Thanksgiving Dinner

The Biggest Meal of the Year:  I'm not talking about the night you get cajoled into a Chuck-a-Rama buffet and end up eating your weight in all-you-can eat meat cooked in lard.  I mean Thanksgiving, that culinary holiday to beat all, where the only cajoling involves finding a good place to take a nap when it's all over. 


In case you're wondering, this is my favorite holiday.  Once a year in America, we prove that we don't need advertising and fancy packaging to spend time with our families.  I love it!  Thanksgiving may be the one pure holiday left, simply because it sits in the shadow of the biggest commercial cash cow this side of the north pole.  (To my knowledge they haven't started packaging snickers bars shaped like turkeys.)  Thanksgiving remains a tradition of home-cooking and family memories, and I hope it stays that way. 


Ashley and I worked together on some great recipes to help make the memories this year.  There are step-by-step instructions on cooking the perfect bird, along with cornbread stuffing (the only way to go in my opinion), sweet potatoes, and chocolate pecan pie that will carry you right into dreamland with it's rich flavor.  I've also included some other suggestions from the site at the bottom of this page.  Happy Thanksgiving!


  Perfectly Roasted Turkey Cornbread Stuffing Perfectly Mashed
Roasted Sweet Potatoes Cresent Rolls Chocolate Pecan Pie

Menu Planner
Step-by-step instuctions to make this meal:

The Day Before
Turkey- Brine the turkey for two hours.  Pat dry with paper towels and place it on a rimmed baking sheet lined with a cooling rack.  Refrigerate uncovered to let it dry 4-6 hours.  Butter the skin.  Salt and pepper the cavities and skin.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. 
Rolls- Make the dough and refrigerate before the first rise.  It will rise slowly in the refrigerator for about 8 hours.  It then maintains the rise for another 4-8 hours.  You can also make the dough, let it rise, shape the rolls, then cover and refrigerate overnight.  They can be made the day of as well.
Pie- Make the crust and refrigerate or freeze.  This can be done several weeks ahead of time.  Make the filling, cool it and fill the crust.  Don't place the pecans on yet.  Cover and refrigerate overnight. 
Stuffing- Make the cornbread, cool, and cover.

Morning of
Rolls- Shape, cover and refrigerate if you haven't shaped them yet.  Start the dough if you didn't make it the day before.
Mashed potatoes-  Scrub and quarter the potatoes.  Place in a large pot of cold water.  Measure the milk and butter in a microwaveable container and refrigerate.
Sweet Potatoes- Scrub, peel and cube.  Place in a bowl of cold water.  Slice the onions, cover and refrigerate.  Chop and measure the garlic and fresh herbs.  Refrigerate until ready to use.
Stuffing- Prepare, cover and refrigerate until ready to bake.
Pie- Place pecans on top.  Bake and set aside to cool.  This is good to do in the morning to free up the oven for later.
Set Table- you won't regret this step!

Three hours before
Turkey- Fill the cavity with the garlic, lemons, and herbs.  Bake according to the instructions.

Two hours before
Rolls- Remove from the refrigerator and set on the counter to rise.

One hour before
Mashed potatoes
- Boil the potatoes.
Sweet potatoes- Sautee according to the instructions and bake.  Sautee and set aside if there isn't room in the oven. 
Turkey- Finish baking it and allow it to rest before slicing it.  It's good to have the turkey done with time to spare to allow it to rest and free up the oven for the rest of the items.

Right before
Turkey- Slice and place on a serving dish.
Mashed potatoes- Finish potatoes.
Sweet potatoes- Bake them.
Bake it.
Bake them.
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