Rebecca Lang's Thanksgiving spread

Impress your Thanksgiving guests with this fantastic spread from author and food writer Rebecca Lang.

Bacon-Covered Roasted Turkey

Ingredients

2 cups medium-flake kosher salt (such as Diamond Crystal)

2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar

3 Tbsp. black peppercorns

1 Tbsp. mustard seeds

1 (12-lb.) whole fresh turkey

1 cup unsalted butter, softened

2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley

1 Tbsp. chopped fresh sage

1⁄2 tsp. table salt

1⁄2 tsp. freshly ground pepper

Kitchen string

6 bacon slices (not thick cut)

Garnishes -- roasted carrots, fresh bay leaves

Method

1. Combine first 4 ingredients and 2 qt. water in a saucepan, and cook over medium heat 5 minutes or until salt and sugar are dissolved. Remove from heat. Divide liquid between 2 large (10- to 12-cup) bowls; add 4 cups ice cubes to each bowl and enough cold water to make 10 cups of brine in each bowl. Stir until ice melts and both mixtures are completely cool (about 5 minutes).

2. Remove giblets and neck from turkey, and reserve for another use, if desired. Place turkey in an 18-qt. food-grade plastic container or stockpot. Pour brine into cavity and over turkey, covering turkey completely. Place in refrigerator. Cover and chill 24 hours, turning turkey once halfway through.

3. Combine butter and next 4 ingredients in a small bowl.

4. Preheat oven to 350°. Remove turkey from brine, discarding brine. Rinse turkey well, including cavity.

5. Starting at neck, carefully loosen and lift skin from breast and drumsticks using your fingers. (Do not totally detach skin.) Rub 3⁄4 cup butter mixture under skin; carefully replace skin. Tie ends of legs together with string; tuck wing tips under. Place turkey, breast side up, on a lightly greased rack in a roasting pan; rub remaining butter mixture over skin.

6. Roast turkey at 350° for 1 hour and 45 minutes, basting with pan juices every 20 minutes during last 45 minutes of cooking. Remove from oven, and lay bacon slices, crosswise, over breast and drumsticks.

7. Return turkey to oven; roast 45 minutes to 1 hour or until a meat thermometer inserted in thickest portion of thigh registers 170°, basting every 15 minutes. Let stand 30 minutes before carving. Garnish, if desired.

Makes: 8 servings Hands-on Time: 50 min. Total Time: 4 hr., plus 1 day for brining

All Things Sweet Potato Casserole

12 servings

Ingredients

4 1⁄2 cups mashed baked sweet potatoes (about 4 lb. whole)

2 large eggs

2⁄3 cup heavy cream

1⁄3 cup fi rmly packed light brown sugar

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

1⁄4 tsp. ground nutmeg

3⁄4 cup unsalted butter, melted and divided

11⁄2 cups crushed gingersnaps (30 cookies)

3 cups miniature marshmallows

Method

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Combine potatoes, eggs, next 5 ingredients, and 1⁄2 cup melted butter in a large bowl; beat at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth. Spoon into a lightly greased 13- x 9-inch baking dish.

2. Stir remaining 1⁄4 cup melted butter into crushed gingersnaps. Top potato mixture with marshmallows and the gingersnap mixture in alternating crosswise rows.

3. Bake at 350° for 28 minutes or until marshmallows are lightly browned.

To bake sweet potatoes, place on a baking sheet. Bake at 375° until tender, about 45 minutes for small potatoes, 1 hour for medium potatoes, or 1 hour and 15 minutes to 1 hour and 25 minutes for large potatoes.

Swiss Chard with Bacon Butter

4 servings

Ingredients

1 bunch Swiss chard (about 1 lb.)

1 Tbsp. bacon drippings

1 Tbsp. unsalted butter

1⁄2 tsp. freshly ground pepper

1⁄4 tsp. salt

Method

1. Remove chard leaves from stems by folding the leaves lengthwise so that the stem can be easily cut off. Cut leaves crosswise into 1⁄2-inch strips, and cut stems into 3⁄4-inch pieces.

