugar, salt, vanilla, eggs and butter in a mixing bowl in the order listed. Mix thoroughly. Pour mixture into buttered baking dish. Sprinkle the surface of the sweet potato mixture evenly with the crust mixture. Bake for 30 minutes. Allow to set at least 30 minutes before serving.
What A Top!
And Finally…The Dessert
The Apple Pie
1 prepared pie dough, rolled out and sliced into strips
6-8 large apples (really any kind of apple will do)
1/3 cup sugar, plus more for sprinkling onto the crust
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 or 1/2 tsp cardamom, if desired
1 tsp cornstarch
Juice of a lemon or lime, mixed with 1 cup of water
1 tbsp melted butter
Preheat the oven to 375F.
Core an apple, then use a melon baller or knife to hollow out the apple more, being careful not to go all the way through the skin. Make sure you save all the apple bits! Once the apple is hollow, submerge it briefly in the citrus water to keep it from browning too quickly. Turn the apple over to drain. Repeat this process with all the apples.
Slice the apple bits into smaller bits, and then mix them with the sugars, cinnamon, cardamom (optional) and cornstarch.
Place the hollowed out apples in a muffin tin. This will keep them from tipping during the baking process. Fill each apple with the bit mixture.
Take the long strips of pie dough and cut them into 4 inch strips. Then “weave” the strips together to create the square tops. (See this photo for reference) Place one square over each apple. Brush the dough with melted butter and sprinkle sugar over the top.
Bake for 30-35 minutes (until the dough is fully baked and the apples reach the desired tenderness). Once the apples have cooled, you can use a fork or spoon to remove them from the muffin pan. Serve with ice cream or a drizzle of caramel.
Now You Can Take That Nap
So whatever your plans are for Thanksgiving this year, I pray that you are grateful for all the blessing we have had throughout our lives. Thankful for the men and women who have fought and died to give us the freedom we enjoy and many times take for granted. And if you feel like it, talk about it over the wonderful meal that I am sure you are going to prepare.
Sometimes You’re the Windshield……..And Sometimes You Are the Bug
So Be Thankful When You Are The Windshield
If you like this blog and would like to follow it each time a new entry comes out, just click on the Follow button at the bottom right of the page and enter your email address. It’s that easy! Thanks and tell a friend.