Can you believe that Thanksgiving is a little over a week away? Next week we’ll talk about the all important topic: DESSERTS. But, as our parents always told us, you’ve got to eat dinner before you get treats. So today I’ll share with you some main meal recipes for your Thanksgiving Feast.
Almost everyone goes the Turkey route on Thanksgiving. So, I’ll share with you 3 different Turkey recipes, and 1 beef recipe (in case you want to shake things up).
I’ve used the brining method for several years running now, and it truly makes for a more succulent turkey. The first brining recipe is from Cooking Light Magazine. I’ve used this for at least 3 Thanksgivings, and it’s phenomenal. Warning: it is time-consuming and requires a good bit of skill.
(from Cooking Light Magazine)
- 8 cups apple cider
- 2/3 cup kosher salt
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon black peppercorns, coarsely crushed
- 1 tablespoon whole allspice, coarsely crushed
- 8 (1/8-inch-thick) slices peeled fresh ginger
- 6 whole cloves
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 (12-pound) fresh or frozen turkey, thawed
- 2 oranges, quartered
- 6 cups ice
- Remaining ingredients:
- 4 garlic cloves
- 4 sage leaves
- 4 thyme sprigs
- 4 parsley sprigs
- 1 onion, quartered
- 1 (14-ounce) can fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and divided
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
To prepare brine: combine first 8 ingredients in a large saucepan; bring to a boil. Cook 5 minutes or until sugar and salt dissolve. Cool completely.
- Remove giblets and neck from turkey; Rinse turkey with cold water; pat dry. Trim excess fat. Stuff body cavity with orange quarters. Place a turkey-sized oven bag inside a second bag to form a double thickness. Place bags in a large stockpot. Place turkey inside inner bag. Add cider mixture and ice. Secure bags with several twist ties. Refrigerate for 12 to 24 hours, turning occasionally.
- Preheat oven to 500º.
- Remove turkey from bags, and discard brine, orange quarters, and bags. Rinse turkey with cold water; pat dry. Lift wing tips up and over back; tuck under turkey. Tie legs together with kitchen string. Place garlic, sage, thyme, parsley, onion, and broth in the bottom of a roasting pan. Place roasting rack in pan. Arrange turkey, breast side down, on roasting rack. Brush turkey back with 1 tablespoon butter; sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon pepper and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Bake at 500º for 30 minutes.
- Reduce oven temperature to 350º.
- Remove turkey from oven. Carefully turn turkey over (breast side up) using tongs. Brush turkey breast with 1 tablespoon butter; sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon pepper and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Bake at 350º for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until a thermometer inserted into meaty part of thigh registers 170º (make sure not to touch bone). (Shield the turkey with foil if it browns too quickly.) Remove turkey from oven; let stand 20 minutes. Reserve pan drippings for Gravy.
The next brining recipe is a classic recipe from Food Network chef, Alton Brown. LOVE HIM. Love him. My in-laws have used his recipe with great success. This is a much simpler brining method and recipe than the Cooking LIght recipe from above. So if you are intimidated by the amount of ingredients and time the pervious recipe calls for, but you want to try brining, I highly suggest this!
(from Food Network)
- 1 (14 to 16 pound) frozen young turkey
For the brine:
- 1 cup kosher salt
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar
- 1 gallon vegetable stock
- 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
- 1 1/2 teaspoons allspice berries
- 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped candied ginger
- 1 gallon heavily iced water
For the aromatics:
- 1 red apple, sliced
- 1/2 onion, sliced
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 cup water
- 4 sprigs rosemary
- 6 leaves sage
- Canola oil
(Click here to see how it’s done.)
2 to 3 days before roasting:
Begin thawing the turkey in the refrigerator or in a cooler kept at 38 degrees F.
Combine the vegetable stock, salt, brown sugar, peppercorns, allspice berries, and candied ginger in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Stir occasionally to dissolve solids and bring to a boil. Then remove the brine from the heat, cool to room temperature, and refrigerate.
Early on the day or the night before you’d like to eat:
Combine the brine, water and ice in the 5-gallon bucket. Place the thawed turkey (with innards removed) breast side down in brine. If necessary, weigh down the bird to ensure it is fully immersed, cover, and refrigerate or set in cool area for 8 to 16 hours, turning the bird once half way through brining.
Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. Remove the bird from brine and rinse inside and out with cold water. Discard the brine.
Place the bird on roasting rack inside a half sheet pan and pat dry with paper towels.
Combine the apple, onion, cinnamon stick, and 1 cup of water in a microwave safe dish and microwave on high for 5 minutes. Add steeped aromatics to the turkey’s cavity along with the rosemary and sage. Tuck the wings underneath the bird and coat the skin liberally with canola oil.
Roast the turkey on lowest level of the oven at 500 degrees F for 30 minutes. Insert a probe thermometer into thickest part of the breast and reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Set the thermometer alarm (if available) to 161 degrees F. A 14 to 16 pound bird should require a total of 2 to 2 1/2 hours of roasting. Let the turkey rest, loosely covered with foil or a large mixing bowl for 15 minutes before carving.
For a regular turkey roast recipe, here is a wonderfully simple and tasty recipe from Lindenhof Farm. Lindenhof Farm is located in Lancaster County, PA, and is one of the fine vendors from the West Chester Growers Market. They offer free-range natural turkeys every year. We’ve purchased turkey’s from Lindenhof Farm for 2 or 3 years, and these non-frozen turkeys are FANTASTIC. Definitely superior to frozen! They offer a great assortment of Thanksgiving Recipes and Turkey Cooking Times on their website.
Lindenhof Farm Roast Turkey
- 1 turkey
- 3 medium onions, coarsely chopped
- 2 carrots, scraped and coarsely chopped
- 2 stalks celery, coarsely chopped
- 4 to 6 springs fresh thyme
- 2 sprigs fresh sage
- 2 sprigs fresh marjoram or oregano
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- Preheat oven to 325°F and place the oven rack in the lowest position
- Rinse the turkey, inside and out, and pat dry with paper towels.
- Rub ¼ of the herb butter under the skin on the breast. Rub the remainder all over the bird − on the back, on the breast, on the legs, and on the thighs.
- Set the turkey, breast side down, on a well-oiled rack in a large roasting pan.
- Toss half the chopped onions, carrots, and celery into the cavity of the bird.
- Add half the fresh herbs and 1 tablespoon of the melted butter.
- Scatter the remaining vegetables and herbs in the bottom of the roasting pan.
- Pour 1 cup of water over the vegetables (not on the turkey).
- Roast the turkey for the estimated amount of time dependent on weight, basting every hour.
- Early in the roasting, before you have pan juices, use the remaining 3 tablespoons melted butter to baste the bird.
- If the vegetables in the pan look dehydrated, periodically add another ½ cup water until the turkey starts releasing pan juices.
- Halfway through the estimated cooking time, pour the reserved giblet broth into the bottom of the pan; carefully turn the bird breast side up.
- Continue roasting, basting regularly with the pan juices, until the thigh registers 170°F to 175°F.
- Remove the bird from the oven, transfer it to a warm platter, tent loosely with foil, and let rest for about 30 minutes while you make the gravy.
If you want to go rogue and try something other than turkey this year, I’d love to share with you this tried and true flank steak recipe. We use it all the time in the summer. If you are able to grill on Thanksgiving, then this is the meal for you! You can also broil this recipe in the oven.
Marinated Flank Steak
- 1 2-3 lb steak, 1-inch thick (look for the label “London Broil”)
- 3/4 cup olive oil
- 1/3 cup low sodium soy sauce
- 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 1/3 – 1/2 cup Real Lemon from the bottle
- 1 tablespoon dry mustard
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
- 1 clove garlic, crushed or 2 tablespoons of crushed jarred garlic
Combine ingredients (minus meat) in a bowl and whisk vigorously (until well combined). Place meat into a container (I use a gallon sized Ziplock bag, often double bagged) and pour marinade in (feel free to reserve a small amount for basting while you grill). Marinate for 2 -3 hours. Cook over medium hot coals (or medium-hot heat on a gas grill): 5-10 minutes per side for London Broil/beef.
Whatever direction you take for your Main Thanksgiving Meal, it is sure to be a success! We’ve been asking you to share YOUR Thanksgiving recipes with us. We would like to post a Reader Recipe post next week, so PLEASE share your recipes with us!
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You can read more about Steph’s life and recipes at her blog, Confessions of a Stay-at-Home Mom.