Thanksgiving Menu: Main Dishes

Brined Turkey

The Hubs and I have made this brined turkey in the past with much success–partially due to the fact that we (unintentionally) cooked the turkey upside down for most of its time in the oven! All of the juices stayed in the breast meat and the entire bird was delicious! I’m pretty sure we were eating vegetarian at the time, but I had to try the flavor of what I was serving! It also received rave reviews. Give it a try!

To view my entire Thanksgiving Menu, see this post.

Lemon-Bay Brined Turkey

This recipe is for a 12-15 lb turkey.

2 gallons of water
1 cup of dark brown sugar
1 cup kosher salt
3 lemons, halved
4 bay leaves
4 cinnamon sticks
about a handful of cloves

Combine all ingredients in a large container. Be sure the sugar and salt are completely dissolved. Add your turkey and refrigerate overnight. (We put all of our ingredients in a large cooler and allowed it to sit outside on a frigid Pennsylvania night.)

To prepare: Stuff the turkey with the lemons, bay leaves, and cinnamon sticks. Cook about 3.5 hours at 350°, or according to package directions, basting every 40 minutes.

Allow the turkey to rest 15-20 minutes before carving.


Stuffing is probably everyone’s favorite part of the meal, in my family. I changed things up one year and prepared oyster “dressing” for a family friend from South Carolina. I’m not sure it stood up to his standards, but it was tasty to me! I’m making it again this year because it came out so well.

Oyster Cornbread Stuffing

2 pans of cornbread, cubed (I usually use the recipe on the cornmeal package.)
1 stick of butter
1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped
2 ribs of celery, finely chopped
2 cups half-and-half (use soy creamer for non-dairy)
2 T. fresh parsley
1 tsp. dried sage
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. dried basil
2 pints fresh raw oysters
salt and pepper

In a large, deep skillet (use cast iron for great flavor!), melt 6 T. of butter over medium-high heat. Add the onion and celery and cook until softened.

Stir in the half-and-half, parsley, sage, thyme, and basil. Bring to a simmer.

Add oysters and liquid. Cook for 2-3 minutes.

Add cornbread, toss to coat.

Spoon stuffing into a buttered casserole.

Dot with remaining butter. Bake uncovered for 40 minutes at 350°.

How do you prepare your turkey? Do you call it “stuffing” or “dressing?”

Click here to see the entire Thanksgiving Menu.

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