The Thanksgiving turkey; the centerpiece of the American Thanksgiving meal. We needed a simpler way to make the turkey this year, and we are inspired by the November issue of Bon Appétit magazine. They suggest a quartered, spiced roast turkey cooked on a sheet pan. We gave it a whirl. The results: Five Stars. More about that in a minute.
Gluttony Day in America
That’s almost 3,000 calories in one meal!
Thanksgiving has become the Crowned Prince Day of Gluttony. How many calories/sodium/fats/simple carbs will you be consuming on Thanksgiving? We turned to the facts and the stats at Consumer Reports, and they had this to say about American Thanksgiving Dinner: “Americans take in 3,000 to 4,500 calories at their Thanksgiving celebrations, according to estimates by the Calorie Control Council.” OUCH. You can read the whole article here. They have suggestions for a 2,000 calorie meal, but K2.0 wants better.
WHY should we eat healthier on Thanksgiving?
I guess we’ll answer our question with another question. Why not? We’ll feel better afterwards, we’ll be giving our bodies the gift of healthy and nutritious food, and it absolutely tastes wonderful!!!
The kitchen at K2.0 has been a whirlwind of activity lately, researching and testing out recipes (modified by us) that will provide a beautiful, delicious dinner but still stay within K2.0 guidelines. We did the math, ran the stats, tried out all the recipes, and we are proud to say we hosted a delicious Friendsgiving with the main meal coming in a little over 500 calories, with low-sodium, low-saturated fat, only healthy fats, and high fiber, complex carbohydrates.
Plus, we had a wonderful time together! We gals are “sandbox friends.” Friends who have known each other our entire lives. Friends, with whom you don’t have to explain yourself or defend yourself; just be yourself. Is there anything more relaxing than being with special, cherished friends?
When planning a special dinner, make a checklist for the days leading up to it.
So … let’s get back to that turkey. I was super inspired by an article in Bon Appétit’s Nov. 2019 issue that spoke of an easier way to cook a whole turkey. Last year, for the Big Day, we cooked two 28 lb. turkeys. It was a major workout to prep, hoist them into the wall ovens, and carve those suckers! Bon Appétit’s method is to have the butcher quarter the turkey, leave the breast intact, but remove the backbone. Then they recommend cooking everything on a rack suspended above a sheet pan. It roasts for 1 to 1.5 hours, and done! It sounds fantastic, and we love the ease of having the turkey butchered prior to cooking it. We’re not looking for a Norman Rockwell photo with the bird, so what does it matter? The water in the pan keeps the bird from drying out.
TIP: Always read recipe directions two or three times before cooking anything with more than a few steps. Then gather everything you need. The French term for this is: “mise en place.” It pays to be organized, especially when making multiple things at once. I also make a timing chart for myself, on a spread sheet, so I know what tasks need to be completed and when. However, some of the meal was prepared a day or two in advance, and warmed.
I’m the first to admit that once I get chatting and have a glass of wine, time gets away from me. I make these lists so that I don’t get distracted and forget something. My iPhone lives in my pocket, set on vibrate, and I set the timer on it for the next increment so I stay on track and have fun with my guests at the same time.
Here’s the timing checklist for the cooking process:
Here is the turkey recipe!
Quartered, Spiced & Glazed Turkey
- Mortar and pestle or a spice mill
- Wire rack set inside a large baking sheet.
- Instant-read meat thermometer
- 2.5 lbs. turkey breast from a 12 pound turkey
- 2 Tbsp whole, black peppercorns
- 2 Tbsp whole, pink peppercorns
- 2 Tbsp garlic powder
- 2 Tbsp onion powder
- 1 Tbsp smoked paprika
- 2 Tbsp light brown sugar packed, divided
- 1 Tbsp fresh rosemary sprigs leave whole
- 1 Tbsp fresh thyme sprigs leave whole
- 3 sage leaves leave whole
- 4 cloves garlic crushed
- 2 strips fresh orange peel
- 1/4 Cup liquid coconut aminos
- 1/3 Cup red wine vinegar
- 1 Tbsp canola oil
- Have a butcher cut a 12-13 pound turkey into 5 pieces: the legs, the wings; keep the breast whole, but remove the backbone. (Save for soup or stock.)
