But why Turkey? The answer to that question is not based in Thanksgiving folklore, but in economics. Turkeys have no purpose. I know, that's pretty harsh, they have a purpose, being DELICIOUS. Back in the day before 24 hour supermarkets (I know, hard to believe people survived) people had to hunt for their own food so choice of holiday main course depended on what was practical. Cows and chickens are more valuable alive, as they supply milk and eggs, geese were expensive to keep and pork was not considered special. Then there was turkey - cheap to own, easy to maintain and great for feeding large groups of people... the rest is history.
Thanksgiving isn't all about the gobble gobble. Oh no, you can't forget the sides and desserts. Let me share with you two of my favorites, so good that you'll have your relatives asking for more, in advance...
Now, these are not my personal recipes, but I always add my own little touches to make them special. Let's start with the stuffing...
Apricot Grand Marnier Stuffing Recipe
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
* 1-1/2 cups Grand Marnier® or other orange liqueur, divided use
* 1 cup dried apricots, diced
* 4 cups chicken broth
* 3 large ribs of celery, diced
* 1 yellow onion, diced
* 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
* 1/4 teaspoon ground sage
* 1 pound turkey or pork bulk sausage
* 1 cup coarsely-chopped apple
* 16 ounces coarse bread crumbs (may use stuffing mix)
* Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Heat 1 cup of Grand Marnier® until small bubbles form around the edge. Pour over the apricots and let steep to plump. Set aside.
Bring chicken broth to the boil in a medium saucepan. Add celery, onions, thyme, and sage. Simmer for 5 minutes until vegetables soften a bit but not to the mushy point. Set aside.
Saute sausage in a skillet until cooked through, stirring often to break it up into chunks. Drain off any excess oil.
Place bread crumbs or stuffing mix in a large bowl. Add apricots with Grand Marnier®, onion and celery in chicken broth, sausage, apples, and remaining Grand Marnier®. Toss gently to combine thoroughly. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
To bake stuffing separately, pour into a casserole dish and bake at 375 F for 30 minutes to brown the top.
If you use the stuffing inside poultry, be sure the stuffing has come to room temperature before stuffing the bird cavities and roast immediately.
Yield: 6 to 8 servings
Since this stuffing is in high demand, I usually double or triple the recipe. I also add dried cranberries in with the apricots. Since there are a number of vegetarians in my family, I mix in the sausage last, that way I can keep some meat-free stuffing to the side.
And now, dessert...
Top Secret Drunken Rum Cake
Submitted by Queen of Quips
1 1/2 cup pecans
1 yellow cake mix with no pudding in the mix
1 (3 1/2 oz) package instant vanilla pudding
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup dark rum (Bacardi's Select Rum works
1/4 lb butter
1 cup sugar
2 tbls water
1/2 cup rum
Butter and lightly flour a bundt cake pan. Chop 3/4 cup of pecans and sprinkle on bottom of pan. Mix together all cake ingredients. Bake at 325F for 1 hour or until golden and cake pulls away slightly from pan sides. Cool on wire rack about 10 minutes, then remove from pan (inverted) and place on cake plate.
To make the glaze, melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the sugar and stir well. Add just enough water to liquefy the sugar. Continue to cook until glaze
is bubbly and slightly thickened. Remove from heat and stir in rum. Brush over cake, going around 4 or 5 times, until cake is darkened with glaze. Now, the best part! Mix remaining pecans into glaze while still warm. Let soak 1/2 hour. Pour pecans and extra glaze into center of cake.
I strongly recommend using a cake plate or platter with a rim because the glaze can be runny. Also, definitely make this the night before serving to let cake absorb as much
of the glaze as possible.
To be completely honest, I never use the same recipe (mostly because I forget to bookmark the page I got it from, which I believe had something to do with the Ya-Ya sisterhood book) but its always delicious - its soaked in rum. To make it special, I dye the cake a reddish color and bake it in a rose shaped pan. This recipe also makes great cupcakes and leaves everyone with a smile on their face.