Maspeth living room is transformed into a Thanksgiving
dining room that can seat visiting family. Tribune
photo By Brian M. Rafferty
Ready To Enjoy Fall's Best Flavors
the word itself brings back memories for many
of us of smells wafting through the house as kids
grow impatient, waiting to see the turkey come
out of the oven just so they can snag a slight
bit of the stuffing straight out of the bird.
The best Thanksgiving recipes take advantage of
fresh fall flavors, and inspire us to ease the
belt just a bit as we sit at the table. Try some
of these recipes for a sure-fire hit this turkey
day - or at any time during the season.
Roast Turkey With Cornbread Stuffing And Pan
Yes, there was turkey at the first Thanksgiving
in 1621, four wild ones, how could there not be?
There is nothing more iconically American than
turkey on a Thanksgiving table. The image is pure
Norman Rockwell in part because Rockwell illustrated
it in one of his most famous and popular paintings,
and there is no holiday more purely, and more
popularly American. More families gather on Thanksgiving,
the busiest travel-industry weekend of the year,
than do even on Christmas. Why?
Maybe it's the holiday's lineage. The first national
day of Thanksgiving was proclaimed by none other
than George Washington in 1789, to give thanks
that the Revolution was over and won. And who
revived the idea and re-proclaimed it in 1863,
this time for keeps? Only the other bookend of
American sainthood, Abraham Lincoln. Wow. Thanks
(pun intended), guys.
Or maybe it's the turkey. Because in spite of
ourselves (who among us hasn't at least once said,
"Turkey again?"), we really do like turkey. Not
the stringy, gamy wild bird the Pilgrims shot
in the Massachusetts forest (actually probably
trapped, musket shot being scarce and expensive,
and turkeys notoriously dumb, even for birds,
which is one reason why, in spite of Ben Franklin's
urging - "a noble, useful bird, no carrion-eating
raptor," or words to that effect - the turkey
is not the national symbol instead of the eagle),
but a plump, juicy and fresh tom turkey. Order
your fresh bird at least a week in advance from
your butcher, and allow at least a pound per person.
Then do this.
1 lb Italian sweet sausage meat - in bulk, out
of its casing
2 8-oz packages of cornbread stuffing (Arnold's
preferably, Pepperidge Farm is OK*), plus butter,
water, etc., as per package directions.
1 C sherry
2 C chopped onions
1 C chopped parsley
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
3-4 Tblsp softened butter
12-pound fresh turkey, with giblets
(Optional: 2-3 strips of salt pork, or a triple-thickness
of cheesecloth soaked in melted butter, or a foil
tent, to cover breast during roasting)
1/2 C dry white wine or vermouth
2 Tblsp flour mixed with 1 C water
Salt and pepper
1-2 C water, wine, chicken stock, or combination
1. In a fry pan, cook the sausage meat just until
no longer pink.
2. While the sausage cooks, prepare the stuffing
in a large bowl as per package directions, first
mixing the sherry with the butter and water called
for in the directions, then adding the chopped
onions and parsley, and the salt and nutmeg. Add
the cooked sausage to the cornbread mixture. You
can do this the day before, refrigerate, and bring
back to room temperature before proceeding.
NOTE: Do NOT stuff the bird until you're
ready to roast.
3. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
4. Loosely stuff the turkey's body and neck cavity
with the stuffing and close cavities with skewers
or truss with twine. There will be extra stuffing
mixture; put it in a small covered casserole and
5. Rub the turkey all over with the butter, and
place it breast side up on a rack in a roasting
pan. Roast 15 minutes per pound (12 pounds will
take 3 hours), basting often with pan juices.
You may cover the breast with the optional salt
pork or buttered-cheesecloth from the start of
roasting, or add a tent of foil late in the roasting
process if the breast is browning too quickly.
Test for doneness by piercing a thigh with a sharp
knife. The bird is done when the juices run a
clear yellow. Remove the turkey from the oven
and let stand for up to half an hour before carving.
6. While the turkey roasts, cover the turkey neck
and giblets (heart, liver, gizzard, etc., all
the stuff your butcher puts in the little package)
with water in a small saucepan and simmer for
two hours. Strain, dice, set aside.
7. After removing turkey from oven, increase temperature
to 375 degrees, and bake casserole with extra
stuffing for 30-40 minutes.
NOTE: the Baked Yams & Apples go in the oven at
the same time.
8. Make pan gravy. Put the roasting pan on the
range top and turn heat to high. Add dry white
wine or vermouth to deglaze the pan, scraping
all the brown bits into the slurry. Add flour-and-water
mixture and stir into the slurry until smooth.
