Every fourth Thursday of November, Americans open their homes to friends and families. But when was the last time most of us made dinner for such a big crowd? With Thanksgiving 101 by your side, preparing for the holiday will be a pleasure. With step-by-step instructions for classic Thanksgiving dishes, as well as new twists on old favorites, this book will become gravy-stained in its first outing. Whether you're looking for new ways to cook turkey; traditional trimmings, chutneys, or chowders; a vegetarian entrée; or fresh ideas for regional classics, including Cajun-or Italian-inspired tastes, Thanksgiving 101 serves up a delicious education for novice and experienced cooks alike. And cooks will turn to these dishes all year long whenever they are throwing a big party.
With foolproof recipes, detailed menu timetables, and down-to-earth advice, Thanksgiving 101 is the holiday cook's best friend.
About the Author
Rick Rodgers is the author of more than thirty-five cookbooks, including the bestselling 101 series (Thanksgiving 101, Christmas 101, Barbecues 101) and beloved cookbooks on everything from fondue to slow cookers to comfort food. His recipes have appeared in Cooking Light, Fine Cooking, and Food & Wine and on epicurious.com, and he is a frequent contributor to Bon Appétit. He lives in the New York tristate area.
Read an Excerpt
For each of the last eight years, I have prepared more than thirty Thanksgiving dinners for more than one thousand people. Turkey addict? Pumpkin pie groupie? A victim of gravy obsession syndrome? Yes, but there is a better reason. I travel all over the country teaching a cooking class called Thanksgiving 101. Now, everything I teach in my classes is in this book, with my favorite recipes, make-ahead tips, anecdotes, organization secrets, and insights into what makes this holiday so different from all others.
How did I become a Thanksgiving guru? In 1985, I started a catering company, Cuisine Americaine, and specialized in cooking regional American foods. And what is more American than Thanksgiving dinner? My customers loved my holiday spreads. In 1990, when Perdue Farms, one of the East Coast's largest poultry producers was looking for a media spokesperson to represent their turkey products, they came to me. I learned everything there is to know about turkey, spending lots of time on turkey farms and in the kitchen, and even wrote a cookbook on the subject.
Since then, I have traveled all over the country teaching Thanksgiving cooking classes and making television and radio appearances on how to have the perfect Thanksgiving meal. Everyone, from friends to television and radio appearances on how to have the perfect Thanksgiving meal. Everyone, from friends to television producers, calls me "Mr. Thanksgiving" or "The Turkey Meister."
One of the best things about my work as a cooking teacher is that I am in personal contact with our country's home cooksI am not a restaurant chef who is out of touchwith how people actually cook. No matter where I go, from Seattle to Miami, I ask my students about their personal Thanksgiving dishes and customs. First, Thanksgiving 101 is a collection of these favorite recipeseven if some of them start with a can of soup or a box of Jell-O. Some of Thanksgiving's most cherished recipes are brand-name specific. I call these "Classic Recipes," and I include some background on how they rose to the top to become holiday icons.
We all know the generic recipes that form the backbone of the quintessential Thanksgiving dinner. Mashed potatoes, gravy, piecrust, and stuffing all fit into this category. With practice, these dishes become simple, but they can intimidate novices and elude practiced cooks looking for the perfect version. These recipes are labeled "101," and if they seem long, it's because I have included extra details that even old hands can learn from.
What I hear most from my students is that they are desperate for help in organizing the meal. So, in addition to a host of tips, I've provided suggested complete menus with preparation and cooking timetables.
I have been gathering the recipes for this book for years, listening to thousands of American home cooks tell me about the fun (and fear) they experience while getting the big meal on the table. I promised them I would write a practical guide on this beloved holiday. Many of these recipes are downright simple, but that doesn't make them any less delicious. Thanksgiving 101 is a culinary insurance policy to having the best Turkey Day ever.
Perfect Roast Turkey with Best-Ever Gravy
Makes about 18 servings, with about 7 cups gravy
After trying every turkey roasting method under the sun, this is the one I come back to, and the one I always teach at my cooking classes. Instructions here are for an average-sized eighteen-pound turkey, but this recipe can be adapted to the size of your bird. Read the information on stuffing and gravy on pages 63-65 and 96-99. If you prefer to roast an unstuffed turkey, use the vegetable or herb seasonings on page 46.
