Menu: An Impressive Thanksgiving Feast

A new menu for us for Thanksgiving?


I have posted our traditional Thanksgiving menu before. It rarely changes (thus the “tradition” in the word traditional). With the exception of some great vegetarian additions last year [hey, I haven’t posted those recipes yet – making a note of it now], I believe we have had the exact same Thanksgiving meal every year since we stopped driving all the way to Indiana at Thanksgiving; instead, opting to have our own meal at home.

Anyway, I digress…

Earlier this week, our neighborhood hosted a cooking class/demo by a local chef. He confessed that all of his fancy recipes came from Bon Appetit, so I looked them up. Calorie content: HOLY GUACAMOLE, BATMAN!!! (but who really counts calories on Thanksgiving anyway?) Taste: DEEEE-licious!!! Much fancier than the food we are accustomed to eating, but the samplings definitely piqued Chef Gator’s interest. So…if he’s up for a culinary challenge we may be adding some of these delicacies we sampled to our Thanksgiving menu.


Malt-Beer-Brined Turkey with Malt Glaze
Mixed-Mushroom and Tarragon Gravy
Maple-Braised Butternut Squash with Fresh Thyme
Ultimate Turkey Stock
Rosemary Bread Stuffing with Speck, Fennel, and Lemon
Pear Crostata with Figs and Honey

Note: Again (giving due credit) All recipes come from Bon Appetit

Malt-Beer-Brined Turkey with Malt Glaze


8 to 10 servings
PREP (Roasted Turkey): 45 minutes
TOTAL (Roasted Turkey): 20 hours (includes brining and roasting time)
PREP (Grilled Turkey): 45 minutes
TOTAL (Grilled Turkey): 21 hours (includes brining and grilling time)

Recipe by Bruce Aidells
Photograph by Hans Gissinger
November 2010

2/3 cup barley malt syrup
1/4 cup malt vinegar or apple cider vinegar
6 fresh sage sprigs
4 fresh thyme sprigs
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter

4 quarts water
2 cups Diamond Crystal coarse kosher salt or 1 1/2 cups Morton coarse kosher salt
3 12-ounce bottles stout beer (such as Guinness)
1 1/2 cups barley malt syrup
1 14- to 16-pound turkey
2 teaspoons ground black pepper
2 peeled onions, quartered
2 celery stalks, cut into chunks
1 bunch fresh sage
1 bunch fresh thyme
1 unpeeled head of garlic, cut crosswise in half
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups (or more) water
Mixed-Mushroom and Tarragon Gravy

2 turkey-size oven bags
Turkey lacing pins
Charcoal chimney (if grilling)
13x9x2-inch disposable aluminum baking pan (to catch drips; if grilling)

Brining—soaking the bird in salt water—creates juicy turkey. Here, stout beer and barley malt syrup add a richness to the brine, which infuses the meat with flavor. And the malt glaze gives the bird a crisp, burnished skin.

Barley malt syrup has a flavor similar to molasses. Look for it at natural foods stores or buy it from

Bring malt syrup, vinegar, herbs, and pepper to boil in small saucepan, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to low and simmer until glaze coats spoon, 4 to 5 minutes. Mix in butter. DO AHEAD Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover; chill. Rewarm before using.

Pour 4 quarts water into 16-quart nonreactive bowl or pot. Add salt; stir to dissolve. Mix in beer and malt syrup. Insert 1 oven bag into second bag; place in large bowl. Rinse turkey inside and out. Slide turkey, breast side down, into doubled bag. Pour brine into bag. Press out any air; seal bags. Chill turkey in brine (still in bowl) 16 to 18 hours.

Remove turkey from brine. Pat very dry, inside and out, with paper towels. Sprinkle main cavity with 2 teaspoons pepper; fill with onions, celery, sage, thyme, and garlic. Close cavity with turkey lacing pins. Tuck wing tips under; brush all over with oil.

Set oven rack at lowest position; preheat to 350°F. Place turkey on rack in roasting pan; add 2 cups water.

Roast turkey 2 hours. Brush with glaze; add water if pan is dry. Roast 30 minutes. Brush with glaze. Tent with foil if browning too quickly. Roast until thermometer inserted into thickest part of thigh registers 165°F, 30 to 45 minutes. Brush with more glaze. Transfer to platter; let rest 30 minutes (temperature will rise 5 to 10 degrees).

