Sunday, November 20, 2011


Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. One could never go wrong counting their blessings, enjoying friends and family, and sharing a great meal. I have many memories furiously whisking gravy with my Granny and Dad carving the turkey.

Here are a few easy recipes that I hope will help you enjoy a wonderful holiday meal.

Roasted Turkey
Choose a turkey large enough to feed your guests and to provide the leftovers you would like. We are always big on leftovers and frequently have an 18+ pound bird. Butterball has a great website with recommendations and guides for all things turkey.

Sometimes a simple turkey is all you need.

1 turkey
1-2 sticks butter, softened

Remove the turkey from the packaging and pull out the neck and giblets from the cavity. Rinse the turkey inside and out and pat dry. Tuck the wings back to hold the neck skin in place and place turkey onto a roasting rack.

Rub the turkey with the butter until well coated. A good butter massage does everyone some good. This does not have to be pretty, the butter will just melt into deliciousness. Cover the turkey with two layers of foil and roast at 325 degrees. When the turkey is about 30 minutes from away from being fully cooked, remove the foil to brown.

Check the turkey for doneness, 180 degrees deep in the thigh. Remove the turkey from the pan and move to a platter and cover with foil again to rest before carving.

Pan Gravy
This is my favorite part. My Granny would use sake instead of white wine for deglazing the pan. I love the twist, the great flavor, and the memories. This will make quite a bit of gravy, plenty for leftovers.

Whisking the gravy can take a bit of work, so grab your sister (my favorite!), brother, or cousin to help.

1 bottle sake
1/2 cup flour
4 cups chicken stock

Pour the drippings from the roasting pan into a fat separator and set aside. Place the roasting pan over two burners on the stove top and turn heat to medium. When the pan is hot, add about a third of the sake and use a wooden spoon to scrape up all of the browned bits from the bottom of the pan.

Add another third of the sake, reserved juices from the fat separator, and 1/4 cup of the flour. Whisk constantly, working out the lumps of flour. Repeat with the rest of the sake and four.

Continue to whisk the gravy, adding the stock about 1 cup at a time as the gravy reduces. When the last of the stock has been added, cook until the desired consistency. Turn off heat and pour into a gravy boat or two and serve hot.

Green Beans with Caramelized Onions
As much as I love green bean casserole, sometimes a change is great. Here is a simple way to great flavor to green beans.

Caramelizing the onions can take a little bit of time, but you can step into the living room and sing along to White Christmas with your mom while the onions do the work in between adding stock. This recipe should serve at least ten and could easily be divided.

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
5 small yellow onions
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
salt and pepper
4 pounds green beans, fresh or defrosted

Heat oil in a dutch oven over medium heat and slice the onions. 
Add the onions to the dutch oven with a few pinches of salt. 
Allow the onions to cook down, using the stock to deglaze the pan. Repeat until you have used the stock or your patience. The longer they go, the better they taste. 
Toss onions with the green beans and add freshly ground pepper. We love pepper, so I used at least 2 teaspoons. 

Spread out in a greased 9 x 13 in pan and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes covered in foil and then 30 minutes uncovered. The beans can go in the oven when you remove the foil from the turkey so that they will be done just before the gravy. 

Dutch Apple Pie
My second favorite. I always loved having this for breakfast the next day with mom. 

For the filling:
2 pounds apples, using two different kinds of apples adds a more complex flavor, our favorites are Galas and Granny Smiths
1/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon corn starch
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup water
1/3 cup butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
juice of 1/2 lemon

For the crumb topping:
1 cup whole wheat flour, white flour, or mixture
1/2 cup oatmeal
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup brown sugar 
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup butter, softened

Mom always makes the best pie crusts!
Slice and core the apples and arrange them in an unbaked crust. Heat the sugar, corn starch, salt, water and butter in a sauce pan over medium. Bring to a boil, remove from the heat and add vanilla and lemon juice. Pour over apples.
Combine flour, oatmeal, pecans, almonds, brown sugar, salt, and cinnamon, and stir to combine. 
Cut in butter until crumbly. Pack topping onto apples. 
Cover pie with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes, removing foil for the last 20 minutes. 
You might have to set a piece aside if you want any for breakfast.

Have a great Thanksgiving making memories!

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