One thing I look forward to during the long winter months is the Thanksgiving feast. When I was growing up, my grandmother would fuss over turkey preparations and pull out the tried- and-true turkey, stuffing, and mashed potato recipes she'd used for years. But once in a while it's fun to add a new ingredient or two to a holiday staple.
The three recipes featured below include a variety of spices and even pears to create a tasty twist to those faithful Thanksgiving dishes.
You may enjoy them so much they'll become a family tradition of yours for years to come.
Prep: 20 minutes, Roast: 3 hours 50 minutes, Stand: 20 minutes, Oven: 425 degrees F.
1 14-pound turkey
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup butter (no substitutes), softened
2 to 3 tablespoons snipped fresh thyme, tarragon, marjoram, and/or rosemary
2 cloves garlic, minced
Pear-Pecan Stuffing (see recipe below)
Step 1: Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
Step 2: Remove giblets and neck from interior cavity of turkey; reserve for gravy stock. Rinse bird; pat dry. Cut off wing tips; reserve for gravy stock. Season cavity with salt and pepper.
Step 3: Starting at neck end of the turkey, loosen skin by sliding your fingers underneath, being careful not to tear it. Slide your hand as far as you can toward the other end of the turkey, separating the skin from the meat.
Step 4: In a small bowl, combine butter, fresh herbs, and garlic. Rub about two thirds of the seasoning over entire breast beneath the skin.
Step 5: Spoon some of the Pear-Pecan Stuffing into the neck cavity. Skewer neck skin to back. Spoon more of the stuffing loosely into the body cavity. (If you pack stuffing too tightly, it will not get hot enough by the time the turkey is cooked.) Tuck drumsticks under tail skin, or tie to tail. Transfer any remaining stuffing to a 2-quart casserole; cover and chill in the refrigerator.
Step 6: Place turkey, breast side up, on a rack in a shallow roasting pan. Insert a meat thermometer into the center of one of the inside thigh muscles. Bulb should not touch the bone.
Step 7: Rub remaining herb-butter seasoning over entire turkey. Cover turkey loosely with foil. Roast in preheated oven for 20 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350 degrees F. Continue roasting turkey for about 3-1/2 to 4 hours or until thermometer registers 180 degrees F. Cut band of skin between legs after 2-1/2 hours so thighs cook evenly. Bake covered casserole of stuffing alongside turkey during the last 40 minutes of roasting. During last 30 minutes of roasting, uncover turkey.
Step 8: When done, remove turkey from oven; cover. Let stand 20 minutes before carving. To serve, remove stuffing from turkey; transfer to serving bowl. Carve turkey and serve warm. Makes 14 servings.
Nutrition facts per serving: 771 calories, 43 g fat, 230 mg cholesterol, 23 g carbohydrates, 2 g fiber, 71 g protein.
Prep: 30 minutes, Bake: 40 minutes, Oven: 350 degrees F.