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Everything You Need to Prepare Thanksgiving Dinner

Updated: Jan 4

Preparing Thanksgiving dinner for my family is an annual labor of love that begins days before the event. I do my best to balance putting in a lot of time for the most cherished plates with cutting a few corners where I know the dish could even end up better.


I spend a lot of time brining and smoking the turkey and preparing the mashed potatoes.


I cut a few corners with the fresh green beans and deviled eggs, and these shortcuts make each dish taste better! As a sneak preview, the deviled eggs are simple because you can get away with only using one ingredient in addition to the boiled eggs: Boar's Head Pepperhouse Gourmaise.


Here is everything you need to prepare Thanksgiving dinner.


Everything you need to make Thanksgiving dinner


Turkey


Ingredients


✅ 1 turkey

✅ 1 liter apple cider

✅ 1 1/2 cups kosher salt

✅ 2 cups brown sugar

✅ 2 gallons cold water

✅ 4 tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves

✅ 5 minced garlic cloves

✅ 3 tablespoons peppercorn

✅ 6 whole bay leaves

✅ Peel of 4 oranges


Brine Instructions


  1. Brine the turkey when it is fresh, not frozen.

  2. Place the turkey, breast side down, in the bucket or bag.

  3. Pour all of the brine ingredients into a bucket or bag.

  4. Seal the turkey and brine for 12-18 hours

  5. 2/3 of the way through the brining, flip the turkey in the bag to make sure it brines evenly.

  6. After 18 hours, remove the turkey from the brine, discard the brine, and submerge the turkey in a pot or sink filled with fresh, cold water for 15 minutes.

  7. Remove the turkey from the water, pat very dry, and begin the smoking process.


Smoking Process


We love Meat Church for rubs and many recipes to smoke our meats. The following is based on their recommendations.


Spatchcock the turkey


Follow the process in this video


Prepare your smoker

✅ Prepare smoker at a temperature of 275 degrees F.

✅ Use medium smoking wood or pellet such as pecan, hickory or a fruit wood.


Prepare the turkey

✅ Season the underside of the turkey with your preferred rub. Flip the turkey over.

✅ Work your hands under the skin, separating it from the breast meat, being careful not to puncture the skin. Lightly season the breast underneath the skin.

✅ Pull the skin back over the breast. Season the skin all over. Adhere to at least 15 minutes.

✅ Place the turkey in the smoker.

✅ Smoke the turkey at 275 degrees.

✅ Baste periodically with melted butter.


Finishing the turkey

✅ Using an instant read thermometer, pull the turkey when the internal temperature reaches at least 160 in the thickest part of the breast. It will continue to carryover cook a few degrees.

✅ Let the turkey rest 20 - 30 minutes depending on size. Carve and serve!


Mashed Potatoes


Ingredients


✅ 2 pounds potatoes [1 pound Yukon Gold, 1 pound Russet]

✅ 1 large garlic clove

✅ Sea salt

✅ 3 tablespoons butter

✅ 1/4 cup evaporated milk

✅ 3 ounces chive and onion cream cheese, room temperature


Instructions


  1. Cut the potatoes

  2. Peel your potatoes or leave the skins on. Then cut them into evenly-sized one inch chunks, and then place them to a large stockpot full of cold water. The potatoes should sit 1-2 inches below the water line.

  3. Boil the potatoes.

  4. Stir the garlic and 1 tablespoon sea salt into the water

  5. Turn the heat to high and cook until the water comes to a boil.

  6. Reduce heat to medium-high and continue boiling for about 10-12 minutes, or until a fork inserted in the middle of a potato goes in easily with almost no resistance.

  7. As the potatoes are boiling, melt the butter, evaporated milk, and sea salt together either in a small saucepan or in the microwave. Set aside until ready to use.

  8. Drain out all of the water.

  9. Pan-dry the potatoes: Turn the heat down to low after draining the potatoes and returning them to the hot stockpot. To help cook off some steam within the potatoes, gently shake the stockpot for about 1 minute on the burner with two oven mitts. Set the stockpot on a flat, heatproof surface and remove it entirely from the heat.

  10. Mash the potatoes: Using your preferred kind of potato masher, mash the potatoes to your desired consistency.

  11. Stir everything together: Pour half of the melted butter mixture over the potatoes, and fold it in with a wooden spoon until potatoes have soaked up the liquid. Repeat with the remaining butter, and then again with the cream cheese, folding in each addition in until just combined to avoid over-mixing.


Green Bean Cherry Tomato Salad


Ingredients


✅ 1-1/2 pounds fresh green beans

✅ 1 pint cherry tomatoes

✅ 1 small red onion

✅ 2 ounces of parmesan cheese (not the cheap stuff!)

✅ Freshly ground black pepper

✅ 1/2 pound bacon (optional)

✅ Girard's® Champagne Vinaigrette Dressing


Instructions


  1. Trim the ends of the green beans

  2. In a 6-qt. stockpot, bring 6 cups water to a boil. Add beans in batches; cook, uncovered, 2-3 minutes or just until crisp-tender. Remove beans and immediately drop into ice water. Drain and pat dry.

  3. Halve the cherry tomatoes

  4. Dice the small red onion

  5. Grate the parmesan cheese

  6. Optional: Fry the bacon

  7. Add Girard's® Champagne Vinaigrette Dressing to taste

  8. Ground the pepper to taste

  9. Mix it together

  10. Chill for at least 4 hours


Deviled Eggs


Ingredients


Everything you need for Thanksgiving dinner

✅ Dozen eggs

✅ Teaspoon of baking soda

✅ Boar's Head Pepperhouse Gourmaise

✅ Paprika


Instructions


  1. Put the eggs in a large pot with a lid. Pour cool water over the eggs until fully submerged and add baking soda to the water. Put the pot on high heat and bring to a boil. 

  2. Once the water is at a rolling boil, turn off the heat and cover the pot with a lid. Allow the eggs to sit in the hot water for 14 minutes.

  3. Meanwhile, prepare a bowl of ice water. After the eggs have sat in the hot water for 14 minutes, transfer the cooked eggs to the ice water for 30 minutes.

  4. Roll the egg on the counter to crack the shell all around then soak it in a bowl of water for a minute. The water gets under the shell and makes it easier to peel.

  5. Start peeling from the bottom (wide end) of the egg where the air pocket is to get under the membrane.

  6. If you get a stubborn egg – peel it while submerged in a bowl of water or under running water

  7. Remove the yolk from a small bowl with a spoon and place the egg whites on a plate.

  8. Mash the yolks with a fork and add 10 tablespoons of Boar's Head Pepperhouse Gourmaise.

  9. Stir everything together until smooth.

  10. Use a spoon to add a portion of the deviled egg mixture back into the hole of each egg white.

  11. Lightly sprinkle on paprika to taste.


Pumpkin Pie


Everything you need for Thanksgiving dinner

I have never been able to make a pumpkin pie that is nearly as scrumptious as this Pumpkin Pie Recipe by Laura Allen.


Click here for her pumpkin pie recipe.


And it's okay to cheat here a bit if you don't have the time to bake a fresh pie. There's no shame in buying something premade at the bakery.


Final Thoughts


The division of labor in every home is different. However, if this is the only meal you prepare for the year or one of a few, consider the time and effort you put into it. Reflect on how fair the division of labor is in your home.


If you think you should do more, consider reading the following:


 

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