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Category: thanksgiving prep

  1. Wednesday, December 2, 2015

    How to Cook the Perfect Turkey. And by perfect I mean PERFECT.

    Side view of roasted turkey breast with instructions for roasting with a dry brine and spatchchocked bird

    I’m just gonna say it. I make the perfect turkey. After years of researching various methods and trying many of those methods, I finally have the definitive answer for how to cook the perfect turkey. Today I will teach you how to spatchcock a turkey and roast it to perfection!

    how to perfectly roast a turkey by @janemaynard | spatchcock + dry brine + roast with mayoPhoto credit: Anne Wallin

    My mom and I have had so many Thanksgiving conversations over the years that go something like this. “Our white meat this year was delicious. I have no idea why!” Or,”Our white meat this year was just so-so. I have no idea why.”

    Those conversations are a thing of the past. From now on this is what I’ll be saying to my mom the day after Thanksgiving. “Our white meat and our dark meat and everything about our turkey was perfect this year and I know exactly why.”

    And I’m going to share the magic formula with all of you, of course. There are several steps to the process, each of which on their own would make for a good turkey. But combine them all together and you end up with a great turkey. Here’s the formula:

    SPATCHCOCK + DRY BRINE + SLATHERED IN MAYONNAISE + ROAST AT HIGH HEAT = PERFECT TURKEY

    I will never use another method. This is it. I’m done. Turkey perfected. And I’m going to explain the process in great detail so that, A) I know how to do it again, and B) you can do it, too.

    how to perfectly roast a turkey by @janemaynard | spatchcock + dry brine + roast with mayo

    BUY A FRESH, UNFROZEN TURKEY.

    Buy a fresh, unfrozen turkey so that you can spatchcock it easily. Buy the turkey 3 days before you’re going to cook it. So, if you’re cooking a turkey for Thanksgiving, buy the turkey Sunday night or Monday morning and prep that baby Monday morning. (You can dry brine for just 1 or 2 days, but 3 is optimal, and this post is all about making the perfect turkey. So, go with 3 days.)

    Top view of sliced roasted turkey using spatchcock method

    HOW TO SPATCHCOCK A TURKEY:

    What is spatchcocking, you say? When you spatchcock a turkey, you cut out the backbone and then roast the turkey flat. It looks crazy, but the bird cooks faster and more evenly. The dark meat portions are more exposed to heat, so they finish cooking not long after the breast meat finishes cooking. “But I want to stuff my bird!” you may be thinking. Never fear, you can still “stuff” the turkey. I mean, it’s totally different, but you can do it and I’ll explain that in the roasting section below. But first, how to spatchcock.

    • Remove the neck and giblets from inside the turkey if they came with the bird. Place them in a large pot.
    • Place your raw, fresh turkey on a large cutting board, breast down. With large kitchen shears or scissors, cut out the back bone. This requires some serious hand strength. I was spatchcocking two turkeys, so I had to take a little break, my hand was starting to hurt. But, if I can do it, anyone can. (This post on Serious Eats has good pictures that show how to cut out the backbone. If you Google “how to spatchcock a turkey” there are tons of videos out there, too.) ALSO: I have had great success just asking the butcher at the grocery store to cut the backbone out for me. I highly recommend this method. 😉
    • Once the backbone is removed, hack it in two and throw it in the pot with the neck and giblets. Fill the pot with water, bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 45 minutes. Voila! AWESOME turkey stock for your gravy! You’re welcome. Note: You can add other aromatics to the broth while it cooks, such as onions, carrots, parsnips, celery, and herbs. Not necessary but certainly delicious!
    • Back to the turkey. Now, flip the turkey over and place it on a large rimmed cookie sheet. Press the turkey firmly on the breastbone to flatten it out. Use your muscles!

    Now it’s time to move on to the dry brine. Oh, how I love the dry brine.

    HOW TO DRY BRINE A TURKEY:

    Now that your turkey is all flattened out and ready to go, it’s time to dry brine. This is exactly what it sounds like. You are brining the turkey and there is no water involved. It’s way easier than a water-based brine (trust me) and the results are fantastic.