One 18-pound fresh turkey
About 12 cups of your favorite stuffing
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
Salt and freshly milled black pepper
2 12 quarts Homemade Turkey Stock (page 22), or as needed
Melted unsalted butter, if needed
34 cup all-purpose flour
13 cup bourbon, port, or dry sherry, optional
1. Position a rack in the lowest position of the oven and preheat to 325°F.
2. Reserve the turkey neck and giblets to use in gravy or stock. Rinse the turkey inside and out with cold water. Pat the turkey skin dry. Turn the turkey on its breast. Loosely fill the neck cavity with stuffing. Using a thin wooden or metal skewer, pin the neck skin to the back. Fold the turkey's wings akimbo behind the back or tie to the body with kitchen string. Loosely fill the large body cavity with stuffing. Place any remaining stuffing in a lightly buttered casserole, cover, and refrigerate to bake as a side dish. Place the drumsticks in the hock lock or tie together with kitchen string.
3. Place the turkey, breast side up, on a rack in the roasting pan. Rub all over with the softened butter. Season with salt and pepper. Tightly cover the breast area with aluminum foil. Pour 2 cups of the turkey stock into the bottom of the pan.
4. Roast the turkey, basting all over every 30 minutes with the juices on the bottom of the pan (lift up the foil to reach the breast area), until a meat thermometer inserted in the meaty part of the thigh (but not touching a bone) reads 180°F and the stuffing is at least 160°F, about 4 14 hours. Whenever the drippings evaporate, add stock to moisten them, about 1 12 cups at a time. Remove the foil during the last hour to allow the breast skin to brown.
5. Transfer the turkey to a large serving platter and let it stand for at least 20 minutes before carving. Increase the oven temperature to 350°F. Drizzle 12 cup turkey stock over the stuffing in the casserole, cover, and bake until heated through, about 30 minutes.
6. Meanwhile, pour the drippings from the roasting pan into a heatproof glass bowl or large measuring cup. Let stand for 5 minutes, then skim off and reserve the clear yellow fat that has risen to the top. Measure 34 cup fat, adding melted butter if needed. Add enough turkey stock to the skimmed drippings to make 8 cups total.
7. Place the roasting pan in two stove burners over low heat and add the turkey fat. Whisk in the flour, scraping up the browned bits on the bottom of the pan, and cook until lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Whisk in the turkey stock and the optional bourbon. Cook, whisking often, until the gravy has thickened and no trace of raw flour taste remains, about 5 minutes. Transfer the gravy to a warmed gravy boat. Carve the turkey and serve the gravy and the stuffing alongside.
Homemade Turkey Stock 101
Makes about 2 12 quarts
Make Ahead: The stock can be prepared and refrigerated for up to 3 days ahead or frozen for up to 3 months.
Every Thanksgiving Eve, I put on a big pot of stock to simmer overnight. Then I use it all Thanksgiving Day long. It is one of the secrets to a moist, beautifully colored roast bird with wonderful gravy, as in Perfect Roast Turkey on page 43. Some of the stock also goes into the stuffing, some usually gets turned into soup, and I often use it in my side dishes as well. The recipe is easily doubled or even tripled, assuming you have a stockpot big enough to hold the ingredients. If you want a smaller amount of stock, make the Small-Batch Turkey Stock variation on page 24. But don't worry about having too much stock. Any leftovers can be frozen, or used the next day to make a terrific soup.
Turkey parts with lots of bone, like wings and backs, make the best stock. Use the turkey neck, heart, and gizzard in the stock, but not the liver. (Liver makes the stock bitter.) When the stock is strained, you can retrieve the neck and giblets to use in giblet gravy. If you want to use the liver in the gravy, add it to the stock during the last 15 minutes of simmering, and poach it just until cooked through.
Browning the turkey parts first give the stock a rich color that will make a dark gravy. Cooking the vegetables brings out their flavor. Too many cooks throw some giblets in a pot with some water to boil up a weak, pale stock that doesn't have much flavor.
Never let stock come to a rolling boil, or it will become cloudy and have a less refined flavor. Cook the stock uncovered.
Add the herbs to the stock after you've skimmed it. If you add them at the beginning, they will rise to the surface and be skimmed off with the foam. The foam isn't anything unwholesomeit's just the coagulating proteins in the bones. They are removed to make the stock clearer.
The longer a stock simmers, the better, up to 12 hours. Replace the water as needed as it evaporates. While I trust my stove to simmer the stock overnight, some of my students have been shocked at the idea. A great alternative is to make the stock in a 5 12-quart slow cooker. Transfer the browned turkey and vegetable mixture to the cooker, add the herbs, and pour in enough cold water to cover generously. Cook on Low, and the stock will barely simmer all night long, to make a clear, delicious stock.
If time is a factor, just simmer the stock for an hour or twoit will still be better than using water or canned broth to make your gravy. Or, make a pot well ahead of Thanksgiving and freeze it.
