I know Thanksgiving is over and everyone is ready to move onto the next big holiday, but with the week of Thanksgiving being my favorite cooking week of the year I thought it was worthy of a couple more blog posts. This one is simply a nice visual journey through all of the dishes I made this year with some descriptions.
Next week I'll highlight the recipe for Cranberry Pepper Jelly that I make every year. It is fantastic on sandwiches, baked brie, with cream cheese and crackers, etc... So while most have already made their one turkey of the year there are still plenty of opportunities to enjoy the spicy-sweet deliciousness all year long.
So let's start the photo journey with that one...Cranberry Pepper Jelly
. This is almost always the first thing I make, the weekend before Thanksgiving, since it has a 3-6 week shelf life in the refrigerator. I've honestly never liked anything other than canned cranberry sauce (I know, blasphemous!) until I discovered this recipe. Now I'm totally hooked on it's spicy-sweet combination and for the first time ever didn't even touch my canned cranberry sauce this year!
The next thing I make the weekend before the holiday is homemade turkey stock as a base for my gravy
. If you don't want to do this you can always use store-bought chicken or turkey stock, but I find that making your own makes a big difference in the gravy and it's honestly very easy. If you're like me, this also means you get a little extra Turkey meat for your leftover soup as well since I refuse to throw away all of the meat on the turkey wings after making the stock. Just pick it all off and freeze it until your ready to make your soup or other Thanksgiving leftovers.
A couple of days before Thanksgiving I start brining the turkey and prepping all of the veggies that will hold for a day or two.
I find that nothing makes for a juicy turkey like brining it for 2 days in advance...not frying it, not starting it cooking upside down, nothing. I also slather it in herb butter (both on top and under the skin), so that doesn't hurt! My favorite brine that I have found over the years is a beer brine...I use Newcastle which makes this turkey a bit of an expensive date, but trust me your guests will be singing your praises. And we all know that's hard praise to get with so many bad, dry turkey experiences from Thanksgivings past! Make sure the brine is completely covering your turkey...sometimes you have to get a bit crafty with pressure on the bag in certain spots to make this happen.
It's also important to have a great carver on hand day-of so that you can plate your turkey in a beautiful and appetizing way...my husband is a pro at this by now, so I'm lucky here as you can see below.