Stir in the diced giblets, and salt and pepper
to taste. Add water, wine or chicken stock to
yield about 2 C, and bring just to the boil before
straining (or not, if you like chunky gravy) into
a gravy boat.
9. Remove stuffing from turkey before carving,
and mix together with cooked additional stuffing
from casserole. Let the turkey stand 20-30 minutes
before carving, while you make gravy, bake yams-and-apples,
and bake and combine the two stuffings.
Baked Yams & Apples
Serves 12 or more
Rich, festive, and a time-saver that can be prepared
through Step 3, wrapped and refrigerated the day
before (a big benefit when you're cooking for
a crowd), this is what we do instead of potatoes.
10-12 large yams
8-10 tart cooking apples
1-1/2 tsp sugar
1-1/2 tsp cinnamon
3 Tblsp butter, diced, plus butter to grease the
1. Bake the yams at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.
Let cool (this can be done the night before),
then peel and slice them in 1/4 to 1/2-inch rounds.
2. Peel, core and slice the apples in 1/4-inch
3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees again, if necessary.
4. Butter a large casserole and cover the bottom
with a layer of one-third of the sliced yams.
Combine the sugar and cinnamon, sprinkle the yams
with 1/2 tsp of the mixture, dot with 1/2 Tblsp
of butter. Place a layer of one-third of the apple
rounds on the yams, sprinkle with another 1/2
tsp of sugar-cinnamon. Continue layering, sprinkling
5. Cover and bake for 35 minutes.
Down Home Green Beans
Serves 12 or more
Bacon fat may not be cholesterol-ly correct, but
it sure makes for great-tasting green beans. I
will admit, though, that for the less-than-carnivorous,
we usually make half of this without bacon.
8 slices bacon
1 C sliced scallions, white and light green parts
3 lbs fresh green beans, ends snapped and cut
Salt and pepper
1. In a large casserole, fry the bacon until crisp.
Dry on paper towels and crumble when cool. Drain
all but 2 Tblsp of fat from the pan.
2. Cook the scallions in the bacon fat for 2 minutes,
stirring. Add the green beans and 1/2 C of water.
Cover the casserole and cook 6-8 minutes, or until
beans are tender.
3. Salt and pepper the beans to taste and garnish
with the bacon.
Pasta with Butternut Cream Sauce
12 oz pasta
4 qt Water
1 Tbsp Kosher Salt
1 small Sweet Onion, fine diced
2 tsp Olive Oil
1/4 tsp Garlic, chopped
5 cups Butternut Squash, diced
1/4 cup Apple Cider
1/4 cup Chicken Stock
1/2 cup Prosciutto, thin sliced
2 Tbsp Butter
1-1/2 cup Heavy Cream
1 tsp Apple Cider Vinegar
1/4 cup Parmesan Cheese, grated
Pinch Cayenne Pepper
Salt and Pepper to taste
1/2 cup Walnuts, toasted
Freshly Shaved Parmesan Cheese
1. In medium sauté pan over low heat cook onions
in olive oil. Allow onions to cook, stirring frequently
until they are light golden brown in color.
2. Turn heat to high, add garlic and butternut
squash and sauté for 5 minutes- stirring often.
3. Deglaze pan with cider and chicken stock, turn
heat to medium and simmer until juices coat squash
4. Stir in prosciutto, butter and cream and allow
to simmer over low heat.
5. Add cheese, apple cider vinegar and season
6. Boil water with tablespoon of kosher salt in
large covered stock pot. Remove lid, add pasta
and boil according to package directions or until
al dente (soft but not overcooked). Set aside.
7. Serve pasta with sauce and garnish with toasted
walnuts and freshly shaved parmesan cheese.
Fall Harvest Squash Rolls
Makes 4 dozen rolls.
4 tablespoons dry yeast
1 cup very warm water
1-1/3 cups vegetable shortening
1 cup sugar
4 large eggs
2 cups cooked and mashed winter squash
2 cups warm milk
8 cups flour, plus extra as needed
2 teaspoons salt
1. Dissolve the yeast in the warm water. Let sit
2. In a large mixing bowl, cream the shortening
with the sugar.
3. Beat in the eggs.
4. Blend in the squash. Mix until smooth.
5. Add the warm milk and the yeast mixture.
6. Slowly add about 8 cups of the flour and the
salt. Continue to mix until the dough pulls away
from the side of the bowl. Add more flour as needed
to make a soft dough, being careful not to add
7. Let the dough rise until doubled in size, punch
down, and let rise a second time until doubled.
8. Divide the dough into four equal parts, then
divide each quarter into 12 pieces. Shape each
piece into a ball and place them all in greased
9-inch cake pans, touching.
9. Let rise until doubled.
10. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
11. Bake for 20 minutes or until lightly browned.
Remove from the pans and let cool.