Over the years we have become one of those households that gets completely submerged during the holiday season starting with Thanksgiving. We host our entire immediate family, next-door neighbors, and some close friends whom have their families in Europe. One of the things we learned through trial and error is that when entertaining for people so close to you a common mistake is to try and get “too creative” where you may score points with some guest but put a frown on others. I realize it may be impossible for everyone absolutely love everything about the evening but it is possible for everyone to have a good time and especially at Thanksgiving, to enjoy the meal and the key to that may just be “Keeping It Simple” (because you’re not Stupid). With that said we have some of the best, basic Thanksgiving Day recipes to help you put together a perfect holiday meal, actually have enough time to enjoy the evening, and most importantly keep your sanity.
We’ve been the designated Thanksgiving Holiday host for years now so we’re always cognizant of the threat of our guest walking away and felling bored, or that it was the same last year (by the way if it went well that’s not such a bad thing). Ya know, I was reading the Weekend Journal and their Thanksgiving weekend special on Thanksgiving recipes. One was a Pibil-Style Turkey with Achiote and Oregano (total time 16 hours), another was for a Spiced Apple Smoked Turkey (total time 18 hours) etc. and I’m thinking “really? Who realistically has the time for this?” Yea, I want everyone to walk away feeling satisfied and tasting something different from the year before but the ROE of crashing and burning even if you put it together correctly people may not like it. You may spend so much time trying to put this together that other items are not made as well, etc. For best results keep the main item simple and if you want to add some spice do it with some of the side dishes, but we’ve got the recipes to take you through both the main dishes and the sides so keep checking in as well keep this updated all the way through both Thanksgiving and Christmas.
In the spirit of Keeping It Simple here is a traditional Thanksgiving Day Turkey recipe that will make a great centerpiece for your holiday.
- One 14 to 16-pound frozen natural, young turkey
- 1 gallon vegetable broth, homemade or canned
- 1 cup kosher salt
- 1/2 cup packed brown sugar, light or dark
- 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
- 1 1/2 teaspoons allspice berries
- 1 1/2 tablespoons candied ginger, chopped
- 1 gallon water, iced
- Canola oil, for roasting
- Two to three days before roasting: Begin thawing the turkey in the refrigerator or in a cooler kept at 38 degrees F.
- Combine the broth, salt, sugar, peppercorns, allspice and ginger in a large stockpot and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Stir until the salt and sugar dissolve. Remove from the heat. Cool to room temperature and refrigerate the brine.
- The night before you’d like to eat: Truss the legs of the turkey with kitchen twine if desired. Combine the brine, water and ice in a 5-gallon bucket. Place the thawed turkey, with innards removed, breast-side down in the brine. If necessary, weigh down the bird to ensure it is fully immersed, cover and refrigerate or place everything in a cooler. Turn the bird once halfway through brining.
- Day of roasting: Heat the oven to 500 degrees F. Remove the bird from the brine and rinse inside and out with cold water. Discard the brine.
- Place the bird on a roasting rack inside a half sheet pan and pat dry with paper towels. Rub the bird with canola oil. Roast the bird on the lowest rack of the oven for 30 minutes.
- While the bird is cooking, fold and shape a double thickness of aluminum foil into a closely fitting breastplate.
- After 30 minutes, decrease the oven temperature to 350 degrees F, insert a probe thermometer into the thickest part of the breast and cook until the temperature reaches 155 degrees F. Use the breastplate at any point during cooking should the bird become too brown.
- Rest the bird, covered lightly with aluminum foil, for 15 to 30 minutes. Carve and serve.