Thanksgiving: the one time a year for many that they will make delicious food from scratch and veer from the usual “fast and easy” style cooking. Thankfully, if you’re ready to ditch the cans and boxes and tackle a truly homemade Thanksgiving day supper, below is just the menu you need.
Pasture-raised birds tend toward toughness, both because they have the freedom to exercise their muscles more and because they’re culled at an older age than birds that are raised conventionally. There’s really only one reliable way to produce particularly tender results when it comes to cooking pastured poultry, and that’s with long cooking times and low temperatures. That might mean that you simmer birds in water, for bone broth and soups, or that you braise it, or that you slow roast it.
Those long cooking times and low temperatures give the proteins in the bird’s meat an opportunity to break down, and for the fat to melt into meat which also helps it to become tender; moreover, pasture-raised birds tend to have high amounts of collagen within their skin, joints and bones, and slow-roasting facilitates the breakdown of that collagen which then melts into the meat and leaves it impossibly tender.
Slow-roasting is a pretty easy, hands-off approach. Begin by preparing an herb butter, and then slipping that softened, flavored butter between the skin and flesh of the breast. As it roasts, the butter melts into the bird’s meat, and not only helps to make it tender, but also infuses it with the vibrant flavor of fresh herbs. Stuffing the bird’s cavity with lemon, onions and herbs also helps to keep it moist while it roasts.
Beyond that, you just need to pop it in the oven, baste it occasionally with pan juices when you check on it. It’s a fabulous way to cook a turkey overnight, in a low and slow oven, while you sleep. We usually serve Thanksgiving dinner around 1 or 2 in the afternoon, which means that we stay up late the night before drinking hot spiced cider, place the bird in the oven to bake, and then baste it when we wake up. When the bird is done, pull it from the oven and allow it to rest, then carve it where it falls apart into utterly tender pieces.
Slathered with butter, dressed with thyme and stuffed with onions and lemons, this slow-roasted turkey is rich with flavor, succulent and wonderfully easy to make. Slow roasting is a long process with a rewarding result, make sure to plan in advance.
½ cup butter, softened
¼ cup chopped fresh thyme
¼ cup chopped fresh sage
2 teaspoons finely ground sea salt
1 whole turkey, about 16 to 18 lbs, giblets removed and reserved for another purpose
2 large yellow onions, quartered
2 large lemons, quartered
1½ cups dry white wine
Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
Beat the butter together with thyme, sage and sea salt until well-combined.
Rinse the turkey and pat it dry. With a butter knife, loosen the skin of the turkey from the flesh of the breast. Spread the herb butter between the skin and the meat of the turkey breast, and place the seasoned turkey on a rack in your roasting pan.
Stuff the turkey’s cavity with onions and lemons. Pour wine into the pan.
Roast the turkey for 45 minutes. Remove the turkey from oven, tent it with foil, and then return it to the oven.
Turn down the heat to 225 F, and slow roast it approximately twelve hours. Baste with pan juices every 2 to 3 hours.
Increase the heat to 375 degrees and continue roasting for twenty minutes or until the skin is a rich brown and the meat has reached an internal temperature of at least 185 F.
Allow the turkey to rest for 30 minutes prior to carving.
6-8 medium red potatoes halved and then quartered (gently scrub the skins to remove dirt)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 TB chopped rosemary
4-5 garlic cloves crushed, Place the garlic on a cutting board and crush them with the back of wooden spoon-this helps unlock the flavor and fragrance.
2 TB extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil
Preheat the oven to 425F–this is the secret to crispy potatoes!
Place the potatoes on a greased large sheet pan. Sprinkle the potatoes with salt and pepper. Add the crushed garlic and rosemary. I usually add 1-2 whole rosemary sprigs, cut in half, for the extra fragrance–this is optional. Drizzle the olive oil over the potatoes, then toss with your hands until the potatoes are coated with oil.
Position the potatoes in a single layer so the skins are facing up (yes, some of the flesh of the potatoes will also face up since the potatoes are quartered).
Bake for roughly 30-35 minutes (keep an eye on the potatoes at the 25 minute mark), until the potatoes are soft on the inside (try piercing one with a fork) and crispy on the outside.
Veggie Side- Real Food Green Bean Casserole
So, what are the essential parts of any green bean casserole? The green beans, the cream of mushroom soup, and the french-fried onions, right?
This beloved casserole has earned a place of honor on our Thanksgiving table each year, but up until a few years ago, it consisted of opening cans of green beans, opening cans of soup, and yup – opening a can of french-fried onions to whip up and bake to perfection.
But many families have switched to a whole foods journey over the last few years. Green Bean Casserole putting you in a conundrum? What to do with our beloved favorite?
Now, a word to the wise – the evaporated milk takes a while to make. If you want a much quicker version, feel free to use canned evaporated milk, but preferably find a brand that doesn’t contain carrageenan if you can.
However, if you really don’t want to make your own evaporated milk and can’t find an acceptable brand, you can substitute a ratio of one part cream to three parts milk for the evaporated milk when making the cream of mushroom soup, but it won’t have quite the same texture. (It will be yummy, nonetheless!)
Really don’t want to make your own ingredients – or don’t have time? There are more and more acceptable store-bought versions available these days, which even two years ago wasn’t the case. (Yay!) So, if you’re wanting a store-bought organic cream of mushroom soup, try this one or for French-fried onions, these ones are spectacularly delicious. I’ve also seen acceptable French-fried onions at places like Trader Joe’s, so definitely look around in your area.
2 pounds green beans, snapped into 2-inch pieces
a dash of traditionally-fermented soy sauce (see where to buy traditional soy sauce)
a dash of Worcestershire sauce (see how to make a homemade version in The DIY Pantry
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
2 cups condensed cream of mushroom soup (see recipe below)
2 cups French fried onions (see recipe below)
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil, then add the beans. Cook until tender but still bright green, 6-8 minutes. Drain well.
Place the beans in a large bowl and add the soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, pepper, and the cream of mushroom soup. Mix well.
Place in a square casserole dish and bake until bubbly, 15-25 minutes (depending on whether your soup base was hot or cold). Add the French fried onions on top and bake for another 5-10 minutes until the onions are crispy and golden.