This Thanksgiving my husband and I will be hosting 7 guests in our tiny 350 square foot (33m2) apartment.
We’ll have everyone over on Saturday, since Thursday isn’t a national holiday in France. I explained a little about this in my last post about Turkey Day. By chance, I won’t be working on Thursday, so I’ve decided to split up the cooking. On Thursday, I’ll cook one turkey, the gravy, the soup and the pumpkin pies. Plus, I’ll get the green bean casserole prepped to just put in the oven. Saturday, I’ll reheat the soup, cook one more turkey, pop the casserole in the oven, and make the fresh whipped cream. The other guests will bring the rest.
I don’t like to follow one recipe, because I guess I find that boring.
I’m a big experimenter in the kitchen and I will typically read 5-10 different recipes before choosing 2 or 3 to mix together into something I think I’ll like. I don’t want to get too creative on the Big Day, so I’ve decided to write down my chosen methods in advance. This way, I can just follow the instructions on Thursday and Saturday. Quelle idée! 😉
Below our menu, you’ll find the recipes I’ll use for the holiday.
Our Thanksgiving Menu:
– Cocktail hour with munchies and champagne
– Roasted Butternut Squash Soup (starter) *Click the link to open a new window with my delicious recipe
– Turkey and gravy (oh, and wine to drink, of course)
– Green bean casserole (French’s Fried Onion has the recipe on the lable – my grandmother loved making this)
– Stuffing (Stovetop, because it takes 6 minutes instead of 90 minutes, though I might modify it with some of the goodies from the bottom of the turkey pan… to be determined!)
– Jellied cranberry sauce (Ocean Spray, because it’s delicious, and takes 60 seconds to prepare)
– Mashed potatoes (a guest is bringing this)
– Biscuits (a guest is bringing this)
– Blueberry pie (a guest is bringing this)
– Pumpkin pie (recipe from Libby’s pumpkin filling plus fancy crust decoration)
– Fresh maple syrup flavored whipped cream
– A surprise dessert that a guest is bringing
– Tea and coffee
What does your Thanksgiving menu look like?
Here is the turkey recipe I’ll be using:
Thanksgiving Roast Turkey
In an attempt to have the most tasty and moist turkey - without brining - I've mixed up several recipes and tips. The cheesecloth idea comes from a Martha Stewart recipe that has a ton of RAVING reviews. Apparently this is the go-to recipe for a lot of people. I modified the bird-prep quite a bit, but I kept the cheesecloth element exactly as described. Hopefully it will be amazing!
- 1 fresh turkey, completely thawed if frozen and allowed to sit out at room temperature for 2 hours before cooking (giblets and neck removed from cavity and reserved for gravy)
- salt for seasoning
- pepper for seasoning
Cheesecloth wine-butter soak:
- 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) melted unsalted butter
- 750ml of a dry white wine (such as Chardonnay)
Herb butter rub:
- 6 tablespoons softened unsalted butter
- 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
- 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh sage leaves
- 1 teaspoons coarse salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Stuff the bird with:
- 1 granny smith apple, cored and peeled.
- 6 fresh thyme sprigs
- 10 fresh Italian parsley sprigs
- 6 fresh rosemary sprigs
- 2 celery branches cut into large 2-3″ sections
- 1/2 peeled and quartered onion
Optional (for the bottom of the pan to make the gravy more delicious):
- 2 peeled carrots cut into large 2″ sections
- 3 celery branches cut into large 2″ sections
- 1 peeled and quartered onion
Special Cooking Tools
- Let the (completely thawed) turkey sit out at room temperature for 2 hours before cooking. Rinse and pat dry with paper towels. Place on a rack in the roasting pan. (Note: If turkey is not brined, rub bird inside and out with salt the night before cooking.)
- (Optional:) Add the 2 carrots, 3 celery and 1 onion – peeled and cut in large chunks – to the bottom of the pan (this provides excellent flavor for the gravy).
- Stuff the Turkey: Loosely fill main cavity with herb sprigs (6 rosemary, 6 thyme and 10 parsley), 1 apple (peeled, cored and quartered), 1/2 onion (quartered), and two roughly chopped celery stalks. Some of these can be placed in the neck cavity. Fold neck flap under, and secure with toothpicks. Loosely tie legs together with cooking twine to hold shape. Tuck wing tips under the bird.
