Hey, guys, it's the first weekend of November, and you know what that means, that countdown to Thanksgiving. I love Thanksgiving because it lures even the timidest cooks into the kitchen. And any holiday that gets people in the kitchen cooking, I am all for.
So if you're one of those people that is debating whether or not to hold your first Thanksgiving, I say go for it, because I'm going to show you how quick and easy Thanksgiving can really go. We're going to kick things off with my moms. No fuss, Turkey. Her method is as simple as it gets, and it's been a cherished recipe in our family for decades.
Then I'll show you how to make my dad's world-famous pan gravy a family favorite that's known for its secret ingredients. Then I'll share my recipes side dishes.
Now, normally, I don't fall for a lot of fancy kitchen gadgets except for when it comes to Thanksgiving, there are really six indispensable items that are going to make your Thanksgiving stress free. And they are as follows. A roasting pan, a roasting rack, turkey, forks of a stir, a fat separator.
And the cherry on top is really a great carving knife and carving fork. Consider this list, your Thanksgiving starter kit. Now, here's the fun part. In the spirit of the holiday, we here again are so thankful for all of you.
My mom has been making turkeys for over 40 years, twice a year, so she's got eighty turkeys under her belt and she definitely knows what she's doing. I call this mom's no-fuss turkey because her method couldn't be more simple.
Every time I do, it's not as good. So back to basics is the way to go. And here's how you make it. Here's the thing with Turkey, they come in all sizes from twelve pounds to sometimes twenty-five pounds.
You want to figure out how many guests you're having and then factor about one pound per person. You also want to make sure you have some leftovers because that's the best part about Thanksgiving. Right? So this menu is for eight people, which I think is really the ideal number of guests for your first Thanksgiving.
So a twelve-pound turkey would be just perfect. The first step is to unwrap the turkey from all of its packaging. One thing to know if you've never bought a turkey before is that they fill it with the neck and the giblets, and that's usually either inside the cavity or sometimes in the back of the turkey.
You want to get in there and really look for them because you don't want to bake your turkey with those giblets inside. A turkey is heavy. It's like a big chicken. But this is not the time to be squeamish. You really just want to get in there and show that Turkey, whose boss you want to reserve the neck, that is something that we are going to use in the bottom of our pan to make our delicious Kansas gravy.
You can discard the giblets or you can throw them in as well. It's really up to you. Then you want to rinse your turkey and transfer your turkey onto your roasting rack and pat it dry. You want to make sure that turkey is very, very dry because that's what's going to give you your delicious crispy skin.
The roasting rack is really great for roasting a turkey or even a chicken because it's going to raise that turkey up and make sure that all of that skin underneath is going to get nice and golden brown.
Then you're going to prep your garlic rosemary butter, takes some melted butter, add some garlic cloves, some freshly chopped rosemary. And salt and pepper take the butter mixture and rub the turkey all over on the legs, on the wings and even under the breast skin, you want to really get that meat all nice and flavored with the garlic and the rosemary in the butter, then you're going to tie up the turkey legs.
Now, I know there are lots of fancy ways of trusting a turkey. I like to keep it pretty simple. I just take the two legs, crisscross them and tie them up.
Then the final step is you're going to add a cup of chicken broth and half a cup of white wine. Now, if you don't drink, that's OK. You can also just add an extra half a cup of chicken broth. Then you're going to add your turkey neck.
And what that's going to do is a flavor that broth throughout the cooking time and will also provide you with some great liquid for basting. Now, here's the secret. You want to tend to your turkey with foil that is going to keep that turkey moist and prevent the skin from burning. This is really a tip that mom swears by.
And she is right. I have done this in the past and forgot the foil. And you do end up with a dried-out turkey when the turkey has about one hour left of cooking time.
You need to do two things
- One, you want to remove your foil.
- You want to start basting. You want to get one of these really great basting tubes and just start sucking up the liquid, basting the turkey about every 15 to 20 minutes for the final stretch.
The other thing that I would recommend is using a meat thermometer. A meat thermometer is going to tell you when that turkey is done. So usually about an hour before the turkey is done, I will insert my meat thermometer into the thickest part of the turkey leg.
I have one of these meat thermometers is that are digital, which are great, and they rest on the outside of your oven so that as you're walking by, you can just kind of check it. So when that turkey reaches 165 degrees and I really think that that is the perfect temperature, take it out, it will ring and you'll know that it's done.
When you pull that turkey out at 165 degrees, it's still going to be hot and it's still going to keep cooking. It'll probably raise up to about 170, which really I think is the limit for Turkey. Anything more than that. And you're going to end up with a dried-out turkey and nobody wants that. The other tip with a cooked turkey is you want to allow it to rest at least 20 minutes before carving into it.
Letting a turkey rest keeps all those juices inside the meat, which is where you want to remove your turkey with your turkey for it carefully to a cutting board that will then allow you to prep your pan gravy, take your roasting pan and set it on your cooktop just on a low simmer.
You then what a glaze. The pan, which basically means taking chicken stock or wine and getting rid of all those brown bits on the bottom in the side of the pan. There's tons of flavor in all of those bits.
And you're going to add that to your pan source as your gravy simmers. After you glaze the pan, you then want to strain your gravy with a fat separating. The fat separator will separate the fat from the broth and keep the best part of that broth for your Greek.
Then you're going to take the broth and transfer it to a large saucepan. Now comes all the flavorings. My dad is notorious for throwing the kitchen sink in gravy. So much so that we call this his top-secret gravy because we can never tell my mom what he's actually put in it, because she would probably freak because she just doesn't like a lot of spices.
But she never complains when she tastes the gravy because it's always really delicious. And here's what he does. He starts by thickening it. So you want to add a little flour and water and pour that into the gravy just to sort of thicken.
And then you're going to add some spicy Dijon mustard, half a cup of red wine. If you don't drink, you can just leave it out of one drink. They leave some curry powder, a little bit of Worcestershire sauce, and freshly cracked pepper.
At this point, you want to taste it, then just let that simmer. And that's all you have to do. Once your gravy is done, you then want to transfer it to a gravy boat and serve alongside your turkey. Now, when it comes to carving the turkey, there are really two ways you can go.
The first way would be to ask for one of your guests to do the honors. This is something that I like to do when I'm hosting. I have my dad carve the turkey on one of our good family friends just because it's a little bit of a place of honor to ask somebody to do that if they know what they're doing.
If they don't and you're left having to do it yourself, the first thing you want to do is remove the legs. If your turkey is well cooked, those legs will come off pretty easily. You just want to find the joint and give it a good cut once you pull off the legs.
Which then gives you a lot more room up at the top to carve the breaths. Take your carving for Kirstyn into the meat to just steady the bird and then thinly sliced the turkey. At that point, I then like to arrange the turkey on a decorative platter and garnish it with some fresh herbs. So there you have it. The star of the show is done. Once you accomplish the turkey, the rest of this meal is smooth.