Series: How To Cook Thanksgiving Dinner: The Main Item

This is a series of links to recipes, videos and more for creating your perfect holiday feast. The first one is for the main item, the turkey, crown roast or whole roasted cauliflower for a vegan option.Nut Crusted Fresh Fruit Tart

Following series over the next few days leading up to the big day, will be the following posts:

  • Vegetables and side dishes
  • Breads and rolls
  • Desserts
  • What to do with left overs

Whether this is your first Thanksgiving dinner or your 50th, here are some tips and recipes for making the feast stress free.

I’m linking to the posts I’ve published over the years so click the links and create the Perfect Thanksgiving meal!

Let’s take a look at The Main Item

How to Roast a Turkey – a Step by step guide, with pictures.

Remember to click on the links for the full posts!

Of course if you don’t eat bacon, don’t use it, but it sure is delicious! If not using bacon, be sure to baste the bird every 1/2 hour. If the skin gets to dark, tent it with foil.

Tips for the Turkey:

  • Order fresh organic birds well in advance
  • If getting a frozen bird, allow it 3-4 days to thaw in your refrigerator
  • If brining your bird, remember to keep it cold
  • Open up all the cavities and remove any packets of innards, necks etc, from the inside, use these to make stock for gravy
  • Allow ample time to roast the bird and to let the bird rest at least 20 minutes before you start carving.
  • Save the bones to make stock. I love making stock on a cold dreary day. It makes everything smell so warm!

Turkey Roasting Chart for unstuffed and stuffed birds: Calculate your roasting time with this chart http://www.foodsafety.gov/keep/charts/turkeyroastingchart.html

Cover with bacon strips to baste the turkey during the initial phase of roasting. Remember the large bird will roast for several hours. After the first 2-3 hours, the bacon will be done, remove it and this becomes the "cooks treat". Continue roasting the bird, basting every 30-40 minutes. The skin will crisp and become golden brown. If the skin starts to get too brown before the bird is done, tent it with foil.

Cover with bacon strips to baste the turkey during the initial phase of roasting. Remember the large bird will roast for several hours. After the first 2-3 hours, the bacon will be done, remove it and this becomes the “cooks treat”. Continue roasting the bird, basting every 30-40 minutes. The skin will crisp and become golden brown. If the skin starts to get too brown before the bird is done, tent it with foil.

If Turkey isn’t on your menu but a Crown Roast is,

Here is a video from Charlotte Cooks on How to make a Crown Roast of Pork or Lamb (Mint Sauce recipe on the site)

Watch it here:

Tips for the Crown Roast:

  • Be sure to order your roast well is advance from your butcher. These aren’t typically an “off the shelf” kind of item. they will even french the bones (recommended) and tie it for you, just ask.
  • Use your favorite stuffing
  • Use a meat thermometer to cook it just right:
    • Rare: 135°F remove at 125°F and allow carry over cooking to reach 135°F
    • Medium Rare: 140°F Remove at 135°F and allow carry over to reach 140°F
    • Medium: 145°F Remove at 140°F and allow carry over to reach 145°F
    • Mid well to well 150°F and above. It is suggested to remove the number of well done portions from the others and finish those later rather than subject the entire roast to well-doneness disaster.
  • Carry over cooking is when the internal temperature of the meat continues to rise after it is removed from the oven.
  • Allow the roast to rest at least 20 minutes before slicing.

If a vegan meal is on your menu, you can Roast a Whole Cauliflower.

We love this and have it often during the year.

Tips for the Vegan Roast:

Plated roasted cauliflower

Plated roasted cauliflower

  • Buy large unblemished organic cauliflower; it really has the best flavor.
  • Use Greek yogurt, it’s thicker. Or drain plain yogurt in cheesecloth or a strainer over night to thicken it.
  • Use any leftovers to make a delicious soup!

 

So! There are some ideas for your main menu item on the Thanksgiving table.

Next up: Vegetable side dishes!

Happy Holidays!

#thanksgiving #thanksgivingrecipes #thanksgivingdinner #howtoroastaturkey #howtomakeacrownroast #stuffing #holidaymeal #veganroast

 

 

 

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Pumpkin Snicker-doodles

Pumpkin Snicker-doodles are delightful. Full of rich Autumnal flavors, they are sure to please your sweet tooth craving.

Yum! Cookies!

I made last year and sent some down to Tyler. I had my culinary students make them to share with the local Ronald McDonald House, and now my son wants the recipe again. He had several friends last year who were going to another friends home for Thanksgiving and they wanted to take these pumpkin cookies.