    • You need 1 tablespoon KOSHER salt for every 5 pounds of turkey. You can add 1/4 teaspoon of pepper and 1/2 teaspoon of dried herbs (like sage and/or thyme) per each tablespoon of salt, but it’s not necessary.
    • Evenly rub the salt all over the turkey. You do not need to go under the skin, right on top works just fine. And you do not need to put salt in the cavity of the turkey (which, at this point, is the underside). Once you’ve used up all the salt, lightly cover the turkey with plastic wrap, place in the fridge and walk away. You can leave the turkey uncovered while it dry brines, but since there is other stuff in my fridge, I like to have a little protection so nothing touches the turkey directly. Let the turkey brine in the fridge for 1-3 days (3 days is optimal).
    • That’s it! You have successfully brined your turkey!

    HOW TO ROAST THE SPATCHCOCKED, DRY BRINED TURKEY…DON’T FORGET THE MAYO!

    Now it’s time to roast the turkey. You ready? Let’s go!

    • Preheat the oven to 450º F.
    • Line a large rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil (optional but makes for easier clean up).
    • IF YOU WANT TO “STUFF” THE TURKEY: Place a layer of stuffing on the baking sheet, concentrating the stuffing at the center where it will be directly under the turkey. Place an oven-safe cooling rack on top of the stuffing, then lay the turkey on the rack.
    • Slather about 1 to 1 1/2 cups mayonnaise all over the turkey. You can add pepper and herbs to the mayonnaise if you like (I added about a teaspoon of dry sage and thyme, along with some black pepper, to the mayo).
    • Roast for about 45-60 minutes, take the turkey out of the oven, have one person lift the turkey straight up while the other person scoops the stuffing off of the pan. Replace with vegetables as described in the next step (the “non-stuffing” step). Mix the “stuffed” stuffing with the rest of your stuffing and bake as usual for your stuffing recipe.
    • IF YOU DON’T WANT TO “STUFF” THE TURKEY: Place roughly chopped celery, onion, carrots and parsnips on the foil of the baking sheet. Place an oven-safe cooling rack over the veggies then place the turkey on the rack. (If you “stuffed,” you’ll simply put the turkey back down.)
    • Slather about 1 to 1 1/2 cups mayonnaise all over the turkey. You can add pepper and herbs to the mayonnaise if you like (I added about a teaspoon of dry sage and thyme, along with some black pepper, to the mayo).
    • FOR BOTH “STUFFED” and “UNSTUFFED”: Roast the turkey with an oven-safe thermometer placed deep in the breast. When the breast reaches 150º F, move the thermometer to the deepest part of the thigh and cook the turkey until the thigh temperature reaches 165º F, which will take about another 20 minutes. Total cooking time will be around 2 hours for a 15 pound turkey. Note: if you are not using an oven safe thermometer that just beeps when the temperature is reached, check the temperature earlier than you think you have to. Our 2016 15-pound turkey was fully done at 1 1/2 hours.
    • Take turkey out of the oven and let it rest for about 30 minutes before carving.
    • The veggies in the pan are great for snacking while you make the rest of dinner, and be sure to add the pan drippings to your turkey broth for making gravy!

    CARVING THE TURKEY:

    When it was time to carve the turkey, I did something I’ve never done before: I cut the entire breast off at once, then cut slices on a bias (see photos on Serious Eats). I carved all the meat off the wings, things and drumsticks. The turkey serving platter with all the carved meat was gorgeous. Sadly I didn’t get a photo, but my sister Instagrammed the carving process, which is the photo at the top of this post, so you can at least get an idea of how awesome the turkey platter was!

    how to perfectly roast a turkey by @janemaynard | spatchcock + dry brine + roast with mayo

    When my sister Anne and I started carving the turkey and taking bites, we could not believe how good the meat was. The breast meat was moist and flavorful all the way to the center. It was heavenly. It was miraculous. Oh, and the skin was awesome. This was the best turkey I’ve ever cooked (actually, turkeyS…I made 2!), and it might even be the best turkey I’ve ever eaten. Period.

