Food: Thanksgiving turkey, stuffing, “turkey” cheese board, side dishes and more recipes; includes how to cook turkey

Our Food and Travel Editor Suzanne Corbett is in Spain on a food/travel junket, but we have had quite a few visits to Thanksgiving articles she previously posted. Here are a few of our favorites.

By Suzanne Corbett, Food/Travel Editor

Try this Unique Cheeseboard “Turkey”

Not all turkeys are roasted, smoked or fried.  Case in point, the Wisconsin Turkey Cheese Tray, courtesy of the Wisconsin’s Diary Farmers.  A great addition to the Thanksgiving  table served alongside your Thanksgiving feast as a pre or post dinner appetizer to gobble when watching  Thanksgiving Day football.

Just use the photo as a guide to build your bird.  It’s an easy and great looking culinary masterpiece your guests will be thankful to have.

Thanksgiving Turkey Cheese Board

Cheddar cheese, thinly sliced
Gouda cheese or Smoked Gouda cheese, thinly sliced
Havarti cheese, thinly sliced
Red Anjou pear
Thinly sliced prosciutto
Thinly sliced bresaola sausage or prosciutto
Mini cucumbers, halved lengthwise
Sweet mini bell peppers, stems removed, halved lengthwise and seeded
Pita crackers
Pitted green olives
Dried apricot
Fresh sage leaves
Black peppercorns
Seedless purple or red grapes

1: Cut the cheddar, gouda and havarti into triangles. Set aside two gouda slices.

2:Place pear on a serving board. Arrange prosciutto around pear. Fill in board with cheddar, bresaola, cucumbers, gouda, havarti, bell peppers and crackers. Tuck in olives, dried apricots and sage.

3: Cut reserved gouda slices into eyes, beak and feet. Attach peppercorns for pupils. Place eyes and beak on pear; arrange feet.

4: Garnish board with grapes, prosciutto flowers and sage.


Stuffing Ideas

By Suzanne Corbett, STLSportsPage Food /Travel Editor

Thanksgiving is just a couple of days away, which brings the question: Will you have the right stuff?  What kind of stuffing you plan to have with this year’s turkey. Since this year will be a little different –  smaller gatherings and smaller turkeys – now may be the time to shuffle the menu options by trying something new. To change up the stuffing.

If you are open  to reaching beyond grandma’s stuffing recipe, I have three suggestions. One featuring a St. Louis classic, Hot Salami. A vintage recipe which replaces bread with crackers and a Southern-style oyster cornbread stuffing (dressing).   Any of which can prove to be the right stuff to have on this year’s Thanksgiving menu.


Gioia’s Hot Salami Stuffing Recipe

2 Cups of Chopped Up Hot Salami

1- Baguette of French Bread

1/2 a cup of a white onion chopped

1 1/2 cups diced celery

1 1/4 teaspoons each of ground thyme and ground sage

1 1/2 teaspoons coarse ground black pepper

1 cup chicken broth

Simply tear the Baguette into small pieces; put them into a large mixing bowl with the Hot Salami, celery, thyme, sage and black pepper; and toss to combine. Add chicken broth and toss again. Stuff the mixture into the turkey cavity just before roasting or in your favorite casserole dish. If baking in a casserole dish, bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes.

Note: This is very similar to the white castle stuffing recipe (If you have tried that)


Vintage Cracker Turkey Stuffing

4 sleeves of Saltine Crackers crushed

4 ribs celery chopped

1/2 bunch parsley chopped

2 medium sized onions chopped

4 eggs beaten until foamy

1 to 2 cups of Milk to make the dressing moist

Season to taste with salt, pepper and poultry seasoning

Mix all the crackers, celery parsley, and onion together, stir in the eggs and add milk to make a moist mixture. Season to taste with salt, pepper and poultry seasoning. Stuff in your turkey and bake. Can also be baked in a buttered baking dish at 350° for 40 minutes.


Dollywood’s Southern Oyster Cornbread Dressing

Courtesy Dollywood DreamMore Resort Chef Shane Bruns

5 tablespoons melted butter

½ cup small-dice onions

½ cup small-dice celery

4 cups crumbled cornbread, allow to dry a bit on a sheet pan

3 cups crumbled white bread, allow to dry a bit on a sheet pan

2 tablespoons poultry seasoning

2 tablespoons chopped parsley

1 tablespoon chopped sage

2 large eggs, beaten

16 ounces shucked oysters with their liquor, beaten with a blender until smooth

10 ounces chicken stock, as needed

Salt and black pepper to taste

Heat butter in skillet and add diced celery and onion. Sauté until just translucent.

