A succulent Thanksgiving menu

Oct 16, 2009 at 3:47 p.m. ET

Planning an impressive Thanksgiving menu may seem like a daunting holiday task, but is actually quite simple when an executive chef shares his gourmet Thanksgiving recipes. Food and Wine magazine's Best New Chef in 2000, Executive Chef Ted Cizma of the award-winning Grand Traverse Resort & Spa in Traverse City, Michigan suggests the following delectable holiday dishes (you'll love the decadent Thanksgiving dessert!).


Citrus-Marinated grilled turkey recipe

Serves 8

Though grilling your Thanksgiving turkey seems untraditional, your guests will rave at the grilled citrus garlic flavor exuding from this holiday bird. Best yet, it cooks faster than traditional roasted turkey.

Citrus marinade:
4 tangerines, clementines, or oranges
1 head garlic, halved
1 red Thai bird chili, chopped (optional)
4 sprigs fresh rosemary
4 sprigs fresh thyme
1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
Generous pour of extra-virgin olive oil

1 (12 to 14 pound) free-range, organic turkey, cut into four pieces (see Note)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Put all the marinade ingredients into a bowl and squeeze everything together with your hands to blend all the flavors. To marinate, put the turkey on a large platter and pour on the marinade. Turn the turkey over in the marinade to make sure it is well coated on both sides. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.

2. Remove the turkey from the refrigerator about 1/2 hour before you are ready to grill it. Heat the grill to medium and wipe the grate with some oil. Wipe the marinade from the turkey and season it well with salt and pepper.

3. Put the turkey on the grill, skin side down, and cook for 30 minutes. Turn the bird over and continue grilling, basting with more olive oil, until the juices run clear and the internal temperature of the thigh is 180 degrees F, about 1 hour total. Set aside, cover with foil, and let it rest for about 10 minutes before carving.

Note: Have your butcher cut the turkey into four pieces and remove the bones from the breast. Save the neck and backbone for the gravy (Click to learn how to make the best Thanksgiving turkey gravy.)

Crunchy roasted rosemary potato recipe

Serves 8

Rosemary and potatoes pair impeccably as a satisfying holiday side-dish.

6 to 8 large Yukon gold potatoes, cut into large chunks
4 sprigs fresh rosemary
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Put the potatoes onto a baking sheet. Roughly tear the rosemary and scatter it over the potatoes. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil. Toss the potatoes well to mix all the flavors and put them in the oven. Remove them after 30 minutes and toss them again. Continue to roast them until they are browned and cooked through, about 30 to 40 minutes more. Serve immediately

Cornbread recipe

Serves 8

Enjoy as a complement in its own right, or transform this bacon-studded cornbread into a stellar stuffing.

4 strips thick-cut bacon, chopped
2 cups stone-ground cornmeal, white or yellow
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons kosher salt
4 large eggs
2 cups milk
2 tablespoons finely chopped chives

1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees F. Put the bacon into a cold 10-inch cast iron pan and cook over medium heat until the fat is rendered and the bacon bits are crisp. Do not let it burn. Remove the bacon to a paper towel lined plate. Keep the bacon fat in the pan and set aside.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a separate bowl beat the eggs with a whisk until foamy, then whisk in the milk.

3. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir just until combined. Fold in the bacon bits, and chives. Pour the batter into the cast iron pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 20 to 25 minutes.

Bourbon and chocolate pecan pie

Serves 8

Pie pastry:
1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1/4 cup finely ground pecans
1 tablespoon sugar
Pinch salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold and cut into small chunks
2 tablespoons ice water, plus more if needed

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
3 large eggs
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup dark corn syrup or sugar cane syrup (such as Steen's)
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 tablespoons bourbon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 cups pecan halves

1. To make the pastry, combine the flour, ground pecans, sugar and salt in a large mixing bowl. Add the butter and mix with a pastry blender or your hands until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

2. Pour in the ice water and work it in to bind the dough until it holds together without being too wet or sticky. Squeeze a small amount together, if it is crumbly, add more ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time. Form into a flat thick disk. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

3. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface into a 12-inch circle. Carefully roll the dough up onto the pin (this may take a little practice) and lay it inside a 9-inch pie pan. Press the dough into the pan so it fits tightly and trim the excess around the rim. Place the pie pan on a sturdy cookie sheet so it will be easy to move in and out of the oven.

4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. To make the filling, melt the butter and chocolate in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Remove from heat and let cool.

5. Beat the eggs in a large mixing bowl until frothy and then blend in the sugar. Stir in the syrup, vanilla, bourbon, salt and melted butter mixture until well blended.

6. Arrange the pecans on the bottom of the pie crust and carefully pour the egg mixture over them. Bake until the filling is set and slightly puffed, about 45 minutes. Test for doneness by sticking a thin knife in the center of the pie, if it comes out pretty clean, you're good to go. Transfer the pie to rack and cool completely before cutting.

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