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Thanksgiving Eats! Traditional Dishes You Need For The Ultimate Thanksgiving Menu

Everyone has his or her favorite holiday recipes. Some recipes evoke warm memories of good times with family and friends; others are traditions passed down from grandparents to parents and the next generation. Here are a few of my favorites!

  • Figure on about 1 pound per person and a little more if leftovers are desired.

  • Over 18 pounds is known as a tom; under #18 is known as a hen.

  • Fresh turkeys have been held at subfreezing temperatures for many weeks before selling, they do taste markedly better than frozen.

  • “Self basting” turkeys have been injected with 3 to 8 % of flavor enhancers, broth, butter oil, etc. The label will possibly read “basted”, “marinated”, “added flavoring.” If there is more than 8 percent solution by weight, the labeling must be much more specific with the precise percentage and method of preparation must be stated on the packaging.

Roasting Turkey

  • Simple Method: Roast breast side up, basting with pan drippings. This will encourage the skin to brown. This will deliver a respectable bird. The issue is the breast it needs to be cooked to an internal temperature of 165 degrees to be juicy. Meanwhile, the legs must be cooked to 175 to 180 degrees or they will be chewy and pink. Therefore, we need to cook the legs faster than the breast.

  • How Long To Cook a Turkey: Measure the weight of your turkey in pounds. Multiply the weight of your turkey in pounds by 15 to determine the total number of minutes to cook your turkey. Example: your turkey is 15 lbs, then the turkey cooking time is 225 minutes.

  • Important Notes: The cooking time above is for an unstuffed, thawed turkey in a 325 degree F oven. You should add 15 minutes cooking time if your turkey is stuffed. Insert a cooking thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh to ensure your turkey is cooked to 175 to 180 degrees before taking it out of the oven. If your turkey is stuffed, the temperature of the stuffing should be at least 165 degrees F.

Roasted Brined Turkey Method

Brining is soaking the bird in a solution of water and salt. It helps the bird retain moisture and adds seasonings throughout. Do not brine a turkey that is self-basting or kosher, as these have already been treated with salt. Remove the giblets and the neck, then rinse the bird.

  • Whole turkey, 15 to 25 pounds

  • 2 pounds salt

  • 2 gallons water

  • 1 onion, peeled, quartered

  • 1 carrot, peeled, cut into 1 inch chunks

  • 1 celery stalk, cut into 1 inch chunks

  • 8 sprigs fresh thyme

  • 6 Tbsp butter

  • ¾ cup water

  • 3 Tbsp butter

  1. Mix water and salt until dissolved in a container large enough to hold the turkey. Let the bird sit in the brine for 4 to 6 hours in a cool spot.

  2. Place rack at lowest level in oven and set temperature to 325 degrees.

  3. Remove bird from brine and rinse inside and out completely, pat dry.

  4. Place carrots, onions, celery and thyme in the large cavity.

  5. Brush the turkey skin with the butter.

  6. Place turkey breast side down on a wire rack that fits into a roasting pan in oven. If unstable, place two foil balls on each side to prop the bird and stabilize it. Pour the water into the bottom of the pan.

  7. Roast the breast for 2 ½ hours. Baste the legs a couple of times with the remaining 3 Tbsp of butter.

  8. Remove the turkey from the oven. Using paper towels grasp the turkey at both ends and turn the breast side up. Return to the oven. Baste as desired with the pan drippings and roast until a thermometer reads 175 to 180 degrees in the thickest part of the thigh.

  9. Remove from oven and let sit 45 minutes

Giblet Gravy
  • Turkey neck, 1 each

  • Heart, 1 each

  • Gizzards

  • 2 Tbsp oil

  • 1 cup onions, chopped

  • 4 cups chicken stock

  • ½ cup dry white wine

  • 1 large bay leaf

  • 2 sprigs parsley

  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme

  • 4 whole cloves

  • 3 tablespoons butter

  • 1/3 cup flour

  1. Heat oil in a medium saucepan. Add turkey parts to the pan. Add the onions.

  2. Cook until turkey parts are browned deeply.

  3. Add the chicken stock, white wine, bay leaf, thyme, and clove.

  4. Cover the pan partially and simmer for about an hour until the turkey parts are tender.

  5. Strain the stock through a fine sieve and add 4 cups water.

  6. Bone the neck and finely chop the other turkey part. Add to the stock.

  7. Heat the butter until it foams add the flour, cook for 1 minute whisking. Remove from heat

  8. Bring the stock to a boil add the roux, blending thoroughly.

  9. Pour off the fat from the bottom of the roasting pan, discard.

  10. Deglaze the bottom of the pan over medium heat with a ½ cup of sherry, bring the mixture to a simmer, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to get all the browned bits.

  11. Pour the drippings and the bits into the gravy, simmer for 5 minutes until flavors are blended. Season with salt and pepper if needed or desired.

Waldorf Salad
  • 1 ¼ pounds apples, cored and cubed

  • 6 ounces large celery, diced

  • 3 ounces mayonnaise

  • 3 ounces bananas, peeled and sliced

  • 3 ounces red grapes, halved

  • ¼ cup sugar

  • Salt if desired

Combine ingredients and chill.

Banana Peanut Salad
  • 4 bananas, peeled and sliced

  • 4 Tbsp mayonnaise

  • 8 Tbsp milk

  • 1 cup peanuts, chopped

  • 3 Tbsp sugar

Thin mayonnaise with milk. Add remaining ingredients and toss. This salad can be layered.

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