Recipe Project #41 & #42: Thanksgiving

I think this is somewhere between the 21st or 24th Thanksgiving that I’ve done most of the cooking for, although my memory gets a little hazy. It’s the first where I bothered to refer to a recipe for the turkey, though. I usually just do what my grandma did: stuff it with cornbread and sausage stuffing, butter it up, cover it in aluminum foil, and put it in the oven. Baste very hour and take the foil off halfway through. It’s done when the juices run clear.

This year, I thought about spatchcocking the bird, but then wussed out when I realized there’d be no room for anything else in my relatively small single oven. So I brined it for six hours yesterday, dried it overnight in the fridge, then smeared garlic-herb butter under and over the skin and stuck it in the oven unstuffed. This is all largely based on the Cooks Illustrated recipe for extra-crispy turkey, all of which is behind a firewall. It’s about two hours in now, so we’ll see how it comes out.

Everything else in the meal is pretty much the same as always: stuffing (cornbread and wheat crumbs, onion, celery, mushrooms, sage sausage, whetted with egg and homemade chicken stock), green bean casserole, Mr. Husband’s mashed potatoes and homemade gravy, rolls. Plus the ceremonial crescent rolls, which will continue to be a tradition until one of us gets brave enough to attempt the rolls my grandma used to make. I switched out the usual pumpkin pie for pecan this year. I’m not usually a huge fan of it, but he is and it sounded right. I dug through the cookbook shelves and came up with a tome that Mom and Dad recently sent up from my collection at their house: Thirty Years at the Mansion: Recipes and Recollections by Liza Ashley. It’s a compendium of recipes from the Arkansas Governor’s Mansion kitchens, published in 1985 by the local publisher August House.

I could fancy this up any number of ways from any number of fabulous recipes: bourbon pecan pie, chocolate pecan pie, squash-pecan pie, etc. etc. etc. But I really prefer a bare-bones pecan pie, and this one fits the bill.

Liza Ashley’s Pecan Pie

3 eggs, beaten
2/3 cup sugar
1/3 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup melted butter
1 cup dark Karo
1 unbaked 9-inched pie shell (I parbaked mine)
1 cup pecan halves

Combine eggs, sugar, salt, butter, and corn syrup in a medium-sized bowl and mix well. Pour mixture into pie shell and top with pecan halves. Bake at 375F for 45 minutes.

And that’s that.

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