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Well, how did you Thanksgiving Go?

  • jnk Nov 23, 2007 12:42 AM
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Any surprises, any successes, any suprise successes? I had experimented with making my sweet potato pie mixture the day before, and it worked. I also ended up making 4 loaves of the no knead bread (2 at a time) and they all worked, and there were no arguments amongst the 25 people at dinner. What a great night!

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  1. Everything went well, the turkey came out great and all. Just one problem, my pumpkin pie (my first ever pumpkin pie and first pie for that matter) didn't fully solidify. I used the Joy of Cooking recipe with evaporated milk and three eggs. Baked the night before and sat in the fridge overnight. Maybe my mistake was I didn't bake it long enough, or maybe letting it come to room temperature was the wrong thing to do. The taste was good but it was too mushy/melty to get a piece. Sigh. :-(

    5 Replies
    1. re: luckyfatima

      That happened to me the 1st time I made my sweet potato pie. What I learned was that you can't just go by baking time, but have to do a jiggle test to see if it has "mostly" set. I'm sure the part of your pie that did set was delicious.

      1. re: luckyfatima

        Is it possible you used extra large or jumbo eggs? this will effect 'setting' time. Also, I think chilled is ok!

        1. re: luckyfatima

          My experience with pumpkin pie recipes is that they all call for too much evaporated milk. I usually half what's asked for, and it comes out fine. Of course, I like a dense pumpkin pie.

          My dinner was just fine. The turkey (Alton Brown's recipe, as usual) was delicious. Nothing special or unexpected; no surprises, and that's fine with me. I thought I had a lot of turkey leftovers, which I was happy about, because I was worried it wasn't big enough. Well, I DID have a lot of leftovers when I left for work this am, but by tonight there was barely enough to make DH and I a sandwich. It seems both my (college-aged not living at home) boys had snuck home during the day and helped themselves...:-)

          1. re: luckyfatima

            My recipe also calls for three eggs and the evap. milk (I suspect my old aunt's recipe may actually be cribbed from the JoC!). I don't have the book in front of me, but I'd guess you didn't cook long enough. The way I always know the pie is done is that it rises in the middle. If, after the full baking time, it still hasn't risen in the middle, give it another 10 minutes or so, then stick a knife in the center. If it comes out clean, the pie is done. Unfortunately, testing it this way creates a little hole in the center, but nobody I've ever cooked it for seemed to mind or mentioned anything!

            1. re: luckyfatima

              Sad pumpkin pie story, and I knew better, so why I let this happen, I dunno. As I was making the filling, I saw that the can of pumpkin was best used by last spring. Too late. Turned out rather tasteless, definitely could tell the difference (though I don't know if the other people who ate it could, and there were two other pies, so not a disaster). Good news is, I decided to fully bake the pie crust before filling it with pumpkin, definitely worth the time, much crisper, way better. Lessons learned.

            2. I made lamb shanks. did not come out well at all. It was supposed to have a spicy crust, but the last step (fruit and onions in at the end of braising), made them taste...steamed. Awful.
              Far better: Nigel Slaters potato and cream. Excellent. Helped by adding some cheese over the top. Amazing.

              1. I went low key and it was great---more relaxing. The best part was a caramel macchiato cheesecake (more like an espresso cheesecake w/ finely ground espresso). One key was using the rice cooker to cook the potatoes for mashed potatoes. I cooked them early and left them in to keep them warm. Just before serving I mashed w/ cream/milk, butter, roasted garlic, white pepper and salt. They were perfect. I always seem to leave something in the refrigerator and forget to serve it. This year, it was cranberry sauce. Bit hit with the kids were the sweet potato rolls from alex8alot's suggestion.

                3 Replies
                1. re: chowser

                  Every time Alton Brown calls a rice cooker a "unitasker", I yell at the TV! I love my rice cooker for vegetable cooking/keeping warm.

                  1. re: coney with everything

                    Yeah, I found that strange coming from a guy who uses a flower pot as a smoker...

                  2. re: chowser

                    ok, obviously I am a little slow so I need he clarification: the potatoes go into the rice cooker cooked, but not mashed? and then just on the "warm" and not the "cook" setting of the rice cooker, right?

