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    Thanksgiving

    Thanksgiving is, without a doubt, my favorite holiday. I love when everyone comes together and celebrates the idea of gratitude, something we all mean to do every day, but seem to lose sight of most of the time. I also love the cooking – the days of planning and chopping and basting. This year, I decided to work out three variations on the traditional meal: a big group, a small gathering and a cozy dinner for two.

    Turkey will always be the main event of Thanksgiving (at least in my house) and a whole turkey is the way to go if you’re feeding at least 12. But if your party is smaller, the stuffed turkey breast turns out to be a great halfway point. Brining it overnight insures that you don’t need to baste it and it has a quick cooking time. Why should things be any less festive if dinner is just for two? I came up with these stuffed turkey burgers which were a giant hit in my house. They are the perfect solution for anyone who isn’t feeding a big group (or for a big group that wants to try something different!).

    Mostly, make sure that no matter what type of meal you are having, you take a moment to think about how much you do have (health, love, friendship, passion, perspective, appreciation, intellect, reason, kindness) and reflect on how you can share more of it with others.

    Love,
    gp

    Menus

    Thanksgiving for a Crowd...

    • Greens with Goat Cheese, Walnuts and Dried Cranberries
    • Whole Roasted Turkey
    • Thanksgiving Gravy
    • Cranberry Chutney
    • Classic Bread Stuffing
    • Caramelized Brussels Sprouts
    • Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Maple Syrup, Orange and Spices
    • Pumpkin Ice Cream Pie with Maple Whipped Cream

    Thanksgiving for a Small Crowd...

    • Roasted Turkey Breast with Molasses
    • Same side dishes as "Thanksgiving for a Crowd" (just cut the recipes in half)
    • Pumpkin Ice Cream Pie with Maple Whipped Cream

    Thanksgiving for Two...

    • Stuffed Turkey Burgers
    • Cranberry Ketchup
    • Pumpkin Ice Cream

    Greens with Goat Cheese, Walnuts and Dried Cranberries

    Endive, arugula and radicchio are easy to get all winter long and make a great combination. The dressing, one of my favorites, has maple syrup which balances the bitterness of the leaves. The dried cranberries, goat cheese and walnuts make it perfect for any festive occasion or any day for a tasty light lunch.

    Serves: 12
    Time: 10 minutes

    • 3 small cloves garlic, pushed through a press
    • 2 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
    • 2 tablespoons real Vermont maple syrup
    • 1/3 red wine vinegar
    • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
    • coarse sea salt
    • freshly ground black pepper
    • 2 1/2 large heads of endive, washed, chopped
    • 1 1/3 large head radicchio, washed, chopped
    • 4 large handfuls arugula, washed
    • 1 1/3 cup goat cheese
    • 3/4 cup walnuts, broken into pieces
    • 3/4 cup dried cranberries

    In a small bowl, whisk together the garlic, Dijon, maple syrup and vinegar. While whisking, slowly drizzle in the olive oil. Season the dressing to taste with salt and pepper. Combine the greens in a large salad bowl. Dress with about two thirds of the dressing. Divide the greens on eight plates and scatter over the goat cheese, walnuts and dried cranberries over the greens. Drizzle each salad with a bit of the leftover dressing.

    Whole Roasted Turkey

    This recipe is a smaller scale version of Martha Stewart's accurately named Perfect Roast Turkey.

    It's not afraid of butter.

    Serves: 12, with leftovers
    Time: 3 to 4 hours

    • 1 14 pound turkey, giblets and neck removed and reserved for gravy (best to let the turkey sit out at room temperature for two hours before cooking)
    • coarse sea salt
    • 1/2 cup melted butter + 4 tablespoons softened
    • 1/2 bottle dry white wine
    • freshly ground black pepper
    • cheesecloth
    • optional: Classic Bread Stuffing or an onion, several cloves garlic, a lemon

    1.Put your oven rack as low as it can go. Preheat the oven to 450º F.

    2.Rub the turkey with a large handful of coarse sea salt. Rinse with cold water and pat completely dry with paper towels. Let it hang for a minute.

    3.Get yourself a big piece of cheesecloth. Fold it in half and then in half again. Cut it so you have a four-layer square that’s roughly 15 x 15. Combine the melted butter and wine in a large bowl and soak the cheesecloth in it.