- Herb-butter rub: In a bowl, mix together 6 tablespoons of softened unsalted butter, 3 tablespoons of finely chopped fresh parsley, 3 tablespoons of finely chopped fresh thyme, 3 tablespoons of finely chopped fresh sage leaves, 1 teaspoon of course salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper. (This mixture can be prepared the night in advance and left at room temperature until the turkey is being prepared to go in the oven.) Lift the skin of the breast starting near the neck and separate the skin from the meat. Smear the mixture under the skin on the breast, thighs and upper drumsticks. Save about a tablespoon and rub the entire turkey with the remaining herb butter, and sprinkle with 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and 3/4 teaspoon pepper, pressing them on the skin.
- Place rack on lowest level in oven. Heat oven to 450 degrees (F).
- Prepare the cheesecloth soak: Mix 1 1/2 cup of melted butter with 750ml of a dry white wine (like Chardonnay) in a bowl. Fold the cheesecloth into quarters and soak it in this mixture.
- Lift the cheesecloth out of the mixture, and squeeze it a little, leaving it wet. Keep the four layers stacked on top of each other and cover the turkey breast.
- Place turkey in oven. Cook for 30 minutes, then baste the turkey and the cheesecloth with the butter wine mixture, using a pastry brush and baster.
- Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees (F). Baste again every 30 minutes, and turn the turkey pan every hour so it cooks evenly. (If there is too much juice in the pan, spoon them out and reserve them for gravy.)
- The cooking time varies for every oven and every turkey. The bigger the turkey, the longer it will take to cook. In my little oven, a 10-lb turkey took 2.5 hours. A 14-lb turkey took 3 hours. After about 1.5 hours, start to check the temperature each time you baste the bird.
- Check the temperature with an instant-read thermometer. Don’t worry about the breast, focus only on the thickest part of the thigh and don’t touch a bone. Stick the thermometer deep into the crevice between the turkey leg and the under-breast. The turkey is done when the temperature reaches 165 degrees.
- When the temperature of the turkey reaches 150-160 degrees F, carefully remove the cheesecloth. Baste the turkey with pan juices. If there are not enough juices, continue to use butter and wine. Cook another 30 minutes.
- When fully cooked, carefully tilt the turkey to empty the juices from the cavity into the pan. Move the turkey to a cutting board, and let rest for about 1 hour before carving. Reserve the pan and its contents for the gravy. (I promise that moving the bird to a cutting board is a good idea. Otherwise the skin could dry around the wire rack, making it difficult to separate the turkey from the rack! I learned the hard way… haha)
Credit goes to this mix of sources:
*POST UPDATE: This turkey recipe is amazing! After serving it for our Thanksgiving, we discovered the taste is incredible. I would absolutely recommend it. The cooking in advance method was also a very good idea. However, I took down the Martha Stewart Giblet Gravy recipe that I had previously posted because the flavor wasn’t good at all! In the future I’ll try this simple classic recipe which reminds me of the way my mom made gravy when I was a kid.
Classic Turkey Gravy
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 medium onion or leek, or 2 shallots, sliced
- Neck and giblets from your turkey (discard the liver)
- 8 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 3 sprigs thyme, parsley, rosemary and/or sage
- 1 bay leaf
- Turkey drippings from your roasting pan
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- Dash of Worcestershire sauce
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 2 tablespoons cold butter (optional)
- In a medium-size pot, melt the butter and add the chopped onion, giblets and turkey neck. Cook to brown the giblets, then add the chicken broth, bay leaf and herb sprigs.
- Simmer for about 2 hours, then strain the broth and keep warm.
- When the turkey is done, pour the juices from the turkey roasting pan to a fat separator or glass measuring cup and let sit for 5-10 minutes to allow the fat to separate.
- Put 1/2 cup of the fat into a large saucepan on medium heat. (If you don’t have fat from the pan juices, use butter.) Add the 1/2 cup of flour to make a roux. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon until the flour browns, about 4 minutes.
- Gradually add the hot broth to the roux, whisking constantly to prevent lumps. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium low.
- Pour degreased pan juices into the gravy, discarding any remaining fat.
- Simmer, whisking occasionally, until the gravy thickens, about 10 minutes. Add the Worcestershire sauce and season with salt and pepper. Stir in the butter, if desired.
- Serve in a warm gravy boat.
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What are your favorite Thanksgiving recipes?