But let me back up a bit: See, I decided to let the kids go spend the holiday with their dad and his family for a change, since we usually go to my parents' house. This year, being busy with nursing school I opted to stay at home and not travel. At first, I was lured by the thought of staying at home in my jammies and foraging meals from last week's two-chicken roasted chicken dinner, but then I'd decided, last minute, to stay at home and make myself a traditional Thanksgiving Day meal just for myself, including all the trimmings and sides that I love. The bonus is that this meal came with none of the whining from so-and-so and how she hates stuffing, and how the Other Kid sees orange vegetables such as butternut squash or sweet potatoes as the height of abhorrence or that they both detest potatoes - yes, people, there are folks out there who hate potatoes, they are my children.
Thus resolved to have a dinner of all of my favorite holiday dishes, I dashed to the store for a fresh turkey. Not surprisingly, on Thanksgiving Day morning, there were only 3 fresh turkeys left, and I nicknamed them Gargantua (22 lb.), Gargantua the Elder (25 lb.) and Gargantua the Younger (19.5 lb.), the last of whom ended up in my roasting pan, stuffed with aromatics and lavishly rubbed with herbed butter.
To accompany it, I had roasted cauliflower, maple-glazed butternut squash, baked, buttered mashed potatoes, sausage and apple stuffing, sweet and spicy whole berry cranberry sauce and silky smooth turkey gravy. For dessert, a mini pecan pie.
The whole shebang:
Sausage and Apple Stuffing
It's my family's favorite, with crumbled pork sausage, chopped apples, celery, walnuts, sauteed onion and sage. I've converted a few people with this one!
- 1 package bulk pork sausage like Jimmy Dean or Bob Evans
- 3 tart apples, I like Granny Smith or northern spies
- 1 bunch of celery
- 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
- Apple cider
- 1 package of stuffing cubes
- 1 onion
- Sage, fresh and dried
- Cook the sausage, drain and set aside.
- Saute the chopped onions and celery in some of the sausage fat until slightly brown and soft.
- In a big bowl, dump in a package of stuffing cubes (or use your own mixture of bread cubes and crumbled, day-old cornbread).
- Add the chopped apples, walnuts, onions and sausage. Chop up 6 or 7 fresh sage leaves and add it to the mixture.
- Mix thoroughly.
- Add dried sage, and black pepper.
- Then add apple cider to moisten. Start with a cup and then go from there.
- Let sit in the refrigerator at least 4 hours, though overnight is better.
- Before baking, you may have to add more cider if it's too dry.
- Bake in a buttered casserole dish at 350 until done, 45 minutes or so.
Maple-Glazed Butternut Squash
- 1 medium butternut squash
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 1 cup water
- 2 tablespoons butter
- Peel, seed and quarter the squash, then cut into half-inch slices.
- Place the slices in a large saucepan and add the maple syrup and water.
- Bring to a boil, then simmer for about 15 minutes, or until the squash is tender.
- Remove the squash with a slotted spoon to a serving dish and bring the cooking liquid to a boil until it has reduced and thickened.
- Drizzle over the squash, top with the pats of butter and serve.
Mini Pecan Pie
For the pecan pie, you just can't go wrong with the Classic Pecan Pie from Karo Syrup. I just cut the recipe in roughly half for this smaller pie plate.. Tweet