Thanksgiving Side Dish Series and my Essential Turkey Tips

Our favorite holiday is just around the corner and I wanted to share some of my favorite recipes for my favorite part of the Thanksgiving meal.... THE SIDE DISHES!! I love a good roasted turkey and I really don't have it any other time of year so I definitely grab a slice or two of meat but I delight in combing the different casseroles, plates, pans, and gratins full of different stuffings, veggies, relishes, root vegetables, and more. I get a little bit of everything and taste, combine, and enjoy all of the different flavors that go into a full Thanksgiving table.  

This series will include many of my classic side dish recipes that I make every year that are pretty darn easy to make but also very delicious and will have your friends and family asking for an extra helping of vegetables! I won't label them "light", "paleo", or dare I say.."healthy" but most of them are and are made with wholesome ingredients, organic produce, and tons of warming fall flavors. Check back here daily for the next week leading up to turkey day for some yummy recipes and inspiration!

I am sharing my favorite turkey recipes that we have tried in the last few years and my Essential Turkey Tips with you right now! Check them out below!

My Turkey Tips:

1) Buy a good quality bird- Last year we did a free trial of Amazon fresh and got an organic turkey delivered to our door. It was a great service and the turkey was delicious- Click Here

I love Mary's Turkey so here is their website and it gives you stores in your area that carries their turkeys: Click Here

2) Season and brine your bird well!!  I think people always under season turkey which makes it very bland and it is such a disappointment given that it is such a focal point of the meal! Season, season, season. Plan to start seasoning your bird 2-3 days in advance.

We have brined our bird with either a dry brine or a wet brine that submerged the bird for a couple days before cooking and they both turned out great:

Cider brined turkey from Epicurious. The meat has a light cider sweetness that we really enjoyed and it was a nice change from the classic flavors. Click Here

***The Dry Brined Turkey recipe that I LOVE!! All you need here is salt. The recipe is based on the amazing Zuni Cafe chicken in San Francisco only scaled up to apply to a large turkey. This has been the recipe we have used for the last 2 years and everyone loves it. I followed the brining directions exactly and when it came to roasting the turkey I stuffed the inside of my bird with a quartered onion, a head of garlic that was halved; fresh herbs like: sage, thyme, and rosemary, half of a lemon, and one apple cut into quarters and rubbed the outside of the bird with unsalted butter blended with herbs like parsley, thyme, rosemary, sage, and black pepper (remember that the bird is already well salted from the dry brine so don't salt it again). Click Here

3) Don't undercook/over cook your bird!! Invest in a digital thermometer. Do it. They are not expensive and are one of my most used kitchen tools.  The turkey should be cooked to an internal temperature of 165 degrees. Here is a video that shows you where to check the temperature on the turkey.  I know this may come as a shock to many but DO NOT buy one of those turkeys with the pop up tab that springs up when the turkey is "done". They are not accurate and almost always result in an overdone bird.

Here is a video that shows you how to check the bird- click here

Here is a photo tutorial from Williams Sonoma the shows you where to check. Click here

A great instant read thermometer - Click here

4) Rest your bird after it is done cooking. Resting meat allows the natural juices to redistribute throughout the meat resulting in a much more juicy and flavorful end product. I take mine out of the oven, lift the bird off of the roasting pan and transfer it to a cutting board or platter, cover it lightly with foil (don't seal it otherwise it will steam the bird and your skin won't be crispy), and let it rest for at least one hour.

The science and importance of resting all meat, this article is about steaks but the principles apply to all meat- Click Here

My favorite Turkey recipes:

Alton Brown's Good Eats Roast Turkey- I swap out grass fed butter or avocado oil for the canola because canola is terrible! Click Here

Zuni Cafe style brined Turkey- Click Here

Cider Brined Turkey-  Click Here

Classic Herbed Butter Turkey- Click Here

So there you have it! My tips on cooking a fantastic turkey and my favorite recipes!! Now comes the recipes for the side dishes! Check back tomorrow morning!!