Although the main focus of Thanksgiving dinner is the turkey, here are some recipes to add some variety to your traditional meal.

Thanksgiving food starts with turkey. It’s the most anxiety-raising food most people will prepare. So much so that some people will order an expensive bird already cooked rather than attempt it themselves. Relax. When you realize a turkey is really just a big chicken, you’ll see it isn’t difficult at all.

Here’s a tip — if you don’t have a roasting pan with a rack (that will lift the bird from the bottom of the pan so that it is golden all around — turn your turkey upside down halfway through the cooking process. This way the fleshy turkey bottom skin becomes as golden as the top. Turn the turkey rightside-up again when the bottom is golden. I usually don heavy-duty, thicker than usual dishwashing gloves and turn the turkey this way to protect myself from the heat.

Another thought — turkey will continue to cook long after you remove it from the oven (all that interior heat does a good job of finishing the roasting job), so don’t be tempted to overcook your bird.

And because we cannot live on turkey alone, here are lots of great side dish recipes to serve with it.

Classic Roast Turkey

Prepare about 1 pound of turkey per Thanksgiving guest — you’ll be sure to have enough. 

Ingredients:

1 (12- to 16-pound) whole turkey, neck and giblets removed
Olive oil
1 Tbsp. granulated garlic
1 Tbsp. dried dill
Kosher salt and pepper
Paprika
2 cups white wine or chicken broth

Directions:

Set oven rack to lowest position. Preheat oven to 400°F.

Rinse turkey inside and out and pat dry with clean paper towels. Sprinkle main cavity well with salt and pepper.

If cooking stuffing or dressing in the bird cavity, stuff with your favorite stuffing and “truss” closed. Place the turkey on a rack in large roasting pan (or place turkey in a two-stacked large disposable roasting pan). Tuck wing tips under the bird and tie the legs together loosely with string.

Rub the turkey well with olive oil and sprinkle the seasonings over. Place in the prepared pan and pour the wine or broth in the pan around the turkey.

Place turkey in oven and roast the turkey 30 minutes. Reduce heat to 350°F and roast for 30 minutes more. Begin basting the turkey every 30 minutes with the collected juices while you continue to roast the turkey for 2-3 hours more, or until the leg juices run clear when poked with a fork (registers 175°F with a meat thermometer). Note: If the turkey becomes too dark/golden before it is cooked, cover with foil until the meat is cooked through.

Remove foil in the last 30 minutes of cooking to crisp the skin.

Remove the turkey to a platter and let stand about 20 minutes before carving and serving with reserved juices or gravy. Makes about 12-16 servings.

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Cherry Leek Challah Stuffing

Ingredients:

¾ cup sweetened dried cherries
½ cup white wine (any kind)
¹/3 cup butter or olive oil
1 cup finely diced onions
2 cups thin-sliced leeks (white
parts only)
1½ cups chopped celery
½ tsp. dried thyme
1½ pound loaf challah, cut into
1-inch cubes
¼ cup fresh chopped parsley
2 Tbsp. fresh chopped sage
3 large eggs, beaten
1 or 2 tsp. salt
Fresh ground black pepper

Directions:

Place cherries in a small bowl and pour wine over. Allow the cherries to soak for 30 minutes. Set aside.

Melt the butter or oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions, leeks and celery and sauté until the vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and allow to cool to room temperature.

Add the remaining ingredients and toss well to mix and season to taste with salt and pepper. Stuff the mixture into the cavity of a 16- to 20-pound turkey or place in a casserole dish that’s been sprayed well with nonstick cooking spray.

Cook the stuffing in the turkey or cover the casserole dish with foil and bake for 1 hour (add 1 or 2 cups of chicken or turkey broth or drippings to moisten if cooking outside of the bird). Makes 8-12 servings,

Note: Stuffing cooked in the bird counts on poultry juices to moisten during cooking. Stuffing cooked outside the bird may need a little moisture help, such as added liquids (broth, juice or wine are good) to replace poultry juices. If your stuffing does turn out too dry for your taste, drizzle some drippings or hot broth over it, cover it with a tight-fitting lid or aluminum foil and reheat it in the oven.

Arugula Green Bean and Pear Salad

If you don’t like arugula, use your favorite salad greens. 

