Folks, it’s that time of year when we all gather around the table, join hands to bless the food and have to loosen the belt about 10 notches… well at least I do.
But today is special, because we’re not only sharing one of our favorite dishes for Turkey Day, we are sharing many of our favorite dishes that have graced our table over the years. So without further ado.. let’s get to it.
First up is the bird!
I’ve done turkey several different ways from baking, to smoking and even in the ground. However, this year I’m combining my two favorites methods: smoking and deep frying!
To Brine or Not to Brine?
There is a lot of discussion about to brine or not to brine a turkey. I always recommend brining a turkey, because to me it brings out more flavor and tenderness. Be sure you soak that bird 24 hours before smoking.
For smoking the turkey, I like to add a little apple wood to the smoker because fruit wood pairs well with fowl.
After the bird has smoked for about 20 minutes- we’re going to move over to the magic and deep fry it.
Be sure and check out the video to see how we avoid a catastrophe of oil by pre-measuring how much oil we need in the fryer with water. I also like to start the oil at about 275 degrees F. and submerge the bird. After the bird is in, raise your heat and fry at about 325 degrees F. Gradually warming the oil will prevent it from bubbling up too much when adding the turkey.
The Best Mashed ‘Taters
I know this may seem like a no-brainer on how to make mashed ‘taters, but there are actually a few tips that will make your ‘taters even better.
Use a blend of russet and Yukon gold potatoes. The Yukon provide a smoother and creamier finish, and the russets will give a bolder flavor.
Be sure to cut the potatoes in the same sizes- that way you’ll get a more even cook time. Also, after draining the potatoes, put then back over a low heat. This will remove some of that excess moisture so they will be fluffier.
You can mash and whisk, but I like to use an electric beater and WHIP ‘EM good and smooth.
For a little burst of flavor, add some rosemary in the ‘taters.
Now, I don’t mean to hurt anyone’s feelings, but I’m not a fan of the traditional sweet ‘taters with marshmallows. That’s why I’m sharing my all-time favorite way to make sweet taters with a brown sugar and pecan crust that even the sweet ‘tater hater will like.
We mash the sweet ‘taters and then add the topping, which when baked, creates a crust that will remind you of a pecan pie.
Creamy Buttery Corn
I know… it’s tempting to run to the store and just dump a can of creamed corn into a dish and call it good. Don’t do it! This recipe is so easy and will really give you that homemade taste with little effort.
Use frozen corn, as it will give a much better flavor. Then I simply add heavy cream, butter, a little sugar and once it gets to simmering stir in flour to help thicken it.
See, I told you that was easy
Mama’s Cranberry Salad
If you could only make one dish out of all these, this would be the one I would choose. It’s part side dish and part dessert. Mama would always make this on Thanksgiving and it was the one thing that everyone would look forward to.
If you have turkey, you most likely want to have some sort of cranberry with it so here’s our spin.
It’s a mix of crushed cranberries, crushed pineapple, whipped cream and mini marshmallows. It’s also the perfect dish to take if you need to bring something to a gathering because I guarantee there ain’t nothing like it!
It’s the grand finale and my favorite pie in the world. In this episode we cooked this outside in a Dutch oven, which is easier than you think. When you bake something in a pie pan that is in a Dutch oven, you reduce the risk of burning it because you have that extra heat buffer.
This is also a great way to get out of the kitchen. A big tip I have for your Thanksgiving is move some of your holiday cooking outside. This will free up the kitchen and also you won’t heat it up as much, either.
Use your Dutch ovens for baking and don’t forget the grill as a stove top for heating.
This a traditional pumpkin pie recipe and we drizzle a little maple syrup on top right before baking for a little extra burst of sweetness and round out the holiday flavor. And don’t forget the homemade whipped cream on top!
Don’t Forget the Green Beans and Dressing!
Smoked and Deep Fried Turkey - Cowboy Kent Rollins
- 1 12 to 15npound turkey
- 3 lemons cut in half
- 1 cup kosher salt
- 5 sprigs fresh rosemary
- 3 sprigs fresh sage
- 2 tablespoons black peppercorns
- 3 teaspoons allspice berries
- 1 tablespoon dried mustard seed
- 2 bay leaves
- ¼ cup bacon grease
- ¼ cup melted butter
- Kent’s Original Seasoning or all-purpose seasoning of your choice
- Peanut oil for frying
- In a large stockpot add 3 gallons of water, lemons, salt, rosemary, sage, peppercorns, allspice, mustard seed and bay leaves. Place the pot over high heat and bring to a simmer for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Remove the pot from the heat and let cool. Add enough ice to cool the water down and then submerge the turkey. Place in the fridge for 12 to 24 hours.
- Preheat the smoker to 250 degrees F.
- Remove turkey from brine solution and rinse. Pat dry with paper towels.
