1st time ever: American Thanksgiving

I have wanted to celebrate Thanksgiving for a long time now. Ever since I knew about the concept from watching Friends I’ve been curious to try it out! And this year I did.

Me and my friends are always super busy around Christmas, and we never have the time to get together, so Thanksgiving is now officially our lodge holiday. I am the one who cooks in the group. Well, the rest of them likes to cook as well, but when it comes to making 6 new dishes, I’m the only one who literally gets a smile on my face.

So this year is the very first Thanksgiving for all 10 of us and here is the complete collection with menu, recipes and instructions. These are only first year recipes, and I will write the changes I have in mind for next year at the end of each recipe.

The menu were as follows: Whole pork-stuffed Turkey with Mashed Potatoes and Gravy. With a side of Candied Yams, Stuffing, Bacon Brussels Sprouts, Green Bean Casserole and Cranberry Sauce. For dessert we had a Pumpkin Pie with Hot Cocoa and Marshmallows.

All these recipes are for 10 overeating people + a humble amount of leftovers.

Thanksgiving 2015

Turkey:

I was thinking – a Turkey seems to be the only element that never changes with the American Thanksgiving tradition. Maybe I’m wrong, but on Youtube there’s always turkey. In grocery stores in Denmark a 4,4 kg (10 pounds) turkey is almost as big as they come outside of Christmas. So we got ourselves one of those and then we bought some very large turkey legs as extra meat.

Whole turkey

Recipe:
1 whole Turkey (4,4 kg/10 pounds)
+ 4 Turkey legs (½ kg/1 pound each)
150 g/5 oz butter
2 tsp each: Sage, Thyme and Rosemary (dried)
1 clove of garlic (pureed)
1 tsp pepper
2 tbsp salt

1 turkey neck
Chicken or any other kind of poultry stock
Onion, carrot, garlic, celery ect for the bottom of the pan.

Instructions:
1. Clean the Turkey thoroughly.
1a. Remove the giblets and the neck and save both parts for later.
2. Dry with a paper towel.
3. Mix the soft butter and all the spices + garlic
4. Take about a third of the herb butter and put under the breast skin.
5. Stuff the Turkey with the pork-stuffing and close it up with meat pins in both ends.
6. Melt the herb butter in the microwave (15-30 sec)
7. Brush the turkey and the thighs all over with the melted butter.
8. Place some stock (I used duck-stock, about 2 inches), quatered onions, the neck, and some celery + whatever veggies you have in the pan under the Turkey.
9. Bake the whole turkey for about 4 hours or until 73°C/165°F in center. The oven was about 175°C/350°F. Start with two hours covered in tinfoil so the skin doesn’t burn.
9b. Bake the thighs for ½ hour on convection oven at 200°C. Then 1½ hour 165°C with basting every 20 minutes.

Changes:
The Turkey turned out perfect. I was inspired by two Youtube videos, and if you are new to this Turkey-game, I will recommend you start with those. The first one inspired me to put the butter under the skin, and was a basic Thanksgiving Turkey by Laura Vitale. The second one was a complete guide of Beth’s Thanksgiving for Rookies. She had some good tips for cleaning it and the melted butter brushing, and it was very easy to see how she folded the wings back, so they didn’t burn.

The Turkey legs got a little to much, because I forgot them for a good 20 minutes in the oven, so that is some advice: Don’t forget to take out food when it’s done.

A lot (all) of the recipes calls for fresh herbs. But I didn’t want to spend my hard earned money on those since they just die two days later, so I went for dried herbs, and it was still amazing. I promise, one day, I will try fresh herbs and then I will probably regret ever short cutting, but until then, I’m feeling alright with my decision.

If you are about to make a Turkey – I will always recommend skimming all of Youtube for video instructions, cause working with a turkey is really visual. You simply need to see it done. But once you have seen a couple of dozens of videos – it is really not that difficult to get right. Some day I will make my own video for poultry-cleaning I promise!

The sad leftover bones of the now devoured Turkey

Pork-Stuffing:

I was doubtful that the turkey itself would get people full – so I made a pork-stuffing. Now, I am aware, that is NOT at all American. So I looked for Danish recipes on that. I found a lot of different stuff but I ended up winging it, and it turned out fabulous. But that’s really not a surprise, since we Danes love and adore our ground pork more than anything.

Recipe:
500 g/1 pound ground pork
The giblets from the turkey
1 onion
1 egg
½ cup of breadcrumbs
½ cup of milk
2 tbsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp herbs (Equal parts rosemary, thyme and sage.)

