Foolproof Thanksgiving Dinner

 Use the hashtag #LoCooks on your pictures to show us your Thanksgiving dinner!

Thanksgiving Turkey (1000x1000)

Foolproof Turkey

1. 1 raw turkey (can be frozen, but you must start thawing it 2-3 days before Thanksgiving)

2. A ton of kosher salt

3. A ton of butter or duck fat

4. Black pepper

5. Canola Oil

6. Cinnamon Stick

7. 1 Apple, halved

8. 1 Onion, halved

9. Fresh Rosemary, thyme, sage

10. Your best beer

11. Your best white wine

12. A very large plastic bag

13. Large roasting pan

14. Thermometer

15. Twine

1. Dry brine your turkey 2 days before Thanksgiving while allowing him to thaw out in the fridge.  Wash the turkey, removing the neck and organs (but save them for gravy), and dry the bird very well.  Next, turn your huge-ass plastic bag (must be air-tight once closed) inside out and set aside.  So as not to cross-contaminate your salt, put the salt you’ll be using for the brine in a bowl separate from the salt you always use.  Rub kosher salt all over the outside of the turkey and also underneath the skin on the breast.  Be very gentle when peeling the skin away from the breast meat as you don’t want it to tear.

2. Wash your hands and grab the inside-out bag, wrapping it around the turkey so once the bird is in the bag, it’s right-side out again.  Tie the sucker shut (tight) and place the turkey breast side up in the fridge until Thanksgiving.

3. On Thanksgiving preheat your oven to 500 F.  Take your turkey out of his bag and rinse all the salt off of him.  Dry him very, very, very well again and set aside.

4. In a microwave-safe container (I just use a piece of tupperware), microwave your halved onion and apple along with your cinnamon stick together with some water for about 3 minutes until soft.

5. Prepare to season the bird, butter and oil him up, and fill the cavity – aka have your butter and oil ready to go along with salt and pepper in specific bowls (so you don’t cross contaminate), and your onion, apple, cinny stick, and all your herbs.  Make sure your roasting pan is out and ready to go and your twine is on-hand to truss.

6. Salt and pepper the turkey very generously (but be prepared to move fast after this with your butter as the salt brings out moisture which repels the fat from sticking) outside and inside the cavity as well.  Like at least 3 handfuls of salt.  Seriously.  Massage the salt and pepper into the turkey.

7. Butter the entire turkey, massaging into the breast as best as you can without breaking the skin.  Insert onion, apple, cinnamon stick, and a bunch of fresh herbs into the cavity.  If you’re making my Sage Stuffing Recipe def use some sage!

8. Tie the legs together using twine.  Watch this video on how to truss a turkey.

9. Create a shield for the breast of your turkey using aluminum foil (this is Alton Brown’s genius idea) and set aside.

10. Drizzle canola oil all over the outside of the bird so he is completely oiled up.  Leave no part oil-free.  Place your turkey breast side up in your roasting dish and into a 500 F oven for 30 minutes.

11. After 30 minutes, reduce the heat to 350 and allow the bird to finish cooking for another 2 to 3 hours (depending on the size).  Add some beer and wine to the bottom of the pan.

12. I wouldn’t recommend using the pop-out thermometer (generally included in most turkeys these days) to indicate total done-ness of the turkey.  If the pop-out thermometer is in the breast and it pops out, the breast meat is done but the legs will definitely NOT be (they always take longer, just like on a chicken).  If you’re super brave you can remove the turkey from the oven at this time and remove the legs from the rest of the body and put them back in the oven to continue cooking without over-doing the breast.  If you choose to do this, simply set the breast and carcass aside on a cooling rack (over a cookie) sheet and let rest.  Your thermometer should be in the deepest part of the thigh without touching bone, and should reach 160 before you determine your legs are done.  160 is basically the magic number.  Hit it and pull your bird out.  Go to 170/175 like the Health Department recommends and you’re going to have a dry turkey.

12. Allow your turkey to rest for 20 minutes minimally no matter what.  If you’ve removed the legs or chosen to keep them on, still let all the parts rest to allow the moisture to be sucked back in.  Simply pop the bird back into the oven momentarily before serving to heat him right back up.

13. SAVE THE BROWN BITS from your pan for gravy.  That recipe comes next week!

Time: 30 minutes to prepare the dry brine, about 4.5 hours start to finish for preparing and cooking the turkey

Level: Medium

Serves: Depends on how big your turkey is!

Sage Thanksgiving Stuffing 2

Sage Thanksgiving Stuffing

1. 1 loaf of good sourdough bread cut into small cubes and dried out in the low-heat oven until stale

2. 3/4 to 1 stick of butter

3. 1 large onion, diced

4. 4 celery sticks, diced

5. 2 heaping tablespoons of dried sage

6. 1 Jimmy Dean or Farmer John’s Sage Sausage

7. 3 cups of good chicken broth (can add some Better Than Buillon flavoring to increase flavor)

8. Salt and Pepper to season

1. Cut bread into cubes and dry the cubes out on a cookie sheet in a 250F oven until dry, stale, and toasty.

2. Melt butter in pan, add diced onion and celery until soft, add sage, salt, and pepper.

3. Cook sausage in a separate pan until just about done, then add sausage and fat to softened onion and celery.  Check the seasonings – you’ll need quite a bit since you’ll be adding bread and chicken stock.

4. In a large bowl mix veggies, sausage, and bread making sure to coat the bread with the fat.  Taste test.  Add more salt, pepper, and sage per your taste!

