Tag Archives: Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving: Pumpkin Dinner Rolls

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These pumpkin rolls have had a place at our Thanksgiving table for more than a dozen years now. They are a savory roll, not sweet. The pumpkin flavor is not strong, but the pumpkin and spices add a subtle flavor that goes perfectly with a Thanksgiving meal. When we are not eating them with Thanksgiving dinner, I like to serve them with honey butter (1 stick butter mixed with 1-2 Tbs honey).

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I usually make crescent shaped rolls and knots when I make dinner rolls. To make crescent rolls, divide the dough into thirds. Roll each third into a circle. Cut into 8 wedges. Roll up beginning with the large end. Pinch end into bottom dough of the roll so that it doesn’t unravel when rising. Place rolls on a greased baking sheet (or use a silicon baking sheet), curving ends toward the center as you place them on the baking sheet.

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Brush or spray dough crescents with oil, cover with a towel and let rise until doubled. For a shiny finish, brush rolls with an egg white wash (room temperature egg white mixed with 1 Tbs water) before baking.

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To make knots: pinch off a golf-ball sized piece of dough. Roll it in your hands to make a long rope (about 8-10 inches long). Tie rope in a knot (just like you are tying your shoes) leaving the two ends about 1-2 inches long. Fold two ends around to the back of the knot and pinch them together to seal. Place the knot on a baking sheet with the pinched ends on the bottom.

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When making rolls for Thanksgiving, I like to make them ahead of time and then reheat them just before serving. I parbake the rolls and then freeze them until I am ready to serve them. Parbaking (or slightly underbaking) keeps them from overbrowning when you reheat the rolls in the oven just before serving.

To make and freeze: Shape rolls and place on a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicon mat. Let rise as usual. Bake rolls for 10-12 minutes, or until rolls just barely begin to brown, but are cooked in the center. Rolls should look slightly underdone (not completely brown). Remove from oven. Cool completely. Place in Ziploc freezer bags. Freeze.

On serving day: Place frozen rolls on a baking sheet, bake for about 7-10 minutes, or until hot and golden brown. If rolls are thawed, bake for 5-6 minutes, or until browned. Brush tops with butter and serve immediately.

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RECIPE:

Pumpkin Dinner Rolls

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1 ¼ cups warm water
1 egg
1 cup pumpkin puree
3 Tbs honey
2 Tbs olive oil
1 Tbs molasses
4 cups whole wheat and/or white flour
1/3 cup wheat gluten
¼ cup sugar
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice ***
2 tsp salt
1  Tbs instant yeast

about 1 additional cup flour
1 egg white, mixed with 1 Tbs water

Mix wet ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Add flour, gluten, sugar, spices, salt and yeast. Mix until thoroughly combined. Add additional flour, if needed, a little at a time until dough just begins to form a ball. Knead for 5-6 minutes, or until dough pulls away from sides of the bowl and springs back slightly when touched.

Shape into rolls (knots or crescents are what I usually make). Place on lightly greased baking sheets. Spray or brush with oil and cover with towel. Let rise for 30-60 minutes, or until doubled in size. Brush with egg white (room temp) mixed with 1 Tbs. water. Bake at 375°F for about 15 minutes.

***Pumpkin Pie Spice substitute: 1 tsp cinnamon, ¼ tsp nutmeg, and 1/8 tsp each allspice, ginger, and cloves.

If desired serve with Honey Butter: 1 stick butter mixed with 1-2 Tbs honey

To make and freeze:Shape rolls and place on a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicon mat. Let rise as usual. Bake rolls for 10-12 minutes, or until rolls just barely begin to brown, but are cooked in the center. Rolls should look slightly underdone (not completely brown). Remove from oven. Cool completely. Place in Ziploc freezer bags. Freeze.

On serving day: Place frozen rolls on a baking sheet, bake for about 7-10 minutes, or until hot and golden brown. If rolls are thawed, bake for 5-6 minutes, or until browned. Brush tops with butter and serve immediately.

