Monday, December 1, 2014

Thanksgiving Feast

Thanksgiving is by far my favorite holiday.  I love connecting with family and friends over a delicious meal and sharing the joy of gratitude.  This is the first year out of many that I didn't have to work on Black Friday so Babe and I decided to go visit his family for the holiday.  It was a wonderful event.  It has been a very long time since I have celebrated with such a large group.  It was chaotic and fun to see all of the children running manically through the house.  It was a wonderful visit and I am so glad that we went.

But since Babe's family lives several hours away, we didn't take home any leftovers.  That needed to be rectified as I believe that the leftovers are almost a good as the main meal itself!  So yesterday afternoon, Babe and I cooked our own Thanksgiving Feast.  As usual, Babe is the best sous chef ever. This was probably the best Thanksgiving I have ever made and I am especially proud of scratch making a cheese sauce for the macaroni.  I had never done that before!

Thanksgiving Feast

The menu:
Roasted Turkey
Herb Stuffing
Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Macaroni and Cheese
Roasted Brussel Sprouts

Roast Turkey

  • 1/4 C butter (1 stick), room temperature
  • 1 lemon, zested
  • 1 tsp thyme leaves
  • 1 turkey (8-12 lbs), giblets removed
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 bunch fresh poultry blend (thyme, rosemary, sage)
  • 1 whole lemon, halved
  • 1 onion, quartered
  • 1 head garlic, cut in half
  1. Mix butter, zest and thyme in bowl and set aside
  2. Season inside of turkey's cavity with salt and pepper
  3. Stuff poultry blend, lemon, onion and garlic inside cavity
  4. Spread butter mixture gently under skin and all over the outside of the bird
  5. Season top of bird with more salt and pepper
  6. Roast in 350 degree oven for 3 hours (20 minutes/pound) or until temperature reaches 165 degrees.  Cover with foil last 45 minutes of cooking to prevent over browning
  7. Remove from oven and let rest 30 minutes

Herb Stuffing:

  • 1 bag of dried bread cubes
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • 1 apple, diced
  • 2 tbsp parsley, chopped
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 1 C chicken stock (increase as needed to reach the moisture level preferred
  • 1 C dried cranberries
  1. Put bread cubes in bowl and set aside
  2. Melt butter in saute pan and cook onion and celery, about 8 minutes
  3. Add apples, parsley, salt and pepper and cook until soft, about 3-5 minutes
  4. Add mixture to bread cubes
  5. Add stock and cranberries and mix together until moist
  6. Pour in baking dish and cover with foil
  7. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes (remove foil last 10 minutes of cooking)

Garlic Mashed Potatoes

  • 4-5 baking potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 3 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 1/2- 1 C heavy cream
  • 4 tbsp butter
  1. Place potatoes in a large pot and cover with water
  2. Bring to boil and cook until tender 15 minutes
  3. Drain potatoes and return to pot
  4. Press garlic over pot, add milk and butter then mash to desired texture

Roasted Brussel Sprouts

  • 1 lb brussel sprouts, trimmed and cut in half
  • 4 oz bacon (or pancetta), diced
  • 1/4 C olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  1. Roast on foil lined sheet pan for 30 minutes, tossing halfway through at 400 degrees

Macaroni and Cheese

  • 2 c milk
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • salt and pepper
  • 10 oz shredded cheddar cheese, divided
  • 1/2 package of elbow macaroni, cooked
  • 1 C panko bread crumbs
  1. Heat milk in microwave 1-1/2 minutes
  2. Whisk flour into butter in saute pan until smooth
  3. Whisk in milk about 5 minutes
  4. Whisk in salt, pepper and 1 C cheddar cheese until smooth
  5. Add in pasta and stir
  6. Pour into baking dish, top with remaining cheese and panko.

This was a lot of work and took about 4-1/2 hours for it all to come together.  They key is organization.  My approach was to time everything and organize what could cook at the same time and temperature and also how far could I take it before it needed to go in the oven.  Here's an example:

  1. Get turkey ready to go in oven
  2. Once turkey is in oven, start the stuffing, cover with foil and set aside
  3. After stuffing is ready to bake, get the macaroni and cheese ready to go (also up to the point before it goes into oven)
  4. Prep the brussel sprouts and put in refrigerator
  5. Once the turkey comes out of the oven, put in stuffing
  6. Remove stuffing and bump the temperature up to 400 degrees
  7. Start the mashed potatoes
  8. Once the oven is at temperature put the macaroni and brussel sprouts
  9. At this point you should be finishing up the mashed potatoes, enjoying a glass of wine and admiring your turkey!