I’m another week closer to cooking my first Thanksgiving meal, and I’m starting to feel a little more comfortable.
Instead of jumping to exactly what dishes I plan to make, I started by listing all the majors I want to see at the meal: dark and white meat turkey, sweet potatoes, corn, homemade cranberry sauce, some type of green. And then I listed the things that others traditionally make: my mother-in-law’s stuffing, my parents’ Polish sausage and sauerkraut, my sister-in-law’s homemade rolls.
Many of our siblings ask “what can I bring?” And so I wanted to be ready to tell them the holes we needed filled, “would you like to do collard greens, or Brussels sprouts?” Some family members even ask me to pass on recipes that I have found and am interested in, but won’t have time to make on the day of Thanksgiving or just don’t have the oven room for … I’m regretting letting my husband talk me out of double ovens 9 years ago when we remodeled our kitchen.
If you’re still thinking your menu over, here are some contributions to consider. As an alternative to cooking a whole turkey, particularly if your family fights over the dark meat, why not consider just roasting turkey legs on their own? This recipe looks good, though I would think most turkey drumsticks weigh more than 10 ounces, so if yours are heavier, adjust the cooking time. You could probably cook these the day before and then rewarm them in a slow cooker the next day with a little broth. Sounds like a good plan to me.
Friendsgiving — which seemingly first appeared on Urban Dictionary in 2009 — has been growing in popularity over the years, fueled by social media, hashtags and the number of young people looking to gather with friends in addition to their own family units.
For a side dish, I saw this photo of a beautiful plate of all kinds of autumnal vegetables chopped into bite-size pieces and sautéed with bacon grease. Yum! I might be assigning this to one of my guests.
And for a dessert, pumpkin pie might be traditional, but it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. I don’t think most kids like it, but I think they would be more excited about this pumpkin maple spice cake, if only because it has icing. Maple has been making appearances in all kinds of things this year, and it’s a staple at my house, on pancakes, in homemade granola, on top of plain homemade yogurt. In a pumpkin dessert? As I’ve written before, pumpkin is kind of bland, so instead of just tasting the sugar you’re putting in the dessert, the maple will bring a little extra flavor.
Roasted turkey legs
Olive oil spray
4 bone-in, skin-on medium turkey drumsticks (about 10 ounces each)
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Fit a roasting pan with a roasting rack and spray the rack with olive oil spray.
Pat the turkey drumsticks dry with paper towels. Brush the turkey drumsticks all over with melted butter and rub with the seasoning mix. Place on the roasting rack.
Roast uncovered for 20 minutes, until the skin is well browned. Loosely cover with foil, to avoid scorching the top, and continue roasting until juices run clear when pierced with a fork and an instant-read thermometer registers 165 degrees (make sure it isn’t touching the bone), about 30 more minutes.
Remove the roasted turkey legs from the oven and allow to rest, still covered in foil, for 10 minutes before serving. Do not skip this step, it allows the internal temperature to climb a bit more, and the juices to redistribute and settle.
Baby Portobello mushrooms; cleaned and halved or quartered
Avocado oil (if making vegetarian version)
Salt and pepper
Prepare the butternut squash, Brussels sprouts, onion, and mushroom. Set aside.
In a large, high-sided skillet, cook the bacon until almost crisp. Remove and drain. Set aside. *Note: skip this step if preparing the vegetarian version.
Add the butternut squash and Brussels sprouts to the pan with the bacon grease. Or if making the vegetarian version, add 2 tablespoons of avocado oil to replace the bacon grease.
Sauté the Brussels sprouts and butternut squash over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.
Add the freshly grated nutmeg, salt, and pepper to the skillet and stir well. Cook an additional 1 to 2 minutes.
Remove the butternut squash and Brussels sprouts to a bowl and keep warm.
Add the prepared mushrooms and onions to the skillet and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring occasionally, scraping up the brown bits from the bottom of the skillet until the onions are tender and the mushroom are browned, about 3 minutes.
When the mushrooms are browned, stir in additional salt and pepper along with the minced garlic. Stir well.
Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the cooked bacon, butternut squash, and Brussels sprouts into the skillet. Stir well and continue cooking over medium-low heat for an additional 5 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and grease two nine inch cake pans.
Combine the dry ingredients in a medium bowl.
In a mixer, cream the sugar, butter, and olive oil until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat after each egg for 20 seconds.
Add the pumpkin and the sour cream, and mix to incorporate. Fold the dry ingredients in by hand.
Split the batter between the two pans. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
Cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then flip the cakes and cool in the freezer for 10 minutes.
For the icing: In a mixer, beat the butter and maple syrup and extract together until the butter is light and fluffy.
Add the powdered sugar and continue beating, ensuring that the icing stays fluffy.
To assemble: Put a dab of icing on the serving plate. On top, put one of the cakes. Spread an even layer of icing on top of the cake. Stack the second cake on top. Spread another even layer of icing on top of the second cake. On the sides of the cake, spread a thin layer of icing.
Top with whatever you prefer, such as pecans roasted in butter with cinnamon and sugar.