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Thanksgiving Recipes: Turkey, Stuffing, Potatoes, Cranberry Sauce, Pumpkin Bars

Here is a collection of five table options for your family's holiday feast.

With Thanksgiving on Thursday, here is a collection of Thanksgiving recipes from Patch readers to get your creative juices flowing and your tummy rumbling.

Have your own recipe you'd like to share? Add it to the comments section below.

Brined Turkey Breast

Submitted by John McCarthy

The recipe below is not an old family tradition, but is the way I will always prepare a turkey. I brined my first turkey breast last Thanksgiving and it was the most tender and moist turkey I had ever cooked. It carved perfectly as thin or thick as I wanted to cut it with no crumbling of any kind.

Note: If you can find a fresh (unfrozen) turkey breast, this a great start, but you can also use a frozen turkey breast as well. Be sure to thaw it safely and completely in the refrigerator a couple of days before brining.    

Brining time: 24 hours

Ingredients:

  • 1 gallon water
  • 1 cup Kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon whole allspice
  • 8 cups ice

Makes 1 1/2 gallons (after adding the ice) of brine.

Preparation:

  • Combine the water, salt, sugar, peppercorns and allspice in a large stockpot. Stir to dissolve the salt and sugar.
  • Bring to a boil, then remove from heat. Add the ice and allow the brine to cool completely. DO NOT PLACE UNCOOKED POULTRY INTO A WARM BRINE.
  • Select the vessel you will use to immerse the turkey breast. Avoid aluminum. Stainless steel, glass or plastic is okay. I use an insulated cooler just large enough to fit the turkey breast.
  • Pour the cooled brine over the turkey breast to cover completely.
  • Transfer to a refrigerator for 24 hours.

Directions:

  • When you're ready to roast, remove the turkey breast and rinse it thoroughly. You can pour out the brine solution at this point.
  • Cook your turkey breast any way you like. My preference is on the rotisserie in my gas grill using the catalytic burner along the back with a catch pan for the drippings. In the pan, I put a couple of cups of water, a couple of cups of dry white wine, a 1/2 teaspoon of celery seed, a 1/2 teaspoon of ground black pepper, a sprinkle of sage and a sprinkle of thyme. This will be the basis of your gravy along with the drippings.

Irish Sausage Stuffing

Submitted by John McCarthy

We can trace this stuffing recipe back as far as our grandmother, who grew up in the town of Wicklow in County Wicklow on the east coast of Ireland, and it probably came from her mother.

When my father and mother married, my father insisted his mother’s stuffing recipe be used for Thanksgiving and Christmas turkeys. Of course, back in those days, a stuffing recipe wasn’t really written down, so between my sister and I, we have pieced together the ingredients.

These ingredients will make enough stuffing for a 15-pound turkey with enough left over to fill a 9-inch by 13-inch casserole cooked separately in the oven. You can always adjust your ingredients for larger or smaller turkeys.

There is one little secret I can share about the preparation. Despite our modern food preparation appliances like food processors, I can honestly say this recipe tastes better when you use an antique food grinder.

When I started making this many years ago, I hunted lots of antique shops until I found just the right one and look forward to dragging this somewhat looking medieval device out of the closet every time I make this recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 3 medium white onions
  • 3 celery stalks, cut into four pieces
  • 1 loaf stale white bread
  • 1 tablespoon poultry seasoning (I like Bells)
  • 1 tablespoon celery salt
  • 8 large potatoes, peeled, boiled, drained and cooled
  • 2 pounds ground sausage, cooked, drained and cooled (I like Jimmy Dean’s original)

Directions:

  • Brown the ground sausage thoroughly, drain and cool.
  • Peel and quarter the potatoes, boil until a fork can separate them. Drain and cool.
  • Dip the stale bread quickly into a bowl of water and squeeze out all the water.
  • Alternating the ingredients, begin running everything through the grinder. Grind only once.
  • In a large bowl, add the celery salt and poultry seasoning along with a couple of dashes of ground black pepper and mix thoroughly with your hands.
  • Please note I have indicated to cool all cooked ingredients before grinding. DO NOT STUFF RAW POULTRY WITH WARM INGREDIENTS.

