I don’t know what you were most thankful for this year, but for me, it’s always family. I’m an incredibly lucky person in that my parents are still married and happy (coming up on 50 years!), we are very close to them, and also to my aunts, uncles and cousins. And I’m immensely thankful for my wonderful husband, who is my partner in all things. Almost as much, I’m thankful for a great kitchen in which to cook the Thanksgiving meal! This year, the menu included:
Spinach dip with crudités
The Main Meal
Butternut squash gratin
Brussels sprouts with sausage
Spiced pumpkin pie with maple cream
Salted chocolate and caramel tart
The dinner was delicious! Below are recipes and tips on everything but the mashed potatoes, which I assume you know is simply potatoes boiled until tender, drained and mashed or put through a ricer, then add plenty of butter, a bit of milk and salt & pepper. Enjoy the reading, and keep this bookmarked for next year. This will be one long post!
Hard boil the eggs and cool in an ice bath. Peel the eggs, and cut in half, lengthwise. In a small bowl, gently squeeze each egg half to drop the cooked yolks into the bowl (or use a spoon). Mash the egg yolks with a fork, add all other ingredients and mix to forma smooth paste. Taste for seasoning. Using either a spoon or a pastry bag, fill each egg white half with the filling. Top with a sprinkle of paprika and chopped chives, and arrange on a serving platter. TIP: You can do everything but fill the egg white halves several hours or even the day before, and assemble just before serving.
Classic Spinach Dip
There is just no beating that delicious, addictive spinach dip that you’ve seen served a million times in a sourdough bread bowl. Slightly up-leveled, this recipe is best made at least 6 hours before serving.
1 16-oz tub of sour cream
1 cup mayonnaise
1 pkg Knorr leek soup mix (1.8 oz)
1 4 oz can sliced water chestnuts, drained and chopped
5 oz frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
sourdough bread cubes, carrot sticks, celery sticks
Mix together all ingredients until well mixed, refrigerate for at least 6 hours before serving.
For the turkey, rinse and dry the bird, then fill it with the stuffing (more on that in a second), put the turkey breast side up in a roasting pan and coat with melted butter thoroughly. then rub paprika all over the bird (this will give the roasted turkey a beautiful color). Place in the oven at 350F and cook for 12-15 minutes per pound. I suggest planning for about 13 minutes per pound, but begin testing the temperature when the full cooking time at 12 minutes per pound is reached. The turkey will be done when the thickest part of the thigh or the center of the stuffed cavity is at 165F. Remove the turkey to a cutting board and let rest for 20-30 minutes while you make the gravy.
2 bags of herbed stuffing mix (the kind you buy at the store)
3 yellow onions, diced
1 bunch of celery, diced
3 Tbsp butter
2 lb Jimmy Dean pork sausage (we use 1 lb regular, 1 lb hot)
black pepper to taste
2 Granny Smith apples
1 1/2 chopped pecans
2 cups chicken stock
Melt 3 Tbsp of butter over medium heat in a large skillet; add the onions and celery and sauté until the onions are softened. Add the sausage, breaking up the meat into small chunks as it browns. Season with black pepper. Add the sautéed ingredients to the stuffing mix in a very large bowl. Grate the apples, and add to the bowl. Add the pecans and mix well. Gradually mix in the chicken stock. Taste for seasoning, and add salt and pepper if needed (it usually isn’t). Stuff the bird until both the body and neck cavities are full, put the remaining stuffing in a baking dish and cook the latter separately in a 350 degree oven (with the turkey if it’ll fit) for about 30-45 minutes until heated through. TIP: you can heat it in the same oven in which you cooked the turkey while the turkey is resting.
