Recipes

Thanksgiving Sweet Potatoes

I try to offer sweet potatoes quite often as they are known for their health benefits. Healthy cooking is not my Thanksgiving agenda and I do not feel guilty for the amounts of butter and cream I use throughout the holiday season. With that said, here is my recipe for the Thanksgiving version of the sweet potato… a tat different from the rest of the year.

5 lbs sweet potatoes
2/3 cup water
1/2 cup granulated brown sugar
1 stick (4 oz) butter
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 tbsp maple syrup
2 cups small marshmallows

Peel and cube potatoes. Boil until slightly tender but not completely done.

In small saucepan heat up water, butter, brown sugar, and spices and bring to a boil.

Transfer sweet potatoes into oven-safe casserole and cover with the butter-sugar mixture until evenly coated. Bake at 325F for about 30 minutes. Then top with marshmallows and bake until marshmallows turn golden brown.

(This dish is even better when warmed up again. So, it is easy to make ahead without the marshmallows. When reheated, top with marshmallows and bake.)

Thanksgiving Stuffing

While I am personally no fan of stuffing, my husband is even more so. Not only is he a fan, stuffing seams to be the most important dish on the Thanksgiving table. In other words: The stuffing better be good. I try to stick with a traditional stuffing… white bread cubes, broth, herbs, apples, raisins. About two days before Thanksgiving, I cube and dry my bread cubes. I mix 3 tsp broth granulates and spices (1/2 cup dried celery leaves, 1 tsp dried thyme, 1 tsp pepper, 1/2 dried sage, 1/2 tsp salt). When putting it all together, I will add water (to your personal liking) to the broth granulates and let the dried spices soak for a bit. In a small pan, I heat up 1 cup of finely diced apple and 1/2 cup of chopped raisins. Top the bread cubes with the apple/raisin mix and slowly pour the warm broth over the bread. After a couple of minutes, gently mix the stuffing and transfer to a oven-safe dish to bake for about 30 minutes. If you like a crispier stuffing or if your stuffing mix is very moist, bake uncovered, otherwise cover with tin foil.

Wild Mushroom Stew

I made this dish for about 10 people. Modify the amounts according to your needs or freeze leftovers. This is a great meal to keep stored in the freezer.

Blend:

1 tsp caraway seeds

1 tsp marjoram

3 tsp paprika powder

1 tsp dried rosemary

peel of 1/2 lemon

also:

1 red onion, finely chopped

6 lbs beef chuck

wild mushrooms (I used dried wild mushrooms as follows: 1 oz black trumpet, 1 oz morels, 1.5 oz porcini, 1 oz wild mushroom medley)

Cover dried mushrooms with warm water and soak until soft. Drain through filter and reserve soaking water.

In dutch oven, brown meat in 2 parts in butter until all the juices are gone (this can take a while). After setting the first batch aside, brown onions and add lemon peel and spices. Add the second batch of the meat and brown. Combine with the other meat and slowly add 2 cups of merlot as the juices of the meat get less. Add water or mushroom water if needed and season with salt, pepper, and a pinch of sugar.  Add the mushrooms and bring to a simmer. Cover and roast for 2 hours; turning half way through. Mix a little flour with water and thicken to your liking.

Thanksgiving Turkey Brine
Thanksgiving Turkey Brine
Thanksgiving Turkey Brine

Although many others believe that brining a turkey is a waste of time, I am a firm believe in the salty bath. So on Tuesday morning, I prepare my turkey brine as follows:

3 cups of salt

5 cups of sugar (this year, for the first time, I used brown sugar)

2 large carrots, chopped into 1 inch pieces

2 leak stalks, chopped into 1 inch pieces (white and light green parts only)

2 medium onions, chopped coarsely

2 celery stalks, chopped into 1 inch pieces

4 dried bayleaves

3 sprigs of fresh thyme

3 sprigs of fresh flat parsley

3 sprigs of fresh rosemary

1 sprig sage

2 tsp dried majoram

Pour salt and sugar into large saucepan and cover with enough water to dissolve and bring to a good boil. Add all other ingredients and boil for about an hour to extract as much of the herb and vegetable flavor as possible. Add water if needed during boiling. Cool the brine completely. Place cleaned (and thawed) turkey into your brining container and pour the brine over. Fill with cold water and ice until turkey is fully covered.

Brining Turkey
Brining Turkey

Place brining container in refrigerator. I brined this year’s turkey for about 30 hours because it was 22 lbs. I would always recommend brining for around 24 hours. After the brining, remove turkey, rinse, and pat dry. Discard the brining fluid. Return to refrigerator until the morning of Thanksgiving.

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