Mount St. Joseph University

Tried and True Thanksgiving Recipes

Dateline: student newspaper

By: Mario Pellegrino

File Under: dinner, food, thanksgiving

These are merely a few suggestions for a less boring Thanksgiving dinner.  Everything is borrowed and credit is given, but all combine to make an interesting ensemble that will surely liven up your holidays this year. Enjoy!

If one is traditional and serves a turkey for the main course of the Thanksgiving table, said bird should receive the attention and preparation it deserves.  A flavorful and moist alternative to the normal roasted turkey could be a brined turkey.  Don’t fuss about the time it takes—this is your main course, after all. Best to keep the attention on the bird and let the side dishes merely supplement it.


Spiced and Superjuicy Brined and Roasted Turkey

From Nigella Christmas by Nigella Lawson

Approx. 6 qts. of water

1 large orange, quartered

1 cup  kosher salt or ½ cup table salt

1 bouquet garni of whatever herbs you please—thyme, rosemary, sage, basil, bay, tarragon, etc.

3 tbsp black peppercorns

1 tbsp caraway seeds

4 whole cloves

2 tbsp allspice

4 star anise

2 tbsp white mustard seeds

1 cup sugar

2 unpeeled onions, quartered

1 x 2-3 inch piece unpeeled ginger, cut into 6 slices

¼ cup real maple syrup

¼ cup honey

A couple stalks of fresh parsley, if you can find it

12 lb turkey, giblets, strings, trussing all removed

For the basting glaze:

1/3 cup of butter

3 tbsp real maple syrup

Put the water into your largest cooking pot or a bucket or plastic trash can. Squeeze the juice from the orange quarters into the water before you chuck the peels in. Then add all the other ingredients, stirring to combine the salt, sugar, syrup and honey.

Submerge the turkey and leave in a very cold place, even outside (though check occasionally to prevent freezing) covered, for two days.  Once the bird has had its steeping time, remove it, dry it with paper towel and sit it in the sink on a rack to let it dry and come to room temperature before going in the preheated oven.

Preheat oven to 400˚F. Melt the butter and syrup together slowly over a low heat. Paint the turkey with the glaze before roasting in the oven, and baste periodically throughout the cooking time. Roast for 2 ½ hours for this 12 lb. bird. When you think the turkey is done, pierce where the body meets the leg, and if the juices run clear, it’s cooked. When finished, take the turkey out of the oven, and let sit, tented in with aluminum foil, for 20-40 minutes. 

Try serving with Gingerbread Stuffing.


Gingerbread Stuffing

From Nigella Christmas by Nigella Lawson

1 lb (3 medium-sized) onions

2 eating apples, peeled and cored

3 tbsp unsalted butter

1 tbsp vegetable oil

1 ½ lbs bacon

Zest of 2 clementines

5 cups loosely crumbled gingerbread (1-2 loaves of soft store-bought gingerbread or loaves of any spiced bread will do)

2 eggs, beaten

Approx. ½ tsp. freshly ground pepper

Using a food processor or by hand, finely chop the onion and apples. Put the butter and oil in a large , wide saucepan over a medium heat and fry until the chopped onions and apples until soft, about 10-15 minutes.

Finely chop the bacon in the processor, or by hand, and add this to the softened onion and apple mixture. Cook everything, stirring frequently, for about five minutes more. Add the zest of the clementines. Take the pan off the heat and let it cool a little before mixing in the gingerbread crumbs. You can let this get cold now if you want.

Just before you want to cook the stuffing, add the beaten eggs and pepper, and add the stuffing mixture into a buttered loaf pan.  Bake it in a hot oven (400˚F) with your turkey for about the last 45 minutes of the turkey’s cooking time. If you wish, you may cover the loaf with foil for the first 30 minutes of baking.  When finished and cooled to a servable temperature, either slice or spoon and serve.


Red Potatoes with Bacon

From Williams-Sonoma Thanksgiving

3 lbs. small red potatoes

Salt and freshly ground pepper

8 slices thick-cut bacon

1 tbsp. unsalted butter

1/3 cup minced parsley

Put the potatoes in a large saucepan and add water to cover and a generous pinch of salt. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat slightly, cover partially, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are just tender, about 12 minutes. Drain. Spread the potatoes out in a single layer on a baking pan and let cool to room temperature.

