Our Thanksgiving Repast 2016 (Dinner for 6 with leftovers)

2016-11-24-06-13-04I’ve already included a Spatchcocked Turkey Recipe in this blog, but today I’m including a 2nd version. It was wonderfully flavorful, tender and easy to make. I modified some professional chef’s recipes to make this meal successful. Only one disappointment, and it was good, just not up to standards of all the other foods, the brussels sprouts.

My goal, when serving a dinner, whether it’s for my immediate family on a Tuesday, or for company, is to be able to get everything on the table, hot, at the same time, and to be able to sit down and join everyone for great food and conversation. To this end, I tend to plan meals which permit some things to be prepped and/or made in advance. In advance, I made the cranberry sauce and gravy, and prepped the turkey. The morning of, I diced the veggies, shredded the cheese for the mashed potatoes, washed the potatoes and put them on the stovetop in cold water.

Note: I’m omitting the Brussels sprouts recipe, but have included the link where you can find it, since I followed it exactly, unlike the other recipes.

Our menu:

  1. Spatchcocked turkey – variation of Alton Brown’s recipe
  2. Homemade gravy
  3. Panzanella – variation of Alton Brown’s recipe
  4. Cranberry Sauce – my own recipe
  5. Creamed spinach – Seabrook Farms with a pinch of nutmeg added
  6. Shredded brussels sprouts with lemon vinaigrette (whatsgabycooking.com)
  7. Loaded mashed potatoes – my own recipe
  8. Oven roasted brocollini with lemon – variation of Rachael Ray’s recipe
  9. Pecan Pie Tart (recipe is already on the blog)


We spatchcocked, or butterflied, the turkey on Sunday. We had a wonderful turkey, raised on the farm by my daughter-in-law’s father. It weighed 13.4#. Unlike a store-bought turkey, this one had been raised on fresh foods, no antibiotics, open space. The bird was meaty without being breast heavy and had no liquid injected into it to keep it moist. It also did not come with a pop-up thermometer.

Cutting the backbone out of the turkey was an adventure. Read the paragraph above, and you’ll know why. This was one naturally healthy bird. It’s bones were so strong that only my Cutco kitchen shears, which will cut through a coin, would cut through the bones.

The next step is to turn the bird over, spread out the ribs as far as you can, then press down on the breastbone. You should hear it snap, and the turkey now can be splayed out. HA! Not the case with this healthy critter. My husband wound up using a mallet to break the sternum. Yup. It was not going to break otherwise, and, just for comparison, the first turkey I made this way weighed 22# and with a little pressure, I was able to butterfly it easily.

Now came Alton Brown’s dry rub. We splayed the turkey out on parchment on the bottom of my broiler pan. We made a mix of:

  • 3 Tbsp. kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp. dried sage
  • 1 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1 tsp. black peppercorns
  • 3/4 tsp. whole allspice berries

which I ran through a spice grinder making a powdery mix. You can grind them up into larger pieces if you’d like, but we like it powdery. Then using clean hands, I spread the mix all over the turkey, including a little bit on the underside.

Leaving the turkey uncovered, I placed it in the bottom shelf of my fridge until Thursday, removing it from the fridge about 1 hour PRIOR to cooking it, so it could come up to room temperature. Stay with me here, we’re moving onto the Panzanella, and then will come back to the turkey, as they need to cook together.

I covered my counter with plastic wrap now, and slipped the turkey, parchment and all, out of the pan and let it just sit on the counter, on the plastic wrap.  I washed out the broiler pan really well, since it had been holding raw turkey, and began to prep the panzanella.


Panzanella is kind of like stuffing, but not really, it is more like wonderfully oven roasted root vegetables, mixed with a little bit of bread, where everything can carmelize and roast and just turn amazingly tasty. I will tell you, I had never made this before, and according to my family, I never need make regular stuffing again. This was just soooooo flavorful.

In the bottom of the broiler pan, I cut up and tossed together:

  • 1 large red onion into a rough chop
  • 2 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2″ pieces
  • 2 parsnips, peeled and cut into 1/2″ pieces
  • I celeriac, peeled and cut into 1/2″ pieces
  • 2 C butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1/2″ pieces (I bought it already cut in the market, and cut it to the size I wanted)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 to 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 3 to 4 springs fresh thyme
  • Salt & pepper
  • 1/2 bag of Pepperidge Farm Herb Seasoned Stuffing Mix (about 3 C)

NOTE: You can also use sweet potato, rutabaga, etc. The original recipe called for brussels sprouts also, but since I was making them otherwise, I decided to omit them. Check Alton Brown’s recipe if you use them as they get added later.


