I always loved Thanksgiving as a child and remember grabbing the largest turkey leg off the platter before any of my cousins could claim it for themselves. Kai seems to feel the same, saying he can’t wait 2 (!!!) weeks for Thanksgiving food, namely fluffy mashed potatoes and crunchy topped green beans.
I remember the first time we cooked our own Thanksgiving meal. Mike and I lived in an apartment downtown and were vegetarian. I marveled at his ability to make sweet potatoes without a recipe and silently cursed the Tofurky. I felt so thankful for the time spent together in the kitchen.
Each year has its own story and as I look back on past Thanksgivings, I cherish all the faces that shared this yearly tradition with us. A few are no longer with us and some now live miles away. Babies are born and children grow. Year after year we gather around the table together for this special feast, feeling thankful for all that has come before and all that is yet to come.
Read on for my favorite recipes and a few tips to make Thanksgiving as delicious as it was always meant to be.
Wine: Lots of red. Any pinot noir from Oregon does the trick.
Appetizers: Relish tray full of pickles, olives and anything else I find. Celery, carrots or nuts round out the palate.
Turkey: Buy a fresh turkey if possible and plan 1 pound per person. I usually end up scouring the aisles for the smallest turkey available. Last year, I bought a 10 pound turkey at Whole Foods. Brine Monday or Tuesday. I like to dry brine the turkey. I find it much easier than a wet brine. No water sloshing around in my already crowded refrigerator. When it comes to baking it, grab a meat thermometer, especially the kind that stay inserted the whole time. Stress be gone!
Stuffing: I go for super easy and pick up pre-made stuffing mix and bread crumbs at our local market so that all I have to do is mix them together. To make it from scratch here is the recipe. The stove top is your friend.
Green Beans: Classic all the way. I follow the Campbell’s recipe and use frozen green beans.
Mashed Potatoes: Peeled russet potatoes boiled in salted water until fork tender. Transfer to a stand mixer and add butter, milk and sour cream and whip to creamy perfection.
Dinner Rolls: These potato rolls knocked my socks off when I tested them for Simply Recipes. Give them a try!
Cranberry Sauce: I like to get a pre-made cranberry orange sauce fresh from our local grocer but if you want to make it from scratch, here is a link to their recipe.
Pumpkin Pie: I loved the depth of flavor of this pumpkin pie. Taking the extra step of cooking the pumpkin mixture deepens the pumpkin flavor while keeping the ease of canned pumpkin.
Pecan Pie: I need this pecan pie each and every year. Try this pecan pie and you won’t be disappointed.
Pie Crust: I use this crust from Smitten Kitchen but add 1 tablespoon of cider vinegar and process in a food processor with the dough blade. As an extra bonus, one recipe makes two crusts which is exactly what I need. Hurray!
Whipped Cream: Stella Parks elevates the whipping cream game to a whole new level. I also love that I can make it ahead of time.
Have fun and enjoy the time spent in the kitchen with those you love.