Thanksgiving is late this month on Nov. 28, so you still have almost three full weeks to prepare.
If you're like me, Thanksgiving is the championship of annual cooking. With family and friends coming over for the meal, for me, at least, there is a lot of pressure to impress.
A lot of families bust out a few recipes they only make on Thanksgiving, or you may be taking a familiar favorite like mashed potatoes and doing a little more to amp it up.
In preparation for Thanksgiving this year, our staff pulled together a few recipes that hit our tables and that you may want to try at yours this holiday.
Scarborough Fair herb butter
Recommended by: Steve Garbacz
OK, this isn't a "food" so much as it is a key ingredient to your entire Thanksgiving dinner. If you watch cooking competition shows or follow professional cooking, chefs will talk about having something that ties a meal together.
I tried an herb butter two years back and I'll never go back. By mixing your own flavorful butter, you're able to use it across your meal — on your turkey, in your gravy, in mashed potatoes, on vegetables — and infuse that flavor profile into your dishes and really put a bow around the meal.
If you're familiar with Simon and Garfunkel's "Scarborough Fair" you probably already know this recipe:
1 stick butter
1 tablespoon parsley
1 tablespoon sage
1 tablespoon rosemary
1 tablespoon thyme
Use a stand mixer or food processor to blend softened butter and herbs together. Use this herb butter as you would regular butter in any Thanksgiving recipes.
Recommended by: Sheryl Prentice
My mom, Belva Getts Perlich, shared this recipe with me as a way to use leftover turkey from Thanksgiving dinner for our large family. We all prefer it to the sandwiches, soup or casseroles where leftover turkey usually ends up.
These turkey croissants are also ideal for a small Thanksgiving dinner as an alternative to roasting a whole bird.
This recipe uses only 2 cups of turkey and goes together quickly with refrigerated crescent roll dough. Some supermarkets carry crescent roll dough in a single sheet alongside the tubes of pre-cut dough for rolls.
The sheet can be cut into evenly-sized squares, which is a plus for bringing the corners together into a nice-looking little bundle. The dough sheet also eliminates the work of pinching the triangles together and lessens the chance that the seams will pop open during baking.
3 ounces cream cheese
2 tablespoons butter
2 cups cooked turkey, cut finely
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoon milk
1 tablespoon finely minced onion
1 tablespoon pimento (optional)
1 package crescent roll dough
Melt butter and cream cheese together in a microwave-safe bowl for 30-45 seconds. Stir well and mix in turkey, salt, pepper, onion and optional pimento.
Make a square from two triangles of crescent roll dough, pinching the long edges together. (Or buy a sheet of crescent roll dough and cut it into even-size squares).
Spoon a large tablespoon of turkey filling onto the center of each square; bring the corners together and pinch all the edges to seal. Bake on a cookie sheet at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes, until golden brown.
Recommended by: Mike Marturello
In October 2006, I was at Carnegie Public Library of Steuben County for some reason or another, and while waiting in their comfortably appointed periodicals section, I came across the current edition of Gourmet magazine, where I found a great recipe for making your own stock. It sounded so great I went out and bought a copy of the magazine, and I still have it somewhere in the house.
As the well-known former New York Times food writer and cookbook author Mark Bittman said in a recent posting, if you’re making your own soup, make your own stock. I would say the same goes with gravy, especially turkey gravy for Thanksgiving.
The Gourmet recipe for stock has been my go-to ever since 2006. It makes a large quantity, so often I share with friends. And I freeze left over jars of stock just in case I do a turkey on the grill or in the smoker later the following year. (I think it keeps a year frozen; Gourmet says three months. Make up your own mind.)
This is one of those recipes where if you want to make it really special, go to some place like Lakeside Farms in Angola or Albright’s Meats in Corunna to get your turkey parts. If you call ahead or if your timing’s right, you can get turkey necks or you can request turkey backs that work well in making stock. Just sub out these parts for those listed in the recipe by weight.
Once you try this recipe, you’ll never settle for boxed stock again. It’s time consuming, but it’s worth it. Added bonus: You get to make your house smell like roast turkey well before Thanksgiving. Enjoy!
6 pounds turkey parts such as wings, drumsticks, and thighs
3 medium yellow onions, left unpeeled, trimmed and halved
3 celery ribs, cut into 2-inch lengths
3 carrots, quartered
5 quarts cold water
6 fresh parsley stems (without leaves)
1 Turkish or 1/2 California bay leaf
10 black peppercorns
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
Special equipment needed: a 17- by 14-inch flameproof roasting pan
If using turkey wings, halve at joints with a cleaver or large knife, then crack wing bones in several places with back of cleaver or knife. (Do not crack bones if using other parts.) Pat turkey dry.
Put oven rack in lowest position of oven and preheat oven to 500°F. Roast turkey parts, skin sides down, in dry roasting pan, turning over once, until browned well, about 45 minutes. Transfer to an 8- to 10-quart stockpot with tongs, reserving fat in roasting pan.
Add onions (cut sides down), celery and carrots to fat in pan and roast, stirring halfway through roasting, until golden, about 20 minutes total. Add vegetables to turkey in stockpot.
Straddle pan across 2 burners, then add 2 cups water and deglaze by boiling, stirring and scraping up brown bits, 1 minute. Add deglazing liquid to turkey and vegetables in stockpot, then add parsley, bay leaf, peppercorns, salt and remaining 4 1/2 quarts water. Reduce heat and gently simmer, partially covered, 3 hours.
Pour stock through a large fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl, discarding solids. Measure stock: If there is more than 13 cups, boil in cleaned pot until reduced to 13 cups. If there is less, add enough water to bring total to 13 cups. If using immediately, let stand until fat rises to top, 1 to 2 minutes, then skim off and discard fat. If not, cool completely, uncovered, then chill, covered, before skimming fat (it will be easier to remove when cool or cold).
Note from Gourmet: Stock can be chilled in an airtight container 1 week or frozen 3 months. Makes about 13 cups.
Recommended by: Steve Garbacz
Forget that dull, goopy, grayish-green-looking, tin-can-tasting green bean casserole you make with the mushroom soup and those crunchy onion thingies. Gross. If you want an unhealthy vegetable casserole, go with this staple broccoli casserole I've grown up eating.
2 bags frozen broccoli florets
1/2 stick butter
8 ounces Velveeta cheese
1 (large) stack of Ritz crackers
Cook broccoli and drain. Put in greased baking pan and mix with melted Velveeta cheese. Crunch Ritz crackers and mix with melted butter. Cover broccoli with crumb topping. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
Recommended by: Steve Garbacz
For dessert (we'll have a full lineup of pie alternatives next week), if you want to use some fall apples, this sugar crumb topped dessert is the best. It's not a pie and it's not a crisp, but it's delicious.
4 cups pared, sliced apples
1/4 cup orange juce
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup sifted flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup butter
Placed apples in a 9-inch pie plate or baking dish. Pour orange juice over apple slides. Combine sugar, flour and spices, then cut in butter and blend until mixture turns into sugar crumbles. Top apples with sugar crumble. Bake at 375 for 45 minutes until topping is crisp. Serve warm, topped with vanilla ice cream.