Makes about 2 dozen rolls

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Chicken Pot Pie (Two Ways)

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No fancy recipes today: just some good old fashioned comfort food. And a great way to use leftover chicken (or turkey) and vegetables. This is a basic recipe for chicken pot pie with two different crusts: the traditional pie crust or refrigerator biscuits topped with thinly sliced onions.

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A pot pie is such a versatile meal because you can use whatever vegetables you have on hand. I almost always include some potatoes, carrots and onions, but the other green vegetables vary. Small amounts of leftover veges are perfect, but you can also use frozen vegetables. I do not thaw or cook frozen broccoli, beans or peas before adding them to the casserole dish. They will cook through while the whole thing is baking. Precooking will make them mushy. The potatoes, carrots and onions do need to be cooked first.

I almost never make this starting with raw chicken, but you certainly can. I prefer to wait until I have leftover chicken or turkey from a roast chicken (or Thanksgiving turkey) or extra shredded chicken from another meal: like these Enchiladas.

22211 061-1You can top your Pot Pie with a traditional Pie Crust (either homemade or refrigerated). I do not use a bottom crust, just a top one. Just be sure to place a sheet of foil or a baking sheet on the oven rack beneath the pot pie to catch any drips.

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If you are deciding what to put in your herb garden this spring (assuming the snow stops someday), I loved these two varieties of sage that I planted last year (a variegated silver and purple). Replacing the ground sage in the recipe with fresh chopped sage is really delicious. I  can’t wait until I can use my own fresh herbs again!

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For a twist on the traditional pot pie filling sauce, try adding 1/2 to 1 cup of prepared Pesto to your sauce. It makes a great change!
(Don’t use the sage and other herbs if you are using pesto)

My family really likes this biscuit topping on their pot pie. Starting with a can of refrigerator biscuits, divide biscuits in half cross-wise (into 2 thinner round biscuits). Flatten slightly with your hand. Press a slice of very thinly sliced raw onion into the top of each biscuit half.

22211 065-1 The filling needs to be cooked partially before putting the biscuits on top, or the underside of the biscuits will be doughy while the tops burn. But if you cook the filling until it just starts to bubble and then lay the onion-topped biscuits over the hot filling in the pan, everything will come out perfect! Most of our family loves the onions on top, but I do leave a couple of biscuits plain for those who object. Any extra biscuits that do not fit on top can be baked separately as directed on the package.

RECIPE:

Chicken Pot Pie

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1 single Pie Crust
—-(or 1 can refrigerator biscuits & thinly sliced onions**see note at bottom)
3-4 cups cooked, cubed chicken (or 3-4 raw chicken breasts)
2-3 medium potatoes, peeled & diced
1 large carrot, peeled & diced
½ zucchini, diced (optional)
1-2 cups frozen broccoli, green beans, and/or corn
½ cup frozen peas
¼ cup butter
1 onion, chopped
2 Tbs flour
2 cups chicken broth
¾ cup milk (or half milk, half cream)
½ tsp marjoram
½ tsp ground sage (or 1 Tbs chopped fresh sage)
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp fresh ground pepper

Preheat oven to 425°F.

If you are starting with raw chicken, boil chicken until tender, remove from broth (do not drain broth) and chop. Place in 3 qt casserole dish. Cook potatoes and carrot in remaining chicken broth (or water if not starting with raw chicken) until potatoes are just tender; drain. Add potatoes and carrots to casserole dish with chicken and chopped zucchini. Add frozen beans, corn, broccoli and/or peas (do not thaw).

Melt butter in the same skillet. Sauté onion until soft. Stir in flour; cook 3-4 minutes until roux is light brown. Using a whisk, stir in marjoram, sage, salt and pepper. Stir in chicken broth and milk. Whisk until smooth.  Cook until thickened and bubbly.

Pour over chicken and vegetables in casserole dish. Arrange pie crust over dish, sealing to edge of casserole dish. Flute edges. Cut several slits in top of crust.

Place a cookie sheet or layer of aluminum foil on bottom rack to catch drips. Place pot pie on center rack. Bake at 425°F for about 30 minutes, until filling is bubbly.