                  3. I had a wonderful dinner, but I found out that you CAN add too much butter. My Pumpking Gooey Cakes were a weee bit too gooey and although they tasted wonderful, after reviewing my baking technique I realized that I had doubled the butter amount that was called for. Ooooops. Oh well, they tasted good anyway.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: othervoice

                      Those sound great, and that's partly because any kind of gooey food is always a hit with my sweety. Would you mind sharing the recipe? I've never made these or heard of them, but I immediately googled and all sorts of recipes popped up. :)

                      1. re: othervoice

                        I would love that recipe as well! I love anything pumpkin and the time is almost done!!!

                      2. Made turkey this year in my brother's kitchen...I've never had any problems with keeping the turkey moist, but this year, it seemed dry. I'm wondering if it has something to do with the fact that he has a gas oven? I use an electric one at home...:o( Luckily, the gravy came out great and compensated for the dryness...

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: soypower

                          I have brined my turkey for past 3 years and it is fabulous every single time. A family member calls my bird "the miracle moist machine", you gotta love family! Even the leftovers are great! Also, I make an herb butter and put that under the skin on the breast meat. Blast it at 500 for 30 minutes, give the breast a foil shield and then drop to 350 until done. Don't baste or open the oven, just let it cook. I took it out too early this year (thermometer against the bone- not really 190 duh!). Only cut off leg, and did 2 breast slices. Quickly figured out my prob and wrapped cut side in foil, put it back in for an hour. Still had a moist delicious turkey!

                          That said this year was a little different with family 2500 miles away. Still cooked a 10 pounder for hubby and I with all the fixings. Did a delicious sourdough, carmelized onion, bacon & apple stuffing. I toasted the bread and sauted bacon, onion, apples, & herbs on Weds and stored seperatly in tupperware. Traditional sweet potato casserole, except I used white sweet potatoes and homemade marshmallows. Also roasted and mashed potatoes on Wednesday. Green beans with bacon and shallots were super simple stovetop recipe done last minute. Herb gravy. Homemade applesauce and cranberry compote are staples that I hubbie whipped up on day before. Wednesday evening was pie time, my favorite Apple crumb with buttermilk custard and newbie bourbon pecan tart with chocolate drizzle.

                          Making southwestern turkey soup with leftovers!!!

                          1. re: jme1beachbum

                            I'm making turkey stock right now. Might you have a recipe for the southwestern turkey soup?

                            1. re: onefineleo

                              Sure thing! Its from Cooking Light, my monthly guilty pleasure!

                              http://find.myrecipes.com/recipes/rec...

                              Thats for the base recipe. I switch out the broth for my homemade stock. I use leftover turkey instead of a new tenderloin. A can of fire roasted tomatoes instead of regular diced and a pinch of arbol chili powder gives it a kick if you like spice! Also I like fresh corn kernels and add some cheese and sour cream to top of final product. I can't leave any recipe as is. Let me know what you think!

                        2. I have to make *each course*, and it's exhausting. Everything was delicious--but I'm hoping to *really* enjoy it today...despite the gazillion cuts all over my fingers. (Mosty from the saran wrap package--when they say "sharp", they're not kidding!)

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: Funwithfood

                            I feel your pain--literally. I made each course as well and the night before I was so busy I foolishly tried to puree my hot soup in a blender. The arm that was holding the lid down (that was blown off) is burned. Everything else went wonderfully. It was our first Thanksgiving and I think we did it well, had 12 people total. Most important thing I learned is that I really should have gone to that carving class at Williams Sonoma a few weeks ago. My husband panicked about carving at the last minute, I couldn't get the legs off and a brother (who most likely has never carved anything) managed it extremely well. Sheesh, carving a turkey is nothing like carving a turkey IMHO, much harder!

                            1. re: jules127

                              FYI, in time for next year (or Christmas), the NY Times has a slide show on carving a turkey, featuring a butcher:

                              http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/21/din...

                              1. re: bebevonbernstein

                                We followed the carving technique in the NYT (butchering rather than carving) which made a lot of sense to be able to slice the meat across the grain. The turkey was great!

                              2. re: jules127

                                Do yourself a huge favor and get an immersion blender! Puree the hot soup right in the pot, much easier to clean, no burning your arms!

                            2. Ours was a rousing success.
                              The cast of characters was the same as it has been since I married a southerner but the food this year just seemed extra good. Perhaps because the last few years, with the elders getting older, more stuff was bought premade. Including ordering the turkey already made.
                              This year, the only premade thing was an extra turkey breast ordered from the local bbq joint. My FIL and I looked after the main bird. I have to say, ours was far superior.
                              Other highlights included my SIL's chocolate, coconut, caramel, pecan pie. Her MIL's sweet potato casserole and my SIL's, SIL's deviled eggs. They're certainly the best I've had and this year they were even more outstanding.

