Thanksgiving is not a time to fool with tradition. No mashed potatoes? What were you thinking! What about green beans? Can’t live without them!
And no home cook would dream of serving anything but roast turkey. Even a small turkey breast might be considered a breach of family trust, regardless of the size of the family.
Begin With the Bird
Buy a good-sized turkey. Figure on about 1 ¼ pounds per person – remember, there’s a lot of bone in a turkey. If your family likes turkey sandwiches and turkey soup, figure on the size bird you need and then add a few extra pounds.
Most shoppers buy frozen turkeys, which are very good. The trick is to thaw them properly and in good time. Nothing spoils Thanksgiving faster than a rock-hard turkey on Thanksgiving morning.
Let the turkey thaw in the refrigerator for two to four days, depending on the size of the turkey. If time is a problem, thaw it, still wrapped in its plastic casing, in a sinkful of cool Change the water several times. A large 20- to 22-pound turkey needs 10 or 11 hours to thaw.
Never leave a turkey at room temperature. A thawed or fresh turkey will keep in the refrigerator for up to three days.
If you can, buy a fresh turkey from a butcher that sells free-range birds. They may be a little more expensive but are less fatty and many folks think they taste better.
To learn how to thaw and roast a turkey, go to the article called “How to Roast a Turkey.”
As much as everyone likes turkey, what they really look forward to on the Thanksgiving table are the side dishes. This is a meal when Junior, Sis, and Uncle Oscar can have their fill of mashed potatoes, sausage stuffing, and pumpkin pie.
No one holds back at Thanksgiving. Plates are piled high and gravy is ladled over meat, potatoes and stuffing. Barely any room is left on the plate for cranberry sauce but somehow it gets eaten!
Speaking of gravy, make plenty. Buy extra cans of Swanson's® chicken broth so that when it’s time to make gravy, you have the ingredients on hand to add to the pan drippings.
The recipes for green beans, sweet potatoes, and mashed potatoes offered here make enough for 12 healthy servings. You can half or double them easily, depending on the number of revelers at your table.
We offer only one recipe for dessert: classic pumpkin pie. Make this with Libby's® canned pumpkin puree, which is an excellent product and very easy to use.
Buy a few extra cans and use it to make pumpkin muffins, pumpkin bread, and pumpkin cake this winter. All yummy!
Augment the pumpkin pie with other pies, if you wish. Try making an apple-pear or apple-cranberry pie for some variation. If your family likes pecan pie, try coating the shell with chocolate for an even more indulgent dessert.
This year, gather your family and friends and serve them a Thanksgiving dinner that will seem at once familiar, comforting, and reassuringly right! We all need this sort of culinary affirmation at least once a year.