My family is celebrating a traditional Thanksgiving this year by setting a beautiful table, cooking the perfect, juicy Thanksgiving turkey and gathering with family. This post is sponsored in partnership with our friends at Honeysuckle White®.
Well, 2020 has been a doozy of a year, to say the very least. But with all the craziness, there have certainly been wonderful things to come from it as well. As the Fall weather creeps in with a crispness in the air, our family is looking forward to gathering together around the table for a traditional Thanksgiving dinner this year probably more than ever.
I don’t think we are alone. I think people will gather differently this year but it has taken a year like 2020 to put some things into perspective for us all. For us, we are slowing down, much more focused and appreciative of the little things and the family time these days. While I’ve always appreciated making the same homemade family recipes from scratch that we make every Thanksgiving and setting a beautiful, meaningful Thanksgiving table, I believe that for some people this will be a change they will make as well. I encourage you to break out the good china, cook all the things, buy local ingredients, cherish your Thanksgiving traditions and make memories around the table together.
If you’re looking to stick with your treasured Thanksgiving traditions this year but still change things up a bit, I’ve got a few tips for you on just how to do it.
There are a few things I cannot compromise on for the feast-filled holiday, enjoying my cherished family recipes being at the very top of the list. The turkey is the hero of the table and this year we will be feasting on a Honeysuckle White® Frozen Whole Young Turkey. What I love most about Honeysuckle White® is that they truly support the farmers behind their product, you can even read stories about them on their website and, for select turkeys, you can trace your actual turkey back to the independent family farmer that raised it.
To keep your traditions alive, pull out some old family recipe cards from your mother’s or grandmother’s collection and learn to make some of the recipes you grew up enjoying. Some of my must-haves include my Nana’s stuffing and my Mom’s pecan pie.
To mix things up a bit, consider a fresh spin on a classic recipe by switching out an ingredient. Switch up your green bean casserole for some delicious roasted brussel sprouts. Or, consider sourcing your ingredients a bit differently, like getting all of your produce from a local CSA or farmer for a more farm-to-table feast experience this year that supports your local community at the same time.
Here is my tried-and-true recipe for a delicious + juicy Thanksgiving turkey, but before we get started make sure to plan ahead and safely thaw your frozen turkey in enough time to cook it come Thanksgiving morning.
It takes some planning + preparation, but first and foremost you should always thaw your frozen turkey safely in the refrigerator until it is ready to cook. Below is a chart to approximate how long thawing in your fridge will take, and you can keep your thawed turkey in the refrigerator for an additional 4 or so days before cooking it if needed.
3-4 lb. turkey (1 Day)
4-8 lb. turkey (2 Days)
8-12 lb. turkey (3 Days)
12-16 lb. turkey (4 Days)
16-20 lb. turkey (5 Days)
20-24 lb. turkey (6 Days)
- 1 whole Honeysuckle White® Frozen Whole Young Turkey (based on a 10-14 lb. turkey)*
- 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1/2 freshly squeezed lemon + zest
- 2 TBSP dried oregano
- 2 TBSP dried sage
- 2 TBSP kosher salt
- Freshly cracked black pepper
- 10 cloves of fresh, peeled garlic
- 1 large yellow onion, quartered
- 2 small Granny Smith apples sliced
- Sprigs of fresh sage + thyme leaves
- Allow frozen, whole turkey to safely thaw according to chart above and turkey size. Additionally, allow turkey to rest at room temperature for 1 hour in a large roasting pan. Set oven to 350 degrees, moving / removing baking racks while cool to allow turkey to properly fit in your oven.
- Remove the neck + giblets stored inside the turkey before cooking. Pat dry the entire outside skin of the whole turkey, as well as inside the cavity. Season cavity with a generous amount of kosher salt + fresh black pepper.
- In a mixing bowl, mix together softened butter, dried herbs, lemon juice + zest. Carefully spread mixture underneath the turkey skin, covering the entire breast and sides using approximately 1/3 of the mixture. Rub remaining 2/3 of the mixture on top of the skin over the entire outside of the turkey breast, legs, wings and sides until full covered. Season generously with kosher salt + pepper.
- Stuff turkey cavity with garlic cloves, chopped onion, apples + fresh herbs.
- Bake turkey at 350 degree oven until internal temperature of thickest part of the turkey thigh reaches 165 degrees, approximately 3 hours depending on turkey size. Baking time will vary due to size so approximate 15 minutes for each pound of turkey you are cooking as a guideline.
- Once turkey has reached 165 degrees to doneness, allow turkey to rest for 30 minutes before carving.
Beyond the Thanksgiving Day feast, the table itself provides the base for the whole event. Building out a beautiful tablescape is what my Grandmother always did best and the tiniest little details are what I remember the most.
To keep your traditions alive, bring back out the same main elements for your tablescape year after year. These treasured family heirlooms have made memories for years and years so incorporating them into your feast is a time-honored tradition. Table linens that are well-loved, china or dinnerware, a large turkey platter or a gravy boat with a little patina after years of use are all pieces worth celebrating in and of themselves.
To mix things up a bit, consider challenging yourself with a fresh new theme this year for your tablescape. So many elements go into building a beautiful table, from the linens to the florals + fresh ingredients. This year I wanted to pull in local and seasonal touches of fall so I used clippings from my Magnolia tree in the backyard for a big touch of greenery and also brought in a collection of mismatched brass candlesticks that I’ve seen on-trend as of late. I don’t normally incorporate candles into my Thanksgiving table but thought this was just the perfect mix of something current + vintage.
However you choose to enjoy Thanksgiving this year, whether it’s with the same old traditions or mixing things up a bit this year, I really hope you savor each and every moment of this special holiday.
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