Your Complete Thanksgiving Feast

Studio 5 Contributor Laura Wolford helps you plan out your Thanksgiving Day feast.

Roast Turkey with Salted Herb Rub

Prepare this turkey the day before cooking. You will need a large plastic bag, large enough to hold the turkey. (An oven proof cooking bag works great, although you will not be using the bag for cooking the turkey, just for brining).

Salt rub

• 1/3 cup kosher salt

• 1 1/2 teaspoons dried rosemary

• 1 1/2 teaspoons dried rubbed sage

• 1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme

• 1 teaspoon black peppercorns, crushed

• 3 crumbled bay leaves


• 1 15 turkey (neck, heart, and gizzard reserved)

• 1 onion, chopped

• 1 celery stalk, chopped

• 1 whole lemon, chopped with peel

• 1 teaspoon dried rosemary

• 1 teaspoon dried rubbed sage

• 1 teaspoon dried thyme

• 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature


1. Combine salt rub ingredients and set aside.

2. Rinse turkey inside and out. Rub turkey with salt rub and place in bag. Close bag. Place on baking sheet and refrigerate overnight up to 24 hours.

3. Set rack at lowest position in oven and preheat to 325°F. Remove turkey from bag and rinse turkey inside and out; pat very dry. Combine onion, celery, lemon and herbs together in a small bowl; stuff into the turkey cavity. Place turkey on rack set in large roasting pan. Spread butter all over turkey. Pour 1 cup water in bottom of roasting pan.

4. Roast turkey 3 to 3 ½ hours. After the first 45 minutes baste with pan juices. Continue to roast until thermometer inserted into thickest part of thigh registers 165°F to 170°F, basting every 45 minutes, adding stock or water to pan if dry, and tenting loosely with foil if browning too quickly. Transfer turkey to platter; tent very loosely with foil and let rest 30 to 45 minutes. Reserve pan juices for gravy.

Turkey Broth

turkey neck, gizzards, heart and wing tips

2 onion

1-2 bay leaves

3 sprigs parsley

4 cups chicken broth

1 cup water

1. Place turkey pieces in a large pot along with all the ingredients and bring to a boil. Cook for 1 hour, strain into a bowl. There should be aprox 4 cups. Taste for seasoning, adding salt or pepper and needed. (Can be made the day ahead.)

Turkey Gravy

turkey roasting pan juices

3 Tbl butter

3 Tbl flour

2 cups turkey broth

2 Tbl dry sherry, optional

salt and pepper to taste

1. In a saucepan, melt butter until bubbly, add the flour and stir rapidly for a few seconds. Add pan juices and turkey broth. Whisk rapidly over medium heat until smooth and thickened. Stir in sherry, check seasonings, and adjust if necessary.

To Shell and Peel Chestnuts

With a sharp knife cut an X on the round side of each chestnut.

Method 1: Place in a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and simmer 20-30 minutes.

Method 2: Spread chestnuts in one layer in a jelly-roll pan, add 1/4 cup water, and bake in a 450 degree oven for 10 minutes.

Remove and let cool slightly, shell and peel while still somewhat hot.

Chestnut Stuffing

8 cups bread crumbs, French or Italian bread (cube or tear)

3 Tbl olive oil

2 onions minced

1 tsp minced garlic

1 cup celery, chopped

8 oz sausage, Italian hot or mild, or try Chorizo

2 cups turkey broth

1 ½ cups chopped chestnuts

1 Tbl marjoram, sage or basil

3 Tbl parsley

fresh ground pepper and salt to taste

1. Break bread into small pieces. Spread out on a large baking pan to dry overnight or for 4-5 hours.

2. Heat oil in a large fry pan, over medium heat, warm olive oil. Add onion and garlic, saute until the onions are soft. Add celery; sauté 5 minutes more. Add sausage and cook until cooked through.

3. Place bread crumbs in a large mixing bowl, sprinkle with broth and toss lightly so bread is evenly moist. Add sautéed mixture, chestnuts and seasonings. Spoon into a buttered 2 quart baking dish and bake until lightly golden on top, about 40-50 minutes.

