Turkey n’ Gravy

 

It’s finally here. The day foodies have been training for all year long. Put on your stretchy pants, tuck your napkin into your shirt and wear them with pride.

Preparing Thanksgiving dinner can be overwhelming to say the least. I’ll never forget the morning of my very first Friendsgiving. I woke up feeling spunky and confident in my cooking abilities. I poured my cup of coffee, opened the blinds, and became excited. I went to the fridge, pulled out my fifteen pound turkey and dropped it on the counter. I just sort of looked at it. Shit. I literally had no f*cking idea what I was doing. I am literally nervous typing this because that’s how panicked I was. Queue the phone call to mom. I like to think that everyone has this moment and if they say they have not, they are lying. To spare you the fine details, everything turned out “alright” for a first timer and I’m pretty sure I only set off the smoke alarms once. Okay, fine. Twice.

Let’s get started.

To brine, or not to brine? Everybody has their own way of prepping the bird before the big day. I’ve brined and I have not brined and I honestly think you will be quite alright if you skip this step. A well seasoned compound butter and some veggies stuffed inside will deliver an abundance of flavor.

Three things I would highly recommend:

  1. Sliding butter on the breasts beneath the skin of the turkey. I didn’t take pictures of me doing this because my husband wasn’t home and I don’t have a third hand growing out of my ass. Google it 🙂
  2. Before putting the turkey in the oven, get a large piece of foil and fold it in half so it’s thicker. Place it over the entire breast of the turkey. This will ensure both even cooking and keeping those breasts nice n’ juicy.
  3. Place your turkey in a roasted pan that has a rack. Keeping your turkey elevated will prevent a soggy tush.

This recipe is based upon a 16 pound turkey. You want to cook your turkey roughly 15 minutes per pound or until the internal temperature (of the breast) reads 165°F.

I’m also just going to go ahead and put this out there. Your turkey needs to be thawed and because it’s huge, this can take a few days. I would put it in the Fridge on Monday.

What You’ll Need:

  • 16 pound turkey, thawed
  • 1 carrot, peeled and chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 1 yellow onion, peeled and quartered
  • 1 lemon
  • Sage
  • Parsley
  • Bay Leaves
  • Thyme
  • Fresh Garlic
  • 4 cups Chicken Stock

Compound Butter:

  • 2 sticks butter, softened
  • 1/2 tablespoon parsley, chopped finely
  • 1/2 tablespoon thyme
  • 1/2 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • zest of 1 lemon

Gravy:

  • 1/2 cup butter, divided into 8 slabs
  • 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • Total of 4 cups chicken stock or pan drippings
    • I usually end up with about 2-3 cups drippings and will add chicken stock to reach the total of 4 cups.

IMG_3467

  1. Remove your turkey from the fridge about an hour before roasting so that it reaches room temperature. Preheat your oven to 450°.
  2. Chop your carrot, celery, onion, and garlic. Set aside along with the lemon, sage, thyme, and bay leaves.

  3. Put together your compound butter by adding all ingredients into a separate bowl and mixing together. Set aside.
  4. In my opinion, this is the easiest way to prep your turkey: Place the turkey in a clean kitchen sink and cut the packaging off of it. From the birds cavity, remove the bag of gizzards and neck. Rinse out the cavity and and then pat dry the skin with paper towels. Transfer the bird to a rack, inside the roasting pan.
  5. Coat the inside of the turkey cavity with some of the compound butter. Stuff the bird with the carrot, celery, onion, garlic, lemon, thyme, sage, and 2 bay leaves.
  6. Carefully slide your hand between the breast meat and skin creating a pocket. Place some of the compound butter underneath the skin.

    img_3469.jpg

  7. Spread the remaining compound butter across the entire skin of the turkey. Pour 4 cups of chicken stock into the bottom of the pan. Cover turkey breasts with foil and place in the oven for 45 minutes at 450°. After 45 minutes, reduce your temperature to 350° for 2 hours. After 2 hours remove the piece of foil from the breasts. Continue cooking for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until the internal temperature of the breasts reads 165°.
  8. Remove the turkey from the oven and carefully transfer to another dish (something with sides as the turkey will release juices) and tent with a large piece of foil. Let rest for 20 minutes before slicing.

    IMG_3511

Gravy:

While your turkey is resting, prepare your gravy.

