Let the Holidays Begin!
November 1, 2023 | Cooking, Holidays
Thanksgiving is one of our favorite holidays. Every year Mike and I had at least twenty people for a sit-down dinner. We cooked the meal and the guests supply the appetizers, deserts, and wine. It was a wonderful time to reminisce, over-indulge, and have fun. There comes a time when life must change. Several years ago, I passed the turkey baster on to my daughter Dru. She’s a wonderful cook and it’s great fun to be her guest.
Candied Sweet Potatoes
White wine – Chardonnay
8 tbsp. (114g) butter
2 leeks including some green, chopped
2 large onion, chopped
15 baby carrots, chopped
4 tomatoes, chopped
1 tbsp. (15ml) dried thyme
1 tbsp. (15ml) dried marjoram
1 large bay leaf
Bacon strips to cover breast
Cookie sheet – for stability
Place unopened turkey on a cloth lined cookie sheet and thaw in refrigerator 7 hours per pound or one day for every four pounds of frozen turkey. So, if you have a 20 pound (9K) turkey it will take 140 hours or a least 5 days to thaw in the fridge.
If the turkey isn’t completely thawed, set in a large pot of cold water to complete. Dispose of packet inserted in cavity. Rinse well, then pat dry with paper towels.
Preheat oven to 325°F (160°C).
10 – 18 lbs. (4.5 – 8kg) 2 – 2½ hrs.
18 – 22 lbs. (8 – 10kg ) 2½ – 3 hrs.
22 – 24 lbs. (10 – 11kg) 3 – 3½ hrs.
Melt butter in a large frying pan. When the foam subsides, lay turkey, breast down, and brown first one side then the other until skin is golden. Be careful moving the turkey around, it’s heavy and awkward.
Set disposable pan on cookie sheet. Scatter chopped vegetables onto pan bottom. Insert cooking rack. Place turkey on rack breast up. Lay bacon slices over breast to cover well. Pour in enough chicken broth to cover the pan bottom by 1 inch (2.54cm). Cover turkey and pan edges with aluminum foil, crimping sides well.
Remove from oven at the predetermined time. To test if the bird is done, use a paper towel or pot holder and shake hands with its leg. The leg should move freely. Tent with foil and allow to rest 30 – 45 minutes before carving.
Remember – turkey, like all other meat, continues to cook long after it is removed from the oven.
Stuffing is a winter food for us. I make a huge batch and freeze the unbaked extra in serving-size containers. Throughout the winter I’ll serve it with pork or chicken.
1 package bread stuffing cubes, plain or seasoned
½ lb. (250g) breakfast sausage in a tube or bulk
8 tbsp. (1 stick) (114g) butter, melted
1 rib celery, chopped
½ medium onion, chopped
1 egg, lightly beaten
1½ tsp. (7.5ml) dried sage
1½ tsp. (7.5ml) dried thyme
2 cups (450ml) chicken stock, maybe a little more
Empty bread cubes into a large bowl.
Fry sausage in a medium-sized skillet, breaking meat into small chunks, until no longer pink. Add sausage and its juice to bread cubes.
Melt butter in same skillet. Add celery and onion when the foam subsides. Sauté 3 – 4 minutes until translucent, be careful not to let it brown. Add vegetables with all their juices to bread cubes. Mix well.
Pour egg onto stuffing. Sprinkle sage and thyme across the top. Mix well.
Stir in chicken stock until mixture is very moist, but not soupy.
To Bake as a Side Dish
Spoon mixture into an ungreased baking dish. Do not pack it in. Cover tightly with foil. Refrigerate stuffing until you are ready to bake it, but no longer than two days.
Spoon mixture into freezer bags, label, and pop in freezer no longer than 3 months. I use several small bags that serve 2 at a single setting.
No matter which route you take, remove stuffing from the refrigerator/freezer early in the day to allow it to come to room temperature.
Preheat oven to 350° F (180°C). Bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and continue to bake until the top is brown.
1 small russet potato per person
The Day Before
Pour 1-inch (2.54cm) chicken stock into saucepan. Peel and quarter the potatoes, then place in saucepan. Add tap water to cover by 1-inch (2.54cm). Put a lid on pan and bring to a boil over medium heat, then lower temperature to a strong simmer. Cook approximately 25 minutes. Test for doneness by poking a fork into a potato. It should insert easily.
Drain potatoes. Mash well without adding other ingredients. Cool completely in a glass or ceramic bowl. Cover and refrigerate.
Remove potatoes from the refrigerator early in the day to allow them to come to room temperature. When you are ready to serve, microwave potatoes until hot. Stir in butter, sour cream, milk, and pepper to the consistency you prefer.
Candied Sweet Potatoes
32 oz. (1kg) can of sweet potatoes
½ cup (50g) brown sugar firmly packed
8 tbsp. (114g) butter
2 handfuls mini marshmallows
Preheat oven to 375° F (190°C).
Drain potatoes in a colander. Cut large pieces in half. Lay potatoes into a 13 x 9-inch (33 x 22cm) glass baking dish.
Sprinkle brown sugar across the top, then dot with butter.
Bake 20 minutes.
Scatter marshmallows over the yams and bake for 15 minutes or until marshmallows are brown.
4 mini carrots sliced on an angle
½ cup (50g) olive oil – possibly more
½ medium onion, sliced
1 in. (2.54) piece gingerroot peeled and cut into strips
1 head broccoli trimmed and cut into florets
½ small sweet red pepper cored, seeded and cut into strips
½ small yellow pepper cored, seeded and cut into strips
2 large garlic cloves pressed
½ tsp. (2.5ml) red pepper flakes
2 green onions sliced on an angle, include green
5 mini Bello mushrooms, cleaned and sliced into thirds
1 tbsp. (15ml) lime or lemon juice
Have all ingredients prepped and, on the counter, before you begin cooking.
In a medium skillet, heat oil over medium high heat until it begins to shimmer. Add onion, carrot and gingerroot. Sauté until carrot is almost soft. Test by inserting a toothpick into the carrot. Remove as many gingerroot pieces as you can find. Don’t worry if some are left in the pan.
Add broccoli, red and yellow peppers, and garlic. Sprinkle on red pepper flakes. Stir constantly to ensure broccoli is well coated with oil. Add more oil if necessary. Squeeze on lime or lemon juice. Sauté 2 – 4 minutes, but be sure broccoli and peppers still have crunch to them.
Blend in green onions and mushrooms. Sauté until mushrooms are heated through. Serve quickly.
Serves 4 – 6 so adjust accordingly.
From the corn through the gravy you’ll see just how lazy I was on holidays. And I’m not ashamed.
1 can of corn per 4 people
Drain corn, then pour into microwave safe bowl. Lay 2 or 3 pats of butter across the top. Microwave for 3 minutes, stir and serve.
1 can of sauce per 6 people
Lay sauce into a serving bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerator until ready to serve.
1 jar of gravy for 4 people
Juices from the turkey pan
Pour the gravy into a saucepan. Stir in ¼ – ½ cup (58 – 57g) of juice from the roasted turkey pan. Go easy so you don’t thin the gravy too much. Heat through and serve.
Have a happy and safe holiday!
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