Thanksgiving Feast Part II
By Julie Badger Jensen

Stalks of corn, fields of pumpkins, candles flickering, family and friends gathered AROUND THE TABLE . . . these are the cherished images of Thanksgiving.

We are reminded of the pilgrims at Plymouth offering grateful thanks for the bounty of the crops . . . And we, too, give thanks for our blessings and remember our early beginnings. The foods of that long ago celebration are treasured mainstays of our Thanksgiving menu today. The turkey and stuffing are stars of the feast, while pumpkins, cranberries, and yams play important roles. Glorious holiday feasts are often a magical blending of the old along with the new favorites. They carry the spirit of tradition burning bright along with the sparkle of the unexpected.

If you’ve had a chance to plan-ahead and make-ahead you have a jumpstart. If not, there’s still time to prepare for a joyful, relaxing dinner. Refer to Thanksgiving

Part I, our previous November article, for do-ahead tips and foods to refrigerate or freeze. In Part II we will complete plans for the feast.

A COLONIAL THANKSGIVING MENU
Made simple

Appetizers
* Hot Tomato Drink
Chewy Cheese Puffs
Stuffed Mushrooms

Dinner
* Roasted Turkey
Savory Sausage Stuffing
Crimson Cranberry Sauce
* Marvelous Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes and Gravy
Feather-Light Overnight Rolls
* Indian Succotash
* Candied Yams and Apples

Desserts
* Pumpkin Chiffon Pie
Caramel Pecan Cheesecake
* Apple Pie in a Brown Bag

* Items featured in Thanksgiving Feast Part II. Other items appeared in Thanksgiving Feast Part I.

HOT TOMATO DRINK
The perfect light appetizer for a feast
Serve with Chewy Cheese Puffs and Stuffed Mushrooms

1 can tomato juice (46-ounce)
1 / 3 cup sugar
2 Tbs. lemon juice
2 Tbs. finely grated onion
1 / 2 pint whipping cream, whipped and sweetened to taste

Combine first four ingredients and simmer for 30 minutes. Best if made a day or two ahead for flavors to blend.

Top each serving with a dollop of whipped cream.

ROASTED TURKEY
Star of the celebration

Your first decision will be whether to select a fresh or frozen turkey. A fresh bird is more expensive but will save time and valuable refrigerator space. Purchase the fresh bird the day before you want to roast it, but remember to reserve your turkey in advance with the butcher. A frozen turkey needs to be defrosted. The preferred method if defrosting is to defrost in the refrigerator. Allow one day per five pounds for thawing. For example, a fifteen pound turkey will require three days to defrost thoroughly.

Now you are ready to prepare the turkey for roasting. First remove the giblets. Next, rinse the bird inside and out with water. Pat dry with paper towels. If you are stuffing the bird, do so now with freshly prepared dressing. If using previously frozen stuffing, allow time to thaw overnight in the refrigerator. Never stuff turkey ahead of time; wait until ready to roast in the turkey. Stuff loosely, allowing about 3 / 4 cup per pound of bird. Don’t forget to stuff the neck cavity. Once stuffed, pull the neck skin up and pin it down with a skewer to enclose the opening. Also skewer the body cavity opening to protect stuffing or place a piece of tin foil over the opening. Any extra stuffing should be placed in a buttered casserole dish and baked at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes.

Brush the skin with melted butter or oil. Tuck the drumsticks under the folds of skin or tie together with string. Lastly, insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh. The thermometer should point towards the body and should not touch the bone. Place the bird on a rack in a roasting pan preheated to 350 degrees. Cover with an open-sided foil tent that does not touch the bird and allows the air to circulate. During the last 45 minutes of baking remove the foil tent if more browning is desired. Basting is not necessary, but will promote even browning. The turkey is done when the thigh meat reaches an internal temperature of 180 degrees F. The stuffing temperature should be at least 165 degrees F. When the turkey is done, remove from the oven and allow to stand for 30 minutes to retain juices.

Serve the stuffing by removing it from the turkey and placing in a serving bowl. Never let stuffing sit in a turkey once it is finished cooking. Remove the stuffing immediately and serve or refrigerate.

Before you begin carving have a warm serving platter ready and waiting.

Weight of Bird
Roasting Time
(Unstuffed)
Roasting Time
(Stuffed)
10 to 18 lbs.3 to 3-1 / 2 hours3-3 / 4 to 4-1 / 2 hours
15 to 22 lbs.3-1 / 2 to 4 hours4-1 / 2 to 5 hours
22 to 24 lbs.4 to 4-1 / 2 hours5 to 5-1 / 2 hours
24 to 29 lbs.4-1 / 2 to 5 hours5-1 / 2 to 6-1 / 4 hours

MAKE-AHEAD MASHED POTATOES
You can make these a day or two ahead and store in the fridge.
If baking cold from the fridge, let stand 30 minutes first.

5 lbs. potatoes, cooked and mashed
8 ounces cream cheese
8 ounces sour cream
1 / 2 cup milk
2 tsp. garlic salt
Pepper to taste

Combine mashed potatoes, cream cheese, sour cream, milk, garlic salt, and pepper to taste. Mix well and place in a large casserole dish. If making ahead, refrigerate. Otherwise, cover and bake at 325 degrees for 45 minutes. (If refrigerated first, let stand 30 minutes at room temperature and then bake as directed.)

