Thursday, November 26, 2020

Happy Thanksgiving!


Like many of you, I will be spending Thanksgiving alone. I plan to cook a full meal and have leftovers for several days. I don’t usually do this just for myself, though I have spent Thanksgiving by myself; however, I have made a small meal in the past. This year, I feel I have some things for which to be thankful. Thanks to the Botox injections, my migraines seem to be under control for the first time in decades. I have had a few migraines the past few weeks, but I believe that has more to do with my abscessed tooth than my usual migraines. I am also thankful that my friends and family have so far remained safe during the pandemic, and I am grateful for my continued good health during this time. I am thankful that my diabetes seems better controlled with my new medicines, and I have even lost weight (close to 30 pounds now). I am grateful that I still have a job when so many are looking for work due to the hardships placed on the economy because of the pandemic and the federal government’s inadequate response. I am thankful for all my readers who visit this blog daily and comment and encourage me to continue to write. Finally, I am thankful that I can make a Thanksgiving meal with all the trimmings during these challenging times. Feel free to comment below about what you are thankful for this year.

I am posting my menu and the recipes for what I am cooking today. I hope that all of my American readers will all have a wonderful Thanksgiving and that those outside the United States will also enjoy a joyous holiday season. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

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Menu

 

Dutch Oven Braised Turkey

Cornbread Dressing

Candied Sweet Potatoes

Cheesy Potatoes au Gratin

Green Beans

Cranberry Sauce

Coconut Custard Pie

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Click "Read more" to see the recipes.


Dutch Oven Braised Turkey

 

Ingredients

  • 1 skin-on turkey breast (1 ½ to 2 pounds total)
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • ¼ lb. pancetta or bacon, cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 2 leeks, white and light green parts, thinly sliced
  • 2 medium celery stalks, coarsely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¾ cup dry white wine
  • 6 sprigs fresh thyme
  • ¼ cup coarsely chopped fresh sage leaves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 cups turkey or chicken stock
  • 1 large bunch collard greens, center ribs removed, leaves chopped (about 6 cups
  • chopped)
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar, (Optional)

 

Preparation Steps

  1. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 350°F.
  2. Pat the turkey breast completely dry with paper towels. Generously season the meat all over with salt and pepper.
  3. Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over high heat until shimmering. Add the turkey skin-side down without crowding the pot and working in batches if necessary. Sear each side until deeply browned, 4 to 5 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate; set aside.
  4. Lower the heat to medium and add the pancetta or bacon. Cook, stirring occasionally until the fat is rendered and the meat is well-browned. Stir in the leeks and celery, season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper, and cook until softened, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for a minute more.
  5. Add the wine and use a wooden spoon to scrape up any browned bits from the bottom. Cook until the wine is reduced by about half. Add the thyme, sage, bay leaves, and stock to the pot, then bring to a boil. Add the collard greens and submerge them in the liquid as much as possible (they will not be fully submerged). Place the turkey breast skin-side up on top of the greens.
  6. Bake uncovered for 2 hours until the meat is cooked through and registers an internal temperature of 165°F.
  7. (Optional) Stir in the apple cider vinegar. Let the braise stand for at least 5 minutes before serving. 

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Pre-Seasoned Cornbread for Dressing

(I make this at least one day ahead)

 

Ingredients

  • 2 cups self-rising cornmeal mix (not just plain cornmeal)
  • 1/2 cup self-rising flour
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 1 3/4 cups buttermilk or regular milk (Start with 1 cup of liquid if you are using
  • regular milk and add the rest as necessary)
  • 1 tsp salt, or to taste
  • 1/2 tsp of Cajun seasoning (like Slap Ya Mama), or to taste, optional
  • 1/4 tsp of freshly cracked black pepper, or to taste
  • 1/2 tsp of sage (or Bell's seasoning), or to taste, optional
  • 1 tsp of poultry seasoning

 

Preparation Steps

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Melt butter as the oven preheats in an 8" x 8" pan.
  3. Add cornmeal, self-rising flour, and seasonings in a bowl. Mix with a fork and make a well in the center of the mixture for the butter and buttermilk.
  4. Add the butter and buttermilk to the well.
  5. Mix until combined.
  6. Spray pan with additional butter-flavored PAM. Pour batter into the baking pan.
  7. Bake 25-30 minutes or until golden and set.

