Thanksgiving Favorites: 3 Traditional Recipes
Get ahead of the cooking game this year with three delicious, classic recipes.
Make your holiday turkey the best it’s ever been this year with a brining process to ensure succulent results. An overnight salt-water bath is the key to the juiciest bird, and tasty, aromatic herbs provide the delicious finishing touch in this recipe. And be sure to thaw the turkey before brining—a general guideline is to plan for one day of defrosting (in the refrigerator) for every five pounds of turkey. You can also defrost by running cold water over a wrapped, frozen turkey for 30 minutes per pound. For safety and meal-prep guidelines, see our blog post.
To ensure dependable cooking results, make sure your oven is up to the task. The GE 30” Free-Standing Electric Range delivers heat evenly with GE’s Sensi-Temp technology and the Dual-Element Bake feature, which heats evenly from the upper and lower elements. If you want to free up oven space for those other delectable goodies you will be baking, the Proctor Silex 18-Quart Roaster Oven is a tabletop solution that easily fits a 24-pound turkey and cooks a 14- to 18-pound bird in about two and a half hours.
Brined Roasted Turkey
(Adapted from GEappliances.com)
1 cup salt + 2 gallons of water
1 (12- to 14-pound) turkey, trimmed, neck, giblets, and tailpiece removed (keep for gravy, if desired)
6 sprigs fresh thyme
2 onions, quartered
2 celery ribs, chopped coarse
1 granny smith apple, quartered
1 lemon, quartered
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 cup water, plus extra as needed
- In a large container, dissolve salt in 2 gallons cold water. Submerge turkey in brine, cover, and refrigerate or store in very cool spot (40 degrees or less) for 6 to 12 hours.
- Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 325 degrees.
- Remove turkey from brine and pat dry, inside and out, with paper towels. Do not rinse.
- Fill the turkey cavity with vegetables, herbs, apple, and lemon. Rub outside of skin with melted butter and soy sauce. Tie legs together with kitchen twine and tuck wings behind back.
- Place turkey in oven. After 45 minutes, remove pan from oven; baste turkey with juices from pan or add water if the pan is dry. If the breast is looking too brown, cover with heavy duty aluminum foil to prevent over-cooking. Roast until breast registers 160 degrees and thighs register 175 degrees. Total roasting time will depend on the size of your bird. For a smaller turkey, plan on 2–3 hours; a larger bird will take 3–4 hours.
- Remove turkey from oven. Gently tip turkey so that any juices accumulated in the cavity run into pan. Transfer turkey to carving board and let rest, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Carve turkey and serve with gravy (see below for recipe).
(Adapted from GEappliances.com)
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup pan drippings
3-4 cups broth or water
salt and pepper
- Add one cup of hot chicken broth to the turkey drippings in the roasting pan. Scrape up all the browned bits. Pour into a large glass measuring cup.
- Place measuring cup in the freezer for 15–20 minutes (you can do this while your turkey is resting). The fat and drippings will separate and the fat will begin to harden and will be easier to skim. Skim the fat from the top of the pan drippings.
- Melt 1/4 cup of either the reserved turkey fat or butter in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Whisk in the flour to form a thin paste. Let this cook for a few minutes until bubbly.
- Add the pan drippings and whisk to combine with the roux.
- Finish the gravy by whisking in the remaining broth a little at a time, until you get the consistency and flavor you prefer. For a thinner gravy, add more broth. For a thicker gravy, cook a few minutes longer. Taste the gravy and add salt, pepper, and any extras (like a splash of wine or chopped fresh herbs) if desired.
For a modern take on classic fare, Homemade Holiday Dressing Balls are a delicious side. They freeze well, and can be made ahead of time or saved for later. Simply bake the uncooked, frozen balls at 350 for 40–45 minutes. To make them browner and crispier, adjust the heat to 375 during the last 10 minutes of cooking.
Homemade Holiday Dressing Balls
(Adapted from GEappliances.com)
6 cups homemade biscuit crumbles from about 1 dozen biscuits, dried*
11-oz package herbed stuffing mix
2 medium onions, chopped
6 stalks celery, chopped
5 cups turkey or chicken stock
1 bouillon cube or condensed stock packet (optional)
1/2 cup butter
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 cup fresh sage or 2 teaspoons dried rubbed sage
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon hot sauce (optional)
- Bake a batch of your favorite homemade biscuits or use a biscuit baking mix (canned biscuits will not work in this recipe). One batch of biscuits (about a dozen) will yield approximately 6 cups of biscuit pieces. Crumble biscuits into small pieces. Dry the biscuit crumbles on a baking sheet in a 200-degree oven for 2–3 hours. The biscuit pieces should be very hard and crumble when they cool.
- In a large skillet, melt the butter on medium heat. Add onions and celery and cook for 8–10 minutes, until the vegetables are soft and translucent, but not brown. Add the stock to the cooked vegetables. Bring to a simmer, and then add the bouillon cube, sage, salt, pepper, and hot sauce. Cook for 5 minutes and remove from heat to cool slightly before moving to the next step.
- In a large bowl or roasting pan, combine your dried biscuits and herbed stuffing mix. Slowly add the vegetable and broth mixture, stirring with a large wooden spoon. The broth should absorb into the bread mixture but still be wet enough to clump together. Mix together thoroughly and taste the mixture to make sure the seasoning is correct. At this point you can add additional salt or other seasonings.
- To form dressing into balls, scoop about half a cup of the mixture, then use your hands to form into a ball about the size of a baseball. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet with no space between the dressing balls. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
* Canned biscuits are not recommended for this recipe, as they lack the crumbly texture required for the dressing. Use either biscuits made from scratch or from a biscuit mix.