In a large bowl, combine the cornbread and white bread crumbles, butter, sautéed celery and onion, and herbs. Add the beaten eggs and blended oysters and mix until well incorporated

Slowly add the chicken stock, a little at a time, just enough to moisten it but not make it soggy. Add salt and pepper, to taste. Place the combined mixture into a shallow baking pan and bake at 325 degrees, until golden brown, about 45 minutes.

Try Cooking the Turkey in the Smoker

Now may be the perfect time to get give that holiday turkey a makeover. Instead of stuffing and roasting the bird try smoking the turkey.

“Smoking turkeys has gotten huge,” said Frank Schmer, founder of the St. Louis BBQ Society and owner of St Louis Home Fires.  “ Each Thanksgiving we see an increased demand for aromatic woods simply because people are smoking more turkeys.”

Smoking turkey does call for a little more finessing, which is easy, especially when smoking with a pellet smoker/grill. The trick to smoking a Thanksgiving turkey is to smoke it with a wood that will impart a milder flavor. A flavor that won’t overpower grandma’s dressing or the green bean casserole.  Of course, robust flavored woods such as hickory or mesquite can be used, but barbecue champions prefer fruitwood.  Schmer recommends apple wood or pecan.

“ Pecan wood is used more in the south but it’s becoming more popular up here. It’s a versatile wood that can be used with a lot different meats. But no matter what you use you have to remember when you’re smoking anything it’s only going to take on smoke about the first third of the cooking process. After that the pores of the meat seals shut.”

Schmer smokes his turkeys at 325 degrees while other home cooks will set their smokers as low as 225 degrees. However, the National Turkey Federation suggests smoking whole turkey no lower than 250 degrees and cooking it until it reaches 165 degrees in the thickest part of the bird.  Turkeys can be brined before smoking and rubbed with spices. It all depends on what you like. I like placing a compound butter under  the turkey’s skin, then I season it with cracked black pepper and coarse flaked salt.

While there’s many different ways to smoke a bird the barbecue faithful all agree that the best thing about smoking turkeys on Thanksgiving is how it brings family and guests together. And while this year’s gathering may be smaller, go ahead and make a big turkey. After all, the best thing about Thanksgiving is the leftover turkey.

Smoked Turkey Basics

1: Select a turkey. Choose a size that fits your smoker.  I aim for a 12 pound bird. Check the label to see if the turkey is a “natural” turkey, not one that says it has been “enhanced”, or “self-basted”. A self-basted or enhanced bird doesn’t require any brining since its already been injected or soaked in a salty substance.

2: Prep the bird and smoker. Once the turkey has been thawed make sure to take out the neck and giblets and reserve them for making stock or gravy, if desired.  Arrange to have enough charcoal and wood chucks/chips or pellets for 4 –6 hours of smoking, which will depend on the turkey’s size.

3: Use a drip pan. This is important to help prevent flare-ups and can provide drippings for gravy.

4: Begin heating smoker to desired cooking temperature – smokers often choose between 250 –325 degrees. Smoking time depends on many factors: turkey size, the distance from the heat, temperature of the coals and the outside air temperature. Generally, plan on smoking turkeys 30 minutes per pound at about 250 degrees; hotter temps will cook quicker. And don’t forget to oil the grill grate to prevent the bird from sticking. Be sure the smoker is up to temperature before adding the turkey.

5: To help promote a crisp skin, baste turkey with a little butter during the last half of smoking.

6: National Turkey Federation recommends smoking whole turkey until inner thigh reaches 180 degrees and the breast170 degrees. Use and instant read thermometer to check temperature. A tip from seasoned BBQ smokers: The turkey’s temperature will rise after it’s removed from the smoker by 5 – 10 degrees. Once the bird has finished smoking remove from the smoker, cover with foil and allow the bird to rest 30 minutes before carving.

Side Dishes, Soup, and Rolls

Most traditions in our country say that we have exactly the same food every year.– because that’s what we always do. Sometimes it is because we like the individual dishes and sometimes it’s because we don’t want to upset the ritual and leave out Aunt Martha’s special homemade dressing.

Our food editor, Suzanne Corbett recently did a cooking demonstration featuring recipes for Thanksgiving which she is sharing with us. Corbett has a suggestion– try something new. It’s like make new friends, but keep the old, it’s possible to have the same menu with new additions, or even just make a new take on something you normally serve.  She suggested if you always have green bean casserole, you could try substituting another green vegetable, such as the Broccoli Blue recipe listed in the recipe area.

Also she suggests taking the old tried and true dishes like cranberries and upping your game by trying something new like her Cranberries in Red Wine shown below.

Everybody loves the smell of turkey mixed in with the smell of dressing and breads. It’s the aromas that make the traditions so special. Suzanne Corbett suggests adding Parker House Rolls to your bread basket this year.