                              DT

                              1. I was in charge of desserts. My pecan tassies and pumpkin spice cupcakes with cream cheese frosting were a big hit. I thought the frosting was too sweet, I have to play around with the recipe next time.

                                The best part is that my sister-in-law has All-Clad pots and pans and its the first time I've used them. Now I want some.

                                7 Replies
                                1. re: Linda513

                                  Watch out, Linda. Once you meet the pots and pans destiny intended you to cook with, it becomes an obsession. ;-)

                                  1. re: Linda513

                                    I concur. All Clad is exciting but angerous territory! Linda, you should research Williams Sonoma outlets. I grabbed an All Clad there 30 % off an already low price for their Veterans Day Sale. Yesterday (though the lots crammed full and crazed shoppers actually parked on the highway at the outlets trudging a mile-plus to get in there) all cookware was FORTY percent off.

                                    1. re: foxy fairy

                                      Wow, that makes it almost affordable. I also found a website that was recommended by someone on chow that has irregulars at steep discounts. Thanks for the tip Foxy.

                                      1. re: Linda513

                                        That sounds great. Could you post the site?

                                        1. re: chowfamily

                                          Sure, here you go.

                                          http://www.cookwarenmore.com/index.php

                                    2. re: Linda513

                                      You can get all-clad on ebay new for much cheaper. I got the stockpot/dutch oven for $90

                                      1. re: Linda513

                                        I couldn't live without my All Clad 4 qt saute pan.

                                      2. Well, I opened the turkey on Wednesday and it was spoiled, so had to run out and get a new one. The healthy dish I was making for the night before didn't go because I forgot to soak the Kamut overnight. I woke up with the flu on Thursday morning.

                                        BUT the whole family said we could postpone, not to push myself, didn't insist on doing it themselves because they know how much I like to do it. I went back to bed, woke up at 2PM feeling much better, and did a scaled down version that was ready by 6PM. Had a nice quiet, short meal with my fabulous family.

                                        1. Everything was perfect except we took the birds out of the oven when they hit 165, and the dark meat wasn't quite done. Served up the white meat from one bird, nuked the legs on "roast", and put the other bird back in the oven for a bit. On the other hand, I tried the candied yams recipe from Epicurious this year (one with OJ, maple syrup, and minced ginger) and everyone LOVED them.

                                          16 Replies
                                          1. re: phee

                                            I took my turkey out when it hit 165, and it was overdone! perhaps I need a better thermometer: I let the turkey rest for over half an hour, and it was still literally steaming hot when I carved it: seems like that is hotter than 165 to me (based on past experience).

                                            the biggest hits of my dinner were the cranberry sauce with bourbon, and the roast delicata squash soup from Bradley Ogden's Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner cookbook. That recipe has never let me down; I usually make it with butternut, but he recommends delicata when available, so when I saw some nice ones at the Saturday Farmer's Market....This year I served it in small cups as an appetizer in the living room (an idea I got off of CH) and everyone loved it!

                                            1. re: susancinsf

                                              Water turns to vapour at 212* F. So if it was steaming hot, I'd say you have a defective thermometer.

                                              DT

                                              1. re: Davwud

                                                Water turns to vapor at room temperature. Try setting a glass of water on the counter for a week. And if the steam in my bathroom after a hot shower can only come from boiling water, I'm tougher than I thought.

                                                165 is a typical drikable temp for coffee. So plenty of steam should be expected. Did you take the turkey's temp right before carving?

                                                1. re: alanbarnes

                                                  no, took it when taking it out of the oven, (which everything I have read says is the right temp to take it out at if you don't want it well done) and as I said, I let it sit for at least half an hour after taking it out. But when I say steaming hot, I mean too hot to touch, after half an hour. I think the thermometer was defective.

                                                  It wasn't awful, but it was overdone. the gravy was good though!

                                                  1. re: susancinsf

                                                    How hot your turkey is going to be after half an hour depends partly on how big it is: the bigger it is, the longer it takes to cool. And stuffed turkeys (obviously) take longer to cool than "hollow" ones. Still, that hot after half an hour seems wrong. We took ours out at 165 (or so -- since it was breast side down it was hard to find the right place to put the thermometer) and it was perfect. You can check the calibration of your thermometer against boiling (212) water.

                                                    1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                      Of course, that calibration will only work if you're at sealevel.....

