My go-to Thanksgiving Recipes

pie

Thanksgiving is like the Food Superbowl to me. I love spending time with family and friends and enjoying a wonderful meal together. I do not like feeling stressed and running around the kitchen right before dinner is ready. It doesn’t have to be that way; it shouldn’t be that way! I wanted to share with you my go-to Thanksgiving recipes that you can prep ahead of time – they are solid, foolproof, uncomplicated, and, most importantly, delicious! Read below for my thoughts about each dish.

Make Ahead Gravy
Spatchcocked, Dry Brined, Turkey
Sausage Stuffing (in the slow cooker!)
Pumpkin Stuffed with Everything Good
Spinach Gratin
Make Ahead Mashed Potatoes
Brussel Sprouts with Browned Butter and Lemon
Cranberry Apple Cake
French Apple Cake
Blackberry Pie

 
Make Ahead Gravy
Gravy is probably my favorite part of the meal. I grew up with homemade gravy and I just cannot eat gravy out of a jar. I. just. can’t. The good news is, you can make this gravy ahead of time and all you have to do before dinner is heat it and add the pan drippings to it. I have roughly used this recipe from Cooks Illustrated for years. When you click on the link, it’s going to say you need to sign in or you can sign up for a free 2 week trial – so easy and it’s free. You don’t really need the recipe though – basically, you roast veggies(carrots, onions, celery) and some turkey parts (thighs, wings, backs), then you cook them with some aromatics(garlic, thyme) in chicken broth, make a roux and add the broth and voila – you have silky gravy ready for some drippings. I don’t season it with too much salt because the drippings are usually pretty salty. *Plus* – when you roast the thighs, you get to eat the crispy skin all by yourself!

Turkey
Spatchcocked, Dry Brined, Turkey
This is by far, the easiest way to cook a turkey (or a chicken). I remove the backbone, dry brine(salt under the skin and on top of the skin) it for a day, cook it for about 80 minutes, and you have moist turkey with lots of crispy skin (wait, maybe that’s my favorite part of the meal). Never done dry brining? Give it a try, it’s easier than regular brining and just as delicious.

Sausage Stuffing
I’ve used my own stuffing recipe for years and it’s very similar to this one I found last year, except that I always baked it in the oven. Last year I tried this slow cooker recipe and it came out amazing – crispy edges and a moist interior. You put it in the slow cooker 5 hours before dinner, and forget about it. It doesn’t take up oven space and you don’t have to think about it. I prep the veggies and sausage the day before, making it even easier on T-day. I usually end up adding more celery, herbs and stock than the recipe calls for.

Pumpkin

Pumpkin Stuffed with Everything Good
I cannot say enough good things about this recipe from Dorie Greenspan. Bacon, cheese, bread, heavy cream – need I say more? The stuffing is versatile – you can swap out the bread for rice, remove the bacon if you want to make a vegetarian version. Prep everything the day before, then stuff the squash and pop it in the oven about 2 hours before dinner. Your guests will be in awe of the presentation as they scoop out the stuffing, along with some of the squash. Even if you don’t make this for T-day, I hope you give it a try sometime soon.

Spinach Gratin
This is, by far, my favorite way to eat spinach. There is creamy, cheesy goodness in every bite. And you can assemble the entire thing the day before and then just pop it in the oven about 30 minutes before dinner. This is a genius Barefoot Contessa that you must make!

Make Ahead Mashed Potatoes
Gravy and mashed taters is my ultimate comfort food. I can take down an embarrassing amount. But, I digress. Mashed potatoes are a lot of work. There’s the peeling, chopping, boiling, and mashing – and they usually aren’t as good if they’re made the day before and then reheated. Which is why I was skeptical of this “make ahead” mashed potato recipe from the Pioneer Woman. Boy was I wrong. My sister-in-law made these and I was sold! Yes, I know, it seems sacrilege to put cream cheese in mashed potatoes, but it works. So, if you don’t have time to make fresh mashed potatoes right before your meal, give these a try. You can make them the day before and then just pop them in the oven before your meal to heat through. I skip the Lawry’s and use kosher salt instead. Potatoes need more salt that you think they do. Trust me on this one.

brussels
Brussel Sprouts with Browned Butter and Lemon
Roasting brussel sprouts is the only way to go, as far as I’m concerned. They need that crunch! Take it up a notch by adding some browned butter and lemon. The night before – trim and cut the brussels, and make the browned butter. Roast just before dinner. These are sooooo good.

cranberry
Cranberry Apple Cake
This is the easiest fall dessert that you can make. Mix cranberries, apples, sugar, and a splash of orange juice (I skip the zest) – make a quick batter to pour on top and that’s it. Sound too tart for you? Just reduce the cranberries and increase the amount of apples. Thanks, Barefoot Contessa, for another great recipe.

 
French Apple Cake
Here’s another delicious dessert that is so easy to make. Basically apples are coated with a crepe batter and baked in the oven for a light, almost custardy dessert. The only change I make is to put in about half the amount of rum. I love me some rum, but I feel like the amount of it overwhelms the cake.

 
Blackberry Pie
Blackberry pie is my favorite Thanksgiving dessert from my childhood. I remember going with my dad to Briermere Farms (on Long Island) to pick up the special pies. Just so happens, my neighbor gave us a bunch of blackberries that he grew and I thought it was a sign that I have to make this pie this year. I’m going to give this recipe from Mario Batali’s mom a try. I can’t vouch for it, but it looks good. Make the pie crust a day or two ahead and this should come together in no time. For me, the tart berry flavor is the perfect end to a rich meal.

I am so thankful for my loved ones and for all the food I get to eat every day. May you all have a joyful week full of gratitude!

Give Love, Give Thanks

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4 thoughts on “My go-to Thanksgiving Recipes

  1. Thankyou so much Tracy this is how we make whole chicken everything is great and I am the make ahead QUEENIE! I refuser to stress out and it just wrecks the mood when we see people that do stress. Also I’ll tell you how we make Fried Chicken on the BBQ it is your fried chicken fix without frying. It’s so simple and fast! We like thighs because it has the most flavor. We also marinate boneless skinless (boring) chicken thighs in a Korean BBQ Marinade, then put on skewers and make rice pea’s pearl onions/ pea’s mushroom into the rice…Yummy! Here’s hoping you have a wonderful wonderful thanksgiving hugs to all XXOO!

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