Thanksgiving is awesome. It’s the only holiday where the food doesn’t have any competing attractions – no fireworks or gifts to steal the show. Sure, there’s the whole thankfulness thing, and some football, but really, the food is the star.

Here’s what I’m making: 

Turkey: I’ve used this Alton Brown method of brining and cooking a turkey with splendid results. The moistest turkey I’ve ever eaten. However, this year I’m going to try a dry brine instead, but still cook it using Alton’s method.

Soul Sweet ‘Taters from Pioneer Woman. These qualify as a dessert, but who cares?

Cranberry Pomegranate Sauce: 12 oz fresh cranberries, 2 cups pomegranate juice, 2 T chopped shallots, 1/2 cup sugar, a little salt, a little vegetable oil, a few whole cloves. Saute the shallots in oil until soft, add a little salt. Add the pomegranate juice, sugar, and cranberries. Put the cloves in a tea infuser or cheesecloth bag. Bring everything to a boil, then simmer until thick, about 15-20 minutes. Remove cloves. 

Mashed Potatoes with Garlic Confit: make your favorite rich, plain mashed potatoes (lots of cream and butter), but add 7-8 pureed cloves of garlic from a batch of Thomas Keller’s garlic confit.

Brussels Sprouts with Browned Butter: This is my favorite fancy brussels sprouts dish. Wash and trim brussels sprouts. Peel off any yellowed leaves and compost. Peel off all of the good green leaves, down to the core. Compost the core. Melt about 1/2 stick of butter in a saucepan, and cook on low until golden brown and fragrant. Add in green brussels sprouts leaves from a few pounds of sprouts, and cook on medium until bright green and tender (4-7 minutes.) Salt and pepper to taste.

Dinner Rolls from Everyday Food

Cornbread Sausage Dressing: Make an 8×8 pan of cornbread, cut up and let dry out a day ahead of making dressing. Brown 12 oz of pork sausage in skillet, drain off most of fat. In separate pan, melt one stick of butter. Saute 1 cup celery, 1 cup onion, 1 tsp thyme, and 1 tsp sage until veggies are soft. Stir together cornbread, sausage, veggies, 1/2 cup fresh chopped parsley, 1 cup chicken broth, and some salt and pepper. Bake in a shallow dish at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Honey-Glazed Roasted Root Vegetables from Food and Wine

Pumpkin Pie: I haven’t picked a recipe yet, but something traditional. My two year old is incredibly excited about the prospect of pumpkin pie. I might use a fresh pumpkin instead of canned so that he can enjoy the whole experience.

Gabriella’s Honey Pie from Martha Stewart Living

Cranberry Cake: Cream 3 T softened butter and 1 cup sugar. Whisk together 2 cups flour, 1 tsp salt, and 2 tsp baking soday. Stir together 1/2 cup water and 1/2 cup evaporated milk. Add milk and flour mixture to sugar mixture in two parts, alternating. Fold in 2 cups fresh cranberries. Pour batter into a 7×11 inch pan, and bake for 3o minutes at 350 degrees. Serve with butter sauce: 1 stick butter, 2 cups sugar, 1 cup evaporated milk, and 1/4 tsp pure almond extract or 1/2 tsp vanilla extract. Bring all ingredients to a boil – add a few drops of red food coloring, if desired.

Delegate when you can, make some items ahead of time (freeze dinner rolls, pie crusts, etc.), and create a detailed plan for Thanksgiving Day, working backward from when you want to serve dinner.

And most of all, have fun. Because even though as a cook I like to think it’s all about the food, it’s really all about the family and friends.

What are you making for Thanksgiving? Or if you’re not cooking, what are you looking forward to eating most?


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