Down Home For Thanksgiving With The Neelys

Gina and Pat Neely (Food Network)

Gina and Pat Neely (Food Network)

The Neelys, hosts of Food Network hits ‘Down Home with the Neelys‘ and ‘Road Tasted with the Neelys,’ have a huge traditional holiday party every year for their friends and family. One year however, the culinary couple had a bit of a holiday food mishap.

Watch full episodes of Down Home with the Neelys here

Pat: “One particular year we did a gumbo. We have so many people come into our house that we didn’t have any room left for food in the refrigerator. It was like 10 degrees outside so I said, ‘Gina, leave the gumbo in the garage. It’s cold enough out there.’ Well it wasn’t cold enough. We warmed it and got ready to serve it.

Gina: “The odor was like, ‘Oh my god! What is that?’ Then we were like, ‘Oh it’s the gumbo!’ [Laughs]

Pat: “The garage wasn’t cold enough.”

Gina: “No it wasn’t!” [Laughs.]

Pat: “I’m sorry.”

Watch the Neelys Thanksgiving below:

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The Neelys were also kind enough to provide several Thanksgiving dishes — which can be found in their New York Times bestselling book ‘Down Home With the Neelys’ – to help fill out the holiday table.

Smoked Turkey with BBQ Gravy



2 tablespoons salt

1 1/2 tablespoons ground sage

1 1/2 tablespoons thyme

1/2 tablespoon black pepper

1/2 tablespoon Neelys Seasoning, recipe follows

Turkey Brine:

1 gallon water

2 cups salt

3 cups apple juice

1 cup bourbon

1 tablespoon black peppercorns

1/2 cup light brown sugar

1 (22-pound) turkey

Olive oil

4 cups hickory wood chips, soaked in water for 60 minutes

BBQ Gravy, recipe follows


For the rub:

Mix all ingredients in a small bowl and reserve.

For the brine:

Mix the water, salt, apple juice, bourbon, peppercorn, and sugar into a 5-gallon bucket lined with a resealable bag. Stir until the salt and sugar is dissolved. Add the turkey into the bag with the brine. In a garbage bag-lined ice chest filled with ice, place the bucket in and surround with ice. Keep in a cool place and let brine 6 hours or overnight. Turn the turkey after 3 hours. Remove turkey from the brine and pat dry with paper towels.

Rub the turkey with olive oil and massage the rub onto the Turkey.

Soak wood chips for 1 hour prior to cooking the turkey and drain well. Fill the chimney starter with charcoal and light. Burn until they ash over. Place the burned coals to 1 side of the grill. Place wood chips on top of coals. Line a standard size loaf pan with aluminum foil and fill 2/3 with water. Place in the grill opposite the coals.

Take the turkey and place on the grill over the pan of water. Insert a probe thermometer in the thigh to keep a check on the temperature as it cooks. Place the lid on the grill with the vent open.

The temperature should remain constant at 225 degrees F. You may need to add more coals and chips every few hours.

After 1 hour check the turkey, if the skin is golden brown cover with foil. Continue cooking for 4 to 6 more hours or until a probe thermometer reaches 160 degrees F.

Remove from the oven and let rest 20 minutes before you carve. Serve with BBQ Gravy.

Neelys Seasoning

3/4 cup white sugar

1 1/2 cups paprika

3 3/4 tablespoons onion powder

Mix ingredients together and store in an air tight container for up to 6 months.

BBQ Gravy

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Drumstick, from turkey

Neck, from turkey

1 large onion, sliced

8 cups turkey stock or chicken stock

1/4 cup BBQ Sauce (recommended: Neelys BBQ Sauce)

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat the vegetable oil in a saucepan on medium-high heat. Add the drumstick and neck and sear until brown. Remove from pan and reserve.

Lower heat and saute the onions. Add the stock, scrapping up the fond on the bottom of the pan. Add the drumstick and neck into the saucepan. Cover and let simmer until it comes to a boil; about 1 hour. Sauce will reduce down greatly. Remove turkey parts. Add BBQ sauce to pan and whisk together. Gravy will thicken. Season with salt and pepper.

