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The Bend Magazine

Farm to Table Thanksgiving

11/19/2020 09:42AM ● By Kayla Butts

By: Justin and Kayla Butts  Photo: Rachel Benavides

On Thanksgiving Day, the turkey is the star of the show.  It can also be a source of stress for many home chefs because they roast a turkey only once per year!

You can deliver a stunning turkey simply by starting with an exceptional bird. A “pastured” turkey is raised by a local farmer on actual pasture. When you begin with excellent ingredients, all you need is a simple recipe to unlock natural flavors. On your busy Thanksgiving Day, with all the sides and desserts clamoring in your kitchen, simple recipes are best.

What’s more, you can use every part of the turkey to add flavor to your Thanksgiving dinner. Kayla took this giblet gravy recipe from her grandmother Nan, who got it from her grandmother. This gravy is so rich and flavorful that it may well be the best thing on your table.

We got the idea for this stock recipe from a German chef we met in Mombasa, Kenya. This stock is the distilled essence of all the goodness of your Thanksgiving Day, and you can use it as a base for your Christmas dinner, or give it to your guests in mason jars as a parting gift.

*This recipe first appeared in The Bend Magazine, November 2014.


Pastured Thanksgiving Turkey Recipe

Serves: 8-10
Prep time: 15 minutes 

Inactive Prep time: 8 hours, 15 minutes 

Cook time: 2 1⁄2 - 3 hours


12-16 lb. turkey, thawed, reserve tail, neck, liver, heart, and gizzard for giblet gravy


1 cup kosher salt
1⁄2 cup brown sugar 1 tbsp. peppercorns peel of one orange 1 tsp. star of anise 1 tsp. whole cloves


2 granny smith apples, sliced 1 medium sweet onion, sliced 1 carrot, cut into big chunks 1 cinnamon stick

4 sprigs rosemary 6 leaves sage
4 tbsp. butter


To brine turkey: Combine brine ingredients with one-gallon water in a large pot. Heat on high until boiling, stirring occasionally to ensure all solutes dissolve. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature. Place turkey (with giblets removed) in a large pot, bucket, or medium-sized cooler, breast side down. Add cooled brine plus enough ice water to completely submerge the turkey. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Remove turkey from brine and pat dry with paper towels. Place turkey on roasting pan and air dry in refrig- erator while chopping aromatics. Using clean hands, apply butter to entire surface of turkey, as well as to the cavity. Stuff the turkey with half of the aromatics. Place the rest of the aromatics along with one cup of water in the bottom of the roasting pan.

Bake turkey breast side down for one hour. Remove turkey from oven and baste with pan drippings. Add water to base of pan if needed. Then, using paper towels, turn the turkey breast side up, baste, and return to the oven. Bake for another hour and baste again with pan drippings. Continue cooking for another hour or longer, checking temperature with a meat thermometer, until breast reaches 165°F.

Remove turkey from rack, cover with foil and let rest for 15 minutes to allow juices to redistribute. 

Nan’s Giblet Gravy

Kayla learned this recipe from her grandmother, who learned it from her grandmother. This oldest of old-fashioned recipes is so rich and flavorful that it might just be the best thing on your Thanksgiving table. 

Serves 8-10

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour, 10 minutes


1 tbsp. vegetable oil
Reserved tail, neck, heart, liver, and gizzard of turkey
1⁄2 onion, diced
4 cups chicken stock
1 tsp. poultry seasoning
1⁄2 tsp. thyme
1 tsp. rosemary
3 tbsp.butter
3 tbsp. flour
1 cup dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc
Salt and pepper


Heat oil on medium heat in a medium-sized pot. Add giblets and onions and cook until golden and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Add stock and herbs and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer about 30 minutes. Once cool, remove giblets and pull meat from neck, discard gizzard gristle, and finely chop organ meat. Set broth aside.

Approximately 30 minutes before turkey has finished cooking, heat butter in pot over medium-low heat. Once melted and beginning to bubble, add flour, whisking vigorously. Cook for 10 minutes until roux is brown and fragrant. Add reserved broth and continue to simmer for about 20 minutes.

Once turkey has finished roasting, remove cinnamon stick and rosemary stems and smash remaining aromatics with a fork in bottom of roasting pan. Place over two burners set on medium-high. Once bits have browned, deglaze pan with white wine, stirring vigorously to loosen pieces from bottom of pan.

Add pan drippings and giblets to prepared gravy, heat to boiling and season as desired. Note: If you wish to omit giblets, strain gravy prior to serving. 

Creamed November Greens

South Texas greens in November are young and tender. These greens require less cooking time and have a milder and sweeter flavor than the tougher greens common later in the season.
Serves 4-6
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes


1⁄2 lb. fresh bacon, chopped 3 tbsp. butter
2 shallots, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced

2 tbsp. all-purpose flour

2 cups heavy cream
2 cups milk
Generous splash apple-cider vinegar 

1/8 tsp. nutmeg

2 lbs. mixed young greens (recommend: spinach, kale, swiss chard, beet greens, or collards)


Heat bacon on medium heat in a deep sauté pan and cook until crisp, about 5 minutes. Remove bacon from pan with a slotted spoon and add butter to drippings. Add scallions and cook for 2 minutes. Add garlic and cook for another 30 seconds. Stir in flour and cook for an additional two minutes, until flour is a golden brown. Add remaining ingredients and cook for 20 additional minutes, stirring frequently, until sauce is thickened and greens are wilted.

Roasted Root Vegetables

This is a wonderful, seasonal addition to a Thanksgiving dinner because the vegetables take up minimal oven space and can be roasted while the turkey cooks. We recommend increasing cooking time to 45 minutes if cooking at 400°F with the turkey.
Serves 6-8
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 30-45 minutes


1 lb. Root vegetables in season, such as beets, winter and summer squash, carrots, potatoes, peeled and chopped in 1” pieces

1⁄2 fennel bulb, sliced
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. thyme
1 sprig fresh rosemary Salt and pepper


Preheat oven to 450°F. Spread vegetables out evenly on baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and season with herbs, salt and pepper. Cook for 30-45 minutes, until vegetables are golden brown and fork tender. 

Thanksgiving Turkey Stock Recipe

The beauty of this stock recipe is that it turns all of the scraps you acquire while making your Thanksgiving meal into a rich kitchen staple. This recipe is the very essence of all your kitchen goodness, and you can give it to your guests in a mason jar as a gift or save it in the fridge for your Christmas dinner. You will love this stock recipe that we borrowed from a German chef who we met in Mombasa, Kenya!

Yield: 5-6 quarts

Cook Time: 8-12 hours


Turkey carcass, head, feet, giblets, or gristle
Vegetable scraps (onion skin, tops of carrots, turnips or beets, ends of squash, snippets of beans, peels of squash)

Herb stems
Fruit peels or zests Water
Salt and peppercorns


Place all ingredients in a slow cooker as you accumulate them. Cover with water. Turn slow cooker on ‘low’ and leave overnight. The next morning strain ingredients using cheesecloth or fine mesh strainer.