2. Heat bacon drippings and butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add chard stems, and sauté 4 minutes. Add chard leaves, pepper, and salt, and sauté 4 minutes. Serve immediately.

Cloverleaf Yeast Rolls

24 servings

Ingredients

1 (1⁄4-oz.) envelope active dry yeast

1⁄4 cup warm water (105 to 115)

1⁄2 cup milk

3 Tbsp. unsalted butter

1⁄2 cup buttermilk, at room temperature

2 Tbsp. sugar

1 Tbsp. honey

1 tsp. salt

1 large egg, lightly beaten

4 cups sifted all-purpose flour

2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and divided

Additional butter, softened

Method

1. Combine yeast and warm water in a small bowl. Let stand 5 minutes.

2. Heat milk and 3 Tbsp. butter in a small saucepan over medium heat until butter is melted and mixture begins to steam. Pour into bowl of a heavy-duty electric stand mixer. Stir in buttermilk, sugar, honey, and salt. Cool to between 105° and 115° (about 5 minutes). Add yeast mixture and egg, and beat at low speed, using dough hook attachment, just until blended. Add flour, and beat at medium speed 3 minutes or until a smooth dough forms.

3. Turn dough out onto a well-floured surface, and knead 30 seconds using floured hands. (Dough will be very soft.) Coat a large bowl with 1 Tbsp. melted butter. Place dough in bowl, turning to grease top. Cover dough with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 1 hour or until doubled in bulk.

4. Punch dough down. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface, and shape into 72 (1-inch) balls. Place 3 balls in each cup of 2 lightly greased (12-cup) muffin pans. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 1 hour or until doubled in bulk.

5. Preheat oven to 375°. Brush tops of rolls with remaining 1 Tbsp. melted butter. Bake at 375° for 18 minutes or until lightly browned. Serve immediately with softened butter.

Pecan Tassies

24 servings

Ingredients

1 1⁄4 cups chopped pecans, divided

1⁄2 cup unsalted butter, softened

4 oz. cream cheese, softened

1 cup plus 2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour

1⁄8 tsp. salt

2⁄3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted

1 large egg, lightly beaten

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1⁄4 tsp. salt

Method

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Process 1⁄2 cup of the pecans in a blender or food processor until finely ground.

2. Place 1⁄2 cup butter and cream cheese in the bowl of a heavy-duty electric stand mixer, and beat at low speed until blended. Add flour, salt, and ground pecans; beat until blended.

3. Shape dough into 24 balls using lightly floured hands. Place 1 ball in each cup of 1 (24-cup) miniature muffin pan, and press dough on bottom and up sides of each cup to form shells. Arrange about 1 tsp. of the remaining chopped pecans in each shell.

4. Whisk together brown sugar and remaining ingredients. Spoon about 1 tsp. brown sugar mixture over pecans.

5. Bake at 350° for 22 minutes. Cool completely in pan on a wire rack (about 10 minutes).

Pumpkin Pie with Brown Sugar Pecans

8 servings

Ingredients

Crust

1 1⁄3 cups all-purpose flour

1⁄2 tsp. salt

1⁄2 cup shortening

4 to 6 Tbsp. ice water

Topping

1⁄2 cup chopped pecans

1⁄4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar filling

1 (15-oz.) can pumpkin

2⁄3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

1⁄2 cup half-and-half

3 large eggs

1 Tbsp. all-purpose flour

2 Tbsp. cane syrup

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1⁄2 tsp. salt

1⁄4 tsp. ground nutmeg

1⁄8 tsp. ground cloves

1⁄8 tsp. ground cinnamon

1⁄8 tsp. ground allspice

Method

1. Prepare crust -- Combine flour and salt; cut shortening into flour mixture with a pastry blender or fork until mixture resembles small peas. Sprinkle cold water, 1 Tbsp. at a time, over mixture in bowl; stir with a fork until dry ingredients are moistened. Shape dough into a ball; cover and chill 1 hour.

