Celebration of Life
By • 4 November 2020
The most prominent feature of Thanksgiving Day, besides spending time with family of course, is the food we traditionally eat. What's unique about Thanksgiving dinner is the particular dishes that we cook and serve our guests. If you think about it, it's not typical for most Americans to eat a whole roasted turkey. Sure, turkey deli meats are popular for everyday sandwiches, but when it comes to poultry, chicken is king, just as it is in much of the world. Other traditional food like cranberry sauce and stuffing are usually reserved for occasions like Thanksgiving Day, and not something most Americans eat on a regular basis throughout the year.
So, why do we eat these types of dishes on Thanksgiving? The simple answer is history. They are the types of foods that the European colonists ate with Native Americans during the first Thanksgiving dinner they shared. You have to remember that the American palette and culinary spectrum was different compared to our modern tastes. American inventions like burgers, American-style pizza, "Chinese" food (which was actually developed in places like California rather than China), Philly cheesesteaks, hot dogs, and other popular foods today were definitely not on the menu back in the colonial era.
Today, Thanksgiving dinner is a collage that reflects the diversity and modernity of the United States. For instance, don't be surprised to see a Korean-American family serve bulgogi or a Mexican-American family include tamales with the traditional Thanksgiving spread. Others simply invent new dishes from old ones, or eat Thanksgiving dishes in interesting ways like open-face shredded and Cajun-seasoned Turkey sandwiches smothered in gravy. That's what America is all about: invention and then re-inventing it.
In that spirit, we've complied ten Thanksgiving recipes that will leave an imprint on your guests' memory. Warning: don't read this with an empty stomach.
This is an interesting twist to the boring turkey and mixes it with the always-popular stuffing.
3 pounds boneless turkey breasts, skin removed (about 2 small or 1 large)
2 tablespoons Diamond Crystal or 3½ teaspoons Morton kosher salt
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups cornstarch
3 tablespoons poultry seasoning (such as McCormick)
2 tablespoons garlic powder
2 tablespoons onion powder
1 tablespoon Diamond Crystal or 1¾ teaspoons Morton kosher salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 large eggs, beaten to blend
2 cups buttermilk
Vegetable oil (for frying; about 14 cups)
Hard Cider Gravy (for serving)
Cut breasts crosswise into 1"-thick strips. Mix salt, sugar, and pepper in a small bowl. Season turkey pieces all over with salt mixture. Chill, uncovered, on a wire rack set inside a rimmed baking sheet, at least 2 hours and up to 6.
Whisk flour, cornstarch, poultry seasoning, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and baking powder in a large bowl. Whisk eggs and buttermilk in a medium bowl. Working one at a time, dredge turkey pieces in flour mixture, turning to coat and packing into crevices. Shake to remove excess and return to rack.
Add 6 Tbsp. buttermilk mixture to flour mixture and toss with your fingers. Dip turkey into remaining buttermilk mixture, allowing excess to drip off, then pack moistened flour mixture firmly onto turkey (when you add buttermilk to flour, it starts to clump up slightly, so you’ll get more jagged/crispy/awesomely flavored edges). Gently shake off excess; return to rack. Chill at least 3 hours and up to 12.
Let turkey sit at room temperature 1 hour.
Pour oil into a large heavy pot fitted with thermometer to come halfway up the sides. Heat over medium-high until thermometer registers 325°. Working with 2–3 pieces at a time, carefully dip turkey into hot oil with tongs, turning occasionally, adjusting heat to maintain temperature until deep golden brown, 5–7 minutes per batch. Transfer to a wire rack set over paper towels to drain.
Serve with gravy in a dipping bowl or just smother your tender strips with it, and get messy!
If you're looking for a more traditional turkey feast, but still want to spice things up, then you should literally spice it up with this delicious Cajun-style turkey and stuffing.
1 tbsp kosher salt
1 tsp each freshly cracked black pepper , ground oregano
2 tsp each onion powder , garlic powder, smoked paprika
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp. each dried thyme and rosemary
8 lb / 4 kg pound bone-in turkey breast
Dressing (aka Stuffing)
4 tbsp / 50g butter
8 cloves garlic , minced (2 tbsp)
2 large onions , finely chopped (4 cups)
2 celery ribs , finely chopped (2 cups)
2 green peppers / capsicum , finely chopped (2 cups)
1 1/4 lb / 650g Andouille sausages
1-2 tbsp Tabasco sauce (to taste)
2 cups chicken stock / broth
1 1/2 cups bread crumbs (Panko breadcrumbs is recommended)
Mix together Cajun Rub.
Rub turkey breast with 3 tbsp of poultry rub (Note 1). Place on a plate and refrigerate overnight, uncovered (24 - 36 hours).
Remove turkey from fridge - leave out while making Dressing / Stuffing.
Use a food processor to ground the sausages, or finely chop them. If using raw substitute sausages (see Note 3), you can just squeeze the meat out of the casings.
Melt butter in large skillet over medium high heat. Add the garlic, half the onion, half the celery and half the capsicum. Cook for 10 minutes or until the vegetables are softened.