- Prepare the spices by first crushing the whole peppercorns with a mortar and pestle, and add them to a medium bowl. Add garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, and 1 Tbsp brown sugar, and stir to mix well.
- Place the turkey pieces, skin side up, on a wire rack inside a large baking sheet. Sprinkle the spice mixture all over the turkey, patting on it to make sure it adheres. Then chill the bird, uncovered, at least 24 hours, and up to 2 days.
- Remove turkey from wire rack and rinse baking sheet, as turkey may have released some liquid. Line baking sheet with 3 layers of foil for easy clean-up and set rack back inside.
- Arrange turkey pieces on rack, skin side up, and let sit at room temperature for 2-3 hours to help decrease cooking time.
- Meanwhile, cook herbs, garlic, orange peel, soy sauce, vinegar, and remaining 1/4C brown sugar in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar is dissolved and glaze thickens slightly. (It should just barely coat a spoon.)
- Place a rack in the middle of the oven, preheat to 425º.
- Rub turkey with oil, and pour 1 Cup of water into the baking sheet. Place sheet in oven and roast for 10 minutes.
- Rotate the sheet pan 180º and roast another 15 minutes. The skin should be golden brown.
- Reduce oven temperature to 300º and continue to roast the turkey, but brush on glaze every 20 minutes, (set a timer) and add water to sheet pan by 1/2 cup to maintain some liquid in the sheet pan. Cooking time will be between 1 – 1.5 hours. An instant read thermometer should register 150º when inserted into the thickest part of the breast, and 170º when inserted into the thickest part of the thighs. Skin should be a deep golden brown and shiny.
- Transfer turkey to a cutting board; tent loosely with foil. Let turkey rest 30-60 minutes before cutting.
The gravy is made with roasted, charred Poblano peppers and buttermilk. I can’t explain how good this was!
Buttermilk Poblano Sauce
- 2 large Poblano peppers
- 3 Tbsp unsalted butter divided
- 1/2 Cup yellow onion diced
- 1.5 Cups unsalted vegetable stock warmed and divided
- 1 Tbsp all-purpose flour
- 2 Tbsp low-fat buttermilk
- ground white pepper to taste
- If you have a gas stove, use kitchen tongs and hold one pepper directly above the gas flame. Cook until blackened; 4-6 minutes. Repeat with the other pepper. Place peppers in a bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let chiles steam for 10 minutes. OR – Roast the Poblano chiles under the broiler, turning often, until charred.
- Using plastic wrap or gloves, cover your hands and rub the skin of the peppers to remove as much of the blackened skin as you can. (It won't all come off.)
- Remove and discard stems and seeds. Finely dice one of the peppers, cut the other into strips, and set aside, separately.
- Melt one Tbsp of butter in a medium skillet. Add onion and pepper strips. Cook 4 minutes over medium high heat, until onion is soft.
- Meanwhile, warm vegetable stock in a saucepan on low.
- Combine onion/pepper mixture and one-half of the warmed stock in a blender and process until smooth; about 30 seconds.
- Add the other 2 Tbsp of butter in the same skillet over medium heat. Whisk in flour, and reduce heat to low. Cook, whisking constantly, until mixture is golden brown. (About 3 minutes.)
- Increase heat to medium. Add onion/pepper purée and remaining 1C warmed stock, and cook, whisking constantly, until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
- Reduce heat to low, add buttermilk and diced chili. Simmer gently to let flavors meld; about 2 minutes.
Our stuffing was made ahead of time, but it was just as good the second time around!
Whole Wheat Herbed Stuffing
- 16 slices whole grain bread
- 1 cup yellow onion chopped
- 1 cup celery chopped
- 1 cup white carrots chopped
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 3 Tbsp unsalted butter
- 2 Tbsp curly parsley minced
- 1 Tbsp fresh rosemary minced
- 1 Tbsp fresh thyme minced
- 1 tsp dried marjoram
- 2 Cups no-sodium chicken broth
- 1 large egg
- 1 tsp pepper
- Preheat oven to 200º.
