10 Best Thanksgiving Recipes

Shake up your traditional Turkey Day menu with some of our favorite holiday recipes from local chefs and home cooks.

Photo by Elizabeth Gelineau

1. Tarragon & Apple Glazed Turkey

Recipe by Chef Adrian Yots, Thyme on Section

1 18-pound turkey, giblet packet removed
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste
2 large yellow onions
1 small bunch celery
3 Granny Smith apples
8 cloves garlic
1 bunch rosemary
1 bunch fresh tarragon (dried may be substituted)
peel of 1 orange
3 cups white wine
Apple Tarragon Glaze (see below)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Thoroughly rinse the turkey and pat dry. Brush  turkey, inside and out, with extra virgin olive oil. Season liberally with salt and pepper. Set aside.
2. Roughly slice onions, celery and apples. Place half the mixture in the bottom of a roasting pan and the other half inside the cavity of the turkey. Divide garlic cloves, 6 sprigs of rosemary and 6 sprigs of tarragon between the roasting pan and the inside of the turkey. Add the orange peel to the cavity of the turkey, and place the turkey in the roasting pan on top of the vegetable mixture.
3. Add enough white wine to cover the bottom of the roasting pan, about 3 cups. Carefully cover the turkey with aluminum foil, tenting so it does not touch the skin. (Two sheets of foil, overlapped on the edges and crimped, may be required.)
4. Place turkey in the oven and cook for 3 1/2 to 4 hours until an internal temperature of 165 degrees is achieved. During the last 15 minutes, remove foil and apply the Apple Tarragon Glaze, repeatedly brushing the turkey. Cook until a deep golden brown color is achieved. Watch carefully as the sugar in the glaze will color the turkey quickly.
5. Remove turkey from oven and allow to rest at room temperature for 10 minutes before carving. Meanwhile, strain off the pan drippings and use for optional gravy. Serves 10

Apple Tarragon Glaze

1 12-ounce jar apple jelly
1 tablespoon dried tarragon
2 tablespoons fresh chopped tarragon
2 tablespoons brandy (optional)

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1. Combine all the ingredients in a saucepan and melt over low heat. Hold at room temperature until ready to baste turkey. Yields 1 1/2 cups.

cranberry dijon pork chops
Photo by Todd Douglas

2. Cranberry-Dijon Pork Chops

Recipe from Chakli Diggs, NoJa

1 medium apple, peeled,  cored and thinly sliced
2 tablespoons dried cranberries or 1/2 cup fresh cranberries
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/8 teaspoon dried thyme
1/8 teaspoon rubbed sage
1/8 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
1/8 teaspoon pepper
dash salt
dash ground nutmeg
1 – 2 teaspoons grape-seed oil
2 teaspoons butter
4 (4- to 6-ounce) pork chops (bone-in or out)

1. In a small bowl, combine the first 12 ingredients.
2. Then, coat a large frying pan with grape-seed oil, add butter and swirl pan to melt.
3. Add pork chops and brown over medium-high heat, for 3 – 4 minutes on each side.
4. Stir in fruit and herb mixture, bring to a boil.
5. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 3 – 4 minutes on each side, until done or until a thermometer reads 145 degrees. Serves 4

oyster stew
Photo by Elizabeth Gelineau

3. Oyster Stew

Recipe from Meg Mattei

11 tablespoons butter, divided
3 pints oysters, drained
1 tablespoon Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning, plus more to taste
9 tablespoons flour
3/4 cup white onion, finely chopped
1 celery rib, finely chopped
1 tablespoon dried parsley
4 – 5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 gallon whole milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
chopped green onion, for garnish
oyster crackers, for serving

1. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large saucepan over high heat and add oysters. Season with Tony Chachere’s.
2. Cook quickly over medium heat, stirring just until oyster edges are curled. Set aside.
3. In another large saucepan, melt remaining butter over medium heat. Add flour and stir constantly, cooking 3 minutes until flour is cooked but not browned. Add all vegetables and cook in roux until softened. Add milk, 1 1/2 cups of cooked oyster liquid and oysters. Discard any remaining oyster liquid. Season with salt and pepper and Tony Chachere’s to taste.
4. Serve hot, sprinkled with chopped green onion and oyster crackers.

corn pudding
Photo by Elizabeth Gelineau

4. Corn Pudding

Recipe by Lee Bailey courtesy Meg Mattei

2 1/2 cups fresh corn kernels, cut from the cob of 6 large ears
1 cup cream
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
3 tablespoons butter, melted
5 eggs, well beaten
3 cups milk
a pinch of nutmeg
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon cold water

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 2-quart baking dish and set aside.
2. Place corn and cream in a double boiler. Heat over medium-low for 20 minutes, stirring often to prevent sticking.
3. Remove 2 1/2 cups of corn mixture and set aside to cool. Save any leftovers for another use.
4. Add sugar, salt, pepper, butter, eggs, milk and nutmeg to corn. Dissolve cornstarch in water and add to corn.
5. Pour into baking dish and bake 1 hour or until custard is firm.

Photo by Elizabeth Gelineau

5. Fall Vegetable Gratin

Recipe by Chef Arwen Rice, Red or White

2 large butternut squash
1 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes
1 1/2 pounds carrots or parsnips
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 chipotle peppers, diced and seeded
2 teaspoons salt, plus more to taste
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, plus more to taste
1 cup cream
1/4 cup butter
8 ounces grated cheddar cheese

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut the butternut squash in half length-wise and scoop out the seeds. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste and put facedown on a sheet pan lined with foil and sprayed with a little cooking spray. Roast for 25 minutes or until a knife inserts easily into the thickest part. Reduce oven heat to 350 degrees.
2. Put the sweet potatoes, carrots or parsnips and a sprinkling of salt in a large pot and fill with cold water. Bring to a boil and cook for 25 minutes or until soft. Drain and let cool slightly.
3. Peel the cooled butternut squash, sweet potatoes and carrots and cut into medium chunks and put into a large bowl.
4. Heat oil in sauté pan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and sauté until softened. Add the chipotles, salt and pepper and cook for another minute. Add this to the squash mixture.
5. Heat the cream and butter in a small saucepan until the butter is melted and the cream is warm. Pour into squash mixture and mash with a potato masher until fairly smooth.
6. Scoop mixture into a greased, oven-safe pan and top with grated cheddar. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until cheese is brown and bubbly. Serve warm. Serves 8

butternut squash risotto
Photo by Elizabeth Gelineau

6. Butternut Squash Risotto

2 tablespoons butter
4 cups butternut squash peeled, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
salt and ground pepper, to taste
3 cups Arborio rice
1 1/2 cups dry white wine
32 ounces reduced sodium chicken broth (may substitute vegetable broth.)
1 cup warm water
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (plus more, to taste, for garnishing) 

1. In a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add squash and season with salt and pepper.
2. Cook, stirring often, until the edges soften, about 8 minutes.
3. Add Arborio rice and stir to coat. Add wine and cook until almost all the liquid has evaporated, about 2 – 3 minutes.
4. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add 1/2 cup of the broth at a time, stirring until liquid is absorbed, approximately 30 – 40 minutes.
5. Stir in warm water 1/2 cup at a time, stirring until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender (may add a little more if necessary).
6. Stir in the Parmesan cheese and season with salt and pepper, to taste.
7. Serve immediately, garnished with more freshly grated Parmesan cheese, if desired. Serves 8 – 10

Photo by Elizabeth Gelineau

7. Oyster, Tasso Cornbread Dressing

Recipe by Chef Bill Briand

1 box Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix, cooked according to package directions and cooled
2 1/2 pounds diced tasso ham
2 cups diced yellow onion
1 cup diced celery
1 cup diced green bell pepper
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 1/2 cups chicken or turkey stock
1 pound chopped oysters, liquor reserved
2 tablespoons hot sauce
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 cup chopped green onions
1/4 cup chopped parsley

