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Thanksgiving Dinner Menu & Recipes – Part 2 The Turkey & Fixings

herb roasted turkey breast recipe
Yesterday I gave you my menu for a Thanksgiving dinner I’m putting together and gave you the recipes for the appetizers and drinks here.  Today, I’m going over the recipes for the turkey, gravy and cranberry sauce.  Here’s a review of the menu:

Mulled Wine
Cranberry Cocktail

Stuffed Mushrooms
Spinach & Feta Puffs

Mushroom Soup

Herb Roasted Turkey Breast
Dressing (fancy way of saying stuffing not made in the turkey)
Mashed Potatoes
Candied Yams
Green Beans
Cranberry Sauce

Roasted Chestnuts
Apples & Clementines

Pumpkin Pie
Apple Pie
Coffee, Tea, Mulled Cider

Herb Roasted Turkey Breast with Pan Gravy, Inspired by Rachel Ray; Brine recipe from Alton Brown

For the Brine:
1 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 gallon vegetable stock
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1 1/2 teaspoons allspice berries
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped candied ginger
1 gallon heavily iced water

For the Turkey:
1 small (golf-ball sized) onion, peeled and coarsely chopped
2 cloves of garlic
12 fresh sage leaves
2-3 sprigs of fresh rosemary, leaves removed from stems
3-4 sprigs of thyme, leaves removed from stems
Large handful fresh flat-leaf parsley (about 1/2 cup, from 12 stems)
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for oiling pan
1 teaspoon salt, plus more as needed
6 fresh bay leaves
4 tablespoons butter
2 boneless turkey breast halves, skin on (about 2 to 2 1/2 pounds each) (with my menu since there are many courses and sides I guestimated 5 people per breast).
Freshly ground black pepper

For the Pan Gravy:
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 to 3 cups chicken stock
Salt and pepper

The Brine (you can make the mixture ahead)
1. Combine the vegetable stock, salt, brown sugar, peppercorns, allspice berries, and candied ginger in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Stir occasionally to dissolve solids and bring to a boil. Then remove the brine from the heat, cool to room temperature, and refrigerate.

2. Early on the day you’d like to eat, combine the brine, water and ice in a large stock pot. Place the turkey breasts in the brine. If necessary, weigh down the bird to ensure it is fully immersed, cover, and refrigerate until you are ready to cook – at least 4-5 hours.

3.  Preheat the oven to 450º. Remove the bird from brine and rinse with cold water. Discard the brine.  Place the bird on a clean cutting board and pat dry with paper towels.

Preparing the turkey
1. Oil a roasting pan and set it aside.

2. Put the onion into the bowl of a mini food processor. Chop the onion until fine. Add the sage, parsley, rosemary, thyme, garlic, olive oil, and 1 teaspoon salt and pulse until it forms a coarse paste.

3. Put 2 of the bay leaves and the butter into a small pan and heat over medium-low heat until the butter is bubbling. Remove from the heat and set aside.

4. Put the turkey breasts on a work surface. Carefully run your fingers between the skin and the flesh from 1 end, being careful not to pull it completely off, creating a pocket. Season the turkey breasts generously with salt and pepper. Stuff half of the herb paste under the skin of each breast, and spread it evenly under the skin. Transfer the breasts to the roasting pan, and slide 2 bay leaves underneath each one. (The heat of the pan will release the bay leaf oils and flavor the breast.) Using a pastry brush, baste the breasts with half of the bay butter. Place the turkey in the oven and immediately decrease the temperature to 400 degrees F. After 20 minutes, baste the turkey breasts with the remaining butter, and roast for an additional until cooked through, and a thermometer placed in the thickest part of the breast registers 170 degrees F (about 1.5 hours total but go by your thermometer).

5. Remove from the oven, transfer to a platter, cover, and let rest for 10 minutes before carving while you make the gravy.

6. Put the roasting pan over the burner on medium heat. Sprinkle the flour over the pan juices, and cook, stirring, for a few minutes. Scrape the pan to lift the bits that are stuck to the bottom. Pour in the chicken stock, bring to a simmer, and stir until thickened. Season with salt and pepper.

7. Slice the turkey breast on the diagonal, and serve with warm gravy.

cranberry sauce recipe

Cranberry Sauce, Ali’s mom’s recipe, you can make ahead
1 packet of fresh cranberries
1 cup orange juice
1 cinnamon stick
1 piece of ginger
1 cup sugar

1. Combine all the ingredients and let it cook until berries break up.

2. Let cool and refrigerate.

Candied Yams, Inspired by Keyshawn’s Mom’s Candied Yams on the Food Network
3 pounds sweet potatoes or yams, peeled and cut into 2-inch cubes
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 stick sweet butter, cubed
Dash of cinnamon
Dash of Nutmeg
Dash of vanilla extract

1. Place raw potatoes in large pot, cover with sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla extract and butter and cook over medium heat until potatoes are fork tender (about 20 minutes) but not mushy. That’s it!

I hope that helps with your Thanksgiving feast! Buon Appetito!

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