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Cornbread Dressing

 

Ingredients

  • 1 pan of cooked, pre-seasoned crumbled stale cornbread
  • ¼ cup of chopped celery
  • ¼ cup of chopped onions
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 cup of turkey gravy (canned is fine)
  • 4 to 6 cups of turkey or chicken broth or stock, more or less

 

Preparation Steps

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter an 8 x 8-inch pan and set aside.
  2. In a skillet, melt butter and sauté celery and onion until tender.
  3. Add the seasoned crumbled cornbread to a large bowl.  Add sautéed celery and onions, the gravy, and 2-4 cups of the stock. Taste and adjust seasonings.
  4. Add more of the broth as needed, taking care not to make the dressing too soupy. The dressing should be the consistency of cooked oatmeal. Lightly spoon into the casserole dish, but do not pack down. 
  5. Bake at 350 degrees F for 45 minutes. For moister stuffing, baked covered. For a drier stuffing with a crunchy top, bake uncovered.

  • Suggestion: Make cornbread a day or two ahead when possible and allow it to go stale. This dressing is also excellent with cooked turkey or chicken. Mix in about 2 cups of roughly shredded, cooked chicken or turkey before baking.
  • How to fix a too dry or too wet stuffing: If you find your dressing is too dry, add additional warmed broth to it, stir well, and return to the oven, checking periodically. If the stuffing is overly wet and too gummy, cook it uncovered for a bit longer, checking periodically.

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Candied Sweet Potatoes

 

Ingredients

  • ¾ to 1 lb sweet potatoes
  • 1 ½ tbsp unsalted butter (melted)
  • 1/16 cup dark cane syrup
  • ¼ cup dark brown sugar (light brown sugar also will work)
  • ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp vanilla extract
  • ⅛ tsp salt

 

Preparation Steps

  1. Preheat oven to 375F. Spray a 3-quart baking dish with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
  2. Peel sweet potatoes and rinse clean. 
  3. Slice potatoes into ½ inch thick slices. Try to keep them roughly the same thickness, so they cook evenly.
  4. In a medium bowl, combine brown sugar, melted butter, syrup, ground cinnamon, vanilla extract, and salt. Whisk until smooth. If the mixture is very thick, pop in the microwave for 30 seconds to loosen it up.
  5. Transfer sliced sweet potatoes to the prepared baking dish and spread evenly.
  6. Drizzle the brown sugar mixture over the top of the sweet potatoes and toss to combine. You want each piece of sweet potato coated in the mixture.
  7. Cover the baking dish with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove foil and gently stir. Bake for another 15 minutes (no foil) and again, gently stir. Check to see how tender the sweet potatoes are at this point. Bake for another 5 to 15 minutes, depending on the size and thickness of your potatoes. Make sure they are tender (but not falling apart) before removing them.
  8. Serve immediately.

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Cheesy Potatoes au Gratin

 

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. of baking potatoes (about 3 medium)
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 3 tbsp of butter
  • 1 cups of half and half
  • Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
  • 1 oz of Velveeta (or soft meltable cheese of your choice), cubed
  • About 2 cups of shredded sharp or extra sharp cheddar cheese, divided

 

