Thanksgiving wasn’t an official holiday until 1863, when Abraham Lincoln designated the last Thursday of November as a “national day of thanksgiving.” He made the declaration after key victories of the Union army in the Civil War at Vicksburg and Gettysburg. Since then every president has declared Thanksgiving a national holiday.
For this recipe, I have prepared turkey, the traditional centerpiece of the Thanksgiving meal. For flavor and moisture, I soak a turkey breast in a salt brine overnight. The brine will lock in moisture and infuse the meat with the flavorful spices included in the mix. The use of a meat thermometer is also essential, the turkey is cooked to perfection when the internal temperature of the thickest part reaches 165°.
Creamy Mashed Potatoes
This is the way I expect mashed potatoes when I order them at a nice restaurant as a side to a cut of meat or some other star on the plate. Just a nice flavorful side of potatoes. Usually, I like to add cheese, bacon bits or a more fragrant herb like rosemary or thyme. But those flavors appear elsewhere in this Thanksgiving feast and that's what makes this version so good – it's just about the potato!
Green Beans with Caramelized Onions
I bought these beans fresh the night before cooking this feast and when I cleaned them the next day I decided to leave them long and intact, rather than cut them into thirds. This choice made the final product a different experience when it came to consuming. Instead of stabbing at a pile of beans with my fork and getting 4 or 5 bean chunks on it before taking a bite, I was just fishing for one at a time, much like the way I eat asparagus. It was a different and welcomed change. I also left the beans slightly crunchy. It made for a nicer texture and gave this side a savory salad feel.
The other two elements in this dish put this one out of the park. Smoky bacon and sweet caramelized onions. Need I say more? Well yes, I need to say just a little more – the sweet onions and smoky bacon act as a smoky and sweet dressing to the beans. The bacon provides the salt in the dish, a little pepper can be thrown in if desired. The crunchy, al denté-cooked beans are the star here and the other two ingredients come along for the show, providing small hints of extra flavor.
Eat well, cook often ...