Transfer vegetables into a bowl. If the skillet is looking dry, add a tiny splash of oil. Add sausage and cook, breaking it up as you go.
Add cooked onion etc back into the skillet and add remaining onion, celery and capsicum. Stir.
Add tabasco (start with 1 tbsp) and chicken broth. Bring to simmer, then turn heat down to medium. Simmer for 10 minutes.
Stir in breadcrumbs then remove from heat. It should still be very moist, but not like soup.
While Dressing is simmering, preheat oven to 325F / 165C (standard) or 295F / 145C (fan forced / convection).
Place turkey breast in a roasting pan so there is 2"/5cm (or so) around it for the dressing.
Spoon dressing around the turkey.
Cover loosely with foil then bake for 3 1/4 - 3 1/2 hours, then uncover and roast for an additional 30 minutes to brown and crisp the skin, or until the internal temperature of the turkey is 75C / 165F.
Remove from oven then loosely cover with foil. Rest for 20 minutes before serving.
This recipe is so delicious and so easy that we're sure you'll end up adding this to your regular recipe book. It can be enjoyed any time of the year, whether there's an occasion or not!
1 crusty loaf , preferably sourdough or Vienna
1 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese (or other melting cheese)
100 g / 1 stick (8 tbsp) unsalted butter , softened
2 large garlic cloves , minced
3/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp fresh parsley , finely chopped
Preheat the oven to 180C/350F.
Combine butter, garlic and salt in a heatproof bowl and melt in the microwave. Stir through parsley.
Cut the bread on a diagonal into 2cm/1" diamonds but do not cut all the way through the bread.
You can use your fingers or a knife to pry open each crack and drizzle in a teaspoon of garlic-butter, and stuff in a pinch of cheese.
Brush the surface of the bread with the remaining garlic butter.
Wrap with foil and bake for 20 minutes until the cheese has mostly melted, then unwrap and bake for 5 - 10 minutes more to make the bread nice and crusty.
If you usually serve honey-baked ham or something similar during Thanksgiving, why not try this Filipino-style Hamonado? It's essentially the same part of the pig and almost the same texture, but juicier. It derived from the meats and dishes that Spaniards brought with them to the Philippines, and was later turned into an island-style recipe (namely the incorporation of pineapple).
2 tablespoons salt
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 kilo pork, use butt, sliced into large, thin slices
822 grams pineapple juice
1/4 cup rice wine
1 stick cinnamon
2 tablespoons cornstarch (dissolve in ¼ cup water)
Combine sugar and salt. Rub mixture into pork. Spread pork, roll and tie firmly with butcher's twine or crocheting thread.
Marinate pork in pineapple juice overnight inside the refrigerator.
Combine meat with marinade in a pan. Add rice wine, cinnamon stick and mustard. Cover and simmer meat for 30-45 minutes on medium heat or until meat is tender. Turn meat occasionally. Remove and drain the meat. Reserve the broth.
Make the sauce: add cornstarch and simmer in the reserved broth while continuous stirring until you get the desired thickness for the sauce.
Remove thread from meat then slice. Set aside. Pour sauce over meat. Slice the meat and serve.
Tired of boring mashed potatoes or roasted baby potatoes? Try potato nuggets! They'll pair perfectly with your turkey-stuffing tenders.
5 lb. russet potatoes, peeled, cut into 2" pieces
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
¼ cup vegetable oil
8 garlic cloves, lightly crushed
2 long sprigs rosemary
Preheat oven to 425°. Place potatoes in a large pot and pour in water to cover by 2". Season water generously with salt and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce heat and simmer gently until potatoes are tender on the outside but still very firm in the center, 8–10 minutes.
Pour off all of the water in pot, holding potatoes back (make sure there's no liquid left!). Let potatoes sit, uncovered, for a few minutes to steam off any excess liquid they've absorbed. Toss potatoes just enough to rough up their outsides and give them a floury starchy coating (do not toss so vigorously that they fall apart); season with salt.
Combine both oils in a large roasting pan and heat in oven 10 minutes.
Carefully remove pan from oven; add potatoes, turning each one to coat and moisten exterior. Make sure they're in a single layer and leave a bit of space between them. Return pan to oven and roast potatoes, turning every 10 minutes, for 30 minutes (if they aren't browning after 15 minutes, increase oven temperature to 450°).
Toss in garlic and rosemary and cook until potatoes are deep golden brown on most of their sides, 8–10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer potatoes to a platter and serve with roasted garlic and rosemary alongside.
Yup, you read that right. Your dull cranberry sauce just go spicier and zestier.
3 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1 large shallot, finely chopped
2 jalapeños, seeds removed from 1 chile, both chiles very thinly sliced
1 lb. fresh (or frozen) cranberries
⅔ cup honey
½ tsp. kosher salt
2 tsp. finely grated lime zest
2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Cook shallot and jalapeños, stirring often, until shallot is starting to turn golden, about 4 minutes. Add cranberries, honey, and salt and increase heat to medium-high.
