Prepare a worthy Thanksgiving feast!

I never really understood just how complicated Thanksgiving dinner is if you have a big family.  When you’re a kid, you show up, eat and fall asleep…come to think of it, that what the dads did too (well, until the turkey deep-fryer came along…grunt!).  Seems legit, I mean, who doesn’t fall asleep watching the Detroit Lions?

Anyway, a few years ago the wife and I began hosting Thanksgivings at our house and because I love to cook, it was more of an adventure than anything else.  I’ve taken some recipes, developed some more until I came up with a fantastic Thanksgiving Day feast!  Now, if you have a small kitchen (as I do), and if you’re doing all of the cooking (yeah, me too)…then you’re in luck, because I’ve got the perfect plan for you.  This is a two-day affair, but you’ll thank me later…and your guests will think you are the next Emeril.  Ready?  Here we go…

Menu:

  • Roast Turkey with Salt Crust
  • Smoked Turkey Wing Gravy
  • Fresh Green Beans with Carmelized Onions and Toasted Almonds
  • Mashed Potatoes
  • Sweet Potato Casserole with Bourbon
  • Yankee Stuffing or Southern Cornbread Dressing
  • Whole Cranberry Sauce with Orange
  • Artisan Garlic Bread with Compound Butter

Start your planning this weekend, get all of the ingredients necessary and listed here: Thanksgiving Shopping List.  MAKE SURE YOU THAW THE TURKEY.  You’ll also need a meat thermometer, not an instant-read, but a real honest-to-goodness thermometer with probe…a good one.  The bird is the central dish and if it is dried-out, you failed.  Get a good one.  Here’s my suggestion:  The Maverick M Remote Smoker Thermometer

Now you’re ready, so start with these recipes on Wednesday Night:

Whole Cranberry Sauce with Orange and Cinnamon

Smoked Turkey Wing Gravy

Sweet Potato Casserole with Bourbon

You can choose to go to bed right now, because you’ve already worked hard…or you could go ahead and make the dressing.  It is a real time-saver for tomorrow.  Your choice.

Thanksgiving Day!

Your start time will depend on the desired “sit-down” dinner time and how large of a turkey you have purchased.  Go ahead and do the calculation based on the recommended instructions, then add one hour.  This will be the “start cooking” time for your turkey.  (ex. if the roasting time estimate is 3 hours and you are eating at 4pm, plan to put the turkey into the oven at Noon).  Your Turkey prep time is about 30 minutes.

Roast Turkey with Salt Crust

** PRO TIP:  Place the other half of the garlic head into an aluminum foil pouch and roast with the turkey at 400 for 20 minutes. Remove and allow to cool for garlic bread.

Once you have the turkey in the oven, you can begin cooking the rest of the feast, starting with your green beans.  These take a while…

Fresh Green Beans with Carmelized Onion and Toasted Almonds

Mashed Potatoes

Yankee or Cornbread Dressing

You can choose to do either, we actually do both, but no, we don’t stuff the bird!  If you do that, it adds cooking time to the Turkey, increases the risk of samonela, and you don’t get to season the bird from the cavity…  now you know

Yankee Bread Stuffing

GRBmom’s Southern-Style Cornbread Dressing

Now you have a little time to breathe, you probably still have a couple of hours before the turkey is scheduled to come out, so sit down, have a glass of wine…

*BEEP, BEEP…BEEP, BEEP*  Your meat thermometer says the bird is ready, trust the thermometer.  Pull the turkey out of the oven and set aside.  DO NOT allow Uncle Bernie or Aunt Maude to start cutting into that thing!  Let it sit…30-45 minutes…minimum.

Go ahead and get the Sweet Potato Casserole and your Dressing out of the refrigerator, they can go in next (make sure to add the topping to the Sweet Potatoes).  They will take a little longer to cook because they are cold.  The Dressing will be done when the tops are toasted.

Prepare your Artisan Garlic Bread and throw it into the oven right away…

Meal Time

Ready to carve that bird?  Good, get your electric (or carving) knife and go to work, but here’s a great video from Alton Brown on how to best go about carving.  I always carve at the counter on a cutting board and put all of the meat on a platter…but some insist on carving at the table.  It’ll work either way!

Once the bird is carved, the bread is out of the oven and everything is on the table, sit back and enjoy the accolades!  YOU prepared a Thanksgiving feast fit for a king!…or not a king…this is ‘Murica!

Dessert

Look, if you have a bunch of people coming over for your feast and you’ve done all this, have them bring the pies…it’s the least they can do, right?  But, if you insist, this recipe is a WINNER every time:  GRBmom’s Chocolate Meringue Pie

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