Over the years, Newsday has tapped chefs and home cooks, recipe developers and cookbook authors to create the perfect Thanksgiving menu. This year, we are curating those recipes to bring you eight of the best, including turkey, side dishes, stuffing and dessert.
Simple Roast Turkey and Gravy
WHAT YOU'LL NEED
1 (10-to-12 pound) turkey
1. The night before Thanksgiving, take the turkey out of its wrapping, dry it off, and, from a distance of about a foot, give it a nice sprinkling of kosher salt. Grind some pepper onto it then refrigerate it, uncovered.
2. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Take the turkey out of the refrigerator up to an hour before you plan to roast it. Place it on a rack in a sturdy sheet pan or shallow roasting pan (you want air to circulate around the bird as it cooks) and put it on the bottom shelf of the oven. If your oven is deep enough, put the legs facing the back of the oven.
3. Turn oven down to 300 degrees and roast for about 3 hours, until the temperature of the breast registers 150 to 160 degrees and the temperature of the thickest part of the thigh registers 165 to 170 degrees. Carefully remove turkey to a carving board so you can deglaze the drippings in the roasting pan. Let turkey rest for at least 45 minutes and up to 90 minutes before carving. Makes 8 servings plus leftovers.
The secret to this gravy is using dark poultry stock (recipe below) -- stock that has been made with roasted chicken or turkey and, instead of water, a regular stock.
Pan drippings (still in roasting pan)
2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
2 1/2 cups dark poultry stock
Turkey giblets, trimmed of connective tissue and chopped (optional)
Salt and pepper
1. After you remove the turkey from the roasting pan, pour off the fat in the pan and discard. Then add a cup of water and put the pan back into a 350-degree oven for a few minutes, until the drippings stuck to the bottom loosen enough to be scraped into the water with a wooden spoon. Pour into a heatproof vessel and set aside.
2. In a saucepan, combine butter and flour and stir, over medium heat, until you have a richly tanned roux, 5 to 8 minutes. Whisk in the liquid from the roasting pan and the poultry stock. Simmer over low heat for a few minutes until mixture slightly thickens. Add optional giblets. Taste for salt and pepper (it may not need any). Makes 3 1/2 cups.
DARK POULTRY STOCK:
1 1/2 pounds turkey wings or thighs
1 1/2 pounds turkey gizzards and/or necks
2 pounds chicken thighs
4 quarts homemade chicken stock (or canned, low-sodium broth)
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place all of the items on a sheet tray and roast in the oven until nicely browned, about 1 hour or so.
2. Remove them from the sheet tray and place them in a large pot. Add the cooled chicken stock and bring everything to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and cook at a strong simmer until reduced to 2 1/2 quarts, 1 to 2 hours. Strain and reserve. Makes about 2 1/4 quarts.
4 pounds chicken backs, necks, thighs and/or wings
Combine chicken with 6 quarts of water in a large pot, bring to a boil and then reduce the flame so that the liquid maintains a strong simmer (just a bit less than a boil). Cook for 3 hours, until slightly reduced, and then strain the stock. Discard the bones and chill until needed. Makes about 4 quarts.
Brined turkey with southwestern spice rub
WHAT YOU'LL NEED:
2 cups kosher salt
2 gallons water
1 (12- to 14-pound) turkey, rinsed, giblets and neck set aside
3 tablespoons chili powder
3 tablespoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons ground black pepper
2 teaspoons fine sea salt
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon ground allspice
2 tablespoons olive oil
1. In a large stockpot, dissolve salt in water. Place turkey in pot and refrigerate for 4 to 6 hours.
2. Before removing turkey from brine, make spice rub: Combine chili powder, cumin, coriander, oregano, black pepper, sea salt, cayenne and allspice in a bowl.
3. Remove turkey from brine and rinse well under cold running water. Thoroughly pat dry, inside and out, with paper towels.
4. Place turkey on a rimmed baking sheet. Carefully separate skin from breast meat and rub 2 tablespoons of the spice mixture onto breast meat. Rub another tablespoon of spice mixture inside cavity of turkey. Brush underside of turkey with 1 tablespoon oil and rub with half of remaining spice mixture. Brush breast of turkey with 1 tablespoon olive oil and then rub with the remaining 3 tablespoons of the spice mixture.
5. Trim tailpiece, tie legs together with kitchen twine, and tuck wings under bird. Refrigerate uncovered on baking sheet overnight.
6. Adjust oven rack to lowest position. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cover a large v-rack with heavy-duty foil, poke some holes in it with a skewer and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Place turkey on rack, breast-side down, and roast for 45 minutes.
7. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees. Use wadded paper towels to grasp turkey on either end and turn breast-side up on rack. Continue to roast until thickest part of breast registers 165 degrees and thickest part of thigh registers 170 to 175 degrees on instant-read thermometer, 1 to 1½ hours longer. Transfer turkey to carving board; let rest 30 minutes before carving and serving. Makes 6 to 8 generous servings.
Classic stuffing with bacon
WHAT YOU'LL NEED:
8 slices thick-cut bacon
2 cups chopped carrots (4 medium)
2 cups chopped celery (4 stalks)
3 cups chopped onion (2 large)
10 ounces mushrooms, trimmed and chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
1⁄4 teaspoon black pepper
1 14-ounce bag seasoned dry stuffing cubes
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with cooking spray.
2. Cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium low. When crisp, transfer to a plate lined with paper towels to drain. Chop when cooled.
3. Pour off all but about 2 tablespoons of the bacon fat from the pan. Add the carrots, celery, onion, mushrooms, sage, thyme, salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are softened, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and toss with the stuffing cubes, broth and eggs. Stir in the bacon and transfer to the prepared baking dish, cover with foil and bake 45 minutes. Uncover and bake 15 minutes. Makes 14 servings.
