Living all over the country, going home for the holidays doesn’t always make sense for military families. Thanksgiving, in particular, means either a frantic trip to visit family or a relaxing long weekend at home. We’ve opted to build our own traditions: inviting our Army family over for a low key meal highlighting local specialties. At Fort Knox this year, we’ll be celebrating Kentucky’s rich equestrian tradition and the Bourbon Trail with Woodford Reserve Bourbon.
Setting A Kentucky Table
The bluegrass state has long been associated with horses – the Kentucky Derby, miles of four board fencing full of grazing thoroughbreds and all the classic charm that comes with Churchill Downs steeples.
As a long time horse lover, I’ve embraced the opportunity presented by living in Kentucky to incorporate equestrian touches throughout our home. Vintage hunt prints to horse show ribbons, equestrian inspiration is everywhere! I brought Kentucky to the table with my Ralph Lauren plateware. I kept the decor light and bright with artificial hydrangeas, a dough bowl & some fun colored mini gourds.
A Hint of Bourbon
When we arrived in Kentucky, the Bourbon Trail was an immediate addition to our To Do list. Woodford Reserve, in particular, has had a constant place in our home since a friend gifted my husband a bottle when he took command at Fort Campbell several years ago. On our first visit to the Woodford Reserve Distillery, we discovered that they also made spices and seasonings. Thanksgiving felt like the perfect time to try it out!
Our Thanksgiving menu has a touch of bourbon in the turkey spice rub, the compound button on the turkey, the turkey glaze, cranberry sauce, & the bourbon whipped cream on the pie.
Our Thanksgiving Menu
Bourbon Spiced Turkey
Roasted Brussels Sprouts & Green Beans
Pomegranate Roasted Carrots
Apple Cornbread Stuffing
Herby Smashed Potatoes
Smoky Cranberry Sauce
Kentucky Translucent Pie with bourbon whipped cream
Bourbon Spiced Turkey
8 – 12 lb turkey
4-8 tablespoons Woodford Reserve Bourbon Smoked Garlic Sea Salt, as needed
2 onions, quartered
4 tablespoons softened butter
1 cup Woodford Reserve Bourbon
2 cups Cider (I used a local peach cider, but apple works well, too!)
2 tablespoons avocado oil
3 tablespoons flour
Salt & Pepper, to taste
- Combine softened butter, a splash of bourbon and a tablespoon of finely chopped fresh rosemary.
- I break down my turkey, removing the wings, legs and spine. This makes for more even cooking and easier gravy making!
- Rub butter mixture under the skin on the breasts. Use any extra on the thighs. Rub skin surface with avocado oil and Woodford Reserve Bourbon Smoked Garlic Sea Salt.
- Arrange onions & carrots to make a rack in your roasting pan and place breast on it. Roast at 450 degrees for 20 minutes.
- At the same time, heat a skillet over medium high heat. Once hot, add a splash of avocado oil and place turkey legs skin side. Cook 4 to 5 minutes or until browned. Flip over and add 2-3 sprigs of fresh rosemary.
- Add 1 cup bourbon, cook for 1 minute bringing to a boil. Add cider, bringing to boil then reduce for medium low and simmer for 10 minutes.
- Remove roasting pan from the oven and reduce temp to 400 degrees. Add legs to roasting pan with breast, skin side up. Pour in bourbon-cider liquid so turkey is partially submerged. Return to oven and roast until a thermometer reads 155 degrees.
- For Gravy: Remove turkey to cutting board to rest and strain cooking liquid back into skillet. Pull out 1/2 cup of cooking liquid into a small bowl and whisk in flour, then whisk back into skillet. Bring to a boil and then reduce to medium and simmer until desired thickness.
Have the places you’ve lived shaped your holiday meals?