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What's Cookin': Thanksgiving, a time to reflect

Thanksgiving recipes

We have much to be thankful as we celebrate Thanksgiving on Thursday. The list of things I'm thankful for this year would take up more space than my entire column allows; but I suspect as most of us join hands and bow our heads before the Thanksgiving feast this year, we'll take a bit longer to reflect on our many blessings. Happy Thanksgiving!

Roast Turkey with Corn Bread Stuffing

For the turkey:

1 fresh 12- to 14-lb. turkey, neck and giblets removed for gravy

1 lemon, cut in half

1 clove garlic

Salt, freshly ground pepper and sweet paprika to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Wipe the turkey with a damp cloth and rub the body cavity with the cut lemon and garlic. Sprinkle the outside of the turkey with salt, pepper and paprika.

For the stuffing:

2 T. extra-virgin olive oil

1 lb. sweet Italian sausages, removed from casing and crumbled

6 T. unsalted butter

2 onions, diced, about 1 1/2 c.

1 c. diced celery

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 T. marjoram or sage

2 t. ground fennel seed

1/2 t. ground nutmeg

1/2 t. ground cinnamon

1 c. chicken stock

4 c. packaged corn bread stuffing

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Heat the oil in a large sauté pan. Add the sausage and sauté until browned. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add the butter to the pan and cook the onions until translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the celery, garlic, marjoram or sage, fennel seed, nutmeg, cinnamon and the stock and cook 3 minutes longer. Transfer to a large bowl and add the sausage and corn bread. Season with salt and pepper and mix well. Spoon the stuffing loosely into the body and neck cavities and sew or truss them closed. Place any extra stuffing in a buttered casserole; moisten with a little extra stock and cover. Place the casserole of stuffing in the oven 1 hour before the turkey is finished baking. To roast the turkey, place it on a rack in a roasting pan. Tent with aluminum foil. Roast for 20 minutes per pound, 4 to 4 1/2 hours total. The turkey is done when a meat thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the thigh (away from the bone) registers 180 degrees. Remove from the oven; remove stuffing from cavities and let turkey rest at least 15 minutes before carving.

Giblet Stock and Gravy

Turkey neck and giblets (do not use liver)

8 c. water or chicken stock

2 sliced onions

2 sliced peeled carrots

1 or 2 celery ribs

1 fresh thyme sprig

1 clove garlic

2 T. all-purpose flour

Salt, freshly ground pepper and ground allspice to taste

Simmer the neck, gizzard and heart in a large pan with the water or stock, onions, carrots, celery, thyme and garlic. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 1 1/2 hours, skimming the surface and adding more stock as needed. Remove the neck and discard. Remove the giblets and chop fine. Discard the thyme. Transfer the cooked vegetables with a slotted spoon to a blender and puree. Reserve the giblets, giblet stock and the pureed vegetables to make the gravy. To make the gravy, pour off all but 3 T. of drippings from the roasting pan. Place the pan over medium heat and stir in the 2 T. flour until bubbly, then add 1 c. of the reserved giblet stock. Bring to a boil. Stir in the vegetable purée and thin with additional stock. Add the chopped giblets. Season with salt, pepper and allspice.

Make-Ahead Garlic Mashed Potatoes

5 lbs. russet or Yukon Gold potatoes and 6 cloves peeled garlic, boiled and mashed

1 (6-oz.) tub of cream cheese

1 c. sour cream

2 T. butter

2 t. onion salt

1 t. salt

1/2 t. freshly ground black pepper

Cut potatoes into fourths and boil with garlic in large pot for 15 to 20 minutes or until potatoes can be easily pierced with a fork. Rinse and transfer to extra large stainless steel bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and mix with mixer until fluffy. Spread into a greased 9- by 13-inch baking pan. Dot with butter and paprika. Cover and refrigerate. Bake 30 minutes at 350 degrees before serving. Makes 10 servings.

Brussel Sprouts in Brown Butter

3 T. butter

1 T. fresh lemon juice

1 qt. fresh Brussel sprouts, cooked

Heat butter over low heat until it begins to brown. Add lemon juice and pour over hot cooked Brussel sprouts. Makes 6 servings.

Cranberry Orange Relish

1 orange, unpeeled, quartered, seeded

1/2 lemon, unpeeled, quartered, seeded

1/2 c. honey

2 T. sugar

1/4 c. Grand Marnier liqueur

1 (12-oz.) bag of cranberries

Combine all ingredients except cranberries in food processor. Pulse until oranges and lemons are chopped to about the size of a cranberry. Add cranberries to the food processor. Whirl until combined and mixture contains small, individual pieces. Do not purée. Best if made at least 3 or 4 days in advance. Serve cold. Makes 3 cups.

Gingered Pear Pie

Pastry for double crust 9-inch pie

6 medium pears, peeled, cored and sliced

3/4 c. sugar

1/4 c. unbleached flour

1/4 c. minced candied ginger

2 t. grated lemon rind

3 T. lemon juice

2 T. butter or margarine

Place the bottom crust in a pie plate. Arrange the pears in the crust. In a small bowl, combine the sugar, flour, ginger and lemon rind and sprinkle over the pears. Drizzle on the lemon juice and dot with the butter or margarine. Cover with the top crust, seal or crimp the edges and cut vent holes in the top. Bake in a preheated 450-degree oven for 15 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 375 degrees and bake for 40 minutes more. Serves 8. Note: Before baking pie, cover edges of pie crust with pie shield or strips of aluminum foil to prevent overbaking, removing for last 15 minutes.