I now preheated my oven to 425 and made sure there was space in the middle to hold the broiler pan with clearance for the turkey. I have 3 racks so this meant adjusting the space between racks.

I took the turkey, now at room temperature , and placed it on top of the veggie/bread mix, throwing away the parchment paper, and wrapping up the plastic wrap and throwing it away as well. I used a pastry brush and brushed the outside of the turkey with just a very little bit of olive oil. and put the entire thing into the preheated oven.

I roasted it at 425 for 30 minutes, then turned the oven down to 350, without disturbing anything at all. After an additional 30 minutes, I checked, using an instant-read thermometer. I was looking for 165 degrees in both the breast and the thick part of the thigh, making sure the thermometer did not touch the bone on either place. If the turkey is done, remove the turkey to a carving board and just let it rest while you prepare everything else. NOTE: If your turkey is 12 to 14#s, 1 hour total will be more than enough. As the turkey increases in size, it will take just a little bit more, but again, for reference, I made a 22# turkey and it took just 1 hour, 20 minutes total.


To give myself oven room, I took the veggies and bread out of the broiler pan and using a slotted spatula to drain some of the rendered fat from the turkey, move everything to an small ovensafe dish, I used a 9 x 13″ glass casserole. You can leave the Panzanella in the oven while you cook the brocollini and lemons. The veggies will carmelize and turn crispy and brown and yummy. Leave them in an additional 30 minutes or so, then remove them, stir them up a little and plate them for serving (or leave in the pan you cooked them in).


BROCOLLINI: Turn the oven back up to 425 please, to pre-heat

  • 3 to 4 heads brocollini, divided into spears with ends trimmed
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 to 1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
  • salt & pepper
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 lemons, cut in half

Cover a large cookie sheet with foil, toss the brocollini with the oil and lay it out on the cookie sheet. Sprinkle the garlic, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper over the spears. Put the two lemons, cut side down, onto the cookie sheet as well, and throw into the top shelf of your oven.


Check the pan after about 10 minutes and turn the brocollini over. Put it back in the oven and cook an additional 10 to 15 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven, plate the brocollini and squeeze 2 of the roasted lemon halves over the brocollini. Put the other two pieces in the serving dish. They will look wonderful, adding color to the table, and be there is anyone wants more lemon.

GRAVY:  Because you are using the pan drippings in the Panzanella, there is no reason to not make the gravy in advance, but want to make it as flavorful as possible

  • 6 C homemade turkey stock (I used 8C water, 1/2 onion, 1 carrot cut into pieces, 2 stocks celery, cut into pieces, and the backbone we removed from the turkey when we spatchcocked it. If you have giblets, you can throw them into the pot as well – brought to a boil and simmered for 45 minutes, then strained)
  • 6 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1/2 C flour
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp. dried sage
  • Salt & pepper

Melt the butter into a sauce pan and add the flour, a little at a time, whisking to incorporate the flour into the butter for the roux. Let the flour and butter cook for a couple of minutes, then slowly add the hot turkey broth, thyme and sage, and some salt and pepper, whisking again, until it is a smooth mixture. Cook for about 10 minutes, whisking and stirring occasionally, until the flour has actually cooked and won’t leave a funky flavor. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper, if needed. Pour into a plastic container or glass jar, let it cool on the counter, then cover and refrigerate. Reheat when you’re ready for it. Having been made with the turkey broth, it will compliment the turkey perfectly. It will result in about 6 C of gravy.

LOADED MASHED POTATOES: This recipe is also already on the blog.

We were so grateful this Thanksgiving, being able to sit down with the kids and enjoy the time together. The food was wonderful, according to them, but the company was even better.

These recipes are great for any time, and spatchcocking can be done with chickens as well, just cutting down on the cooking time.



7 thoughts on “Our Thanksgiving Repast 2016 (Dinner for 6 with leftovers)

  1. We ate with friends and brought over a dish. I must say that I became hungry again reviewing your recipe. I am getting ready to make a pork chop dish with cream, mushrooms served over grits.


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