Citizens – tremble in awe before my annual sharing of the best-ever recipes for a complete TFD-inspired, blowout and truly EPIC Thanksgiving feast!
Be advised – this recipe set is a ***major*** undertaking, but if you gird your loins, get lots of help in the kitchen, take a deep breath and apply yourself with fortitude and diligence, it will result in the finest Thanksgiving meal
If you are overwhelmed and need immediate help with your turkey, take a deep breath and call the Butterball hotline!
Call 1-800-BUTTERBALL (800-288-8372).
Nov. 1-18: 8 a.m.-8 p.m. (CT)
Nov. 19-20: 8 a.m.-6 p.m. (CT)
Nov. 21-22: 7 a.m.-9 p.m. (CT)
Nov. 23: 7 a.m.-10 p.m. (CT)
Nov. 24: 6 a.m.-6 p.m. (CT)
Nov. 25-Dec. 23: 8 a.m.-6 p.m. (CT)
Dec. 17-18: 8 a.m.-2 p.m. (CT)
Dec. 24: 8 a.m.-2 p.m. (CT)
Most of the dishes in my post are based on recipes from the November, 1988 issue of Gourmet magazine (with TFD changes noted in the recipes) that are tragically not available online. I have kept these treasured recipes in my recipe box for more than 30 years now and am now seeing fit to share them with the world – they are too good to keep for myself. I made several updates to the original recipes (noted as such in the text), including dry-brining the turkey a few days beforehand, which yields incredible results.
The technique was developed by the Zuni Cafe in San Francisco, is incredibly simple and results in a truly spectacular bird. I also now air-dry the turkey with a fan to guarantee killer crispy skin, a technique borrowed from the classic Peking Duck. I also STRONGLY recommend a heritage bird or at least a good local bird such as those from Diestel Ranch in Northern California.
One new addition as of October 19, 2019 – I discovered legendary Southern Chef Scott Peacock’s ginger and country ham sweet butter – it is a more than worthy of addition to my feast!
There are lots of neo-fusion horror recipes available online since these recipes came out – but this is for the real deal. Accept no substitutes.
Let me put it this way – when I showed Iron Chef Alex Guarnaschelli of the Food Network a picture of my final Turkey in 2011, in all its bronzed glory (pictured in this post), she only had one word to say on Twitter – “WOW!”.
Battle on – The Generalissimo
Herbed Scalloped Oysters
1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
1 cup fresh cracker crumbs
1 stick (½ cup) unsalted butter, melted
¼ cup minced fresh parsley leaves
¼ snipped fresh dill
48 oysters, shucked, reserving 3 Tbsp. of the liquor
1 ½ Tbsp. heavy cream
Tabasco to taste
Lemon wedges as an accompaniment, if desired
In a bowl, stir together the bread crumbs, the cracker crumbs, the butter, the parsley and the dill, spread ½ the mixture in the bottom of a 13- by 9-inch baking pan, and on it arrange the oysters in one layer.
In a small bowl, stir together the reserved oyster liquor, the cream, the Tabasco, and salt and pepper to taste and drizzle the liquid evenly over the oysters.
Cover the oysters with the remaining crumb mixture, bake them in the middle of a preheated 425 degree F. oven for 20-25 minutes, or until the crumbs are golden, and serve the oysters with the lemon wedges.
TFD Roast Turkey with Chestnut and Apple Cornbread Stuffing and Brandied Giblet Gravy
For the Stuffing:
Corn bread for stuffing (recipe follows)
2 cups chopped onion
1 ½ cups chopped celery
1 ½ sticks (¾ cup) unsalted butter, softened
1 pound fresh chestnuts, shelled and peeled, cooked and chopped coarse, or vacuum-packed chestnuts, chopped coarse (about 2 cups)
3 Tbsp. minced fresh sage leaves, or 1 Tbsp. crumbled dried
2 Tbsp. minced fresh thyme leaves, or 2 tsp. crumbled dried
1 Tbsp. minced fresh rosemary leaves, or 1 tsp. crumbled dried
½ cup minced fresh parsley leaves
< ½ pound Italian mild sausage meat, crumbled – note that this is NOT in the original recipe and is a TFD addition, but it really makes it! >
3 Granny Smith Apples
A 12-14 pound heritage-breed Turkey, the neck and giblets (excluding the liver) reserved for making Turkey giblet stock
1 ½ sticks (¾ cup) unsalted butter, softened (TFD note – you’ll need a lot more!)
