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Five Star Thanksgiving Recipes

How about sharing the recipe for that Thanksgiving dish that your family insists on having every year AND tastes wonderful? (In other words, no marshmallow topped sweet potatoes or green bean casseroles, no matter how fraught with emotional baggage.) Love to hear about some regional favorites here.

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  1. Roast Turkey with Hazelnut Proscuitto Butter Crust

    4 Replies
      1. re: foodrocks

        Here is a link. It would be way to long to type out. It is a lot of work--time wise, not difficulty. But it is SO worth it. DH has asked for it the last two years. This will be my 4th year making it.

        1. re: nissenpa

          Did you cook the turkey exactly as written? I usually start mine at a higher temp, then reduce. I also usually flip my bird for even browning. I imagine that would interfere w/ the crust.

          Thanks for sharing!

      2. re: nissenpa

        This is the new centerpiece for our Thanksgiving. The turkey was absolutely the best I've ever had. The gravy was also very yummy.
        Thanks for the post!

      3. I was able to replicate the Chestnut Stuffing that was made at the French Market in Georgetown, DC (not sure if it's still in business.) My family loves this and I double the recipe:

        1 pound mild bulk sausage (I use turkey sausage)
        1 1/2cups fresh bread crumbs
        1/2 c red wine
        1t salt
        1/4t pepper
        1/2 poultry seasoning
        2-3 dozen shelled and cooked chestnuts (I've used frozen and canned in the past)
        3T butter
        1/4 c chopped onion

        Saute the onion in the butter and cool slightly. Add to the remaining ingredients in a bowl. Bake in a greased casserole for 1 to 1 1/2 hours at 350.

        2 Replies
        1. this is the single most requested recipe i make; adapted from one in Chocolatier magazine 20 years ago.


          X1 serves 6-8 peo.

          2 lbs Butternut Squash,Peeled

          1 1⁄2 C Heavy Cream

          1⁄2 C Half & Half

          2 Bay Leaves

          3 sprigs Fresh Thyme
          1/8 tsp Ground Thyme

          1/8 tsp Ground Mace

          1 3/4 tsp Kosher Salt

          1⁄2 tsp Pepper

          3 T Butter

          1 med Yellow Onion

          1 tsp Minced Garlic

          1/4 C Finely ground or grated Parmesan Cheese

          Slice squash in 1/4" slices. In large heavy bottomed sauce pan combine the squash, cream, half and half, bay leaves, thyme, mace and 1 tsp of salt and 1/4 tsp of the pepper. Simmer over moderate heat, stirring lightly to distribute the liquid, until squash is tender and has absorbed most of the liquid, approximately 30 minutes. Meanwhile slice the onions 3/8" thick. Melt half the butter in large skillet and saute onions until they turn deep golden brown. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. season with the remaining salt and pepper. In an oiled medium gratin dish or other shallow oven proof dish, layer the squash mixture and onions. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and dot with the remaining butter. Preheat oven to 425 degrees and bake for 15 minutes or until browned lightly and bubbling.

          NOTE: doing X4 and more, use less liquid or will get too soupy.
          X5 uses 1-2 cups less liquid

          this can be made in advance and reheated OR kept uncooked in the frig and brought to room temp if possible before baking until hot and bubbly. also freezes very well, after being baked.

          2 Replies
          1. re: opinionatedchef

            hi opinionatedchef. just wanted to let you know that i made your butternut squash gratin for thankgiving and it was a huge hit. thanks for posting!!

            1. re: hopalong

              hop- you made my day! so glad youall enjoyed it.

          2. I've posted this one before, but here it is again, since it is definitely a family favorite...

            Cranberry/Pear Relish

            4 ripe Bosc pears
            6 cups very strong coffee
            3 cups sugar
            1 teaspoon vanilla
            1 (8-oz.) bag of cranberries

            1. Peel and slice the pears lengthwise, rubbing with lemon to keep them from turning brown. Core the halves and remove the stem & bud ends with a paring knife.

            2. Pour the coffee into a large sauce pan. Stir in 1-1⁄2 cups of sugar and bring to a boil. Add the halved pears. When it comes back to the boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for about 15 minutes. Remove the pears and set aside to cool a bit. Discard the coffee.

            3. While the pears are cooling, prepare the cranberries according to the directions on the bag, (i.e., cover with water, add about 1-1⁄2 cups of sugar, bring to a boil, then simmer until they’ve all ‘exploded’ and the mixture is thick). It doesn’t take very long... Remove from heat and put into a large bowl.

            4. When the pears are cool enough to handle, cut them into small chunks and put them into the bowl with the cranberries. Toss to mix well, transfer to a serving dish, cover and refrigerate until ready to serve (or at least a couple of hours).

