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Throwback Thursday: Thanksgiving Edition

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We just finished celebrating my favorite holiday and man did I cook up a storm!  The men of the house were in charge of the turkey itself- I was in charge of everything else.  I stupidly didn’t get a picture of the whole Thanksgiving spread together, but there was so much food, I actually didn’t have a counter long enough for it!

We indulged in fried turkey, creamy mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, stuffing, bacon brussels sprouts, cranberry sauce, gravy, a salad, and a fruit salad.  Not to forget dessert, which was apple pie, pumpkin pie, and chocolate bourbon pecan pie (by far the winner). I would say our Thanksgiving was pretty traditional in the spread and I thought I would share some of our tips and recipes with you to consider for next Thanksgiving or even the upcoming holiday season.

Now in the Ruiz household we have been frying our turkeys for about 15 years. This is a sure way to get a delicious, juicy turkey with crispy skin and lots of flavor. They key for a really top notch fried turkey is in the injectable marinades. If you want to make your own, I would suggest a lot of melted butter and some poultry seasoning for a plain, traditional turkey.  We love to make a butter jalapeño turkey and a plain one for Thanksgiving.  We use a brand called Tony Chachere for their marinades because we know they are delicious! (not sponsored, but maybe next year 😉 )

Fried turkeys need 3min per pound only in peanut oil heated to 350F. So this is a much faster way to cook them than the traditional way, which is another bonus.  We recommend letting them rest for 30min to an hour also after removing them from the oil to really seal those juices in! MAJOR DISCLAIMER: DO NOT FRY FOZEN TURKEYS, ALWAYS MAKE SURE THEY ARE COMPLETELY DEFROSTED!!!!!

Make sure the turkey is completely submerged in the oil, so you need about 3-5 gallons for most fryers.

Moving on to stuffing, obviously in frying a turkey, you don’t actually stuff the turkey, so we make ours separately. We have always made a cornbread stuffing, and it really gives it so much flavor. Everything is eyeballed also , so no need to measure everything out! We use about half of a large onion, a couple of carrots, and a stalk of celery and cook it in some oil and butter until its really soft. Then we add in lots of herbs like rosemary, thyme and sage.  Sage is a great addition to stuffing!

Once your veggies are cooked, we break apart the cornbread into a pan and add in the veggies and a few cups of chicken stock. Season with salt and pepper and mix well.  We also add in some pecans and dried bread mix. My mom likes to add in apples and raisins, but this year we kept it simple with no added fruit.

For green bean casserole, I love to make it with fresh ingredients instead canned things. I used cremini mushrooms and dried porcini mushrooms and fresh green beans to get a really awesome flavor. One trick here is to rehydrate the porcini mushrooms with warm water and to then use the mushrooms and the mushroom water in the sauce. We used a natural brand of cream of mushroom soup and add in some fresh herbs to really elevate the sauce.

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For cranberry sauce, again we kept it simple.  1 bag of cranberries, 1 cup of sugar, 1 cup of water, the zest of an orange and a splash of orange juice. Cook down for about 15min, and it turns into this delicious sauce perfect for any turkey, and a great addition to those leftover turkey sandwiches!

I didn’t photograph the mashed potatoes or gravy as there wasn’t anything too exciting about how to make them.  The trick to a good mashed potato is lots of butter, enough milk, and a little olive oil to give it richness. I also use a hand mixer to blend them into creamy oblivion, and they are so delicious! I admit I cheated on gravy.  I’ve made it from scratch in the past, but with everything else I was responsible for, I cheated and used turkey stock and a gravy mix. We all have flaws, and even in my wannabe Martha Stewart world, I had to take a short cut! Please forgive me!

We had a wonderful time being together, and way too much food and wine! We of course went for seconds later in the evening and continued our wine consumption for hours! We were so happy to see the Dallas Cowboys win their 10th straight game, and we sat back and thought about how much we really had to be thankful for.  2016 was an amazing year, and still not over yet!

I hope everyone’s thanksgiving felt as special as ours, and hopefully the holiday season continues to be a blessing for all of you!

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