2. Preheat oven to 450°. Roll dough to 1⁄8-inch thickness on a lightly floured surface. Fit into a 9-inch pie plate; trim off excess pastry along edges. Fold edges under, and crimp. Line pastry with aluminum foil, and fill with pie weights or dried beans.

3. Bake at 450° for 8 minutes. Remove weights and foil; bake 3 minutes. Remove crust from oven to a wire rack. Reduce oven temperature to 350°.

4. Prepare Topping: Pulse pecans and brown sugar in a blender or food processor 4 times or until finely chopped.

5. Prepare Filling: Whisk together pumpkin and next 11 ingredients in a large bowl. Pour into prepared crust.

6. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes. Remove from oven, and top with pecan mixture. Bake 15 more minutes or until set. Cool completely on a wire rack (about 3 hours).

Chocolate-bourbon Pecan Pie

10 servings

Ingredients

1 1⁄3 cups all-purpose flour

1⁄2 tsp. salt

1⁄2 cup shortening

4 to 6 Tbsp. ice water

4 Tbsp. unsalted butter

6 oz. bittersweet chocolate baking bar

3 large eggs, lightly beaten

3⁄4 cup sugar

1⁄2 cup light corn syrup

2 Tbsp. bourbon

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1⁄8 tsp. salt

2 cups pecans

Method

1. Combine flour and 1⁄2 tsp. salt; cut shortening into flour mixture with a pastry blender or fork until mixture resembles small peas. Sprinkle cold water, 1 Tbsp. at a time, over mixture in bowl; stir with a fork until dry ingredients are moistened. Shape dough into a ball; cover and chill 45 minutes.

2. Preheat oven to 450°. Roll dough to 1⁄8-inch thickness on a lightly floured surface. Fit into a 9-inch pie plate; trim off excess pastry along edges. Fold edges under, and crimp. Line pastry with aluminum foil, and fill with pie weights or dried beans.

3. Bake at 450° for 8 minutes. Remove weights and foil; bake 6 more minutes. Remove from oven to a wire rack to cool. Reduce oven temperature to 350°.

4. Pour water to depth of 1 inch in a small saucepan, and bring to a boil over high heat; reduce heat to low, and maintain at a simmer. Combine butter and chocolate in a stainless-steel bowl. Place bowl over pan of simmering water, and cook, stirring frequently, 3 minutes or until melted. Remove from heat. Whisk in eggs and next 5 ingredients. Stir in pecans. Pour mixture into prepared crust.

5. Bake at 350° for 1 hour or until set and slightly puffed. Cool completely on a wire rack (about 1 hour).

Hummingbird Cake

16 servings

Ingredients

3 cups all-purpose flour

2 cups sugar

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

3 large eggs, beaten

1 cup vegetable oil

11⁄2 tsp. vanilla extract

1 (8-oz.) can crushed pineapple, undrained

1 cup chopped pecans

2 cups chopped bananas

Cream Cheese Frosting

1⁄2 cup chopped pecans

Method

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Combine first 5 ingredients in a large bowl; add eggs and oil, stirring until dry ingredients are moistened. (Do not beat.) Stir in vanilla, pineapple, 1 cup pecans, and bananas.

2. Pour batter into 3 greased and floured 9-inch round cake pans. Bake at 350° for 25 to 30 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks 10 minutes; remove from pans, and cool completely on wire racks.

3. Spread Cream Cheese Frosting between layers and on top and sides of cake; sprinkle 1⁄2 cup chopped pecans on top. Store in refrigerator.

Cream Cheese Frosting

3 cups

Ingredients

1 (8-oz.) package cream cheese, softened

1⁄2 cup butter, softened

1 (16-oz.) package powdered sugar, sifted

1 tsp. vanilla extract

Method

1. Beat cream cheese and butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth. Gradually add powdered sugar, beating at low speed until light and fluffy. Stir in vanilla.