    PHEW. That’s it! I know it seems complicated and involved, but I promise it is not hard. You just have to follow the formula. And the formula is magical.

    Happy Turkeying!

    Photo of plated roasted turkey using the spatchcock and dry brine method

    Please note: In the photos the turkey is not on sitting on a rack and there are no veggies below it. This is because I moved the turkey to a new tray to rest. I really did cook it on a tray over veggies!

    Roasted Turkey
     
    This recipe employs a few methods for perfection roasted turkey: dry brine, spatchcock, mayonnaise "baste," and cooking with high heat. The blog post above goes into complete detail explaining the hows and whys of every step. The recipe below is a summary and printer-friendly version.
    Author:
    Ingredients
    • 1 whole, fresh, non-brined turkey (tip: I prefer to cook two smaller turkeys rather than one giant turkey when I cook for a large crowd)
    • DRY BRINE INGREDIENTS:
    • 1 tablespoon kosher salt for every 5 pounds of turkey weight
    • 1/4 teaspoon pepper + ½ teaspoon dried herbs (like sage, parsley, thyme) for every 1 tablespoon of salt (optional)
    • ROASTING INGREDIENTS:
    • 1 to 1½ cups mayonnaise (good for around a 15 pound turkey, adjust accordingly based on your turkey size)
    • Optional: 1 teaspoon or so of dried herbs (sage & thyme are my choice) and some black pepper
    • Roughly chopped vegetables like onions, carrots, celery and parsnips - enough to spread a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet
    Instructions
    1. Begin turkey preparation one to three days before you plan to roast the turkey.
    2. SPATCHCOCK THE TURKEY: Spatchcocking involves cutting out the backbone of the turkey. Most store butchers will do this for you (often they'll even do it for free!). I usually have the butcher do it, but if you want to cut the backbone out yourself, please read the detailed instructions in the blog post above.
    3. DRY BRINE: Lay your spatchcocked turkey flat on a large rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle evenly with the salt (and pepper and herbs, if using) all over the turkey. You do NOT need to put salt inside the turkey or under the skin – right on top of the skin works just fine. You can leave uncovered or lay a piece of plastic wrap over the top. Place in refrigerator for at least 1 day or up to 3 days (3 days produces best results).
    4. ROASTING THE TURKEY:
    5. Preheat the oven to 450º F.
    6. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil (optional but makes for easier clean up).
    7. IF YOU WANT TO “STUFF” THE TURKEY: Place a layer of stuffing on the baking sheet, concentrating the stuffing at the center where it will be directly under the turkey. Place an oven-safe cooling rack on top of the stuffing, then lay the turkey on the rack.
    8. Slather about 1 to 1½ cups mayonnaise all over the turkey. You can add pepper and herbs to the mayonnaise if you like (I added about a teaspoon of dry sage and thyme, along with some black pepper, to the mayo).
    9. Roast for about 45-60 minutes, take the turkey out of the oven, have one person lift the turkey straight up while the other person scoops the stuffing off of the pan. Replace with vegetables as described in the next step (the “non-stuffing” step). Mix the “stuffed” stuffing with the rest of your stuffing and bake as usual for your stuffing recipe.
    10. IF YOU DON’T WANT TO “STUFF” THE TURKEY: Place roughly chopped celery, onion, carrots and parsnips on the foil of the baking sheet. Place an oven-safe cooling rack over the veggies then place the turkey on the rack. (If you “stuffed,” you’ll simply put the turkey back down.)
    11. Slather about 1 to 1½ cups mayonnaise all over the turkey. You can add pepper and herbs to the mayonnaise if you like (I added about a teaspoon of dry sage and thyme, along with some black pepper, to the mayo).
    12. FOR BOTH “STUFFED” and “UNSTUFFED”: Roast the turkey with an oven-safe thermometer placed deep in the breast. When the breast reaches 150º F, move the thermometer to the deepest part of the thigh and cook the turkey until the thigh temperature reaches 165º F, which will take about another 20 minutes. Total cooking time will be around 2 hours for a 15 pound turkey. Note: if you are not using an oven safe thermometer that just beeps when the temperature is reached, check the temperature earlier than you think you have to. Our 2016 15-pound turkey was fully done at 1½ hours.
    13. Take turkey out of the oven and let it rest for about 30 minutes before carving.
    14. The veggies in the pan are great for snacking while you make the rest of dinner, and be sure to add the pan drippings to your turkey broth for making gravy!