FOR CHICKEN-PESTO POT PIE:

Add ½-1 cup prepared Pesto to sauce (eliminate marjoram and sage)

ALTERNATE TOPPING:

Instead of a pie crust, use refrigerator biscuits. Divide biscuits in half cross-wise (into 2 thinner round biscuits). Flatten slightly. Press a thin slice of raw onion into top of each biscuit half.

Cook filling, uncovered, for 20-25 minutes at 425°F, until hot and bubbly. Lay onion-topped biscuits over hot filling in pan. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F and cook for 20 minutes, or until underside of biscuits are cooked through (they will still be soft and have a dumpling consistency on the bottom, but you don’t want raw dough). If top of biscuits brown too quickly, cover with foil.

If you have extra biscuits, bake separately as directed on package and serve with the pot pie.

 

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Thanksgiving Dessert: Caramel Apple Cheesecake Tart with Streusel Topping

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A combination of so many things that I love: apples, cinnamon, cheesecake, caramel (I used homemade Dulce de Leche, or try this Caramel Sauce), and a buttery, slightly sweet oat topping. A perfect end to a Thanksgiving meal- a perfect end to just about any meal!

The recipe is long, but not complicated. While there are a lot of ingredients, each layer is easy to put together. Just make sure you have all of your layers ready to go before putting things into the pan.

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For a more pronounced caramel flavor, you could drizzle individual servings with additional caramel sauce at serving time.

I used a Cream Cheese Pastry recipe for the crust, but you could also use any basic pie crust. I bake this in a tart pan (mine has an 11” diameter). You could also use a deep dish pie pan, but you might want to reduce the amount of streusel topping and increase the baking time to make sure cheesecake layer sets.

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Cheesecake layer on the bottom.

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A caramel apple filling made with apples, brown sugar, dulce de leche or caramel sauce, and cinnamon. Use a spoon to gently and evenly distribute apples over the cheesecake filling. Try to not mix the two layers together.111010 057-1

A chunky streusel topping with a nutty oat flavor gets sprinkled over the apples.111010 058-1

Cover edges of tart with a pie crust shield. I do not own one that fits my tart pan, so I make my own out of foil. See How To…Make Your Own Pie Crust Shield. Since the tart pan has steeper sides than a regular pie plate, when you are tracing the circle to cut out, be sure to cut a circle that is about 1/2” smaller than the outside edge of the tart pan. 111010 068-1

Bake until center is set (it will still jiggle just a little in the center, but will continue to set as it cools) and streusel is golden brown. I leave the foil on for all but the last 5 minutes of baking time.  111010 073-1

The hardest part: keeping little fingers (and a few big ones) from picking at the streusel topping while the tart cools completely.

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RECIPE:

Caramel Apple Cheesecake Tart

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Cream Cheese Pastry Crust:
½ cup unsalted butter, softened
4 oz (½ pkg) cream cheese, softened
1 Tbs powdered sugar
½ tsp kosher salt
1 ½ cups flour (divided)

In a food processor, combine butter, cream cheese, powdered sugar and salt. Process until smooth. Add ½ cup flour. Pulse just until flour is incorporated (do not overmix). Repeat with another ½ cup flour. Scrape dough from sides of bowl and repeat with the last ½ cup flour.

On a floured surface, flatten dough into a 1/2” thick disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30-60 minutes, or until firm enough to roll. Dough can also be frozen for later use.

Cheesecake Layer:
12 oz (1 ½ pkg) cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla

Combine all ingredients and beat until smooth with a mixer.

Apple Layer:
4 cups peeled and sliced apples (about 3-4 apples)
½ cup Dulce de Leche or Caramel Sauce
3 Tbs brown sugar
1 Tbs lemon juice
1 tsp ClearJel or cornstarch
½ tsp cinnamon
scant 1/8 tsp nutmeg
pinch salt

Combine all ingredients.

Streusel Topping:
6 Tbs butter, melted
1 cup rolled oats
1/3 cup flour (white or whole wheat)
2 Tbs brown sugar
¼ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp kosher salt

Combine all ingredients. Mix until crumbly.

