Thanksgiving Food

I trust you all had a blessed Thanksgiving no matter where you were or what you did! I was excited to cook a big meal because well, I simply love cooking! I had started brining my turkey the Monday evening prior to Thanksgiving. I absolutely LOVE brining and I can't imagine ever cooking my turkey without doing this. It is simply a way to help the meat hold in moisture & breaks down the tough muscle of the meat making it tender. So basically it keeps the meat from getting dry & adds flavor. There are tons of different brine recipes out there but I've used the Master Brine Recipe many times. I double this and sometimes triple it depending on the size of my turkey. This year I made a 20lb turkey so I tripled the brine.

Others have asked where in the world do I store this to brine. I usually have a spare fridge in my garage that I use (though it died earlier this year). Most turkeys have fit into my canner so I let it soak in there. Another way is to use a cooler to put the brine & turkey in. If it's cold enough in your garage or outside, you could place the cooler in either of those places. If not, just dump ice in with the turkey & brine to keep it cold. I like to brine for a minimum of 24 hours but I've done as much as 2 days as well. The longer it soaks, the more flavorful & tender it gets.

I was anxious to get my big bird in the oven this year that I didn't take any pre-baking pictures. But I used a big foil roasting pan (think easy clean up!). I placed foil balls on the bottom of the pan to lift the turkey up a bit so it would bake more evenly. You can place many different things for aromatics inside the turkey. What I did this time was a cut up onion, apple, garlic cloves & some thyme. Since the turkey soaked in the brine, I did not salt it at all. I tucked the wings under the bird & tied the legs together. I separated the skin of the turkey from the breast just enough to fit my hand in to smear some softened butter over the breast of the turkey under the skin. I then lathered on some olive oil of the skin of the turkey.

I started out baking the turkey at 450 for 30 minutes. It browns the turkey a bit helping to seal in the juices. Then I made a foil cover to cover the breast of the turkey. Later on, I eventually covered the legs in foil as well so they would stop browning. Once the turkey was done baking, I pulled it out of the oven to let it set 20-30 minutes while covered entirely in foil. Doing this allows the juices to go back into the meat before slicing. The meat stays plenty hot so no worries about it getting cold.
The finished product!

The day before, I had used turkey gizzards & neck to make a broth & combined that with the broth from the turkey to make gravy. The picture above shows after I drained most of the broth for making the gravy.

I did something unconventional this year. I didn't have enough oven space to bake some of my other dishes with the turkey. So I used my grill to start the baking process. My grill has a temp gauge so I was able to keep it the temperature I would've used to bake them. 

I kept the grill lid closed to "bake"

This actually worked out perfectly!!! Once I pulled the turkey out of the oven, I put these dishes into the oven to finish baking & took off the foil for everything to brown. Oh if you are wondering what is in them, stuffing is down front & up top is green bean casserole & the other is a sweet potato casserole with a pecan & brown sugar topping.

We had planned to eat around 1:30 so I knew everyone would get a little hungry before hand. I put together a turkey shaped veggie tray for everyone to snack at with a side of dip.

thanksgiving turkey veggie tray

To make this, I took a round tray and placed a layer of spinach down for the background. I sliced different colored peppers into rings then cut the rings in half. I sliced cucumbers and stacked them then placed the bottom piece of a pepper on for the face of the turkey. I used drops of cream cheese for the eyes (could use black olives as well. I fanned out baby carrots for part of the tail. For the feet, I took the ends of 2 pieces of celery and made several slits part way up then placed in ice water for a few minutes to create the curling effect. 

It was over all a nice day but we couldn't help but notice the empty chair our sweet 2 year old Noah would've occupied. I am truly thankful for the promise of Heaven knowing I will hold him again. 

What was one of your favorite things you ate on Thanksgiving? Were you thankful for anything in particular this year?

Check out more Thanksgiving recipes from the Schoolhouse Review Crew.

1 comment

I enjoy hearing from each & every one of you! Thanks for taking the time to comment. :)