5. Pour 3 cups of broth over stuffing and mix together well.  Each piece of bread should be coated with fat and stock.

6. Put stuffing mixture into a buttered 12×16 (or is it 10×15?) glass dish.  Bake in convection oven at 375 for about 40 minutes (if it’s coming out of the fridge).  Stuffing will be bubbling at the base and crispy and yummy on top.

Serves: 6-8 people

Oven: 250F and 375F

Time: 90 minutes

Level: Easy

gravy

Gravy

6 tablespoons butter + more for other steps

6 tablespoons flour

Chicken Broth (about 8 cups)

Turkey neck and giblets

Half an onion, cut into 1/2 inch pieces

1 carrot, cut into 1/2 inch pieces

Half a celery stick, cut into 1/2 inch pieces

2-3 bay leaves

Parsley stems

Kosher Salt

Black Pepper

Juice from Turkey Roasting Pan

Brown Bits from Turkey Roasting Pan

White Wine to deglaze

1. The day before Thanksgiving, make the base for your gravy by making a roux then adding chicken stock until it boils and thickens.  To do this, melt butter completely in a sauce pan then add flour, whisking together into a paste and cooking for 3-4 minutes, stirring constantly over medium heat.  Add hot chicken stock (about 5-6 cups) to the pan, stirring constantly to avoid clumps.  Allow the gravy base to boil so the starch in the flour expands, thickening the gravy.  Boil for 5-10 minutes.  Allow gravy base to cool completely and refrigerate until Thanksgiving.

2. On Thanksgiving, brown neck and giblets in butter in a large sauce pan.  Once browned remove from the pan, melt some additional butter and brown onion, carrot, and celery.  Add the bones and giblets back to the pan, add chicken stock (or turkey stock if you have it) to cover, bay leaves, parsley stems, and black pepper.  Bring to a boil then simmer for 1-2 hours.  Strain , cool the liquid and set aside.

3. When the turkey is finished cooking, pour the juice from the pan into a bowl and allow the fat to come to the top.  Spoon the fat off of the turkey juice.  Over medium heat, deglaze the brown bits off of the pan using white wine and by scraping the bottom of the pan.  Add turkey juice, the turkey liquid from the bones, and the gravy base to the pan.  Allow the gravy to boil to let the different liquids come together.  Scrape any fat that comes to the top off of the gravy.  Season with salt and pepper until it tastes just right.  If your gravy needs to thicken, you can boil it down further (the saltiness will intensify so be careful) or add a bit of flour and butter paste (take soft room temp butter and mix it with equal parts flour) to the gravy, stirring to thicken (it must boil).

Serves: 8-12 people

Difficulty: Medium

Time: 3 hours over the course of 2 days

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Crispy Brussel Sprout Salad

With Pomegranate Seeds

From BlissfulBasil

For the Salad
  • 2 pounds brussels sprouts
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup pomegranate seeds
  • ¼ cup pine nuts
For the Lime Vinaigrette
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ tablespoon tahini
  • ½ tablespoon pure maple syrup
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • black pepper, to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  3. One at a time, trim the brussels sprouts and separate the leaves. You will need to trim the base of the sprout a few times to get as many leaves as possible from each. Add the leaves to the baking pans and repeat with each sprout.
  4. Once all of the leaves have been added to the pans, drizzle each pan with 1 tablespoon olive oil and massage the oil into the leaves. Spread the leaves out evenly over each pan and bake for 15-20 minutes or until most of the leaves are crispy and just turning golden. Make sure to toss the leaves every few minutes as they bake to prevent burning. Remove from oven and let cool slightly.
  5. While the leaves are baking, make the vinaigrette by adding the lime juice, apple cider vinegar, olive oil, tahini, maple syrup, salt, and pepper to a small bowl. Whisk for 15-30 seconds until incorporated.
  6. To serve the salad, add the leaves to a serving bowl or tray along with the pomegranate seeds and pine nuts. Pour the dressing over, toss to coat, and serve immediately. 

 

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Pumpkin Pie

From Sally’s Baking Addiction

  • Homemade Pie Crust (full recipe makes 2 crusts: 1 for bottom, 1 for leaf decor)
  • 2 cups (15oz can; 450g) pumpkin puree1
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 and 1/4 cups (250g) packed dark brown sugar2
  • 1 Tablespoon (15g) cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger3
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground or freshly grated nutmeg3
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves3
  • 1/8 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
  • 1 cup (240ml) heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) milk (I use 1% – any is fine)
  • 1 large egg beaten with 1 teaspoon milk, for brushing
  1. Preheat oven to 375º
  2. Whisk the pumpkin, 3 eggs, and brown sugar together until combined. Add the cornstarch, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, pepper, cream, and milk. Vigorously whisk until everything is combined. Filling will be a little thick.
  3. Pour pumpkin pie filling into a warm pre-baked crust. If you did not use a deep dish pie pan, you will have too much filling. Only fill the crust about 3/4 of the way up. Use extra to make mini pies with leftover pie dough scraps if you’d like. Bake the pie until the center is almost set, about 55-60 minutes give or take. A small part of the center will be wobbly – that’s ok. After 25 minutes of baking, be sure to cover the edges of the crust with aluminum foil or use a piecrust shield to prevent the edges from getting too brown. Check for doneness at minute 50, and then 55, and then 60, etc.
  4. Once done, transfer the pie to a wire rack and allow to cool completely for at least 3 hours.

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