Thanksgiving 2009 recipes

Some recipes from this year’s Thanksgiving.  Using cheese cloth to cover the turkey helps it to stay in contact with the butter (otherwise it just slides off the surface into the bottom of the pan). The turkey remains moist, and it doesn’t brown too soon.


Roasted Turkey and gravy

  • 1 12-14 pound turkey, completely defrosted if previously frozen
  • 4 tbsp coarse salt
  • 2 tbsp freshly grated pepper
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 lemon cut into eight pieces
  • ½ onion, peeled and cut into 1 ½ inch chunks
  • 1 carrot cut into 1 ½ inch chunks
  • 1 stalk celery cut into 1 ½ inch chunks
  • 1 cup minced mixed fresh herbs:  parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme, marjoram, chives (many grocery stores sell fresh “poultry herbs” in a single packet.  These work just fine)
  • 4 tbsp butter softened
  • 1 cup butter melted

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Put one shelf on the lowest setting and the other on the highest setting. Remove neck and giblets from turkey cavities don’t forget to check the neck cavity!  Put neck, firm gizzard and heart in a small sauce pan.  Reserve soft, slimy liver for other uses (like pate).  Rinse turkey and drain out liquid from cavities.

Mix salt, pepper and garlic powder together in a small bowl.  Sprinkle 2 tbsp of the mixture into the cavity of the turkey.  Rub it into the sides of the interior.  Stuff 2 pieces of lemon into the neck cavity and the remaining six in the main cavity.  Distribute onion, carrot and celery into the two cavities.  Toss any remaining vegetables into the sauce pan with the neck and giblets.  Sew up or skewer closed the large cavity , or if your turkey comes with a metal bracket, slip the drumstick ends under the bracket to keep the vegetables from falling out.

Add one tbsp of the salt/pepper mixture, and ¼ cup of the minced herbs to the softened butter and mix well.  Slip a plastic spatula under the skin above the breast and move it around to loosen the skin all the way to the neck end, towards the wing and leg joints.  Using a table spoon, spoon half of the softened butter mixture under the skin on either side of the breast and massage the top of the skin to move the seasoned butter back towards the neck, wing and leg joints.  Spoon the remain seasoned butter under the skin and massage to easily distribute the butter evenly under the skin above the breast. 

Combine the remaining salt/pepper mixture with the remaining herbs.  Rub this mixture all over the surface of the turkey, paying particular attention to the legs and wings.

Put a roasting rack in a roasting pan.  Lay the turkey on the roasting rack, breast side up. Tuck the wingtips underneath the turkey.   Cover the turkey entirely with a large piece of cheese cloth that has been folded twice to make it three layers thick.  Brush the melted butter over the entire piece of cheesecloth, making sure that the entire exposed surface of the turkey is in contact with the buttery cheese cloth.  Pour about 1 cup water into the bottom of the pan.

Put roasting pan with turkey in the oven on the lower shelf.  Turkey will roast for about 18-20 minutes per pound.  After about two hours, start basting the surface of the cheese cloth with the pan drippings. Use a large basting brush or basting bulb for this purpose.  Also, insert a meat thermometer into a thigh.  Do not let it come into contact with bone.  Approximately one hour before the completion of baking time, peak underneath the cheese cloth.  If the turkey is not already brown, remove the cheese cloth to allow it to brown.  Otherwise, keep the cheese cloth on top to prevent turkey from overbrowning.  When thermometer registers 180 degrees, remove turkey from the oven, cover it with foil, and let it rest at least 20 minutes before carving.  Discard vegetables in the cavity.


To the saucepan containing the neck, giblets, and extra vegetables, add six cups of water, 2 cups of dry white wine, 2 tsp good quality chicken bouillon granules or paste (I love Better than Bouillon), 4 pepper corns, bay leaf and a handful of parsley.  Bring to boil and then simmer until the turkey has been removed from the oven.

Strain the broth and discard the solids.  You should have about six cups of liquid.  If not, add enough water to make six cups.

Return the empty saucepan to the burner over medium-high heat.  Spoon ¾ cup of drippings from the turkey pan (if you don’t have enough, add butter to make ¾ cup).  Add ¾ cups flour and whisk well, until mixture starts to lightly brown.  Slowly pour in the hot turkey broth and continue whisking until a thick gravy forms.  Add seasoning (salt and pepper) as necessary.

Sweet Potato and Cranberries with Crumb topping

  • 4 pounds sweet potatoes
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
  • ¼ cup melted butter
  • ½ cup orange juice
  • ½ cup brown sugar

Crumb Topping

  • ½ cup chopped walnuts
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3 tbsp softened butter

Boil unpeeled sweet potatoes for about ½ hour or until you can slip a knife into them fairly easily.  Remove sweet potatoes from the water and allow them to cool.  When they are cool enough to handle, peel them and cut them into ¼ inch slices.  Spray a shallow two-quart casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray.  Layer half the sweet potatoes on the bottom of the pan.  Layer 1 cup cranberries on top.  Repeat with remaining sweet potatoes and cranberries.  Mix melted butter, orange juice and brown sugar together and pour this mixture evenly on top of the sweet potatoes and cranberries.  Cover the casserole and put it in the oven with the roasting turkey on the top shelf.  Bake for about 45 minutes. 

Remove casserole from the oven.  Combine the topping ingredients and sprinkle them evenly on top of the casserole.  Return dish to the oven and bake about 15-20 minutes more.  Serves 8-12 depending on how gluttonous everyone is.


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