Alan's "Wish List" Thanksgiving Dinner

Roast Turkey (15 Servings)
1 free-range, naturally fed turkey (or any old turkey not currently living)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons kosher (or not so kosher) salt mixed with a few grinds of black pepper
Position your oven rack so that the top of the bird will be just above the middle of the oven. Heat the oven to 450 degrees F. Trim excess fat. Rinse the turkey thoroughly inside and out, and pat it dry. Stuff the bird three-quarters full. Rub the outside with the olive oil and then massage the bird thoroughly with the salt and pepper mixture. Tie the legs together loosely.
Put the bird in a roasting pan; position the pan so that the legs point to the back of the oven. Follow the chart below and start basting after the first 30 to 45 min.
Opening the oven to check on you roaster may make the kitchen smell great, but it won't cook your bird any faster. Here's a surer way to get a perfect bird. I've given a range of times because ovens vary.
After the first hour, tilt the pan and spoon out fat drippings, which you'll use for basting. After the second hour, spoon out more drippings for basting both the bird and the dressing, if you're baking it separately.
For the last hour of roasting, turn the pan so that the legs face the oven door. Refrain from basting for the last half hour of cooking time. The bird is done when the juices run clear from a thigh pricked all the way down to the joint and when a meat thermometer inserted in the inner thigh below the leg joint reads 175 to 180 degrees F. A thermometer inserted in the stuffing's center should read at least 160 degrees F. Transfer the bird to a platter and let it rest for 20 minutes before carving.
Allow 1 1/4 pounds per person.
Unstuffed: 12 minutes per pound
Stuffed: 16 minutes per pound
Initial interval: 450 degrees F for 30 minutes
Second step: lower heat to 375 degrees F and continue to roast

Classic Bread Stuffing #1(makes 14 cups)
Turkey is supposed to be the star of the holiday table, but a great stuffing can steal the show. For a less rich stuffing, omit the last 4 tablespoons of melted butter and add a bit more stock.
8 tablespoons butter
3 cups chopped onion
2 1/2 cups chopped celery, including leaves
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage or 1 1/2 teaspoon dried
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme or 1 1/2 teaspoon dried
2 teaspoons celery seeds
Pinch grated nutmeg
Pinch ground cloves
1 teaspoon salt
1-lb. loaf good-quality white bread, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (10 to 12 cups), stale or lightly toasted
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup stock, milk, or white wine
In a large skillet over medium heat, melt half the butter. Add the onion, celery, garlic, sage, thyme, celery seeds, nutmeg, cloves, and salt. Cook, covered, until the onion is soft, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from the heat. In a large bowl, toss the sautéed vegetables with the bread cubes. Season with pepper. Melt the remaining butter. Pour it over the stuffing, along with the stock, and toss to coat. The stuffing should just hold together when mounded on a spoon.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Stuff the bird or, if baking some or all of the stuffing in a casserole, pour a cup or two of stock, milk or white wine over the stuffing to replace the juices the stuffing would have absorbed from the bird. Bake it covered until heated through, 45 minutes to 1 hour. For a crunchy top, uncover it for the last 15 minutes of baking.

Classic Bread Stuffing #2 (3-4 cups)
1/4 cup butter
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup fresh mushrooms, chopped
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 cup celery, finely chopped
1/4 cup bacon bits
4 cup multigrain bread, dried and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon paprika
2 teaspoons poultry seasoning
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
2 tablespoons dried parsley
1 1/4 cup chicken or vegetable broth
Brown garlic in butter. Add mushrooms and sauté. Add the rest of the vegetables and cook until they begin to soften. Stir bacon bits into mixture, then lower heat to medium and add bread cubes and seasonings. Continue cooking for approximately 5 more minutes stirring continuously. Add hot vegetable stock and mix well. Cover and cook over low heat for at least 30 minutes, stirring frequently, until bread cubes have broken down. (the secret to a good turkey stuffing is in the slow cooking and the frequent stirring).
Mashed Potatoes (Serves 6)
3 lb white, red, yellow-fleshed or baking potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
1 1/2 teaspoons salt, plus salt to taste
1/3 cup unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons half and half, heated
Cook potatoes in large saucepan of boiling salted water until tender when pierced with a fork, about 15 minutes. Drain well and return to the empty pan. Using a potato masher, mash the potatoes until they are almost smooth. Add the butter, mash together, and then gradually add the half-and-half. The potatoes should be creamy but not soupy. Season to taste with salt and pepper, transfer to a warmed serving dish and serve immediately.
Any kind of potato can be mashed. Waxy white, red or yellow varieties yield creamy purées, while baking potatoes produce the fluffier results usually found in diners. Evaporating the moisture after cooking the potatoes helps make them even lighter and fluffier when mashed.

Turkey Gravy (serves 8)
1 large onion
1 1/2 cups dry white wine
4 cups Turkey Giblet Stock plus additional for thinning gravy
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
While turkey is standing, make gravy:
Finely chop onion. Skim fat from reserved pan juices and reserve 1/2 cup fat (for sautéing onions, below, and for stuffing). On top of stove deglaze pan with wine over moderately high heat, scraping up brown bits, and boil mixture until reduced to about 1/2 cup. Add 4 cups stock and bring to a simmer. Pour wine mixture through a sieve into a saucepan.
In a large, heavy skillet sauté onion in 1/4 cup reserved fat over moderately high heat, stirring frequently, until browned, about 15 minutes. Stir in flour and cook roux over moderately low heat, whisking, 3 minutes. Bring wine mixture to a simmer. Add hot wine mixture to roux in a fast stream, whisking constantly to prevent lumps, and simmer, whisking occasionally, 10 minutes. Whisk in additional stock to thin gravy to desired consistency. Season gravy with salt and pepper and transfer to a heated sauceboat.

