Yes it is easier said then done, but with a little prep the day before and the instructions that someone else bring dessert it can achieved fairly easily. This year I made as much ahead of time as possible. I spent the whole Saturday making stuffing, brining turkey, making cranberry sauce, chopping Brussels sprouts, chopping veggies and prepping appies. Lets start with my favourite thanksgiving side.
Cheesy Brussel Sprouts
The real secret to making these Brussels sprouts delicious and what has made my friend Jamie say 'I don't even like Brussels Sprouts, but I went back for seconds!' One of my best compliments. is simple onions, caramelized before roasting. For six cups of trimmed and halved Brussels sprouts I used one and 1/2 large soft ball sized yellow onion. I caramelized it in a pan with a little butter and then tossed with the Brussels spouts in a casserole dish. Top off with a few handfuls of shredded aged cheddar cheese and bake until the sprouts are golden brown. In a 350 degree oven this will take about 45 minutes. I like to make sure to give them plenty of time, even if I have to wrap them in foil and let them sit because I put them in early. If you do a bigger batch they can take up to an hour and a half and it is critical that they get to that golden brown stage or they will be bitter not melt in your mouth delicious!
I also prep the stuffing the day before, then when it comes to getting the turkey in the oven I can just stuff it and get it in!
My stuffing is basic and goes as follows:
8 cups of toasted bread chunks
8 links of maple breakfast sausages
3 heads of roasted garlic
2 stalks of celery
1 large onion
2 tbsp each parsley & sage
1 tbsp each rosemary & thyme
1 tsp salt & pepper
1 - 2 cups chicken stock
Normally I would used just a basic sausage but this year I brined my Turkey with an apple cider brine so I decided to go with the maple breakfast sausage, just to create some interest and to really showcase some autumn flavors. I begin by toasting bread. I used a basic whole wheat, mostly because I don't really eat white bread and I didn't want to complicate it with grains or seeds. This is stuffing for us humans, not chipmunks! I chop the celery and onion in a small dice, chop the herbs and add the seasonings and then add a splash of stock. I work the stuffing with my hands until the sausage is evenly distributed and add stock as is necessary until it all combines into one big for lack of a better word glop. I always make enough so that I can stuff the turkey and bake some in an extra dish for a friend of mine who doesn't like it in the bird. Also lets be honest: There just isn't enough room in the bird for as much stuffing as you need to feed hungry stuffing lovers.
This is how it looks before it is cooked aka glop stage:
Of course you must have mashed potatoes on any decent thanksgiving table and since I love garlic I always add roasted garlic. Lots of it. I like to add 1 head of garlic per 2 large potatoes. Feel free to use this ratio for making your current favourite mashed potato recipe. Its always hard to know how much butter and cream you will need to add to get the right consistency but the garlic will make them even dreamier - it will blow the regular garlic mashed potatoes that most people make right out of the water. I don't know how someone could add garlic powder to potatoes and still sleep at night!
And of course the turkey. I used a brine this year and it was amazing!! Since I haven't used one before I used a recipe for Apple Cider Brine that I found on Tasty Kitchen. It made the meat so juicy that it blew me away. The breast meat was by far the most flavorful, tender and succulent that I have ever tasted. And let me tell you when all 30 people had walked away there wasn't even enough turkey left to make soup! I seasoned the turkey inside and out with salt and pepper, stuffed it with the recipe above, rubbed it with butter above and underneath the skin, wrapped it in thick cut double smoked bacon and rested in on top of a 'rack' that I made with some carrots, celery, onions garlic, added a little chicken stock for moisture and then let them all get acquainted in a 350 degree oven until the skin is crispy and brown and the juices run clear. Oh yeah, put a lid on all of that! Since I was so busy enjoying the meal I didn't take a picture of it but I did make a smaller breast for blogging purposes and here it is:
Other recipes that I served were:
Honey and Lime Glazed Yams and Beets
Orange Glazed Carrots
(Steam with some orange juice, then thicken like gravy with four, add salt, pepper and fresh thyme)
Homemade Cranberry Sauce
(I'll have to share another time)
Gravy - thicken the pan juices with flour and season as necessary.
And Bacon Wrapped Jalapenos as an appy.