     


  2. Monday, November 23, 2015

    Writer, Teacher and Baker Kate Lebo Talks Pie Making and More (Ep. 9)

    This Week for Dinner Podcast Episode 9: Pie Expert and Writer Kate Lebo

    Thanksgiving is just days away, which probably means that many of you are on the cusp of baking a pie (or two…or three!). Lucky for us today’s podcast guest is a pie expert! I was actually planning to buy my pies at the store this year (GASP!), but after talking with today’s guest, I’ve decided to make my pies from scratch after all. So, who is this powerful enchantress who has bewitched me into making homemade pie crust? Kate Lebo is her name!

    Kate Lebo is a writer, teacher, and baker from the Pacific Northwest and the the author of two books about the folk art of pie making, Pie School: Lessons in Fruit, Flour, and Butter and A Commonplace Book of Pie. Kate’s essays and poems have appeared in Best American Essays 2015, Best New Poets 2011, New England Review, Willow Springs, and Gastronomica, and she writes the “Cooking the Books” column for the Spokesman-Review. Basically she is an awesome writer with an MFA from the University of Washington who also happens to be obsessed with making great pie and teaching others how to make great pie.

    My chat with Kate was delightful and informative. And, while today’s episode is certainly timely for Thanksgiving, our conversation is perfect for any time of year because pie is always a good thing.

    Shownotes:

    It’s easy to listen to the show!

    • Via the web: Just click play below!
    • Via an app: For iPhone and iPad, subscribe to the This Week for Dinner Podcast on iTunes and listen to it through the purple Podcasts app. For Android devices, use the Stitcher, Podcast Addict or Pocket Casts apps. In all cases, launch the app, then search for This Week for Dinner Podcast. The benefit of using an app: once downloaded, you can listen to the show without an Internet connection.

     Other Stuff!


  3. Tuesday, November 17, 2015

    Kitchen Tip: The Best Way To Cut Dough for Crescent Rolls

    There hasn’t been much Thanksgiving prep happening here on the blog because, honestly, there just isn’t much Thanksgiving prep happening in my kitchen! I AM cooking next week, and I haven’t done one thing yet to get ready. Honestly, I’m not stressed about it. I’m sticking with the old stand-bys this year, so I pretty much know what we’ll be eating. Just need to do some shopping this weekend. It’s all good. However, if you are actually planning ahead, you can click on my “Thanksgiving Prep” tag and see all kinds of posts related to Thanksgiving!

    kitchen tip: cutting crescent rolls with a pizza cutter from @janemaynard

    I do want to share a quick Kitchen Tip today related to Thanksgiving. It’s one of those tips that is kind of a “Duh” thing to share, but I didn’t figure it out until last year, so I imagine I’m not alone in having not done this before. Every year I make crescent rolls for Thanksgiving. And every year I use a sharp knife when cutting dough for crescent rolls. You know, once you’ve rolled out a circle and cut the circle into triangles. Well, last year, I was about to use the knife and then, for some reason, I thought of the pizza cutter. It worked beautifully. Also, what did I tell you? DUH. How had I never done this before?!

    Please note that it works best to cut from the outside edge towards the center. If you cut from the center, sometimes the tips of the triangles roll up as you roll the pizza cutter.

    kitchen tip: cutting crescent rolls with a pizza cutter from @janemaynard

    Life changer, guys. Well, when it comes to making crescent rolls at least. You’re welcome and happy crescent roll cutting!


