Cooking an entire Thanksgiving meal is quite a hefty task. Not only does it require culinary expertise, but it also involves lots of planning. To help shoulder part of the burden and cut the budget, many people like to throw or attend a potluck Thanksgiving.
Usually the person hosting is in charge of the turkey. They should also assign side dishes — that way you won't end up with seven sweet potato casseroles and no cranberry sauce — and coordinate a cooking schedule.
If you're a guest at a potluck on Thanksgiving, be sure to ask the hostess what you should bring.
Select a side dish that can be made almost entirely in advance and put it together the morning of the big day. Communicate with the hostess and explain that your dish needs a certain amount of time in the oven or microwave. To see my recipe suggestions — like herb-roasted turkey, fennel and potato puree, sausage and apple stuffing, and cranberry ginger relish — for hosting and attending a potluck Thanksgiving, read more.
One 18-pound turkey
1 head of garlic, halved horizontally
1 medium onion, quartered
20 sage sprigs
20 thyme sprigs
20 parsley sprigs
Salt and freshly ground pepper
3 cups turkey stock
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons maple syrup
- Preheat the oven to 350°. Rinse the turkey inside and out and pat dry. Trim the neck skin. Stuff the turkey with the garlic, onion and sage, thyme and parsley sprigs. Season inside and outside with salt and pepper. Transfer the turkey to a large, lightly oiled roasting pan and roast it for about 3 hours, or until an instant-read thermometer inserted in a thigh registers 175°. Cover the turkey with foil if the skin begins to look very brown. Transfer the turkey to a cutting board and let rest for 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, pour the pan juices into a heatproof bowl and skim off the fat. Set the roasting pan over 2 burners on high heat until sizzling. Add 1 cup of the turkey stock and bring to a boil, scraping up any browned bits stuck to the bottom and side of the pan; add to the pan juices in the bowl.
- In a medium saucepan, melt the butter. Add the flour and cook over moderately high heat for 1 minute. Add the pan juices and remaining 2 cups of turkey stock to the saucepan and cook, whisking, until the gravy is thickened and no floury taste remains, about 5 minutes. Stir in the maple syrup and season with salt and pepper. Strain the gravy into a gravy boat. Carve the turkey and serve with the gravy.
Notes: Roast the bird for 20 minutes per pound for a stuffed turkey and 16 minutes per pound for an unstuffed one. The bird is done when an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of a thigh registers between 160° and 180° and the juices run clear. The USDA specifies that cooking poultry to 180° will kill all bacteria that can cause illness. Remove the turkey from the oven when its temperature is 10 degrees lower than desired; the temperature will rise by 5 to 10 degrees as the bird rests.
You’ll need plenty of turkey stock or canned low-sodium chicken broth and roasting pan juices to make enough gravy. To get lots of pan juices, roast your turkey at 350° and baste with some stock; if the bird does not seem to brown adequately, you can always raise the oven temperature during the last half hour for faster browning. If your gravy is too thin, simply make a smooth paste with equal parts flour and unsalted butter, a mixture known in French as beurre manié (mon-YAY). Bring the gravy to a boil and whisk in bits of the paste until you get the thickness you desire. If your gravy seems too thick, gradually whisk in more stock.
3 large fresh fennel bulbs (about 2 1/4 pounds total), trimmed, quartered through core, center core trimmed and discarded, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
1 medium onion, cut into 3/4-inch pieces (about 1 3/4 cups)
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons fine sea salt, divided
3 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 cup crème fraîche
- Preheat oven to 375°F. Line large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Combine fennel, onion, oil, and 1 teaspoon sea salt in large bowl; toss. Spread in single layer on prepared baking sheet; sprinkle with pepper. Roast until fennel and onion are very tender, about 1 hour 15 minutes. Cool slightly. Transfer fennel mixture to processor and puree until almost smooth.
- Cook potatoes in large pot of boiling salted water until very tender, about 25 minutes. Drain well. Cool slightly. Place in large bowl and mash with potato masher until smooth. Mix in fennel puree.
- Melt butter with rosemary and 1 teaspoon sea salt in small saucepan over medium heat.
- Stir butter mixture into fennel-potato puree. Mix in crème fraîche. Season to taste with more pepper and salt, if desired. Can be made 6 hours ahead. Transfer puree to large microwave-safe bowl. Cover with plastic wrap. Chill. Before serving, microwave on high until heated through, about 4 minutes.
1 pound mild bulk breakfast sausage
4 tablespoons butter
3 cups sliced leeks, white and pale green parts only, cleaned well (about 2 large leeks)
2 Granny Smith apples, cored and chopped
1 cup chopped celery with leaves
1 tablespoon poultry seasoning
1 cup dried cranberries, rehydrated in boiling water for 15 minutes and drained
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage leaves
2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
6 cups boxed bread cubes (croutons)
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
2 to 3 cups chicken stock
1 tablespoon salt
2 teaspoons ground black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
- Saute the sausage in a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat until cooked through, crumbling coarsely with the back of a spoon, about 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the sausage and drippings to a large bowl.
- Melt the butter in the same skillet over medium-high heat. Add the leeks, apples, celery and poultry seasoning to the skillet and saute until the leeks are soft, about 8 minutes.
- Mix in the drained cranberries, sage and rosemary. Add the mixture to the sausage, then mix in the croutons and parsley. Next add the chicken stock a little at a time until the stuffing is very moist. Be sure not to overdo it; it shouldn't be mushy. Season with salt and pepper. Place in a casserole dish. (The stuffing can be made to this point 2 days before Thanksgiving, refrigerated.)
- Bake in a 14-inch oval or 9 by 13-inch rectangular casserole dish and place, uncovered, in the oven for 20 to 30 minutes, until the top is crispy and the center piping hot. Remove and serve immediately.
1 bag (12 ounces) fresh or frozen cranberries
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar or red-wine vinegar
- In a large saucepan, bring cranberries, sugar, ginger, and 2 tablespoons water to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until most of the cranberries have popped, 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in vinegar.
- Remove relish from heat. Let cool to room temperature, and serve (or refrigerate in an airtight container up to 3 days).