Thanksgiving is just around the corner and the sights and smells of that big meal are all over the grocery stores. Believe it or not, now is the time to buy a turkey. If you buy a large frozen bird, as we do, it takes about four to six days for it to completely thaw in the refrigerator. Plan to buy your frozen bird this week.
It is also time to start making some recipe plans for the big day. The Thanksgiving meal is one of my favorites. Many holiday cooks want to use old family recipes and try to make just about everything from scratch. But some people do not have the time for that sort of homemade Thanksgiving meal.
This year, I have tried to come up with a few simple but delicious recipes for the busier cooks this Thanksgiving. If you are short on time in the kitchen, these might be the key to a delicious meal.
Several years ago, I read about a turkey that you cook overnight. It may not make the most attractive bird for Thanksgiving but it is easy and guarantees to be a moist and delicious treat.
14 lb. turkey, rinsed and thawed
1 to 2 tsp. kosher salt and black pepper, or any other seasonings you prefer
3 stalks celery, roughly chopped
2-3 pieces of fresh rosemary
1 onion, quartered
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 cups boiling water
Preheat your oven to 450°. Place the turkey on a rack in a roasting pan and rub with melted butter. Sprinkle inside and out of the turkey with the salt and pepper or seasoning mixture. Put celery, rosemary, and onion inside the cavity of the bird. When oven is preheated, pour boiling water around the turkey cover the pan tightly and cook for two hours. After cooking time, turn off the heat and do not open the oven door. Leave the turkey in the closed oven overnight or for at least eight hours. In the morning, the turkey will be ready to slice and refrigerate. Save any pan drippings to make delicious turkey gravy.
Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Onions, Bacon and Potatoes
If you only have time to make one big side-dish for Thanksgiving, this is it. It has vegetables and a starch, and it is delicious. This is one of my favorite side dishes and one of my most requested recipes.
1 1/2 lbs. potatoes, quartered or halved
1 lb. Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
1 onion, quartered
3 slices thick cut bacon, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
3 Tbl. olive oil
2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbl. butter, melted
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
Preheat oven to 450°. In a large bowl, combine the potatoes, Brussels sprouts, onions, and bacon. Toss with oil and season with salt and pepper. Transfer the vegetables and bacon to a large baking pan and roast stirring every 15 minutes until the vegetables are tender and well browned, about 35 to 40 minutes.
In a separate bowl combine melted butter and lemon juice. Pour butter mixture over the roasted potatoes and toss to coat. Serve immediately.
Easiest Salad Ever
(Robert St. John’s Italian Salad)
I recently attended a fundraiser for the MIND Center honoring Dr. Tommy Prewitt. During the dinner, Robert St. John made one of the easiest and best tasting salads I have ever eaten. He asked the audience to assist in making their own salad and this is my best recollection of his instructions. Robert did not give us amounts of vinegar and oil to use but instructed us to season to taste with both. This is my guess on the amounts but feel free to add or reduce.
1 bag of baby arugula
2-3 Tbl. balsamic vinegar
1-2 Tbl. good olive oil
Kosher salt to taste
2 Tbl. and fresh grated Parmesan cheese
Robert was very specific about the order in which you dress the salad and his reasoning makes total sense. You put the vinegar on first. This allows you to season the greens before adding the oil. If you add the oil first, it prevents the vinegar from clinging to the greens and results in a greasy salad.
Put baby arugula in a salad bowl. Drizzle about 2 Tbl. of good balsamic vinegar over and toss to coat. Season with a little kosher salt. Next, drizzle with olive oil and toss to coat. Add more oil if needed. Toss with Parmesan cheese and it is ready to serve.
Homemade rolls might be a stretch on a busy schedule but these easy popovers are a great thing to have on the Thanksgiving table. They can be made right before dinner.
1 cup bread flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1 scant cup of milk
Rub popover tins or muffin tins with oil and heat in a 450° oven for 10 minutes. These will be very hot. Meanwhile, combine the flour and salt. In a separate bowl beat the eggs and milk until frothy. Slowly stir the egg mixture into the flour mixture and combine until well blended. Fill the heated popover tins about 1/3 full and bake in a 450° oven for 20 minutes.
“That” Chocolate Cake
While a big chocolate cake might not be a traditional dessert for Thanksgiving, I cannot figure out a time when chocolate cake is not a big hit. Cake is good. Chocolate Cake is even better. Dark Chocolate Cake is the best.
While baking does take some time and patience, this cake can be baked a day before, tightly wrapped in plastic wrap and stored in the refrigerator. Simply ice it the day you plan to serve. I like this recipe because the boiling water technique ensures a moist pudding-like cake. It also makes a very large cake that we enjoy eating for breakfast with a cold glass of milk.
1 1/8 cup unsweetened dark chocolate cocoa powder
11/2 cups boiling water
3/4 cup milk
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
3 cups flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1/8 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups (or three sticks) butter, softened
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 1/2 cups white sugar
Preheat oven to 350°. Butter two large rectangular baking pans (9 x 13) and line them with parchment paper.
Put the cocoa in a large bowl of and slowly whisk in the boiling water. Stir until dark and glossy and looks similar to chocolate pudding. Carefully whisk in the milk and vanilla.
In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt.
Put the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat in the sugars until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add in the eggs, one at a time, beating for about 20 seconds between each addition. On low speed alternately add in the flour mixture and the cocoa mixture until both are completely combined. Pour half the batter into each pan and smooth the top.
Bake for about 25 to 35 minutes. Allow the pans to cool for a few minutes and then turn out onto cooling racks to cool completely. At this point the cakes may be wrapped tightly and refrigerated overnight.
5 oz. of unsweet or bitter-sweet chocolate, chopped
8 oz. of cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 sticks butter, softened
1 tsp. vanilla
A dash of salt
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
Melt the chocolate on top of a double broiler or for a few seconds in the microwave. Stir chocolate constantly to be sure it is completely melted and smooth. Allow to cool slightly. In a stand mixer, mix the butter and the cream cheese until it’s light and fluffy. Slowly add in the chocolate, vanilla, salt, and mix until as well blended. Add in the powdered sugar a little at a time until it has the consistency of a smooth frosting.
To assemble the cake: Spread about a third of the frosting on one of the layers, put the second layer on top and cover with the remaining frosting. Enjoy.