Archive for Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Side Dish: Jack McDavid’s Butternut Squash Stuffed with Brussels Sprouts

Looking for an interesting, colorful, autumnal, vegetable dish to round out your Thanksgiving menu?  Look no further!  Jack McDavid, Chef Owner of the Down Home Diner and staunch supporter of eating local offered us this unique vegetable dish.  The presentation is dramatic and beautiful, and if you are hosting vegetarians, this can serve as their main; simply double the onion and omit the bacon.


Butternut Squash Stuffed with Brussels Sprouts

4 small butternut squash (or 2 large), halved lengthwise and seeded.

1 TBSP brown sugar

1 tsp salt

Heat oven to 350.  Sprinkle sugar and salt over squash.  Place on baking sheet and set aside.



4 cups baby brussels sprouts, cut in half lengthwise

1 cup bacon, chopped

1/2 cup onion, chopped

1/2 cup bread crumbs

1 Tbsp honey

Saute bacon in large skillet until almost cooked.  Add onion and saute til translucent, about 5 minutes.  Add bread crumbs, honey, and brussels sprouts.  Remove from heat–you don’t want the brussels sprouts cooking in the skillet.  Pour the brussels sprouts mixture into the squash, and bake 40 minutes until toothpick comes out of squash clean.

Jack McDavid’s Tips on Keeping Your Thanksgiving Turkey Moist and Juicy

Thanksgiving Turkeys should be juicy.  Sadly, we’ve all endured our share of dry birds on the Day of Gratitude, but help is at hand.  Jack McDavid, Chef and Owner of the Down Home Diner shared two proven methods of keeping the bird from drying out.  Jack suggests employing both of these strategies on Thursday and he’s never steered us wrong.

Method One:

Immediately before cooking, fill the turkey with hot stuffing and pop it in the oven.  By placing hot stuffing into the bird, you begin an even cooking process from the inside out.  You also avoid the problem of the raw turkey juice seeping into the stuffing and making guests sick, because the interior starts off hot.

Jack’s Stuffing

1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped carrots
2 TBSP minced fresh sage
1/2 lb butter
1 cup chicken stock (or more if mixture seems dry)
4 cups cubed day-old bread

Melt butter in large skillet and add vegetables and sage.  Sweat this mixture for about 5 minutes.  Add stock, bring to boil.  Add bread to pan and mix thoroughly, keeping heat on.    While stuffing is still hot, stuff into turkey and cook turkey immediately.

Method Two:  Brine and Rub the Turkey

1 20 lb turkey

For the brine:
4 TBSP sugar
5 TBSP salt
1 TBSP white pepper
3 gallons water

Mix all brine ingredients, and submerge turkey in mixture for 24 hrs.

For spice rub:

2 TBSP sugar
21/2 TBSP salt
1/2 TBSP white pepper

Mix all spice rub ingredients.

Remove turkey from brine.  Rub spice blend under skin, in cavity, and massage thoroughly for about 5 minutes.  Or, as Jack said, “Caress it like you would your girlfriend.  Get to know it real well.  Let that turkey know you love it.  Give it a good rubdown.”    Then stuff it as directed above and…

Roast turkey at 300 degrees for 4  hrs.  If you wish to brown top, raise temperature to 450 for final 10 minutes of roasting.  To ensure that turkey is done, check temperature at thigh.  It should be 165.  If it is not up to temperature, return to oven at 300 degrees and check again in 15 minutes.  Remove from oven, cover, and let turkey sit for at least 20 minutes before carving.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Turkey Leftovers: Beyond the Basic

Creative ways to use turkey leftovers is our timely topic today.  Sure, everyone likes the old standbys, soup, and sandwiches, but with these recipes, you really won’t feel like you’re eating leftovers….

Turkey Jambalaya–don’t let the long ingredient list scare you off; this is a very simple recipe and a time tested crowd pleaser!
 serves 8-10

2 cups rice
5 cups chicken or turkey stock
1 lb smoked sausage, cut in 1/2 inch slices
1 lb ham, cubed
4 cups cooked turkey
1/2 stick butter
1 cup chopped onion
3/4 cup chopped bell pepper
1/4 cup chopped parsley
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 6 oz can tomato paste
2 tsp Beck’s Devil Dust, or your favorite Cajun spice blend
1 large bay leaf
1/4 tsp thyme
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
Hot sauce to taste

Cook rice in broth.  Meanwhile, in large Dutch oven, melt butter and saute ham, sausage, turkey, onion, pepper, garlic and parsley.  Cook about 10 minutes, stirring frequently.  Add remaining ingredients except rice, mix and cook several more minutes.  Add cooked rice, stir thoroughly, and cook over low heat 15 more minutes, stirring frequently.