Dressing:

3 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp. chopped shallots or red or Bermuda onion
1 Tbsp. honey
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Salad:

1 lb. haricot vert (thin French green beans), stem ends trimmed (do not cut off the pointed ends)
8 cups baby arugula (about 8-10 ounces)
2 ripe unpeeled pears (any variety), quartered, cored and cut into thin slices
¾ cup bleu cheese (any variety) or soft goat cheese (chevre) crumbled, optional
1 cup walnut halves, lightly toasted

Directions:

Make the dressing. Whisk together the vinegar, lemon juice, shallots, honey and mustard in a medium bowl. Slowly whisk in the oil in a thin drizzle until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Make the salad: Bring a medium pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add the beans to the water and cook for 2 minutes or until tender-crisp and still very green. Alternately, place the beans in a microwave-safe bowl, add ¼ cup water and cover with plastic wrap. Cook on high for 3 minutes. Remove plastic and let cool.

Transfer the beans to a colander and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process. Drain well.

Combine the beans, spinach, pears, bleu cheese and walnuts in a large bowl and toss well. Add the dressing and toss well to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve. Makes 8 servings.

Garlic and Almond Brown and Wild Rice Quinoa

Ingredients:

2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 cups chopped onions
1 Tbsp. chopped garlic
1 cup brown rice
1 cup wild rice
1 cup quinoa
6 cups chicken broth or water
Salt and pepper to taste
½ cup finely chopped parsley or 2 Tbsp. dried parsley flakes
1 cup golden lightly toasted almonds

Directions:

Heat oil in a large saucepan or pot over medium-high heat. Add the onions and garlic and sauté until soft and translucent, about 8 minutes. Add the brown and wild rice, broth and thyme and stir. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cover the pan. Cook for about 30 minutes.

Add the quinoa and stir well. Cook for 10-15 minutes until the rice is tender and the liquid is absorbed. Season to taste with salt and pepper. While the rice is still hot, stir in the parsley and almonds. Serve hot or keep warm until ready to serve. May be prepared the day before and reheated for 10 minutes on high in the microwave oven. Makes 8-12 servings.

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BAKED GOLD MASHED POTATOES

Ingredients:

2 lbs. yukon gold potatoes
½ cup whole milk
½ cup heavy cream
8 cloves garlic, crushed
½ cup unsalted butter (115 g), cubed, cold
2 tsp. kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Directions:

Cut potatoes into 2-inch chunks.

Add the potatoes to a large pot and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 15-20 minutes, until tender. Drain well in a colander but do not rinse.

In a small saucepan, bring the milk and garlic to a simmer over low heat.

Transfer the potatoes back to the pot (or a large bowl to beat with an electric mixer). If mashing in the pot, use a potato masher or ricer (or hand mixer).

Add the butter and salt. Stir to combine.

Gradually add the milk mixture to the potatoes and mix or stir until smooth and chunky.

Corn Pudding

White Sauce: 

5 Tbsp. butter
¼ cup flour
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt, plus more to taste
½ tsp. ground cumin
1/8 tsp. ground cayenne pepper
1¾ cup milk
4 large eggs

Other ingredients:

6 large or 8 medium ears of corn (about 5 cups of fresh or frozen corn kernels thawed)
1½ cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 large red bell pepper, chopped (about 1 cup)
1 Tbsp. chopped jalapeno pepper

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Spray an attractive 3-quart (12-cup) shallow baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.

Make the white sauce: In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Whisk in the flour, sugar, salt, cumin and cayenne. Cook for 1 minute, whisking constantly.

Slowly whisk in the milk and bring the mixture to a boil. Cook the mixture, whisking frequently, until thickened, about 5 minutes. Set aside to cool for at least 5 minutes.
In a large bowl, beat the eggs with a whisk or electric mixer until stiff. Slowly whisk the egg whites into the sauce.

Using a rubber spatula, fold in the vegetables and cheese. Adjust salt and pepper to taste. Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking dish and bake for 30-40 minutes or until set and golden. Makes 8 servings.

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Glazed Roasted Root Vegetables

Ingredients:

1 lb. carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
1 lb. parsnips, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
½ pound turnips, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
1 lb. celeriac (celery root) or beets (if beets are red, will need to be cooked separately) scrubbed, NOT peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
½ cup peeled garlic cloves
3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 tsp. kosher salt
¼ tsp. fresh ground black pepper
⅓ cup balsamic vinegar
¼ cup maple syrup
2-3 Tbsp. fresh chopped parsley

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Line a large roasting pan or a large rimmed baking sheet pan with foil or parchment. Place all the vegetables in a large bowl and toss with oil, salt and pepper. Arrange the vegetables in a single layer in the pan. Roast, uncovered, for about 30-40minutes, until the vegetables are tender, turning them every 15 minutes or so.

Drizzle the vinegar and syrup over the vegetables and roast for 10 minutes more. Toss with the parsley, adjust seasoning and serve. Makes 8-12 servings.

All recipes © Annabel Cohen 2019

annabelonthemenu@gmail.com.

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