Bread stuffing with chorizo, almonds and smoked paprika
WHAT YOU'LL NEED:
12 cups cubed bread from a stale loaf of challah
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 ounces chorizo, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
4 ribs celery, coarsely chopped
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
½ cup finely chopped minced fresh parsley
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups low-sodium canned chicken broth
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
1½ cups slivered almonds
½ cup Peppadew peppers or other mildly spice pickled peppers, finely chopped
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread bread cubes on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until light golden and dry, stirring occasionally, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl.
2. Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Cook chorizo, onion and celery until softened, 7 to 9 minutes. Stir in smoked paprika and set aside to cool slightly.
3. Add chorizo mixture to bowl along with parsley, salt, broth, eggs, almonds and peppers. Mix thoroughly.
4. Spray a 13-by-9-inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Spoon stuffing into baking dish and drizzle with melted butter. Cover tightly with foil and bake until heated through, about 30 minutes. Remove foil and continue to bake until golden brown on top, 15 to 20 minutes longer. Let rest 5 to 10 minutes and serve warm. Makes 8 to 10 servings.
Crispy Brussels Sprouts Leaves with Pancetta and Brown Butter
WHAT YOU'LL NEED:
4 tablespoons butter
6 ounces pancetta, in 1/4-inch-thick slices
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 pounds Brussels sprouts, trimmed, halved, cored and leaves separated
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
1 bunch of thyme, leaves stripped off and chopped
1. Brown the butter by putting it into a small saucepan and heating over medium until it has a nutty aroma, turns a rich tan color and the milk solids, which will initially float to the top, fall to the bottom. Scrape up the solids and pour into a heatproof vessel. Set aside.
2. Unroll the round pancetta slices into strips and cut into 1/4-inch dice. Cook pancetta in a large skillet over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until fat starts to render and it begins to crisp, about 5 minutes. Transfer pancetta to a small strainer placed over a small bowl.
3. Heat olive oil in the same skillet over medium high and cook the garlic, stirring occasionally, until it is fragrant and golden, about 1 minute. Working in batches, add Brussels sprout leaves, tossing and letting them wilt slightly before adding more; season with salt and pepper. Cook, tossing occasionally, until leaves are browned in spots and the edges are crisp, about 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat and add the vinegar, pancetta, thyme and brown butter; toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Makes 8 servings.
Roasted delicata squash with curry leaves
WHAT YOU'LL NEED:
2 large or 3 small delicata squash
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
5 to 6 large curry leaves (any mix of herbs may be substituted)
1⁄4 cup lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
2 pinches of a large crystal finishing salt, such as sea salt
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Cut the squash in half, remove seeds and slice into 1⁄2 thick semicircles.
2. Toss with salt, pepper and 2 tablespoons of olive oil and spread on a parchment-paper-lined baking sheet. Roast for about 20 minutes, turning once until the squash is caramelized on outside but not too soft.
3. In a saute pan, place remaining olive oil and cook curry leaves until crispy. Remove to a paper towel to drain. Reserve the oil.
4. Arrange roasted squash on a platter, drizzle with lemon juice and curry-flavored olive oil in the pan. Gently crush the curry leaves with your hands. Sprinkle leaves and finishing salt on top of squash. Makes 6 to 8 servings.
Chocolate coconut pecan pie
WHAT YOU'LL NEED:
1 single-crust 9-inch pie shell, chilled
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups light corn syrup
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups pecans, toasted and coarsely chopped
1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
1 large egg white
1 cup (5 1/2 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Prick bottom and sides of pie shell all over with fork. Line shell with heavy-duty aluminum foil, pressing it against bottom and sides of shell and letting the foil overhang the edge by one inch. Prick the foil with fork and through the pastry. Bake until crust is set, about 15 minutes. Carefully remove foil and continue to bake until crust is golden, 10 minutes longer.
2. While crust is baking, prepare filling: Place a few inches of water in a large saucepan and bring to a simmer. Combine butter, sugar, salt, eggs and corn syrup in large bowl and place on top of pot, whisking until butter is melted and ingredients are warm to the touch. Whisk in the vanilla and stir in the pecans and coconut. Remove from the heat.
3. Remove pie shell from oven and lower temperature to 275 degrees. Brush the bottom of the shell with egg white and let stand 2 minutes to dry. Pour the pecan mixture into the hot shell. Scatter chocolate chips over filling. Bake until center is just barely set, with the slightest wiggle to it, about 55 minutes.
4. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before slicing and serving.
Sweet Potato Panna Cotta with Maple Syrup
WHAT YOU'LL NEED:
3 1/2 teaspoons unflavored powdered gelatin (about 1 1/2 [1/4-ounce] packages)
3 cups heavy cream
3/4 cup whole milk
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sweet potato puree
1/2 to 1 cup good-quality, dark amber maple syrup
1. In a small bowl, whisk the gelatin with 1/4 cup cold water and set aside.
2. Whisk the cream, milk, brown sugar, salt, vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg in a saucepan over medium heat until just beginning to boil.
3. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the softened gelatin. Whisk in the sweet potato purée, and then strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl, pitcher or liquid measure. Divide among 8 (6-ounce) ramekins or coffee cups. When cool, cover the ramekins with plastic wrap, then refrigerate until firm and cool, at least 4 and up to 48 hours.
4. Unmold the panna cotta by dipping the bottom of each ramekin in hot water briefly, and then running a paring knife around the edge all the way to the bottom to loosen it. Cover with a dessert plate and invert, give it a firm shake, and then remove the ramekin or coffee cup. Drizzle each unmolded panna cotta with a little maple syrup. Makes 8 servings.