So somehow they found a kitchen to bake in. We had an afternoon of “cooking by text” with successful results. Hopefully they had enough to take to their hostess.

This year he and his girlfriend are in apartments and have their own kitchens. They are going to cook for each other this year. I am publishing the recipe for Pumpkin Snicker-doodles, along with the method and photos so one of them can make the cookies again.

So, you don’t like pumpkin? Substitute mashed banana instead of pumpkin.

This recipe makes a lot of cookies so you may want to cut the recipe in half or just share!

Here are some reasons you should make these this afternoon:

  • They are easy
  • They taste great
  • They look impressive
  • The recipe makes a lot of cookies so there is plenty to share
  • Your house will smell wonderful all afternoon
  • You can freeze some dough to bake later
  • It’s another Pumpkin thing!
  • Fall is in the air

Pumpkin Snickerdoodles

  • Servings: A lot of small cookies! About 6 dozen
  • Difficulty: moderate to easy
  • Print

  • 1 cup softened butter (2 sticks)
  • 2 cup white sugar
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 3  large eggs
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 6 cups AP flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 Tablespoon + 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. cloves
  • 1 tsp. salt

For rolling dough balls in before baking:

  • 1 cup white sugar mixed
  • 1 ½  tsp. cinnamon

In a large mixing bowl beat butter, both sugars, eggs, pumpkin puree, and vanilla on medium until butter is evenly incorporated into pumpkin.

In another bowl combine flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, salt and spices.

Fully Mixed Dough, Chill for at least 1 hour

Roll balls of the chilled dough in cinnamon sugar

Space the cookies 2″ apart on a lined sheet pan. Use parchment paper if you don’t have a silpat sheet. Flatten slightly with your fingers.

Beat dry ingredients into wet until it is all mixed in.  The dough will be fluffy but very sticky.

Cover and chill for at least an hour.

Pre-heat oven to 375°.

Using a cookie scoop or two spoons  form golf-ball sized balls with the chilled dough.

Roll balls in cinnamon sugar.

Place 2” apart on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Flatten slightly with fingers, but not too much.

Bake for 15 minutes, or until the tops are crackled and the edges are light golden brown.

Let cool for a couple of minutes on the baking sheet before removing to cooling sheets.

Cool cookies on a wire rack before drizzling with icing sugar.

To make icing sugar, combine 10x powdered sugar with a small bit of milk and a few drops of vanilla. Add the liquid a few drops at a time as the sugar will reach drizzling consistency quickly. Us a fork to drizzle, allow to dry before stacking cookies.

Eat and be happy!

Pumpkin Snicker doodles

 

How To Roast a Turkey

Dear Tyler,

Roasting a good turkey takes time.

A roast turkey prepared for a traditional U.S....

See the pop-up timer in the bird? (the white thing)

Your first turkey!

The adventure begins.

If you use an aluminum roasting pan, put a sheet pan under it and do not lift the foil pan without the sheet pan support.

The bird:

Defrost:

See the post on 4 ways to safely thaw food.

Whenever you handle poultry products, act as if you are handling potential contaminates.

Defrost in the refrigerator: at least 5 hours per pound.

If on roasting day it is still not thawed, complete the thawing under clean running water. Again, see 4 safe methods for thawing food.

Be sure to wash your sink both before and after rinsing the bird.

Remove the bird from the wrapper. Do this in the sink because of all the juices that will be in the bag from defrosting. If your bird has a bag of giblets, neck and livers, remove it. Some use these to make a stock and gravy but I don’t.

Your Grandfather (my dad) loves the neck! He would boil it and then pick all the little slivers of meat off the tiny neck bones, savoring every morsel.

You, on the other hand, can throw them away unless you like such things.

Rinse the bird.

Pat the bird dry with paper towels.

Pre-heat the oven to 400°F.

Before the oven gets hot, take a look at the shelves and adjust them so the turkey will fit in. In my oven the only rack that will fit is the bottom rack. It leaves just the right amount of space between the top heating elements and the bird.

While the oven is preheating, finish preparing the bird.

Place your aluminum roasting pan onto a sheet pan for safety. The aluminum pan is not strong enough to hold a 15-pound bird without support.

Chop carrots , celery and onions (not you, Tyler) to line the bottom of the roasting pan.

Chop your carrots and celery into chunks and place them on the bottom of the pan. If you liked onions, you would put some of those in there too. Since you don’t like them, leave them out.

Place the turkey, breast side up into the pan. Tuck the wings under the shoulders so the tips don’t burn in the long roasting process.