            1 Reply
            1. re: Deenso

              DISCARD the coffee??!!!! horrors!! serve it over vanilla ice cream w/ some poached pears!

              p.s. i don't get it- don't the pears take on a brown color from the coffee? so wouldn't that make the lemon step a moot point?
              besides this tiny point, sounds like a really neat and unusual recipe. i'm agonna try it- thanks for sharing it.

            2. The turkey. Specifically, the one I made for friends last year at Christmas. People have been asking me since September, "So, you're going to make that turkey again this year, right?" It is the infamous Morton Thompson Black Turkey. The stuffing has close to thirty ingredients: meats, fruit, spices, herbs, you name it. The bird itself gets coated with a paste of egg yolk, flour, and spices as it cooks. The longer it goes, the darker the coating gets, eventually turning a hideous black. It looks like you've done something horribly wrong. You take the bird out of the oven. Guests who wander into the kitchen to see the moment the bird comes out instinctively reach for their cell phones to try and make other plans. You peel off the coating with tweezers, and underneath is this gorgeous mahogany bird. The breast meat is so juicy, when you prick it with the carving fork it leaks. Every bite is so amazingly flavorful and meltingly tender... I'm getting hungry just thinking about it. To give you an idea of how well it went over, I had an eighteen pound bird, and eight of us picked it clean.

              I would give the recipe to you right here, but as I said it's pretty lengthy. That, and I can't come close to the version that Robert E. Benchley wrote:


              6 Replies
              1. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester

                Wow, this sounds amazing and I am intrigued. Some questions -

                The stuffing. Did all the stuffing fit in the bird? Have you ever baked the stuffing on the side. The stuffing sounds huge, just the 1.25 lbs of ground meat combined with the bread cubes sounds like it would overflow out of the bird's cavity.

                The crust. Did it peel off fairly neatly in strips? OR was it crumbly. If it was crumbly, did it fall all over your liquid in the pan (although, you probably poured that off first.) Prior to peeling, did you let the bird rest first? Or did peeling take enough time to be the resting time.

                How accurate was the cooking time of 12 minutes per lb? I get unbelievably stressed when all the guests are here and the turkey temp isn't where it's supposed to be.

                Was it as high maintenance as the recipe made it sound? Was this the only thing you made for dinner or did you make everything else too? I make a complete dinner so my guests just bring the booze. My concern is that basting every 15 minutes would get in the way of me finishing everything else.


                1. re: beetlebug

                  It makes a very large batch of stuffing. The final mix of stuffing is usually done in the biggest soup pot I can find.

                  Let the bird rest before peeling it. It comes off in pieces, it isn't very crumbly. The first time I made the bird, I lost most of the skin, so don't feel bad if the skin goes with it.

                  Cooking time was close, but I do remember people hovering for the last hour of cooking. One time I overcooked the breast and it was still very juicy, so the recipe is pretty forgiving.

                  It does require about as much attention as a small baby. I think near the end of cooking you could likely reduce the baste to every half hour if need be.

                  Hopalong, you should be fine doing a thermometer in the turkey. Stick it in before you start applying the coating and it should still seal nicely.

                  1. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester

                    Thanks. I am so intrigued by this recipe. If I get more than 10 people coming for Thanksgiving, this will be the recipe. If there are less, I'll do something else.

                2. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester

                  i am totally intrigued by this as well. i am ashamed to admit that i like the idea of scaring my relatives with a seemingly burnt turkey.

                  anyhow, i am curious to hear the answers to beetlebug's questions but i also have one of my own. is it okay to put a thermometer in this turkey or will that somehow ruin the seal of the all-important crust? my oven runs a little hot so i dont like to rely on cooking times alone...

                  1. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester

                    maybe because i've been a professional chef for 25 yrs, but i am
                    rarely wowed by a recipe. i like the unusual ones, and you certainly have given us one!! i am going to HAVE to try this over the winter, maybe for xmas.thank you so much for posting this. i will definitely report on my results when i do make it.

                    oh, one question- have you ever done this recipe w a smaller bird? i will have to do smaller, as we are 2.

                    1. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester

                      I'm very interested in this recipe as well, it's almost enought to make me go back to stuffing the bird.

                      I too would like to know if that stuffing can be made on the side, or if a smaller bird could be used. I'd like to try this myself before springing it on the family.