Our friend Chef Wally McIlhenny came up with this tasty trio:

Turkey Quesadilla:  fill a tortilla with turkey, bleu cheese, roasted poblano pepper and apples.  Cook  in a skillet on low heat til tortilla is lightly browned, filling is hot and cheese melts.  If you are making a large number, put them on a cookie sheet and heat in the oven at 350 until filling is heated and cheese melts, about 10 minutes.

Saffron, Leek and Turkey Risotto.  This is an excellent version of the dish.   To use the leftover turkey, add 1 1/2 cups of cooked turkey toward the end of cooking with the last ladle of broth.  Finish as directed.

White Bean, Spinach and Turkey Chili.  We liked this recipe, too, but we’d add a bag of fresh (or a defrosted pkg of frozen) spinach to the pot.

Hmmmm.   We might cook an extra turkey just to have enough leftovers for these dishes.

Nah.  By Saturday, we’ll all be craving……what?  You tell us!

Jack Gives Back

Chef Jack McDavid is known for launching the farm to table movement in Philadelphia and creating the Down Home Diner,  which offers top quality southern food at an affordable price.  He is also famous for his trademark overalls and “Save the Farm” cap.  But did you know he is also famous for charitable works?

Jack says, “Thanksgiving is a time to be grateful for what we have, and part of that is remembering those that don’t have.  My momma always taught me to give back and help others, even when we didn’t have much.  Well, that’s a lesson I’ve learned and I try to pass on.”

Clearly Jack learned the lesson well; this Thanksgiving, he’ll be providing dinner for the residents of St. John’s Hospice, a shelter for homeless men in Center City.

The menu will be identical to the one Jack serves at his family’s table later that day.

Pumpkin Soup
Roast Turkey
Smoked Country Ham
Mashed Potatoes
Sweet Potatoes
String Beans in Garlic with Sauteed Almonds
Pumpkin Pie
Apple Cranberry Crisp

Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone!

Oyster Stuffing by Reading Terminal Market Chef Stormy Lundy

We promised you Stormy’s oyster stuffing recipe, and we are girls who keep our promises, so here it is in all its glory….

Oysters – in every shape and form are readily available from both of the seafood vendors at Reading Terminal Market

Stormy’s Oyster Stuffing:

  • A loaf of day old bread unsliced from The Market bakery or Metropolitan bakery
  • 16oz Jar of Oysters, available from the seafood merchants at the Market; keep the liquor for use in the stuffing mixture itself.
  • 6-8 leaves of fresh sage
  • Few sprigs of fresh thyme – strip the thyme off the woody stem
  • 1x medium sized Spanish onion
  • 3x medium sized carrots
  • 2 sticks of celery
  • 1 cup of raisins
  • 8oz of butter
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Cut the bread into small, evenly sized cubes
  2. Finely dice the onion, celery and carrot
  3. Add butter to fry pan and sauté the onion, celery and carrot, once softened add bread and fry all the mixture until the bread begins to turn brown
  4. Dice sage finely and strip the thyme leaves from the woody stem – it’s easiest to run your thumb and finger up and down the length of the stem. Discard the stem itself.
  5. Add herbs and salt and pepper to mixture in fry pan, stir for 2 minutes then remove from heat. Leave to cool.
  6. Add oysters and their liquor to the mixture and stir gently. Stuff the cavity of the turkey with mixture. (Refrigerate turkey if you are not planning to cook immediately.)

Your turkey from the Market’s own poultry merchants – Godshalls, Haltermans, Fair Food, Smuckers and Giunta’s all stock turkey at this time of year - is now ready to go!

Follow cooking instructions recommended by the USDA. 

Full details available from this useful website.  Use a thermometer to check that stuffing has cooked all the way through.  Stuffing temp should reach a minimum of 165.

Stormy’s Thanksgiving: Holiday tips from Reading Terminal Market’s Chef

Today’s guest cook, Stormy Lundy, is by day Director of Special Events of Reading Terminal Market’s Catering Company.

