Planning for Thanksgiving 2021

Thirty days away!

I know it seems early to be planning, but I’ve already ordered my free range turkey from the same local farm as the last two years. As I said I would do (see Thanksgiving post from 2019), last year I cut the bird into pieces and dry brined it (for two days) before roasting on the big day. Here a link to the recipe and method.

The turkey was absolutely delicious and a big hit with everyone (except my vegetarian grandson, of course.) I will do this again this year. It takes a much shorter time to roast, and the meat is perfectly cooked and juicy. My son-in-law liked it so much that he bought a turkey on sale after Thanksgiving last year and made it at home.

My big worry was that I wouldn’t have the dressing from inside the bird, which I have always loved. I needn’t have worried. The dressing that I made was just as good, if not better and, since it is vegetarian, I didn’t have to make two versions. If you want to try this, here is the recipe. You can use chicken or turkey stock, if you like, but I used vegetable stock. The fresh herbs are key, and I used french bread, which gives you lots of nice crusty crunch.

Simple Is Best Dressing

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter plus more for baking dish
  • 1 pound good-quality day-old white bread, torn into 1-inch pieces (about 10 cups)
  • 2 1/2 cups chopped yellow onions
  • 1 1/2 cups 1/4-inch sliced celery
  • 1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth, divided
  • 2 large eggs

Recipe Preparation

  • Preheat oven to 250°. Butter a 13x9x2-inch baking dish and set aside. Scatter bread in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake, stirring occasionally, until dried out, about 1 hour. Let cool; transfer to a very large bowl.

  • Meanwhile, melt 3/4 cup butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat; add onions and celery. Stir often until just beginning to brown, about 10 minutes. Add to bowl with bread; stir in herbs, salt, and pepper. Drizzle in 1 1/4 cups broth and toss gently. Let cool.

  • Preheat oven to 350°. Whisk 1 1/4 cups broth and eggs in a small bowl. Add to bread mixture; fold gently until thoroughly combined. Transfer to prepared dish, cover with foil, and bake until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of dressing registers 160°, about 40 minutes.

  • Continue to bake dressing, uncovered, until set and top is browned and crisp, 40–45 minutes longer.

Do Ahead: Dressing can be baked (before browning) 1 day ahead. Uncover and let cool, then cover and chill. Uncover and bake until top is browned and crisp, 50–60 minutes.

I always make my own whole berry cranberry sauce, using orange juice or cider as the liquid and flavoring with orange and cinnamon. Since I use juice instead of water, I reduce the amount of sugar. Don’t forget that you can freeze cranberries just as they are in their bags from the grocery store. I still have some from last year.

I haven’t decided on the green vegetable yet, although the brussels sprouts recipe from last year was really good, so I might go with that again.

Rather than having plain roasted butternut squash, which is a delicious side, last year I went with Oven-roasted Root Vegetables, but I omitted the potatoes because I was serving mashed potatoes:

Ingredients

1 large butternut squash, (1 1/2 to 2 pounds) halved, seeded and peeled
3 large Yukon gold potatoes (1 1/2 pounds), scrubbed
1 bunch medium beets, (about 1 1/2 pounds), scrubbed and tops trimmed
1 medium red onion
2 large parsnips (about 8 ounces), peeled
1 head garlic, cloves separated, and peeled (about 16)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Place 2 baking sheets in the oven and preheat to 425 degrees F. (I used foil one-use pans.)

Cut all the vegetables into 1 1/2-inch pieces. Cut the onions through the base core to keep some of the layers in chunky pieces. Toss all the vegetables with garlic, olive oil and salt in large bowl. Season generously with pepper.

Carefully remove the heated baking sheets from the oven, brush or drizzle with olive oil. Divide the vegetables evenly between the 2 pans, spreading them out to assure they don’t steam while roasting. Roast the vegetables until tender and golden brown, stirring occasionally, about 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Cook’s Note
Some very large parsnips have a pithy core, which should be trimmed before cooking.

I will also be making my usual Jiffy corn casserole, which the grandsons love, mashed potatoes, gravy, and hot rolls.

Speaking of gravy, this is what I did last year. It’s work, but worth it!

Why-Is-It-So-Good-Gravy

The pies will be made by my daughter and grandson, and I imagine one of them will be pumpkin!

What are you planning this year? Any suggestions for vegetable alternatives?

This entry was posted in cooking, Holidays. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Planning for Thanksgiving 2021

  1. Menagerie says:

    We just started planning our menu. My son will smoke the turkey, and a daughter in law will make pies, pumpkin and apple. I’m making bread, and haven’t decided which sides, but probably maple glazed bacon wrapped carrots and cranberry something.

    My sourdough has been really good this year, but I’m thinking that I might try Parker house rolls. I’ve never made them before. Also perhaps a broccoli and wild rice casserole that is a family favorite, and I usually always do sweet potato casserole.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. czarina33 says:

    As I said on the other thread, Cuban Pork Roast was one of Czar’s and my favorites. Never tried roasted Brussels sprouts, but they are fresh this time of year, and I do love them. Maybe acorn squash, since it makes a lovely presentation. Have to make pumpkin pie tho, since we should have something traditional.

    Cuban Pork Roast
    Get whatever size pork roast you need, cut slits all over it and push peeled garlic toes deep in the flesh. Buy bottles of Mojo Crilloio and Bitter Orange marinade and pour enough over the roast in a cooking bag to adequately marinate it. Put it in the refrigerator for 3 days, turning a couple of times a day to get the marinade well soaked in. Bake in the bag at 250* until it is falling apart. (Cooking times vary with the size of the roast, so check a cookbook.)

    Liked by 2 people

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