                                                      (but for Susan it should be fine :-)

                                                      1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                        it was 16 lbs and unstuffed, and yes, I agree, it just seems wrong. Thanks for the calibration tip; wouldn't have occurred to me to do that, but then, well, Janet was the science geek in the family... :-) Of course, hubby is a bit of a science geek too but it wouldn't occur to him because, loyal hubby that he is, he thinks my turkey is always perfect....indeed, we had leftovers tonight and he said they were delicious.

                                                        But I think the turkey could have been much better, so will calilbrate...thanks again.

                                                2. re: susancinsf

                                                  Susan: I used to have that book, but traded it to Moe's when I realized I never used it. So I'd like to know how you prepped the delicata? The trouble with it is that I've always had so much trouble getting the flesh out of the skin. The skin is just too, well, delicata. I love the taste of that squash and have a bunch from CSA box.

                                                  Would you mind paraphrasing the recipe?

                                                  1. re: oakjoan

                                                    will do in just a bit when not dealing with house guests still! (have to go dig out the book and remind myself). but yes, the skin on the delicata was my biggest problem, will report back...

                                                    1. re: susancinsf

                                                      ok, here it is. As I said above, have made this many times, and it always gets raves..

                                                      Roasted Winter Squash Soup

                                                      roast three pounds squash (butternut, acorn, or delicata) in a 425 oven for about an hour, till very soft. Roast the squash whole. If you want, drizzle with a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper before roasting. When done, let it cool just a bit.

                                                      Meanwhile, melt 2 tablespoons butter (or you can use olive oil, but I use butter) in a saucepan, add 1 cup chopped yellow onion, a pinch of allspice, and a tablespoon or two of chopped fresh sage. Allow to cook for about ten minutes till onions have sweated and are soft. Add one small chopped apple (no need to peel), and 4 cups chicken stock. Simmer about 15 minutes.

                                                      Then, make a lengthwise cut in the skin of the squash and scoop out the flesh of the squash, and add the flesh/pulp to soup. Avoid putting in many of the seeds if possible (some won't hurt). This is hardest to do with delicata, but I managed using a melon baller as a scoop, and then picking out the seeds with a wooden spoon. Discard the skin (you can scrape the sides of it with the melon baller or ice cream scoop to maximize the amount of pulp). Once squash flesh is added to soup simmer another 5 to 10 minutes.

                                                      Then, put soup in a blender and puree till smooth (remember to hold down lid of blender with a potholder and/or towel so you don't get burned!). You can then strain if you want, but I don't bother. Taste and correct seasonings with salt, pepper, and if you want, a bit of lemon juice.

                                                      Will keep a day or two in fridge. Reheat slowly when ready to serve. You can garnish with a bit of creme fraiche, or sage, or toasted walnuts if you want, but I don't. Delicious!

                                                      1. re: susancinsf

                                                        You know, I bet if you cut the delicata in half lengthwise before roasting, and scooped out the seeds then, and then just roasted cut side down, that would eliminate your delicata problem. Then you wouldn't have to worry about picking out the seeds or worrying about the skin, and it would be easier.

                                                        1. re: JasmineG

                                                          sounds like that it would work.....would have to see one open when raw to be sure, but yes, I think that is worth trying.

                                                          The soup was worth the hassle, but it definitely was a pain...

                                                          1. re: susancinsf

                                                            I usually cut open delicata raw before roasting (I use them a lot to make roasted wedges), and it's pretty easy to scoop out the seeds. I love delicata squash, so I might try to make this soup!

                                                            1. re: JasmineG

                                                              I make delicata squash fairly often and what I do is cut them in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds, place the halves cut side down in a dish, add a little water, cover, and microwave until the squash is soft - usually takes at least 10-12 minutes, sometimes a little more. It is then easy to scoop out the flesh out of the skin.

                                                  2. re: susancinsf

                                                    My husband took ours out at 165 and covered it with foil and it was still almost bloody next to the bone- a very close call. I'd rather serve a dry bird than one that wasn't fully cooked. This meant we didn't carve at the table but we were able to serve fully cooked moist meat with gravy, which is my forte on Thanksgiving.

                                                    1. re: ginnyhw

                                                      Better to be safe than sorry I say. There's such a fine line with done-ness!

                                                3. yay! I conquered the stinky-house brussels sprout dilemma.

