THANKSGIVING DAY MENU
There are so many delicious Champagnes and sparking wines that to pick just one is not an easy decision to make - but overall, the one Champagne I like to drink, and one that I can afford, is Veuve Clicquot. Click here for more information.
Buy about 6 cups of assorted olives and place in a serving bowl with a serving spoon - drain off any brine. Drizzle some good extra virgin olive oil over the olives, thin strips of the zest of one lemon; sprinkle the olives with dried oregano and some hot red pepper flakes and toss to combine. Slice a baguette and place in a basket along side the bowl of olives along with small appetizer plates and a small bowl for people to deposit the pits from the olives. So that people know the small bowl is for olive pits, eat one and put the sample pit in the bowl!
Shrimp Cocktail Platter
Who doesn't like shrimp cocktail? Well, maybe some who are allergic to shrimp, but those are the only ones! Shrimp can be cooked the day before serving; bring an 8 qt. stock pot of water to a boil; drop in two bay leaves, several black peppercorns, a tablespoon of Old Bay Seasoning, and add the peeled and deveined shrimp. Let shrimp boil for 1 minute; cover the pot and TURN OFF THE HEAT. Let shrimp sit in the boiling water for 10 - 15 minutes. Uncover, drain shrimp and chill immediately in a bowl of ice water. Drain well, and dry shrimp completely with paper towel. Cover shrimp with paper towel and place in a storage bag and refrigerate until ready to use.
For the cocktail sauce, well, I must admit I take a short-cut here - I use Heinz Chili Sauce. It's simply delicious. Or use whatever cocktail sauce for shrimp cocktail that you like.
In a stock pot (6 or 8 quart) melt butter over medium heat and sauté onion until lightly golden in color but do not let the butter burn. Add the butternut squash, ginger and nutmeg and combine with the onions. Add the broth; bring mixture to a boil, lower heat to a simmer, cover and cook for 20 minutes.
When butternut squash is soft, turn off the heat and use an immersion stick blender to puree the solids. Stir in half & half and Cognac; taste for seasoning and add additional salt & ground white pepper if necessary. Garnish each serving with a dollop of plain yogurt and sprinkle with chopped chives.
Heat oven to 400° F.
Remove the turkey from the refrigerator at least 1 or 2 hours before roasting. Dry turkey inside and out with paper towel. Rub turkey with some of the olive oil; mix chopped herbs with remaining oil and with your fingers insert oil and herbs under the skin which can be loosened with your fingers. Insert Bouquet Garni and lemon halves in the cavity of the turkey. (Omit this step if you are stuffing the turkey)
Place turkey in a 3-inch high open roasting pan and make a bed of the onion, whole carrots and celery ribs for the bird to sit on - this will act as a natural "rack" and flavor the drippings as well as support the bird. Lightly tent the bird with a sheet of aluminum foil. Begin roasting the bird in the pre-heated oven for the first hour; then reduce the heat to 325°F for the remainder of the roasting time. Remove foil tent from turkey for the last hour and a half of roasting time to allow the breast to brown more.
Total Roasting Time: 15-16 pound un-stuffed turkey - 4 hours. If you are stuffing the bird, be sure that your stuffing has cooled before spooning it into the cavity and roast the turkey for 4½ to 5½ hours. When turkey is done, remove pan from oven and transfer turkey to a carving board or other cutting surface. Let sit for at least 30 minutes to allow juices to settle inside the bird before carving.
Using an "instant read" thermometer the internal temperature of properly cooked turkey and stuffing should be:
Thigh -- 180 - 185 ° F
Homemade Stock: Remove and rinse the neck and gizzard parts from the bag (usually found in the tail end of the turkey). Discard the liver if it's in the bag.
This homemade stock can be cooking on the stovetop while the turkey is roasting. In a 4 qt. saucepan, with 4 cups of water, add the neck and gizzard. Add a medium carrot, cut in pieces, 2 ribs of celery cut in half, a handful of parsley, the white part of a cleaned leek and a quart container of chicken stock. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to low and simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Use this hot stock to add to the roasting pan as needed while the turkey is roasting.
Making Gravy The Old Fashioned Way....
When turkey is done, transfer it to a carving board. Remove and discard the vegetable bouquet garni from the cavity. If the bird has been stuffed, be sure the stuffing registers 160-165 degrees F on an instant read thermometer. Remove stuffing from the turkey before carving and place the stuffing into a microwave or oven-proof bowl so that you can reheat stuffing just before serving time. Tent the bird with a piece of foil for resting time (approximately 30 minutes) before carving.