Don't add salt to your stock. The stock is often used in recipes where it must be reduced, and the final dish could end up too salty. To check the stock's flavor, ladle some into a cup and season lightly with salt before tasting. Without the salt, it may taste deceptively weak.
3 pounds turkey wings
Turkey neck and giblets (liver reserved, if desired; see above)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium carrot, chopped
1 medium celery rib with leaves, chopped
6 parsley sprigs
12 teaspoon dried thyme
14 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 bay leaf
1. Using a heavy cleaver, chop the wings and neck into 2-inch pieces. (If necessary, ask the butcher to do this for you.) Using a sharp knife, trim away any membranes from the giblets.
2. In a large pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. In batches, add the turkey wings, neck, and giblets and cook, turning occasionally, until browned on all sides, about 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Add the onion, carrot, and celery to the pot and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 6 minutes.
3. Return the turkey to the pot. Add enough cold water to cover the turkey by 2 inches. Bring to a boil, skimming off the foam that rises to the surface. Add the parsley, thyme, peppercorns, and bay leaf. Reduce the heat to low. Cook at a bare simmer for at least 2 and up to 12 hours. As needed, add more water to the pot to keep the bones covered.
4. Strain the stock through a colander into a large bowl. Let stand for 5 minutes, then skim off the clear yellow fat that rises to the surface. If desired, remove the giblets, cool, finely chop, and refrigerate for use in gravy. The neck meat can be removed in strips, chopped, and reserved as well. Cool the stock completely before refrigerating or freezing. (Turkey stock can be prepared up to 3 days ahead, cooled, covered, and refrigerated. It can also be frozen in airtight containers for up to 3 months.)
Small-Batch Turkey Stock: A smaller amount of stock can be prepared with just the turkey neck and giblets. As this relatively small amount of turkey won't give a very full flavored stock, use chicken broth (homemade or canned) as a booster. Following the instructions above, brown the neck and giblets from 1 turkey in 1 tablespoon oil. Add 1 small onion, 1 small carrot, and 1 small celery rib, all chopped, and cook until softened. Add 1 quart water and one 13 34-ounce can low-sodium chicken broth and bring to a simmer. Add 3 parsley sprigs, 14 teaspoon dried thyme, 6 peppercorns, and 1 small bay leaf. Simmer for 2 12 to 3 hours (the smaller amount of liquid would evaporate away if cooked longer). Makes about 1 quart.
Homemade Chicken Stock: Substitute 3 pounds chicken wings, cut into 2-inch pieces, for the turkey wings. Delete the turkey neck and giblets.
Savory Sausage and Mushroom Bread Pudding
Makes 8 to 10 servings
Make Ahead: The vegetables and sausage can be prepared up to 1 day ahead.
If you aren't serving a stuffed turkey, this moist savory bread pudding will fill the bill. Seven cups of cubed seasoned bread stuffing can be substituted for the stale bread cubes.
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
10 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium celery rib with leaves, chopped
1 pound bulk pork sausage
3 cups milk
6 large eggs, beaten
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 teaspoons poultry seasoning, preferably homemade (see Note, page 66)
12 teaspoon salt
14 teaspoon freshly milled black pepper
12 ounces firm-textured white sandwich bread, cut into 12-inch cubes (about 7 cups) and dried overnight or in the oven (see page 64)
1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350°F. Lightly butter a 9 x 13-inch baking dish.
2. In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until they give off their juices, about 3 minutes. Add the onion and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushroom juices evaporate and the onion softens, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl.
3. In the same skillet, cook the sausage over medium-high heat, breaking it up with a spoon, until it loses its pink color, about 10 minutes. Transfer to the bowl of vegetables. (The vegetables and sausage can be prepared up to 1 day ahead, cooled, stored in self-sealing plastic bags, and refrigerated.
4. Stir in the milk. Gradually beat in the eggs, then add the parsley, poultry seasoning, salt, and pepper. Stir in the bread cubes. Let stand for 5 minutes. Pour into the prepared dish.
5. Bake until the top is browned and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean, about 1 hour. Serve immediately.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Talking Turkey 1
Getting It Together 3
Appetizers and Beverages: Just a Little Something to Keep the Edge Off... 11
Soups and Salads: Who's on First? 24
Turkey and Friends: The Main Event 41
Stuffings and Dressings: The Stuff That Dressings Are Made Of... 77
Side Dishes: And the Award for the Best Supporting Side Dish Goes to... 87
Yeast and Quick Breads: Rising to the Occasion 121
Desserts: How Many Ways Can You Say "Pumpkin"? 132
Leftovers: There's Got to Be a Morning After... 162
Thanksgiving Menu Planner 170
Traditional Thanksgiving Feast 171
A Sophisticated Thanksgiving Dinner 173
A Chile Lover's Thanksgiving 175
Thanksgiving for a Crowd 177
RecipeTurkey Breast with Wild Mushroom Stuffing and Marsala Sauce
Makes 8-10 servings
Make Ahead: The breasts can be stuffed up to 4 hours ahead.