Preparation Steps

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Lightly smash and peel the garlic; rub all over an 8 x 8-inch baking dish. Butter the dish and set aside.
  2. Peel the potatoes and slice thin, about 1/8 inch. A mandolin works fantastic for this, but see the tip below if you are hand slicing. Hold the potatoes in a bowl of cold water to keep. Once you are ready to layer the dish, drain the potatoes and then transfer them to a clean dish towel and pat thoroughly dry.
  3. Meanwhile, in a saucepan or large skillet, heat the butter with the half and half until the butter is melted and the half and half is hot. Stir in the Velveeta and ½ cup of the cheddar, or whatever cheese you are using. Cook and stir over medium heat until all of the cheese is melted and the mixture is smooth.
  4. Layer ½ of the potatoes in the bottom of the buttered baking dish. Season with salt and pepper to taste and sprinkle about 1/3 of the remaining cheese on top. Repeat the layer of potatoes, salt and pepper, and another 1/3 of the cheese.
  5. Reserve the last 1/3 of the shredded cheese for the last few minutes of cooking. You can also use more cheese in the layers and on top if you like.
  6. Pour the cheese sauce evenly over the casserole and bake, uncovered, at 425 degrees F, for about 20-25 minutes, or until bubbly and potatoes are fork-tender.
  7. Remove from the oven, top with the remaining shredded cheese, and return to the oven for about 5 minutes, or until cheese begins to brown. Serves about 4 -prepare extra layers to double, testing potatoes in the center before topping with the final cheese and returning to the oven.

  • Tip: If you like your potatoes sliced thicker, or you don't have a mandolin, cut the potatoes about ¼ inch thick, place them into a pot, cover with water and bring to a boil. Immediately turn off the heat, remove the pot from the burner, and let them sit in the water for 5 minutes. Drain well, pat dry, and proceed.

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Green Beans

 

Ingredients

  • 6 slices of bacon
  • 2 lb. of rinsed and trimmed fresh green beans
  • ½ cup diced yellow onion 
  • 1 ½ cups chicken broth or water
  • salt and pepper to taste (I usually don't add salt because the bacon is plenty salty)

 

Preparation Steps

  1. Cut the bacon into small pieces and cook over medium heat in a heavy 3 qt saucepan until the bacon is fully rendered.
  2. DO NOT remove any of the bacon grease—it's what makes these green beans so amazing!
  3. Add the onions and sauté with bacon until transparent.
  4. Add green beans and pepper and stir, making sure the bacon drippings are getting mixed in well.
  5. Add chicken broth and reduce heat to low.
  6. Cover and continue cooking the green beans for 30 minutes up to two hours, stirring occasionally. Make sure there is liquid in the bottom of your pot so that the beans don’t get scorched.
  7. Check for seasoning levels and add salt and pepper if necessary.

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Cranberry Sauce

 

Ingredients

  • 2 large Valencia or navel oranges
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 12 oz fresh or frozen cranberries

 

Preparation Steps

  1. Zest and juice the oranges: Use a vegetable peeler to remove a 1-inch-thick strip of orange peel from one of the oranges; set aside. Halve, then juice the oranges into a measuring cup. Remove any seeds from the juice. Two large oranges should yield about 1 cup of juice. If you do not have enough juice, add enough water for 1 cup.
  2. Simmer the juice and sugar: Place the orange juice, sugar, and reserved orange peel in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Stir to dissolve the sugar.
  3. Simmer the cranberries: Add the cranberries and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer uncovered until the cranberries are tender and pop open and appear glossy, about 11 to 15 minutes. Remove and discard the orange peel. Transfer the sauce into a bowl.
  4. Cool and serve: For a looser cranberry sauce, the sauce can be served warm. If you prefer a thicker (canned-like) consistency, cover and refrigerate overnight.

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Coconut Custard Pie

 

Ingredients

  • ½ cup butter
  • 1 ½ cups white sugar
  • 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup flaked coconut
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 9 inch pie shell
  • 1 tbsp flaked coconut

 

Preparation Steps

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a large bowl, beat together butter or margarine, sugar, and eggs with an electric mixer on low speed. Blend in flour. Mix in ½ cup of milk at a time. Add 1 cup coconut and vanilla, and mix well.
  3. Pour filling into unbaked pie shell. Sprinkle top with additional coconut before baking, just enough to lightly cover the top. 
  4. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, or until set.