Pour the pan drippings from the roasting pan into a large "fat separating" cup in which the fat rises to the top leaving the de-fatted juices at the bottom. Pour off the de-fatted juices into an 8-cup measuring cup and add enough of the remaining stock to measure at least 5 cups of liquid. Reserve a few tablespoons of the fat. Place roasting pan directly onto the stove top over high heat.
When the roasting pan is hot, add the reserved 2 or 3 tablespoons of the fat and a 1/2 cup of chopped shallot. Let shallot cook/sizzle for a few minutes and then add a little of the stock to the roasting pan and de-glaze the pan scraping up any browned bits in the roasting pan. Then add the rest of the stock and bring it to a rapid boil and let cook for a few minutes. Reduce heat to medium and add a slurry (3 tablespoons cornstarch dissolved in a ¼ cup of cold water). Stir slurry into the gravy and let cook until thickening begins. Taste gravy and add salt and pepper if needed. Strain gravy into a saucepan through a sieve to catch any bits.
An alternative and less time consuming method of making gravy is described in the "All About Turkey" article on this website which calls for using a reduced turkey stock from More Than Gourmet and still using the delicious drippings from the roasted turkey.
This recipe can be doubled if you like a lot of leftover stuffing or if you just like to have a lot to serve eight! Personally, I like to bake the stuffing in a casserole dish, rather than stuffing inside the turkey. Note that a stuffed turkey will take longer to roast to bring the internal temperature of the stuffing to 165°.
Blend all ingredients except the apple juice in a large mixing bowl until combined. Add ½ cup of apple juice at a time until mixture is dampened but not mushy. When mixture is room temperature, stuff turkey cavity loosely with stuffing; If you prefer to bake as a dressing, butter an oven-proof 13 x 9-inch casserole and spoon dressing into it. Cover with a piece of foil and bake for approximately hour along with the turkey on another shelf. Remove foil and let dressing brown slightly on top. If you have a second oven, even better - bake dressing at 350° F. for one hour.
Can be made 3 days before Thanksgiving, covered and refrigerated.
In a 3 or 4 quart saucepan, combine first six ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a low simmer and cook for approximately 15 minutes or until cranberries pop open. Skim off any residue foam. Remove pan from heat and stir in the toasted nuts. Allow mixture to cool before refrigerating. Sauce can be made 2 days in advance, refrigerated and covered with plastic wrap. Yield: approximately 3 cups.
To toast nuts: Place pecan or walnut halves in a dry skillet over medium heat. Toast nuts until fragrant and lightly toasted being careful not to let them burn. Remove from heat and let cool before adding to finished cranberry sauce.
Peel and cut sweet potatoes into 1-inch cubes and add to a mixing bowl. Coat sweet potato cubes with olive oil, chopped rosemary, Chinese Five Spice Powder and salt & pepper. Toss sweet potatoes to coat evenly.
Place sweet potato cubes on a baking sheet lined with parchment or non-stick aluminum foil. Roast sweet potatoes in a 375°F oven for 30 - 40 minutes. Test a cube of sweet potato to determine if more oven time is needed.
Remove pan from oven; cover the sweet potato cubes and re-heat in the oven when ready to serve.
If using haricots verts, cook beans in an 8 qt. stock pot of boiling salted water for approximately 3 to 4 minutes only. Taste one to be sure it's cooked but still slightly crunchy. Regular green string beans will need to cook about 6 - 8 minutes. Taste a bean half way through the cooking time to test it. Drain beans and put them in a large bowl of ice water to stop the cooking; drain again and dry well with paper towel.
Meanwhile, melt butter in a 10-inch non stick skillet and add the sliced shallots. Let shallots cook over a low-medium heat until they begin to release their own sugars and caramelize or brown. Be careful not to let them burn. Add thyme leaves at the end when shallots are nicely browned. This can be made ahead of time and refrigerated until needed.
When ready to serve, re-heat shallots in a fry pan and add green beans. Toss lightly with beans and cook until both beans and shallots are heated through. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper as needed.
Guests Bring Dessert
The hostess/cook has done enough cooking. Since everyone always offers to bring something to your Thanksgiving table, ask your guests, friends and relatives bring desserts - homemade or ready-made.