½ navel orange (TFD addition)
1 cup Turkey giblet stock or chicken stock (Turkey giblet stock recipe below)
For the Gravy:
1 cup dry white wine
⅓ cup all-purpose flour
3 cups Turkey giblet stock and the reserved cooked neck and giblets
3 Tbsp. Cognac or other Brandy, or to taste
Fresh Sage leaves and Thyme sprigs for garnish
1. Wash the turkey inside and out, pat it dry and weigh it. Measure 1 tablespoon of kosher salt into a bowl for every 5 pounds the turkey weighs (for a 15-pound turkey, you’d have 3 tablespoons).
2. Sprinkle the inside of the turkey lightly with salt. Place the turkey on its back and salt the breasts, concentrating the salt in the center, where the meat is thickest. You’ll probably use a little more than a tablespoon. It should look liberally seasoned, but not oversalted.
3. Turn the turkey on one side and sprinkle the entire side with salt, concentrating on the thigh. You should use a little less than a tablespoon. Flip the turkey over and do the same with the opposite side.
4. Place the turkey in a 2½ -gallon sealable plastic bag, press out the air and seal tightly. Place the turkey breast-side up in the refrigerator. Chill for 3 days, leaving it in the bag, but turning it and massaging the salt into the skin every day.
5. Remove the turkey from the bag. There should be no salt visible on the surface and the skin should be moist but not wet. Wipe the turkey dry with a paper towel, place it breast-side up on a plate and refrigerate uncovered for at least 8 hours.
6. On the day it is to be cooked, remove the turkey from the refrigerator and leave it at room temperature at least 1 hour, ideally with a fan blowing on the turkey for at least 2 hours. This is critical to achieving the ultimate in crispy skin, a technique I picked up from cooking Peking Duck. TFD note – as an optional step that I highly recommend, you may wish to *carefully* loosen the breast skin from the meat with a small, sharp paring knife and spread the breast meat with a liberal amount of butter, well seasoned with salt, pepper, finely chopped thyme and sage.
Make the Stuffing:
Crumble the corn bread coarse into 2 jelly roll pans, bake it in the middle of a preheated 325 degree F. oven, stirring occasionally, for 30-35 minutes or until it is dry and deep golden, and transfer it to a large bowl.
In a large skillet, cook the onion and celery with salt and pepper to taste in ½ stick of the butter over moderately low heat, stirring, until the vegetables are softened and transfer the mixture to the bowl of corn bread. TFD note – If using the sausage, cook this first and in the same skillet, cook the onion and celery, then drain the fat and add to the bowl in place of the butter.
Add the chestnuts, the sage, the thyme, the rosemary, the parsley, the remaining 1 stick of butter, melted and salt and pepper to taste, toss the mixture gently until it is combined well and let it cool. The mixture may be prepared ahead up to this point 1 day in advance and kept covered and chilled. DO NOT STUFF THE TURKEY IN ADVANCE.
Just before stuffing the Turkey, stir into the mixture the apples, peeled, cored and cut into ¼ inch pieces.
Season the turkey inside and out with salt and pepper. TFD note – I take ½ a navel orange and rub the inside and out of the Turkey thoroughly with it prior to salting and peppering. Pack the neck cavity loosely with some of the stuffing, fold the neck skin under the body, and fasten it with a skewer.
Pack the body cavity loosely with some of the remaining stuffing and truss the Turkey. Transfer the remaining stuffing to a buttered 2-quart baking dish and reserve it, covered and chilled.
