Thanksgiving: Classic Sides

This year was the first Thanksgiving Phill and I have had together. Last year we made a pre-Thanksgiving dinner with cornish game hen and stuffing out of a box, but on the actual day, we were far away from each other. So, to celebrate this first holiday together we had to go all out. Everything from scratch, a beautiful free range turkey and a bottle of champagne.

We’ve decided that the sides are our favorite part though. The stuffing and mashed potatoes in particular. The leftovers didn’t last very long in our fridge. I have to say, this is probably the best stuffing I’ve had. It beats out the out of a box/bag stuff completely, and it was super easy! The mashed potatoes were super garlicky and amazing. Just the way we like it. And the secret ingredient? Gravy made from the drippings of a brined turkey. But I’ll get to that later….

I can’t forget the cranberry sauce. I made it the way my mom always has. I’ve never even tried the out of a can stuff and I’m happy to keep it that way. This version is wonderfully tart, the way I like it, so you actually get the true essence of the cranberry. Or maybe I just like things crazy tart; I eat cranberries straight from the bag. Whether you like it with some extra sugar or not, it lends the perfect sweetness to balance out all the savory on your Thanksgiving plate.

Garlic Mashed Potatoes

6 medium sized potatoes, like yukon gold or white potatoes
6 garlic cloves, roasted
6 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1/4 cup cream, or soy creamer
salt and pepper

1. Roast your garlic in the oven in a small dish coated with a bit of oil. Since I was roasting the turkey, the oven was set to 325* and the garlic took about 45 minutes. If your oven is hotter, it will cook faster. Remove when the garlic is golden brown.

2. Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil, salt it if desired. Cut your potatoes into large chunks, making sure they’re all about evenly sized to ensure everything finishes at the same time.

3. Add your potatoes to the water, and check for doneness after 15 minutes. Your fork should go through them very easily. If they are still hard, boil for another 5 minutes and check again. Strain your potatoes, and put in a large bowl or mixing bowl .

4. I used a KitchenAid Mixer with a paddle attachment, but it can be done by hand as well. Break the roasted garlic apart slightly with a fork and add it, as well as the raw garlic, to the bowl. Add your cream and mix throughly until it has reached the consistency you prefer. Add more cream if needed and salt and pepper to taste.

Classic Stuffing
adapted from mel’s kitchen cafe

7 tablespoons of butter
1 loaf of artisan/rustic bread, something with a lot of crust to it, cubed
5 stalks of celery, sliced
2 medium onions, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, pressed
1 1/2 cups of vegetable broth
4 sprigs of fresh thyme, removed from stem
4 sprigs of fresh rosemary, removed from stem and chopped
2 tablespoons of fresh sage, chopped
2 large eggs, beaten

1. Preheat you oven to 350*. I cubed my bread the day before so it hardened nicely over night. Melt 5 tablespoons of butter in the microwave. In a large bowl mix the cubed bread and butter until everything is evenly coated. Spread on a baking sheet and bake about 20-30 minutes till everything is golden brown. Remove and allow to cool.

2. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter in a skillet. Add the celery, onion, garlic and chopped fresh herbs and cook, stirring occasionally, until everything becomes soft and golden brown, about ten minutes.

3. Preheat your oven to 325*. In a large bowl, add the cooked vegetables and bread cubes. Pour in your vegetable stock and eggs and mix till everything is well coated. Pour into a buttered 9×13 baking dish and cover with foil. Bake for about 40 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for about 20 minutes more.

My Mom’s Cranberry Sauce

1 bag of fresh cranberries
1 medium sized orange
1/2 cup of sugar

1. Rinse the cranberries and put in a food processor. Wash the orange and cut the ends off, but leave the remaining peel on. Cut into quarters (or eighths if your food processor is a bit weak) and add to the cranberries. Pour on your 1/2 cup of sugar.

2. Food process until everything is consistently chopped. If you prefer a sweeter cranberry sauce, add another 1/4 cup of sugar.