GRAVY
A Sure method for smooth gravy

Preparing smooth and delicious gravy may be easier than you think. Gravy becomes lumpy when flour particles become stuck together. This can be avoided by cooking together equal parts of flour with a fat such as butter or vegetable oil. This mixture is known as a roux and serves as a thickener for gravy. As a general rule of thumb 1 / 2 cup of roux will thicken 4 cups of gravy.

In a heavy saucepan whisk together 1 / 4 cup all-purpose flour and 1 / 4 cup fat over low heat. Cook gently over medium heat and stir constantly until all flour particles are coated and the flour becomes golden in color.

Once the pan and roux have cooled, whisk in 4 cups broth. Stir and simmer over medium heat, stirring frequently for 5 minutes.

To deglaze the roasting pan, begin by removing the cooked turkey. Place pan over medium heat and add 1 / 2 cup water or stock. Stir constantly and scrape the bottom of the pan to loosen browned bits. Simmer for 1 minute.

Pour the liquid from the roasting pan into the gravy base, (the roux and the turkey stock), stirring constantly. Cook until the mixture boils and thickens, about 5 to 8 minutes.

Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add a tablespoon of fresh chopped sage or herbs of your choice, if desired. Makes four cups savory gravy. Serve hot with mashed potatoes, stuffing and turkey.

INDIAN SUCCOTASH
A traditional combination of beans and corn

1 (16-ounce) pkg. frozen lima beans
1 (16-ounce) pkg. frozen whole kernel corn
1 / 2 lb. bacon, cut in 2″ pieces
2 Tbs. onion

Bring 1 cup water to boil. Add package of lima beans. Cook for about 15 minutes. Add package of corn and continue cooking about 5 minutes.

Fry bacon pieces over medium heat for about 10 minutes. Add chopped onion and continue cooking for about 5 minutes until onion is tender. Drain water from beans and corn. Add bacon and onion to mixture and serve.

CANDIED YAMS AND APPLES
Rich buttery flavor with an orange zest

4 apples, peeled and cut in wedges
6 yams or sweet potatoes, peeled, cooked, and cut in large pieces
1 cup orange juice
2 tsp. grated orange peel
2 Tbs. cornstarch
3 Tbs. melted butter
2 / 3 cup brown sugar
1 / 2 tsp. salt

Combine orange juice, orange peel, cornstarch, melted butter, brown sugar, and salt. Cook over medium heat until thickened. Arrange yams or sweet potatoes and apples in dish. Pour sauce over top. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes or until apples are tender.

PUMPKIN CHIFFON PIE
Deliciously different pumpkin chiffon pie with a gingersnap crust!

Filling:
1 cup pumpkin puree
3 eggs
1 / 2 cup white sugar
1 cup milk
1 / 2 tsp. salt
1 / 2 tsp. ginger
1 / 2 tsp. nutmeg
1 / 2 tsp. cinnamon
2 Tbs. butter
1 (.25 ounce) package unflavored gelatin
1 / 4 cup water
1 / 2 cup white sugar

Crust:
2 cups crushed gingersnap cookies
6 Tbs. butter, melted

Topping:
1 / 2 pint whipped cream
Sugar to taste

Combine crushed gingersnaps and 6 Tbs. melted butter. Press in the bottom of a greased 9-inch pie pan.

In a saucepan over medium heat cook pumpkin puree to heat through, stirring frequently.

Separate the eggs. Combine the egg yolks, 1 / 2 cup sugar, milk, spices and butter. Add to pumpkin and cook over medium heat. Stir and bring to a boil. Cook for about 2 minutes or until mixture is of a custard consistency. Remove from heat.

Soften gelatin in the cold water and stir into the pumpkin mixture until dissolved. Chill mixture until it begins to stiffen (about 1 1 / 2 hrs.).

Whip egg whites with the remaining 1 / 2 cup sugar until stiff. Fold whipped egg whites into the pumpkin mixture. Spoon mixture into the prepared pan and chill until set (about 4 hours). Serve topped with whipped cream. Can make a day or two in advance.

PAPER BAG APPLE PIE
A no-fail crust with delicious filling
Needs no rolling out
 

Crust:
1 1 / 2 cups flour
1 1 / 2 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 / 2 cup oil
2 Tbs. cold milk

Mix with a fork until well blended. Press into a well greased 10-inch pie plate.

Filling:
6 cups apples, peeled, cored and sliced
1 / 2 cup sugar
2 Tbs. flour
1 / 2 tsp. nutmeg
1 / 2 tsp. cinnamon

Mix filling ingredients and mound into crust-lined pan.

Topping:
1 / 2 cup sugar
1 / 2 cup flour
1 / 2 cup butter

Combine topping ingredients until cornmeal consistency. Sprinkle over apples. Place in medium-sized brown bag. Fold over edges of bag. Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes. Oven must be completely preheated to avoid burning the bag. Do not open or look in oven during cooking time. Can be made ahead, if necessary, and rewarmed.

Enjoy a Glorious Thanksgiving Feast . . . AROUND THE TABLE.

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