Tidewater Kitchen - November 2009


Stress-Free Thanksgiving Dinner


Pamela Meredith-Doyle

Gone is the steamy kitchen, overheated from the long-roasting turkey. The ordeal of last-minute potato mashing and gravy making is a thing of the past. By preparing virtually everything but the turkey during the week before Thanksgiving, I have just a few tasks to complete on the big day.
Most of my menu is prepared ahead, to be cooked, baked or reheated just before serving. The turkey is cooked on Thanksgiving, but I send it outdoors to be grill-roasted over a gas grill. The turkey roasts to perfection without basting, and your oven is free for baking or reheating the other dishes.
Our stress-free menu includes ginger mashed sweet potatoes, green beans with warm mustard vinaigrette, cranberry relish, butter muffins, grill-roasted turkey with mushroom-herb stuffing, herbed gravy and pumpkin spice cake for dessert.
Up to 3 weeks ahead: Prepare butter muffins and freeze.
2 weeks ahead: Prepare cranberry relish and refrigerate.
1 week ahead: Prepare mushroom-herb stuffing and freeze.
3 days ahead: Blanch green beans and prepare warm mustard vinaigrette and refrigerate. Prepare ginger mashed sweet potatoes and refrigerate.
2 days ahead: Prepare herbed gravy, cool and refrigerate.
1 day ahead (or up to a month ahead and freeze): Make pumpkin spice cake dessert.
Thanksgiving Day: Preheat the grill about 4 hours before serving time. Stuff the turkey with dressing, oil and season the skin and place in an aluminum pan. Place the stuffed turkey on the grill.

Makes 2½ dozen mini muffins
2 cups self-rising flour
1 8-oz. carton sour cream
2 sticks butter, melted

Stir together all ingredients just until blended. Spoon batter into lightly greased miniature muffin pans, filling to the top. Bake at 350° for 25 minutes or until lightly browned. Place in freezer until the day before Thanksgiving.

1 cup raisins
12 oz. pkg. raw cranberries
1 cup sugar
½ t. cinnamon
½ t. ground ginger
¼ t. ground cloves
¾ cup cider vinegar
1 T. grated lemon zest
¼ cup orange juice
¼ cup water

Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan over medium heat. Cover and cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cool. Refrigerate in a glass jar until ready to serve.

Serves 12
Be sure to refrigerate the dressing until you are ready to stuff the cold turkey. If you prefer you can make this about a week ahead and freeze it.

1 16-oz. pkg. Pepperidge Farm Herb Seasoned Stuffing
1 stick butter
1 medium onion, minced
4 ribs of celery, minced
8 oz. baby bella mushrooms, chopped
1½ cups Campbell’s chicken broth
1½ cups water

Melt butter in a large kettle over medium heat. Sauté the onion, celery and mushrooms for 5 minutes. Add the broth and water and bring to a boil. Remove the pot from the heat and add dried stuffing and mix well. Cool in the pan. Transfer the stuffing to a zip-lock freezer bag and put in the freezer until 2 days before Thanksgiving. Stuff the cold turkey with cold dressing and immediately put the stuffed turkey on the grill.

Serves 8
2 lbs. fresh green beans, ends trimmed
2 shallots, minced
2 T. Dijon mustard
2 T. balsamic vinegar
½ cup olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
¼ cup fresh dill, chopped

Blanch beans in a large kettle of boiling water and cook until crisp-tender, 2 to 4 minutes. If you are making the beans ahead, drop them into ice water, drain and place into a zip-lock bag and refrigerate.
While the beans are cooking, place shallots, mustard, vinegar, oil and salt and pepper in a small saucepan and heat, whisking constantly, just until the mixture is hot to the touch. Remove from heat and place in a covered container and refrigerate.
About 15 minutes before serving, microwave beans until hot. Microwave the vinaigrette until warm and spoon the vinaigrette over the beans. Quickly add the dill and toss to combine. Serve at once.

Serves 8-12
8 large sweet potatoes
1 cup sour cream
1 t. sea salt
½ t. freshly ground pepper
3 t. grated fresh ginger

Pierce sweet potatoes several times with a knife and place on a baking sheet. Bake at 450° for 45 minutes or until tender; peel.
Beat potatoes and the next 4 ingredients in a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until smooth. Spoon into a lightly greased baking dish, cover and refrigerate.
To reheat, bake at 350°, uncovered, for 30 minutes or until thoroughly heated.

Yields 2 cups
½ cup minced onion
1 clove garlic, pressed
2 cups Campbell’s chicken broth
3 T. flour
¼ cup apple juice
1 T. lemon juice
½ cup milk
1 t. Kitchen Bouquet
1 t. finely minced fresh rosemary (½ t. dried)
¼ t. dried thyme
sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Turkey drippings

Sauté onion and garlic in ¼ cup chicken broth for 4 minutes in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and whisk for 1 minute. Slowly whisk in the rest of the broth and add apple juice, lemon juice, milk, Kitchen Bouquet, rosemary, thyme, sea salt and pepper.
Bring to a boil, whisking constantly, then simmer for 10 minutes until thickened. Place in a covered container and refrigerate.
About 30 minutes before serving place the gravy in a saucepan over low heat. Whisk in the turkey drippings and simmer until serving time.

Serves 18 people with plenty left over for turkey sandwiches!

The turkey cooks in half the time and remains moist, but do not open the grill lid as the temperature will drop significantly and slow your cooking.

20-lb. turkey
½ cup olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Let the turkey stand at room temperature for 1 hour. Remove giblets and neck and set aside for use in your gravy. Discard the liver, as it will make your gravy bitter. Rinse the turkey inside and out with cold water; pat dry with paper towels. Trim off and discard excess fat.
Preheat your gas grill for 10 minutes with all burners on low (400°).
Stuff the turkey with mushroom-herb stuffing. Coat the skin of the turkey with olive oil and season the outside with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Place the turkey in a disposable aluminum foil roasting pan coated inside with olive oil. Create a tent of aluminum foil over the turkey and seal tightly. Place pan on the grill rack and close the lid. Do not open the lid again until finished. Cook for 3 hours for a 20-lb. turkey or until popper is exposed, a thermometer inserted into the thigh registers 175° or the turkey leg can be pulled away from the bone easily.
Remove the tenting and baste the turkey with the drippings. Remove some of the drippings for the gravy. Close the grill lid, raise the heat to medium and cook for 15 minutes more or until the turkey is golden brown.
Transfer the turkey to a carving board, cover loosely with foil and let rest for 20 minutes. Remove the dressing to an ovenproof bowl and place it in a warm oven until time to serve. Carve the turkey and pass the gravy!

Note: In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the giblets, neck and water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove giblets from the pan, mince and reserve for gravy.

1½ cups sugar
4 large eggs
1¼ cups canola oil
1 can pumpkin or 2 cups fresh
½ t. of each: nutmeg, cloves and ginger
3 t. cinnamon
3 cups whole wheat white flour
1 cup raisins
½ cup chopped walnuts
2 t. baking powder
2 t. baking soda
1 t. salt
Powdered sugar for garnish

Preheat oven to 350°.
Cream together the sugar, oil, eggs and pumpkin.
Sift together the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger and combine with the wet ingredients. Fold in the nuts and raisins. Bake in a greased and floured tube or 12-cup bundt pan.
Bake for 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
Cool and sprinkle with powdered sugar.