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An Easy, No-Fail Thanksgiving Menu

An Easy, No-Fail Thanksgiving Menu

Whether you're hosting Thanksgiving this year or just bringing a side dish to someone else's house, the preparations are easier when you have go-to recipes. The following three, for Moist Roast Turkey, Classic Mashed Potatoes, and Fresh Cranberry Sauce, are from RoundUp food columnist Amanda Haas. Simple and time-tested, they are guaranteed to make your celebration a success.

Roast Turkey with Pan Gravy

Mary Risley, founder of Tante Marie's Cooking School in San Francisco, takes the fear out of preparing this Thanksgiving staple with a simple, straightforward recipe for the perfect turkey. Simply seasoned with salt, pepper and softened butter, and roasted in a 350-degree oven, this bird comes out with perfectly crisp skin and moist, delicious meat. Served with a simple pan gravy, and you and your guests will be in heaven.

A 16 lb turkey serves about 14 people


  • turkey (brining is optional)
  • kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 qt homemade or canned chicken or turkey stock
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Make sure your turkey is at room temperature. Sprinkle the inside of the turkey with salt and pepper and stuff the turkey if desired. (Generally, ½ cup dressing should be prepared for each pound of turkey, i.e. 5 cups dressing for a 10 pound turkey.) The dressing expands on cooking and therefore should be put in the cavity of the bird loosely. Stuff the neck first. Then pull the neck skin back and fold the ends of the skin under neatly. Now stuff the body cavity. Don’t worry about securing the stuffing or the legs.  


Place the turkey breast side up on a rack in a roasting pan. Spread with softened butter (butter can also be put under the skin, if desired). Place the turkey in the preheated oven and roast approximately 12 minutes per pound. (A 16 pound turkey takes about 3 hours to roast and serves 14 people). You can turn the turkey from time to time so that it cooks evenly. Some people baste the turkey with a bulb baster and the juices from the bottom of the pan for even coloring. If you do baste, do so quickly so as to not drop the temperature of the oven. If the turkey becomes too brown, cover it loosely with foil.

The turkey is done when the juices in the leg run clear when pierced with a fork, or when a thermometer inserted 2/3 of the way into the meat reads 165 degrees.

To remove the turkey from the pan, grab it with the pieces of foil or clean oven mitts and transfer it directly to a serving platter. Cover with foil and let rest 30 minutes.

For the gravy: Let the juices in the roasting pan cool for 10 minutes. Either pour or spoon off most of the fat from the top of the juices in the roasting pan, and add the stock. Bring this mixture to a boil, scraping up the brown particles on the sides of the pan.

Strain the juices into a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil. While it is coming to a boil, mix together 4 tablespoons soft butter with 5 tablespoons flour. This mixture should resemble cookie dough. When the juices are boiling, whisk in some of the flour mixture and let it thicken. Add more to reach the consistency you desire. Season with salt and pepper and serve in a sauceboat.

Carve the turkey at the table by first removing the leg and thigh in one piece. Then, separate the leg from the thigh and slice the meat. Then slice the breast meat in long thin slices from the top to the bottom. (Don’t forget to serve the stuffing from inside the bird!)


Classic Mashed Potatoes (with an optional twist)

In my opinion, any Thanksgiving meal is not complete without mashed potatoes - and I'm pretty sure most kids would agree. There's something just so comforting about that fluffy white cloud of creamy potato goodness. These potatoes get their creaminess from butter, milk and a touch of sour cream. If you're looking to try something just a little different this year, try replacing a few potatoes with celeriac (also known as celery root - you can find it in most grocery stores). This will give your potatoes just a little lift this holiday season!


Serves 8


  • 4 lbs russet potatoes
  • 5 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4-1/2 cup sour cream
  • kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • optional: 1 lb celeriac/celery root


Peel the potatoes and cut into 1" cubes. Place the potatoes in a large heavy pan, cover generously with cold water, add 1 Tbs. salt, and place over a medium-high flame. Bring to a boil, and simmer until tender when pierced with paring knife, about 15-20 minutes.

Drain the potatoes in a colander. Put the potatoes through a potato ricer or food mill into the cleaned out heavy pan. Place over a low flame, and stirring constantly, add the sour cream and enough butter and milk to make the consistency you like. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cover and keep warm until ready to serve.

Optional: If using celeriac, replace 1 lb of potatoes with 1 lb of celery root (roughly one large bulb). Remove the thick outer surface and cut into 1" cubes.  Simmer in salted water for 30 minutes or until very tender. Then put through the ricer or food mill with the potatoes.


Fresh Cranberry Sauce

This recipe for cranberry sauce by Mary Risley, founder of Tante Marie's Cooking School, captures the vibrant flavor of fresh cranberries with a hint of orange. So delicious and easy to make, you'll never buy the canned stuff again!

makes 1 quart


  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 4 cups cranberries, rinsed and picked over
  • 2 tsp grated orange rind


In an enamel or stainless saucepan, combine the sugar, water, and orange juice. Bring to a boil over low heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the cranberries. Cook the mixture over moderately high heat for about 5 minutes or until berries pop. Stir in the orange rind. Let the sauce cool, then chill until ready to serve. The sauce can be made up to 3 days in advance and kept in the refrigerator.  (Recipe from Grammy Risley)

Happy Thanksgiving!

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.

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