Right now it seems as if every chef is looking to the South for inspiration. So why not take a tip from the likes of Alton Brown and John Besh and serve a Thanksgiving meal that oozes with Southern charm? Plan a dinner that highlights simple and delicious cooking. Start with an unfussy roast turkey recipe that's seasoned with lots of salt and pepper and served with a rich turkey gravy.
Keep things uncomplicated and bake an oyster dressing with bacon and hot sauce outside of the bird. It's spicy, bready, and deliciously briny. Whip up a batch of mashed potatoes loaded with sour cream and white cheddar cheese. Finally, round out the menu with a bourbon-cranberry compote. It's the perfect sweet-tart accompaniment to succulent turkey. To be inspired by this collection of curated recipes, keep reading.
1 (16-lb.) turkey at room temperature 1 hour, any feathers and quills removed with tweezers or needlenose pliers, and neck and giblets removed and reserved for another use if desired
1 tablespoon salt
1 3/4 teaspoons black pepper
2 cups water
7 to 8 cups turkey stock
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
- Make turkey: Put oven rack in lowest position and preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Rinse turkey inside and out, then pat dry. Sprinkle turkey cavities and skin with salt and pepper. Fold neck skin under body and secure with metal skewers, then tie drumsticks together with kitchen string and tuck wings under body.
- Put turkey on rack in roasting pan. Add 1 cup water to pan and roast without basting, rotating pan halfway through roasting, until thermometer inserted into fleshy part of thighs (test both thighs; do not touch bones) registers 170 degrees F, 2 1/4 to 2 3/4 hours.
- Carefully tilt turkey so any juices from inside large cavity run into roasting pan, then transfer turkey to a platter, reserving juices in roasting pan. Let turkey stand, uncovered, 30 minutes (temperature of thigh meat will rise to 180 degrees F).
- Make gravy while turkey stands: Pour pan juices through a fine-mesh sieve into measuring cup (do not clean roasting pan), then skim off and discard fat. (If using a fat separator, pour pan juices through sieve into separator and let stand until fat rises to top, 1 to 2 minutes. Carefully pour pan juices from separator into measure, discarding fat.)
- Straddle roasting pan across 2 burners, then add remaining cup water and deglaze roasting pan by boiling over high heat, stirring and scraping up brown bits, 1 minute. Pour through sieve into measuring cup containing pan juices. Add enough turkey stock to pan juices to bring total to 8 cups (if stock is congealed, heat to liquefy).
- Melt butter in a 4-quart heavy pot and stir in flour. Cook roux over moderate heat, whisking, 5 minutes. Add stock mixture in a stream, whisking constantly to prevent lumps, then bring to a boil, whisking occasionally. Stir in any turkey juices accumulated on platter and simmer 5 minutes. Season gravy with salt and pepper, then stir in cider vinegar (to taste).
2 ounces slab bacon, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 stick unsalted butter
1 celery rib, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1/2 green bell pepper, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1/2 small onion, finely diced
2 large garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 large baguettes (about 1 pound), cut into 1/2-inch dice (12 cups)
4 dozen shucked oysters plus 1 cup oyster liquor, oysters halved (2 cups)
2 scallions, minced
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon hot sauce
1 teaspoon kosher salt
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 10-by-14-inch shallow baking dish.
- In a large skillet, cook the bacon over moderate heat until crisp, about 5 minutes. Add the butter and let melt, then add the celery, green pepper, onion and minced garlic and cook until softened, about 8 minutes. Add the paprika, garlic powder and cayenne, and cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Put the diced baguettes in a large bowl. Spoon the bacon mixture on top. Add the oysters and their liquor along with the scallions and parsley.
- In a small bowl, beat the eggs with the hot sauce and salt. Pour the eggs into the bowl and mix everything together. Scrape the dressing into the prepared baking dish and bake in the upper third of the oven for about 45 minutes, until heated through and crisp on top. Serve hot.
Make Ahead: The baked oyster dressing can be refrigerated overnight. Reheat before serving.
2 heads garlic
6 pounds Idaho potatoes, peeled and quartered
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup butter
1 (12-ounce) carton sour cream
1 (8-ounce) block sharp white Cheddar, grated
1 1/2 pounds cooked bacon, julienned
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Cut tops off 2 garlic heads. Wrap in foil and roast for 30 minutes. When cool enough to handle remove the flesh from the garlic heads and set aside.
- In a large stockpot, cook potatoes in enough salted water to cover for 10 to 15 minutes or until tender.
- Drain and return to stockpot. Beat with an electric mixer until smooth; adding salt, to taste, pepper, butter, garlic and sour cream. With a spatula stir in cheese and bacon. Add more salt and pepper, if necessary. Serve immediately.
1 12-ounce bag cranberries, fresh or frozen (3 1⁄2 cups)
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup apple juice
1/4 cup bourbon
- In a saucepan, combine the cranberries, sugar, apple juice, and bourbon.
- Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the cranberries begin to burst and the sauce thickens, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool before serving.