The Daily Southerner, Tarboro, NC

November 18, 2011

Thanksgiving is just around the corner

Karen Freeman

TARBORO — I love Thanksgiving. It’s actually my favorite commercial holiday. I guess that’s because I LOVE to cook. For Thanksgiving, no one can tease me about cooking too much. I cook everything that lays still. So be warned!

This week, we have a few of my favorites. I have many! So, this is just a few. I hope that you enjoy these. Next week, we will look at what to do with all of the leftovers!

Our first recipe is giblet gravy. I chop the giblets up really well so that my finicky kids don’t know exactly what I’m feeding them! They love my giblet gravy.

The second recipe is Oyster Stuffing. My brother-in-law loves this. So I make this each year just for him! But, even though I prefer good old fashioned dressing, I like stuffing too.

The third recipe is mashed potatoes.  My sister, Michelle, started me with adding cream cheese to mashed potatoes. It was a great idea. It makes them wonderful! Now I can’t imagine mashed potatoes without cream cheese.

The last recipe is cranberry slaw. This is a little different way to use cranberries instead of just the jellied cranberry sauce. Of course, at my house, you still have to have the jellied variety as well. My husband couldn’t imagine Thanksgiving dinner without the cranberry sauce from the can!

Whatever you decide to make this year, I hope that you have a happy and blessed Thanksgiving holiday!

Giblet Gravy

Giblets & neck of turkey

1 Medium Onion, peeled & quartered

1/4 Tsp. Salt

3 Cups Water/Stock

1/8 Tsp. Fresh Ground Pepper

1 Celery Stalk, diced

1 Medium Carrot, peeled & diced

4 Whole Black Peppers

1 Bay Leaf

1/4 Cup Flour

2 Hard-boiled eggs

Wash giblets and place in medium-sized pot with celery, onion, carrot, salt, pepper, bay leaf and water. Bring to boil, and then reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 2 hours. Remove giblets and rough chop, discarding neck. Set giblets aside. Strain broth and press vegetables through strainer or ricer. Add water or stock to make three cups.

Place 1/4 cup of drippings from turkey or chicken into large skillet. Stir in flour and allow drippings and flour mixture to brown until medium dark brown. Remove from heat. Stir in the three cups of broth. Add salt and pepper to taste. Bring to boiling while stirring. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes or until thickened. Add giblets and simmer for 5 minutes longer. Slice the two hard-boiled eggs and place on top of gravy after it has been placed in serving bowl.

Oyster Stuffing

20 Oysters, shucked, plus their liquor

3 Cups Coarsely Crumbled Cornbread, recipe follows

3 Slices Bacon, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch strips

1/2 Cup Plus 2 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter

3 Medium Shallots, thinly sliced

2 Celery Stalks (with leaves), thinly sliced

2 Teaspoons Kosher Salt

Freshly Ground Black Pepper

3 Tablespoons Chopped Flat-Leaf Parsley

1 Tablespoon Chopped Fresh Thyme

2 Tablespoon White Dry Vermouth

Put the oysters in a strainer over a medium bowl to catch their liquor. Reserve 3/4 cup of the oyster liquor. In a large bowl, combine the crumbled cornbread and oysters.

Bring a small saucepan of water to a boil. Add the bacon and cook for 1 minute. Drain and pat dry with a paper towel.

Melt 1/2 cup of the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When the foaming subsides, add the bacon, shallot, celery, salt, and season with pepper, to taste. Cook, stirring, until soft, about 10 minutes. Add the parsley, thyme, reserved oyster liquor, and vermouth and bring to a boil. Transfer the shallot-herb mixture to the cornbread and oysters and stir to combine. Set aside for 10 minutes. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Transfer the cornbread mixture to a buttered 1-quart gratin dish, dot with the remaining butter, and bake until browned and crusty, about 1 hour.

Remove from the oven and serve immediately.

Cook's Note: Try to find already shucked oysters in their liquor (juice) in small plastic tubs at your local supermarket.

Cornbread for Stuffing:

1 Cup Stone-Ground Cornmeal

2 Tablespoons All-Purpose Flour

1 1/2 Teaspoons Baking Powder

1 Teaspoon Sugar

1/4 Teaspoon Fine Salt

1 Large Egg

1/2 Cup Whole Milk

2 tablespoons melted unsalted butter, plus more for the brushing the pan

Butter a 3 1/4 x 5 3/4 x 2-inch loaf pan. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. In a large bowl, whisk together the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt.

In a medium bowl, whisk the egg and combine with the milk. Pour the milk mixture into the cornmeal mixture and mix lightly with a rubber spatula until a thick batter is formed. Stir in the melted butter until just incorporated.

Spoon the batter into the prepared pan. Bake until lightly browned and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Let cool.

Easy & Great Mashed Potatoes


2 Lbs Russet Potatoes

1 Sticks Butter, At Room Temperature

1/2 Cups Heavy Cream or whole milk

1 block Cream Cheese

Sea Salt & Freshly Ground Black Pepper, to taste

3 Tbsp Duke’s Mayonnaise

Peel & cube the potatoes. Then put the potatoes in a large saucepan with salted cold water and place in the refrigerator overnight. The next day, add a little more salt and then bring to a boil over high heat.

Cook until fork tender, about 20 minutes. Drain well, place potato cubes in a large bowl and mix well with hand-held mixer. Alternatively, smash the potatoes with a large fork or potato masher.

Add cream cheese, butter and mayonnaise, continue beating. Add milk a little at a time until desired consistency is reached. Salt & pepper to taste.

Season with salt and pepper, to taste, and serve.

Did You Know?

Thanksgiving Timeline

One week before:

Go through your fridge and clean out/use up items to make room for Thanksgiving foods.

Shop for all the non-perishable items on your list.

Do an equipment check: you'll need a roasting pan, plenty of pots, pans, baking dishes, dinner and dessert plates, glassware and flatware to accommodate your crowd. Purchase or borrow anything you're missing.

Four days before:

If you've purchased a frozen turkey, begin thawing it now. For each 5 pounds of weight, the turkey will need 24 hours in the refrigerator to thaw. Place the frozen turkey in a rimmed tray (to catch any liquid) in your refrigerator. NEVER defrost a turkey at room temperature.

Three days before:

Iron tablecloths, inventory serving platters (placing a sticky note on each platter with the name of the dish to be served on it will help you to stay organized on the big day)

Two days before:

Clean the house.

Thaw any quick breads or cakes in the fridge.

One day before:

Complete pies.

Assemble side dishes; refrigerate, covered until ready to bake tomorrow. Add a few minutes to the bake time for chilled ingredients.

Shop for any salad greens or fresh items.

Set the table; try a centerpiece of mini pumpkins, gourds and nuts cascading down the center of the table. Place candles in glass votives throughout the arrangement for a warm, Thanksgiving glow.

The big day:

Let turkey sit at room temperature for 1-2 hours before roasting it according to the directions included with the bird. Take out the giblets and neck and rinse it in cool water. Pat it dry.

Complete side dishes and reheat gently before the meal.

Just before dinner:

Heat bread or rolls once the turkey is out of the oven and resting before being carved.

Feel thankful that the day has turned out wonderfully and you're able to enjoy a relaxed meal with family.