In a large, heavy, frying pan, arrange the bacon slices without overlapping. Cook over medium-high heat, turning several times, until almost crisp, about 8 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain and cool. Discard all but 1 tbsp. of the bacon drippings form the pan and reserve the pan. When the bacon is cool, chop it fairly fine.

Place the frying pan over medium-high heat and add the butter to the drippings. When it has melted, add the potatoes and cook, stirring and rolling the potatoes in the pan, until they begin to crisp and brown, 5-7 minutes. Add the bacon, reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook until the bacon is hot and the potatoes are very crisp, 2-3 minutes. Season with ¼ tsp. salt and ½ tsp. pepper and toss well. Add the parsley and toss again. Taste and adjust the seasoning to taste. Serve hot.


Maple-Glazed Carrots

From Williams-Sonoma Thanksgiving

3 lbs. carrots, peeled and cut on the diagonal into 1-inch pieces

5 cups chicken stock or low-sodium canned chicken broth

¾ cup pure maple syrup

5 tbsp. unsalted butter

1 ½ tbsp. cider vinegar

Salt and pepper to taste

In a large saucepan over medium heat, combine the carrots, stock, maple syrup, and butter. Bring to a brisk simmer and cook, uncovered, until the carrots are tender, about 30 minutes. 

Using a slotted spoon, transfer the carrots to a dish. Raise the heat to high and cook the liquid in the pan until it has reduced to about 1 ¼ cups and is syrupy, 30-40 minutes longer.

Return the carrots to the pan. Add the vinegar and ½ tsp. pepper. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper (the dish may not need additional salt). Serve hot. 


Redder Than Red Cranberry Sauce

From Nigella Christmas by Nigella Lawson

1 x 12 oz. bag fresh cranberries

1 cup sugar

3 tbsp cherry brandy

1/3 cup water

Put everything into a pan and let it bubble away until the berries start to pop, stirring every now and again. This will take about 10 minutes. The one thing one should bear in mind, though, is that the pectin-rich nature of the fruit means it solidifies enormously on cooling, so although it will be cooked when the berries have burst, it will still look runnier than you think cranberry sauce should.

At this stage, give the sauce a final, vicious, whipping stir to help crush the berries into the liquid, and taste to check whether it needs more sugar; if you find it too sweet, just spritz in some lemon juice. Transfer to a bowl to cool.

If you cook this sauce way in advance, it will jellify a lot so thrash it through with a fork before serving.


Pumpkin Cheesecake with a Gingersnap Crumb Crust

From The Thanksgiving Table by Diane Morgan

1/3 cup, plus 1 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted

2 cups gingersnap crumbs

3 x 8 oz. packages cream cheese, softened

½ cup granulated sugar

½ cup light brown sugar

3 large eggs, lightly beaten

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

½ tsp. grated nutmeg

½ tsp. ground ginger

1 tbsp. vanilla extract

1 can (15 oz.) pumpkin puree

¼ cup sour cream

Preheat the oven to 375˚F. Butter a 9- or 10-inch springform pan with 1 tbsp. of the melted butter. In a medium bowl, combine the gingersnap crumbs with the remaining butter until well blended. Press the crumbs into the bottom of the pan and about 1 inch up the sides. Bake the crust until crisp and lightly browned, about 10-12 minutes. Cool on a rack. Reduce oven to 350˚F.

In the bowl of a food processor, process the cream cheese until smooth. Mix in both sugars, then the eggs, and continue processing until the mixture is thoroughly combined. Add the cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, vanilla, pumpkin puree, and sour cream. Process until completely smooth and all ingredients are thoroughly combined. Alternatively, this whole step can be done with an electric stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.

Gently pour the cheesecake filling into the prebaked crust. The filling will likely rise above the crust, which is not a problem. Place the cheesecake in the center of the oven and bake until the sides are slightly puffed, about 35-40 minutes. The center of the filling will still be very soft and will jiggle when you shake the pan gently. Turn off the oven, and leave the cheesecake in the oven, undisturbed, for 1 hour. When cool, refrigerate covered for at least 6 hours before serving.