    4.Back to the turkey. Stuff the cavity with some of your Classic Bread Stuffing (see recipe below) if you’d like. If not, sprinkle the cavity with salt and pepper. Feel free to throw in a quartered onion, a few cloves of garlic and/or a halved lemon. Tie the legs together with a piece of twine. Rub the four tablespoons of softened butter all over the turkey and sprinkle the outside with plenty of salt and pepper. Set the turkey on a roasting rack inside of a large roasting pan. Squeeze out your cheesecloth (it should still be damp, just not dripping) and drape it over the turkey, completely covering the breast and most of the legs. Be sure to save the leftover butter and wine.

    5.Roast the turkey for half an hour. Take it out of the oven and baste it (over the cheesecloth) with some of the leftover butter and wine mixture. Turn the oven down to 350º F. Let the turkey roast for another hour and a half, basting every half hour with the butter and wine and the juices from the bottom of the pan.

    6.At this point your turkey will have been cooking for two hours. Remove the cheesecloth and cook for another hour to hour and a half, still basting every half hour until a thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the thigh registers 180º F.

    7.Remove the turkey to a board and let it rest for at least half an hour before carving. Be sure to save everything in the bottom of the pan for gravy.

    Thanksgiving Gravy

    This is a classic gravy that really benefits from using all parts of the turkey – everything from the neck to the sticky browned bits at the bottom of the roasting pan. Don't throw any of that stuff away, it's like gold!

    Serves: 12, with leftovers
    Time: 15 minutes

    • giblets and neck from turkey (discard the liver)
    • 1 large carrot, peeled and roughly chopped
    • 1 large onion, peeled and roughly chopped
    • 1 large stalk celery, roughly chopped
    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • 1 teaspoon each finely minced fresh thyme, rosemary and sage
    • 2 tablespoons flour
    • reserved juice from your turkey pan (make sure to scrape up all the browned bits)
    • 1/4 cup apple cider or juice
    • coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

    1.While the turkey is roasting, put the giblets, neck, carrot, onion and celery in a saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil, skim off any foam that accumulates, lower the heat and let it simmer away while the turkey cooks. You should have at least 3 cups in the end.

    2.While the turkey is resting, it’s gravy time. Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the herbs and flour and stir to combine. Cook for about a minute. Slowly whisk in the reserved juice and browned bits from the turkey pan. The mixture should be fairly smooth – the goal is to avoid lumps of flour. Turn the heat up to medium-high, strain in your giblet broth and the cider and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is slightly thickened and the raw flour taste has cooked off (about ten minutes). Season to taste with salt and pepper.

    Cranberry Chutney

    Cranberries are full of antioxidants and their recognizably tart flavor is a must at any Thanksgiving table. Luckily, making chutney couldn't be easier and you can make it up to a week in advance.

    Serves: 12 (makes about 2 cups)
    Time: 15 minutes

    • 3/4 cup sugar
    • 1 1/3 cup water
    • 4 cups fresh cranberries
    • 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
    • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
    • grated zest of 1 small orange or tangerine

    Combine the sugar and water in a saucepan, bring to a boil and add the rest of the ingredients. Turn the heat to low and let the mixture simmer for about ten minutes or until thick. Let the chutney cool before serving.

    Classic Bread Stuffing

    Generous on the onions and fennel seeds, this stuffing is hearty and satisfying but not soggy or heavy as stuffing can sometimes be. Made with good vegetable stock, it's vegetarian-friendly.

    Serves: 12, with leftovers
    Time: 2 hours, a lot of which is completely unattended

    • 15 cups of 1/2" bread cubes (I usually have challah, wholegrain and ciabatta in my bread bin)
    • 1/4 cup butter + 1 tablespoon cut into small pieces
    • 1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon olive oil
    • 1 very large onion, very finely diced (roughly 2 1/2 cups)
    • 2 stalks celery, very finely diced (roughly 1/2 cup)
    • 2 1/2 teaspoons fennel seeds
    • 3/4 teaspoon celery seeds
    • 2 generous tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
    • 2 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
    • 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
    • 2 1/2 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh parsley
    • 2 1/2 cups high-quality vegetable stock, divided

    1.Preheat the oven to 300º F. Spread the bread cubes out on two cookie sheets and bake for about ten minutes or until a bit dried out, not browned.