  1. Immediately (and carefully) pour your drippings into a gravy separator and place in the refrigerator until the fat starts rise to the top and solidify (about 15 minutes.)
  2. In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat and add fresh ground pepper.
  3. Slowly add in the flour while constantly whisking until the flour is well incorporated into the butter (a few minutes.)
  4. Slowly pour in the turkey drippings and/or chicken stock, constantly whisking.
  5. Cook the gravy for 7-10 minutes allowing it to thicken. Transfer to gravy boat and serve immediately.

I hope you all have a magical Thanksgiving; Full of love, laughter, and graciousness. I am endlessly thankful for my family and friends, our health, and the food I am able to provide on our table. I am both grateful and blessed to this year, have our daughter join us around our table. I am humbled by the outpour of love and support I have received on this new journey and I thank each of you from the bottom of my heart. My wish for you this Thanksgiving is to be grateful for all that you have and to give to those who need it most. To count your blessings and to hold your family tight. To let go of the things that divide us and to come together based upon the things that make each of us so wonderful. To love abundantly without any boundaries.

fullsizeoutput_1ae.jpeg

Mama’s Mashed Potatoes

I’m not trying to be weird, but I’m pretty sure potatoes were my first love. No matter what way you have them, they never disappoint. It’s the perfect relationship.

These “mashers” are my mom’s recipe. In my 27 years of life, she has never once changed them. That’s because they’re freaking perfect and don’t you ever try to fix something that’s not broken.

Don’t forget to bring in reinforcements to peel the potatoes. This is when my mom would call in a few helpers to gather around the garbage can with their peelers in hand. You don’t have to wait until Christmas to call on the elves.

So, today’s blog post is brought to you by, drumroll please, Mrs. T…

What You’ll Need:

  • 5 lbs. Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled
  • 3/4 cup butter (1 1/2 sticks)
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup half n’ half
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic (from the jar)
  • 1/2 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon parsley, finely chopped

 

IMG_3495

  • Wash and peel your potatoes. I’ll leave all the small potatoes whole, but cut the large potatoes in half or quarters. You want all of the potatoes to be around the same size to ensure they boil evenly.
  • In a large pot, put the potatoes and enough water to cover them and a dash of salt. Cover the pot and bring water to a boil. Let cook for 15 minutes or until they easily break apart with a fork.
  • Place your butter and all of the seasonings (except the salt, add this to taste) in a separate bowl and microwave for 30 seconds so that the butter softens.
  • Using a large strainer, drain the water from the potatoes. Place your potatoes back into the pot.
  • Using hand mixer, begin mashing your potatoes. Pour in your butter mixture, but slowly add in the milk/half n’ half a little at a time until you reach your desired consistency (the more milk the smoother the mashed potatoes.) Add your salt to taste.

IMG_3519

I hope you bring my family’s recipe to yours and each of you enjoy this Thanksgiving staple.

IMG_3615

 

 

Green Bean Casserole

Step aside, cream of mushroom soup. Traditional Green Bean Casserole just had an upgrade and don’t worry, it’s still so easy!

I’m not going to lie. Every time I make a green bean dish, I dread it. The trimming of those damn beans, I could SCREAM. I try to be patient, but my lanta sometimes it’s the little things. Now hiring: Professional Green Bean Trimmer. Will pay with food.

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 pound green beans, trimmed & halved
  • 8 ounces Baby Bella or Portobello mushrooms, sliced (IMO, don’t use white mushrooms)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon of salt, added gradually to taste
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 and 1/4 cups light cream
  • 6 oz container French’s crispy onions

Preheat your oven to 400°. Kindly ask your professional green bean trimmer to have at it while you slice your mushrooms. Add butter, mushrooms, some of the salt & pepper, and garlic to a deep pan and cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes (once mushrooms start to soften and release moisture.)

Sprinkle all of the flour on top and stir until it has soaked up all of the moisture. Add the vegetable broth and let simmer for 3-5 minutes. Reduce your heat and stir in the light cream. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally until your mixture has thickened (10-15 minutes.)

In a large mixing bowl, add your green beans and about a 1/2 cup of the onions. Pour in your cream mushroom mixture and stir until combined.

Transfer your mixture into a baking dish and cover with the remaining onions. Bake for 15 minutes.