Parker House rolls got their start at what is now the Omni Hotel in Boston, Massachusetts– but  in the 1870s it was known as Parker House.  Founded by Harvey D. Parker in 1855, that hotel was known for creating the Parker House rolls and  Boston Cream Pie.

Legend has it that their  German baker pastry chef lost his temper while making bread dough and tossed the unfinished rolls of dough into the oven. When he checked on it, he found the tossed dough looked like a dented pocketbook. It was perfectly light and puffy on the inside while crispy and buttery on the outside. Parker House rolls never fail to impress as the perfect comfort food.

With the temperatures changing and a new Cardinals manager– it’s a good time to move on to the next season, which is Thanksgiving. Of course once we head into Thanksgiving it morphs into Hanukkah and Christmas so to get started on your gift-buying please check out our STORE for all the Fanatics Cardinals and Blues items plus FOCO (Forever Collectibles) for special Cardinals and Blues items. When you buy from our links you are supporting– yet you are getting the same items you get anywhere sports gear is sold– including the team stores.


Roasted Butternut Squash with Hazelnut Brown Butter Sauce and Thyme

1 large butternut squash (about 21⁄2 – 3 pounds)
6 tablespoons butter
1⁄2 cup roasted hazelnuts, roughly chopped
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped
salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 425 degrees and adjust the rack to the lowest position. Using a vegetable peeler or a knife, peel the butternut squash. Peel and remove the stem and butt end of the squash, then cut it in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds, and slice each half into 3⁄4-inch thick half-moons.

Place the sliced squash in a bowl, toss with 2 tablespoons of melted butter, a big pinch of salt, and a pinch of pepper. Spread in an even layer on a rimmed baking sheet, and place on the lowest rack of the oven. Roast for about 30 minutes, or until the side of the squash touching the baking sheet in the back of the oven starts to turn golden brown. Rotate the pan, and bake for another 8-10 minutes, until squash is tender and lightly browned. For even browning, flip squash over half-way through baking.

While the squash is roasting, add the remaining butter to a skillet or saucepan. Add the chopped hazelnuts, and place over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring or swirling the pan frequently, until the butter has started to turn golden brown. Remove the pan from the heat, stir in the balsamic vinegar, thyme, and salt and pepper to taste. Transfer the roasted squash to a bowl or platter and pour the browned butter hazelnut sauce over the top. Serve immediately.  Serves 4-6

Broccoli Blue

2 pounds fresh broccoli, cut into bite-sized pieces

1/4 cup butter

2 tablespoons flour

4 ounces cream cheese

3/4 cup blue cheese

2 cups sour cream

1/3 up crushed cracker crumbs

Steam broccoli in a steam basket or saucepan for a about 8 minutes until tender yet crisp. Or microwave on high for 2-3 minutes.  Melt butter in a saucepan and whisk in flour and cook until smooth ,about 1 minutes. Add cream cheese, blue cheese add sour cream. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Place broccoli in a buttered casserole dish, pour sauce over top and sprinkle with cracker crumbs. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Serves 6


Cranberries in Red Wine

12-ounce bag fresh cranberries

1 cup red wine

1 1/2 cups sugar

peel of 1 orange, finely chopped

1 cinnamon stick

Combine all the above ingredients together in a saucepan and cook until thickened and berries pop. Takes about 25 –30 minutes. Remove from heat and chill. Makes 6-8 servings.


Pumpkin Bisque with Parker House Rolls

¼ cup butter

1 cup finely chopped onion

½ cup finely chopped carrots

5 cups chicken stock

1 ½ cups mashed pumpkin (canned or fresh)

1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves or 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves

dash of allspice

kosher salt and black pepper to taste

1 cup half ‘n half

sour cream and chopped chives for garnish

Melt butter in a 2 ½ quart saucepan over a medium, heat. Add onion and carrots; carrots; sauté until tender. Add chicken stock and simmer for 15 minutes. Stir in pumpkin, thyme leaves, allspice, salt and pepper. Simmer for about ten minutes. Stir in half ‘n half and adjust taste with salt and pepper. Heat through and serve garnished with sour cream and chives. Makes 6-8 servings


Parker House Rolls

4 – 5 cups bread flour

2 packages dry yeast

1/2-teaspoon salt

1 cup milk, warmed to 125 degrees

1/2-cup sugar

2 eggs

Melted butter

Combine 2 cups flour, yeast and salt into a large mixing bowl. Stir in the milk, sugar and eggs. Mix in enough flour to make a stiff dough. Knead on a lightly floured surface until smooth. Cover dough with a cloth. Allow dough to rise until doubled. Punch dough down and pat dough about to 1/4-inch thickness. Cut into circles, brush with melted butter; fold over to form a half moon shape. Place on a greased baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees for 11 to 15 minutes.

Makes about 1 ½ – 2 dozen rolls.


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