Prepare barbecue (medium heat). Remove top grill rack. If using charcoal, light briquettes in chimney. When briquettes are covered with white ash, push to opposite sides of bottom grill rack, leaving center empty. Place disposable aluminum pan in center of rack (you will need to light additional briquettes, checking every 30 minutes during grilling time). Replace top grill rack. If using 3-burner gas grill, light burners on left and right sides, leaving center burner off. If using 2-burner gas grill, light burner on 1 side; place disposable pan over unlit side.

Place turkey, breast side up, on grill rack over disposable pan. Cover barbecue. Insert instant-read thermometer into hole in hood. Maintain temperature as close as possible to 350°F on charcoal grill by opening vents to increase temperature and closing vents to reduce temperature or adjusting temperature on gas grill with controls. Cook turkey 2 hours, tenting loosely with foil if browning too quickly. Brush turkey with glaze. Cover grill; cook 30 minutes longer. Brush again with glaze. Cook until thermometer inserted into thickest part of thigh registers 165°F, about 30 minutes longer. Transfer turkey to platter. Brush with glaze. Let rest 30 minutes (temperature will rise 5 to 10 degrees).

10 servings, 1 serving contains:
Calories (kcal) 579.3
%Calories from Fat 42.6
Fat (g) 27.4
Saturated Fat (g) 7.7
Cholesterol (mg) 189.0
Carbohydrates (g) 13.6
Dietary Fiber (g) 0.8
Total Sugars (g) 12.2
Net Carbs (g) 12.8
Protein (g) 65.0
Sodium (mg) 631.9


Mixed-Mushroom and Tarragon Gravy


Makes about 7 cups
PREP: 45 minutes
TOTAL: 1 hour 45 minutes (includes mushroom-soaking time)
Recipe by Bruce Aidells
Photograph by Hans Gissinger
November 2010

2 ounces dried porcini mushrooms
2 cups boiling water
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1 large shallot, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
3 large garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 pound fresh crimini (baby bella) mushrooms, stemmed, caps sliced
1/2 pound fresh shiitake mushrooms, stemmed, caps sliced
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1 teaspoon chopped fresh sage
1 cup dry vermouth or dry white wine
4 1/4 cups Ultimate Turkey Stock or low-salt chicken broth, divided
1/2 cup crème fraîche
5 teaspoons cornstarch
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh tarragon

On Thanksgiving, do-aheads are key. This super-savory gravy can be made a day ahead. All you have to do before serving is heat it up and stir in some tarragon. No last-minute pan-scraping and reducing required.

Dried porcini and crème fraîche are available at many supermarkets and at specialty foods stores.

Place dried porcini in large bowl. Pour 2 cups boiling water over. Let stand until soft, stirring occasionally, about 1 hour. Using slotted spoon, transfer porcini to small bowl. Cool porcini, then chop. Pour porcini soaking liquid into medium bowl, leaving sediment behind.

Melt butter in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add shallot and garlic. Stir 15 seconds. Add fresh mushrooms, thyme, and sage. Sauté until mushrooms are tender, 6 to 7 minutes. Transfer mushrooms to bowl. Add vermouth to skillet; boil 3 minutes, scraping up browned bits. Add 4 cups stock, fresh-mushroom mixture, porcini, and porcini liquid. Boil 10 minutes. Whisk in crème fraîche. Stir 1/4 cup stock and cornstarch in bowl to dissolve; mix into gravy. Cook until gravy coats spoon, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cool, cover, and chill. Rewarm before continuing.

Whisk tarragon into gravy and serve.

One serving (1/4 cup) contains:
Calories (kcal) 45.1
%Calories from Fat 59.6
Fat (g) 3.0
Saturated Fat (g) 1.9
Cholesterol (mg) 9.6
Carbohydrates (g) 2.7
Dietary Fiber (g) 0.5
Total Sugars (g) 0.6
Net Carbs (g) 2.3
Protein (g) 1.8
Sodium (mg) 24.6


Maple-Braised Butternut Squash with Fresh Thyme


6 to 8 servings
PREP: 35 minutes
TOTAL: 35 minutes
Recipe by Diane Morgan
Photograph by Hans Gissinger
November 2010

6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter
1 3- to 3 1/2-pound butternut squash, cut lengthwise in half, peeled, seeded, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 1/4 cups low-salt chicken broth
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme
1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon (or more) black pepper

Braising (sautéing, then cooking low and slow in a bit of liquid) is most often associated with meat, but it’s also a great way to cook veggies. FIbrous vegetables like butternut squash are the perfect candidate for braining. The braising liquid infuses the squash with flavor and makes it very tender.

