Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. Spending a day with people I love, cozy, warm, and slightly overstuffed is my idea of perfection. And the cooking! Yup, I go way beyond the homemade baby food on Thanksgiving. I pull out all the stops, and, I’ll just go ahead and toot my own horn (parents deserve more horn-tooting!), and say it is darn good! Here are me and my family's favorite Thanksgiving recipes.
Pioneer Woman + Alton Brown = Perfect Turkey
Mr. Gobbles, the centerpiece of our Thanksgiving feast, always starts with a long bath in the Pioneer Woman’s turkey brine (tip: use only 25% of the salt if your bird is pre-brined, as many supermarket birds are).
After the brine and an air-dry, I follow Alton Brown’s method for roasting the perfect turkey. This method never fails and is best summed up by my favorite “Call the Midwife” quote “High [temperature], hot [oven], and a hell of a lot [of butter]!”
*If you know what that Call the Midwife quote is actually referring to (hint, it ain’t turkey), post it in the comments and I’ll enter your name in a drawing for a $10 Amazon gift card!
My Own Stuffing
Thanksgiving is ALL ABOUT THE STUFFING! Do you like boxed stuffing? Stove Top? Go for it, and more power and downtime to you! I make my own, and here is the super top-secret recipe that I’ve developed over the years. Always a crowd pleaser!
Jump to the Best Stuffing Evah Recipe.
Many years ago, at my first Thanksgiving living 3000 miles from my family, and my first with my super dreamy new boyfriend (now husband) my friends all gathered for a potluck Thanksgiving. The hostess and my dear friend, a Montanian with Louisiana roots, made Spinach Madeline. I had never had it, but I was won over by it’s cheesy, slightly spicy goodness. Make it. Eat it as a side. As a dip with bread or pita chips. It’s fabulous and is a Thanksgiving must for us now.
Puree of Butternut Squash
Doesn't that sound fancy? This dish is a delicious no-brainer that screams Thanksgiving and is a great make-ahead. Halve and roast the squash (no peeling!) cut-side down until soft at 400F (or whatever temperature that other thing you’re cooking needs, NBD). Let it cool, scoop into a bowl, and puree with a stick blender. Add butter, heavy cream, salt, pepper to taste. A wee pour of this amazing Bourbon Barrel Aged Maple Syrup is a great addition, too!
Brussel Sprouts, Roasted
Boiling brussels sprouts results in evil sad green stink balls. Roast them and you get a delectable little treat. Half them, toss with olive oil (or bacon fat if you’re a baller), salt, pepper, and a little splash of that maple syrup I mentioned, and roast on a cookie sheet until tender. Perfection. And easy enough for a weekday dinner, too!
Mom’s Apple Pie
With some foods, the way your mom makes something becomes the way it should be made. My mom’s apple pie is the way to make apple pie. It involves sherried raisins and a crumb top. No lattice top, no canned filling.
This recipe from Bon Appetit comes close to Mom’s, except you need to boil the raisins in 1/4c sherry and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice before mixing with the apples.
Now, we all know raisins are just grapes who wanted to be wine but failed - they are downright thrilled for a boozy bath! And they will thank you for it with an apple pie that is unique and delicious.
I’m betting Calvados would work in place of the sherry - try it and tell me about it!
There once was a pie from Nantucket
Around this time each year, fresh cranberries appear in the grocery stores. I am completely overcome by their festive red-pink round perfection and holiday FOMO. I buy several bags. Sometimes, I let them make their way down to the bottom of the produce bin and die a slow death with the ever-present half-bundle of scallions and rouge baby carrot. If I’m really on my game, I will put them in the deep freeze with the future promise of ‘baking with them later’. And I never, ever do. My husband, by the way, really just loves this holiday tradition and does not make a stink about it at all. Husbands.
Anyway. This year will be different! I am going to buy me some cheery little cranberries and bake them up in this Nantucket Cranberry Pie. Which isn’t even pie, it’s calfouti. So ha, take that Husband!
Oh, and don’t forget to follow along on Instagram this Thursday as we make Thanksgiving dinner! Our family now includes two naughty kittens who love to steal human food, so this should be a fun one!
Best Stuffing* Evah
- Pioneer Woman Skillet Corn Bread, cubed, ¾ of recipe (use that other ¼ of the pan as a nice snack!)
- Approximately 1 loaf of crusty white bread, like a Baguette or Como, cubed or torn. (Try to get equal amounts of cornbread and white bread).
- 2 yellow or white onions, chopped
- 2-3 sticks celery, chopped,
- 2 apples, cored and chopped fine. No need to peel.
- 2 cups chicken or turkey broth, as needed for desired moisture level
- 1 stick butter, plus more for the pan
- 3 links raw Sweet Italian Chicken Sausage, casings removed, or an equivalent amount of bulk sausage
- 1 egg
- Salt, pepper, and dried parsley to taste
- Chop/tear bread and mix together in a large bowl. Set aside. I prefer my bread a little chunkier, but do whatever texture you prefer.
- In a large cast iron or saute pan, saute the sausage in a little bit of oil until browned. Add butter and vegetables, apples, and seasonings and saute until softened. Deglaze pan with a little bit of broth.
- Add sausage/veg mixture to bread mixture. Stir to combine, adding broth to moisten mixture. I prefer my stuffing a bit drier than most - ass as much broth as needed to get the results you like. Taste and season as needed. Add the beaten egg and combine. The egg helps hold it all together and creates a better texture in the final product, plus it adds a bit of richness.
- Add a little butter to the cast iron pan (or butter your pan of choice for baking) and transfer the mixture to the pan. Level it out, but don’t squish it down too! Bake at 350-375F for 45 minutes - 1 hour, until top is nicely browned.
*Technically, this is dressing, because it doesn’t go inside the bird for cooking, which would be salmonella poisoning waiting to happen. Even though Great Aunt Sally always put the stuffing in the bird and nothing ever happened to her in all those years, these kids with these new-fangled ideas, where’s my scotch?, thank you very much.