Cooks Exchange

Thanksgiving is just days away. Here’s a recipe for gravy you can make ahead of time.

Home chefs should prepare as much of the meal in advance as possible so they get the time to enjoy Thanksgiving with family and friends.
Home chefs should prepare as much of the meal in advance as possible so they get the time to enjoy Thanksgiving with family and friends.

The countdown makes its way to T-Day. Only four days and it is Thanksgiving.

If the turkey is still in the freezer, take it out now. A frozen turkey must thaw four to five days in the refrigerator.

Now, don’t do as grandma or great-grandma did and thaw the turkey under a dripping faucet. Bacteria can build up. Yes, I ate many a turkey that was defrosted that way, but how many salmonella recalls did we have in the ‘50s and ‘60s?

Simply put the turkey in a roasting pan in the fridge. Let it gently thaw out and stay cold at the same time. Let’s keep Thanksgiving dinner safe and fun.

For every 5 pounds of turkey, the bird should defrost for 24 hours, so a 20-pound turkey needs to defrost four days.

The microwave may be great for defrosting hamburger, but it isn’t so hot for turkeys. By defrosting in the microwave, the whole bird doesn’t get thawed. There still may be frozen spots in the bird.

If you have put off the supermarket trip, now is the time to get moving and go to the store. Who wants to shop one or two days before Thanksgiving? Talk about nightmare!

If company is coming and staying for a few days, be sure to add breakfast foods to that shopping list.

Today is a good day to go ahead and make cranberry sauce. It will keep well-covered in the refrigerator and another item to check off your to-do list.

One to two days before, start brining the turkey if you plan to do so. I prefer slathering butter and seasoning on my turkey and keep covered in fridge and start cooking Thanksgiving morning.

I butter the turkey, clean out the cavity adding butter there, too. Then I add lemon and orange halves to the cavity, along with rosemary, thyme and a little sage. I baste the bird in a mixture of melted butter and white wine. I place a cheesecloth soaked in the mixture over the turkey and place in the oven. I baste about every 20-30 minutes. The turkey is moist and has a light citrus flavor.

Wednesday is pie-baking day. Go ahead and make and bake pies. Plan on sautéing vegetables for dressing and making reheatable dishes like sweet potatoes or mashed potatoes. Salads, especially gelatin, fruit or mixed greens, can be made a day ahead, too.

If imbibing for the Thanksgiving meal, go ahead and chill wine and mixers. The less to do the better on Thanksgiving. Remember, this is a holiday and a time to enjoy guests and family.

On Thanksgiving, wake up early to put the bird in the oven. Make and bake dressing or stuffing, whichever you prefer to call it. It’s dressing in my house, cornbread, that is. A slow-cooker works well to keep baked dressing warm and not dried out. After the turkey is cooked, sides are done, and table is set, sit down, relax and have a glass of wine. You deserve it.

I offer a do-ahead apple, maple and sage gravy that comes from a Taste of Home reader in Conroe, Texas. It adds a little different twist to the gravy.

Margarites still front and center

“Since you are getting recipes from Margarites Italian Village could you get one more,” said Thelma Miller. “My family went there often just to get their eggplant Parmesan. We have had that dish other places, but none compared to Margarites.”

Miller’s family would really appreciate the recipe.

Margarite’s shrimp recipe that ran in Sunday’s paper is not the original recipe, a longtime fan said.

“Love your column and no disrespect intended, but the recipe in Sunday’s Sun Herald is not the Marguerite’s Special that made her restaurant so iconic. Liz (O’Cain) was a good friend, and I ate this dish numerous times,” said Gayden Harper of Pascagoula.

Well, perhaps, O’Cain can give us the original recipe.

“I want to thank Liz O’Cain (Margarites Italian Village in Pascagoula) for sharing the recipe for stuffed eggplant,” said Ann Brown. “I used to eat there frequently and absolutely loved the she crab soup. Do you think she would also share that with us?”

I don’t know, but I will ask. O’Cain has been most helpful. If anyone has this recipe, please send it to me.


2 turkey wings, halved, or 1-1/2 pounds chicken wings

1 1/2 apples, chopped, small pieces (Any cooking apple, such as Gala, Granny Smith, Delicious)

1 small onion, quartered

1/4 cup fresh sage leaves plus 1 tablespoon minced fresh sage, divided

1 carton (32 ounces) reduced-sodium chicken broth

4 cups water

1/2 cup butter

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons maple syrup

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. In a 15-by-10-inch pan coated with cooking spray, bake wings, uncovered, until dark golden brown, about 1 hour. Transfer wings to a stockpot; add apples, onion, sage leaves, broth and water. Slowly bring to a boil over low heat; gently simmer, partially covered, 1 1/2 hours.

Strain broth, discarding solids. Measure broth and simmer until reduced to 5 cups. If using immediately, skim fat. Or cool, then refrigerate 8 hours or overnight; remove fat before using.

In a Dutch oven, melt butter over medium-low heat. Add flour and cook, stirring frequently, until dark golden brown, 10-12 minutes. Carefully stir in 4 cups broth. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, stirring constantly, 10 minutes. Stir in maple syrup and sage; add enough remaining broth to achieve desired consistency.

Nutritional data: 1/4 cup: 89 calories, 7 grams fat (4 grams saturated fat), 17 milligrams cholesterol, 216 milligrams sodium, 6 grams carbohydrate (2 grams sugars, 0 fiber), 1 gram protein.

– From Taste of Home in 2016

Andrea Yeager can be reached at and Cooks Exchange, 205 DeBuys Road, Gulfport, MS 39507