                                                  Sliced onion and two fennel bulbs, tossed with 1/4'd baby sprouts, OO, nutmeg and gd coriander, s&p, and chopped cooked bacon. Roasted at 450 till tender and grnished with pine nuts. Between the onions and bacon, you couldn't smell a sprout! Fennel was delicious too.

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: toodie jane

                                                    Wowie! That recipe could make ME like brussel sprouts.

                                                    1. re: toodie jane

                                                      Sounds a bit like a chitlin cookin' trick.

                                                      DT

                                                    2. It went really well, thanks to a few CHs tipps: the five hour roast duck, for example, came out both crisp and moist. Made a white/wild rice shiitake mushroom concoction topped off with a bit of black truffle butter. Starter was smoked Scottish salmon with a horseradish dill cream. Salad mixed "spring" greens, a wonderful blue cheese, toasted pumpkin seeds, and a walnut vinaigrette. Dessert: store-bought *gasp* mini carrot cake. A wonderful $25 bottle of Barbera d"Alba. Yumboski!

                                                      Tonight, the feast continues with monkfish medaillons, sautéed zucchini, and left-over rice. And left-over carrot cake. A riesling from 83.

                                                      And the best part: no left-over turkey :-D

                                                      1. Everything went very well, and the turkey (which I dry brined this year) was excellent. The only problem with it was that there wasn't at all enough dark meat, so I need to find a different kind of turkey next year that isn't so lopsided. But the turkey, ham, both dressings, the homemade monkey bread (the double batch), and everything else, including the three desserts, turned out great, with the lone exception of the spinach gratin (Ina Garten's recipe, I heard such great things about it, and we found it kind of blah). But I'm happily having leftovers for breakfast. That pecan chocolate pie is going to be a tasty mid morning snack with coffee...

                                                        1. It was my first big Thanksgiving without auntie and momma help. Though it was a lot of work, I loved being in charge of everything and not having to bow to someone's 42 year old tradition that I'm pretty sure doesn't make sense. Thank god everything came out wonderfully! I brined my turkey and made homemade stock for the gravy. I accidentally doubled the amount of sherry in my gravy but everone raved about the deep rich flavor. The only hiccup was in the pie - I added a streusel topping to my pumpkin pie but covered it with foil before it was completely cool and I think the steam broke down the streusel and made it soggy.

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: yamalam

                                                            I love cooking with sherry, yamalam, but hadn't thought to try it with turkey (though I often use it for chicken dishes). I'm going to try it. Thanks for the idea.

                                                            I so glad your venture into being the boss of Thanksgiving went so well. It *is* great when you finally get to be in charge, isn't it? My grandfather, a *great* cook, used to say, "I'm the cook! What I say, goes!" ;-) I hopy you enjoy many more successes.

                                                          2. I love reading these after-Thanksgiving reports.

                                                            Originally some of family couldn't make it on Thursday so we had decided to do a simple Thanksgiving - just the two of us and some new recipes from CH Cookbooks of the Month. My family were planning to come on Saturday for a belated TG but things changed and by Tuesday night, plans were for 10 people on Thursday, which meant a quick run to the local grocery store for more potatoes, a bigger turkey, and last-minute apps. It was fun trying some new recipes, especially since none were flops and there were a few we'll do again next year, though we missed some of our favorites (baked brie with cranberries with marsala and cherries, deep-fried turkey) I had planned on making on Saturday.

                                                            Notes on the menu:

                                                            Mulled apple cider (Penzey's mulling spices). I keep it in a crockpot and put out glasses with whole cinnamon sticks, and a bottle of butterscotch schnapps.

                                                            Blue cheese and caramelized shallot dip with rosemary potato chips. Last minute addition since dad would have been so disappointed if I didn't have it!. I usually use St. Agur, but since I had to make do with what was at our local grocery, I was happy to find out that Rosenborg Extra Creamy Danish Blue was very good in this (Epi recipe).

                                                            Antipasti - Marinated jumbo herbed shrimp (Penzey's Fox Point seasoning, red pepper flakes, garlic/herb olive oil, fresh dill and parsley, lemon juice), duck prosciutto and salumi, mixed olives with preserved lemon and oregano (MS), stuffed cherry peppers, cornichons, crostini and crackers.

