Select Page
5/5 - (2 votes)

Thanksgiving Dinner Recipes

The Perfect Turkey, Part 3

Deep Fried and Cajun Injected Brown Sugar Brine Smoked Turkey

This is the recipe we’ve finally settled on and been making non-stop for the last several years. Deep frying the turkey has worked out extremely well. The turkey is done in record time, it’s easy, and the turkey comes out flavorful and juicy.


1 cup salt
1/2 tbsp cayenne
1/4 tbsp black pepper

Injected Marinade

2 tbsp Lea & Perrins worcestershire
1 tbsp crab boil
1/4 cup apple cider
3/4 cup honey
1 bottle beer
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp allspice
1/2 cup creole spice such as Essence of Emeril

1/4 teaspoon cayenne
pinch of clove

Essence of Emeril

2 1/2 tbsp paprika
2 tbsp salt
2 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp black pepper
1 tbsp onion powder
1 tbsp cayenne
1 tbsp dried oregano
1 tbsp dried thyme

Start by brining the turkey the night before using the brine recipe mentioned below in “The Perfect Turkey, Part 2”. The following morning, when you take the turkey out of the brine, rub the skin with the rub.

Next, prepare the marinade. Combine the wet ingredients in a blender, then add the dry ingredients. Puree on high for 4 to 6 minutes. Inject liberally all over the turkey.

You’re ready to fry! I’m not going to tell you how to do that. It’s dangerous, must be done outdoors, and there are loads of other folks to give that advice. Do take care!

The Perfect Turkey, Part 2

Brown sugar brine baked turkey

My buddy Ron Fior put me on to the whole brining concept. First I made Apple Cider Brined Pork Chops–boy were they good! Starting in 2002, I’ve been making a brown sugar brine smoked turkey every Thanksgiving!

Brine Ingredients

4 gallons of water
2 cups kosher salt
2 cups dark brown sugar
2 cups coarsely chopped yellow onions
2 oranges, quartered
6 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
6 sprigs fresh sage
4 sprigs frsh rosemary, coarsely chopped
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 tablespoon black peppercorns.


One 14 pound turkey, neck, giblets, and liver reserved for gravy
1 yellow onion, cut into eighths
1 celery rib, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 carrot, cut into 1 inch pieces
2 sprigs fresh parsley
2 tablespoons of Emeril’s Essence
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 1/4 cups turkey or chicken stock

In an ice chest or other container large enough combine all the brine ingredients and stir until the sugar and salt have dissolved.

Rinse the turkey under cold running water and place it in the brine. Make sure the turkey is covered by at least 2 inches of brine. Add ice to keep it cool and let it brine overnight or up to 24 hours.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Remove the turkey from the brine and rinse well under cold water. Pat dry with paper towels and let it come to room temperature–about 1 hour.

Combine the onions, celery, carrots, and parsley in a bowl.

Put the turkey on the rack of a large roasting pan. Lightly season the turkey cavity with 1 tablespoon of Essence and then stuff with the vegetable mixture. Tie the legs together with twine, and then rub the whole turkey with vegetable oil. Season with the remaining Essence.

Place the turkey breast side down in the pan and roast, uncovered, for 1 hour.

Remove from oven, turn breast side up, and baste with 3/4 cup of stock. Continue roasting until the juices run clear and a meat thermometer registers 165 degrees F in the breast, and 175 degrees F in the thick section of the thigh. It should take about 3 to 3 1/2 hours total cooking time, basting once every hour with 3/4 cup of stock.

Remove from the oven and place on a platter. Tent the turkey with aluminum foil and let rest for 20 minutes before carving. Reserve the pan juices for making gravy, if desired.

Carve and serve.

The Perfect Turkey, Part 1

Roast turkey seasoned with cayenne, garlic, onion, and herb butter

Here’s a twist that gives the bird great flavor without making it too spicy. Also seems to make it juicier. Best of all, the drippings make awesome gravy!

2 sticks butter cut into 1/4 inch slices
8 teaspoons salt
3 teaspoons cayenne
1 cup finely chopped onions
1/2 cup finely chopped bell peppers
2 tablespoons minced garlic
3 tablespoons pickling juice from pepperoncini peppers
1 defrosted turkey, rinsed and patted dry, neck and giblets removed.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

In a bowl season the butter with 2 tsp salt and 1 tsp cayenne, and freeze for 30 minutes

In a small bowl combine 4 tsp salt, 2 tsp cayenne. In another bowl combine onions, bell peppers, garlic, and the remaining salt and cayenne with the pepper juice.

Place the turkey, breast side-up, on the work surface with the cavity facing you. Reach into the turkey cavity holding a small, sharp, paring knife. With the knife, make 2 to 3 slits, each 2- to 3-inches in length and 1/4 inch deep, in the turkey meat inside the cavity on either side of the breastbone, being careful not to cut so deeply as to pierce the skin on the other side.

Into each slit, insert 2 to 3 pieces of frozen butter, the run about 1/4 teaspoon of the salt and cayenne mixture into each slit. Next, insert about 1 tsp of the vegetable mixture into each slit, gently working it in with your fingers.

Gently pull one drumstick forward and expose the inner thigh. Pull the skin away from the meat and make a slit folliwiung the bone lines from the top of each leg. Repeat the stuffing procedure, described above.

Turn the turkey around, breast side up, with the neck opening facing you. Lift the skin flap and make a slit down each wing from the shoulder, again following the bone lines. Repeat the stuffing procedure.