Instructions: 
1. Food-process the giblets and the onion until very fine.
2. Mix all the ingredients in a big bowl.
3. Adjust the thickness with breadcrumbs or milk. It should be smooth but not runny – a meatball-like consistency.
4. Let sit in the fridge over night or 4 hours if it is possible.
5. Before stuffing your turkey, cook the stuffing on a low-heat pan until it isn’t red anymore. But be careful! It can not brown either.
6. Stuff the turkeys neckhole and cavity. Don’t overfill it.

Changes: 
Since my turkey was dead frozen the night before Thanksgiving I was forced to make the meat and then add the giblets the next day. That worked out fine. I wouldn’t change anything.

This portion is enough for the turkeys neck and cavity and a little dish on the side.

Gravy: 

I do not like real gravy. Now I said it! I think it is “yidrk”…. But I have got a foolproof recipe for an easy gravy substitute that is gladly eaten in our house. It’s a classic Danish “Brown Gravy” and it is not based on turkey drippings but on simple cheap bouillon cubes.

Recipe:
2 liters of water
6 bouillon cubes. (4 chicken and 2 vegetable)
2 tsp redcurrant jelly
2 tsp white wine vinegar
salt + pepper to taste
Sauce suit (Gravy color)
Flour and water to thicken.
A splash of skim milk/heavy cream.

Instructions:
1. Bring the water and cubes to a boil.
2. Then add the jelly and vinegar and a little salt and pepper.
3. Mix flour and water until a lump-free mixture is formed. The consistency should be a little heavier than a good gravy.
4. When the gravy is at a slow simmer, add the mixture while stirring, preferably though a strainer.
5. When the mixture is thickened up, add the color and adjust tastes, adjust the richness of the gravy with a little skim milk or heavy cream depending on the occasion.

Note to self: More than half the gravy was left, so maybe half a portion would be plenty for next year.

Mashed Potatoes: 

Recipe:
3 kg/6 pounds baking potatoes
150 g/5 oz butter
2,5 dl/1 cup whole milk
1½ tbsp salt
1½ tsp pepper

Instructions:
1. Peel, cube and rinse the potatoes
2. Boil in unsalted water for 15-25 minutes depending on cube-sizes.
3. When the potatoes are very tender remove from heat and drain well.
4. Mash with butter and milk until your preferred lump-level and thickness is reached.
5. Add salt and pepper to taste.
6. Keep warm on stove at low heat while adjusting thickness/smoothness with milk. Don’t let it burn!

Leftover mashed potatoes
Mashed potatoes aren’t very photogenic

Changes:
We voted – and it is doubtful if the mashed potatoes will be coming back next year. They are definitely going to be spiced up. I would love to make them “like Phoebes dead mother used to make them” – with peas and onions. Or maybe with cream cheese and bacon. Only next year will know what will happen. One thing is for sure, this recipe is a little bland for us.

Candied Yams:

This one was more exiting. We do not eat sweet potatoes in Denmark. They are in grocery stores but they are far far from traditional Danish cuisine. So I have never tasted sweet potatoes before and for that reason I researched this recipe with great excitement.

The hardest part of this was the question of marshmallows vs. no marshmallows. It is hard to get a hang on what is more used in America. It seems like there’s a war going on where half of Americans are shoving marshmallows down the throat of the rest. Tell me please – what is the traditional way? And I’m not asking for the least disgusting recipe or the healthiest – just the traditional one please.

Candied yams

Recipe:

2 kg /4 pounds sweet potatoes
3 eggs
3 tbsp butter
½ cup syrup
1 tsp salt
1 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla

½ cup Brown sugar
1/3 cup Flour
4 tbsp Butter

As topping you will need a minimum of:
100 g/4 oz pecans
1 cup mini marshmallows

Candied Yams

Instructions:
1. Peel, cube and rinse the sweet potatoes.
2. Boil in salted water until tender.
3. Mash the potatoes along side the butter, syrup, salt, milk and vanilla.
4. Let cool until it is safe to mix in the eggs.
5. Put the mash in a baking dish
6. Mix the butter, flour and brown sugar with your hands so it turns into a fine crumble.
7. Spread the crumble over the top of the yams.
8. Top with pecans

Bake in a 175°C/350°F oven for 30 minutes.
Then, on the day of Thanksgiving just reheat it for 20 minutes along with all the other dishes.
Add the marshmallows on top for the last five minutes in the oven and serve straight away.

Candied Yams

Changes:
I absolutely LOVE candied yams! Who would leave out the marshmallows!?!? I think I have to try this recipe before Thanksgiving next year. Maybe a little lighter on the syrup and stuff, but I will have to try it again. But for Thanksgiving this recipe is super nice and decadent.