  4. Friday, November 28, 2014

    Why My Family Thinks I Have a Ghostwriter and My New Favorite Way to Cook Turkey

    Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you had a wonderful holiday! Ours was beyond lovely and I woke up this morning feeling overwhelmed with gratitude.

    thanksgiving table

    So, if you’ve ever wanted to laugh at me, now’s your chance.

    On Wednesday while my sister-in-law Jessica, my friend Allison and I were cooking a bunch of the food for Thursday, I dumped milk over 3 hot burners on the stovetop AND poured a bowl of cooked sweet potatoes into the sink. My crowning glory, however, was cooking a turkey upside down without realizing it. Everyone decided I can’t possibly write a food blog and must have a ghostwriter on the books. I assure you this is not true, but am wondering if maybe it should be! 😉 Every time I think about checking the temperature on the turkey breast (i.e. the back of the turkey) and the probe hitting bone and me saying, “This is so weird, it’s like there isn’t even any meat in this turkey breast, I think we got a bad bird,” I bust out laughing.

    Despite my apparent lack of skill on Wednesday, I was able to pull it together and, with a lot of wonderful help, we had a glorious feast yesterday!

    A quick note on the turkey. This year we needed a lot of food, but I decided to cook 2 12-pound turkeys instead of 1 giant turkey. I followed my friend Amy’s technique and these were the best turkeys I’ve cooked in years. I’ve tried cooking turkeys every which way and Amy’s recipe is now my favorite way to do it. I also think cooking smaller turkeys probably made a difference. I cooked one turkey on Wednesday and one on Thursday. The Wednesday bird was carved immediately and we stored the meat in the fridge for leftovers. It worked great!

    Happy Leftover Day!


  5. Sunday, November 23, 2014

    Week 409 Menu + Thanksgiving Menu 2014

    It’s Thanksgiving week – I can’t believe it! Today it’s mostly all about the Thanksgiving menu, but I’ll also share our menu for the whole week, which is pretty sparse because all the attention will be on the turkey!

    This year we will have Nate’s sister Jess and her family here with us for the entire week, and the Czarnecki family will be joining us on Thanksgiving. We will be surrounded by people that we love dearly and I can’t wait!

    2014 thanksgiving menu from @janemaynard

    Time for the Thanksgiving menu! Here’s what we’ll be having. As usual, we’re sticking with everyone’s favorite classics.

     

    As for the rest of the week…here’s the menu plan!

    MONDAY: Malibu Melt Wraps

    TUESDAY: Taco Night

    WEDNESDAY: Taco Leftovers

    THURSDAY: THANKSGIVING!

    FRIDAY – SUNDAY: Leftovers Galore!

    Please share your weekly menu as usual…but we REALLY want to see your Thanksgiving plans! Share, share, share!


  6. Friday, November 21, 2014

    The Magic of Holiday Dishes

    This post is sponsored by Q Squared NYC.

    I was recently chatting with my dear friend Amy about the holidays and she mentioned the dishes her mom used when she was growing up. Amy talked about how those dishes are firmly entrenched in her memory and that the dishes themselves are as much a part of the experience of the holidays as anything else. As she got thinking about it, she found she felt the same way about the dishes her grandmother used, too.

    the magic of holiday dishes by @janemaynard

    I loved this conversation because it really got me thinking. Often when I look back on holiday meals with the family, the food is what I focus on. In fact, when I pass traditions on to my kids it’s almost always focused on the food and sharing family recipes. But I haven’t thought much about the significance of the dishes we used. After chatting with Amy I realized my experience was the same as hers, that the dishes actually played a large role.

    the magic of holiday dishes by @janemaynard

    When I was very young, most of our holidays were spent with the extended family, so a lot of the memories of dishes I have are from my grandmothers. My Grandma Wallin was the type of woman who would bring china to the beach for a picnic, so you can imagine what her table would look like for the holidays. Crystal glasses (perfect for serving 7-Up!), crystal bowls and china dishes abounded. As a young girl, I loved it. Her dishes made those family dinners feel extra special and fancy.

