Thursday, November 28, 2013

RECIPE: Thanksgiving Dinner Trader Joe's Style

Every year of my life I have had Thanksgiving dinner with my family in Tennessee. Well, all but a couple of years when we were flying there on Thanksgiving Day. This year we are at home in California. Since I've always been in Tennessee, we've always spent the day with my family. My sister-in-law wasn't there this year either. Her daughter just gave birth to a beautiful baby earlier this week, so she's at their home helping them. She said this was the first time in 27 years she's not been with our family, too. Not to mention this was the first Thanksgiving without my dad. Anyway, we will be getting together soon, so we'll make up for lost time then. Dad definitely was the glue that held our family together. I miss you, dad.

So, with many changes in traditions, it's time to try new things and start our own traditions. Conrad and I talked over options of what to do for Thanksgiving dinner and we quickly ruled out making reservations at local restaurants. We discussed ordering a meal from a local restaurant or grocery store and quickly ruled that out, as well. We ended up cooking at home. We bought a 12 pound turkey ...

 I rinsed it, dried, it, put salt, pepper, fresh sage, rosemary and thyme inside, along with the neck and the organs and a slices sweet onion … 

 I also placed a couple of slices of bacon inside the cavity, as well. I rubbed the skin with olive oil, then generously salted and peppered the skin.
 I added a few more fresh herbs … 
 Then covered the bird in BACON! I had preheated the oven to 500°, so I put the bird in for 30 minutes before reducing the temperature to 350° for the duration of the roasting time. As you know, cooking time varied by oven and size of the bird, but it's done when the temperature reached 161 degrees in the thickest part of the breast. After it's done, take the bird out of the oven, place it on a large platter, cover it with foil and let it rest for 30 minutes before carving. 

While the bird was roasting I made dressing. Some folks call it stuffing, but I grew up calling it dressing.  I had never tried Trader Joe's Thanksgiving dinner fixin's before, but I will definitely use them again. To sum it up in one word … DELICIOUS!!!
I added a few of my own ideas to their stuffing mix recipe, including a pound of sage sausage, chicken broth instead of water for a richer flavor, and an egg to hold it together better.
First you empty 4 cups of water (or broth), 4 tablespoons butter, and the seasoning mix packet into a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Stir often and let it gently boil for 3 - 5 minutes. I let it go 6.

 Fry the sausage … 
 Oh, and I added poultry seasoning! What stuffing/dressing is complete without it!
 Ready to go in the over … 350° for 50 minutes.
Yum! Finished product!
We also had grilled asparagus with olive oil, fresh thyme, salt, pepper, and fresh grated parmesan. In the background there's a triple crock pot with mashed potatoes for Conrad, mashed sweet potatoes for me, and Trader Joe's turkey gravy in the third one. 
Ding! And, the bird is ready! The bacon kept it moist, golden brown, and crispy skin with tender meat throughout!
Conrad made his famous deviled eggs, too. We splurged a little by having the dressing, a small piece of homemade rosemary bread, and cranberry sauce … Also from Trader Joe's. 
The table is set and dinner is served!
 Definitely a member of the clean plate club tonight!

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