ASSEMBLY:

Preheat oven to 400°F. Move oven rack to lowest level.

Remove pastry dough from refrigerator. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough into a circle 1” larger than a 10-11” tart pan. Transfer to ungreased tart pan. Crimp edges, if desired.

Pour cheesecake filling into crust. Carefully top with apple layer. Sprinkle with streusel topping.

Cover edges of tart with a pie crust shield or aluminum foil. Bake at 400°F for 30 minutes on lowest rack of oven. Reduce heat to 375°F, move tart to center rack, and bake for 15-25 additional minutes, or until just the very center (not the edges) jiggles when shaken lightly. Cover entire tart with foil if streusel begins to brown too much. Cool completely on a wire rack.

NOTE: This can be made into bars by cooking in a rectangular baking pan (put crust on bottom of the pan only, not up the sides). A 7×11” pan will give you about the same thickness as the tart, or use a 9×13” pan for slightly thinner bars.

 

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Thanksgiving Meal Prep Planning

For me, an enjoyable, stress-free Thanksgiving is all in the advance planning. Best plan: pot-luck meal where you have limited cooking responsibility! But it is still possible to have a low-stress day and prepare the entire meal yourself. With one oven. Here is our menu this year, and the plan for getting it done with the least amount of Thanksgiving Day chaos.

Our Thanksgiving Menu:

Herb Brined Roast Turkey

Gravy

Rolls

Cranberry Sauce

Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Roasted Garlic Stuffing

Green Beans with Bacon and Almonds

Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Mushrooms

Pumpkin Pie

Cherry Pie

Lemon Meringue Pie

Thanksgiving Gameplan:

  • Monday (or earlier):
    • Make rolls; parbake and freeze
    • Cube bread for stuffing, set out on trays to dry; roast garlic for stuffing and potatoes, refrigerate (see Roasted Garlic Stuffing for full recipe)
    • Eat all of the leftovers in the fridge so you have room for all of your advance preparations and Thanksgiving leftovers! Keep eating leftovers Tuesday and Wednesday until your fridge is empty; no more leftovers? Order pizza.
  • Tuesday:
    • Prepare brine (see Turkey Timetable below)
    • Prepare Make-Ahead Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes; refrigerate
    • Make cranberry sauce; refrigerate
  • Wednesday:
    • Add turkey to brine (see Turkey Timetable)
    • Chop vegetables for stuffing; place in Ziploc bags; refrigerate
    • Prepare veges for Roasted Sweet Potatoes & Mushrooms (this is a new recipe I’m trying this year from Kalyn’s Kitchen. It sounds great, but does require a lot of oven space and time, so I am going to try to roast it for half the time on Wednesday, refrigerate, and then finish on Thursday)
    • Cook bacon and toast almonds for the Green Beans with Bacon
    • Make pies
  • Thursday:
    • Prepare stuffing. Cook for 30 minutes in oven. Transfer to crock pot. Keep warm on lowest heat. **Do this before putting the turkey in the oven
    • Prepare and roast turkey (see Turkey Timetable)
    • Remove mashed potatoes from fridge; place in covered casserole dish; let potatoes come to room temperature (I am going to reheat the potatoes in the oven; you could also reheat them in a crock pot on low for several hours)
    • Remove sweet potatoes from fridge and place on baking sheet;cover and let come to room temperature.
    • Remove rolls from freezer. Place on a baking sheet and cover with foil or plastic wrap.
    • Sit and enjoy family for the next hour or two while the turkey cooks!
    • When turkey is done: remove from oven and let rest for at least 30 minutes.
    • As soon as turkey comes out of oven: mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes go in the oven
    • Make gravy; keep warm on low heat
    • Steam green beans; stir in bacon and almonds (see Bacon Beans for full recipe)
    • While you are preparing beans, have someone else begin to carve the turkey, and kids begin to put food on the table
    • Remove potatoes and sweet potatoes from the oven. Bake rolls for 5-7 minutes, until hot and golden brown.
    • Relax and enjoy!