Spread the Turkey with ½ stick of the butter and roast it on the rack of a roasting pan in a preheated 425 degree F. oven for 30 minutes. Reduce the heat to 325 degrees F., baste the Turkey with the pan juices and drape it with a piece of cheesecloth soaked in the remaining 1 stick of butter, melted and cooled. TFD note – make sure you press the cheesecloth into the body of the bird at all points, especially near the drumsticks or it will not brown at those areas! Also, I find soaking the cheesecloth requires 2 sticks of melted butter, not 1 – and for good measure, after the Turkey is mummified, I melt one more stick and pour it over the Turkey just to be sure it is fully saturated – which is what you really want here.
Roast the Turkey, basting it every 20 minutes for 2 ½ hours to 3 hours more, or until the juices run clear when the fleshy part of a thigh is pricked with a skewer and a meat thermometer inserted into the fleshy part of a thigh registers 180 degrees F.
During the last hour of roasting, bake the reserved stuffing, drizzled with the 1 cup of stock and covered loosely, in the 325 degree F. oven. Discard the cheesecloth (TFD note – be VERY careful pulling the cheesecloth off to make sure you don’t take the skin with it!) and trussing string, transfer the Turkey to a heated platter and keep it warm, covered loosely with foil.
Make the Gravy:
Skim the fat from the pan juices, reserving ¼ cup of the fat. Add the wine to the pan, and deglaze the pan over moderately high heat, scraping up the brown bits from the bottom and sides. Boil the mixture until it is reduced by ½ and reserve it.
In a saucepan, combine the reserved fat and the flour and cook the roux over moderately low heat, whisking, for 3 minutes. Add the stock and reserved wine mixture in a stream, whisking and bring the mixture to a boil, whisking and then simmer the gravy, stirring occasionally for 10 minutes.
Add the reserved cooked giblets and the neck meat, chopped fine, the Cognac, and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer the gravy for 2 minutes and transfer it to heated pitcher or sauceboat.
Garnish the Turkey with the sage leaves and the thyme sprigs.
TFD note – the best way to carve a Turkey is to remove all the meat from the bird in the kitchen, and present a platter of it to your guests – after showing off the whole bird first, of course! Details on how to carve this way are here.
The following recipe yields a very dry cornbread that is best suited for stuffing.
Corn Bread for Stuffing:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 ⅓ cups yellow cornmeal
1 Tbsp. double acting baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 cup milk
1 large egg
3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and cooled
In a bowl, stir together the flour, the cornmeal, the baking powder and the salt. In a small bowl, whisk together the milk, the egg and the butter. Add the milk mixture to the cornmeal mixture and stir the batter until it is just combined.
Pour the batter into a greased 8-inch square baking pan and bake the cornbread in the middle of a preheated 425 degree F. oven for 20-25 minutes, or until the top is pale golden and a tester comes out clean.
Let the cornbread cool in the pan for 5 minutes, invert it onto a rack and let it cool completely.
Turkey Giblet Stock:
The neck and giblets (excluding the liver) of a 12-14 pound Turkey
4 cups chicken broth
1 rib of celery, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 onion, quartered
1 bay leaf
½ tsp. dried Thyme, crumbled
1 tsp. black peppercorns
In a large saucepan, combine the neck and the giblets, the broth, the celery, the carrot, the onion, and 4 cups of water and bring the liquid to a boil, skimming the froth.
Add the bay leaf, the thyme, and the peppercorns and cook the mixture at a bare simmer for 2 hours, or until it is reduced to 4 cups. Strain the stock through a fine sieve into a bowl, reserving the neck and giblets for the gravy.
The stock may be made 2 days in advance, cooled completely, uncovered, and kept chilled in an airtight container or frozen. Makes about 4 cups.
