Thanksgiving Dinner! Let’s talk turkey, or not. Why you may ask? Turkey is probably my least favorite part of the Thanksgiving meal. For me, it is all about the sides! So go ahead and brine the turkey or not, fry it, roast it, rub it, and/or stuff it. Do whatever you do. This blog is going to be all about the side dishes. Oh, and the GRAVY. I guess I have been making gravy for so long, that I never really realized what an art form it really is. There are a lot of you out there who really struggle with this. I am going to make it super easy for you. You will be a rockstar gravy maker this Thanksgiving!
Well, I’ll talk turkey for a brief second. I buy a turkey breast. Rub it with a stick of butter under the skin, season with kosher salt and black pepper. Place in a roasting pan. That’s it! Fairly simple, and always comes out beautifully, with a crispy skin and moist, tender inside! Don’t have a roasting pan? I would suggest you adding one to your kitchen. Click here for one similar to the one I use! I will use this pan again during Christmas when I prepare my Prime Rib. For a complete guide on how to safely thaw a turkey, click here. In addition, check out this article from Southern Living Magazine on A Pound by Pound guide for cooking a turkey.
Appetizers? To do or not to do, that is the question? I say yes! Parades and football all day long require snacks. Inevitably, we never start our meal on time. So, having a few apps will relieve the pressure to perform, so to speak! Click here for some ideas to serve up pre-Thanksgiving Dinner.
GRAVY AND SIDE DISHES FOR THANKSGIVING DINNER
TURKEY THIGHS OR CHICKEN?
How can you enjoy Thanksgiving Dinner without the most perfect gravy? The key to any gravy is to develop the flavors over a period of time using bones. However, it is that initial browning that really makes all of the difference. If you can find bone-in turkey parts, use them. If not, chicken will do just fine. I like using bone-in, skin-on, turkey or chicken thighs. If you are feeding a larger crowd, toss in a few extra thighs. In a pot, heat up the olive oil. Season, on all sides, the thighs with kosher salt and black pepper. Dredge each thigh in flour. Add to heated oil and allow to brown (not burn) on both sides. If at any point, the thighs burn, you have to start over. Sorry, it is a must.
FINISHING THE GRAVY
Once the thighs are nice and browned on both sides, add the turkey stock, celery, onion and bay leaves to the pot. Scrape the browned bits from the bottom. Turn up the heat and allow to just come to a boil. Lower heat to a very low simmer. Simmer for at least two hours. I like to place my pot on the back of the stove and just allow to slowly simmer away as I am preparing the rest of Thanksgiving Dinner. You will not finish the gravy until the very end.
To finish the turkey gravy, remove and discard the thighs, celery, bay leaves, and onions. I like to run the stock through a sieve or strainer. This will ensure that any tiny bones will get filtered out. I do this by placing a fine mesh strainer, like this one, over a bowl and pouring the stock from the pot. Wipe out the pot and pour the stock back in.
Whisk in the turkey bouillon. In a small bowl, add in the cornstarch and whisk in just enough of the stock to make a thick slurry. Try not to thin the slurry too much. Turn the heat up on the pot to medium-high. To avoid lumps, with a whisk, slowly combine the slurry. You may, or may not use it all. Just check the texture as you are whisking. Once it thickens to a gravy consistency, you are good! Taste for salt.
SAUSAGE STUFFING FOR THANKSGIVING DINNER
This recipe has been in my Family for generations. My mother still has the paper that my grandfather wrote the recipe on. Rather than reinvent the wheel, I am just going to link the recipe here. Also, check out my video on Tiktok! Although, I do want to note, this year, I did try something different and formed some of my stuffing in a loaf pan. I wanted to do this to show you how you can create a cool sandwich with all of the leftovers! I cut two pieces of the stuffing and used as them as sandwich bread. Fill the sandwich with leftover turkey, my homemade cranberry sauce, a few thin slices of brie cheese and a bit of peppery arugula!
If you are stuffing the turkey, be sure to check out this article from The Daily Meal. It’s a great guide on how to do this safely.
OYSTER DRESSING FOR THANKSGIVING DINNER
Now that I am living in the South, I have noticed over the years, how many people refer to “stuffing” as “dressing.” I suppose no one would stuff their bird with oyster dressing like we northerners do with our sausage stuffing. Nonetheless, Oyster Dressing is pretty amazing. Give it a try. Click here to check out my recipe! If you are local to Charlotte, grab your shucked oysters from The Carolina Meat & Fish Co.!
HOMEMADE GREEN BEAN CASSEROLE
What truly is a complete Thanksgiving Dinner without Green Bean Casserole? Well, Homemade Green Bean Casserole, that is! Click here for the most perfect recipe. Yes, it will require a bit more preparation. However, I guarantee you will never go back to making it any other way!
