Spontaneous Thanksgiving

This is a terrible time to be a news-junkie. One can wake up feeling energized, turn on NPR and/or pop open the New York Times, and within moments be looking for that chef’s knife with which to slit one’s wrists.

Yesterday, Monday 12/19/16, was such a day. The high point was visiting the local Fred Meyer for supplies and finding modestly-sized, fresh turkeys on sale. About 2 pm I retreated to my kitchen and proceeded to revisit thanksgiving.

thanksgiving meal, in December.

The best part is we can eat this for two or three more days and I never have to leave the house to get more supplies.

Thanksgiving in December, plated

Basic Roast Turkey
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
4 hrs
Total Time
4 hrs 15 mins
 

This is a barebones approach to roasting a turkey... as basic as it gets.

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Ingredients
  • 1 12-18 lb fresh turkey not super-process or, god forbid, "self basting."
  • 2-4 tbsp olive oil extra virgin if you have it
  • 1 tbsp Kosher salt
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375.

  2. Remove turkey from packaging, separate out giblets and neck, set aside for dog's thanksgiving dinner. Rinse the turkey inside and out with fresh water and carefully pat dry.

  3. Coat the turkey with olive oil and then sprinkle with salt. Let sit at room temperature as long as you can, up to an hour or so if you can.

  4. Place turkey on rack/roasting pan, breast side down, and place in preheated oven for 1 and a half hours. I try to orient the bird as high in the oven as feasible.

  5. Remove from oven and, using two really sturdy wooden spoons, flip the bird over and return to oven for another hour and a half.

  6. At the end of the time get your instant read thermometer and check the thickest point of the breast or thigh. I normally pull the bird at 150 degrees but continue to 165 if you prefer.

  7. If you plan on eating in half an hour or so leave the bird in the rack/roasting pan and tent loosely with foil on counter. Carve after letting the bird rest at least 20 minutes. If you need more time you can turn the oven off, still tent loosely, but leave the bird in the rack/roasting pan

 

Fresh Cranberry Sauce
Prep Time
5 mins
Cook Time
20 mins
Total Time
25 mins
 

Unless you're super-short on time, there is no reason to not make fresh cranberry sauce. It's incredibly easy and fun to experiment with different extra flavor additions such as citrus zest or spices such as allspice, cinnamon or even a teeny bit of ground clove.

Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Servings: 4 large servings
Ingredients
  • 12 oz Fresh cranberries This is the standard supermarket package size.
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 large sprinkle Penzey's minced lemon peel This is my time-saver. You can use fresh lemon or orange zest.
Instructions
  1. Place water in a small saucepan and dissolve the sugar. Bring to boil. Add the cranberries and bring back to a boil, then turn the heat down to low and simmer, stirring often until the majority of the berries pop and the sauce begins to thicken.

  2. Add the lemon peel (or whatever citrus zest you have available) and taste for sugar. I prefer my cranberry sauce very tart, so I tend to stick with 1/2 cup of sugar and maybe some grade B maple syrup to boost sweetness.

 

Mashed Faux-Tatoes
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
15 mins
Total Time
25 mins
 

Cauliflower, steamed, pureed, spiced and lightly browned. The perfect potato replacement for a carb-conscious side.

Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Servings: 4 large portions
Ingredients
  • 1 large/medium head cauliflower
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 large pinch salt
  • 1 tbsp chives fresh or freeze dried
  • 1 pinch aleppo pepper
Instructions
  1. Remove stem and cut cauliflower into florets. It's not critical they be uniform.

  2. Place cauliflower in steamer and cook until florets are fork tender.

  3. Dump the steamed cauliflower into an appropriate bowl for mashing. I use the bottom part of my steamer set up. Using a potato masher mash the cauliflower until it resembles rice. Add the butter, let melt a bit, and stir to combine.

  4. Once the butter is melted add the salt and then, using an immersion blender, puree the cauliflower until silky smooth. Taste for salt and adjust if needed.

  5. If using freeze-dried chives add them now and fold into the cauliflower puree. Add aleppo pepper. Transfer to a serving bowl (unless you pureed them in a serving bowl), and place is warmed oven to keep warm until served.

Recipe Notes

You can add absolutely anything in terms of spices, just as you might with potatoes. I usually stick with salt, freeze-dried chives and a pinch of some kind of red pepper, but garlic works, as does extra butter. 

 

Mushroom Sort-of Gravy
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
20 mins
Total Time
35 mins
 

This is my super simple addition that makes all the other stuff taste better.

Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Servings: 4 drizzles
Ingredients
  • 12 crimini or baby bella mushrooms sliced very thin
  • Turkey drippings from roasting pan as much as you can get
  • 2-4 tbsp unsalted butter
  • ~1/2 cup low-sodium chicken stock
  • 1 tsp cornstarch disolved in 1/4 cup of water in a small bowl
  • 3-finger pinch salt do I really have to list this?
Instructions
  1. Sauté the mushrooms in as much of the butter as you need. I like to get them pretty well-browned.

  2. add the stock, bring to a brisk boil stirring often. Add the turkey drippings and return to boil stirring almost constantly. Reduce by about 1/3rd.

  3. Add about 3/4 of the cornstarch/water mixture while stirring constantly and keep stirring until thickened. Be ready to add the remainder of the cornstarch if the mixture isn't thickening to your liking.

  4. Once thickened transfer to a serving bowl and place in still-warm oven until ready to serve.

 

Sautéed Kale
Prep Time
5 mins
Cook Time
10 mins
Total Time
15 mins
 

This is my go-to for the obligatory leafy green addition to nearly every dinner.

Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Servings: 2 decent portions
Ingredients
  • 6-10 leaves kale removed from stem and roughly torn
  • 1 tbsp olive oil extra virgin
  • 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken stock
  • 1 small pinch salt
  • 1 tsp air-dried shallots a Penzey's must
  • 1 drizzle lemon olive oil teeny bit if good oil
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat a non-stick pan and swirl with olive oil.

  2. Add kale and quickly toss to coat using tongs or wooden spatula. Stir frequently until kale is lightly wilted.

  3. Add chicken stock.

  4. Add air-dried shallots and using tongs or spatula make sure all the shallots get mixed with the chicken stock. Continue to cook until kale is fully wilted, but not completely dead.

  5. Remove from heat and drizzle lightly with lemon oil. If you're using good oil you want just a teeny bit. Serve immediately.