Thanksgiving Menu and Recipes: Dry Brined Turkey and Broccoli Pancetta Sauté

Libbys Pumpkin Pie

I was chatting with my dear friend Karen the other night and she said I needed more Thanksgiving recipes on my site and she’s right. So I thought it would be fun to share my menu for Thanksgiving this year and also provide links to recipes that I’ve made in the past that would be a great addition to your Thanksgiving meal.

My husband likes a very traditional Thanksgiving with foods that he ate for Thanksgiving growing up. So for our Thanksgiving dinner I try to strike a balance between cooking family favorites and adding a few new things so that I don’t get bored making the same old thing year after year.

Here’s this year’s menu:

  • Dry-Brined Turkey (new this year – see below)
  • A traditional bread stuffing adapted from a recipe my sister-in-law gave me when I first got married.
  • Mashed Potatoes and Gravy – I love my potato ricer for making really creamy mashed potatoes. I make the potatoes early and keep them warm in a crockpot with a little milk on top. Updated: Jane, This Week For Dinner, had a great post on making gravy.
  • Last year I made Paula Deen’s Sweet Potato Bake and everyone raved about it, so I’m including it again this year
  • Broccoli Pancetta Sauté (new this year – see below)
  • Buttered corn for my mom who isn’t crazy about broccoli
  • My favorite dinner rolls using Lovin’ from the Oven’s Brown & Serve Roll technique.
  • I grew up eating Green Jello Cream Cheese Salad and it really wouldn’t be Thanksgiving for me without it, my kids love it now too.
  • Ocean Spray Cranberry jelly from the can because my boys and husband love it and choose it over homemade cranberry sauce (not that I’m bitter about that)
  • Pumpkin Pie is an absolute must have for my husband. He likes the Famous Libby’s pumpkin pie that is always on the label.
  • Crostata con la Crema with lemon curd and strawberry coulis (I’ll post the recipe for this soon.)

I usually cook our turkey in a Reynolds roasting bag, but this year I have a beautiful new Oneida roasting pan that I got with a gift certificate at Blogher Food. I debated whether to do a dry or a wet brined turkey and came across this recipe in the Los Angeles Times for a dry brined turkey that gets rave reviews. They have a couple of different versions of it on their site because they’ve updated it to make it even easier to cook so I’m posting the version I’ll use. Hopefully, I’ll get a great picture of it on Thursday and I’ll update my post.

I was looking for a new vegetable recipe this year and saw this one in Good Housekeeping. I love that it’s made in a skillet on the stove and takes less than 10 minutes to cook.

Broccoli Pancetta Sauté
 
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoon(s) olive oil
  • 1 1/2 ounce(s) pancetta, chopped
  • 2 clove(s) garlic, crushed with press
  • 1/4 teaspoon(s) crushed red pepper
  • 2 pound(s) broccoli florets, small
  • Salt
  • 1/2 cup(s) water
  • 1 tablespoon(s) fresh lemon juice
  • Lemon wedges, for serving
Directions
  1. In 12-inch skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil on medium-high. Add pancetta and cook 1 to 2 minutes or until browned and crisp, stirring. With slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels to drain.
  2. To same skillet, add garlic and pepper. Cook 10 seconds, stirring, then raise heat to high and add broccoli and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook 2 minutes, then add water. Cover and cook 3 to 5 minutes or until most of water evaporates.
  3. Meanwhile, in small bowl, with wire whisk, stir together lemon juice and remain ing 1 tablespoon oil. Drizzle over broccoli and gently toss to evenly coat. Transfer to serving bowl. Top with pan cetta and serve with lemon wedges.
Dry Brined Turkey
 
Ingredients
  • 1 (12- to 16-pound) turkey
  • Kosher salt or any of the seasoned salts
Directions
  1. Wash the turkey inside and out, pat it dry and weigh it. Measure 1 tablespoon of kosher salt or the appropriate amount of a seasoned salt into a bowl for every 5 pounds the turkey weighs (for a 15-pound turkey, you'd have 3 tablespoons kosher salt).
  2. Sprinkle the inside of the turkey lightly with salt. Place the turkey on its back and salt the breasts, concentrating the salt in the center, where the meat is thickest. You'll probably use a little more than a tablespoon. It should look liberally seasoned but not oversalted.
  3. Turn the turkey on one side and sprinkle the entire side with salt, concentrating on the thigh. Use a little less than a tablespoon. Flip the turkey over and do the same with the other side.
  4. Place the turkey in a 2 1/2 -gallon sealable plastic bag, press out the air and seal tightly. Place the turkey breast-side up in the refrigerator. Chill for 3 days, leaving it in the bag but turning it and massaging the salt into the skin every day.
  5. Remove the turkey from the bag. There should be no salt visible on the surface, and the skin should be moist but not wet. Wipe the turkey dry with a paper towel, place it breast-side up on a plate and refrigerate uncovered for at least 8 hours.
  6. On the day it is to be cooked, remove the turkey from the refrigerator and leave it at room temperature at least 1 hour. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
  7. Place the turkey on a roasting rack in a roasting pan; put it in the oven. After 30 minutes, reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees, and roast until a thermometer inserted in the deepest part of the thigh, but not touching the bone, reads 165 degrees, about 2 3/4 hours total roasting.
  8. Remove the turkey from the oven, transfer it to a warm platter or carving board; tent loosely with foil. Let stand at least 30 minutes to let the juices redistribute through the meat. Carve and serve.
Notes
Los Angeles Times Note: This is more a technique than a recipe. It makes a bird that has concentrated turkey flavor and fine, firm flesh and that's delicious as is. But you can add other flavors. Minced rosemary would be a nice finishing addition. Or brush the bird lightly with butter before roasting. Remember that you should salt the turkey by Monday night at the latest to have it at its best by Thursday, though briefer salting times will work too.

Great Thanksgiving recipes from last year:
Caramelized Corn and Green Beans with Pecans and Blue Cheese, Barbara Bakes
Fresh Cranberry Sauce with Orange Zest, Two Peas and Their Pod
Cranberry Apple Pie, Barbara Bakes (my favorite apple pie recipe!)
Pecan Squares, Barbara Bakes