The Main Dish’s Thanksgiving Recipes!

This week’s Staff Recipe is from none other than the CCKC founder and ‘Main Dish’ Laura Laiben…

The 'Main Dish''s mom, preparing Thanksgiving dinner, 2002
The Main Dish’s mom, Doris Laiben, preparing Thanksgiving dinner, 2002

Our CCKC ‘Main Dish’ Laura Laiben tried an ‘unconventional’ recipe for her Thanksgiving turkey and dressing about 30 years ago, Roasted Southwest Turkey with Browned Garlic Gravy plus Pine Nut, Corn Bread and Apple Dressing.  She says she has never looked back. It’s been THE go-to turkey she loves, serves and recommends ever since then. (She says that although her whole family loves the recipe, she still hasn’t convinced her mother to forego the more traditional bread-and-giblet recipe when the holiday is hosted there.)

Brining is the key to success with this recipe, as is the case almost any time you cook turkey or chicken.  Leave yourself time to brine the turkey overnight before you cook it.  The brine mixture (1/4 cup salt + 1/4 cup sugar per gallon of water, enough to completely cover the turkey) helps make that turkey the moistest, most delicious turkey you will ever eat. Add in a healthy dose of garlic, and you’re going to LOVE this flavorful bird.

The recipe calls for a piece of cheesecloth that covers the breast of the turkey while cooking. You’ll find this helps keep the moisture in while still allowing for a nice, crunchy browning to the turkey skin.

And how about a Pine Nut, Cornbread and Apple Dressing to go along with the turkey?! #yum  You’ll love the tasty, slightly sweet flavor of this unique take on Thanksgiving dressing.

Mind. Blown. Right?!  Give it a try… find the recipes below (a link to printer-friendly recipes is at the bottom.



Thanksgiving TurkeyRoasted Southwest Turkey with Browned Garlic Gravy


  • 1 (12-lb) turkey, including neck and giblets, which has brined overnight in a salt/sugar solution
    (Brine: 1/4 cup each of salt and sugar to every gallon of water, using enough water to cover the turkey completely)
  • 1 ½ cups chopped onion
  • 3 large carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 12 unpeeled whole garlic cloves
  • ¼ cup olive oil, divided
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • ½ cup chicken broth, homemade (recipe follows) or store bought
  • ½ cup dry white wine

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 6 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
  • degreased juices from the turkey roasting pan
  • 5 cups chicken broth, homemade (see recipe) or store bought
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste

For the turkey, position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 325 degrees.  Rinse turkey inside and out and pat dry.  Cut off and reserve the first joint of each wing.

Place turkey in roasting pan and scatter the onions, carrots, garlic, neck, giblets and wing tips around the turkey.  Rub 1 tablespoon olive oil onto the skin of the turkey breast.  Season generously with salt and pepper. Dampen a piece of cheesecloth, double it and drape over the breast.

Mix together the remaining olive oil, broth and wine.   Roast the turkey for 30 minutes.  Baste through the cheesecloth with half of the wine mixture and roast another 30 minutes.  Baste again the rest of the wine mixture and roast another 15 minutes.  Baste every 15 minutes or so with the pan juices for a total cooking time of about 2 ¾ hours. When an instant read thermometer registers 170 degrees in the thickest part of the thigh, the turkey is done.  Transfer to a cutting board and tent with foil.

Scrape any browned bits from the bottom of the pan and pour the solids and roasting juices through a strainer and into a bowl.  Press the solids firmly to extract as much juice as possible.  Discard the solids and degrease the pan juices.

For the gravy, in a medium saucepan over low heat, melt the butter.  When it foams, whisk in the flour and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring often without allowing the flour to brown, the pan juices with enough of the chicken broth to equal about 6 cups.  Whisk the broth mixture into the flour and butter.  Bring the gravy to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally for about 20 minutes or until the gravy is slightly thickened.  Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Carve the turkey and serve it with the warm gravy.

~~~ â—Š ~~~

Pine Nut, Corn Bread and Apple Dressing


  • ¾ cup pine nuts
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 cups coarsely diced onion
  • 1 ½ teaspoons dried thyme, crumbled
  • 3 large baking apples cored and coarsely chopped (about 1 ½ pounds total)
  • ½ cup chopped fresh sage
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 recipe Stone Ground Cornbread, crumbled coarsely (see recipe below)
  • 2 ½ cups chicken broth, homemade (recipe follows) or store bought
  • 2 teaspoons ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Toast the pine nuts in a single layer in a shallow metal baking pan and bake stirring once or twice till golden brown.  This should take about 7-10 minutes.  Transfer to a bowl and cool.

In a large skillet over medium heat, melt butter.  Add onion and thyme and cook, covered, for about 5 minutes, stirring once or twice. Add the apples and cook, covered, for 5 minutes, stirring once or twice.  Remove from heat, stir in sage and salt and cool to room temp.

Position a rack in the middle of the oven and turn the oven up to 400 degrees. Butter a large shallow baking dish.  In a large bowl, thoroughly toss together the crumbled cornbread, apple mixture and pine nuts.  Stir in the chicken broth and the freshly ground pepper and mix thoroughly.  Spoon the dressing into the baking dish and bake uncovered for about 40 minutes or until the top is lightly browned and the dressing is steamy. Makes 12 servings

~~~ â—Š ~~~

Stone Ground Corn Bread


  • 2 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ cups yellow cornmeal, stone ground
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 4 teaspoons baking power
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Grease a 9×11-inch baking pan.

In a large bowl, stir together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder and salt.  Add the buttermilk, eggs and melted butter and stir until partially combined.  Do not overmix.  Transfer to baking pan and spread to edges.  Bake 20 minutes or until cornbread is firm, edges are golden, and tester inserted in middle comes out clean.

~~~ â—Š ~~~

Chicken Stock


  • 2 pounds chicken neck and back bones, except the liver
  • 2 onions, quartered
  • 2 carrots, cut into 1-inch slices
  • 2 ribs celery, leaves included, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 4 quarts cold water
  • 5 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 5 parsley stems
  • 3 peppercorns
  • 2 cloves garlic

Place the bones, onions, and carrots in a 12 quart or larger stockpot. Add the celery. Cover with cold water. Bring just to a boil and skim off fat and foam.

Reduce heat to simmer. Add thyme, bay leaf, parsley, peppercorns and garlic. Simmer for 4 to 5 hours, uncovered, adding hot water as necessary to keep vegetables covered. Skim off any grease on top; then strain the stock into a bowl and cool, discarding the solids. Makes about 7 quarts


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