    the magic of holiday dishes by @janemaynard

    My Grandma Blomquist had 7 children, so when that family got together it was always a large group. I’ll never forget the tall stacks of plates on the buffet table or the basket she used for her giant rolls. What stands out most, however, is the silverware. She had several sets of silverware, complete with intricate patterns. I remember helping get the silverware out of the drawer in her china cabinet (and how that drawer was always a bear to open!). We would wipe the silverware down with a towel and, when dinner was done, carefully put it all back in the drawer.

    the magic of holiday dishes by @janemaynard

    Eventually we moved far from our extended family, at which point the dishes my mom used for the holidays take over my memories. My mom had a set of Christmas china that made an appearance very year at Thanksgiving and Christmas. We loved those dishes and using them at Thanksgiving quite literally marked the start of the holiday season in our home. Once the holidays were over, we would scour the post-Christmas sales to find more pieces to add to the collection. Those dishes are firmly planted in my holiday memories and, to this day, whenever I see that set of dishes at a store, I am transported back in time.

    the magic of holiday dishes by @janemaynard

    As I mentioned before, while I’ve always had these memories, I’ve never stopped to think about how strong they are. And, on a related note, I haven’t really thought much about the dishes I use for the holidays and whether or not my kids have the same kinds of memories. Our family is young, relatively speaking, so I’m still in the phase of collecting those dishes that will play a special role at our holiday dinner table year after year. After doing all this thinking about these particular memories, it makes me that much more excited about adding new dishes to our holiday collection and setting the table with my kids each year.

    I want my children to have similar memories to what I have, memories like polishing silver and pulling china down from the high cupboard. Of course I have fond memories of the food, but as I ponder those holiday meals from the past, I find that the act of preparing the table for those meals is where the strongest memories lie. Making the table special and beautiful with the women that meant the most to me in my life ended up being the times where we talked and bonded most and I will be forever grateful for those memories.

    I hate ending posts with open-ended questions because it feels super cheesy, but I’m breaking my own rule today because I really want to hear from you! Please tell us about your own memories!

    Pictured above: I’ve added some really lovely pieces to our holiday dish collections from Q Squared NYC. For Easter we use white dishes combined with serving dishes from the Heritage collection. For Thanksgiving we’ve added serving dishes from both the Ruffle and the Diamond collections, both of which are pictured above. Also pictured is the Maple Apple Bijou candle, which is the perfect scent for Thanksgiving and looks beautiful on the table, too!


  7. Sunday, November 24, 2013

    Week 357 Menu

    Hello from Disneyland! We are so excited for the next two days – it’s going to be a blast! We are currently taking bets on whether the holiday fireworks music show will make me cry.

    No picture today because, well, I’m at Disneyland!

    MONDAY:
    – California Adventure Park food

    TUESDAY:
    White Chicken Chili

    WEDNESDAY:
    – Pizza Port

    THURSDAY:
    – HAPPY THANKSGIVING! (Be sure to click here to share your Thanksgiving menu!)

    FRIDAY:
    – Leftovers

    SATURDAY:
    – Leftovers

    SUNDAY:
    – Hopefully we’ll still have leftovers…if not, breakfast for dinner!

    I am thankful that so many of you post menus – it makes me happy week after week! Thank you for helping make the blog what it is! Looking forward to seeing your menus for the week. And, don’t forget to click here to share your Thanksgiving menu!


  8. Friday, November 22, 2013

    Thanksgiving Menu 2013

    Hi everyone! I was going to post my Thanksgiving menu on Monday, but then I was thinking, we’re all probably doing a bunch of our grocery shopping this weekend, so it’s time to get planning for the Thanksgiving feasts NOW. Let’s get to it!

    2013 Thanksgiving Menu by @janemaynard at thisweekfordinner.com

    Here is what we are having for Thanksgiving this year. I can’t WAIT for Thursday!