I made the pie ahead of time last night, and it turned out beautifully. I hope it tastes as good as it looks.

12 comments:

Patrick said...

Hi Joe, hope you and Isabella enjoy the day, your menu looks good.
Happy Thanksgiving.
Patrick

George Safford said...

Thank you for your blog. I enjoy it daily. I am also thankful for the things the pandemic taught us - valuing the little things in life that add up to a whole lot! We have had time to think about a lot of things. We needed a break from the frantic life. I am thankful for the pause but lament the passing of so many people from the virus.

Dave R said...

Have a great Thanksgiving!

Anonymous said...

Happy Thanksgiving, Joe, and I am so sorry that you have no one to share it with. Roderick

Anonymous said...

Joe

Have a Happy Thanksgiving and enjoy your feast. Looks good enough for a King

John

Joe said...

Thanks, Patrick. Isabella has been sleeping away the morning while I cook.

Thanks, George. This year it does seem like more of a day of reflection than just a day of giving thanks.

You too, Dave.

Roderick, one of these days I hope I will be able to share it with someone.

John, It will have to be good enough for a queen, LOL.

Anonymous said...

May you and Isabella have a great-what remains-Thanksgiving. I love your recipes. I am going to try them-really. I love the menu. Turkey is my jam. I have been known to ask what kind of turkey are they serving in a restaurant before ordering. I want to hear fresh turkey cooked in-house. None of this pressed garbage from their restaurant supplier. I do love a breast. It is just me. I am working from home today. I have not had a formal Thanksgiving get together with people in years.

I am glad that your health is stable. Being in healthcare, I can say that if your health is not squared away it does affect your everyday. Love the weight loss. I tell patients even 5-10 pounds makes a difference. Keep up the good work for YOU. You just feel better. You walk better, breathe better, sleep better, look better, better sex...

Be well!

XO

Joe said...

VRC-Do You!, thank you for your kind comment. If you do make the recipes, here are a few pointers that I found out while cooking them (they were all new recipes for me, though I hardly need a recipe for green beans, lol). The dressing turned out very nicely, but I'd cut way back on the Bell's seasoning and poultry seasoning. It probably doesn't need both. I actually halved the spices when I made the dressing today, and I'd probably half it again unless you like a lot of sage. The Dutch Oven Braised Turkey was delicious. The turkey turned out nice and juicy and the collards were delicious. (I used a digital meat thermometer to tell me when it reached 165 degrees instead of timing it, and it worked really well. A meat thermometer turned out to be a great investment.) I would in the future use bacon instead of pancetta. I'm not sure I like the taste of the pancetta that much. Also, I did not use the vinegar. I have never liked vinegar in my greens, so I did not use it. Everything else turned out well, and I wouldn't change anything in the future when I make them.

naturgesetz said...

I haven't cooked Thanksgiving dinner for several years. A nice couple at church invited me and my brother to join them and a few other guests, and it was always very good. This year, however, we decided to decline the invitation, and I got a take out dinner from the local country club. It was okay, but not nearly as good as what the couple provided. And there was way too much. They said the half turkey and sides — potato, root vegetables, stuffing, gravy, ceanberry sauce — would feed four (the smallest size package they offered), and the two of us came nowhere near eating half of it. Well, there are worse things than having turkey leftovers for dinner a couple of times and turkey sandwiches for lunch.

naturgesetz said...

I meant to say also that your dinner sounds quite good.

RB said...

Sounds like a great meal. Happy Thanksgiving. Look forward to next year when this will be over.

Nikki said...

I, too, spent the day without my family, but we all agreed it was safe and smart to stay home and apart. None of us want to infect each other or people we may encounter. Christmas will be harder but I try to think of it as being in WWII--we all have ration books or none of us do. The end is in sight, and so we all feel like we're helping the country get there by staying home.