Stuffing:

Recipe:

1 sandwich bread (About 20 slices)
½ cup butter
1 cup diced onions (2 onions)
1 cup diced celery (5 stalks)
½ tsp each: thyme, rosemary, sage and pepper
1 tsp salt
2½ cups chicken stock
1 egg

Stuffing

Instructions:
1. Cube the bread and spread it out on two baking pans over night
2. The next morning the cubes should be totally dry – if not – give them a good 20 minutes in the oven until they are totally dry.
3. Melt the butter in a pan on medium-high heat.
4. Cook the celery and the onions and the salt until translucent (5-6 minutes)
5. Add the thyme, rosemary, sage and pepper and cook for an additional minute.
6. Add the stock.
7. Let this mixture cool for a while (No egg scrambling here)
8. Combine the breadcubes, the egg and the stock-mixture in a big bowl
9. When everything is mixed together spread it in a baking dish.

Let the dish rest in the fridge or on the counter until you need it.
Bake in a 190°C/375°F oven for 45 minutes. Serve immediately.

Stuffing

Changes:

I accidentally doubled the herbs and I will say that was not the best idea. I also used only 2 cups of broth and the stuffing turned out a little dry on that account.

Next year I am definitely going to try out some of the thousands of varieties of stuffing. Maybe something with apples or cranberry.

Green Bean Casserole:

I will admit, that I was very insecure about this recipe, and it is therefore largely inspired by Alton Brown. I did plenty of research and I found this to be interesting.

Green bean casserole

Recipe:

Topping:
2 onions
2 tbsp breadcrumbs
1/4 cup flour
1 tsp salt

Sauce:
1 kg/2 pounds green beans, unfrozen and drained
300 g/10 oz canned mushrooms (Or whatever size they are sold in your grocery store)
30 g butter
Salt and pepper
4 cloves of minced garlic
½ tsp ground nutmeg
4 tbsp flour
2 cup chicken broth
2 cup whole milkGreen bean casserole

Instructions:
1. Peel the onions and slice them in half. Slice them in the lengthwise direction in thin slices. Place the onions in a bowl along with flour, breadcrumbs and salt. Mix together so all the onions are covered. Spread out on a baking sheet and bake for 40 minutes at 220°C/400°F, tossing every 10 minutes. Don’t burn them!
2. Melt the butter in a pan over medium-high heat.
3. Drain the mushrooms well, chop them up finely and add them to the butter.
4. Add 1 tsp salt to the mushrooms and cook for 5 minutes.
5. Add garlic and nutmeg and cook two more minutes.
6. Sprinkle the flour over the mushrooms and cook until the mixture looks all dry with no visible flour. 1 minute approximately.
7. Add the broth and the milk and reduce heat to maintain a good simmer.
8. Let simmer until the sauce have thickened up, abut 7 minutes.
9. Add seasoning to taste
10. Turn of the heat, mix in a quarter of the onions and all the beans.
11. Spread in a baking dish and top with the rest of the onions.
Keep this refrigerated until needed. Then heat it for a good 20 minutes alongside all the other sidedishes.
This is ready to serve when you see it bubbling.

Green bean casserole

Changes:
I really liked this dish. But it was really so much better as reheated leftovers so next year I will make this the day before. And I think I will use a little more mushrooms or some other seasoning for a richer flavor. But that is next years concern.

Bacon Brussels Sprouts:

I don’t like broussels sprouts. Nobody does. At least that is what kids are told. But I was determined to try it out anyways. My vision was to add enough bacon and garlic so it would balance out the fart smell. So I found a great recipe by Laura Vitale and I went ahead and tried it out.

Bacon garlic sprouts

Recipe:

1 kg/ 2 pounds of Brussels sprouts
8 cloves of garlic (more if you feel like it)
300 g/10 oz thin-sliced bacon
1 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper

Instructions:

1. Clean the sprouts and cut in half.
2. Place them on a lined baking tray
3. Give all the cloves off garlic a good hit with a hammer and place them in between all the sprouts
4. Cut the bacon up and fill the rest of the holes with that.
5. Drizzle or spray with olive oil, salt, pepper and brown sugar

Bake in a 200°C/400°F oven for 30 minutes
This is done when the sprouts have started to caramelize and the bacon is ready to eat.
Roasted brussels sprouts

Changes:

More than half of these where left for garbage – they tasted fine – but not compared to the rest of the food. Next year it’s out with the Brussels sprouts and in with a nice salad!

Cranberry Sauce: 

We got the Cranberry Sauce out of a can – and we forgot to open it. Did we miss anything good?? Well, we will try it next year. If we don’t forget it. And then, in two years, I will make it from scratch – I promise.

Pumpkin Pie: 

Recipe:
I used my dough recipe from the terrific apple-pie. I just make one portion dough, since a pumpkin-pie don’t need a lid.

