Nine years ago I gave birth to my third and largest child. In fact, he weighed as much as a small turkey (10 pounds and 6 ounces)and his head was the size of an ample pumpkin. At that moment, my husband realized that cooking our own Thanksgiving feast would actually be easier than schlepping all of our young children over the river and through the woods to two different grandmothers' houses. Plus we are big fans of leftovers.
That first year we used a disposable roasting pan, kept the sidedishes super simple, and somehow prepared a delicious Thanksgiving meal with all of our children underfoot. I must say, I mostly nursed the baby, occupied the toddlers, and yelled words of encouragement from the fully baby gated fortress that was our living room, while my husband did all of the true cooking. He's my hero!
This Thanksgiving my husband and I will be collaborating in order to prepare our tenth feast! Many things have changed during these past ten years - we had another baby, moved across the country, acquired a quality Williams Sonoma roasting pan, and lost all of our baby gates. We've taken turkey cooking tips from my mother, Martha, Emeril, and Ina, but our favorite method comes from Alton Brown. Yes, he's wacky and scientific, but his brined bird is consistently moist and flavorful.
The first time we attempted an Alton Brown brined turkey, our biggest challenge was finding a container in which we could soak our bird while simultaneously refrigerating it. My husband, being the resourceful type, went to the basement, dumped all of our sons' Supermans and Batmans out of their tub, and used that. Although the site of a giant raw bird suspended in a liquid filled rubber maid container labeled action figures was quite disconcerting, the turkey was the best we had ever had and we've been brining ever since.
My husband makes homemade vegetable stock, just like Alton recommends, and visits the local farmer's market and spice store to get the freshest herbs, spices, and vegetables. We have retired the action figure bin and now use an Igloo beverage dispenser. Not only does a large turkey fit nicely down into the cooler, but when filled with ice, it doesn't have to be refrigerated.
In addition to perfecting our turkey brining process, we have also perfected our menu. Last year I organized all our recipes, task lists, and past menus into a Thanksgiving binder which is on our top-ten-things-to-grab-during-a-natural-disaster list. It contains our tried-and-true Thanksgiving feast menu which includes Real Simples Dried-cherry and Italian Sausage Stuffing, Pioneer Women's Creamy Mashed Potatoes, my mom's pan gravy, and my college roommate's Slap Yo Mama Good Sweet Potato Casserole. We also add one new recipe each year and for our 2010 feast it is Bobby Flay's brussel sprouts. Our desserts includes pecan pie, apple pie, and pumpkin pie. All of the links for the recipes are listed below.
Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday now. I love the days of preparation, the hours of cooking with my husband and children, the feast itself, and, most of all, the leftovers. I am so thankful for all of the blessings in my life. Thank you for reading Heidi's Recipes and enjoy this tried-and-true menu.
Tried-and-True Thanksgiving Feast Menu