    2.Meanwhile, heat the 1/4 cup of butter and olive oil over medium heat in a large sauté pan. Add the onion, celery, fennel and celery seeds, rosemary, salt and pepper and sweat the mixture for 20 minutes, keeping the heat low enough so that the vegetables don’t color – you just want them to get soft and sweet. Turn off the heat, add the parsley and let the mixture cool for about ten minutes in the pan. Add the bread cubes and 2 cups of stock; stir to evenly distribute. Let the mixture sit for about an hour to let the flavors really get into everything (now’s a good time to work on your other Thanksgiving dishes!).

    3.Reserve two cups of the stuffing for the turkey if desired.

    4.Set the oven to 350º F. Put the stuffing into an ovenproof baking dish (you could even leave it in your sauté pan if it doesn’t have plastic handles – one less thing to wash!). Pour over the remaining stock and dot with the remaining tablespoon of butter. Bake for 25 minutes, or until the top is lightly browned.

    Caramelized Brussels Sprouts

    These get deliciously sweet and crispy as they cook. I have converted many a sprout cynic with this great winter side dish.

    Serves: 12
    Time: 20 minutes

    • 2 1/2 pounds Brussels sprouts, trimmed
    • 1/3 cup olive oil
    • a few generous pinches of coarse sea salt
    • a healthy drizzle of your best, best extra virgin olive oil (I covet the bottles I get from Armando Manni in Tuscany)
    • 1 lemon, halved

    1.Steam the sprouts for 7 minutes or until just tender. Let them cool a bit and then cut each in half, lengthwise.

    2.Heat the olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Place the Brussels sprouts in a single layer, cut-side down (in batches if necessary). Leave them for 4-5 minutes, allowing them to brown thoroughly and evenly – don't give into the temptation to stir and toss them! Keep an eye on them though – the key is to have the flame high enough to brown them but low enough not to burn them. When they’ve browned, flip each one and let the other side get color, an additional three minutes or so. Remove to a serving platter, sprinkle with the salt, drizzle with your fine extra virgin olive oil and squeeze the lemon over, trying to get a bit of juice on each one. Delish.

    Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Maple Syrup, Orange and Spices

    These sweet potatoes get sticky and sweet, full of great holiday flavor.

    Serves: 12
    Time: A little less than an hour, largely unattended

    • 3 3/4 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled
    • 1 1/4 cup real Vermont maple syrup
    • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
    • 1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
    • 1 large orange
    • 3 star anises

    1.Preheat the oven to 375º F.

    2.Cut each sweet potato in half horizontally and then cut each half into 1/3 planks (about four slices per half depending on the size of the sweet potato). Lay the sweet potatoes in a single layer in one large or two medium baking dishes (two 13 x 9 dishes will do the job).

    3.Mix the maple syrup, vegetable oil, cinnamon and cloves together in a small bowl. Peel off four large strips of zest from the orange. Cut the orange in half and squeeze the juice into the bowl with the maple syrup mixture. Pour this mixture evenly over the sweet potatoes, nestle in the strips of zest and the star anise. Bake for 45 minutes or until the sweet potatoes are soft and saturated.

    Roasted Turkey Breast with Molasses

    Brining the turkey breast guarantees moist, tender meat and roasting it with plenty of stuffing, herbs and a healthy dose of molasses assures great flavor. Preparing a turkey breast isn’t just faster than preparing a whole turkey, it’s also much easier to cook and carve.

    Serves: 6, with leftovers
    Time: 2 hours + brining

    • 1 large boned-out turkey breast, skin on
    • 1/2 cup and 2 tablespoons coarse salt
    • 1/2 cup brown sugar
    • 1 1/2 cups Classic Bread Stuffing (before it's baked)
    • 1 teaspoon each finely minced fresh thyme, rosemary and sage, mixed together
    • 2 tablespoons butter, softened
    • freshly ground pepper
    • 1/4 cup molasses

    1.Rub the turkey with about two tablespoons of coarse salt and rinse under cold water. Combine 1/2 cup of salt, brown sugar and a cup of water in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook until the salt and sugar are totally dissolved. Pour this mixture into a container large enough to hold the turkey breast, but something it won't totally swim in (a spaghetti pot works well). Add about two quarts of cold water to the salt and sugar mixture and put the turkey inside the container. Add more water if necessary, enough to just cover the turkey. Cover and put in the refrigerator for at least four hours, up to overnight.

    2.When you're ready to cook the turkey, preheat the oven to 425º F.

