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Thanksgiving Recipes: Classic Roasted Turkey, Balsamic Roasted Fennel, and Pumpkin Spice Turnovers

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Us Americans traditionally celebrate Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday of November every year. A day reserved for family and friends, relaxing, sleeping late, chowing down on turkey and pie, and playing and watching football.

The first Thanksgiving Day was in 1621, with Governor William Bradford of the Plymouth Colony declaring a day of thanks with the Pilgrims in the New World, with a new settlement, bountiful harvest and at peace with their new friends, the Wampanoag Indians. We have taken that first Thanksgiving blueprint and each year we sit down to a feast with primarily turkey, stuffing, fall vegetables such as squash, potatoes, cranberries, and desserts made from pumpkin and nuts.

Just how did we end up eating turkey on Turkey Day? That First Feast had wild turkeys, among deer, eel, goose and lobster. Turkeys can feed many people, and are readily available, and so the main course was chosen.

So here are some delicious recipes from the authors of the Trader Joe’s cookbooks to show just how easy it is to bring the wonderful taste of Thanksgiving to your table!

Classic Roasted TurkeyClassic Roasted Turkey

Prep Time: 10 minutes  
Cook Time: 3-4 hours (depends on size of turkey)  
Serves: 12  (Gluten Free)

Trader Joe’s cookbook authors Wona Miniati & Deana Gunn say the classic Thanksgiving turkey is easier than you think! It's actually the easiest part of the meal. Simply stuff a brined turkey with a few spices, and toss in the oven to cook on its own. The only equipment you really need is a meat thermometer to check doneness.

INGREDIENTS:

1 whole brined turkey
2 lemons or 1 orange, cut in half
1 garlic bulb, cut in half horizontally
1 handful fresh herbs (rosemary, thyme, or oregano)
1 Tbsp butter (optional)
1 Tbsp olive oil
Black pepper to taste

INSTRUCTIONS:

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

2. Remove giblets and wash the turkey inside and out; pat dry. Patting dry will allow skin to crisp while baking.

3. (Optional step) For an extra moist turkey, loosen skin from the breast by slowly working your fingers under the skin, being careful not to tear skin. Rub with butter. You can even sprinkle some seasonings in here, such as 21 Seasoning Salute. Use toothpicks to seal skin shut.

4. Stuff cavity of turkey with lemons, garlic, and herbs. Rub bird all over with olive oil, and sprinkle with black pepper. (Salt is not needed since the turkey is brined, or soaked in a salt solution.) Use twine to tie legs together. Tuck wings under to prevent burning.

5. Place turkey on a rack in a roasting pan. The traditional way is to place breast side up, but some argue that roasting breast side down results in juicier breast meat, albeit not as pretty golden brown on top. Roast for 3-4 hours, or a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh reads 180 degrees F. Cooking times will vary depending on the size of the turkey.

6. When done, remove turkey from oven and place on a serving platter or carving board; cover loosely with aluminum foil and let it rest 10 minutes before carving. This resting step will seal juices in and ensure a moist turkey.

Be patient, and let the turkey rest after cooking. Cutting too soon will let the juices run out, resulting in drier meat.

Balsamic Roasted FennelBalsamic Roasted Fennel

Prep Time: 5 minutes  
Cook Time: 45 minutes  
Serves: 4
(Vegetarian, Gluten Free, Low Carb, Low Fat, Vegan)

The fennel bulb is the thick base of the fennel stalks. Roasted fennel slices are tender, delicious, and gorgeously caramelized and browned on the edges.

INGREDIENTS:

1.25 lbs fennel bulbs (2 fist-sized fennel bulbs)
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp Balsamic vinegar
Pinch salt and pepper
Parmesan cheese (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees

2. Slice bulbs into 1/2-inch-thick slices.

3. Place bulbs on a baking sheet (optionally lined with a Silpat baking mat) and drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Toss to coat the slices. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

4. Place in oven and roast for 45 minutes, flipping the slices halfway through cooking time.

5. When serving, sprinkle with Parmesan.

Pumpkin Spice TurnoversPumpkin Spice Turnovers

Prep Time: 5 minutes 
Cook Time: 15 minutes 
Serves: Makes 8 turnovers 

Pumpkin butter is also a great sweet-spicy filling for puff pastry turnovers. Puff pastry is one of the more time-consuming, laborious things to make, but Trader Joe's has a wonderful frozen puff pastry dough ready to go. Get creative...you can fill them with any kind of fruit spread, jam, bruschetta, or cheese!

INGREDIENTS

1 package frozen puff pastry, thawed
8 Tbsp Pumpkin Butter

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Preheat oven to 400° F.

2. Cut each puff pastry sheet into 4 equal squares.

3. Place 1 Tbsp pumpkin butter or other filling in the center of each square.

4. Fold into a triangle, then press and seal the edges.

5. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden. They might leak a little -- the oozing filling and the caramelized edges just add to the delicious rustic look.

If you want to maximize the puffing, trim a tiny bit from the entire perimeter of each sheet before dividing the sheets. Freshly cut edges will puff up even more.

So try these recipes to spice up your Thanksgiving feast, and I hope you enjoy them, and have a wonderful holiday!

Special thanks Trader Joe’s cookbook authors- Wona Miniati & Deana Gunn for their wonderful help and suggestions!

Pictures and recipes courtesy of Wona and Deanna and www.cooktj.com  (Not affiliated with the Trader Joe’s company)

Christine Tarlecki can be reached at engchik@me.com  and on FaceBook, as well as http://engchik.blogspot.com and on Twitter under engchik.

She’ll be found this Thanksgiving dining with family and friends, and sleeping in on Thursday morning….probably Friday morning too!