Bring to a boil and cook, stirring often and reducing heat as needed to avoid scorching, until cranberries burst, juices are syrupy, and pan is visible when a wooden spoon is dragged across the bottom, 12–15 minutes.
Remove from heat and stir in lime zest and juice; let cool.
This is a healthy and scrumptious side dish that will balance out the meats in your Thanksgiving spread. Try this buttery and cheesy spin on roasted Brussels Sprouts.
2 pounds Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved (or quartered if large)
1 small lemon, sliced
4 cloves garlic, sliced
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground pepper
⅓ cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese
¼ cup toasted pine nuts
Position racks in upper and lower third of oven; preheat to 425 degrees F.
Toss Brussels sprouts, lemon, garlic, oil, thyme, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Divide between 2 large rimmed baking sheets and spread in an even layer.
Roast without stirring for 10 minutes. Switch the pans top to bottom and continue roasting, without stirring, until lightly browned and tender, 8 to 10 minutes more. Transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle with Parmesan and pine nuts.
Squash is a traditional food in Thanksgiving, and was probably one of the many crops that the Native Americans taught the European pilgrims to grow in their New World farms. Here is an interesting and delicious twist to the traditional squash dish.
8 cups pre-chopped butternut squash (about 2 1/2 pounds)
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 cups chopped yellow onion (from 1 large onion)
4 medium garlic cloves, chopped (about 1 1/2 tablespoons)
½ teaspoon coriander seeds, crushed
4 cups unsalted chicken stock or vegetable stock
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ cup toasted sliced almonds
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Toss together butternut squash and 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large bowl; spread evenly among prepared baking sheets. Roast in preheated oven until slightly browned and softened, about 20 minutes, stirring once halfway through roast time.
During final 10 minutes of roast time, heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a large, heavy pot over medium-high. Add onion, garlic and coriander seeds; cook, stirring often, until slightly softened, 5 to 6 minutes. Add stock; bring to a boil over high.
Add roasted squash and salt to stock mixture; cover, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until squash is very tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat.
Working in two batches, transfer squash mixture to a blender. Secure lid on blender and remove center piece to allow steam to escape. Place a clean towel over opening. Process until very smooth, about 20 seconds.
Ladle hot soup evenly into 6 bowls; sprinkle with almonds, cilantro and cayenne.
If you're like me, then you got to have mashed potatoes on the dinner table. It just goes so well with the turkey and stuffing, all of which are smothered in warm gravy. Here's a garlic and chive version of this American staple.
3 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 ⅓ cups reduced-fat milk
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced
½ cup sour cream
2 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh chives
1 teaspoon salt
¾ teaspoon ground pepper
Place potatoes and garlic in a large saucepan and cover with water by 1 inch. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to a simmer, and cook, covered, until the potatoes are very tender, 13 to 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine milk and butter in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat then immediately remove from heat.
Drain the potatoes and return to the pan. Mash with a potato masher or rice in a potato ricer. Add the warmed milk, sour cream, chives, salt and pepper. Stir until smooth.
Dessert is one of the most important parts of the Thanksgiving dinner. Traditionally, pumpkin, pecan and apple pies are served after a meal. They're best topped with whipped cream or homemade vanilla ice cream, especially if the pies are fresh out of the oven. This unique pie combines pumpkin and pecan. Try it out!
¾ cup whole-wheat pastry flour (see Note)
¾ cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons canola oil
1 tablespoon 3 to 4 tablespoons ice water
1 (15 ounce) can unseasoned pumpkin puree
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
¼ teaspoon salt
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup pecan halves
To prepare crust: Whisk whole-wheat flour, all-purpose flour, sugar and salt in a medium bowl. Melt butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Cook, swirling the butter, until light brown, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Transfer to a small bowl to cool. Stir in oil. Slowly stir the butter-oil mixture into the dry ingredients with a fork until the dough is crumbly. Gradually stir in ice water, adding enough so the dough holds together and feels moist. Press the dough into a flattened disk.
Place a piece of parchment paper on a work surface, place the dough in the center and cover with another piece of parchment paper. Roll the dough into a 12-inch circle. Remove the top sheet and invert the dough into a 9-inch pie pan. Press the dough into the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Remove the parchment paper. Fold the dough under at the rim and crimp or flute the edge (see Tip).
Position rack in lower third of oven; preheat to 425 degrees F.
To prepare filling and assemble pie: Whisk pumpkin, pumpkin pie spice and salt in a medium bowl until well combined. Add condensed milk and eggs and whisk until smooth. Pour the filling into the prepared crust. Arrange pecan halves on top of the pie.
Bake the pie for 15 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F and bake until the filling is set and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes more. (Cover the crust edges with foil if they are browning too quickly.) Let cool completely on a wire rack before serving.
What's more important than the food is the memories you share together on this wonderful holiday, whether it's the memories created around the table or in the kitchen while preparing the meal. Don't forget to add these awesome recipes to your Memories Timeline, so that family, friends, and future generations can try them out for future Thanksgiving dinners.