1. Alton Brown's Roasted Turkey. For those of you who are turkey gurus, I'm sure you've heard of brinning. Basically it's like a marinade for your turkey. It makes the meat super juicy and flavorful. Anyway, last year is the first time I tried it, it's words can't explain good. I followed Alton Brown's recipe exactly. The week before Thanksgiving last year I did a small practice turkey (we were having everyone we know over so I didn't want to experiment with the actual bird). Anyway, it was so good, my husband and I ate that sucker right out the roasting pan.. I didn't even have to make a gravy, although I did on Thanksgiving because of tradition. This recipe is on Foodnetwork.com, it's 5 star with well over 3,000 reviews... try this recipe now!!
2. Sausage Stuffing - When I was a little girl, stuffing was never a fav. The soggy mess that comes out of the bird (usually made with store bought stuffing mix) just wasn't very appealing to me. However, a couple of years ago I discovered experimented with homemade stuffing. Let me just tell you it's a 100 times better. Last year I found a recipe for homemade stuffing and it has totally changed my perception. First of all it is not cooked in the bird (I stuff my bird with herbs and onions and things like that). I've made this recipe using both cornbread and white bread and I can't decide which way I like better. It's from a Food Network Magazine Nov. 2010 (50 Stuffings), it was a mini pull-out cook-book ). Here it is if you'd like to give it a try.
Brown 1 pound of crumbled sausage ( I always use turkey sausage) in 6 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add 2 cups each of diced onions and celery (I never add celery because I can't stand it) and 1 tablespoon each of minced sage, and thyme; add salt and pepper and cook 5 min. Add 3 cups of chicken or turkey broth and bring to a simmer. Beat 2 eggs with 1/4 cup chopped parsley in a large bowl. Add 16 cups of cubed stale bread, then pour in the vegetable broth mixture and toss. Transfer to a buttered baking baking dish, dot with butter. Cover and bake for 30 mins at 375. I also add dried cranberries in mine when I mix everything together... just think it really sends it over the moon.
3. Baked Macaroni and Cheese - Now, I love all things cheese, but the marriage of cream, butter, pasta, and cheese all baked until golden and bubbling is pure heaven to me. I grew up eating baked macaroni and cheese in a non-traditional way. My uncle made it using big ziti noodles (so the cheese sauce oozes out with each bite). I have my own recipe to make it, and folks have always told me it's the bomb. Lol, funny story... When I first started dating my husband I made mac and cheese for him. I was so busy talking and (ok flirting) that I totally over cooked it and it was this dry lumpy sad excuse for mac and cheese. Well he of course ate it, but later on he told me he could help me out. Then, a few days later during my "tutoring" he explains that his ex-girlfriend made the best mac and cheese and he was going to show me how. Now, I don't typically get all "black girl", but oh no he didn't (neck swerve and all)!!! Seriously! The nerve, and in my kitchen no less. So of course I'm fuming and when his mediocre mac and cheese was done I ate it and told him (ever so sweetly) that I could def make it better. So of course a challenge was set and at Thanksgiving at my uncles house we had a tasting(blind, no one knew who's was who's). I won of course!!
Anyhow, I don't typically measure when I make it so I don't have an exact recipe but I basically make a cheese sauce using garlic, white wine, and heavy cream. I add sharp cheddar, monteray jack, and colby cheese, then a sprinkling of nutmeg and pepper. I like to use big ziti noodles like my uncle. I do not add bread crumbs on top, never been a fan of that. I also don't use egg. If I do it right (and I don't every time.. kids yelling and pulling on my leg and what not), then the cheese sauce is thick enough with out needing eggs or flour. It takes a while because I have to constantly stir. Anyway if you want another great recipe, Patti Labelle's Over the Rainbow Mac and Cheese is delicious too. Try it out, I also think it's easier to make.
4. Mashed Potatoes A heaping pile of hot, creamy, buttery mashed potatoes with rich brown gravy spilling over the sides is just sooooo good. Last year (can you tell it was my first time hosting last year?) I found out that there is a trick to perfect mashed potatoes. Now I don't know the whole science behind it, but the milk or cream you add should be hot. Also the butter should be melted. It makes for the perfect consistency. Some times I make herbed mashed potatoes. Just heat the milk and butter and add chopped fresh herbs to it (usually sage and thyme, possibly basil if I have some). YUM!!
5. Collard Greens - This is a staple on my plate on Thanksgiving. I've loved collard greens since I was a child. My mother told me that her father (my pop pop) called the juice left over in the in the bottom of the pot "pot liquor". Has anyone else ever heard that? It always makes me smile when I think of him. Typically collards are cooked on some type of pork, but since hubby doesn't eat pork I cook mine on smoked turkey wings. The result is just as divine.
With these five dishes, I could eat Thanksgiving left overs for weeks. I love this food so much that even though the fam and I will be heading over to my mom's for Thanksgiving I know that the plate of food I'll bring home will not be enough and I'll be making these same 5 dishes for a second Thanksgiving for my small family. LOL, then we can have tons of leftovers, just like I like it.
By the way, it is not by accident that I haven't chosen any pies or dessert. I know lots of people love dessert on Thanksgiving. Usually I'm too stuffed to eat dessert and to be completely honest... I don't like pumpkin or sweet potato pie (call me crazy if you want).
What are your favorite Thanksgiving foods?
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