Melt butter in heavy large deep skillet over high heat. Add squash; sauté 1 minute. Add broth, syrup, thyme, salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; bring to boil. Cover, reduce heat to medium, and cook until squash is almost tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer squash to large bowl. Boil liquid in skillet until thickened, 3 to 4 minutes. Return squash to skillet. Cook until tender, turning occasionally, 3 to 4 minutes. Season with more pepper, if desired.

One serving contains:
Calories (kcal) 177.2
% Calories from Fat 43.2
Fat (g) 8.5
Saturated Fat (g) 5.4
Cholesterol (mg) 23.3
Carbohydrates (g) 25.6
Dietary Fiber (g) 2.9
Total Sugars (g) 11.2
Net Carbs (g) 22.7
Protein (g) 2.0
Sodium (mg) 174.1


Ultimate Turkey Stock

For the best gravy ever, use this intensely flavored stock. The key to its deep flavor is using two birds—chicken and turkey. Start with purchased chicken broth; add giblets, veggies, herbs, and turkey wings—then simmer for a couple of hours.

Makes about 8 1/2 cups
PREP: 30 minutes
TOTAL: 3 hours 30 minutes (includes simmering and cooling)
Recipe by Bruce Aidells
November 2010

5 1/2 pounds turkey wings
Neck, heart, and gizzard reserved from turkey
12 cups low-salt chicken broth
3 large carrots, cut into chunks
3 large celery stalks, chopped
2 medium onions, quartered
2 medium whole leeks (including dark green parts), split lengthwise, rinsed, chopped
Stems from 2 bunches parsley
6 large fresh thyme sprigs
3 Turkish bay leaves

Place turkey wings and neck, heart, and gizzard in large pot. Add all remaining ingredients; bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer gently until gizzard is tender, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Using tongs, transfer neck, heart, and gizzard to plate; reserve. Discard wings. Strain stock and spoon off fat from surface. Measure stock and, if necessary, boil until reduced to 81/2 to 9 cups. DO AHEAD Can be made 3 days ahead. Cool 1 hour. Chill uncovered until cold, then cover and keep chilled. Wrap and chill turkey neck, heart, and gizzard separately for making gravy.

One serving (1 cup) contains:
Calories (kcal) 25.0
%Calories from Fat 18
Fat (g) 0.5
Saturated Fat (g) 0.5
Cholesterol (mg) 5.0
Carbohydrates (g) 1.0
Dietary Fiber (g) 0
Total Sugars (g) 1.0
Net Carbs (g) 1.0
Protein (g) 4.0
Sodium (mg) 140.0


Rosemary Bread Stuffing with Speck, Fennel, and Lemon


8 servings
PREP: 1 hour 10 minutes
TOTAL: 2 1/2 hours
Recipe by Rochelle Palermo
Photograph by Hans Gissinger
November 2010

1 14 1/2- to 16-ounce purchased rosemary-olive bread, crust removed, bread cut into 1/2-inch cubes
7 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, melted, divided
1/3 cup dry white wine
1/3 cup golden raisins
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
2 cups chopped fresh fennel bulb (from 1 large) plus 1 tablespoon chopped fresh fennel fronds
1 cup finely chopped shallots
1/2 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
8 ounces thinly sliced Speck or prosciutto, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon peel
1 cup (or more) low-salt chicken broth
2 large eggs, beaten to blend

In this recipe, we started with purchased rosemary-olive bread, a single ingredient that’s packed with flavor. Fennel, Speck, and raisins round out this super stuffing. There’s lots of cooking to be done on Thanksgiving, so why not save yourself some work?

Preheat oven to 375°F. Toss bread cubes, 3 tablespoons oil, and 2 tablespoons melted butter in large bowl. Spread mixture on large rimmed baking sheet. Bake until bread cubes are golden, stirring occasionally, 20 to 22 minutes. Cool.
Mix wine and raisins in small saucepan; let soak 10 minutes. Boil 2 minutes. Cool.
Stir fennel seeds in small dry skillet over medium heat until fragrant and slightly darker, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer fennel seeds to plate to cool. Finely grind seeds in mortar with pestle or in spice mill.