Make the gravy while the turkey is resting. Put the roasting pan with all its juices on the stove (across 2 burners if needed). Remove some of the fat if desired. Turn on the burner(s) to medium-high heat and cook down the juices by about 1/3. Add dry white wine and simmer for about 5 minutes. Add 3 cups chicken or turkey stock, and simmer for 10 minutes. Add 3 Tbsp soy sauce. Taste and add salt & pepper to taste. TIP: We add 2 jars of Williams Sonoma gravy base at this point…it adds a bit of richness and depth that is hard to achieve when making gravy quickly. Mix 1/4 cup flour with about 1/4 cup of stock or water, stir well until fully mixed and no lumps exist (should be the consistency of cream). Whisk in half of the flour mixture very gradually, stirring constantly so it won’t form lumps. Cook for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally and see how the consistency is. If it’s to your liking, you are done! If you want it a bit thicker, add the remaining flour mixture, again gradually while whisking constantly, and cook another 3-4 minutes.
Butternut Squash Gratin
4 Tbsp butter
3 medium yellow onions, thinly sliced
2.5 lb butternut squash, cubed or sliced
1 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves, chopped and divided into 2 equal portions
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
black pepper to taste
3/4 cup chicken broth
1 cup plain bread crumbs
1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
Melt the butter in a very large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions, and cook until softened and lightly browned, about 6-8 minutes. Add the squash, and cook another 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Sprinkle the squash with half of the thyme (1/2 Tbsp), sugar, salt and pepper, and mix well. Cook another 3-4 minutes until the squash is starting to caramelize slightly. Put squash mixture into a large, buttered baking dish, cover tightly with a lid or foil, and cook in a 350F oven for 45 minutes. TIP: You can make this dish to this point several hours ahead; put the dish in a cool place or in the fridge after it cools from the oven. Increase heat to 400F, uncover the squash. Mix together the breadcrumbs, parmesan and remaining thyme leaves and sprinkle over the squash. Cook uncovered for 30 minutes. Broil the top briefly if desired.
Brussels Sprouts with Italian Sausage
2 lb brussels sprouts
1 lb Italian sausage
1/4 cup olive oil
salt & pepper
red chili flakes to taste
Preheat oven to 400F. Trim the brussels sprouts and cut them in half lengthwise. Toss with olive oil, salt & pepper, and chili flakes to taste. Spread the sprouts on a large baking sheet in a single layer. Using your fingers, take the italian sausage out of the casing, and break into small hunks, sprinkled across the top of the brussels sprouts. Cook for 30 minutes, then mix and serve.
Spiced Pumpkin Pie with Maple Cream
1 partially baked pastry shell in a pie or tart pan
1 1/2 cups canned evaporated milk
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 1/2 cups canned pumpkin
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp dried, ground ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1/4 cup maple syrup
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
3 Tbsp maple syrup
Make or purchase a pie crust, roll out, place in a 12″ pie or tart pan. Prick all over with a fork, top with parchment paper, then fill with pie weights or dried beans and par-bake until crust is lightly browned, 12-15 minutes in a 425F oven.
Preheat oven to 375F. In a small saucepan, heat the evaporated milk and brown sugar over medium heat, stirring, until sugar is completely dissolved. Set aside to cool. In a large bowl, use an electric mixer on high speed, blend the canned pumpkin, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg until well blended. Add the eggs and beat until glossy, 1-2 minutes. With the mixer on medium-low speed, add in the milk and sugar mixture until well blended. Finally, add the maple syrup and beat until blended. Pour into the completely cool, partially baked pie crust, and put in the oven for 50-60 minutes, until a knife comes out clean when inserted in the middle. Allow to cool and serve at room temperature.
To make the cream, put the cream in a chilled metal bowl, and beat on high speed until stiff peaks form. With the blender running, add the maple syrup until well blended. Serve immediately.
Salted Chocolate Caramel Tart
This one is not my own recipe, but borrowed from Epicurious. You can find the recipe here. It’s a very rich dessert, and I can tell you that it wasn’t our favorite ever, but definitely a hit wih the chocolate lovers. The only change I’d recommend is making the crust much thinner than this recipe makes in a 10″ tart pan. Cut back by at least a third, if not half.
Overall, I couldn’t have been happier with the holiday — meal, wine, food and company all included. I hope your own Thanksgiving was just as great, and that these recipes help you plan for your next one!