Few things excite me more than the challenge of planning and cooking Thanksgiving dinner. I tend to overdo it, so this year I kept it fairly simple, with just a few easy to make side dishes, so I could focus most of my attention on the star of the show - the turkey.
I love cooking turkey and have been making them since I was very young. I have one go-to recipe that is my hands down absolute favorite and makes a perfect turkey every time. Seriously. This year I went all out and bought an organic D'Artagnan turkey. If you haven't had the pleasure of trying their meats, I highly suggest purchasing a few items from their website. Their whole chickens are incredible and are always moist and delicious when roasted. The secret to making a juicy bird every time, is putting several tablespoons of cut up butter underneath the skin. I also add olive oil on top and really massage it in with spices. That simple preparation is all you need, but if you want to go all out, try my recipe below, which I've vetted and made several times over the past 10 years or more.
This year, preparing a gluten-free dinner required very little modification on our part since we relied heavily on vegetables and naturally gluten-free items like rice. The sleeper hit this year was the bacon cornbread prepared by my gluten-free by association husband. It was 100% gluten-free, using Pamela's cornbread mix and I seriously need to have this dish at every gathering from now on. The salty flavor of the bacon, combined with the sweetness of the cornbread and the onion flavor of the scallions, made for wallop of awesome. The end product is almost souffle like, decadent and addictive, keeping you going back for more and more. I snacked on it for the next two days, and subsequently had to spend more time at the gym, but it was worth every scrumptious bite. I'm even craving it as I write this!
Thanksgiving may be over, but you can still enjoy many of these dishes for Christmas dinner, or a really decadent winter feast. Oh, don't go light on the butter for any holiday dinner. I'm lactose intolerant, but butter is the one thing I hold on to tooth and nail, and I use it liberally in my cooking. You only live once, right?
I've broken out all of my Thanksgiving recipes below. If you only feel inspired to try making one of the items below, I'd do the cornbread if I were you, because you (and your dinner guests) will not be disappointed!
Post a comment and let me know what you made for Thanksgiving dinner this year and if there were any dishes that you can't wait to make or eat again. Would love to hear your thoughts if you try any of the recipes below too!
Ma Lipo's Apricot Glazed Turkey via All Recipes
- 1 cup apricot nectar
- 1 cup apricot preserves
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger root
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 onions, thinly sliced
- 6 ounces thinly sliced shallots
- 22 pounds whole turkey
- 1 (14.5 ounce) can chicken broth
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
- 1 teaspoon dried sage
- 1 (14.5 ounce) can chicken broth
- salt and pepper to taste
For Glaze: Combine apricot nectar, preserves, ginger, and honey in a heavy small saucepan and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until thickened and reduced to 1-1/4 cups, about 15 minutes.
For Herb Butter: Blend 3/4 cup unsalted butter at room temperature, 3 tablespoons chopped fresh sage, salt, and pepper in small bowl. Set aside.
For Onion Mixture: Melt 2 tablespoons unsalted butter in heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and shallots: saute until very soft and light brown, about 20 minutes.
Glaze, herb butter, and onion mixture can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover separately and chill. Bring herb butter to room temperature before continuing.
Position rack in lowest third of oven. Preheat to 400 degrees F (205 degrees C).
Pat turkey dry with paper towels. Season turkey cavity with salt and pepper. Place turkey on rack, and set in large roasting pan. Slide hand under skin of turkey breast to loosen skin. Spread half of herb butter over breast under skin. If stuffing turkey, spoon stuffing into main cavity. Place remaining herb butter in small saucepan. Stir over low heat until melted. Brush butter over outside of turkey. Tie legs together loosely to hold shape of turkey.
Roast turkey for 30 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Roast turkey 1 hour 30 minutes, basting occasionally with pan drippings. Tent turkey with heavy duty foil; roast 45 minutes longer. Add onion mixture, 1 can broth, thyme, and 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh sage to pan. Roast 15 minutes. Brush 1/2 cup hot glaze over turkey. Continue to roast turkey uncovered until meat thermometer inserted into thickest part of thigh registers 180 degrees F, or until juices run clear when thickest part of thigh is pierced with skewer Brush occasionally with glaze, and add more broth to pan if liquid evaporates. Bake about 40 minutes longer for unstuffed turkey, and about 1 hour 10 minutes longer for stuffed turkey. Place turkey on platter, tent with foil. Let stand 30 minutes. Reserve mixture in pan for gravy.
