I’ve been pondering ways to simplify the feast this year. Maybe focus more on family than food, hearken back to a time when things were simpler and maybe consider making things a bit healthier this year. Is it really necessary to go into a food induced coma and pass out on the couch after your Thanksgiving meal? I don’t know, call me old fashioned but I kind of like the idea of being a bit less over the top this year because sometimes, less really is more. 🙂
No need to sacrifice flavor though! I think you will find these recipes to be easy, straightforward and doable. Not overwhelming. Plan ahead a little and you can delight your family with a Thanksgiving meal that would do a Pilgrim proud!
Roast Turkey with Fresh Herbs and Homemade Gravy
Cornbread Sausage Stuffing with Apples
Roasting a turkey really is very simple. And homemade gravy is a snap, especially if you make your own stock while your turkey is roasting. I’m not a fan of stuffing in my turkey because 1–I’m nervous it might not get hot enough and possibly give everyone at the table food poisoning and 2–I don’t like how wet and slimy it gets! Sorry about that but I like it a little crispy and brown on top. However, if you do want to stuff your turkey, follow the guidelines here.
Herb Roasted Turkey
- One 10-12 pound fresh, organic turkey
- 4 tablespoons butter, softened
- Salt and pepper
- 1 large yellow onion, cut into 1/8’s
- 1 stalk celery, cut into 1 inch pieces
- 1 large carrot, cut into 1 inch pieces
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 sprigs thyme
- 2 sprigs rosemary
- 1/2 bunch fresh sage
- 3 or 4 sprigs fresh parsley
- 1 1/2 to 2 cups chicken broth or turkey stock for basting.
- Remove the neck, gizzard, heart and wing tips (snip them off with kitchen shears) from the turkey and set aside for making stock for the gravy. Or, use turkey stock.
- Wash the turkey inside and out and pat dry with paper towels. Preheat the oven to 325.
- Place the turkey, breast side down on a rack in a large roasting pan.
- Rub the butter on all sides and stuff some underneath the skin.
- Season inside and out with salt and pepper.
- Place the onion, celery, carrot and all the fresh herbs inside the turkey.
- Loosely tie the legs together with kitchen twine.
- Place the turkey in the oven and roast for 1 hour.
- Remove from the oven, turn the turkey over, and baste with 1/2 cup of stock.
- Roast breast side up and continue basting with the pan juices or butter every 15-20 minutes until the breast meat registers between 170-180 degrees on an instant read thermometer.
- Total cooking time will be about 15 or 20 minutes per pound.
- If the breast or drumsticks start getting too brown, cover loosely with aluminum foil.
- Remove from the oven and let it rest loosely covered with foil while you make the gravy.
You don’t have to make turkey broth from the gizzards, but I think it makes a much tastier gravy when you use freshly made turkey broth as opposed to a box of chicken or turkey stock. It’s super easy and it will be finished before the turkey is done roasting. But in a pinch, this would be a fine substitute: Organic Turkey Bone Stock
- Turkey heart, neck, gizzard and wing tips
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 1 large carrot, coarsely chopped
- 1 onion, coarsely chopped
- 1 large celery stalk coarsely chopped
- 1 small bay leaf
- 3 cups chicken broth
- 3 cups water
- Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the neck, heart, gizzard and wing tips to the pan. Cook, stirring, until just beginning to brown, about a minute.
- Add the vegetables and bay leaf and cook till soft, about 2 minutes.
- Pour the chicken stock and water into the pan and bring to a boil.
- Simmer about an hour until reduced to about 4 cups. You can add the turkey liver to the broth the last 15 minutes if you would like.
- Strain the stock over a bowl. Pull the meat off of the neck and chop the neck meat and giblets if you want to add it to your gravy. Otherwise, discard all the solids.
- Pour all the juices from your turkey roasting pan into a measuring cup and skim off the fat.
- In the roasting pan using 2 burners on your stove, melt 3 tablespoons of butter until bubbly and then add 3 tablespoons of flour. You can easily use a gluten free flour (like brown rice flour ) for this recipe.
- Stir rapidly for a few seconds to cook the flour.
- Add the reserved juices from the turkey and 3 cups of your turkey broth to the pan. Scrape up all the brown bits as you heat the gravy.
- Stir over medium heat until the gravy thickens. Check the seasoning and add salt and pepper if necessary. Add the chopped giblets and neck meat if using. If the gravy gets too thick, add the rest of your turkey broth.
- Pour into a gravy boat or pitcher.
Lovely dried fruit, fresh apples, onions and nuts for the stuffing.
Cornbread & Sausage Stuffing with Dried Fruit & Apples
Adapted from The Silver Palette Cookbook. I’ve made this stuffing to rave reviews for more than twenty years! But check Kate’s tips for an alternative that’s just as good!
- 1 1/2 sticks sweet butter
- 2 1/2 cups finely chopped yellow onions
- 1 cup chopped celery
- 3 tart apples cored and chunked but not peeled
- 1 pound lightly seasoned sausage flavored with sage
- 3 cups coarsely crumbled corn bread (preferably homemade) *see Kate’s Tips for an alternative!
- 3 cups coarsely crumbled whole wheat bread – let it get stale (Or substitute gluten free bread)
- 3 cups coarsely crumbled white bread – best if it’s stale (Or substitute gluten free bread)
- 1 cup dried fruit like cranberries, chopped figs or apricots
- 2 teaspoons dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon dried sage
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup chopped Italian parsley
- 1 1/2 cups shelled, toasted pecan halves
- 3 or 4 cups chicken broth
Savory stuffing waiting to be baked!
- Melt half of the butter in a skillet. Add chopped onions and cook over medium heat, partially covered, until tender and lightly colored, about 25 minutes. Transfer onions and butter to a large mixing bowl.
- Melt remaining butter in the same skillet. Add apple chunks and cook over high heat until lightly colored but not mushy. Transfer apples and butter to the mixing bowl.
- Crumble the sausage into the skillet and cook over medium heat, stirring until lightly browned. With a slotted spoon, transfer sausage to the mixing bowl and reserve the rendered fat.
- Add remaining ingredients and the chicken broth to the mixing bowl and combine gently. Refrigerate if not used promptly.
- Spoon the stuffing into a large greased casserole. Cover and set the casserole into a large pan. Pour hot water around the casserole to come halfway up the sides.
- Bake for 30 to 45 minutes at 325.
- Baste occasionally with the cooking juices from the roasting turkey or with the reserved sausage fat.
- Feel free to add or substitute ingredients. Roast chestnuts would be wonderful as well as fresh mushrooms and shallots.
- It’s easy to make this menu gluten free. For the stuffing, either use all cornbread or use a combination of cornbread and gluten free bread. The night before you make this, set out slices of the bread to get stale overnight. For the gravy, just use either Organic Corn Starch or Organic Brown Rice Flour
- You could use sweet Italian sausage and fennel. Trim and chop the fennel roughly and add it in to the onions after they have sautéed for 10 minutes or so.
- Other kinds of bread are fine in this stuffing. If you have a french baguette or loaf of pumpernickel or an artisan bread, all would be fine. I like the way Ina Garten does her stuffing. She cubes a large baguette or boule and roasts the cubes for 10 minutes at 300 and uses that instead of the cornbread, wheat and white bread. Nowadays, you can find nice gluten free bread that works beautifully!
- Only use the bags of commercial stuffing mix if you must. This recipe is so much better with real bread!