                                                            Cheeses (Camembert and Grano Padano) with Drunken Raisins (Zuni)

                                                            Auntie brought her fantastic cha gio (Vietnamese spring rolls)

                                                            Silver Palate's Roast Turkey with Grand Marnier Apricot Stuffing (I make this stuffing every year and add chestnuts and Bell's seasoning) and do-ahead gravy.
                                                            Whole-Berry Cranberry Sauce with Marsala and Rosemary and dried cranberries - Epi recipe (without the cherries since local grocery didn't have them)
                                                            Thanksgiving Potatoes (these were great do-ahead potatoes that I would make again. From Silver Palate Good Times) - details later on the SP thread.
                                                            Peas and Pearl Onions in Chardonnay Cream Sauce (allrecipes.com)
                                                            Orange Roasted Carrots (another winner from Silver Palate)
                                                            Baby Spinach Salad with toasted pine nuts and sprouts (sister-in-law)
                                                            Crescent rolls, cream-cheese biscuits, and cranberry orange bread (SP)

                                                            Cherry/Blueberry Pie (mom)
                                                            Brown Sugar Pumpkin Pie - Thanks Tomaneng for this MS recipe, it was another winner!

                                                            I have one small oven that only fits a turkey, no side dishes, so I really have to be organized and use lots of do-ahead tips. One of the reasons that I missed having a fried turkey this year - besides how fool-proof and delicious it is - is that it frees up the oven.

                                                            7 Replies
                                                            1. re: Rubee

                                                              Redux

                                                              We're always so busy Thanksgiving Day that the full dinner the next night always tastes even better. We open a nice bottle of wine and settle in in front of a good movie. Last night we started with mulled cider with butterscotch schnapps (a drink I once tried at a pub in NH), the rest of the blue cheese and caramelized shallot dip, and dinner accompanied by a bottle of Oriel Jasper Pinot Noir.

                                                              Leftovers this week will include my first attempt at making Hot Browns. Anybody have a tried and true recipe, or good tips (we've never had one so this be will the first) ? I was looking at this recipe from Saveur:

                                                              http://www.saveur.com/food/classic-re...

                                                              And just have to mention Beetlebug's Thanksgiving Pie - what a great way to enjoy leftovers, especially on a cold winter night. It was like Thanksgiving again.

                                                              Leftover turkey pie
                                                              http://www.chowhound.com/topics/345857

                                                              Thanksgiving plate #2

                                                               
                                                              1. re: Rubee

                                                                Sounds and looks wonderful.... that plate of leftovers! Yum yum!

                                                                1. re: Rubee

                                                                  That is the authentic Hot Brown recipe. The only change I can recomend is when you make it in when the tomatoes are ripe, keep the tomato out of the recipe while you broil and top them as a garnish raw.

                                                                2. re: Rubee

                                                                  I'm pretty sure that I don't understand this.

                                                                  "Mulled apple cider (Penzey's mulling spices). I keep it in a crockpot and put out glasses with whole cinnamon sticks, and a bottle of butterscotch schnapps."

                                                                  Can you say what you did here? And what's up with the schnapps?

                                                                  1. re: yayadave

                                                                    Penzey's mulling spices are a mixture of Ceylon cloves, cracked China and Korintje cassia cinnamon, allspice, cardamom and mace. I heated up a gallon of apple cider in a pot with about 4 Tb of spices, simmered for about a hour, and then strained. This was then poured into a crockpot and kept warm on low heat. Next to the crockpot I put out glasses, each containing a 6-inch cinnamon stick to use as a stirrer, and a ladle. People helped themselves, drinking as is, or adding butterscotch schnapps.

                                                                    Mulled apple cider and butterscotch schnapps is/was (haven't been in years) one of the signature fall/winter drinks at Peter Christian's Tavern in New London, New Hampshire. The schnapps adds a nice buttery sweetness to the spiced cider, and it's become a tradition since the first year I served this at Thanksgiving.

                                                                    Penzey's Mulling Spices
                                                                    http://www.penzeys.com/cgi-bin/penzey...

                                                                    1. re: Rubee

                                                                      Sheesh, am I a slave to the power of suggestion. I still have some mulled cider, and had to go make myself one. This pic should clear up any confusion.

                                                                       
                                                                      1. re: Rubee

                                                                        This looks like a good welcome for any cold weather gathering. That's why I wanted to get it right. The schnapps surprised me. Thank you.

                                                                3. Ours went well. It was my first time hosting and we had 10 people (6 adults and kids), and enought food for about 20.

                                                                  I've never cooked a turkey before, and, at my sister's insistence (she's done it many times), we let it cook until it reached 170. Then it sat for 1/2 an hour. It was just right.