                    2. here is a sweet potato recipe without the marshmallows, there will be no leftovers:

                      Sweet Potato

                      5 sweet potatoes
                      1/4 teaspoon salt
                      1/4 cup butter
                      2 eggs
                      1 teaspoon vanilla extract
                      1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
                      1/2 cup white sugar
                      2 tablespoons heavy cream
                      1/4 cup butter, softened
                      3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
                      3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
                      1/2 cup chopped pecans


                      1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a 9x13 inch baking dish.
                      2. Bake sweet potatoes 35 minutes in the preheated oven, or until they begin to soften. Cool slightly, peel, and mash.
                      3. In a large bowl, mix the mashed sweet potatoes, salt, 1/4 cup butter, eggs, vanilla extract, cinnamon, sugar, and heavy cream. Transfer to the prepared baking dish.
                      4. In a medium bowl, combine 1/4 cup butter, flour, brown sugar, and chopped pecans. Mix with a pastry blender or your fingers to the consistency of course meal. Sprinkle over the sweet potato mixture.
                      5. Bake 30 minutes in the preheated oven, until topping is crisp and lightly browned

                      As for roasting the bird, my Mother In Law always placed it in a brown paper (grocery) bag with the seam up, spray the inside of the bage with Pam or get some oil on your hands and kind of wipe it down, staple the bag shut and place the bag onto your roasting pan. It comes out perfect every time, never dry, we always stuff it with your basic recipe using fresh bread cubes, celery, onions, butter, etc. Roast the bird at 325 degrees.

                      No, the bag never ignites as long as it does not touch a heating element, we have an electric oven with the heating element on the bottom. I've never used a convection oven, but paper burns at 451 degrees F, so as long as the bag is not in contact with a heating element, you are good to go.

                      1. Here's the *white* potato dish we like, placed right next to the yams! I *think* this was in Sunset magazine many years ago.
                        ~Potato Loaf~
                        3 tablespoons butter
                        3 tablespoons flour
                        1 cup milk
                        4 or 5 medium white potatoes (peeled, cooked and diced small)
                        1 tablespoon minced parsley
                        3/4 teaspoon salt or to taste
                        1/4 teaspoon pepper or to taste

                        Make a roux of 3 tablespoons butter and 3 tablespoons flour:
                        melt butter, stir in flour,stirring until well mixed and bubbling. Add the milk and salt and pepper and keep stirring and cooking until thickened a bit. Then add the potatoes and parsley, cook (stirring) until mixture is about as stiff as mashed potatoes.
                        Put into a greased pan, refrigerate until chilled and firm (at least 3-4 hours? or overnight) Bake at 375 degrees about 35 minutes 'til golden. Serve hot. Simple ingredients but one of those "more than the sum of its parts" flavors, I think. And the texture is com-fort-ing delightful.

                        1. This recipe is on a cooking website, and gets 5-star reviews--it truly is the best (IMHO).


                          4 pounds yams
                          2 large eggs
                          1/4 cup (packed) light brown sugar
                          2 tablespoons butter -- melted
                          1 1/2 teaspoons Kosher salt -- (or 3/4 tsp. reg.)
                          1 teaspoon cinnamon
                          1/8 teaspoon allspice
                          1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
                          6 ounces or so pecan halves
                          1/3 cup (packed) light brown sugar
                          4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter -- melted

                          Poke yams a few times with a fork. Cook yams in the microwave (or bake in a 400 degree oven) until cooked through and soft; COOL completely.

                          Remove skins and place yams in a large mixing bowl; beat until smooth. Beat in 1 egg at a time, until well blended. Add 1/4 cup brown sugar, 2 tablespoons melted butter, salt, cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg; beat until light and fluffy.

                          Spread yam mixture into a round 3-quart casserole, which has been sprayed with a non-stick coating. You can use two 1 1/2-quart round casseroles, or even individual souffle cups, if desired. {The casserole(s) can be frozen at this point; defrost before adding topping.}

                          Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Before baking the casserole, place pecan halves in a single layer, in circles starting from the outside, covering the entire casserole. Sprinkle top evenly with the 1/3 cup brown sugar and pour remaining melted butter evenly over all.

                          Bake uncovered for about 25 minutes, or until brown and bubbly.

                          Perfect side dish for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter dinners.

                          {Perfect for entertaining because it can be made ahead of time and refrigerated or frozen (without topping)}

                          1. Acorn Squash/Apple Casserole (for 8)

                            This is a big favorite with all eaters, even the ones who don't usually eat veggies

                            3 large acorn squash
                            4-6 large Granny Smith apples
                            2 sticks unsalted butter
                            salt/pepper to taste
                            1/2 c brown or dark brown sugar
                            2 c crushed corn flakes (not too fine)
                            1 c roughly chopped toasted pecans

                            Butter or spray large 9X13 ovenproof casserole dish. Cut squash in half, scoop out seeds, wash and wrap in microwave proof plastic wrap. Microwave on high for 10-15 minutes till squash is soft. Using spoon, scoop flesh into large mixing bowl, leaving skin behind. Add 3/4 stick butter, salt & pepper to taste, dash of nutmeg, freshly ground. Mash mixture together and spoon into bottom of casserole dish. Peel, core and slice apples. Saute apples in large (10-12") skillet with 1/2 stick of butter, 2 T of cinnamon, brown sugar. If you want to be super fancy, add 1/4 cup Calvados or cider and flambe. When apples are not quite done (al dente apples??), spoon them on top of squash pureer. Super fancy if you carefully arrange apples in fancy rows, but not necessary. Melt remaining butter, combine with crushed cornflakes, and pecans, top casserole dish. Bake at 350 for 45-60 min. Can be frozen weeks in advance without topping.

