I don’t experiment too much with our turkey dinner menu, but it has evolved over the years. Cooking the turkey is the easy part. Getting all the side dishes ready so everything is done together is the challenge.
Of course we are eating turkey. The first Thanksgiving dinner I ever cooked was during my first year of marriage. I had my Doubleday Cookbook. I looked up “how to cook a turkey”, followed the directions, and ended up with a picture perfect roasted bird. I used the beer-and-butter basted recipe. Since we aren’t beer drinkers around here the beer for the turkey was always a special purchase. For the last few years I have just used sherry or another wine I have on hand and it has worked fine.
I make dressing—not stuffing. And it is made out of cornbread, not white bread. This recipe has evolved from my Aunt Vee’s recipe. The key here is to have a well-seasoned turkey broth made from the turkey neck and giblets. I do not chop up and include the liver and gizzard in the dressing. My mother and aunt did that and I always hated the surprise bite with a chunk of turkey liver. I crumble one batch of homemade cornbread with a melted stick of butter, two eggs, and enough broth to make it the consistency of pancake batter. I add a couple of chopped boiled eggs and the shredded meat from the turkey neck. I season it with a little more poultry seasoning and maybe a little Cajun seasoning. I used to bake it for an hour but now I make it first thing on Thanksgiving morning and pour it into my oval crock pot. By the time we eat dinner in the early afternoon it is fully cooked but moist and delicious.
Mashed potatoes are a must. When the whole crew is home this can mean cooking a full five-pound bag of potatoes. The trick is to mash the potatoes without whipping them until they are gummy. Making gravy has been my Achilles heel. I admit that for several years I gave up and served the instant gravy made from the powdered contents of an envelope. However, I think I have finally figured out how to brown the flour in the drippings and add water or broth until the consistency is just right.
My recipe for sweet potatoes is another recipe I picked from the Doubleday Cookbook for that first Thanksgiving dinner. It is called “Sweet Potato Puff” and is sweetened sweet potatoes seasoned with cinnamon and mixed with a bit of orange.
Years ago my husband got me a bread maker. That was the end of our store-bought rolls. We now have butterhorn rolls. These look like the refrigerator crescent rolls but taste so much better. It is a recipe from the best bread machine cookbook I have ever seen, Bread Machine Magic by Linda Rehberg and Lois Conway.
Cranberry sauce is the jellied Ocean Spray canned sauce. You know Ocean Spray changed the design of their can so you can no longer open up both ends and push the whole cranberry sauce cylinder out. However, with a bit of shaking I can still get it out in one piece and slice into circular slabs.
Dessert is pumpkin pie. The pumpkin is canned but the crust is homemade. Just follow the directions on the can of Libby’s pumpkin. It works every time.
My prayers will be with all my readers tomorrow. I feel truly blessed to be able to share this faith journey with you. I hope you are able to gather around the table with family and friends and give thanks for many blessings. Bon Appetitie.