Hearty & Healthy Thanksgiving Flavors

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Turkey Brine

By Southern Bite

With Thanksgiving upon us, the quest to produce the most beautiful, perfectly browned, yet still juicy, turkey is back on our minds. If you’re like me, it’s easy to get so caught up in all the other things that go along with the holiday, you often forget to give that turkey the attention is needs. The truth is, one easy step will help make that turkey the showstopping centerpiece it should be!

Olive oil bottle filled with rosemary, garlic and pepper to make the perfect brine

A brine is the perfect way to impart some amazing flavor in your turkey and keep it from drying out too much—which will help if it gets a little overcooked, too. It’s a basic solution of salt and sugar that helps to lock in moisture and add flavor. To add that flavor, I add soy sauce, garlic and fresh herbs. Don’t worry, it doesn’t end up tasting like soy sauce. It just gives it a great umami flavor. You can also add lemon peel, orange peel, peppercorns and other aromatics. Just be cautious not to add anything acidic.

There are a few things you should keep in mind, however. Make sure you use a fresh turkey when brining. Often times, frozen turkeys have been frozen in a sodium solution and brining would most likely add too much salt. I also recommend not stuffing a brined bird. The seasonings in the turkey can often leaching into the stuffing and cause it to be too salty. I recommend cooking your stuffing (or dressing) in a separate casserole dish just to be safe. On the same note, it’s best to be cautious when making gravy with the drippings from a brined turkey. It too can become too salty for the same reasons. Be sure to taste your gravy before adding any seasonings if you do use the drippings.

Y’all enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 2 gallons water
  • 1 cup Salt
  • 1 cup Sugar
  • 1 head Garlic, sliced crosswise
  • 1 cup Soy sauce
  • 6 sprigs Fresh thyme
  • 4 springs Fresh rosemary
  • 1 Turkey

Directions:

  1. Make sure the turkey has been well rinsed, with the giblets removed.
  2. In an extra-large stock pot, combine the water, salt, sugar, garlic, soy sauce and herbs. Stir until the sugar and salt have dissolved. Submerge the turkey in the brine, and refrigerate for 18–24 hours.
  3. Prior to cooking, remove the turkey from brine and discard the brine. Rinse the turkey well with cool water to remove the excess salt, and pat it dry with paper towels. Cook the turkey as you normally would.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Cranberries & Pecans

By Southern Bite

Brussels sprouts make the perfect side dish to accompany any Thanksgiving feast. This recipe is so simple, it will allow you to create a show-stopper side without a lot of work. It’s so tasty, no one will know how easy it was. Plus, roasting is the perfect way to prevent that bitter taste that Brussels sprouts get when they are over-cooked. The sweet cranberries and balsamic vinegar are the perfect complement. I bet even those in your family who don’t like Brussels sprouts might like these.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Cranberries and Pecans

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 lbs. Brussels sprouts
  • 3 Tbsp. Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 1 cup Pecan halves, toasted
  • 1/2 cup Dried cranberries
  • 1 Tbsp. Balsamic vinegar

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F and line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil or parchment paper.
  2. ash and trim the ends from the Brussels sprouts. Remove any dark outer leaves and slice them in half from top to bottom.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the trimmed Brussels sprouts with the olive oil and a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Toss to coat the sprouts in the oil and arrange on the baking sheet. Roast for 20–30 minutes or until the sprouts are tender, with crispy, dark roasted outer leaves. Remove from the oven. Toss with the pecans and dried cranberries and drizzle with the balsamic vinegar. Serve immediately.

Stacey Little of Southern Bite

About Southern Bite

Supper Made Simple

Blogger and Wall Street Journal best-selling author Stacey Little is committed to getting folks back to the table for dinner. His quick and easy recipes are allowing families to get a home-cooked meal on the table without a lot of hassle or expense. Southern Living Magazine named Stacey one of the top 30 bloggers to be following in 2015. He has appeared on The Today Show and Fox and Friends, and has lent his talents to national brands like Betty Crocker, GE, White Lily, Martha White, Kraft, and Queen Latifah—just to name a few. Today, his easy, delicious recipes and heartfelt stories have brought millions to his blog, SouthernBite.com, since he created it in 2008. Stacey’s cookbook, The Southern Bite Cookbook (Thomas Nelson: March 2014), is available at book retailers across the country and online. Stacey’s deep Southern roots have him firmly planted in central Alabama where he lives with his wife, little boy, two dogs, and his collection of cast iron skillets.