Quick and easy recipes for Thanksgiving dinner

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Here are some quick, simple and delicious tips for a smashing Thanksgiving dinner.

Thanksgiving Maple Turkey

The secret to any moist white meat poultry is to brine it.  This recipe is particularly great with smoked or slow grilled turkey.  The sweat earthy maple syrup creates a skin that is to die for while keeping the flesh moist and succulent, even the boring white meat.

Ingredients:

13-20lb free range, local turkey

3 yellow onions, chopped

1 head garlic, cut in half horizontally

8 sprigs fresh thyme

5 sprigs fresh rosemary

1 gal maple brine

1 5gal bucket, clean as a whistle

Directions:

Place the turkey in the brine for at least 12 hours and up to 36 hours.  The sweet spot is probably around 28 hours.

Remove turkey from the brine and let it sit at room temperature and air dry for 2 hours.  

Stuff the bird with onions, garlic and fresh herbs. (OR my wild rice stuffing)

Roast or grill at 350f until the internal temperature reaches 150f.  a slow roast on a green egg is the money shot here.

Let the bird rest in an off oven or on the counter wrapped in foil for 20-30 minutes before carving and serving.  This should bring the internal temperature up to 160f and keep it as moist as the bunny ranch.

Maple Brine | yield: 1 Gallon

Ingredients:

1gal water

6c maple syrup, grade b

1 head Garlic cut in half, horizontally

5 yellow onions, chopped

1 head celery, chopped

½c fresh ginger, 1/8 slices

5 sprigs Fresh rosemary

10 sprigs fresh thyme

10 leaves fresh sage

10ea black peppercorns

1T crushed red pepper

1t ground nutmeg

1c salt

Directions:

Combine all the brine ingredients, except for fresh herbs, into a large non-reactive pot and bring to a boil.  

Remove from heat and add fresh herbs. When you add the herbs and boil them, you lose a lot of that fresh aroma that makes them special.  

Let the brine fully cool for at least 12 hours before using. The chilly Minnesota autumn provides a great atmosphere for this.  Simple place it on the deck or in the garage overnight.  

Wild Rice stuffing with apples and cranberries | yield: 8 servings

Ingredients:

1½c celery, chopped

1c onion, chopped

3/4c wild rice, uncooked  

4c croutons or old crusty bread cut into medium dice

2ea garlic cloves, minced

1/2lb bacon, small diced

4c low-sodium chicken stock

1c white wine

3T fresh sage, chopped

3T fresh rosemary, chopped

3T fresh thyme, chopped

3T fresh parsley, chopped

3ea sweet apples, medium diced

1c dried unsweetened cranberries

1c roasted sunflower seeds

TT sea salt and black pepper

Directions:

In a large sauté pan, melt the butter and add the bacon, onions, garlic, celery, salt and pepper.  Sauté the vegetables over medium heat for 5 minutes or until they are lightly caramelized.  Add the white wine, chicken stock and wild rice.  Bring to a boil and simmer until wild rice is tender, this may take 30-45mins.  The stock will reduce so feel free to add more stock and/or water so the rice doesn’t dry out.  Once the wild rice is tender, strain off and reserve liquid.  Add the croutons, sunflower seeds, cranberries, apples and herbs to the wild rice mixture, mix well, and pour into a 9 by 12-inch baking dish.  Pour in some of the cooking liquid over the mixture, just enough to come to the top of the mixture.  Bake for 30 minutes, until browned on top, hot in the middle, and liquid has been soaked up by the croutons.  Serve warm.

Broccoli Salad | yield: 4 servings

Ingredients:

1 head broccoli, broken down into small florets

1ea red onion, julienned and quick pickled

2ea garlic clove, finely chopped

1/2c tart cherries

1/2c almonds, roasted, salted and roughly chopped

2T grapeseed oil

1ea lemon, juiced and zested

1T honey

1T poppy seeds

1/3c chives, chopped

TT salt/black pepper

Directions:

Whisk the lemon juice, honey, garlic, oil and a pinch of salt in a non-reactive mixing bowl.  

Fold in broccoli and season with salt and black pepper.  Then fold in cherries, almonds and red onions.

Taste.

Season with salt, or lemon juice as needed.

Store refrigerated in an air tight container for up to 3 days.

The BEST mashed potatoes | yield: 8 servings

Ingredients:

5lbs golden potatoes, peeled

1ea onion, roughly chopped

4ea garlic cloves, smashed

5-8 sprigs fresh thyme

2c heavy cream

1lb butter, unsalted and room temp

TT sea salt

Directions:

In a small pot, place cream, onions, garlic, thyme, and a pinch of salt.  Bring to a simmer and let slowly steep on the stove for 30mins.  In a large pot, cover potatoes with cold water and add 1/4c of salt.  Boil until potatoes just begin to fall apart.  Strain off potatoes into a colander and let them sit in colander to cool and steam out.  This allows the water to leave the potatoes so you can add more cream and butter.  Once potatoes are not so steamy anymore, run them through a potato ricer or a food mill and return them back to the large pot.  Strain out the ingredients from the cream, saving the flavorful cream*.  Pour half of the strained cream into the potatoes.  Slowly fold in the soft butter*, a small chunk at a time until the potatoes are shiny.  And as needed, add the rest of the cream to get the potatoes silky smooth.  Taste and season with salt if needed.  Serve hot and enjoy.  (You might have extra cream and butter left over, don’t add too much so the potatoes are runny, but just enough so you don’t want to tell your guests how much butter is in them)

 

Apple-Cranberry Crisp with Pecan topping  | Yield: 10 servings

Filling ingredients:

3lbs apples, peeled, cored and diced

8oz dried unsweetened cranberries

1cup raw sugar

1T ground cinnamon

1t ground nutmeg

1t ground ginger

Topping ingredients:

2.5cups quick cook oats

1 cup raw pecans, rough chopped

2cups dark brown sugar

1cup all purpose, unbleached flour

3/4 cup melted unsalted butter or melted coconut oil

Pinch of sea salt

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350f.

Filling:

Toss all the ingredients for the filling together and lay in 8inx8in baking pan or Pyrex dish. Pan should be about 2/3 full.

Topping:

Mix all ingredients for topping together until well incorporated. Place on top of filling, should fill the rest pan, and adjust thickness or amount of topping to your liking.

Bake for about 45min to 1 hour or until topping is solid and apples are tender.

Let cool on the counter for 20 minutes before refrigerating for up to 2 weeks.

 

Make one or all of these with a fresh green salad and you are set for the giving of thanks with your loved ones.  Why not show them how much they mean by spending energy and love in the kitchen??

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Born and raised in the suburbs of Saint Paul, MN, Brandon has immersed himself into being a local and sustainable advocate for delicious living. Working for the best Chef’s in the Twin Cities before becoming the Residence Chef at the Minnesota Governor’s Residence and personal Chef for the Zimmern family. Foraging, eating, parenting, writing, cycling, consulting, catering and hosting pop up dinners are what his free time entails.