1. Prepare Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix according to package directions. Allow to cool completely. Crumble cornbread and set aside.
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat and add tasso. Cook until fat is rendered, then add onions, celery, bell pepper and garlic. Sauté until translucent. Add salt, pepper, paprika, chili powder, stock, oysters and oyster liquor. Simmer for 15 minutes at medium-high heat, stirring regularly.
3. Slowly add crumbled cornbread until you get a stuffing consistency. Add hot sauce, lemon juice, green onions and parsley. Put stuffing mixture in a greased casserole dish and allow to cool.
4. Bake stuffing uncovered until hot and crispy on top, about 45 minutes. Serves 8

Photo by Elizabeth Gelineau

8. Warm Apple Cider

Recipe by Kyle Kinder, Tongue & Groove Drinkery

2 cinnamon sticks
1 teaspoon whole cloves
4 – 5 whole black peppercorns
1 whole star anise
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon whole allspice
5 whole Granny Smith apples, sliced and seeded
2 quarts unfiltered, all-natural apple cider
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 orange, sliced
1 liter rye whiskey, such as Bulleit
cinnamon sticks and strips of orange zest, for garnish

1. Place cinnamon, cloves, peppercorn, star anise, nutmeg, allspice and apples in electric crockpot set to high. Let simmer lightly, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes. Reduce heat to low.
2. Add cider and brown sugar and stir until sugar dissolves completely. Place orange slices on top. Cover and cook on low for 2 – 3 hours or until heated through.
3. Reduce heat to warm, add whiskey and stir. Use a fine mesh strainer to discard debris.
4. Garnish with cinnamon stick and orange zest. Yields 2 quarts

Photo by Todd Douglas

9. Cranberry Macadamia Tarts

3 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 cup flour
1 stick butter, softened
1 egg
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup finely chopped cranberries
1/4 cup chopped macadamia nuts

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Beat the cream cheese, flour and butter together until well combined. Cover and chill for 1 hour. 
3. In a medium bowl, beat together the egg, brown sugar, melted butter and vanilla. Add the cranberries and macadamia nuts. 
4. Once the dough is chilled, divide it into 1-inch balls and press into ungreased mini-muffin tins. Fill each with a spoonful of the cranberry nut filling. Bake in the oven for about 18 -20 minutes. Makes approximately 2 dozen

pumpkin spice cake
Photo by Elizabeth Gelineau

10. Pumpkin Spice Cake with Cream Cheese Icing

Recipe by Sallye Irvine

3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened (1 1/2 sticks)
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Lightly coat three 8-inch cake pans with softened butter. Line each pan with an 8-inch circle of parchment paper. Lightly coat the paper circles with butter and set aside.
3. Cream butter until smooth in a large bowl with an electric mixer set on medium speed. Add the sugars and mix until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition, until mixture is smooth and light. Set aside.
4. In a separate bowl, combine pumpkin puree, buttermilk and vanilla extract.
5. In a third bowl, combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda and nutmeg.
6. In thirds, alternately add flour mixture and buttermilk mixture to butter mixture, blending well after each addition until smooth.
7. Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake for 35 – 40 minutes. Cool cakes for 30 minutes. Remove from pans and return to wire racks until completely cool.
8. Layer each cake with 1/3 of the Pumpkin Cream Cheese Icing. May refrigerate up to 4 days.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Icing

1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened (1/2 stick)
1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted

1. Blend all ingredients except sugar until smooth.
2. Add the sugar and continue to beat until light and creamy, about 5 minutes.

Find some of these delicious recipes and more in our cookbook, “Bay Appetit: A Second Helping of Lower Alabama Dishes.” Click here to purchase your copy!

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