Enjoy Thanksgiving dinner with Imagine!

In honor of Thanksgiving, Imagine team members share their favorite recipes and tips. Bon appétit!

Nadia first made Ham in Coca Cola for a Sunday dinner after seeing it made on an episode of Nigella Bites. An instant hit, she is now in charge of bringing the ham for Thanksgiving and Easter dinners. That store-bought spiral stuff just doesn’t cut it anymore!

Tip for a juicy bird:

Cook the turkey breast-side down and cover with cheesecloth. Baste every half hour until done.

Cooking it upside down allows the juices to drip into the breast, thereby making the turkey extra juicy.

A favorite at Tiffannie’s family’s table every holiday season is her grandmother’s fruit salad. Since she grew up around miners in Arizona, many of her grandmother’s recipes call for canned items, but if you substituted any of the canned fruit for fresh fruit, it would probably taste the same or a bit lighter (the syrup from the fruit cocktail, although drained, does add a little more sweetness).

1 small tub of sour cream
½ bag shredded coconut
1 small bag walnuts
2 regular size cans of fruit cocktail (drained)
2 bananas (sliced)
1 small bag of mini marshmallows

Mix all the ingredients (except the bananas) and refrigerate before serving. Mix in fresh cut bananas right before serving to keep them from browning.

One of Julie’s favorite family Thanksgiving recipes is her grandmother’s Italian green beans. She served them every year at her holiday dinner, and Julie’s parents have carried on the tradition. In Julie’s words, “They’re delicious and I love them!”

Grandma’s Italian Green Beans
Main Ingredients:
2- 16 oz. bags of green beans (wide Italian cut, if available)
3 tomatoes (enough to slice and cover the green beans)

Topping: (Quantities can be increased to your desire)
8 Tbs. butter (melted)
½ cup diced onions
4 tsp. mustard
2 tsp. horseradish
3 Tbs. brown sugar


  1. Preheat the oven to 3250
  2. Cook the green beans in the microwave until almost done (not too soft) – 5-6 minutes or so.  Place them in a baking dish.
  3. Cover the green beans with one layer of sliced tomatoes.
  4. Melt the butter and mix in all the other topping ingredients.
  5. Spoon the topping mixture over the tomatoes.
  6. Cover and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour.

For Thanksgiving 2004, Donna, her husband and eldest daughter were living in South Florida with no family nearby or expected to visit. They had a joint Thanksgiving dinner with some friends and took the opportunity to try out some new recipes. The best recipe that Donna’s friend Margaret and her hit upon was Alsatian-Brined Turkey with Riesling Gravy from the Nov. 2004 issue of Food and Wine magazine. It was so amazing that her family has used this recipe for Thanksgiving turkey every year since.

A few tips:

  • Make sure you defrost the turkey in time to brine for two days before Thanksgiving
  • Juniper berries can be found at Whole Foods
  • Most stores now carry brining bags during the holidays, but they can also be found at William & Sonoma and Bed, Bath, & Beyond.

Alsatian-Brined Turkey with Riesling Gravy
Nov. 2004 issue of Food and Wine magazine

5 quarts plus 2 cups cold water
Kosher salt
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup yellow mustard seeds
1/4 cup dried chopped onion
2 tablespoons caraway seeds
2 tablespoons black peppercorns, lightly crushed
2 tablespoons juniper berries, lightly crushed
6 bay leaves
One 18-pound turkey, neck and giblets reserved for another use
2 1/2 cups Riesling
1 large onion, quartered
1 head garlic, cloves separated but not peeled
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups Rich Turkey Stock or low-sodium chicken broth
freshly ground pepper

In a large pot, bring 4 cups of the water to a boil. Add 1 1/4 cups of kosher salt, the sugar, mustard seeds, dried onion, caraway seeds, peppercorns, juniper berries and bay leaves. Stir to dissolve the salt and sugar completely. Remove the pot from the heat.

Line a large stockpot or bucket with 2 very large, sturdy plastic bags. Put the turkey into the bags, neck first. Pour the warm brine over the turkey. Add 1 1/2 cups of the Riesling and 4 quarts of the cold water. Seal the bags; press out as much air as possible. Refrigerate for 2 days.

On Thanksgiving morning, preheat the oven to 350°. Drain the turkey, scraping off the spices, then transfer it to a large roasting pan and let it return to room temperature. Discard the brine.

Add the quartered onion, the garlic and 1 cup of the water to the pan and roast the turkey for 1 1/2 hours. Add the remaining 1 cup of water to the pan and roast for about 1 1/2 hours longer, or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into an inner thigh registers 165°. Cover the breast loosely with foil during the last hour of roasting to prevent it from browning too quickly.

Transfer the turkey to a cutting board. Strain the pan juices into a measuring cup and skim off the fat; reserve 3 tablespoons of the fat. In a bowl, mix the reserved fat with the flour until a paste forms.

Set the roasting pan over 2 burners and heat until sizzling. Add the remaining 1 cup of Riesling and bring to a simmer over moderately high heat, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom and sides of the pan. Strain the wine into a medium saucepan and boil until reduced to 1/4 cup, about 5 minutes. Add the stock and the reserved pan juices and bring to a boil. Whisk in the flour paste and simmer over moderate heat until the gravy thickens slightly and no floury taste remains, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Carve the turkey and serve with the Riesling gravy on the side.

Previous Post
Pitch on target, get better results
Next Post
When you have a great team, everyone’s ‘the best’