Season the outside of the turkey with the remaining salt and cayenne mixture. Place any leftover butter or vegatable mixture inside the turkey cavity. Tie the legs together with kitchen twine, and place the turkey, breast side down, in a large deep roasting pan.

Roast the turkey at 400 degrees F for 15 to 20 minutes. Lower the temperature to 350 degrees F, and bake for 3 1/2 hours, or until the juices run clear, turning the turkey breast side up halfway through the cooking process.

Remove the turkey from the oven and let cool for 15 to 20 minutes on a platter before carving. Serve warm with the pan juices.

Cornbread and Andouille Sausage Stuffing

This stuffing is just amazing, especially with gravy from the “Perfect Bird” described above. One guest commented that it could be a meal by itself. We couldn’t find any corn muffins to buy, but there are some very easy cornbread mixes on the market you can substitute. Prepare on Thanksgiving day, and cook while the turkey rests.

Super easy to make!

2 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup chopped yellow onions
1 cup chopped andouille sausage (12 ounces)
1/2 cup green onions
4 tablespoons chopped celery
4 tablespoons chopped green bell peppers
2 tablespoon finely chopped fresh garlic
2 cups coarsely crumbled corn muffins
1 cup chicken stock
2 teaspoon creole seasoning
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add yellow onions and sausage and saute 1 minute. Add green onions, celery, bell peppers and garlic and stir fry 1 minute.

Stir in the corn muffins, stock and Creole seasoning, season to taste with salt and pepper and cook, stirring and shaking the skillet about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and serve with roast chicken, turkey, or pork.

Yield 3 cups

Garlic Mashed Potatoes

We like garlic in our family, and couldn’t live in a better part of the world for it. Garlic is grown in Gilroy, and we have the best fresh garlic on the planet!

These potatoes are the perfect complement for the Turkey and Cornbread/Andouille Sausage Stuffing because the garlic ties each dish together.

3 heads garlic, split in half
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 pounds potatoes, peeled and sliced
1 stick butter, cubed
1/2 to 3/4 cup heavy cream
Salt and white pepper

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Place the garlic on a pie pan and drizzle with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Place in the oven and roast for 35 to 40 minutes, or until tender and golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool. Squeeze or remove the garlic cloves from the head and place in a small bowl. Using a fork, mash the garlic until smooth. Place the potatoes in a pot of salted water and bring to a boil. Reudce the heat to a simmer and cook the potatoes until fork tender, about 12 to 15 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and drain. Place the potatoes back in the pot and return to the heat. Add the garlic and butter. Using a hand held masher, mash the butter and garlic into the potatoes. Add enough cream until desired texture is achieved. The ptoatoes should still be sort of lumpy. Season the potatoes with salt and pepper.

Serves 6 to 8.

1/2tsp ginger
1/2 tsp cloves
1 cup pumpkin
3 eggs
1 2/3 to 1 1/2 cups scalded milk with 2 Tlbs butter


Beat eggs
Add pumpkin ,sugar & spices and mix well
Add milk and butter
Pour in shell and bake at 400 for 10 minutes then 350 until done = until silver knife comes out clean


So much garlic they’re brown!

Grandma Pahl’s Spicy Pumpkin Pie

My grandmother was Swiss, and married to a Swiss baker. As such, she had some great recipes kicking around. This is one of the few that has survived.

2/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnimon
1/2tsp ginger
1/2 tsp cloves
1 cup pumpkin
3 eggs
1 2/3 to 1 1/2 cups scalded milk with 2 Tlbs butter


Beat eggs
Add pumpkin ,sugar & spices and mix well
Add milk and butter
Pour in shell and bake at 400 for 10 minutes then 350 until done = until silver knife comes out clean

Mom & Emeril’s Ambrosia Fruit Salad

My mother made this salad for special occasions and everyone loved it, but we lost her recipe. Emeril has an ambrosia salad dessert that’s on the right track, so I impovised and came up with this excellent interpretation.

2 cups grapes

1/2 pint fresh strawberries, rinsed and quartered

2 large banannas, peeled and sliced

2 cans mandarin oranges

2 cups diced fresh pineapple

1 lemon, juiced

2 tablespoons chiffonade fresh mint leaves

1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 cups heavy cream

1/2 cup sifted confectioner’s sugar

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 cup shredded coconut

In a large bowl, combine all the fruit. Add the lemon juice, mint, and granulated sugar. In a cold bowl of an electric mixer, combine the cream, confectioner’s sugar, and vanilla. Using an electric mixer fitted with a whip attachment or hand-held mixer, whip the cream until soft peaks form. Add the cream mixture to the fruit bowl and use your hands to fold the mixture until the fruit is thoroughly coated. garnish on top with coconut.

Do this one early in the day and chill.


Ginger and Molasses Cranberry Compote

This new version of the old favorite cranberry sauce was the hit of our 2004 Thanksgiving celebration. Everyone loved it, and its super easy to make!

4 cups fresh cranberries
1 1/2 cups water
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon finely grated peeled fresh ginger
1 tablespoon finely chopped shallot
1/4 cup mild (light) molasses


Combine the cranberries, water, sugar, ginger and shallot in a heavy large saucepan. Stir over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Cover and cook until the cranberries burst (about 10 minutes). Stire in the molasses. Season with salt. Cool. Cover and chill untili cold, about 3 hours.