Pour contents of roasting pan into strainer set over large bowl. Spoon fat from pan juices in bowl. Transfer onion mixture to blender. Add 1 cup pan juices to blender, and puree until smooth, adding more pan juices and chicken broth if necessary to thin sauce to desired consistency. Transfer sauce to heavy large saucepan, and bring to boil. Cook until color deepens, skimming off any foam, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
- 2 parsnips
- 2 tblsp butter
- 2 vanilla beans
- 1/2 cup milk
- 2 cloves garlic
- salt, to taste
In a medium saucepan, boil the parsnips with garlic until tender. Meanwhile, cut vanilla beans lengthwise and scrape vanilla into a small ramekin or bowl.
Drain cooked parsnips/garlic and add to a food processor along with milk, butter, garlic and vanilla. Puree until smooth. Salt to taste. Serve immediately.
Fig & Cranberry Compote
- 1 12 ounce bag of fresh or frozen cranberries
- 5 ounces dried mission figs, coarsely chopped (about 1 cup)
- 1/3 cup honey
- 1/4 tsp ground cardamom
- Kosher salt
In a medium saucepan, combine the cranberries, figs, honey, cardamom, 1/4 cup water and 1/2 tsp salt. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, stirring often, until the cranberries begin to burst and the mixture thickens, 6 to 8 minutes. Let cool. Serve at room temperature.
Gluten-Free Bacon Cornbread via Epicurious
- Prepared cornbread (we made ours with Pamela's Gluten-Free Cornbread & Muffin Mix)
- 8 bacon slices
- 5 tablespoons butter
- 3 cups chopped onions
- 2 cups chopped celery
- 1 cup chopped shallots
- 4 teaspoons dried rubbed sage
- 1 tablespoon dried thyme
- 2 cups canned low-salt chicken broth
- 3 large eggs, beaten to blend
Preheat oven to 325°F. Cut corn bread into 3/4-inch cubes. Place corn bread cubes on baking sheet and toast until dry but not hard, about 15 minutes. Cool. Transfer to large bowl.
Butter 8x8x2-inch baking dish. Cook bacon in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat until crisp, about 6 minutes. Using tongs, transfer bacon to paper towels; reserve 1/4 cup bacon drippings in skillet. Cool bacon and crumble.
Add butter to bacon drippings in skillet and melt over medium-high heat. Add onions, celery and shallots; sauté just until pale golden brown, about 10 minutes. Stir in sage and thyme. Add to corn bread cubes in bowl. Mix in pecans and crumbled bacon. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)
Stir 1 1/2 cups chicken broth into stuffing. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Mix in eggs. Reserve 9 cups stuffing for turkey. Moisten remaining stuffing with remaining 1/2 cup chicken broth. Transfer to prepared dish. Bake stuffing in covered dish alongside turkey for 1 hour. Uncover stuffing and bake until top begins to crisp, about 5 minutes longer.
Candied Sweet Potatoes
- 2 Sweet Potatoes, peeled
- 1/2 Cup Sugar
- 1 tsp Molasses
- 1/2 tsp Salt
- 1/2 tsp Minced Ginger or 1/4 tsp Ginger Powder, optional
- Black Pepper, to taste
- Butter, for dotting
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Slice sweet potatoes thinly, about 1/8″, with a mandoline or a food processor. Mix remaining ingredients (except pepper and butter) together to form a paste. Coat the sliced sweet potatoes well with the sugar mixture.
Arrange the coated slices in overlapping rows in one layer in an oiled casserole dish. Dot with butter, sprinkle with pepper, and wrap tightly with two layers of aluminum foil.
Bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake uncovered for an additional 10 minutes. Finish under the broiler to brown the top. Serve immediately.