Thanksgiving Feast Re-Cap!

Oh no, I am so sad that I have fallen behind in the blog posts. I have so many photos of food and recipe ideas floating out there on my computer, in my head and around our kitchen. As I take some time to gather them up and put them together, I thought it would be a good idea to first post our Thanksgiving memories here before I forget.

Due to work schedules (I always have to work the day after and Grant usually plays a gig on Thanksgiving Day), we have stayed at home in Nashville for Thanksgiving for the last five or six years. Some years, my family has come to us. Other years, our good friends Lew & Shirley (who appreciate eating as much as we do thankfully) have visited us from Seattle for Thanksgiving. This year, we had sort of just planned to stay home and cook for ourselves and rest from a busy fall schedule. Our friends Molly, Jacob, and Reno sent us a lovely email the week before and invited us to join them. We know they love food as much as we do so this seemed a perfect fit.

The Smokey’s Fixin’s- Texas Tandies, Pumpkin Pie with a Pecan Crumble Top, and Broccoli Casserole.

Classic Southern fav- Seven Layer Salad

We all cooked- some family favorite recipes and some new- and met at Jacob & Molly’s house for an amazing Thanksgiving outdoors! That’s right, the weather was so perfect, we were able to eat outside and then enjoy some guitar picking by the fire! They were perfect hosts, had cooked so much all day and we had a lovely, relaxing day with them. Below are two recipes that I just had to post so we don’t forget them…

Homemade Chex Mix & Molly’s Holiday Sangria

The first one is something Molly came up with. I had never thought of having Sangria in the winter months, let alone for a holiday meal, but this was so perfect. It is so beautiful and festive, too. She found several recipes online and came up with her version that went like this-

Molly’s Holiday Sangria
1 cup water
1 cup cane sugar
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 large cinnamon stick
4 allspice berries
3 whole cloves
2 cups whole fresh cranberries
2 apples, diced
1 bottle Spanish Tempranillo
1/3 cup ruby port
1/3 cup Cointreau
1/3 cup cranberry juice

In a saucepan, mix the water, sugar, crushed red pepper, cinnamon, allspice, and cloves. Simmer over moderately low heat for 15 minutes. Strain into a bowl and add the cranberries and apples. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Strain the fruit, reserving the spiced syrup. In a large pitcher, mix the wine, port, Cointreau, cranberry juice, fruit and 3/4 cup of the spiced syrup. Refrigerate until chilled, about 1 hour. Serve over ice.

Now Grant has cooked quite a few turkeys and he is a great cook. He tasted Jacob’s turkey and instantly realized this was one of the best he had ever tasted. It was Jacob’ first turkey, too. It was a perfectly cooked turkey and made the meal. Here’s the recipe he sent me-

Jacob Jones’ Thanksgiving Turkey

Ok, here goes, super simple….
Make sure the bird is not frozen. If it is, thaw it out in the fridge for a day or two.

Make the brine:
1 bottle Apple Juice
1 can Pineapple Juice
2 cups Kosher Salt
1/4 cup Brown Sugar
Fresh Rosemary
1 gallon Water

Brine the turkey completely covered in the fridge or someplace cold for about an hour per pound over night. The next day, rinse the turkey off and paper towel dry inside and out. This is very important so that you don’t steam the turkey. Season the entire outside of the bird with salt and pepper.  Place the turkey breast down on a roasting rack in a roasting pan. If you don’t have a rack and are using a disposable foil roasting pan (as I do), just use some long carrots in the bottom of the pan, they will keep the bird off the hot surface and act as a rack*. Take an entire package of center cut bacon and place it on top of the bird in rows. Add an inch or two of the brine liquid to the roasting pan. Add 5 to 10 fresh garlic cloves to the liquid. Sauté 1 cup onion and 1 cup chopped carrots on a skillet over medium for about 10 minutes until they are fragrant. Use a little butter or oil. Once done, let them cool and stuff into the cavity of the bird. Stuff the cavity of the bird with fresh rosemary, thyme, and sage.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Place the turkey on the lowest level of the oven rack.  Roast for about 15 minutes per pound or until the internal temp of the bird is 155. About half way through, turn the turkey over breast side up and baste with the brine liquid. Add some fresh rosemary to the top and place an oil soaked cheese cloth on the breast to trap moisture. About an hour before the bird is done, remove the cheese cloth.

Make sure the bird sits on the counter 30 to 45 minutes tinted in foil so it can seal in the juices and finish cooking.

Carve table side.  Cover in gravy. Enjoy.

* Ahem, Lady Smokey would like to note that these carrots were amazing! Bacon cooked carrots are a new favorite! YUM!

Look at all those colors!!!

We were stuffed and so happy after this amazing meal. Poor Grant had to go play guitar for four hours and I had every intention of joining him for some holiday Honky-Tonkin’ but I couldn’t leave the sofa. Somehow, though, we recovered a couple days later and managed to want more turkey and still had a few ideas brewing that we hadn’t had the opportunity to cook yet so on Sunday, our day off together, we had our own little celebration with more Texas Tandies (a Johnson family holiday tradition!).

Texas Tandies go best with Champagne or a Hard Apple Cider!

We made a stuffed turkey breast and a few fall sides for Sunday super. Grant made a yummy cornbread, apple, pecan dressing and then pounded out a deboned turkey breast, rolled it up with dressing inside, and tied it up with twine.

Making Dressing with homemade cornbread!

He dusted the outside with flour and browned each side in a dutch oven on the stove. He then cooked it in the oven. Once it was done, he sliced it. It was beautiful and really tasty!

The Stuffed Turkey Breast

We ate this with cooked carrots (with onions in a little bacon fat- thanks to Jacob for that idea!), roasted Brussels Sprouts, and fresh cranberry sauce. Yum!

We topped the evening off with some Pecan Shortbread and the beginning of Christmas Music Season! What a collection we have. New this year is a collection of holiday tunes from our neighborhood. You can pick up a copy of it for yourself here and all the proceeds go to help the National Health Care for the Homeless Council. We finished the weekend off with our annual viewing of The Last Waltz. We are truly thankful to have so many good friends and family and such amazing good food and music in our lives.

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