                                                                  In my opinion, the best thing on the table was the Triple Cranberry Sauce from Epicurious (I saw it suggested on CH a few weeks ago). I made it 2 days ahead and it was tangy, tart and delicious.

                                                                  The only thing that I was disappointed in was my mashed potatoes. I posted a thread on Wednesday that my potates were too soupy. I thought that I remedied the situation, but in the end, they were still too soupy. Tasted good, but more like a puree.

                                                                  We had a nice day and the kids (my kids ages 3 and 1 and my sisters kids ages 5 and 10) we exhausted by 8 in the evening. They (and I) slept well!

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. re: valerie

                                                                    You know, I've wet-brined turkeys before, and they'd always turned out slightly "spongy". I had planned on dry-brining the turkey, but got it too late (Tuesday), and just ended up roasting it the old-fashioned way, but basting it with plenty of chicken broth and butter. Covered with foil till the last hour, then took the foil off. I then took it out at a little over 160. Let it sit for well over 45 minutes. You know, that turkey turned out so tasty and luscious!!!! I truly don't know if I'll ever bother to do it a "fancy" way again.
                                                                    Did the yams with butter, cinnamon, toasted walnuts, and Amaretto. Concentrated the sauce down before putting in the oven. Mom kept pointing to the yams, wanting "more, more"!!!
                                                                    It was a wonderful Thanksgiving.

                                                                  2. Had a great Thanksgiving at a friend's house. Several of us did sides and they all came out great. I did garlic-proscuitto baked brussel sprouts (from the rouxbe.com website) - not only have I never cooked brussel sprouts before, I've never eaten them. The mornay sauce was excellent and the sprouts were not scary at all - I've conquered my phobia!

                                                                    1. We made stuffing with assorted dried fruit and sausage, brussel sprouts iwth carmelized onions, gravy, an attempt at gluten free gourgeres (not bad, but not great), and two good pies - apple cherry crumb and pecan coconut chocolate. And an hour before we were to leave to go to our friends house, my son throws up all over the bathroom and starts cramping horribly. Yes, my kids NEVER get sick, and for the first time in 3 years we have the GI bug on Thanksgiving. So, we throw a winter squash in the oven, deliver the extra stuffing and veggies to our friends, stop by the grocery store to buy pre-cooked overpriced turkey (which actually was very good), throw together cranberry sauce, and have a last minute thanksgiving dinner at home. And the pies were very good. Of course, by the evening my kids are feeling fantastic and bouncing off the walls - enough to eat two servings of pie and keep it down. Oh well.

                                                                      6 Replies
                                                                      1. re: jsaimd

                                                                        My husband's 93 year old uncle told me that it was the best Thanksgiving of his life. Now, that's a compliment! All 9 of us had a great time. We had:

                                                                        Cheese Straws (SP), (Not my favorite......I made them last weekend and not sure they held up so well)
                                                                        Stuffed Mushrooms (SP....one of the top hits of the evening. I've used that book forever, and this was my first time making them. The spinach, gruyere, feta and walnut stuffing was addictive).

                                                                        Roast Turkey (SP Good Times). A no-fail favorite, with a pound of butter, the juice of two oranges and thyme)
                                                                        Maple and Tangerine-Glazed Carrots (Epi) Make ahead, re-heat, wonderful
                                                                        Cranbery Sauce with Roasted Shallots and Port (Epi) If cranberry sauce can be sexy, this is it
                                                                        Winter Fruit and Nut Stuffing (Epi - loaded with prunes, apricots, pecans, dried cranberries,pears and Sauterne)
                                                                        Mac and Cheese (Epi, a nod to my son.....scarfed up by all)
                                                                        Mashed Potatoes and Turnips with Roasted Pear Puree (Epi) First time making this.....alive with flavor and will become a regular)
                                                                        Creamy Braised Brussels Sprouts (All About Braising......oh, Molly)
                                                                        Cranberry Bread (SP...glad I made 2 loaves)

                                                                        Ginger Bread Pumpkin Trifle (well, people say Paula Deen makes great desserts, and the people were right!)
                                                                        Toffee Bars (SP, thanks for the encouragement on this one, Mirage. They were great).

                                                                        Love, love, love this holiday.

                                                                        1. re: onefineleo

                                                                          Racking my feeble old brain for SP...??? What does that stand for? I MAY have had too much Root 1...thanks!

                                                                          1. re: Val

                                                                            Silver Palate, I'm pretty sure.

                                                                            1. re: rabaja

                                                                              Silver Palate (SP) is the Chowhound cookbook of the month for November.