The most beautiful, and pleasing part to the eyes (pun intended), were these delicious roasted rainbow carrots. Honestly, ditch the honey glazed and skip the herbs. You do not need any more sweetness, or competition with flavors for your Thanksgiving Dinner. A simple roast will do perfectly. I found these cute rainbow carrots from Cal Organics at my local Harris Teeter. You just may want to make extra. This, coming from someone who is not much of a carrot fan. I loved them!
Heat oven to 425 degrees. Layer the carrots on a pan. I kept the greens on my long stem carrots just for show. Feel free to cut them off. You will notice some of the baby carrots are larger than others. So, go ahead and cut in half, longways. Drizzle the olive oil all over. Season with kosher salt and black pepper. Place in oven for about 30 minutes. Flip the carrots around every so often.
ROASTED BRUSSELS SPROUTS WITH BACON AND ALMONDS
This recipe is a keeper. Guarantee you will be preparing Brussels sprouts this way all throughout the year. You can prep in advance and throw in the oven when you remove the turkey. It is a one-pan wonder and so super delicious. Click here for recipe!
FLUFFY MASHED POTATOES
What is Thanksgiving Dinner, or any meal for that matter where is gravy involved, without fluffy mashed potatoes? Click here for all of the details on how to make my outstanding homemade mashed potatoes. Not wanting carbs, yet craving an alternative to mashed potatoes? Check out my recipe for Mashed Cauliflower. They kind of look the same, right? Don’t have the time, or just do not want to make your own mashed potatoes? I found Bob Evans brand to be fairly close to homemade.
MAPLE ROASTED POTATOES AND BACON
Since I am not much of a fan of Sweet Potatoes, you will probably never see me create a recipe for Sweet Potato Casserole. However, I was yearning for a recipe that would be similar. The perfect blend of sweet and salty. So, if you are looking for a new favorite side dish, not only for your holiday table, but for anytime during the year, this is it! Click here for link to recipe!
Cranberry sauce has never really been my jam (pun intended). My family and husband grew up on the can. It was always served this way for Thanksgiving Dinner. This year, I am breaking the spell and making a version of my own, that I cannot only serve on the Thanksgiving table, but also use for leftovers. I will also be making plenty for a Baked Brie dish. Making your own cranberry sauce could not be easier. Honestly, ten to fifteen minutes, and it is ready!
On medium heat, in a pot, combine the sugar, orange juice/water mixture, apple juice and peels. Whisk just until the sugar dissolves. Add in the remaining ingredients. Continue to whisk often. Cook for about ten minutes, or until most of the cranberries have popped. You will notice the mixture thicken. Cool. This is definitely one of those make ahead recipes. Prepare a day or so in advance and store in fridge! Garnish with a touch of lemon or orange zest.
GRUYÈRE AND BLACK PEPPER POPOVERS
Jazz up your Thanksgiving dinner table with these incredible popovers. They are super easy to prepare and your guests will love them!
THANKSGIVING DINNER LEFTOVERS
What to do with Thanksgiving Dinner leftovers? I’m going to show you some creative ways to actually enjoy them. I have been on a kick lately creating TV dinners. Check out my TV dinner recipes for Pot Roast and Salisbury Steak. You can throw these in the freezer and enjoy them on a weeknight when you just do not feel like cooking! You are going to need these TV dinner trays. Click here to purchase. Grab them now so that you will be good to go on Thanksgiving Day! As mentioned earlier, try your hand at a cool sandwich with the sausage stuffing as your bread, or even an open-faced turkey sandwich.
I hope you all enjoy a wonderful Thanksgiving Dinner with Family and Friends. I would love for my recipes to make it on to your table. Thank you and ENJOY! Please share your comments with me!
LET’S GET SOCIAL!
I am more than just recipes. I love fashion and style too! Most importantly, I love my Family (my Hubby and my Fur Babies). My Husband (aka my “Kitchen Bitch”) means the world to me. He’s pretty damn cool too. Not only is he one of the nicest guys you will ever meet, he also has had a lengthy career in professional hockey. Not only winning two Stanley Cups with the Pittsburgh Penguins in the early ’90’s, but most recently winning the Calder Cup with the Charlotte Checkers, amongst many other accolades. If you live in Charlotte and play hockey, or have a family member who plays, be sure to contact him. He is known as one of the best skate sharpeners in the world!
Our life has changed dramatically in the past few years with the passing of our two goldendoodles, Vegas and Viva. We were lucky enough to have Vegas for five years (totally wish it was longer). Most recently, losing our Viva to a brain tumor in July of 2020. We welcomed our mini goldendoodle 7, almost seven years ago. We just added the amazing Hazel! Of course, I am always posting tons and tons of photos! Be sure to check out my recipe for Pet Bone Broth! This broth is super rich in nutrients and will provide your pet with a multitude of health benefits!
Be sure to follow me on social media! I’m always talking food, fashion, and family! I also love sharing some of my favorite Amazon Finds too. Click here to check out my Amazon page! Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter and Pinterest!