A Glance at Thanksgiving Week

I’m full of emotions this week as we lead up to Thanksgiving.  I’m usually really excited about Thanksgiving because it means spending time with family and friends – and Black Friday shopping.  Over the past few years we’ve started some new traditions in our family.  We have spent Thanksgiving Day with family (either mine or my husbands – we try to alternate each year) then we’ll leave the kids with the Grandparents in the morning as we go watch all the craziness of Black Friday shopping.  We don’t usually go out looking for bargains but more for people watching.  We normally end up eating a late breakfast or early lunch before we head home to nap.  This year our traditions are changing a bit due to our schedules.

My husband is working on Thanksgiving Day so we won’t be going to visit family – and the family isn’t coming to us either.  With my new job I’m scheduled to work off-and-on over the Thanksgiving weekend since Black Friday and Cyber Monday are some of our biggest sale days of the year.  While the hubs will be home early in the afternoon (by 3pm) it’s not all that exciting to cook an entire turkey dinner for 2 adults and 2 children.  We’re not big leftover eaters either – if it doesn’t get eaten in the first 2 days it normally gets trashed.  (Don’t get me started on using our freezer, the food just sits in there and gets frostbitten.)  I know that I will end up grocery shopping tomorrow and will cave and get all of the traditional fixings that we both grew up with.

I found a few exciting recipes that I would love to try with my new Carapelli Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil.  They sent me a bottle over the summer to cook with and I love the flavor.  The recipes call for a variety of olive oils but since I’m not a savvy chef I’ll be using my one bottle of organic olive oil for everything.  Since I’m in such a funk tonight thinking about the changes in our traditions this year I may just make the mashed potatoes over the weekend – they are my ultimate comfort food.

Tuscan Roast Turkey – Serving Size 16 (Yes, I’ll need to scale this down A LOT!)

  • 1 16-pound young turkey
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • 1 cup Tuscan Herb Paste
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed
  • 2 teaspoons celery salt
  • 3 fennel stalks with fronds, rough chopped
  • 3 onions, large dice
  • 1 stalk celery, small dice
  • 2 1/4 quarts chicken stock
  • 3 ounces all-purpose flour

Remove giblets from turkey’s cavity, rinse cavity and pat dry, set aside. Season turkey inside and out with Kosher salt.

Mix Tuscan Herb Paste with crushed fennel seeds and celery salt. Starting at the neck of the bird, slip your hand between the meat and the skin to loosen.

Rub half the paste mix under skin, and rub remaining paste inside the cavity and over the rest of the turkey.

Season all over with kosher salt.

Place two-thirds of the chopped onion and fennel stalks inside cavity. Truss bird.

Place turkey in a roasting pan. Roast at 400°F for 30 minutes.

Reduce temperature to 325°F and continue cooking the turkey to an internal temperature of 160°F, approximately 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Baste turkey often during cooking with juices from pan. If turkey begins to overbrown, cover it loosely with aluminum foil.

As turkey roasts, simmer giblets (neck, heart and gizzard), the other one-third of the fennel stalk, onion mix and diced celery in 1 quart chicken stock until tender, approximately 1 1/2 hours.

When turkey is done, remove from roasting pan and set aside to rest. Degrease roasting pan, reserving 3 ounces of fat to make a roux.

Deglaze pan with a small amount of chicken stock. Transfer stock to a saucepot, and add remaining stock and broth from giblets. Bring to a simmer and degrease.

Make a blond roux with reserved fat and flour. Add roux to the liquid, whisking well to prevent lumps. Simmer 15 minutes. Strain gravy through a fine-meshed strainer. Adjust seasoning.

Tuscan Herb Paste – Yield: 2 1/4 cups

  • 3/4 cup Carapelli Extra Light in Taste Olive Oil
  • 1 cup Carapelli Premium 100% Italian Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh basil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary
  • 1/2 packed cup fresh Italian parsley
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
  • 2 tablespoons fresh sage
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper

Blend herbs and crushed red pepper with light olive oil using a blender or food processor, then stir in extra virgin olive oil.

Serving Ideas: Rub under the skin of turkey for Tuscan Roast Turkey. Use to flavor vegetables for grilling and mushrooms for roasting.

Olive Oil and Herb Mashed Potatoes – Serving Size: 12

  • 10 8-ounce potatoes, (about 5 pounds) peeled and cut in half
  • 3/8 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup Tuscan Herb paste
  • 1/2 cup Carapelli Premium 100% Italian Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 cup heavy cream, warmed

Boil potatoes in salted water. When cooked tender, mash potatoes. Mix salt and pepper with Tuscan Herb Paste, olive oil and warm heavy cream. Fold into potatoes.

What about you?  Do you like to try new holiday recipes or do you like to stick with family traditions?  Have you ever cooked an entire Thanksgiving meal for just your immediate family?  What tips do you have – I don’t even know what size turkey to get for 4 people.


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