Potato and Turnip Purée:
3 pounds russet (baking) potatoes
2 pounds turnips, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
½ stick ( ¼ cup ) unsalted butter, softened
freshly-ground white pepper to taste
In a large saucepan, combine the potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces, with enough cold water to cover them by 1 inch. Bring the water to a boil, and simmer the potatoes for 10-15 minutes, or until they are tender.
While the potatoes are cooking, in a steamer set over boiling water, steam the turnips, covered, for 12-15 minutes or until they are very tender.
In a food processor, puree the turnips. Drain the potatoes in a large colander, return them to the pan and cook them over moderate heat, shaking the pan, for 30 seconds to evaporate any excess liquid.
Force the potatoes through a ricer of the medium disk of a food mill into a bowl, add the butter, stirring until it is melted, and stir in the turnip purée, the white pepper and salt to taste.
The purée may be made 1 day in advance, kept covered and chilled and reheated. Makes about 6 cups, serving 8.
Glazed Carrots and Parsnips:
1 ¼ cups chicken broth
½ stick ( ¼ cup ) unsalted butter
3 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
2 pounds carrots, cut into sticks 2 by ¼ by ¼ inches (about 4 cups)
2 pounds parsnips, cut into sticks 2 by ¼ by ¼ inches (about 4 cups)
3 Tbsp. minced fresh parsley leaves
In a large saucepan, combine the broth, the butter, the sugar, and the salt and bring the mixture to a boil. Add the carrots and cook the mixture, covered, over moderately high heat, for 1 minute.
Add the parsnips and and cook the mixture, covered, for 4-5 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.
Transfer the vegetables with a slotted spoon to a bowl and keep them warm, covered. Boil the cooking liquid until it is reduced to about 1/3 cup and pour it over the vegetables.
The vegetables may be prepared to this point 1 day in advance, kept covered and chilled, and reheated.
Add the parsley and salt and pepper to taste and toss the mixture gently. Serves 8.
Jellied Orange Cranberry Sauce:
1 ½ cups fresh orange juice
1 ½ cups sugar
12 ounce bag (3 ¼ cups) cranberries, picked over and rinsed
1 Tbsp. freshly grated orange rind
In a large saucepan, combine the orange juice and the sugar, bring the mixture to a boil, stirring until the sugar is dissolved, and add the cranberries.
Bring the mixture back to a boil, and simmer it, stirring occasionally, for 20-30 minutes or until it is reduced to about 2 cups.
Stir in the rind and pour the mixture into a well-oiled 2-cup decorative mold. Let the cranberry sauce cool to room temperature and chill it, covered for at least 1 day and up to 3 days.
Dip the mold in a pan of hot water for 1 minute, invert it onto a serving plate and shake it gently to release. Makes about 2 cups, serves 8.
Also serve this feast with:
TFD’s Peas and Pearl Onions with Lemon-Dill-Mint Butter
1 package (16 ounces) frozen small whole onions
1 package (16 ounces) frozen peas
2 Tbsp. butter
1 tsp. minced fresh dill
1 tsp. minced fresh mint
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
¼ tsp. seasoning salt
⅛ tsp. freshly-ground black pepper
Cook frozen onions in small amount of boiling water in a large covered saucepan for 2 minutes. Add peas; cook, covered, 2 to 3 minutes or just until vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally. Drain well. Set aside.
Melt butter in small saucepan on medium heat. Stir in dill, mint, lemon, salt and pepper. Drizzle butter mixture over vegetables; toss gently to coat.
Rolls (TFD likes Parker House Rolls and this is the original recipe from the Parker House Hotel – you can’t get more authentic than this!
Parker House Rolls
Recipe courtesy Omni Parker House Hotel, Boston, Massachusetts
6 cups all-purpose flour (about)
½ cup sugar
2 teaspoons salt
2 packages active dry yeast
1 cup margarine or butter (2 sticks), softened (TFD note – I’d use butter)
1 large egg
In a large bowl, combine 2 ¼ cups flour, sugar, salt, and yeast; add ½ cup margarine or butter (1 stick). With mixer at low speed, gradually pour 2 cups hot tap water (120 degrees F to 130 degrees F.) into dry ingredients. Add egg; increase speed to medium; beat 2 minutes, scraping bowl with rubber spatula. Beat in ¾ cup flour or enough to make a thick batter; continue beating 2 minutes, occasionally scraping bowl. With spoon, stir in enough additional flour (about 2 ½ cups) to make a soft dough.
