For many people in the US, Thanksgiving is a holiday that usually includes feasting, a four-day weekend, football games, parades and family reunions. However, the first “Thanksgiving” was a thankful gathering. Following the Mayflower ship’s arrival at Plymouth Rock on December 11, 1620, the Pilgrims suffered a loss of 46 of their original 102 colonists. With the help of 91 Indians, the remaining Pilgrims survived the bitter winter and the next year had a bountiful harvest. In celebration, the Pilgrims and Native Americans enjoyed a three day English harvest festival, for a “thanksgiving” observance.
Now Thanksgiving is a national holiday marked by religious observances and a traditional meal including turkey commemorating the harvest festival celebrated by the Pilgrims. It is held in the US on the fourth Thursday in November.
Simply put, we gather with family and friends to share a meal of turkey, many different side dishes and finished off with traditional pies. We reflect on the many things we are thankful for.
Here is a recipe for a traditional Thanksgiving Turkey. This is a nice choice for an Autumn or Winter meal.
Traditional Thanksgiving Turkey and Stuffing
You will need:
12 lb whole turkey (with neck & giblets removed.)
5 cups turkey or chicken canned stock
1 (12 oz. pkg.) dry bread stuffing mix (or 1 loaf of bread cubed and dried)
1 large onion chopped
4 stalks celery chopped
4 tablespoons dried sage
1 stick of butter
Prepare stuffing according to package, and set aside in a large bowl.
Prepare the turkey by removing the giblets and neck, set aside. Rinse turkey and pat dry.
Season turkey with salt and pepper. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C).
Saute onion in pan with butter then add chopped celery. Cook until the onion is clear.
Remove from heat add the sage and mix with turkey stuffing mix (or bread) and chicken stock one cup at a time. Stuff the turkey with stuffing. If you have extra you can also put stuffing in the neck cavity. (If there is left over stuffing, add more chicken stock and cook it in a covered dish.)
Using small skewers close the stuffing caving.
Tie the drumsticks together and tuck the wings close the body to prevent burning. Rub butter all over the outside and put the turkey in the oven. Turkey cooking time is approximately 20 minutes/pound, so if you use a smaller turkey, you can adjust.
Bake turkey in a roasting pan with water (and onions) if you desire, until the skin is a light golden color. Cover loosely with a foil tent. During the last 45 minutes, uncover the turkey to brown. You can baste the turkey with the liquid in the pan during cooking adding more if necessary.
Internal temperature of the turkey thigh should be 180°F (80°C) and stuffing 165°F (75°C).
You can gently cook the giblets and neck on the stove for making gravy with this stock.
When the turkey is done, remove from the oven and rest the turkey for 20 minutes before carving.
Thanksgiving is enjoyed with turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, various vegetables and cranberry sauce. This is usually followed by apple and pumpkin pie for dessert. Enjoy!