Mashed Potatoes

Submitted by Amy Kane

Thanksgiving is an annual family reunion in the suburbs of Philadelphia where I grew up, with as many as 40 people from as far away as California, South Carolina and New Hampshire sitting down together for a fabulous home-cooked feast.

My stepmother Julie is head chef and cooking genius, but many of us have a small role to play in making the day delicious. My own humble task is Chief Peeler of the Potatoes — from 25 to 30 pounds of them.

Usually I have help from a sister or two, and maybe one of my daughters (my grandmother was Chief Peeler for years, but now she is Peeler Emeritus and rests on her laurels).

Mashed potatoes are a favorite part of the meal for many — especially kids — and it wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without them. Below is Julie’s simple, classic recipe, but cut down to size for around six people.

And here’s some advice from the Chief Peeler: always buy the biggest, smoothest, firmest russets with the fewest “eyes” possible, especially if you have a lot to peel. My favorite peeling tool is an OXO Good Grips Pro Swivel.

Ingredients (serves six):

  • 6 medium russet potatoes
  • 1/2 cup milk — start with this you, you may need more
  • 1/4 cup butter at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • dash of pepper

Directions:

  • Peel the potatoes, cut them into one-and-a-half-inch chunks and put them in a saucepan. Add water until potatoes are covered (sometimes I rinse them and add fresh water).
  • Bring to boil and add 1 teaspoon of salt, then turn down and simmer for about 15 minutes or until done — when a fork can easily be poked through them.
  • Remove from heat and drain all the water.
  • Put the potatoes back in the pot and add butter and milk (at Thanksgiving sometimes I use cream or cream cheese — I read somewhere that the more fat, the easier it is to reheat them and the fluffier they stay). Some people heat the milk first, but I just put the pot back with the burner on low. Also, you can mash them off the heat, then give them a quick whisk or two over low heat to warm them up.
  • I always use an electric mixer, but some purists demand a potato masher.  Never use a food processor. No matter what method you use, beat/mix the potatoes well enough to get rid of any lumps but not so much that your potatoes end up sticky or gluey.
  • Add salt to taste.
  • Serve!

Triple Cranberry Sauce

Submitted by Linda Libbey

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup frozen cranberry juice cocktail concentrate, thawed
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 12-ounce package fresh or frozen cranberries, rinsed, drained
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries (about 2 ounces)
  • 3 tablespoons orange marmalade
  • 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
  • 2 teaspoons minced orange peel
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • Optional: 1-2 chopped granny smith apples to taste

Directions:

  • Combine cranberry juice concentrate and sugar in heavy medium saucepan. Bring to boil over high heat, stirring until sugar dissolves.
  • Add fresh and dried cranberries and cook until dried berries begin to soften and fresh berries begin to pop, stirring often, about seven minutes.
  • Remove from heat and stir in orange marmalade, orange juice, orange peel and allspice.
  • Cool completely. Cover; chill until cold, about two hours (can be made three days ahead, but keep refrigerated). 

Creamy Cranberry-Pumpkin Bars

Submitted by Chris McCarthy

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/3 cup finely crushed ginger snaps (about 2 dozen snaps)
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • melted 2 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups canned pumpkin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg  
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 packages (3.4 ounces each) vanilla instant pudding
  • 2 cups cold milk
  • 1/8 cup rum or 2 teaspoons rum extract
  • 3/4 cup whole cranberry sauce
  • 1 tub (8 ounces) whipped topping, thawed, divided (see directions)
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans or peanuts, toasted

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Combine cookie crumbs and butter; press on the bottom of 13-inch by 9-inch pan.
  • Bake 10 minutes.
  • Beat cream cheese and sugar with mixer until well blended. Add pumpkin and spices; mix well. Add eggs, one at a time, beating on low speed after each just until blended; pour over crust.
  • Bake 30 minutes or until center is almost set.
  • Cool one hour.
  • Beat pudding mixes, milk, and rum (or extract) in medium bowl two minutes. Stir in whole cranberry sauce and then stir in one cup whipped topping. Spread over dessert; cover with remaining whipped topping.
  • Refridgerate three hours or until firm. Sprinkle with nuts before serving.

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