And Stormy is a gal who knows how to throw a stunning party – she regularly orchestrates out-of-hours events at the Market for anywhere up to 2,500 guests.

The Market is a super-cool venue after hours…

Stormy argues that the same principles apply to creating a great party whether that be for 25 or for upwards of 2,500 partygoers…

…some things never change.

One of her key tips is to do with food consumption.

If like us, you tend to over-cater (for fear of being caught short and running out of food), best to heed Stormy’s advice if you want to get the quantities right! 

Two important questions to consider:

What’s the ratio of Men to Women at your event? Guess what? No surprises; Men eat more than Women -especially in a buffet situation. Stormy suggests allowing 1.5 servings per head for a male guest to every 1 serving for your female guests.

Is there a game on TV? If there’s a game on, then expect people to eat even more.

As Men cluster around the TV to watch their fave team over the Thanksgiving weekend, so they tend to pile their plates up with food.

“It’s the psychology of food,” explains Stormy. “There’s a funny thing going on. Men tend to look across and check out what other guys have on their plate. If one person says “these ribs are delicious”, then you tend to get a run on the ribs suddenly.

“In our family – I had 5 brothers & Dad – there was always a fight over the turkey legs; it was a big deal who got the legs!”

Stormy is herself an adventurous cook who loves to push the envelope at Thanksgiving.

Her typical menu features a turkey with oyster stuffing, sweet potatoes bolstered with a dash of Drambuie and turkey gravy enlivened by a cup of Old City Coffee from the Market.

Look for Stormy’s much coveted recipe for oyster stuffing in our next post……

Talking Turkey with Godshall’s

Dean and his crew certainly love their work!

Dean Frankenfield, co-owner of Godshall’s Poultry in Reading Terminal Market was kind enough to take some time out of his busy schedule to chat with us about this season’s most popular fowl. Of course, we took the opportunity to order our fresh killed Thanksgiving turkeys from Dean, and he was kind enough to share these turkey facts:

  • Godshalls sells about 1200 turkeys the week of Thanksgiving.
  • Turkey is absolutely the meat of choice this time of year;  people who don’t need a whole bird (the smallest is 10 lbs) will buy a breast, or assorted turkey parts like wings and drumsticks.
  • Dean’s favorite use of leftover turkey:  sandwiches.  His wife’s:  a casserole made with leftover turkey, broccoli, and cooked rice in a creamy mushroom sauce.
  • As a devoted fan of turkey’s true taste, Dean does not brine, but, being an open minded chap he does not judge those of us who do.

Godchall’s stock, ready for roasting

    And now,  Drumstick roll, please, the information you’ve all been waiting for, Dean’s Top Tips for Successful Roasting:

    1.  Set the oven at 325-350.
    2.  Roast the turkey Breast Down.  This maintains maximum moisture in the meat.
    3.  Cook 12-14 minutes/lb for an unstuffed turkey, 14-15 minutes/lb for a stuffed bird.
    4.  After cooking, remove turkey from oven and tent with foil approx 20 minutes. This maintains moisture and makes for easier carving.

    Happy Thanksgiving!

    Marilyn Monroe’s Secret Thanksgiving Stuffing Recipe

    We’ve all heard the old adage “if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.” And all we know Marilyn Monroe liked it hot–just check out her the steamy rendition of Happy Birthday.

    But who would have thought that the glamorous film star actually did toil over a hot stove?

    We are taking a brief break from ginger today to acknowledge Thanksgiving, this wondrous American observance of gustation and gratitude.  As we contemplated what to share on this momentous occasion, we came across the rather shocking news that American icon Marilyn Monroe (she keeps popping up, doesn’t she?) was a real cook.  Thanks to friend Dana Hall for sending us the fascinating New York Times article on Marilyn’s stuffing recipe–just in time for this week’s feast.  Here’s a link to the full article, which contains a more legible version of the recipe.

    Marilyn’s Handwritten Stuffing Recipe c. 1955

    The ingredient list, which includes pine nuts, raisins and Parmesan cheese suggests a nod to then-husband Joe DiMaggio’s Sicilian heritage.  The complexity of the process,  the sketchiness of the instructions, and the imprecise amounts written in her own hand suggest that Marilyn knew what she was doing and only needed rudimentary notes to execute the  recipe. 

    Wonder what else she knew…..