- Mix the bacon and butter together and inject the breast, thighs and wings in several spots. Generously season the turkey with the Original seasoning or all-purpose seasoning of your choice.
- Add some apple wood chunks to the smoker and add the turkey. Smoke for about 25 minutes.
- Meanwhile measure the oil you need in your deep fry pot and preheat to 250 degrees F.
- Remove the turkey from the smoker and place on the deep fryer hanger and slowly lower the turkey into the fryer. Place the lid on the fryer and heat the oil to 325 degrees F. Cook for about 30 to 40 minutes, or until the internal temperature is 165 degrees F. You may need to reduce the heat to 300 if you think the turkey is browning too fast.
- Remove turkey from the fryer and cover with tinfoil. Let it rest for about 10 minutes and then slice and serve.
Creamed Corn - Cowboy Kent Rollins
- 2 16 ounce bags frozen corn kernels
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 6 tablespoons sugar
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons flour
- In a large saucepan, add the corn, cream and butter. Cook over medium heat until the butter has melted and the cream is warmed through, stirring occasionally.
- Stir in the sugar and let simmer for about 4 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and add the flour. Continue cooking until the mixture thickens slightly, stirring occasionally. Serve warm.
Cranberry Salad - Cowboy Kent Rollins
- 4 cups fresh cranberries
- 1 ¼ cups sugar
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 10-ounce package mini marshmallows
- 1 8-ounce can crushed pineapple, drained
- 1 cup chopped pecans optional
- In a food processor or blender, coarsely grind the cranberries. Mix in 1 cup of the sugar. Cover and place in the icebox for 6 hours or overnight.
- In a large bowl, whip the cream with the remaining ¼ cup of sugar until stiff.
- Fold in the cranberries, marshmallows, pineapple and pecans, if using.
- Cover and place in the icebox for 1 hour or until chilled. Serve cold.
Best Mashed Potatoes - Cowboy Kent Rollins
- 2 lbs russet potatoes
- 2 lbs Yukon gold potatoes
- 1 to 1 ½ cups half and half
- 6 tablespoons butter
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 6 ounces cream cheese softened
- coarse ground black pepper and salt
- chopped green onion for topping
- Cut the potatoes into equal sized pieces and place in a large stockpot. Add just enough water to cover the potatoes about 1 inch. Bring to a boil for about 10 minutes or just until they are fork tender. Be careful not to overcook the potatoes or they will become mushy.
- Meanwhile, add the half and half, butter and garlic to a small stockpot over medium-low heat. Cook until the butter melts and the mixture has warmed through, stirring occasionally. Set aside.
- Drain the water from the potatoes and place the stockpot back over a low heat to let all the steam and moisture evaporate.
- Remove from the heat and add the cream cheese in with the potatoes. Mash the potatoes with a potato masher.
- Pour in half of the half and half mixture into the potatoes and mash or blend with a mixer. Mix in the remaining wet mixture until you reach the desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper to taste and top with green onions.
Brown Sugar and Pecan Mashed Sweet Potatoes - Cowboy Kent Rollins
- 4 large sweet potatoes peeled and quartered
- 2 cups light brown sugar
- 2 sticks butter melted (divided)
- 1/2 cup half and half
- 2 large eggs
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup cornmeal mix
- 1 1/2 - 2 cups chopped pecans
- 1/4 cup warm water
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly butter an 8-x-11-inch casserole dish or 10-inch Dutch oven for a thicker casserole - or a 12-inch Dutch oven or 9x13-inch casserole dish.
- Place the potatoes in a large saucepan or pot and cover with water. Bring the water to a boil over high heat. Boil the potatoes about 25 minutes, or until they are fork-tender.
- Remove the potatoes from the heat and drain. Mash until smooth.
- Beat in 1 cup of the brown sugar, 1 stick of the butter, the half-and-half, and the eggs. Mix well.
- Scrape the potato mixture into the casserole dish and spread evenly.
- In a medium bowl, stir together the remaining 1 cup brown sugar, the flour, cornbread mix, and pecans. Stir in the remaining 1 stick butter and the warm water. Mix well.
- Spoon the pecan mixture evenly over the potatoes and spread out evenly.
- Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and a light crust forms. Serve warm.
Pumpkin Pie - Cowboy Kent Rollins
- 1 14.5 ounce can pumpkin
- 2 large eggs beaten
- 1 ¾ cups sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 12 ounce can evaporated milk
- Whipped cream for topping
- 1 9 inch pie crust
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
- In a medium bowl, beat together the pumpkin and eggs. Stir in the dry ingredients.
- Gradually whisk in the milk until smooth. Pour the contents into a 9- inch pie shell. Drizzle the maple syrup on top.
- Bake for 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350 degrees F. and continue to bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a knife inserted comes out clean.
- Place on a wire rack to cool. Serve at room temperature or chilled.