425 g pumpkin puree
1 can condensed milk
1 egg + 3 yolks
½ cup sugar
1/4 tsp nutmeg
½ tsp ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp salt
Instructions:
1. Make pumpkin puree by baking a Hokkaido-pumpkin until it is tender and then blending it into puree.
2. Mix up the cold puree with all the remaining ingredients
3. Fill the pie form with the pie dough, fork the bottom and shape the sides so it will look pretty
4. Pour all the pie-filling into the pie dough lined pie dish

Bake for 15 minutes in a 220°C/425°F oven and then turn down the heat to 175°C/350°F for up to 50 minutes
It will possibly be necessary to protect the edges from burning with some tin foil, be aware of that!
The pie is done when you stick a knife in it and it isn’t raw anymore.

Serve cold with whipped cream
Pumpkin Pie

Changes:
9/10 people finished their pumpkin pie that night. But 9/10 people didn’t want a second piece. Next year we will be serving the apple-pie instead, that is for sure. Don’t take this the wrong way, cause there is nothing wrong with pumpkin pie – it is just not a keeper.

Hot Cocoa with Marshmallows: 

Recipe:
1 liter whole milk (3,5% fat)
2 liters skim milk (1,5% fat)
3 dl/1,25 cup cocoa powder
3 dl/1,25 cup white sugar

1½ cup of mini marshmallows.

The easy thing about this recipe is that it goes 3 liters milk to 3 dl each of sugar and cocoa. That makes it easy to scale. 1 cup of milk to 25 ml cocoa and sugar for one person.

Instructions:
Mix everything together, if you are making this with 3 liters, get it cooking in a big pot.
But if you are making just the one cup, you can heat it in the microwave.

For both methods just heat it up slowly while stirring, so it won’t burn. Stop when it simmers – it shouldn’t boil.

Add your desired amount of mini marshmallows.

Changes:
I have adjusted the recipe a little, since the cocoa we made turned out so strong flavored it caused a tummy ache.

Scheduling!

And how to make 10 different recipes at the same time!

I will share with you a simple schedule of how this food can be prepared by very few people in a very small kitchen.

Early Thanksgiving celebration preparations:

Buy all the things! Some goes in the freezer, some in the cabinet and the veggies and dairies should be all you need to buy two days before Thanksgiving.
Make sure your Turkey has enough time to defrost! 3 days where not enough for me!

The day before Thanksgiving celebration:

All groceries are in the house!
Make a jar where the cocoa and sugar is mixed for the hot cocoa.
Make and bake the green bean casserole.
Make the Candied Yams. Bake them.
Cube the bread for stuffing.
Bake the pumpkin pie. This will keep nice and cold in the fridge or in a cold safe spot in the garage.
Make the pork-stuffing. Keep in the fridge.

The day of Thanksgiving celebration: Dinner was served at 5.15 pm:

9.00: Start by prepping the Turkey. This includes baking the pork-stuffing a little. Once the turkey is all ready for the oven I just leave it waiting on the counter top and let my husband take care of the rest – Turkey wise.
10.15: This is when I clean the kitchen – I do all the dirty dishes, change my clothes and make sure everything is salmonella free. That way I’m ready for guests already.
10:30: Make the bread-stuffing and leave it unbaked.
11.15: Prepare the potatoes for the mashed potatoes, so they are ready to boil.
11.45: Prep the Brussels sprouts
12.00: Turn on the oven and bake the rest of the pork stuffing while the oven gets hot.
12.30: Get the Turkey and the thighs in the oven. (Set one timer for the basting every 20 minutes, one timer for the thighs and one for the Turkey)

Take a little break – set the table – get your feet up – open wine or whatever you see fit.

2.30: Whip the cream for the pie and keep refrigerated until needed.
2.45: Get the thighs out of the oven and keep them warm with kitchen towels and tinfoil.
3.00: Make the brown-gravy. Let sit on the stove-top until needed.
3.45: Turn on the potatoes for the mashed potatoes.
4.15: Get the Turkey out of the oven and let your husband deal with the bird cutting.

Keep the oven at 175°C/350°F convection oven.

4.30: Put the stuffing, yams and green beans in the oven.
4.40: Put the Brussels sprouts in the oven
4.45: Make the mashed potatoes and turn on the heat on the gravy.
5.00: The green beans should be bubbling, take them out and let rest under tin foil.
5.10: Take out the Brussels sprouts and let rest covered and put the Marshmallows on the yams.
5.15: Take out the stuffing and yams and serve.

Now everything is served and ready! 
Put the pork-stuffing and the Turkey thighs in the oven, so they will be hot for second rounds.

I know this is a full 2-days job. But I was only one person for all of this (except from my husband basting the turkey). This could easily be shared between a lot of different people, so you don’t have to spend both days on food-prepping.

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2 thoughts on “1st time ever: American Thanksgiving

  1. Pingback: Green Bean Casserole – Malenes Recipes

  2. Pingback: Waldorf Salad – a Christmas Sidedish – Malenes Recipes

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