Shaker Gourmet: Thanksgiving 2008!

Time for the annual (American) Thanksgiving post! First up is an appetizer. Now, you can't reside in the midwest for any significant amount of time and not have (or have seen) the classy appetizer known as cocktail weenies.
cocktail weenies

1 pkg Lil' Beef Smokies
1 12-oz jar Heinz Chili Sauce
1 tablespoon grape jelly (more if you'd rather have sweeter)

Mix it all in a crock pot. Cook on low for a couple hours before time to serve.
Yeah, yeah. Classy, I know. But they're usually a big hit and do taste good.

Main dishes & sides below...

Good Eats Roast Turkey


* 1 (14 to 16 pound) frozen young turkey

For the brine:

* 1 cup kosher salt
* 1/2 cup light brown sugar
* 1 gallon vegetable stock
* 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
* 1/2 tablespoon allspice berries
* 1/2 tablespoon candied ginger
* 1 gallon iced water

For the aromatics:

* 1 red apple, sliced
* 1/2 onion, sliced
* 1 cinnamon stick
* 1 cup water
* 4 sprigs rosemary
* 6 leaves sage
* Canola oil


Combine all brine ingredients, except ice water, in a stockpot, and bring to a boil. Stir to dissolve solids, then remove from heat, cool to room temperature, and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled.

Early on the day of cooking, (or late the night before) combine the brine and ice water in a clean 5-gallon bucket. Place thawed turkey breast side down in brine, cover, and refrigerate or set in cool area (like a basement) for 6 hours. Turn turkey over once, half way through brining.

A few minutes before roasting, heat oven to 500 degrees. Combine the apple, onion, cinnamon stick, and cup of water in a microwave safe dish and microwave on high for 5 minutes.

Remove bird from brine and rinse inside and out with cold water. Discard brine.

Place bird on roasting rack inside wide, low pan and pat dry with paper towels. Add steeped aromatics to cavity along with rosemary and sage. Tuck back wings and coat whole bird liberally with canola (or other neutral) oil.

Roast on lowest level of the oven at 500 degrees F. for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and cover breast with double layer of aluminum foil, insert probe thermometer into thickest part of the breast and return to oven, reducing temperature to 350 degrees F. Set thermometer alarm (if available) to 161 degrees. A 14 to 16 pound bird should require a total of 2 to 2 1/2 hours of roasting. Let turkey rest, loosely covered for 15 minutes before carving.
(Recipe here)

This is a new one for us this year! For more information on buying, thawing,cooking, and stuffing a turkey, see here.


* 1/2 cup turkey drippings
* 1/2 cup flour
* 3 cups liquid, either more juices w/o fat and/or chicken broth
* 1/2 tsp salt
* 1/4 tsp pepper
* browning sauce, if desired

--Pour drippings from roasting pan into bowl, leaving particles in pan. Return 1/2 cup drippings to roasting pan (remember that too little fat makes gravy lumpy).

--Whisk in flour (measure accurately so gravy isn't greasy). Cook over med heat, stirring constantly until smooth & bubbly. Remove from heat.

--Stir in liquid. Return to heat and bring to boiling, stirring constantly for one minute. Stir in few drops of browning sauce, if desired. Stir in salt & pepper.

Appx 12 servings (of 1/4 cup each).
A couple gravy tips: be sure that the mix remains at a full boil for the full one minute to cook the flour so that the gravy doesn't have a starchy flavor and if you do not have enough drippings, you can use wine, broth, water from cooking potatoes, or tomato juice.

Apple and Onion Stuffin' Muffins

* 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 2 turns of the pan
* 1 stick butter, softened
* 1 fresh bay leaf, available in produce department
* 4 ribs celery and greens, from the heart, chopped (save time and purchase celery already washed, trimmed and cut into sticks, this makes chopping fast work)
* 1 medium to large yellow skinned onion, chopped
* 3 McIntosh apples, quartered and chopped
* Salt and pepper
* 2 tablespoons poultry seasoning
* 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
* 8 cups cubed stuffing mix (recommended: Pepperidge Farm)
* 2 to 3 cups chicken stock, available in paper containers on the soup aisle


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Preheat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add extra-virgin olive oil to skillet and 4 tablespoons butter. When butter melts, add bay leaf and add the vegetables as you chop them, celery, onions then apples. Sprinkle the vegetables and apples with salt, pepper and poultry seasoning. Cook 5 to 6 minutes to begin to soften vegetables and apples then add parsley and stuffing cubes to the pan and combine. Moisten the stuffing with chicken broth until all of the bread is soft but not wet.

Butter 12 muffin cups, 2 tins, liberally with remaining butter. Use an ice cream scoop to fill and mound up the stuffing in muffin tins. Remove the bay leaf as you scoop the stuffing when you come upon it. Bake until set and crisp on top, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove stuffin' muffins to a platter and serve hot or room temperature.
(Recipe here) This is another new one this year. Yes, Food Network is my crack. Don't judge me.

Ginger Apricot Cranberry Sauce

* 1 tbsp. unsalted butter
* 2 tbsp. finely grated ginger
* 16 oz. fresh cranberries
* 2/3 cup sugar
* 1 cup orange juice
* 1/2 cup apricot preserves

In a saucepan, over medium heat, melt butter. Add ginger and cook, stirring for 2 minutes. Add crans, sugar, oj and preserves. Cook, stirring occasionally, until crans burst and sauce thickens, about 20 mins. Transfer to bowl and serve warm.
I made this last year and, holy crap, it is sooooo freaking good. I highly recommend this if you want to serve cranberry sauce.
Basic French Bread

* 3/4 cup warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
* 1-1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
* 1 tablespoon white sugar
* 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 2 cups bread flour

* egg white + tsp water, beat together for egg wash

1. In a large bowl, stir together warm water, yeast, and sugar. Let stand about 10 minutes until foamy.

2. To the yeast mixture, add the oil, salt, and 1.5 cups flour. Stir in the remaining flour, 1/4 cup at a time, until the dough has pulled away from the sides of the bowl. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes. Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl, and turn to coat. Cover
with a warm damp cloth, and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.

3. Deflate the dough, shape, return to bowl. Cover again with a damp cloth, and let rise until doubled in volume, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).

4. After rising and before baking, put on greased cookie sheet in loaf form. Brush liberally with egg wash.

5. Bake 20 - 22 minutes in the preheated oven, or until golden brown.
Easy, easy! I make this several times a week.

We'll also be having cheese & crackers, sweet potato balls, roasted green beans, corn, and baklava (I do one pumpkin pie & one alternative dessert). For other recipes, such as herb-scented turkey, sweet potato casserole, old-fashioned dinner rolls, and brie mashed potatoes (which we'll also be having)--see this post.

I hope you have a great holiday!

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