                            1. Pumpkin Custard Pie

                              My mom makes Oyster Stuffing for my dad every year, but I don't touch the stuff.

                              1. My favorite recipes for Thanksgiving are for mac and cheese, sweet potato casserole, and leg of lamb.

                                I use the recipes from Edna Lewis and Scott Peacock's cookbook, "Gift of Southern Cooking."

                                For the leg of lamb, our family injects fresh garlic into the lamb, then coats it with brown mustard and let's it refrigerate overnight, then roasts it. Very simple, but always a hit.

                                1. My mother makes a sausage and chestnut stuffing that is wonderful. I make the second turkey and a different stuffing (for those who don't eat pork) but it is never appreciated like the sausage and chestnut.

                                  1. My mom makes a very simple sweet potato "dish" take large slices of microwaved sweet potato, and toss in a pan with some melted butter, brown sugar, and amaretto until a nice syrup/crust forms on each slice.

                                    1. My grandmother used to make this ever since I was a toddler and it is just not thanksgiving without it. It's so unbelievably easy. Kids love it. Mom said never give the recipe away, but I have to share its so good. When I make black cherry I miss lemon, and when I make lemon I miss black cherry.

                                      Grandma's Jello Salad.

                                      1 Large pkg black cherry or lemon Jello (both are good)
                                      2 cups boiling water
                                      1 package of cream cheese, softened
                                      1 large can crushed pineapple (do NOT drain - liquid is needed)
                                      Crushed walnuts (optional)

                                      Soften cream cheese well. Put cream cheese in a bowl, pour the package of jello over the cream cheese and pour 2 cups of boiling water over the jello and cream cheese, blend until creamy. If there are lumps of cream cheese, keep mixing til smooth enough. Add the can of crushed pineapple (the juice in this makes up for the 2 cups of cold water you would normally add to jello). Add crushed nuts (about 1/2 to 1 cup if desired). Chill all day. My mom used to make this in a bowl and it would take at least 24 hours to set depending on the depth of the bowl. I have a jello mold so only takes a day.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: Willowmyst

                                        OMG, I just noticed your recipe and this is almost identical to my grandmothers recipe as well except that instead of mixing in the cream cheese, she would use a melon baller and make little balls of it in the jello. I couldn't remember it entirely and now here is your post!!! Thank You!!

                                      2. I can endorse Rose Levy Beranbaum's Great Pumpkin Pie recipe. I was reluctant at first to make this b/c it looked light on the spices (her's only includes ginger and cinnamon.) I made this alongside a more traditional pie recipe, and hers was finised the first night, and the other sat. It was light in appearance and texture, delicious and just spicy enough.

                                        The recipe w/ the additional cloves and nutmeg, on the other hand, had a strong somewhat "off" flavor. I now feel that cloves may just taste to medicinal for my preference, but perhaps I need to invest in a better quality spice to see if it can taste fresher.

                                        In any event, our family loved RLB's pumpkin pie: http://www.realbakingwithrose.com/200...

                                        1. If I don't make this every year, "it's just not Thanksgiving" says my husband and 2 teenage boys. Enjoy!

                                          Upside-down Apple Pecan Pie

                                          1C chopped pecans
                                          1/2C brown sugar, packed
                                          1/3C butter, melted
                                          Your favorite double-pie crust recipe...or I cheat and use Pillsbury crusts.
                                          1t flour
                                          6 apples, (Granny Smith or Pippin work well), cored, peeled & sliced
                                          1/4C sugar
                                          2T flour
                                          1/2t cinnamon
                                          1/8t nutmeg

                                          Heat oven to 375. In 9” pie plate, combine pecans, sugar and butter. Spread evenly on bottom. Prepare crust for 2 crust pie, spreading 1t flour over one crust, then placing it flour-side down over pecans. In lg. bowl, mix remaining ingreds. Spoon into pan. Top with 2nd crust; fold edges under and crimp/flute. (It doesn’t have to look attractive, as the pie will be turned upside-down after baking.) Cut slits in several places on top crust to vent. Bake on a cookie sheet 40-50 min. until golden brown. Cool 5 min. Invert onto serving plate, removing pie pan carefully. You’ll probably have to scrape some of the pecan goo out of the plate and spread it on the pie. Cool at least 1 hr. before serving. You can make this the night before - once the pie is cooled, cover loosely with foil. Don’t refrigerate.