Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, has been for a very long time. No presents, no gifts to buy, just good food and good company. Of course this year the good company part is suspended thanks to COVID-19, cases of which are rising daily. Over 220,000 new cases a day!
We are foregoing our normal large gathering and it will be just the two of us this year for dinner. Last year we had ten people and it was a rocking good time, a Friends Thanksgiving. Hope we can do that again next year.
From last year’s feast…
Part of the Thanksgiving tradition is Bill Bridge’s Tequila Bloody Mary recipe. Perfect for sipping on all day long while cooking and preparing. Click here for the recipe. I have a big batch mixed up for my taste testers to try before the big day.
This year I changed up the turkey brine recipe. Here’s the update. I normally brine for 48 hours but this year I am going for 72 hours. It IS 2020, after all…
2020 Turkey Brine Recipe (15.5 pound fresh turkey)
Add to a cooking pot:
1 1/2 heads garlic, peeled and cloves crushed
2 cups Kosher salt
2 cups brown sugar
2 cups Orange Juice (not from concentrate)
2 cinnamon sticks
3 T. Thyme
3 T. Tarragon (I ran out of Rosemary)
6 Bay leaves, crushed
Zest, pulp and flesh of two navel oranges
15 Allspice, crushed
15 Cloves, crushed
2 T. Peppercorns, crushed
1/2 gallon Apple Cider
Stir well and bring to a boil.
Add 1/2 gallon apple cider and 2 gallons water to a clean 5 gallon bucket. Add the boiled stovetop mixture and mix well. Remove all the organs from the turkey, rinse and immerse in the bucket. Put the lid on and store in a cool place. We used to put the bucket in the garage in Kansas but it’s too warm here to leave out so we make room in the refrigerator, which is packed!
When ready to cook on Thursday, fill the sink with cold water and ice cubes. Rinse the turkey well in the cold water for about ten minutes to remove any excess salty flavor and pat dry. We don’t stuff a brined turkey, but add cut up lemons and oranges to the cavity. You could also add a cut up onion.
When it’s time to roast the turkey, melt a half stick of butter in a skillet. Add 10 cloves garlic, either cloves left whole or minced garlic. Add 1 T. Thyme, kosher salt and fresh ground pepper.
Pro tip: Before placing the turkey in the roasting pan, make a 5 inch wide “sling” of aluminum foil, folded over several times. Place the sling under the turkey in the middle with plenty of room on both ends to easily lift the turkey from the pan when done. I learned this from my dad.
Pour the butter and garlic over the turkey and sprinkle the bird with pepper and Hungarian paprika. Place in a 450 degree oven, uncovered, and roast 20 to thirty minutes until golden brown. This method guarantees a well browned turkey without having to turn up the oven and try to brown at the end.
Lower the temperature to 325 degrees. Either use a loose tent of foil over the turkey or replace the top of the roasting pan, slightly askew. Baste every 20 minutes or so with drippings from the pan. A sixteen pound turkey will be done in about 3-1/2 hours. When the internal temperature reaches about 175-180 degrees and the juices run clear, remove from the oven and let rest for at least twenty minutes while making the gravy.
The brine makes the gravy fabulous without having to add any extra spices or flavor. To avoid lumpy gravy, make a watery paste with flour and water and add slowly to the gravy stock. Works every time. I learned this from my mom.
Billl Bridges Tequila Bloody Marys
Mashed potatoes made with heavy cream and lots of butter
Chef John’s Green Beans with pecans, lemon and parsley, simple and delicious
Homemade dinner rolls
Homemade cranberry sauce (a friend is making this and sharing)
And for dessert, my mom’s famous cheesecake recipe, which I may as well include here. It’s super easy and tasty.
1 pound cream cheese (we use lowfat)
2/3 cup sugar
1 t. vanilla extract
Pour into 10 inch graham cracker crust. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes until middle is firm, not soupy. Cool at least one hour.
1 pint sour cream (lowfat)
3 T. sugar
1 t. vanilla extract
Pour over cooled mixture and spread evenly.
Bake 10 minutes at 350 degrees. Cool.
Top with graham cracker crumbs or fruit pie filling. Jim likes blueberry.
This can be made several days ahead and kept in the refrigerator. I would do that now but the refrigerator is filled up! I will figure something out.
Even though the holiday will be different this year, we are looking forward to celebrating the many things we have to be grateful for. This is the year to not think about what you are missing out on, but be thankful for what you have. We certainly are.