The First Friendsgiving

Happy Thanksgiving!

This year is "The First Friendsgiving" for us. The most iconic depictions of this celebration are those that originate from Friends episodes such as the one when Joey ate the whole turkey,  Rachel made the Shepard's Pie Trifle and they played football. Although none of that will be happening at our gathering, I'm providing you with some dish ideas that I've decided to share this year.

The Turkey

Brine It

The best turkey recipes are in rotation on the Food Network right now and they all have many similarities. The best tip for a moist and flavorful turkey is a brine; this means the preparation starts days before you actually cook it. For this turkey, I did a cold brine, with water, salt, dried thyme and chicken stock. You can brine as long as you'd like, but a full 24 hours is fine. Before seasoning the turkey, pour out the brine and rinse off. 

Season It

I seasoned the turkey with a garlic and herb butter spread full of rosemary, thyme, poultry seasoning, chopped garlic, ground sage, salt and pepper. If you prefer, you can substitute butter with olive oil like Ina Garten does.

The best herbs to use are fresh, but dry ones tend to be more affordable and can last you through more than one Turkey Day. Another awesome tip, courtesy of Food Network, is to stuff the cavity of the turkey with aromatics like lemon, more fresh herbs, onions or garlic. 

The Stuffing

My mom's stuffing is a Thanksgiving staple for me. It's a MUST every year and this one is no different. She uses boxed and bagged stuffing mixes, so I do as well, but feel free to support a local bakery and buy a hard/crusty bread that you dice up to create a stuffing.

The Holy Trinity (celery, onion and green bell pepper) is the base of my stuffing, followed by any ground sausage, preferably a breakfast sausage. These usually come in a small log form seasoned with sage and fennel. 

After sauteing the base ingredients in butter, add some chicken stock and the bread filling. If you use boxed stuffing mix, the cornbread is the best in my opinion. I typically buy already seasoned packs of stuffing mix, but the traditional Thanksgiving flavors such as rosemary and sage are a great way to season this.

The Sides

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Mac & Cheese

The all time best side for Thanksgiving is macaroni & cheese (if you're from the South or from the islands, it's more like macaroni pie because it's baked). Having said that, I relieved myself of the pressure this year, and let a friend make the mac & cheese instead.

Butternut Squash Mashed Potatoes

A potato side is extremely popular, so I decided to make butternut squash mashed potatoes. Butternut squash is a very firm winter squash that tastes it's best when roasted. Removing the skin is quite the task, but after that just cut up and season with olive oil, salt and pepper before roasting. Meanwhile, you can boil some potatoes of your choice and merge the two when finished. Adding roasted garlicmilk, butter and more salt to give the mash mixture a ton of flavor.

I talk a lot about roasting vegetables, but it's because I believe even the pickiest of eaters can respect any roasted veggie. A traditional American Thanksgiving often includes green bean casserole (a favorite of mine), but I also realized that not a lot of people like green beans, cream of mushroom soup and onions. Try some roasted asparagus, broccoli or brussel sprouts for a bright addition to your meal.

We hope these dishes suit you well. Remember, if you are hosting a Friendsgiving, a potluck is  probably the smartest move so that you're not tied up in the kitchen during the social festivities. Whether you're celebrating with friends or family, be sure to enjoy your holiday and give thanks!