Thanksgiving Turkey Timetable:

  • Tuesday evening: Prepare brine. Cover and let it sit overnight.
  • Wednesday morning: Add turkey to brine; Let it sit in a cool place (below 40°F) for 12-24 hours (I usually go with close to 24 hours)
  • Thursday (Thanksgiving!):
    • 4 hours before you plan to serve the meal: Remove turkey from brine. Let sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes
    • 3 1/2 hours before eating: Prep turkey and put in the oven. Roast until cooked through (about 2 1/2 to 3 hours total)
    • 30 minutes before eating: Remove turkey from oven and let rest for 30 minutes.
    • Serving time: Carve and serve turkey.

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Thanksgiving: Herb Brined Roast Turkey

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A brined turkey is one that sits in salted water (with the addition of some herbs and sweeteners in this case) for 12-24 hours before cooking. Brining will not make your turkey taste salty, but will help keep all of those wonderful juices inside the meat, where they belong. Brining does require some advance planning, however. Here is how I approach brining for Thanksgiving:

Thanksgiving Turkey Timetable:

  • Tuesday evening: Prepare brine. Cover and let it sit overnight.
  • Wednesday morning: Add turkey to brine; Let it sit in a cool place (below 40F) for 12-24 hours (I usually go with close to 24 hours)
  • Thursday (Thanksgiving!):
    • 4 hours before you plan to serve the meal: Remove turkey from brine. Let sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes
    • 3 1/2 hours before eating: Prep turkey and put in the oven. Roast until cooked through (about 2 1/2 to 3 hours total)
    • 30 minutes before eating: Remove turkey from oven and let rest for 30 minutes.
    • Serving time: Carve and serve turkey.

To Make an Herb-Brined Roast Turkey:

First you need to decide on and prepare your equipment:

  • large stockpot
  • large Ziploc bag (Ziploc Big Bags-Large Size) or 5 gallon food-grade bucket
  • cooler or large bin/bucket
  • ice

**Before beginning the brining process, gather together the needed equipment: a large stockpot (2+ gallons. If you don’t have one this large, you can prepare the first step of the brine, then add the remaining liquid to your brining bag or bucket); large Ziploc bag (Ziploc Big Bags- Large Size) or 5 gallon food-grade bucket; a cooler or very large bin/bucket that will fit the large Ziploc bag or 5-gallon bucket (filled with turkey and brine) plus room to add ice around the outside; ice. You need to maintain a temperature below 40F.

For the Brine: In a large stock pot, combine salt, brown sugar, maple syrup, pepper corns, garlic, fresh herbs and ONE gallon of water. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat and let the mixture steep for 25 minutes. Add remaining 2 quarts water and 2 quarts apple cider (or additional water). Cool brine to room temperature (place pot in a sink full of ice water if you need the brine immediately, or let it sit at room temperature until cool-I leave it overnight).

Place the turkey in the Ziploc bag or bucket breast-side down. Put the bagged turkey in a clean cooler or the bucket in a larger bin/bucket. Pour the brine into the bag or bucket with the turkey. Zip the bag closed, or put the lid on the bucket. Add ice around the outside of the bag or bucket to keep the turkey cold (below 40F). Place the cooler in a cool place (garage or outside). Let the turkey soak in the cold brine for 12-24 hours. (NOTE: If it is cold enough outside, you may not need the ice. If it is too cold, use the garage as your turkey will freeze)

At least 30 minutes before cooking, remove the turkey from the brine. Pat dry (do not rinse).   DSC04259-1

Place a rack (v-shaped rack, preferably)  in a large roasting pan. For easier cleanup, I like to cover my rack with foil and poke holes in it. Place the turkey on the rack. Let turkey rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.DSC04483-1

Rub turkey generously all over (inside and out) with olive oil. Stuff cavity loosely with a peeled onion, whole garlic cloves, fresh herbs, tops of celery stalks (leftover from celery used for stuffing). Arrange turkey, breast side down, on the greased rack, folding back the wings and securing the legs.

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Cook for 60 minutes at 400°F, until the back of the turkey is well browned; turn the turkey breast side up and baste with juices from the bottom of the pan. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F and return turkey to the oven.