Corkscrew Macaroni and Cheese with Bacon and Chips


6 tablespoons butter

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

4 cups milk, warm

1 teaspoon dry mustard

1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Dash salt and freshly ground black pepper

Dash hot sauce

Dash Worcestershire sauce

3 cups shredded Cheddar

1 pound cavatappi pasta, cooked al dente

1 cup crushed potato chips

5 slices cooked bacon, crumbled

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan, for topping


Heat oven to 350 degrees F.

Melt 6 tablespoons butter in a large saucepot over medium heat. Add flour and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Whisk in the warmed milk and bring to a boil, continue to whisk constantly. The mixture will thicken as the heat increases. Continue to stir while adding the dry mustard, nutmeg, cayenne, salt, pepper, hot sauce and Worcestershire. Stir in the 3 cups of Cheddar until it melts.

Pour the cheese sauce over the noodles and add to a 3 quart casserole dish.

Sprinkle the chips, bacon and Parmesan on top and bake for 35 minutes.

Gina’s Collard Greens


5 bundles collard greens

3 cups salted water

3 large smoked ham hocks

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup salt

3 tablespoons crushed red pepper flakes


Thoroughly wash collard greens, be sure to pull leaves apart and remove any sand. In a medium saucepan, bring 3 cups of salted water to a simmer. Place smoked ham hocks in salted water and cover. Cook ham hocks until slightly tender and remove from pan. In the same saucepan, add collard greens and remaining ingredients. Cover and cook greens for 2 1/2 to 3 hours until water reduces, add more water and additional salt and sugar, to taste.

Grandma Jean’s Potato Salad


5 large red potatoes, peeled and cubed

2 ribs celery, chopped

1/2 large onion, chopped

3 hard-boiled eggs, 2 chopped and 1 sliced

2 heaping tablespoons sweet pickle relish, drained

1/2 cup salad dressing, (recommended: Miracle Whip)

3 tablespoons yellow mustard

1 tablespoon sugar

Paprika, for garnish



Boil cubed potatoes until they are tender. Drain and cool. In a large bowl add celery, onion, 2 eggs and pickled relish. Add the salad dressing, yellow mustard and sugar. Stir well. Place the sliced egg on top of potatoes and sprinkle with paprika and salt. Let the potato salad chill in the refrigerator for 2 1/2 hours or overnight.

Turkey Alternatives

Cornish Hens


1 tablespoon salt

2 tablespoons lemon-pepper

1 tablespoon dried basil

1 tablespoon poultry seasoning

2 tablespoons olive oil

6 Cornish game hens, about 1 1/2 pounds each, rinsed and dried thoroughly

1 green bell pepper, large dice

2 stalks celery, large dice

1 onion, large dice


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

In a small mixing bowl, stir together salt, lemon pepper, dried basil and poultry seasoning. Rub olive oil all over the hens and season each with the salt mixture. Place the hens on a baking sheet pan with plenty of space between them. You may need to use 2 pans. Loosely stuff the cavities of each hen with some green bell pepper, celery and onion. Roast the hens in the preheated oven for about 1 hour or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh registers 165 degrees F and the juices run clear. Remove the hens from the oven, loosely tent with foil and let rest 10 minutes before carving or serving.

TIPS: Line the baking sheet pan with foil under the wire rack for an easy clean-up. The veggies and herbs stuffed in the cavities of the hens will impart flavor to the meat as it cooks. Be sure not to crowd the hens on the baking sheets or else the skin won’t crisp up properly and they will take much longer to cook.

Peach Glazed Ham


3 cups peach nectar

1 (1-inch) piece ginger, smashed

1/2 lemon, juiced

4 cloves garlic, smashed

1/4 cup Dijon mustard

1 cup brown sugar

1 (14-pound) precooked ham

3 whole peaches


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a medium saucepan, simmer together peach nectar, ginger, lemon juice, and garlic cloves. Simmer for 20 minutes. Strain out ginger and garlic.

Prepare ham for glaze. Rub Dijon mustard and then brown sugar on the ham.

Pour glaze on bottom of pan and throw in sliced peaches for additional peach flavor.

Place ham in oven for 1 1/2 hours. Every 10 to 20 minutes glaze ham with the glaze from bottom of pan to keep moist.

Recipes courtesy of The Food Network

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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