A NOT-SO-TRADITIONAL THANKSGIVING MEAL
Thanksgiving, for many of us, contains a few consistencies.
We enjoy precious time with family and friends that we hold most dear, we laugh until our bellies hurt, we watch football….and of course, most importantly, we spend hours in the kitchen cooking delicious food, including time-honored favorite dishes beloved by the whole table!
It’s a tradition that, here at The Seasoned Chef, we wouldn’t trade for anything, though this year, we do have a few suggestions for ways that you might want to consider mixing in some new traditions, as well!
To help you out, below we have three delicious, taste-tested, thoroughly approved recipes from one of our recent classes that are an ideal way to put your own spin on the Thanksgiving that you’ve known and loved for years. We promise that these recipes will make your little ones the newest members of the clean-plate club, while also keeping the tradition alive for grandma. You and your guests will not be disappointed!
While we love a traditional Thanksgiving turkey, we’ve become big fans of spatchcocking our turkeys instead. Not only does it cook in half the time, but when you remove the backbone to be able to flatten the turkey and cook it skin side up. This allows the turkey to brown more evenly, creating one delicious, juicy turkey that will please the whole family.
ROASTED SPATCHCOCKED TURKEY
A 12lb. turkey
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon coarse salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Preheat the oven to 450˚ Fahrenheit. Rinse the inside and outside of the turkey with water. Pat dry with paper towels.
Cut out the backbone – Start with the turkey breast-side down. Use poultry shears to cut along both sides of the backbone, beginning at the tail end. If you hit a tough spot, try cutting with just the tip of the shears.
Open the turkey – Set aside backbone (and giblets) for stock. Take hold of both newly cut edges, and open the turkey. Remove any large pieces of fat. Turn the turkey breast-side up.
Break the breastbone – Place your hand on one side of the breast, close to the breastbone, and push down firmly until you hear a crack. Repeat on the other side. (For better leverage as you work, stand on a step stool.)
Flatten the turkey – Place the turkey on a rimmed baking sheet (with a rack inside) breast side up, pull the thighs outward so the turkey lies flat, with the wings facing inward. Tuck the wing tips under to secure. Let the turkey rest for 30 minutes.
Brush with oil and roast – Using a basting brush, apply oil mixture over the entire bird (2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 1 tablespoon coarse salt and 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper). Roast turkey in a 450˚ oven for approximately 1 hour and 10 minutes (internal temperature should be around 160 – 165˚). Cover with foil and let rest for approximately 10-15 minutes. (Remember, your bird will continue to cook while resting so I would take my bird out when the internal temperature reaches 155 – 160˚)
HOW TO CARVE
A spatchcocked turkey requires a slightly different carving technique than a bird cooked the traditional way, but the basic approach remains the same: Remove the legs and wings, and then slice the breast meat.
Step 1: Cut legs from breast
With a sharp chef’s knife, remove each leg by cutting through the turkey where the thigh connects to the breast.
Step 2: Separate drumsticks and thighs
At the joint of each leg, cut drumstick from thigh. Transfer thighs and drumsticks to a warm platter. Tent with foil.
Step 3: Cut wings and breast
On one side, find the joint connecting wing and breast, and cut through it (not shown). Repeat to cut off other wing. Cut breast meat into two pieces, slicing along either side of breastbone.
Step 4: Slice breast meat
Slice the breast meat across the grain. Arrange on the platter with the dark meat, and add the wings.
THE MASHED POTATOES
Mashed potatoes are great… and that’s selling them pretty short. But add in garlic and cheese and you’ve got yourself a real winner!
MASHED POTATOES WITH ROASTED GARLIC AND CHEDDAR CHEESE
1 large garlic head
2 tsp. olive oil
2 ½ lb. Russet or Yukon Gold potatoes (diced medium)
¾-1 cup whole milk
1 stick of butter
¼ lb. medium to sharp Cheddar cheese (shredded)
1 tsp. Kosher salt
1 tsp. ground pepper
Preheat oven to 350˚ Fahrenheit.
Cut the very top portion of the garlic head off so that you can see the garlic tops inside the bulb. Place cut side of garlic bulb, cut side down on an olive oil coated double piece of aluminum foil. Seal the aluminum foil tightly around the bulb and place in the oven for approximately 45 minutes. Let the garlic sit, wrapped, until cool. Squeeze the roasted garlic out of their skins and either mash with fork or place in food processor.
Wash the potatoes and cut into medium pieces. Place in a very large stock pot with salted water and boil until a knife can be cleanly inserted and taken out easily through the middle of one of them. This should be about 25–30 minutes. Drain in a colander and set aside.
In another pot, heat the milk and butter together until the milk is warm and the butter has melted.
Mix the potatoes in a heavy duty mixer using the whisk attachment. Add the cheese, one half of the milk/butter mixture* and one half of the mashed garlic. Begin your mixing on slow speed and then increase speed. If the potatoes are too dry, add more milk. Continue mixing until they are light and fluffy. Add salt and pepper adjusting if needed.
*Note: The reason for adding just half of the milk to begin with has to do with a lot of different things (how moist the potatoes are, the outside environment, etc.) You can always add more milk, however, you can’t take it away.
THE CRANBERRY SAUCE
In our humble opinion, traditional cranberry sauce is, for lack of a better term, boring. So we’ve made it delicious! In our version, the sweet cherries balance the tart cranberries, with a delicious crunch brought it by the walnuts. You won’t be able to turn this cranberry sauce down!
CRANBERRY SAUCE WITH CHERRIES AND WALNUTS
12 oz. fresh cranberries
2 cups orange juice
1 cup golden brown sugar (packed)
12 oz. frozen dark sweet cherries (cut in halves or quarters)
½ cup flavored dried cranberries
½ cup walnuts (finely chopped)
½ tsp. cinnamon
Rinse and drain the cranberries.
In a large sauce pan combine the orange juice, brown sugar, and cranberries. Over medium high heat, boil the mixture until the cranberries begin to pop open (about 10 minutes) and then reduce the heat to medium.
Add the chopped frozen dark sweet cherries and continue to cook and stir the sauce until the mixture thickens (remember it will continue to thicken while cooling).
Remove the sauce from the heat and add the dried cranberries, walnuts and cinnamon. Cover and refrigerate when cooled.*
*Note: You can make this sauce up to three days ahead.