Bourbon Sweet-Potato Puree with Buttered Pecans (serves 8)
6 pounds sweet potatoes (about 6 large)
3 tablespoons bourbon
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups pecan halves (about 8 ounces)
1 teaspoon coarse salt
2 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
Preheat oven to 425°F.
Prick sweet potatoes with a fork and in a baking pan bake in middle of oven until tender, about 1 hour.
When just cool enough to handle, peel potatoes and transfer half to a food processor. Add bourbon and 6 tablespoons butter and purée 30 seconds. Transfer purée to a large bowl. Purée remaining potatoes in food processor until completely smooth and transfer to bowl. Stir purée until combined well and season with salt and pepper. Transfer purée to a 2-quart gratin dish or other shallow baking dish. Purée may be made 2 days ahead and chilled, covered. Bring purée to room temperature before proceeding.
Reduce temperature to 325° F.
In a shallow baking pan spread pecans in one layer and bake in middle of oven until fragrant, about 10 minutes. Toss hot pecans with remaining 2 tablespoons butter and coarse salt. Pecans may be made 2 days ahead and kept in an airtight container at room temperature.
Arrange pecans on top of purée and sprinkle with brown sugar. Bake purée in upper third of oven until heated through and pecans are slightly browned, about 30 minutes.
Cooks notes -
Make sure the pan doesn't overflow in the oven... Fires are not fun on Thanksgiving Day!!

Candied Yams (serves 6)
1 can yams OR 4 Fresh yams
1/4 cup butter
1/2 bag miniature marshmallows
1/2 cup Orange juice OR 1 orange, sliced
1/4 cup Brown sugar
For canned yams - drain yams and discard liquid.
Fresh yams - skin, cut into chunks, sprinkle with cinnamon, nutmeg and/or brown sugar, bake on foil at 350 for around 20 minutes (or until tender)
Arrange in baking dish. Pour orange juice over yams. Sprinkle liberally with brown sugar. Dot with butter. Sprinkle with marshmallows, if desired. Place orange slices on top.
Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees or in any oven temperature (for example, along with the turkey) until marshmallows melt and liquid is bubbly.

Cranberry Sauce
2 cups water
2 cups sugar
4 cups cranberries
Combine water and sugar in a large saucepan. Bring mixture to a boil - stirring all the while. Boil for about 5 minutes. Then add the cranberries. (A sixteen ounce bag of cranberries will make four cups.) Get the liquid to boiling again. The mixture should boil another five to six minutes. The object is to get all of the skins to break open and release their tangy flavor into the mixture.
You can serve this sauce warm or chilled. Traditionally, it is served cold, which is a good thing because this means that you can make it a day or two before the big meal, leaving time open for other important matters (the turkey, and your company).
If you decide that you want to mold your sauce, then you will have to continue the boiling process from where we left off, above, for about 10 minutes. You can test for "moldability" by dipping a bit on a cold plate. If it gels, you are ready to pour the sauce into a mold. You will need to refrigerate for several hours until the sauce is firm. Then you may flip the mold over on a flat plate to produce your cranberry masterpiece.

Green Bean Casserole #1
2 cans drained French cut green beans
8 ounces shredded Mozzarella cheese
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
2 teaspoons grated onion
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup sour cream
1-1/2 cups French-fried onions
6-8 slices crumbled, cooked bacon
In a saucepan over medium-low heat, melt butter. Add onion and cook for about 30 seconds. Stir in flour, salt, pepper, and sugar; blend well and continue cooking and stirring until bubbly. Stir in sour cream and cook over low heat for about 1 minute. Spread beans over the bottom of a buttered casserole (11x7x2-inch baking dish or similar size). Sprinkle shredded cheese over green beans then pour sauce evenly over; top with bacon and 2/3 french-fried onions. Bake green bean casserole at 400° for 20 minutes. Top with remaining french-fried onions and bake 5 minutes.

Green Bean Casserole #2 (serves 6)
2 packages frozen green beans, thawed, (10 ounce each)
3/4 cup milk
1 can cream of mushroom soup, or cream of celery
salt and pepper, to taste
1 1/2 cups French-Fried onions
In a greased 1 1/2-quart casserole, combine all ingredients except 3/4 cup of French-fried onions. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes. Top with remaining French-fried onions. Bake 5 minutes, or until onions are golden.

Caramelized Chestnuts (Makes 3 cups) [Can be prepared in 45 minutes or less]
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 tablespoon salt
a 1-pound jar vacuum-packed whole chestnuts (not canned)
about 4 cups vegetable oil for deep-frying
Preheat oven to 325° F.
Into a large bowl sift together confectioners' sugar and salt. In a shallow baking pan arrange chestnuts in one layer and bake in upper third of oven 6 to 8 minutes, or until hot and outsides are dry. Add hot chestnuts to sugar mixture, tossing gently to coat, and put a rack over baking pan. In a 3-quart saucepan heat 1 1/2 inches oil over moderate heat until a deep-fat thermometer registers 350° F. Working in batches of 8, fry chestnuts 1 to 2 minutes, or until brown and crisp. With a slotted spoon transfer chestnuts as fried to rack. Return oil to 350° F. between batches and carefully skim caramelized sugar from surface of oil as necessary. Chestnuts are best served immediately but may be made 1 hour ahead and kept, uncovered, at room temperature.