Turn dough onto lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes, working in more flour (about ½ cup) while kneading. Shape dough into a ball and place in greased large bowl, turning over so that top of dough is greased. Cover with towel; let rise in warm place (80 to 85 degrees F.) until doubled, about 1 ½ hours. (Dough is doubled when 2 fingers pressed into dough leave a dent.)
Punch down dough by pushing down the center or dough with fist, then pushing edges of dough into center. Turn dough onto lightly floured surface; knead lightly to make smooth ball, cover with bowl for 15 minutes, and let dough rest.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
In 17 ¼-inch by 11 ½-inch roasting pan, over low heat, melt remaining ½ cup margarine or butter; tilt pan to grease bottom.
On lightly floured surface with floured rolling pin, roll dough ½ inch thick. With floured 2 ¾-inch round cutter, cut dough into circles. Holding dough circle by the edge, dip both sides into melted margarine or butter pan; fold in half. Arrange folded dough in rows in pans, each nearly touching the other. Cover pan with towel; let dough rise in warm place until doubled, about 40 minutes.
Bake rolls for 15 to 18 minutes until browned.
TFD addition October, 2019 – Scott Peacock’s country ham sweet and spicy butter:
TFD ADDITION, 11/16/2010: This Thomas Keller recipe for a gourmet green bean casserole would also be magnificent to include!
Green-Bean Casserole—Oven-Baked Haricots Verts With Cream of California Cèpe Mushrooms and Crispy Shallots – from Thomas Keller of Per Se – Servings 8 people
8 medium cèpes, cleaned (porcini or white button mushrooms can be substituted)
1 quart plus 4 Tbsp. canola oil
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1 yellow onion, finely minced
1 tsp. thyme leaves, finely minced
½ cup chicken stock
1 cup cream
1 ½ cups flour
2 Tbsp. butter
Salt and freshly ground white pepper
Juice of 1 lemon, to taste
⅔ cup kosher salt
2 ½ pounds haricots verts, cut into 1-inch batons
15 large shallots, peeled
⅓ cup chopped parsley
Cut the bottom half of the stem off each cèpe and cut the base into a ¼-inch dice. Slice the remaining cèpe into sixths from top to bottom and reserve.
Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a medium saucepan. Add the diced mushroom stems, garlic, and onions, and sweat until the onions are translucent. Add the thyme, stock, and cream, and bring to a boil. Mix ¼ cup of flour with the butter in a small bowl to form a paste. Remove the saucepan from the heat and slowly whisk in the butter-and-flour mixture until incorporated. Return the sauce to a simmer and cook gently for 15 minutes, whisking constantly to prevent the bottom from burning. Season with salt, pepper, and lemon juice.
Bring 7 quarts of water to a boil, add kosher salt, and return to a fast boil. Add haricots verts and blanch until tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Drain the beans and chill in ice water. Drain again, and dry the beans on paper towels.
Add 1 quart oil to a large saucepan and heat to 325 degrees. Holding the shallots at the root end, slice very thinly on a mandoline. Place the shallots in a mixing bowl, add the flour, and toss together until the shallots have separated into rings. Add all the shallots to the saucepan at once and fry, stirring constantly, until they are lightly browned. Drain, place on paper towels, and season with salt.
To finish, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Sauté the reserved cèpes in 2 tablespoons oil until golden brown. In a large bowl, combine the cèpes, cream of cèpe, and haricots verts. Check the seasoning and adjust accordingly. Transfer to an ovenproof casserole dish and bake uncovered for 15 minutes. Sprinkle parsley and the crispy shallots on top.
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