Gently loosen the skin and press some seasoned butter under the skin. This will help baste the bird as it roasts.

Season the skin and place some herbs, orange or citrus fruit into the cavity. Season inside the bird too. Season it with salt, pepper, your favorite spice mixture, what ever seasonings you like.

Tie the legs together and plump up the breasts.

Cover with bacon strips to baste the turkey during the initial phase of roasting. Remember the large bird will roast for several hours. After the first 2-3 hours, the bacon will be done, remove it and this becomes the “cooks treat”. Continue roasting the bird, basting every 30-40 minutes. The skin will crisp and become golden brown. If the skin starts to get too brown before the bird is done, tent it with foil.

Cover the surface of the turkey with bacon strips.

Place the supported roasting pan into the oven. Reduce the heat to 325°F. Roast until the internal temperature reads 165°F or higher in the leg or thigh. For your 15 pound bird that will take about 3 1/2 to 4 hours, maybe longer.

My 17 pound bone-in breast took 6 hours.

If the bird starts to get too brown, cover it with a tin foil tent.

When the bird is done, remove from the oven and allow the bird to rest at least 1/2 hour (covered in foil) before carving.

How do you carve a turkey? I found this video on You Tube that shows you step by step.

I didn’t have time to make a video for you, sorry.

Enjoy your Turkey! Take pictures of your first.

How odd in our culture, roasting your first turkey is some kind of right of passage.

I love cooking this meal and hope you do too.

Watch the carving video, use a sharp knife and enjoy your dinner!

Here is a tip:

Place your cutting board in a sheet pan to catch all the juices that run out while carving. Stir these juices into your gravy.

Tyler, remember, I am just a phone call away if you get stuck.

There are also many other “Turkey Hot Lines” for those  who get stuck.

If all else fails and you totally blow it, Chinese restaurants are usually open on Thanksgiving as an Emergency Back-up Unit.

Love you!

Mom

 

How to make Cranberry Sauce – easier than you think!

Dear Tyler:

Cranberry Sauce is easier than you think! Glad you asked. It is very exciting to be cooking your first Thanksgiving Feast! So here is the recipe you asked for:

How to make cranberry sauce

Forget the can. Grab a bag of fresh cranberries, sugar and some water, oranges and sherry (a fortified wine, like Marsala) and we can have an array of cranberry sauces to amaze everyone.

Here are 3 super easy and full of flavor cranberry sauces. The only one I don’t think you’ll try is the sherry one, but one day, perhaps you will enjoy the complexity of flavors of sherry and cranberry.

The first recipe is found on nearly every bag of fresh cranberries.

Easy Cranberry Sauce

  • 1 12-16 ounce bag of fresh cranberries or equivalent  of frozen berries.
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • pinch of salt

Put it all in the pot and bring to a boil

Add all ingredients to a  deep sauce pan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer at an active simmer for 5 minutes.

Boil then actively simmer for 5 minutes. Serve warm or cold.

Serve warm, room temperature or cold with roasted or grilled meats. Especially Thanksgiving Turkey!

Cranberry Orange Sauce

  • 1 orange, cut into quarters
  • 1 12-oz bag fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • pinch salt

Remove the pithy core and seeds’ cut into quarters. Use a blender or food processor to puree.

Remove the seeds and the pithy core. Add the oranges, cranberries and sugar to a food processor or blender and puree until almost smooth. Thin with either cranberry or orange juice if needed.

Process until smooth

Place in a container and serve with just about whatever you want. I like turkey especially.

If you make this with frozen cranberries, you get a sorbet like consistency. Delicious!

Sherried Cranberry Sauce

  • 1 12-16 ounce bag of fresh cranberries or equivalent  of frozen berries.
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4 cup dry sherry
Cranberry Sauce 003

Cranberry Sauce 003 (Photo credit: MGF/Lady Disdain)

Add all ingredients to a  deep sauce pan, except the sherry. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer at an active simmer for 5 minutes.

Stir in the sherry. Blend until smooth if desired. Strain if you want a smooth sauce.

Serve warm, room temperature or cold with roasted or grilled meats.

These are the 3 most popular cranberry sauces our family uses.

So here you go. You can now carry on Turkey traditions!

3 Cranberry sauces from left to right: Orange Cranberry, Easy Cranberry Sauce and Sherried Cranberry Sauce

Tomorrow:

Since you are cooking your first turkey Thursday, I’ll write a post on:

How to Roast a Turkey

Love,

Mom