November 9: Lunchbreak - Thanksgiving with The Neelys
The Neelys

To purchase a copy of the book:

The Neelys' Celebration Cookbook: Down-Home Meals for Every Occasion

4:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.
1301 Meijer Drive
Rolling Meadows

Corn Bread and Collard Dressing

This dish is the "queen of dressing," because dressing and collards are two favorites of mine. I add bacon, 'cause you gotta have some pig, and the carrots give it a different spin from your traditional dish. You'll want to think ahead with this recipe and make that corn bread the day before. It needs to be dry enough to soak up all the good flavors.
Serves 10-12

Plan Ahead
6 slices bacon, chopped
1 small bunch collard greens, ribs removed, sliced into very thin ribbons
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 large carrot, finely chopped
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 cups cubed day-old yellow cornbread
4 cups chicken broth
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F, and butter a 4-quart casserole. Cook the bacon in a large, heavy skillet set over medium heat until the bacon is crisp and the fat has rendered. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon, and discard all but 2 Tablespoons of the bacon fat. Sauté the vegetables and thyme in the hot bacon fat until tender, about 8 minutes. Season with the red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper, and set aside to cool slightly.
While the vegetables are cooking, spread the cornbread cubes on a baking sheet and toast in the hot oven for 5 to 6 minutes, until they brown slightly on the edges.
Put the cubed corn bread in a very large mixing bowl. Pour in the broth and beaten eggs over the corn bread. Add the vegetable mixture, bacon, and parsley, and toss all together. Spoon the dressing into the prepared casserole dish, and cover with foil. Bake for 30 minutes; then uncover and continue baking for 15 minutes more, to give it a nice crust.

Memphis Fried Turkey
Fried turkey was and is very big in the South. I watched Mama Callie make it many a time, and I was always thinking she was going to burn herself or the house down! She'd rub the spice mixture all over the turkey and into the cavity. (Hmm . . . I always thought Pat was the first spice- rub master, but maybe not.) When you fry a turkey, you are sealing all those herb flavors and juices right in. You also get outrageously crispy skin. Pat likes to fry with peanut oil, because of its high smoke temperature and great flavor. Try it; it's easier than you think, and leaves your oven free for all your side dishes!
Serves 10

1 Tablespoon smoked paprika
1 Tablespoon kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons onion powder
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon dried thyme
One 14-pound turkey, giblets removed, washed and dried
3 or more gallons peanut oil, for frying

Mix the smoked paprika, salt, garlic powder, black pepper, onion powder, cayenne pepper, and thyme together in a bowl. Sprinkle some of the spice rub inside the cavity of the turkey. Separate the skin from the breast meat by using one or two fingers, starting at the top of the breast and gently sliding to the right and left, then working down. (So as not to tear the skin, nails trimmed and rings off! Or you can use a surgical glove.) Massage the rub onto the meat underneath the skin with your hands. Sprinkle the remaining rub on the turkey's skin. Place the turkey on a large sheet tray, and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight, or up to 24 hours, so the flavors can marry.
Fill your turkey fryer with peanut oil, and preheat to 400 degrees F (it will take about 1 hour for the oil to come to temperature).
Remove the turkey from the refrigerator, and let it come to room temperature as your oil heats. Once the oil is hot, very carefully lower the turkey into the hot oil. (Most turkey fryers come with a basket for the turkey that has hooks and a handle to lower and lift. If yours doesn't, get yourself a long set of sturdy tongs to grip deep the inside cavity and breast, as well as an industrial kitchen fork to hold the back side of the bird.) Make sure the oil maintains its temperature while frying. Fry the turkey until the skin is dark golden brown and crisp, or until the internal temperature of the breast reaches 155 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer, about 45 minutes. Carefully remove the turkey from the oil, and let it rest and drain on a wire rack about 30 minutes. Do not cover the turkey with foil or it will lose some of its crispness. The internal temperature will rise to 165 degrees while resting. Transfer the turkey to a serving platter, and serve.

NOTE: The size of your turkey will determine how much oil you need to fill your fryer. The safest way to figure that out is to place the raw turkey in the empty fryer and then cover with clean cold water. Remove the turkey; note where the water comes to in the pot (no more than three-quarters full, or get a bigger pot!), and mark with a pen. Empty the fryer of water, and dry it very well. Fill the fryer up with oil to the line you marked, being careful not to fill it more than three- quarters of the way. This will ensure that the hot oil does not spill out over the top of the fryer and cause a fi re! (Always keep an extra empty pot and a large ladle next to you while you fry the turkey, just in case. If it looks like it might bubble over, just scoop some of the oil out.)
Most people use propane and a deep pot set up in their back yard, but you can now purchase countertop electric fryers large enough to do the job more safely indoors (and out of the cold air). These fryers come with pre-marked levels for the oil and can be covered with a lid.

Oven Roasted Turkey
To roast the turkey, set the rack at the lowest position in the oven and heat to 325 degrees F. Remove the turkey from the refrigerator to bring to room temperature. Tie the legs together, and tuck the wing tips under. Place the turkey in a large roasting pan. Drizzle the outside of the turkey with a few tablespoons of olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast the turkey for about 3 hours, or until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh registers 165 degrees F. Transfer turkey to a platter, cover loosely with foil, and let rest for 30 minutes before carving.

Maple Glazed Carrots
We all love carrots in this household, but no one more than Gina. Adding the maple syrup brings out their natural sweetness, giving some sugar for my sugar.
Serves 8

Ingredients: 2 Tablespoons butter
1 Tablespoon olive oil
2 1/2 pounds carrots, peeled, halved - if thick, trimmed into 1- inch pieces
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup real maple syrup
Juice of 1/2 lemon
2 Tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley

Heat the butter and olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat. Once the butter foams, sauté the carrots until they are crisp-tender, about 4 or 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Pour the broth and maple syrup into the pan. Cover, reduce heat to medium, and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove cover, and continue to cook for another 6 to 8 minutes over high heat, until the carrots are tender and glazed with the syrup. Toss with the lemon juice and parsley, and serve.

Cranberry Chipotle Relish
This is not your off-the-shelf variety of cranberry sauce, although that can work in a pinch. In this recipe I'm talking sweet, zesty, spicy, and savory: you don't know whether to slow-dance or cut a jig. I say mix it all up, just like the relish, and let it go.
Makes 3 1/2 cups

2 Tablespoons butter
1 small shallot, finely chopped
Kosher salt
1 cup golden raisins
12 ounces fresh cranberries, rinsed
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
1/2 cup water
1 cup sugar
1 chipotle pepper packed in adobo, minced

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat until it foams. Toss in the shallot, and sauté until soft, about 2 minutes. Season the shallot with a touch of salt. Stir in the raisins, cranberries, orange juice, water, sugar, and chipotle pepper, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer, stirring on occasion, for 15 minutes. Let cool to room temperature, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes until ready to serve.