- Cube the bread into equal sized pieces. Spread out on a large sheet pan and place on the middle rack of the oven for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.
- Remove bread from oven and turn oven up to 350º.
- Heat 3 Tbsp unsalted butter over medium heat in a large skillet.
- Sauté onion, carrots, celery and garlic until softened; about 5 minutes.
- Add parsley, rosemary, thyme and marjoram to the skillet. Stir often, for another 2 minutes.
- Place bread cubes in a large bowl.
- Pour sautéed vegetables over the bread and stir to coat.
- Add 1 egg and pepper to the broth, and whisk until egg has become fully emulsified into the broth. Pour mixture into bread bowl, and mix with clean hands to completely coat the bread.
- Line an 8×8" baking dish with parchment paper. (Easiest way is to cut two pieces of parchment that are 12"x8" and lay them so they cross each other in the pan.) To keep moisture in, cover the pan with foil.
- Bake for 30 minutes, remove foil, and bake another 10 minutes.
Mashed potatoes are delicious, but heavy with fat and carbs. We elected to go with Mashed Cauliflower, and it was fantastic!
Mashed Cauliflower with Garlic and Herbs
- immersion blender
- metal steamer basket
- 8 Cups cauliflower florets
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 2 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves removed
- Trim cauliflower and cut off florets.
- Heat 2" of water in a large pot and insert a steamer basket. Place florets inside and steam for 8 minutes.
- While the cauliflower is steaming, heat the olive oil in a small pan on medium heat. Add minced garlic and cook for 30 seconds, then remove from heat.
- Remove steamed cauliflower from the pot. Drain water, and add cauliflower back in. Add the olive oil, garlic and chopped herbs.
- Use a potato masher or an immersion blender to mash the cauliflower. Serve with a garnish of thyme leaves.
Fall vegetables are delicious when roasted. We chose Brussels Sprouts and Butternut Squash with Spinach.
Roasted Brussels Sprouts
- 6 Cups Brussels sprouts trimmed
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic sliced very thin
- Preheat oven to 450º.
- Rinse and trim Brussels sprouts.
- Place sprouts in a large bowl, pour 1 Tbsp oil over them and rub the oil onto the sprouts with your hands, to coat.
- Using a paring knife or handheld mandolin, slice garlic as thin as possible into slices.
- Put garlic in bowl with the sprouts and stir to coat.
- Place everything on a foil-covered sheet pan in a single layer, and roast for 30 minutes.
- Remove and serve!
Butternut Squash with Spinach
- 20 ounces butternut squash, peeled and cubed
- 5 ounces baby spinach
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 Tbsp Craisins "Low Sugar" variety
- Preheat oven to 450º.
- Peel and cube the squash, and rinse spinach.
- Add spinach and craisins to a large bowl and stir to coat well.
- Place squash cubes on a foil-lined sheet pan and roast for 25-30 minutes.
- Remove pan from oven, add spinach, folding it into the squash. Sprinkle Craisins on top. Place pan back in oven for 5 minutes.
- Remove, plate and enjoy!
We love cranberry sauce and never cared if it was homemade or straight outta’ the can. That was then. This is now: Cranberry Sauce with no white sugar!
Natural Cranberry Sauce
- 12 ounces fresh cranberries
- 1/4 Cup maple syrup
- 1/4 Cup orange juice fresh
- orange zest
- 1/2 Cup water
- Rinse cranberries and discard any spoiled ones.
- In a medium saucepan, combine cranberries, water and maple syrup. Bring mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce heat to medium low and cook, stirring occasionally, until the cranberries have popped and the mixture has thickened. (5-10 minutes.)
- Remove pot from heat and stir in orange zest. (If desired, add cinnamon.)
- Sauce will continue to thicken as it cools. Pour into a decorative bowl, cover, and place in refrigerator for at least 4 hours before serving.
Special friends, good food, good wine, and lots of laughter. What more could a gal want?