Herb-roasted Turkey with Shallot Pan Gravy, Thanksgiving Stuffing, Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes, and Honeyed Pecan Pie

by Kelly on November 16, 2009

This year is my first time to host Thanksgiving. In fact, except for the Christmas when I was 9+ months pregnant and didn’t dare venture away from my doctor, I’ve never hosted a major holiday, so I was really excited to spend some time researching recipes and planning our menu. Luckily, my sister-in-law and mother-in-law are also cooking dishes  so I won’t be overwhelmed with cooking. Unlike Kristin, except for the pecan pie, I haven’t made any of my Thanksgiving recipes but they sound good to me and, almost as important, they don’t seem too time consuming. Speaking of time, for those of you who are also planning your menus right now, I’ll lay out my game plan. Sunday, shop for all beverages and groceries. Monday, wash table linens and polish candlesticks. Tuesday, make herb butter (for turkey), clean house. Wednesday, bake pie and cornbread, cube cornbread and French bread (for stuffing). Thursday, put turkey in the oven, set table, prepare remaining dishes, pour glass of wine and enjoy!

Herb-roasted Turkey with Shallot Pan Gravy
from Bon Appétit, November 2000

Serves 10

3/4 cup (180 g) butter, room temperature
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley plus 3 whole sprigs
2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage plus 3 whole sprigs
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme plus 3 whole sprigs
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 x 15- to 16-lb (7‑kg) turkey, rinsed and patted dry
1 1/2 lb (680 g) shallots, peeled and halved lengthwise through root end
3 cups (720 ml) (or more) low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup (240 ml) dry white wine
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Mix the butter, chopped parsley, chopped sage, chopped thyme, 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a medium bowl to blend. (This can be prepared 3 days ahead. Transfer the herb butter to a small bowl; cover and refrigerate. Bring the butter to room temperature before using.) Position a rack in the bottom third of the oven and preheat to 350°F (180°C). Sprinkle the main cavity of the turkey with salt and pepper. Place the whole parsley, sage and thyme sprigs and 4 shallot halves in the cavity. Starting at the neck end, carefully slide your hand between the skin and breast meat to loosen the skin. Spread 3 tablespoons herb butter over the breast meat under the skin. Tuck the wing tips under, then tie the legs together to hold their shape. Place the turkey on a rack set in a large roasting pan. Rub 4 tablespoons of the herb butter over the turkey. Cover only the breast area of the turkey with a sheet of heavy-duty foil. Scatter the remaining shallots in the pan around the turkey.

Roast the turkey for 30 minutes, then baste with 1/2 cup (120 ml) broth. Continue roasting the turkey for 1 1/2 hours, basting with 1/2 cup (120 ml) broth every 30 minutes. Remove the foil from over the turkey breast. Continue to roast the turkey until golden brown and a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh registers 180°F (80°C), basting with pan juices every 20 minutes, for about 1 hour longer. Transfer the turkey to a platter. Brush with 1 tablespoon of herb butter. Tent loosely with foil and let stand 20 minutes.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer the shallots from the roasting pan to a plate. Pour the pan juices into a medium bowl; spoon off the fat and discard. Add the wine and 1 cup (240 ml) of chicken broth to the roasting pan. Set the pan directly over 2 burners and bring the broth mixture to a boil, scraping up any browned bits. Continue to boil until reduced by half, about 3 minutes; pour into a large glass measuring cup. Add the degreased pan juices. Add enough broth, if necessary, to equal 3 cups (720 ml) liquid.

Blend the flour into the remaining herb butter. Pour the broth mixture into a heavy medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Gradually whisk in the herb butter mixture. Add any accumulated juices from the turkey platter. Boil until the gravy thickens enough to coat a spoon lightly, whisking occasionally, about 6 minutes. Add the shallots to the gravy and simmer for 1 minute. Season the gravy with salt and pepper. Serve the turkey with the gravy.


Thanksgiving Stuffing
from The Pioneer Woman 

Serves 10

1 pan of cornbread
1 loaf French bread, somewhat crusty
1 stick (110 g) butter
1 whole medium onion, diced
2 cups (250 g) celery, chopped
4 cups (1 liter) low-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup (10 g) chopped fresh parsley
2 to 3 teaspoons fresh chopped rosemary
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
salt to taste

Chop the cornbread and loaf of French bread into 1‑inch cubes. Spread them out on two baking sheets and let them dry for approximately 24 hours.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add the butter. When it’s melted, add the onion and celery and cook for a few minutes, until the onions are almost translucent. While the onion and celery are cooking, chop up any fresh herbs you will be using.

Add 4 cups of chicken broth and bring to a boil. Add the parsley, rosemary, basil and thyme. Stir until combined.

Place all of your dried bread cubes into a large bowl and mix them up a bit. Gradually ladle the broth mixture into the bread, tossing lightly as you go. Keep gradually adding the broth mixture, tasting as you go and adding more seasoning and herbs if needed. Add salt carefully. You don’t want to over-salt your stuffing. If the mixture isn’t quite moist enough, add a bit more chicken broth and stir.

Either stuff the bird and cook according to directions or place in a baking dish and bake at 350°F (180°C) for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown on top.


Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes 
from A New Way to Cook by Sally Schneider

Serves 4 [Note: I plan to double this recipe]

You can make the potatoes up to 3 hours ahead. About 20 minutes before serving, warm them in a double boiler, stirring frequently, until hot.

1 1/4 lb (570 g) thin-skinned potatoes, such as Yellow Finns or Yukon Golds, peeled and cut into 2‑inch chunks if large
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
3/4 cup (180 ml) buttermilk, warmed (not hot)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
freshly ground black pepper

Place the potatoes and 1 teaspoon of the salt in a medium saucepan, add enough water to cover, and bring to a boil over a high heat. Reduce the heat to moderate and simmer until the potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork, about 45 minutes. Drain, reserving 1/4 cup of the cooking water.

Return the potatoes to the pan and set over a low heat, uncovered, for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, to let the potatoes dry out a little (too much moisture will dilute their flavor). For the smoothest potatoes, pass them through a food mill or potato ricer. For a slightly coarser puree, mash them with a potato masher or fork or use a hand mixer. Beat the buttermilk into the potatoes with a wooden spoon until thoroughly incorporated. If you prefer even creamier potatoes, add a little of the reserved cooking liquid. Beat in the butter, the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, and plenty of pepper. Serve at once, or keep the potatoes warm, covered, in a double boiler over hot water for up to 1 hour.


Honeyed Pecan Pie

Serves 8

1 cup (170 g) brown sugar (lightly packed)
1 cup (200 g) (or a bit less) light corn syrup (or golden syrup)
1/4 cup (60 ml) honey
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup (80 g) butter, melted
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cups (150 g) roasted, chopped pecans
1 x 9‑inch pie crust
whipped cream (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).

Combine the brown sugar, corn syrup, honey, salt, and melted butter in a large bowl. Stir in the beaten eggs and mix well. Stir in the pecans. Pour the pecan mixture into the prepared pie crust and bake at 350°F (180°C) for 1 hour. Serve the pie warm or at room temperature with a dollop of freshly whipped cream, if desired.

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