Here’s my follow-up to my Friendsgiving Dinner – everything turned out exactly as I had planned and prepping was essential. It also helped that many of the items could be made in advance. I kept the main course of the meal very traditional and made Roasted Turkey Breast, Cranberry Sauce, Mashed Potatoes, Candied Yams, Corn Bread Muffins, Roasted Cauliflower and Broccoli and a Kale Salad. My friends brought Stuffing, Sugar Snap Peas with Squash, Pumpkin Pie, Apple Tart and Friendsgiving Cake.
Any of these items can be made ahead – in fact I made everything ahead except the Turkey Breast and I reheated everything while the turkey was resting. All of the recipes for the items I made are below and would be equally delicious any night of the week in the colder months or for any other winter holiday gathering. For the appetizer recipes, visit my previous post Holiday Dinner Appetizers.
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
1/4 cup Brandy
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. Pour the Brandy in and 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, 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. Take out of the refrigerator about 20 minutes before serving (when you take the turkey out to rest)
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 (The original recipe calls for 2 sticks of butter – I think all you need is 1/2 a stick of butter and will try that the next time I make this).
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!
Yukon Gold Potatoes (these are best for mashing)
Salt to taste
I apologize for the lack of measurements but this dish is really a matter of preference. I’m listing the steps and you can make these to your taste.
1. Peel the potatoes, cut them in large chunks and put them in a pot of cold water. Bring the pot to boil and cook until fork tender.
2. Drain the water and put the potatoes back in the hot pot. Add cream, salt and butter in small increments (you can always add more but you can’t take away) and start mashing the potatoes. Repeat this step until the potatoes are the desired consistency and taste. If you like chunkier potatoes then you will use less cream and not mash the potatoes very much. If you like a super smooth consistency you will add a lot more cream and I find that a hand held blender makes the potatoes silky smooth.
3. Once you’ve reached the desired consistency and taste put the mashed potatoes in a casserole dish. When the turkey is resting, put the mashed potatoes in the oven to reheat. If you want, you can bake the potatoes a bit longer and you’ll get a crispy topping – it’s very yummy and a nice complement to gravy!
Roasted Cauliflower and Broccoli
1 Head of Cauliflower, rinsed and cut florets
1 Bunch of Broccoli, rinsed and cut florets
3 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper, to taste
1. Preheat oven to 450°.
2. Lay cauliflower and broccoli on a baking tray (I like to line the tray with non-stick foil).
3. Drizzle olive oil, salt and pepper on vegetables and toss.
4. Bake for 10 minutes and flip the vegetables. Bake for 10 minutes more.
I hope that helps with your future Thanksgiving feasts or Holiday Dinners! Buon Appetito!