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Southern Fried Thanksgiving!
Thanksgiving is a holiday celebrated around the US with various menus and some of the tastiest recipes you’ve ever tried. While it’s a day to remind everyone what they have to be thankful for, it’s also a time set aside to enjoy some of your favorite recipes you only get to taste once a year. Southern Thanksgiving meals provide a unique flavor to the menu you just can’t get anywhere else.
What’s On the Menu?
For a typical Thanksgiving dinner, expect a roasted turkey. However, many people like to deep fry their turkeys for a unique dish. If you’re enjoying the day in Louisiana, don’t be surprised to see a Cajun deep fried turkey on the dinner table.
CAJUN DEEP FRIED TURKEY
1/2 cup kosher salt
3 tablespoons onion powder
3 tablespoons black pepper
3 tablespoons white pepper
2 tablespoons sweet basil
2 teaspoons ground bay leaves
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons file powder
3 tablespoons garlic powder
1 1/2 tablespoons paprika
1 (10-12 pound) whole turkey
4 to 5 gallons peanut oil (see note)
Preheat oil to 375 F. Stir salt and seasonings together. Mix until well blended. Use 1/2 to 2/3 cup for a 10-12 pound turkey.
Remove the giblets and neck from the turkey. Rinse the turkey well with cold water and pat dry thoroughly with paper towels. Take care to dry both inside cavities. Place in a large pan and rub the interior and exterior of the bird with the seasoning mix. To allow for good oil circulation through the cavity, do not truss or tie legs together. Cut off the wing tips and plump little tail, as they may get caught in the fryer basket. Cover pan and place in refrigerator overnight.
Place the outdoor gas burner on a level dirt or grassy area. Add oil to a 7 to 10 gallon pot with a basket or a rack. At medium-high setting, heat the oil to 375 F. (Depending on the amount of oil, outside temperature and wind conditions, this should take about 20 to 40 minutes).
Meanwhile, place the turkey in a basket or on a rack, neck down. When the deep-fry thermometer reaches 375 F, slowly lower the turkey into the hot oil. The level of the oil will rise due to the frothing caused by the moisture from the turkey but will stabilize in about 1 minute. Immediately check the oil temperature and increase the flame so the oil temperature is maintained at 350 F. If the temperature drops to 340 F or below, oil will begin to seep into turkey. Fry about 3 to 4 minutes per pound, or about 35 to 42 minutes for a 10-12 pound turkey. Stay with the cooker at all times, as the heat must be regulated. When cooked to 170 F in the breast or 180 F in the thigh, carefully remove the turkey from the hot oil. Allow the turkey to drain for a few minutes. Remove turkey from the rack and place on a serving platter. Allow to rest for 20 minutes before carving.
NOTE: Use only oils with high smoke points, such as peanut, canola or safflower oil. To determine the correct amount of oil, place the turkey in the pot before adding the seasoning and add water until the turkey is covered. Measure the amount of water and use a corresponding amount of oil. Dry the pot thoroughly of all water.
You can’t have turkey without gravy. Serve it with potatoes, rice or even biscuits, but it’s an essential at most Southern tables. Another popular dish just as likely to be served as part of the meal as an appetizer is deviled eggs. Every Southern cook has their own recipe with a secret ingredient, but each one is delicious.
Bread is another staple to expect on a Southern Thanksgiving table. Some families love the taste of biscuits for their dinner, while others don’t think the holiday is complete without cornbread.
While most people want to add a vegetable to be healthy, don’t expect anything less than delicious. Brussel sprouts are a well-loved choice flavored by bacon and cream. They will delight even the pickiest eaters. A second option is collard greens, served creamed with onion and garlic flavoring and whipping cream. If you like to play it safe, you can go with green beans. Just add bacon, onion or garlic as flavoring. Better yet, put your vegetables in a special recipe for the ever-famous green bean casserole.
CREAMY BRUSSELS SPROUTS
4 slices peppered bacon
2 pounds Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved through stem end
3/4 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
3/4 cup whipping cream
Cracked Black Pepper
In 12-inch skillet, cook bacon over medium heat until browned and crisp. Drain on paper towels, reserving 2 tablespoons drippings in skillet.
In skillet, add Brussels sprouts to drippings; cook and stir over medium heat 4 minutes. Add broth, salt and pepper. Heat to boiling. Reduce heat. Simmer, covered, 5 minutes. Uncover; cook 2-4 minutes or until liquid is nearly evaporated. Add cream. Cook 4 minutes more or until thickened.
Transfer sprouts to serving dish. Sprinkle with crumbled bacon and cracked pepper.
Stuffing or Dressing?
It’s the same food, but it goes by a different name. While stuffing is served in the North, you only get to eat dressing in the South. The name isn’t the only difference in the way this dish is known in the different regions. Southern cooks know how important it is to add cornbread to make it taste just right. Another option is dried biscuits for the base of the dressing.
Pork, especially bacon or salt pork, was once a well-known seasoning. Today, you will likely find sausage in the recipe to add flavor.
OLD-FASHIONED BREAD DRESSING
Servings: 12 to 14
1 1/2 cups chopped or sliced celery (3 stalks)
1 cup chopped onion (1 large)
1/2 cup butter or margarine
1 tablespoon snipped fresh sage or 1 tsp. poultry seasoning or ground sage
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
12 cups dry bread cubes
1 cups chicken broth*
Sage leaves (optional)
Preheat oven to 325 F. In a large skillet cook celery and onion in hot butter over medium heat until tender but not brown. Remove from heat. Stir in sage and pepper. Place bread cubes in large bowl; add onion mixture. Drizzle with enough chicken broth to moisten; toss lightly to combine. Place stuffing in a 2-quart casserole dish. Bake, covered, for 30-45 minutes or until heated through. Top with fresh sage.
Ending Dinner Right
Of course, you can’t forget about dessert for your Thanksgiving dinner. While pumpkin pie is a standby just about everywhere, don’t be surprised to find a similar-looking dish on the menu. Sweet potato pie is a tradition for family Thanksgiving dinners.
Pecan pie is an alternative for many families, and they may even add raisins or other special ingredients to dress it up. While pie is a favorite, expect to see a lot of tables adorned with bread pudding. This dessert is a staple in many Southerners’ diets, and holidays are no exception. In fact, you may even find pumpkin bread pudding as a replacement for pumpkin pie.
SWEET POTATO PIE
1/3 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 cup evaporated milk
2 cups mashed sweet potatoes
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 unbaked pastry shell (9 inches)
In a bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add eggs; mix well. Add milk, sweet potatoes, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt; mix well. Pour into pie shell. Bake at 425 F for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 F; bake 35-40 minutes longer or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool. Store in refrigerator.
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