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Roast for about another 90 minutes (exact time will depend on size of turkey: take out when the breast registers 155°F or the thigh registers 165°F; temperature will continue to rise about another 5 degrees out of the oven).

Transfer the turkey to a platter or baking dish with a small rim (don’t place directly onto a flat cutting board as juices will continue to leach for a little while). Let turkey rest for 30 minutes, uncovered, before carving. This ensures maximum juiciness. And gives you a chance make gravy and to pop those rolls in the oven just before serving dinner.

DSC04550-1RECIPE:

Herb Brined Roast Turkey

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Brine Ingredients:

2 cups kosher salt
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup pure maple syrup
2 Tbs whole black peppercorns
10-12 whole garlic cloves, crushed
4 bay leaves
1 sprig fresh rosemary
3-4 sprigs fresh sage
4-6 sprigs fresh thyme
2 gallons water (or 1 1/2 gallons water + 2 qts apple cider)
1 large turkey (15-20 lb), thawed

Equipment **SEE NOTE:
large stockpot
large Ziploc bag (Ziploc Big Bags-Large Size) or 5 gallon food-grade bucket
cooler or large bin/bucket
ice

**EQUIPMENT NOTE: Before beginning the brining process, gather together the needed equipment: a large stockpot (2+ gallons. If you don’t have one this large, you can prepare the first step of the brine, then add the remaining liquid to your brining bag or bucket); large Ziploc bag (Ziploc Big Bags- Large Size) or 5 gallon food-grade bucket; a cooler or very large bin/bucket that will fit the large Ziploc bag or 5-gallon bucket (filled with turkey and brine) plus room to add ice around the outside; ice. You need to maintain a temperature below 40°F.

For the Brine: In a large stock pot, combine the salt, brown sugar, maple syrup, pepper corns, garlic, fresh herbs and ONE gallon of water. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat and let the mixture steep for 25 minutes. Add remaining 2 quarts water and 2 quarts apple cider (or additional water). Cool brine to room temperature (place pot in a sink full of ice water if you need the brine immediately, or let it sit at room temperature until cool-I leave it overnight).

Place the turkey in the Ziploc bag or bucket breast-side down. Put the bagged turkey in a clean cooler or the bucket in a larger bin/bucket. Pour the brine into the bag or bucket with the turkey. Zip the bag closed, or put the lid on the bucket. Add ice around the outside of the bag or bucket to keep the turkey cold (below 40°F). Place the cooler in a cool place (garage or outside). Let the turkey soak in the cold brine for 12-24 hours. (NOTE: If it is cold enough outside, you may not need the ice. If it is too cold, use the garage as your turkey will freeze)

At least 30 minutes before cooking, remove the turkey from the brine. Pat dry (do not rinse). Place on a rack in a large roasting pan. Let turkey rest at room temperature for 30 minutes. Roast as directed below.

Roasting Ingredients:

Brined Turkey from above
Olive oil
1 onion, quartered
1 stalk celery (or unused celery tops from celery used for stuffing), cut into 2-3 pieces
4-6 cloves garlic (whole)
Fresh herbs: any combination of thyme, sage, rosemary, oregano

Preheat oven to 400°F for at least 15-20 minutes. Adjust the oven rack to the lowest position. Place a V-shaped rack in the bottom of your roasting pan (I like to cover this with foil, and poke holes in the foil).

Place the turkey, breast side down, on the rack.

Rub the turkey all over (inside and out, top and bottom) with olive oil. Put the quartered onion, celery, whole garlic cloves and herbs (no need to chop herbs) inside the turkey cavity (I do not ever put stuffing inside my turkey). Pour 2 cups of water in the bottom of the roasting pan.

If the legs of your turkey are not secured with a plastic or metal clip, tie them together with kitchen twine. Fold the wing tips back under the turkey. Roast, breast side down for 60 minutes.

Remove the turkey from the oven and turn it breast side up (you can use clean pot holders that you then throw into the laundry, or a bunch of paper towels). Baste turkey with drippings from the bottom of the pan. If the water level has dropped significantly, add another cup of water.