    Dessert is still up in the air. We’re going to have a serious discussion about it once everyone is in town, but there will for sure be Pumpkin Pie and something with chocolate. And maybe makes-its-own-crust apple pie. And maybe even more than that. Who knows? It might get crazy around here.

    P.S. I didn’t get any cooking done ahead of time besides the cranberry sauce. So much for being organized and ahead of the game!

    Click here to see all the Thanksgiving Prep posts I’ve published over the years for even more inspiration.

    And, as always, please share your own menu plan for next week’s Thanksgiving feast! If you have recipes or links to recipes, share those, too!


  9. Tuesday, November 19, 2013

    Easy Homemade Cranberry Sauce from The Pioneer Woman

    holiday gifts & giveaways on thisweekfordinner.com

     

    This giveaway is now closed, but keep reading for a great recipe!

    I’ve decided this year I’m going to make a lot of our food for Thanksgiving ahead of time. So, this week I’m going to get cooking and freeze it all so that we can really enjoy our time with family next week. To kick off the flurry of pre-Thanksgiving cooking I made homemade cranberry sauce!

    ree's easy homemade cranberry sauce from @janemaynard at thisweekfordinner.com

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, one of the best parts of blogging has been building relationships with wonderful, amazing people from all over the country. One of those people is Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman. Ree is pure kindness and I am thankful to know her! As you may know, Ree just came out with another fun and colorful cookbook, The Pioneer Woman Cooks: A Year of Holidays.

    ree's easy homemade cranberry sauce from @janemaynard at thisweekfordinner.com

    I decided since Thanksgiving is right around the corner I should check out the Thanksgiving section of her book, which is chockfull of homemade goodness, including several different kinds of stuffing. I decided to make the cranberry sauce because, well, we need some for next week! The recipe is delicious and very simple to throw together. So simple, in fact, I forgot I was cooking the sauce. Like, as I was typing this paragraph and I started typing the word “cranberry sauce” it reminded me that I was simmering the sauce on the stove for quite some time and had to stop typing immediately and  run to the kitchen to save the sauce from certain destruction. Crisis averted, cranberry sauce is a-okay! So, in addition to being delicious and easy, this sauce is also indestructible!

    the pioneer woman cooks: a year of holidays giveaway + recipe for easy homemade cranberry sauce from @janemaynard at thisweekfordinner.com

    The cranberry sauce and the book are both great, which is just what I would expect from Ree! And today I get to give away her wonderful book! THREE of you lucky people will win a SIGNED copy of Ree’s new book The Pioneer Woman Cooks: A Year of Holidays.

    Here is how to enter the giveaway! (Comments must be posted by Midnight PT on Monday, 11/25.)

    • Simply leave a comment, any comment, on this post! That’s it!
    • Bonus entry: Follow This Week for Dinner on Facebook and leave a separate comment telling me you did! (If you already follow, that counts!)
    • Bonus entry: Follow me on Pinterest and leave a separate comment telling me you did! (If you already follow me on Pinterest, that counts!)
    • Bonus entry: Follow me on Twitter and leave a separate comment telling me you did! (If you already follow me on Pinterest, that counts!)

    ree's easy homemade cranberry sauce from @janemaynard at thisweekfordinner.com

    To wrap things up, here is the recipe for Ree’s Easy Homemade Cranberry Sauce. Enjoy!

    Easy Homemade Cranberry Sauce from The Pioneer Woman {Giveaway!}
     
    Author:
    Cuisine: Side Dish, Thanksgiving
    Ingredients
    • One 12-ounce bag fresh cranberries
    • 2 large oranges
    • 1 cup pure maple syrup
    Instructions
    1. Rinse the cranberries under cold water. Zest the oranges. Add the cranberries and zest to a medium saucepan. Squeeze the juice from both oranges into the saucepan. Add the maple syrup and stir it all together. Bring to a gentle boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, until it’s nice and thick. If the sauce still seems a little thin, just simmer longer until it’s the right consistency.
    2. Transfer the sauce to a dish and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Can be made up to 2 days in advance. Store in the fridge. (I am going to freeze mine and defrost it the day before Thanksgiving.)

