It’s Turkey Day, and instead of enjoying a peaceful Zen moment basting your bird, you have your head in a paper bag and you’re panicked that you’ll end up with a dry turkey. Don’t worry—we’ve got some great tips and tricks for you to follow so that your Thanksgiving Day feast gets bravos instead of boos!
If you’re a novice cook or are still trying to live down last year’s dinner, the recipes below will help you create a gourmet Thanksgiving meal that will leave your guests asking for seconds. Because as much as you might hate to admit it, there is something fun about being in the kitchen and stirring up a great meal during the holidays. If that cooking bug bites you, here are a few easy recipes and step-by-step directions to get your feast in fabulous shape.
Roasted Turkey Marinated with Sage, Preserved Lemon and Garlic
1 small turkey (less than 12 pounds)
1 jar lemon marinade
1 teaspoon sage
1 carrot, rough cut
1 white onion, peeled and rough cut
1 stick of celery, rough cut
garlic clove, peeled and sliced
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1 1/2 tablespoons flour
Two days in advance, remove the neck and giblets from inside the turkey. Rub the lemon and sage marinade all over the turkey, inside and out, as well as the neck and giblets. Place the turkey breast-down in the refrigerator in a well-covered container. Place the neck and giblets in a separate container or plastic bag and refrigerate
One day in advance, place the neck, giblets, carrot, onion and celery on a roasting pan and put them in a preheated 350 F oven for about 45 minutes, or until well-browned.
Place them all in a sauce pot and deglaze the roasting pan with cold water. Add the water from the deglazing to the pot. Add the garlic, bay leaf, peppercorns and a pinch of salt to the pot. Cover with about 2 inches of water or chicken stock.
Place the pot over high heat for about 10 minutes, but do not bring it to a boil. After 10 minutes, turn the heat to very low and allow the pot to simmer slowly for 6-8 hours, adding more liquid if needed.
Strain the liquid, cool to room temperature and hold in the refrigerator overnight. Discard the giblets and vegetables.
Four hours in advance, remove the turkey from the refrigerator and place in a roasting pan. Put it in a preheated 450 F oven for 15 minutes and turn the temperature of the oven down to 250 F. After about 3 hours, check the internal temperature of the turkey with an instant-read thermometer by placing the tip of the probe at the base of the thigh between the thigh and breast. When the internal temperature reads 155 F, remove the turkey from the oven and allow it to rest for 30-45 minutes. The internal temperature will continue to rise to about 165 F after it is removed from the oven.
While the cooked turkey is resting, gently remove it from the roasting pan and set it aside on a platter to collect any juices that drip from the bird.
Place the roasting pan over a medium burner flame and, using a whisk, stir in the flour and continue stirring for 3-4 minutes or until the flour and grease mixture is bubbling and beginning to slightly brown.
Remove the turkey stock from the refrigerator and remove any congealed fat floating on the surface.
Add 1 cup of the stock to the flour mixture and vigorously stir with the whisk. Continue frequently stirring for 10 minutes or so. The mixture should begin to thicken. Add more stock if the mixture becomes too thick. Slowly simmer for 20-30 minutes, stir in the butter and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper if needed.
Carve the turkey and serve it with the gravy.
Walnut Sage Pesto Stuffed Mushroom Caps
24 medium-sized mushrooms, stems removed*
1/2 cup pesto
2 tablespoons butter, melted
2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Place mushroom caps in an ovenproof baking dish. Fill each mushroom with 1 teaspoon of pesto. Brush sides of mushroom caps with melted butter, sprinkle with cheese and bake until golden brown (about 20 minutes).
Remove from oven and garnish with parsley. Serve on a tray for passed appetizers, on a bed of greens tossed with balsamic vinaigrette as a first course, or on a plate as a side dish with roasted meats, chicken or fish.
*Use of mushroom stems: Chop and sauté with onions as stuffing for chicken, add to soup stock, or toss with pasta and pesto.
Antipasti Olive Appetizer
1/4 cup olive oil, reserved from olives
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 cup fresh fennel bulb, chopped if desired
1 jar (approximately 16 ounces) antipasti olives, oil reserved
2 tablespoons preserved lemon, pulp removed and rind chopped
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon orange juice,freshly squeezed if available
In sauté pan, heat oil over medium flame. Add garlic and fennel and sauté for 2-3 minutes until fennel is soft.
Add olives, lemon and juice. Sauté for an additional 5 minutes or until fully warmed.
Sprinkle with salt and serve with a glass of red wine or champagne. This is a great accompaniment with a cheese platter.
Apricot Mustard Baked Ham
1 smoked ham (6-8 pounds), rump or shank half
1 cup apricot fruit spread
1/2 cup garlic mustard
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
2 tablespoons dark rum (optional)
Preheat oven to 325 F.
Place ham, fat side up, in roasting pan. Pour 1 inch of water into roasting pan. Roast for 1 1/2 hours.
While ham is cooking, mix fruit spread and garlic mustard, cloves and rum together and set aside.
Remove roasting pan from oven and generously brush the mustard mixture over the ham. Put ham back in oven and continue to brush more mustard glaze over ham every 10 minutes for another 30-40 minutes.
Cheddar Cheese Soup
2 2/2-ounce cans or bottles of beer
1 quart heavy cream
1 pound cheddar cheese, grated
2 tablespoons flour
1/3 cup melted butter
1/8 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
melted butter and mix in flour to make a roux. Remove from heat. Cook until smooth.
beer and whisk in roux. Cook until thickened. Add cream and bring to just under boiling. Whisk in cheese until melted.
Add salt and pepper. Serve with croutons.
Sun-Dried Tomato and Basil Torta
Spray a round 6-inch soufflé dish with nonstick cooking spray. Line dish with plastic wrap, forming a smooth liner for the dish.
In a mixer, combine cream cheese, mascarpone cheese, salt and pepper. Mix until thoroughly combined. Take 1/3 of the cheese mixture and line the bottom of the dish, leveling evenly.
Spoon basil pesto onto cheese mixture on top of the basil pesto. Spoon sun-dried tomato pesto on top of the second cheese layer.
Complete with remaining cheese filling and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight.
Invert torta onto platter, remove plastic wrap, and garnish with toasted pine nuts and basil sprigs.
*You can substitute an additional 8 ounces of cream cheese for mascarpone if not available.
Rosemary Garlic Mashed Potatoes
2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
1 cup milk, half-and-half or buttermilk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons garlic mustard
3 tablespoons fresh chives, minced
Salt and pepper to taste
Place potatoes in a large pot and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil.
Reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, until potatoes are fork tender (about 20 minutes).
While potatoes are cooking, put warm milk in a saucepan over low heat.
Drain potatoes and mash them or run them through a food processor.
Add mashed potatoes to milk and add butter, garlic mustard, chives, salt and pepper. Whisk until fluffy and smooth.