Honey and Spice Cranberry Sauce

1 (12 oz) bag cranberries

1 ¾ cups apple cider or juice

¾ cup honey

2 cinnamon sticks, broken in half, or 1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 Tbl grated orange peel

¼ tsp ground cloves

1 bay leaf

A pinch of salt

1. Combine all ingredients in a heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, reduce heat. Simmer until berries burst and sauce thickens, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes, or until thickened. Remove cinnamon sticks and bay leaf. Refrigerate sauce until cold. Makes about 2 ½ cups.

Brussel Sprouts in Nutmeg Butter

1 lb Brussel sprouts

3 Tbl butter

1 bunch minced scallions
freshly grated nutmeg to taste (powdered nutmeg can substitute)

salt and pepper to taste

1. Cut Brussel sprouts lengthwise in half. Heat skillet over medium heat; add butter, scallions and Brussel sprouts. Sauté until Brussel sprouts are tender 8-10 minutes. Season to taste with nutmeg, salt and pepper. Serves 4.

Simmered Citrus Carrots

1 Tbl grated orange zest

1 tsp minced garlic

2 Tbl extra-virgin olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

1 tsp sugar, or to taste

1 cup orange juice

1 cup water

1 ½ lb carrots, trimmed and peeled

2 tsp lemon or lime juice

2 Tbl chopped cilantro

1. Place all ingredients, except lemon juice and cilantro in a large frypan. Set over medium heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer for aprox 30 minutes or until carrots are tender. Keep a watch on the amount of liquid in the frypan; add more water as needed to cook the carrots to tender. (Although, do not add too much liquid, you want to let the liquid reduce from the pan until the pan is nearly dry and the flavors are intensified). The cooking time will vary depending on thickness of carrots. Remove from heat and gently stir in lemon or lime juice and cilantro. Serves 6.

Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake

1 ½ cups finely ground graham crackers

5 Tbl butter, melted

1/3 cup sugar

3 (8oz) packages cream cheese, softened

1 3/4 cup sugar

3 Tbl all-purpose flour

5 eggs

2 tsp vanilla

2 egg yolks

1 tsp cinnamon

dash ginger

dash allspice

dash freshly grated nutmeg

1 (15oz) can solid-pack pumpkin

1. Stir together cracker crumbs, butter and 1/3 cup sugar and press onto the bottom and 1-inch up sides of a buttered spring form pan. (Fill right away or chill up to 2 hours.)

2. Beat together cream cheese, 1 3/4 cup sugar and flour until smooth. Add whole eggs, one at a time and vanilla, beating on low speed until each ingredient is incorporated. Transfer aprox 2 ½ cups to another bowl and set aside. Beat egg yolks, spices, and pumpkin into remaining filling until smooth.

3. Put spring form pan on baking sheet (to catch drips, or line pan with foil). Pour half of pumpkin mixture into crust, then half of plain. Repeat until fillings are gone. Gently swirl a small spoon once through batter.

4. Bake at 550 degrees, on the middle rack of oven, for 12 minutes. Reduce temp to 200 degrees and bake 30 minutes. Do not open oven during that time. Next, dome a piece of lightly oiled foil over cake and continue to bake until mostly firm (center will still be a bit wobbly), about 1 hour more.

5. Run a knife around edge of cake to loosen and cool completely. Chill, loosely covered, at least 6 hours. Remove from pan and transfer to cake plate. Ring to room temp and serve. Serves 8-10. *Cheesecake keeps, covered and chilled 1 week.

Five Thanksgiving Tips:

1. The pop-up timers are made to pop-up at 185 degrees. Your turkey is already overcooked and definitely dry. Use your instant read thermometer and take your turkey out of the oven at 175 degrees. If you stuff the turkey, the stuffing temperature needs to reach 165 degrees.

2. Use silicone gloves to lift, turn, and move the turkey. They’ll provide a firm grip and you won’t get burned!

3. Use a gravy strainer to remove the fat from the roasting pan juices. It makes it simple to make perfect gravy.

4. Try a ‘potato ricer’ for smooth mashed potatoes. You can find one at any kitchen store or in the housewares department at larger stores.

5. Prepare the cranberry sauce, pies, and rolls the day before; this will save needed time Thanksgiving morning.

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