Back row: Grandpa Bill, Larry, Martha, and Grandma Ellie
Front row: Jane, Julie Anne, Suzanne
Thanksgiving was a big deal when I was a child. Being the matriarch that Grandma Ellie was, she made certain that all her children and grandchildren gathered in Des Moines for the holiday… which was just fine by me, because I adored my cousins. Plus you know how I love to eat…

Little Miss Chipmunk Cheeks
Guess who was still stuffing her face at the table long after everyone else had retired! Grandma and Grandpa have been gone for years, and as you can see, the family has grown considerably since then, and spread around the world.

Getting a cuddle from Aunt Miriam & Martha
The whole clan
It is rare that we see each other all at once these days. Aunt Miriam became a Buddhist monk years ago, and is strictly vegetarian as are some of my cousins while others cringe at the thought of foregoing the traditional turkey dinner. So how does a hostess compensate? I think it is rude to expect your vegetarian guests to just fill up on the sides. Here are some vegetarian options, and my turkey recipe to keep everyone happy. Next week I’ll do some side recipes you can make at home, and sides that travel well too.

Gardein Stuffed Turk’y Roast
Celebration Roast
Jewels Roast Turkey & Gravy

I do not find much difference in taste between a turkey that has been frozen, and one that is fresh unless you are splurging on a free-range or kosher turkey. The frozen one is usually much less expensive, although you must have a big enough freezer for the bird to fit in, and also take into consideration that the bird will need two to three days (depending on size) to safely defrost in your refrigerator before roasting. Always make sure the turkey is completely defrosted before cooking. I feel safer doing the stuffing separately, and will give you that recipe next time.
Servings: 8 – 10

  • 8-10 pound turkey
  • 3 onions, quartered
  • 2 whole garlic
  • 6 large carrots, peeled, and cut into 2 inch pieces
  • 6 stalks celery, rinsed and cut into 2 inch pieces
  • 2 sticks of butter, one softened, and the other melted for basting
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup cold water

1). Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Fit roasting pan with a V shaped rack. Remove turkey from refrigerator and place, breast side down, on rack 30 minutes before cooking to allow the bird to come to room temperature. Scatter 2 of the quartered onions, garlic, half the carrots, and half the celery around the bird, and drizzle with olive oil. Rub turkey inside and out with softened butter, then sprinkle turkey and vegetables with freshly ground black pepper, garlic salt, and Lawry salt to taste. Pour in 1 cup of the chicken stock.

2). Roast turkey for approximately 3 hours, or until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F. when thermometer is inserted into thickest part of the thigh, basting with melted butter and pan juices every 30 minutes, and turning the turkey breast side up after one hour to brown.

3). Place turkey neck and gizzards in a large saucepan with remaining onion, carrot, and celery. Add a bay leaf and 3 sprigs of thyme. Add water to cover. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Refrigerate until 1 1/2 hours before turkey will be done cooking. Bring to boil, lower to simmer, and cook, adding more water as necessary; skim any foam that forms off the top. Simmer for 1 hour. Discard turkey parts, vegetables, and herbs. Set aside ( cool and refrigerate if turkey will be much longer, then reheat when ready to finish the gravy).

4). When turkey is cooked, remove to a platter and tent with foil to keep warm, letting the bird rest for at least 15 minutes before carving. Remove vegetables cooked in pan to a large bowl and press to extract as much cooking liquid as possible, then discard the vegetables, and add the liquid to saucepan with broth for gravy.

5). Add 1 cup of stock and pan liquids to the broth for the gravy. Bring to boil and cook until slightly reduced. Mix cornstarch and cold water in a small bowl, and add to gravy broth to thicken, stirring constantly until smooth and thickened as desired. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. If lumpy, strain through a sieve to remove any lumps.

6). Carve turkey and serve with gravy.

Serving Suggestions: Gravy, Sausage Stuffing, Mashed Potatoes, Maple Brussels Sprouts Hash with Pancetta, Green Bean Casserole, Roasted Carrots & Parsnips, Corn Pudding, Sweet Potato Casserole, Cranberry Jello Mold.

Please do click on “comments” bellow to share your favorite turkey or vegetarian roast recipes too!
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  • November 8, 2009
    3:24 am

    Jewels, your recipes always make me hungry. I'm going to have to look into the celebration roast. Since I was a young child, and now with my own children, being from the greater Detroit area, we used to always go down town for the parade bright and early. We did this until our family moved away several years ago. As a kid, I hated how cold it was but always loved it. We usually have home grown, range free turkey with the trimmings. Each year we buy three turkey chicks…one we name Birthday, one is Thanksgiving, and the other is Christmas, and that's actually what we call them, and we just dropped them off for processing last week. We roast them in an electric roaster, as we find the meat is more tender, and seems to cook more predicably. I also rub my turkey down with the butter, but also add thyme, rosemary and sage.Our favorite stuffing (my grandma's recipe back before we worried about cholesterol), which I reserve for Thanskgiving, is a bag of dried bread crumbs, seasoned with rosemary and sage from the garden, about 2 c. of chicken stock, and 1/2 pound of cooked and crumbed bacon. In lieu of the butter in most stuffing recipes, we drizzle on the bacon drippings. Because I have deemed this not so healthy, I only allow it on Thanksgiving! I tried to not serve it at all but everyone protested that decision (I think it would be worse if I proposed a vegetarian Thanksgiving).For dessert, we usually take small pumpkins or squashes, cut them in half, scoop out the seeds, fill them with cooked brown rice and walnuts or other nuts, add a pat of butter, and drizzle on the maple syrup, then bake at 450 F for about 20 minutes or until the squash is fork-tender.We also use Thanksgiving as a time to put up the Christmas tree, and other decorations. I NEVER go shopping on Black Friday, preferring to sleep off the tryptophan and enjoy a day off with my kids and hubby.

  • November 8, 2009
    5:31 am

    Love the receipe! Can't wait for the sides!

  • November 13, 2009
    12:34 am

    Thanks for this post. As a kid, Thanksgiving was a really big event. Everyone went to my Grandparents – parents, kids, cousins, aunts, uncles and grandchildren. We all fought over my Grandmaother's chocolate pies. It's funny how I can't remember what I ate for lunch yesterday, but I remember eating those pies and playing football with my cousins in the yard after dinner. Thanks again for a great post.