You know what makes Thanksgiving so wonderful; it's not the family, the friends or the travel. The food is what makes Thanksgiving worth the trouble. The menu is almost so sacred that virtually no one eats it outside of November. Depriving myself of turkey, stuffing and gravy for one holiday seems crazy and yet we follow along because it makes the day that much more special.
When thinking about a thankful Thanksgiving one must contemplate the turkey. We have over the years tried several variations. Frying made the skin crispy and lovely but created a texture with the meat that wasn't perfect for the Holiday. Smoking a turkey was a novel idea and tasted wonderful (especially the one with Cajun seasoning) but produce a gravy that was not very tasty. Roasting a turkey in the oven makes the perfect Thanksgiving. In my opinion roasting a whole turkey with one of those bags is a great way for any average cook to make something close to perfection. For the more advanced start by buy a fresh turkey, brine and then roast starting breast down and switching half way through cooking. I have had a frozen turkey cooked in a bag with no prior brine taste as good if not better than others that were crafted by skillful cooks. Turkey is a great anchor on the plate but by no means what brings me to the table.
This is one of those times when the side kicks make it all worth while. Must start with mashed potatoes that are as fluffy as clouds. There must be both stuffing and dressing (please research if you don't know the difference). Cranberry relish (the recipe on the back of the fresh cranberries works well) and canned cranberry jelly (I know this is a little wrong but somethings are just supposed to be a little wrong and processed). Green beans (whole with bacon and almond slices comes to mind but any fresh will do) and other fresh greens cooked in some sort of butter or pigs fat. Gravy lots and lots of gravy. I like my gravy to create a bath for the food to swim in on my plate. A dinner roll and a large tab of room temperature butter rounds out my perfect plate. I know there are hundreds of sides to be had but these can in some portion fit on one fork to give me the perfect Thanksgiving bite.
No matter what you eat may your Holiday be filled with a full tummy.