Heat 2 tablespoons butter with 3 tablespoons oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add fennel bulb, shallots, 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper; sauté until fennel is tender and shallots are pale golden, about 7 minutes. Stir in ground fennel seeds, Speck, lemon peel, and fennel fronds. Stir raisins into fennel mixture; cool. DO AHEAD Bread cubes and fennel mixture can be made 1 day ahead. Store bread airtight at room temperature. Cover and refrigerate fennel mixture.

Preheat to 375°F. Coat 13x9x2-inch glass baking dish with 1 tablespoon oil. Toss bread cubes and fennel mixture in large bowl. Add 1 cup broth and eggs; toss until moistened, adding up to ¼ cup more broth if dry. Transfer stuffing to prepared baking dish. Cover with foil coated lightly with oil, oiled side down. Bake until stuffing is heated through, about 30 minutes. Remove foil; bake uncovered until top is crisp and golden, about 30 minutes.

Nutritional Information
One serving contains:
Calories (kcal) 350.3
%Calories from Fat 55.2
Fat (g) 21.5
Saturated Fat (g) 6.1
Cholesterol (mg) 34.5
Carbohydrates (g) 28.4
Dietary Fiber (g) 2.6
Total Sugars (g) 6.4
Net Carbs (g) 25.8
Protein (g) 10.8
Sodium (mg) 963.6


Pear Crostata with Figs and Honey


8 servings
PREP: 1 hour
TOTAL: 3 hours 20 minutes (includes baking and cooling time)
Recipe by Jeanne Kelley
Photograph by Hans Gissinger
November 2010

1 2/3 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1/3 cup cornmeal
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
3 tablespoons (or more) ice water

1/4 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon (scant) ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
2 1/4 pounds firm but ripe unpeeled Anjou pears (about 4), cored, each cut into 8 wedges
10 dried but moist Calimyrna figs (about 4 ounces), stemmed, quartered
Heavy whipping cream (for brushing)
Raw sugar
2 tablespoons honey

Rimless baking sheet

Simply roll out the dough, mound the pear filling in the center, and fold the edges of the dough up and over the edge of the filling, creating free-form “sides” to hold in the fruit. No pressure, no crust anxiety. Just loosely shape the dough for a rustic and beautiful Thanksgiving dessert.

Blend first 4 ingredients in processor. Add butter; using on/off turns, process until mixture resembles coarse meal. Remove lid; spoon 3 tablespoons ice water over mixture. Return lid to processor; using on/off turns, blend mixture until dough forms ball, adding more ice water by teaspoonfuls if dry. Flatten dough into disk; wrap in plastic and chill at least 20 minutes. DO AHEAD Can be made 2 days ahead. Keep chilled. Let dough soften slightly at room temperature before rolling out.

Position rack in center of oven; preheat to 400°F. Whisk first 6 ingredients in large bowl. Add pears and figs; toss gently. Roll dough out on lightly floured parchment to 14-inch square or round. Transfer parchment with rolled-out crust to rimless baking sheet. Mound pear mixture with juices in center of crust, leaving 2- to 3-inch plain dough border. Using parchment as aid, fold dough up over edges of pear mixture, pleating edges and pinching to seal any cracks in dough, forming square or round. Brush crust edges with cream; sprinkle generously with raw sugar.

Bake crostata until crust is golden, pears are tender, and juices are bubbling thickly, covering crust edges with foil if browning too quickly, 50 to 60 minutes. Remove crostata from oven; drizzle 2 tablespoons honey over hot filling. Run long thin knife or spatula around edges of warm crostata to loosen. Cool crostata on parchment on baking sheet until slightly warm, at least 1 hour. Transfer to platter. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature.

8 servings, 1 serving contains:
Calories (kcal) 460.4
% Calories from Fat 38.9
Fat (g) 19.9
Saturated Fat (g) 12.3
Cholesterol (mg) 55.3
Carbohydrates (g) 69.5
Dietary Fiber (g) 6.9
Total Sugars (g) 40.1
Net Carbs (g) 62.6
Protein (g) 4.0
Sodium (mg) 334.6


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