Need a great low-fat Thanksgiving entree? Look no further A combination of fresh and dried mushrooms gives hearty flavor to the mild turkey breast meat, and it's further enhanced by a Marsala wine sauce. It meets the criteria for any good recipe, low-fat or not, and I serve it throughout the year at dinner parties.
Wild Mushroom Stuffing
1 cup boiling water
1 ounce (about 1 cup) dried porcini or Polish mushrooms
8 ounces cremini or white button mushrooms
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/4 cup finely chopped shallots or white part of scallions
1 garlic clove, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
or 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly milled black pepper
1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs, preferably from day old French or Italian bread
1 large egg white, beaten until foamy
Two 1 1/2-pound boneless, skinless turkey breast roasts
Nonstick vegetable oil spray
Salt and freshly milled black pepper
1 1/2 cups Homemade Turkey Stock (page 22) or canned reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1/4 cup dry marsala
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, chilled
- To make the stuffing, combine the boiling water and the dried mushrooms in a small bowl. Let stand until the mushrooms soften, about 30 minutes. Lift the mushrooms out of the water, rinse under cold running water, and coarsely chop. Strain the soaking liquid through a paper towel-lined sieve set over a small bowl. Reserve the liquid.
- In a food processor, pulse the fresh mushrooms until finely chopped. Set aside.
- In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the shallots and garlic and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 1 minute. Add the fresh mushrooms, soaked mushrooms, the reserved soaking liquid, the rosemary, salt, and pepper. Cover and cook for 3 minutes. Uncover and cook over high heat until the liquid evaporates, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl and cool completely. Stir in the bread crumbs and egg white.
- Place a turkey breast, skin side down, on a work surface. Using a sharp knife, cut a deep diagonal incision into the thickest part of the breast from the center of the roast almost to the edge, being careful not to cut completely through. Open this flap like a book. Make another cut in the other side, to butterfly the other side of the roast, and fold out in the other direction. Pound gently with a meat mallet, rolling pin, or empty wine bottle to flatten to an even thickness. Repeat with the other breast.
- Spread half of the stuffing over one breast. Starting at a long side, roll up into a thick cylinder. Tie the breast crosswise in several places with kitchen string. Repeat with the remaining stuffing and breast. (The turkey breasts can be prepared to this point up 4 hours ahead, covered with plastic wrap, and refrigerated.)
- Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350¦F. Spray a flameproof baking dish large enough to comfortably hold the turkey breasts with nonstick spray.
- Spray a large nonstick skillet with nonstick spray and heat over medium-high heat until very hot. Season the turkey with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Add the turkey breasts to the skillet and cook, turning occasionally, until browned on all sides, about 6 minutes. Transfer the turkey to the prepared dish. Pour the stock into the dish and cover loosely with aluminum foil. Bake until a meat thermometer inserted in the centers of the breasts reads 165¦F, about 40 minutes. Transfer the breasts to a serving platter and cover with foil to keep warm.
- Place the baking dish on top of the stove and bring the liquid to a boil over high heat. Boil until reduced to about 1/2 cup, about 8 minutes. In a small bowl, sprinkle the cornstarch into the marsala and stir to dissolve. Pour into the dish and cook until the sauce is slightly thickened. Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter until melted. Season with salt and pepper
- Discard the kitchen string. Slice the turkey into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Serve immediately, drizzling each serving with sauce.
Italian Stuffing with Sausage and Parmesan Cheese
Makes about 10 cups
Make Ahead: The stuffing should be made just before using.
When I asked my various Italian-American neighbors how they make their stuffing, they all shared what was essentially the same recipe. There's nothing subtle about this stuffing--Italian sausage, red bell pepper, Parmesan cheese, and lots of herbs give it a zesty Mediterranean flavor. Some cooks add one cup toasted pine nuts or one cup coarsely chopped black Mediterranean olives for even more flavor.
