Friday, November 20, 2009

Thanksgiving Turkey

I am very traditional when it comes to my Thanksgiving menu. Apparently I've trained my children to be also, because if I even mention the thought of changing up the menu, I get a reaction. So, we are all happy to have it stay very basic every year, with an extra side dish or dessert thrown in here and there. What is the menu? Well, since you asked...


Turkey (recipe follows)
Garlic Mashed Potatoes & Gravy
Sweet Potatoes
Green Beans
Cranberry Sauce
Rolls & Butter
(I no longer bother making the Green Salad since nobody seems to want it on Thanksgiving)


Apple Pie
Pumpkin Pie with Whipped Cream
Homemade Fudge

Mmmmmm. That made my mouth water, just writing out the menu. This is definitely one of my favorite meals of the year. Comfort food at it's finest.

If you've never made a turkey before, here's how I do it. It's really easy and I always get rave reviews.

First I gather the following ingredients:
  • A bunch of celery
  • A whole yellow onion (I like the sweet ones)
  • A head of garlic
  • Several sprigs of rosemary
  • Several stems of thyme
  • Several stems of sage leaves
  • 2 cubes of butter
  • Salt and Pepper (I use kosher salt)

Next, I chop up the celery and onion, peel the garlic cloves, cut 1 1/2 sticks of the butter into pieces, and break herbs into smaller pieces and toss it all into a mixing bowl with salt and pepper.

When that's all ready, I set it aside while I rinse the turkey in cold water and pat it dry. I put some of the mixture into the neck cavity of the turkey and secure the flap of neck skin with toothpicks.

I flip the bird over and use the rest of the mixture to stuff the inside. (Note: I usually roast a turkey that's somewhere around 25 pounds so it all fits. If you prepare a smaller turkey, just place any extra mixture around it in the pan.) Then I take the remaining 1/2 stick of butter, cut it into slices and tuck it under the skin. Next, I rub the turkey down with olive oil (you can also use vegetable oil), sprinkle with salt and pepper. This is what it looks like right before I put it into the oven:

I cover it with aluminum foil before putting in oven and remove the foil for about the last hour or so of cooking to brown the turkey.

Side Note: After preparing poultry, I spray down my counters, and sink with a bleach cleaner to make sure and kill any bacteria before I prepare any other food.

After roasting for about 5 1/4 hours at 325 degrees, and the turkey has reached 165 degrees internally, it comes out looking like this:

For more tips on thawing and roasting a turkey you can check out the USDA website by clicking here.

What are the traditions and recipes that are your family favorites? If you'd like to share, please leave us a comment.


Ajax Mommy said...

Wow Susan! That bird looks GREAT! Thanks for posting. It's interesting that you don't put any bread in your stuffing. I kind of like that idea, but as in your family, mine is rather... inflexible... when it comes to variations on the main menu. And in our family, the stuffing is pretty much my Mom's arena, and while she would claim to be willing to try new things, she pretty much wants it the "right" way (we have occasionally snuck in pine nuts or craisins or mushrooms, but pretty much it's always the same recipe - which is very tasty, so no complaints!).

Every year I am usually in charge of the turkey and get to experiment. I've deep fried, barbecued, bagged, cheese clothed and for the last couple of years brined our birds then cooked them in a turkey bag; we will most likely do that again this year as well.

Our yearly menu is very similar to yours: Turkey, stuffing, gravy, mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole (no marshmallows please!), cranberry sauce (homemade and canned jelly) and lightly sauteed baby green beans. Like you, we used to always have a salad, but no one ate it at our house either! (Some years we have added a ham and scalloped potatoes depending on number of attendees.)
For desert we do a yummy acorn squash pie (similar to pumpkin but a little lighter and less sweet) and usually pecan pie, but as this year we have a TON of apples we'll probably have apple instead of pecan. Oh and fresh whipped cream of course!

Our biggest "different" Thanksgiving tradition is that we do our dinner on Friday, using Thursday (when everyone has the day off from work) to hang out casually and prepare.

Chelsea said...

Susan your family sounds just like my family. If my mom tries to change the menu in any way we all freak out LOL. I am the queen of stuffing, learned of course from my mommy! This year I won't be with my family but with Nathan's and since I got to choose what to make, I chose stuffing since I need at least one thing that tastes like home!

Unknown said...

How do you make gravy from your turkey?

Susan said...

I don't have an exact recipe for my gravy because I usually just make it to taste and consistency as I go, but this recipe on the Allrecipes site looks like what I do to make mine. Hope this helps. :)