With rich flavors, luxe ingredients, and complex cooking techniques, this delicious Thanksgiving menu is sure to wow your foodie friends. Start with brioche toasts topped with foie gras, date purée, and pomegranate seeds. Caviar with cream cheese on peppered crackers is another hors d'oeuvres option that comes together easily with elements from a gourmet grocery store. A slow-smoked turkey with cane syrup-coffee glaze is a showstopping centerpiece to the main event. Before being smoked, the bird is braised in a mixture of coffee, apple cider vinegar, and cane syrup, so make sure you have a pot large enough to hold a whole turkey.
A decadent stuffing with bacon, sage, and fresh-shucked oysters is a delightful accompaniment to the smoked bird. Sweet potatoes reach new heights when served in souffle form stuffed inside a phyllo dough. To get these recipes for the more advanced home cook, read more.
1/4 pound Medjool dates (packed 1/2 cup), pitted
1/2 cup boiling-hot water
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon pomegranate molasses
1 large brioche loaf or challah loaf (1 to 1 1/2 pound)
1 (6 1/2-ounces) block foie gras, chilled
Garnish: pomegranate seeds (from 1 pomegranate)
- Soak dates in boiling-hot water (1/2 cup) in a bowl 10 minutes. Transfer dates with a slotted spoon to a mini food processor or a blender along with 1 tablespoon soaking liquid. Add pomegranate molasses and purée until smooth.
- Preheat broiler.
- Cut enough 1/4-inch-thick slices from brioche to cut into a total of 32 (1 1/2-inch) squares (without crust).
- Broil brioche squares on a baking sheet 4 to 5 inches from heat, turning once, until pale golden, about 1 1/2 minutes total. (Watch carefully; brioche toasts quickly.)
- Dip a sharp paring knife in hot water, then dry it and halve foie gras lengthwise. Cut each half crosswise into 16 slices (32 total), dipping and drying knife after each cut. Put each slice as cut on top of a brioche toast, then top with a small dollop of date purée and a few pomegranate seeds.
Makes 32 hors d'oeuvres.
Make ahead: Brioche can be cut (but not toasted) 1 day ahead and kept in an airtight container at room temperature. Date purée can be made 3 days ahead and chilled, covered. Bring to room temperature before serving.
2 gallons water
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup ground coffee, preferably chicory coffee
1 large onion, halved
12 large thyme sprigs, tied together
1/4 cup kosher salt
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
2 cups light brown sugar or 3 cups cane syrup*
One 11-pound turkey
About 3 cups hickory chips
Vegetable oil, for brushing
- In a large saucepan, bring 1 gallon of the water to a boil; keep warm. In a large stockpot, combine the cider vinegar, coffee, onion, thyme, salt and peppercorns with 1 3/4 cups of the brown sugar and the remaining gallon of water. Bring to a boil.
- Holding the turkey by the legs, carefully ease the bird into the hot brine, neck end down. Add enough of the hot water to the stockpot to cover the turkey and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 1 1/2 hours.
- Carefully remove the turkey from the stockpot. Strain 2 cups of the braising liquid into a heatproof bowl and stir in the remaining 1/4 cup of brown sugar. Discard the remaining braising liquid.
- Meanwhile, light a charcoal grill or preheat a gas grill. A few minutes before the turkey has finished simmering, add 2 cups of the hickory chips to the coals. When the chips start smoking, brush the turkey breast with oil.
- Set the turkey, breast side down, on the grill. Cover and smoke over a low fire or flame for 15 minutes. Baste the turkey with the reserved braising liquid; turn it breast side up and baste again.
- Cover the grill and continue smoking the turkey for about 40 minutes longer, basting occasionally with the braising liquid and adding more coals or hickory chips to the grill as necessary.
- The turkey is done when an instant-read thermometer inserted in the inner thigh registers 165°. Transfer the turkey to a cutting board and let rest 20 minutes before carving.