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 1 medium onion, chopped 2 medium celery ribs with leaves, chopped 2 medium red bell peppers, cored, seeded, and chopped 2 garlic cloves, minced 1 pound sweet or hot Italian sausage, casings removed 1 teaspoon dried basil 1 teaspoon dried oregano 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon crushed hot red pepper 12 ounces day-old crusty Italian bread, cut into 1-inch cubes (about 7 cups) 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (about 4 ounces) 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted 1/2 cup dry white wine 1 1/2 cups Homemade Turkey Stock (page 22) or canned reduced-sodium chicken broth, or as needed
- In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, bell peppers, and garlic. Cook, stirring often, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the sausage and cook, breaking up the meat with a spoon, until it loses its pink color, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in the basil, oregano, salt, and crushed red pepper. Transfer to a large bowl.
- Add the bread and cheese and mix well. Stir in the butter, wine, and enough of the stock to moisten the dressing, about 1 cup. Use to stuff the turkey, or place in a buttered baking dish, drizzle with an additional 1/2 cup stock, cover, and bake as a side dish.
Caramel Cashew Tart
Makes 8-12 servings
Make Ahead: The tart can be prepared up to 1 day ahead.
Talk about a crowd-pleaser! There is something about the combination of caramel and cashews that everyone loves--it must remind us of a candy bar. I sent this tart off to a friend's office to get opinions, and it got such unanimous raves, I had to send a second tart to placate the disappointed people who missed the first one. A few tips: When making tbe caramel, be careful when adding the cream (it can bubble over if you're not alert), and allow time for the caramel to cool before adding the egg, or the filling will curdle. As good as this buffery tart is, it is candy-bar sweet, and should be served in thin slices.
Sweet Tart Dough (page 124)
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 cup sugar
8 ounces unsalted roasted cashews (2 heaping cups)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 large egg, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Sweetened Whipped Cream (page 137)
- Position a rack in the center of the oven and place a baking sheet on the rack. Preheat to 400¦F. Lightly butter a 9-inch round tart pan.
- Press the dough evenly into the bottom and up the sides of the prepared tart pan. Using a fork, prick the dough a few times. Line the dough with aluminum foil and weight with pie weights, dried beans, or raw rice.
- Place the pan on the hot baking sheet. Bake until the pastry seems set, about 10 minutes. Lift up and remove the foil and weights. Continue baking until the tart shell is lightly browned, about 8 more minutes. Cool the tart shell on a wire cake rack while you make the filling. Remove the baking sheet from the oven, and keep the oven at 400¦F.
- In a small saucepan, heat the cream over medium heat until small bubbles appear around the edges. (Or, heat the cream in a microwave oven, being careful that it doesn't boil over.) Set the hot cream aside.
- In a tall medium saucepan over high heat, bring the sugar and 1/4 cup water to a boil, stirring constantly to dissolve the sugar. As soon as the sugar comes to a boil, stop stirring. (Don't stir a boiling sugar syrup, or it will crystallize into a thick glop.) Boil the syrup until it turns deep amber, 3 to 5 minutes. While the syrup is boiling, occasionally swirl the pan by the handle to mix it, and wash down any sugar crystals that form on the sides of the pan by dipping a large pastry brush in cold water and rubbing the wet brush against the crystals. When the syrup is dark amber, reduce the heat to low. Being very careful, slowly stir in the hot cream. The mixture will bubbly dramatically but eventually subside. Simmer, stirring often, until slightly thickened, about 3 minutes. Pour into a medium bowl and place on another cake rack or a trivet. (The caramel will cool more quickly if air can circulate under the bowl.) Cool, stirring often, until tepid, about 1 hour.
- Using the side of a large knife, coarsely crush about 1 cup of the cashews and spread in the tart shell. Top with the remaining whole cashews. Whisk the melted butter, egg, and vanilla into the tepid caramel. Pour the caramel mixture over the cashews.
- Place the tart on a cool baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350¦F and continue baking until the filling is bubbling in the center, about 15 more minutes. Cool the tart completely on a wire cake rack. (The tart can be baked 1 day ahead. Cover the cooled tart with plastic wrap and store at room temperature.) Serve with the whipped cream.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This book guides you throught the process of preparing Thanksgiving --let me make that Thanksgivings, because he includes traditional, more new -cuisiney, and more ethnic menus. The directions are excellent and easy to follow. He even tells you what to do if you forget to defrost your turkey.
Both basic and advanced, familiar and unusual dishes for Thanksgiving, with step-by-step instructions, planning hints, and what to do with leftovers. Very useful.
Book won't down load why? Did anyone have this problem?
I purchased this book for my Nook HD tablet, but have been unable to get it to download. It will download to 99% and then quit, forcing me to try and download again. Therefore, in all good conscience, I cannot give it a good review.
Very few photos.