    3.Drain the turkey, rinse with cold water and pat dry with paper towels. Cut a slit across one side of the turkey as if turning it into two long pieces, but don't cut all the way through. Open the turkey breast like a book and evenly distribute the stuffing. Fold it back together. Flip it and gently loosen the skin from the meat with your fingers and spread the herbs over the meat, under the skin. Tie the whole breast back together snugly with four or five pieces of kitchen twine. Spread the top with butter and sprinkle with a few generous pinches of salt and pepper.

    4.Put the turkey in a big roasting pan, roast for 30 minutes then turn the oven down to 350º F. Roast for an hour. Remove the turkey from the oven and brush it with half the molasses. Bake for another ten minutes, remove it and brush it with the remaining molasses. Return it to the oven and bake for another five to 15 minutes, or until a thermometer registers 180º F. Move the turkey to a board or platter and let it rest for at least 15 minutes before slicing. Pour about half a cup of hot water into the roasting pan and scrape up all the browned bits – make sure to save all this juice for your gravy!

    Stuffed Turkey Burgers

    All the flavors of Thanksgiving in a burger – what could be better?

    Serves: 2 (makes two huge burgers)
    Time: 20 minutes

    • 1 tablespoon olive oil
    • 1/2 cup finely minced onion
    • 1 tablespoon very finely chopped fresh rosemary
    • 3/4 pound ground turkey
    • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
    • 1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
    • 1/2 cup Classic Bread Stuffing
    • 2 hamburger buns
    • Cranberry Ketchup (see recipe below)

    1.Heat the olive oil in a small skillet over low heat. Add the onions and rosemary and cook for about ten minutes, or until quite soft and sweet. Let the onion mixture cool a bit and then put in a large mixing bowl with the turkey, salt and pepper. Mush the ingredients together with a wooden spoon or your hands. Form a quarter of the mixture into a thin patty. Mound half of the stuffing in the center of the patty. Take another quarter of the mixture and form it into a patty and place on top, sealing the edges so that all the stuffing is snug inside. Repeat with the remaining turkey and stuffing.

    2.Preheat your grill or broiler. Cook the burgers for five minutes on the first side, flip and cook for four more minutes or until the burgers are browned and firm. Cut the buns in half and grill alongside the burgers. Spread the buns with Cranberry Ketchup, tuck in the burgers and go to town.

    Cranberry Ketchup

    The ideal condiment for Stuffed Turkey Burgers.

    Serves: 2
    Time: 1 minute

    • 2 spoonfuls of Cranberry Chutney
    • 2 same-sized spoonfuls ketchup

    Mix together.

    Pumpkin Ice Cream Pie with Maple Whipped Cream

    A cool alternative (literally) to traditional pumpkin pie. If you can find pumpkin ice cream, by all means use that. If not, here’s a quick and easy way to make some using vanilla ice cream, good canned pumpkin and lots of wonderful spices. When you first make the mixture the spices might seem strong, but remember that their flavors get a bit muted when they’re ice cold. If you're doing Thanksgiving for a large crowd, make two of these. One is good for a small crowd and the ice cream alone is a simple, fun desert for a party of two.

    Serves: 6, very generously
    Time: 20 minutes + at least 3 hours in the freezer

    • 1 cup of graham cracker crumbs (about 1 sleeve, ground in the food processor)
    • 1 tablespoon sugar
    • 5 tablespoons melted butter
    • 1 pint vanilla ice cream, softened
    • 1 can pureed pumpkin (or 1-3/4 cups fresh)
    • 1/4 teaspoon each ground allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves
    • Maple Whipped Cream (see recipe below)

    1.Preheat the oven to 350º F.

    2.Combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar and melted butter in a pie pan (why bother washing a mixing bowl?). Mix together with your fingers and then press evenly to cover the bottom and sides of the pan. It helps to press the mixture with the bottom of a small measuring cup. Bake for ten minutes or until light brown. Let cool while you prepare the filling.

    3.In a large bowl, beat together the ice cream, pumpkin and spices. Spread evenly into the cooled pie shell and stick in the freezer for at least three hours before serving. When ready to serve, spread the top with Maple Whipped Cream.

    Maple Whipped Cream

    Maple syrup is one of the great North American ingredients and is one of the healthiest ways to sweeten things. I put it in nearly everything, including this heavenly whipped cream.

    Serves: enough for one pie
    Time: 5 minutes

    • 1 cup heavy cream
    • 2-3 tablespoons real Vermont maple syrup

    Whip the cream using a standing mixer, handheld mixer or whisk (a bit of a workout!) until stiff peaks form. Whisk in maple syrup to taste.

    The goop collection

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