     


  10. Tuesday, November 20, 2012

    {Thanksgiving Prep} Green Bean Casserole from Scratch

    Today’s post might be a little controversial. Maybe even more controversial than the 2012 presidential election. I know. Are you ready?

    I don’t like green bean casserole. You know, the casserole that practically everyone else in America seems to LOVE except me. The casserole that graces many a Thanksgiving table every November. I appreciate that it is a staple and I love that other people love it. But, yeah. I’m just not that into it and always pass when it’s available.

    See. Controversy. I may as well just tell you who I voted for for president. That might actually cause less of a stir! So, I voted for…

    What, did you REALLY think I’d fess up about my secret ballot? Yeah right!

    Back to casserole. I decided to invite green bean casserole into my life this year. But I also decided I wanted it to be made completely from scratch. Fresh green beans and mushrooms, no canned soup, homemade onion rings. The task was daunting, but I have to tell you, I am SOOOOOO glad I tackled this challenge. Because the end result was unbelievably delicious. And I am NOT speaking in hyperbole here.

    Our friend Brandon, a renowned casserole hater, took a bite and said, “Where have you been all my life?”

    Is that enough of a build up for you? Are you ready to cast aside the canned soup and the store-bought french fried onions and throw a little blood, sweat and tears into your green bean casserole? Good. Here you go.


    {Thanksgiving Prep} Green Bean Casserole from Scratch
     
    Adapted from two recipes, one from Williams Sonoma the other from Cook’s Illustrated
    Author:
    Recipe type: Side Dish, Thanksgiving
    Cuisine: American
    Ingredients
    • 1½ pounds green beans, trimmed and cut into 2”³-3”³ pieces
    • 1 cup water and a large bowl of ice water
    • 8 ounces cremini mushrooms, sliced
    • 3 tablespoon butter
    • 1 small onion or ½ regular-sized onion, chopped
    • ⅓ cup flour
    • 1½ cups chicken or veggie stock/broth
    • 1 cup cream
    • ½ teaspoon salt
    • ¼ teaspoon pepper
    • 3 shallots, sliced very thin
    • ¼ cup flour
    • ¼ teaspoon salt
    • ⅛ teaspoon pepper
    • ¼ cup canola or vegetable oil
    Instructions
    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
    2. In a large skillet with a lid, heat 1 cup water to boiling over medium-high to high heat. Add green beans. Put on lid and cook for three minutes. Remove beens and place in ice water. Set beans aside.
    3. Pour water off of the skillet. Reduce heat to medium and melt butter. Add mushroom and cook for about 5 minutes. Add chopped onion and cook an additional 5+ minutes, until onions are soft and translucent. Sprinkle ⅓ cup flour over the mushrooms and onions and stir well, cooking for a minute or so. Slowly stir in the chicken broth. Slowly stir in the cream. Mix well. Add ½ tsp salt and ¼ tsp pepper. Stir well then mix in green beans. Transfer to 9×13 casserole dish and place in oven. Bake for 30 minutes (you will put fried shallot rings on top for the last 5 minutes of baking”¦see below).
    4. While casserole is baking, heat ¼ cup oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Mix flour, ¼ tsp salt and ⅛ tsp pepper in a medium to large bowl. Mix shallot rings in the flour, coating well. Use your hands to mix the shallots in the flour so you can break the rings up and get them coated really well. Transfer floured shallots with tongs to the skillet. Cook, stirring frequently, until shallots are crisp and golden.
    5. Sprinkle fried shallots over the top of the casserole at the 25 minute baking point. Bake 5 more minutes. Serve hot!
    6. If you want to make this ahead of time, I would do everything except the fried shallot rings and put the casserole in the fridge BEFORE baking. Bake 5-10 minutes longer since the casserole will be going into the oven cold and make the fried shallot rings while the casserole is baking.

    green bean casserole from scratch by @janemaynard from thisweekfordinner.com