Preston Cooks Thanksgiving Must Have Items

5 Must-Have Thanksgiving Items

Thanksgiving is just around the corner. Have you planned the perfect menu? If you are a little intimidated by the task of creating the perfect Thanksgiving Day dinner, here are five must-have items that will leave your guests wowed and wanting more.

Thanksgiving Turkey

Thanksgiving wouldn’t be complete without the prize-winning bird. Nailing the perfect balance of both fully cooked and still tender and succulent is no easy task, but will come with practice. One of my favorite recipes is this one by its basic and straight forward. Follow it exactly and your bird will be everyone’s favorite.

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (165 degrees C). Place rack in the lowest position of the oven.
  2. Remove the turkey neck and giblets, rinse the turkey, and pat dry with paper towels. Place the turkey, breast side up, on a rack in the roasting pan.  Rub the skin with the softened butter, and season with salt and pepper. Position an aluminum foil tent over the turkey.
  3. Place turkey in the oven, and pour 2 cups turkey stock into the bottom of the roasting pan. Baste all over every 30 minutes with the juices on the bottom of the pan. Whenever the drippings evaporate, add stock to moisten them, about 1 to 2 cups at a time. Remove aluminum foil after 2 1/2 hours. Roast until a meat thermometer inserted in the meaty part of the thigh reads 180 degrees F (80 degrees C), about 2 to 3 hours.
  4. Transfer the turkey to a large serving platter, and let it stand for at least 20 to 30 minutes before carving.

This is a family recipe that we have used for years. It’s kinda simple but I think that is what makes it so delicious.

Sweet Potatoes

These are a must. I was raised with the pour it from a can, cover it in brown sugar and marshmallows and call it done. But over the years I have refined the recipe into my own creation. Just a reminder to use Sweet Potato peeler, the skin of sweet potatoes is rougher and a bit harder to peel, so give yourself plenty of time for the extra effort.

This recipe makes two servings.

Ingredients
  • 1 large sweet potato (12 to 14 ounces)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated fresh orange zest
  • 1 tablespoons fresh orange juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 teaspoons chopped, pecans (optional)
  1. Peel and cube sweet potato.  Bring water to boil.  Cook sweet potatoes until they are tender, about 20 minutes.  Drain.
  2. Return to pot and mash sweet potato with remaining ingredients. Top with pecans or even brown sugar.

Cranberry Relish

Please, whatever you do, don’t open that nasty can of gelatin mess. The recipe below is simple and one I have used for years. Don’t save the sassy side dish just for Thanksgiving, you can whip it out year along for a tangy garnish to both chicken and pork.

1 un-pealed orange, ends cut off, cut into eighths, and deseeded
1 12 oz package of cranberries
3/4 to 1 cup sugar
couple dashes of pumpkin pie spice (to taste)

Place half the cranberries and half the orange slices in food processor container. Process until mixture is evenly chopped. Transfer to a bowl. Repeat with remaining cranberries and orange slices. Stir in sugar to taste. Store in refrigerator or freezer.

Makes about 3 cups.

I honestly have no opinion on the great pie debate. To me, Thanksgiving is both Pumpkin and Pecan or it simply isn’t Thanksgiving. For the first time holiday chef, a pumpkin pie made with canned pumpkin can be a quick and easy dessert.

In my family, we had three holiday treats that were essential to every Thanksgiving. Giblet Gravy, Oyster Dressing, and my favorite Pretzel Salad. I was in high school and we had a progressive dinner and one of the parents made Pretzel Salad and we have had it as a family tradition ever since. This recipe is easy to follow. Try it out and let me know what you think.