Reduce oven temperature to 350°F and roast for about another 90 minutes (exact time will depend on size of turkey: take out when the breast registers 155°F or the thigh registers 165°F; temperature will continue to rise about another 5 degrees out of the oven). Remove turkey from oven.

Transfer the turkey to a platter or baking dish with a small rim (don’t place directly onto a flat cutting board as juices will continue to leach for a little while). Let turkey rest for 30 minutes, uncovered, before carving. Save drippings for turkey gravy.

Turkey Gravy:

1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
4 cups turkey drippings or turkey broth***
salt and white pepper

Melt butter in pan (you can reuse your turkey roasting pan). Stir in flour. Cook, stirring with a whisk, until roux is golden brown. Slowly stir in turkey drippings, whisking constantly (***see note below). Taste; season gravy with salt and white pepper (if you are using the juices from a brined turkey or a canned turkey broth that contains salt, you may not need to add any additional salt).

***Note: Pour juices from the bottom of the turkey roasting pan into a Ziploc bag (you can strain the broth if it has a lot of solids in it). Seal bag and place upright. Let sit for about 10 minutes, until the fat separates and rises to the top of the bag. Over a large bowl or the pan you are using to make gravy, poke a hole in the bottom corner of the Ziploc bag and let the broth pour out. When most of the broth is gone and you are almost at the fat portion, tip bag upwards to stop the flow. Discard unwanted fat.

Thanksgiving Turkey Timetable:

  • Tuesday evening: Prepare brine. Cover and let it sit overnight.
  • Wednesday morning: Add turkey to brine; Let it sit in a cool place (below 40F) for 12-24 hours (I usually go with close to 24 hours)
  • Thursday (Thanksgiving!):
    • 4 hours before you plan to serve the meal: Remove turkey from brine. Let sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes
    • 3 1/2 hours before eating: Prep turkey and put in the oven. Roast until cooked through (about 2 1/2 to 3 hours total)
    • 30 minutes before eating: Remove turkey from oven and let rest for 30 minutes.
    • Serving time: Carve and serve turkey.

 

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Thanksgiving: “Bacon Beans”

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This side dish comes together really quickly for a great Thanksgiving vegetable. With all of the heavy items on the table: mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, sweet potatoes- I like to have a vegetable that is crisp and tender and tastes fresh. These green beans are perfect for that.

Of my five children, only one of them thought that they liked green beans. Until I added bacon. It is amazing what a little bit of bacon will do! Adding some nuts and garlic didn’t hurt anything either. This is the one vegetable I cook where there are NEVER leftovers. They go back for seconds on this dish before anything else on the table. What a change! Whenever they smell bacon cooking around dinner time, the first question out of their mouths is, “Are you making bacon beans?”

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I love to use these skinny French green beans, sometimes called filet beans. They are super tender and very flavorful; not at all stringy. They cook very quickly, less than 5 minutes. Be sure not to overcook, or they will be mushy. Both Costco and Sam’s Club carry French beans (different brands, however). I think the one below is from Costco. You can also use regular green beans, but I really love these skinny ones. Bonus: they come with the ends already snapped. No advance prep necessary!DSC02693-1

RECIPE:

Garlic Green Beans with Bacon and Pine Nuts

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1 lb French green beans (or regular beans, snapped)
6-8 slices bacon, chopped
1/4 cup pine nuts or sliced almonds
scant 1/8 tsp garlic powder (optional)

In a skillet, combine beans and about 1/2 cup water. Add a small amount of salt to the water, if desired. Bring to a boil; cover pan and cook beans for 3-5 minutes, or until beans are crisp-tender. Do not overcook. Drain water and place beans in a serving dish.

Cook bacon in the same skillet until almost crisp. Drain excess grease, leaving 1-2 Tbs of drippings. (If you are using precooked bacon, and there are no drippings, add 1-2 Tbs butter to pan). With bacon still in the pan, add pine nuts or almond slices and cook until nuts are lightly toasted (about 2 minutes). Stir in garlic powder, if using.

Add green beans back to the pan and stir to combine and warm beans.

 

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