Serves 10 with leftovers.
*Cane syrup is available by mail order from Steen's.
11 cups 1⁄2" cubed white French bread (about 14 oz.)
6 slices bacon, cut crosswise into 1⁄4" strips
6 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted, plus more for
greasing the pan
6 shallots, thinly sliced
4 ribs celery, thinly sliced
40 medium oysters, such as bluepoints, shucked (about 1 lb.), with 1 cup of the liquor reserved
1 cup chicken stock
1⁄4 cup madeira or port
1⁄3 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves
2 tbsp. chopped thyme leaves
2 tbsp. chopped sage leaves
1⁄2 tsp. Tabasco
1⁄4 tsp. fresh grated nutmeg
1⁄8 tsp. ground cloves
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Heat oven to 250. Arrange bread cubes on a baking sheet in a single layer and bake, stirring occasionally, until dried but not browned, about 15 minutes. Let cool.
- Put bacon into a 12" skillet; cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until crisp and its fat has rendered, about 10 minutes.
- Add 4 tbsp. of the butter and heat. Add shallots and celery, reduce heat to medium, and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes.
- Add oyster liquor, stock, madeira or port, parsley, thyme, sage, Tabasco, nutmeg, cloves, and salt and pepper.
- Bring to a boil over high heat and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Scrape the mixture into a large bowl and stir in the bread cubes and oysters. Set aside to allow the flavors to come together for 10 minutes.
- Raise the oven temperature to 400°. Transfer mixture to a buttered 2-qt. oval baking dish and cover with foil.
- Bake for 30 minutes, remove foil, drizzle with remaining butter, and continue baking until golden brown and crusty, about 30 minutes more. Serve immediately.
2 medium sweet potatoes, pierced with the tines of a fork
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs, separated
2 tablespoons packed light-brown sugar
1 cup whole milk
1 2-inch piece peeled fresh ginger, thinly sliced
1/4 cup unsalted butter, plus 1/2 cup melted, plus more for pan
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup plus 1/4 cup granulated sugar, plus more if needed
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, plus more if needed
9 sheets phyllo dough, (17 by 12 inches) thawed if frozen
Pinch of cream of tartar
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bake potatoes until tender, 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes. Remove from oven; let stand until cool enough to handle.
- Peel potatoes, and press through a ricer into a large bowl (you should have about 1 cup); let cool completely. Stir in ground ginger, vanilla, salt, egg yolks, and brown sugar; set aside.
- Meanwhile, heat milk and fresh ginger in a medium saucepan over medium heat until just under a boil. Remove from heat; let stand 30 minutes. Pour through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl.
- Melt 1/4 cup butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Whisk in flour; cook, whisking, 1 minute. Whisk in milk mixture. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, and cook 1 minute. Stir into potato mixture.
- Butter a 9-inch springform pan, and place on a baking sheet; set aside.
- Stir 1/3 cup granulated sugar and the cinnamon in a small bowl.
- Brush 1 phyllo sheet with melted butter. Sprinkle lightly with cinnamon-sugar mixture. Fold in half crosswise; brush with butter. Sprinkle lightly with cinnamon-sugar mixture, and fit into prepared pan, folded side in, allowing a 2 1/2-inch overhang. Repeat, overlapping sheets to cover bottom.
- Put egg whites into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment; beat on high speed until foamy. Add cream of tartar; beat until soft peaks form.
- With machine running, gradually add remaining 1/4 cup granulated sugar; beat until stiff glossy peaks form. Whisk one-third of the egg whites into potato mixture. Gently but thoroughly fold in remaining egg whites.
- Pour over phyllo; fold overhang over filling. Sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar mixture (if needed, combine 1 to 2 tablespoons more sugar and a pinch of cinnamon).
- Reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees. Bake pie until puffed and just set in center, 45 to 50 minutes. Remove from oven; let stand until slightly cooled and center has fallen, about 20 minutes.