IMG_3515

‘Tis the season to indulge. We’ll worry about the cream and butter in the new year 😉

 

IMG_3615.JPG

Creamed Corn

Growing up, I despised creamed corn. It was really one of those foods I considered “old people food” and wanted absolutely nothing to do with. If I’m going to be completely frank, this belief followed me into my twenties. When I decided to tackle my first ever “Friendsgiving” I started asking my anticipated guests what some of their favorite Thanksgiving sides were. I was in complete shock (and a little confused) when I realized how many peoples’ Thanksgiving staple was cream corn. I thought, “What the hell? Are my friends 80 or something?!” 

Being that I love a challenge, I started like a mad woman looking for different creamed corn recipes, ideas, and insight. For my first Friendsgiving I put together a pretty standard homemade creamed corn that actually went over pretty well, with myself included. Since then I’ve really worked at making it my own and it is, officially, one of our staples on the table.

I hope that if you’re anything like me and never loved creamed corn, you give this recipe a chance and turn into a believer. If you’ve always loved creamed corn, take my advice and add this to your Thanksgiving menu. I promise you’ll love it.

What You’ll Need:

  • 8 oz. cream cheese, cut into squares
  • 1/2 cup butter, divided into 8 tablespoons
  • 2 cups of whole milk
  • 1/2 cup light cream
  • 5 cups of frozen corn (about 3 bags)
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley
  • dried sage
  • smoked paprika
  • cayenne pepper
  • garlic powder
  • 3 tablespoons of sugar
  • salt & ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon of thickening agent (cornstarch, flour, arrowroot powder)

 

Cream Corn_2

Begin by melting your cream cheese, butter, & parsley over low heat in a large pot. Careful not to cook over too hot of heat, as your butter will burn before the cream cheese is melted.

Cream Corn_1

Add your thickening agent (I prefer arrowroot) to your cold milk & light cream and stir until dissolved. Once butter and cream cheese are melted, slowly whisk in the milk and light cream. Stir constantly over medium heat, ensuring there are no lumps. Once combined, add the corn, and about a 1/2 teaspoon of each seasoning: sage, smoked paprika, cayenne pepper (less if you don’t like a kick), garlic powder, salt & pepper. Stir in the sugar as well.

Let simmer over medium-low heat for 7-10 minutes. Transfer to a serving bowl and enjoy like you’ve never enjoyed creamed corn before!

Cream Corn_3

Apple, Sausage & Sage Stuffing

My most favorite Thanksgiving side of them all is stuffing. This particular stuffing recipe has even non-stuffing lovers digging into it. When you find something that works, stick with it! It’s moist (ew @ that word) on the bottom and perfectly crisp on the top. Not to mention a perfect combination of sweet from the apples and savory from the sausage.

I also use a combination of traditional stuffing cubes and cornbread stuffing for the perfect texture. Yes, I buy the bags of Pepperidge Farm stuffing. It’s just as delicious and one less step! If you’re feeling ambitious, you can certainly make your own bread cubes.

Using my baster, I’ll also suck up about 1 cup of my turkey drippings (ensuring you leave enough drippings for your gravy!) This will give you all that flavor you’re looking for when you actually stuff the bird, without actually stuffing it.

Break out your stretchy pants because this is the dish you’ll be going back for seconds!

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 bag Pepperidge Farm seasoned bread cubes
  • 1 bag Pepperidge Farm traditional cornbread stuffing (should look like          breadcrumbs)
  • 2 – 16 oz. logs of Bob Evans sage breakfast sausage
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped
  • 3 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 2 apples (I use honey crisp), peeled, cored, and chopped
  • 2 teaspoons sage
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1 cup turkey drippings
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick), melted

Stuffing_2

Preheat your oven to 350º. In a large skillet, add the butter,  sausage, onions, celery, and apples (leave a small handful of the apples aside for later.) Season the mixture with sage, garlic, and pepper and cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes. Ensure you are breaking the sausage into crumbles while cooking.

Stuffing_3

Once the sausage is cooked through and the onions are translucent, pour in 1 cup of turkey drippings and 1 cup of chicken stock and let simmer over medium heat for 3-5 minutes. This will incorporate all of your flavor combinations.

Stuffing_4

Add all of your bread cubes and cornbread crumbs to a large mixing bowl. Pour sausage/stock mixture over the bread and mix thoroughly, ensuring all the bread cubes are saturated.

Stuffing_1

Transfer your stuffing to a lightly greased baking dish and press into an even layer. Top your stuffing with the leftover chopped apples and cover with foil. Bake covered for 45 minutes and then remove foil. Continue to bake for an additional 10 minutes (this will give you that crispy top!)

Stuffing_5

Let cool before serving & enjoy!