                                                                          2. re: onefineleo

                                                                            Sounds fabulous onefineleo! Makes me want to eat Thanskgiving dinner all over again, can I come over for leftovers? I made the SP Roast Turkey this year too, first time for me even though I always make the stuffing from the same chapter. Came out great!

                                                                            1. re: onefineleo

                                                                              I also made the ABB braised brussel sprouts for Thanksgiving. I really liked them, but prefer roasted sprouts overall. I'll post on the ABB thread later.

                                                                          3. This was a group effort. My mom bought a Kosher turkey from Trader Joe's. It was my idea, so I wanted it to be good. She was rather upset to find it covered in pin feathers and with no gibblets. In fact, she grumbled about never getting this *&^>** thing again. However, she stuffed it and brought it to our house to cook. She made stock with the neck for the gravy. My SO buttered it and cooked it breast side down for the first half, then flipped it using SOCKS on his hands, since we didn't have enough potholders. Didn't drop it, thank goodness. Basted with broth. Took it out when it reached 170 degrees. It was absolutely the best turkey we've ever had. Maybe a tad salty, but very moist and flavorful. My mom was happily surprised.

                                                                            The rest was simple. Cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, all good. Salad with pears. Some roasted veggies (red peppers, mushrooms, green beans.) Best of all, we all fit around the table (barely), and no one seemed to mind that the plates and napkins didn't match.

                                                                            For desert, pumpkin pie and persimon pudding, slightly mooshed because SO dropped it on the floor earlier in the day. (My son didn't really need to tell about that, but never mind.)

                                                                            I'm pleased. I sometimes doubted we could do it, but we pulled it off.

                                                                            6 Replies
                                                                            1. re: Glencora

                                                                              Me too! On the subject of kosher birds, that is. I did a kosher bird for the first time as well, and like Glencora, I noticed that it is
                                                                              a) salty (that's a GOOD thing, from where I sit -- yum yum!)
                                                                              b) covered in very annoying pin feathers. Much more than I'm used to when I get birds from a wide variety of non-kosher sources.
                                                                              Can anyone tell those of us who don't get out much what's up with either a) and/or b)? I'm interested to know!

                                                                              1. re: linengirl

                                                                                A koshered turkey is one that has been soaked in salt water and then rubbed with coarse salt in order to fully draw out any blood and other impurities, so in essence it’s been prebrined.

                                                                                During koshering chickens are dunked in cold rather than scalding water; that makes the skin follicles tighten up thereby making it more difficult to remove the feathers. The easiest way to remove them is with a hemostat. Know any surgeons? Or aging hippies?

                                                                                Also, although you didn’t ask, many people are outraged that their kosher bird didn’t have any giblets packaged with it. During the koshering process the giblets are handled separately. If they are damaged or contaminated in some way, they cannot be sold and will not be packaged with the bird. So if it's important that you have turkey giblets to make the gravy, don’t wait until the last minute to check and see if you have them. Places that sell Kosher poultry often sell giblets separately for exactly that reason.

                                                                                1. re: JoanN

                                                                                  Thanks. Yeah, my mom wanted the giblets, but the gravy turned out fine using just the neck and the drippings. I would get a kosher turkey again, but I'd be sure to use unsalted butter and stock.

                                                                              2. re: Glencora

                                                                                Me three! Got the kosher bird at TJ's, and it was covered with feather quills. Terrible! We tried to pluck them out with tweezers, and burn them off with a lighter, to no avail. Eventually, we roasted the turkey, peeled off the skin, and threw it away. Healthier in the end, but very disappointing. I won't be buying TJ turkey again. The meat was tasty but what a hassle. Is it the same with all kosher turkeys? I've gotten them years ago, but don't remember this being a problem.

                                                                                1. re: sasha1

                                                                                  I guess I'm lucky my mom dealt with it. By the time I saw it, all the pin feathers were gone. I have to admit that the image of you going at it with a lighter makes me smile. Too bad you had to throw away the skin, though.

                                                                                  1. re: sasha1

                                                                                    If you'd taken the skin and receipt back to TJ I'll bet they would have given you your $$ back --they try hard to please the customer and maybe they'd get the supplier to do a better job in the future.

                                                                                2. Like other posters, I took some COTM recipes and other chow ideas and had a blast this year :) My first Thanksgiving with my sweety was just lovely in every way. It's wonderful to create amazing food as a way to share joy :) I even found a beautiful Iroquois homage to the Earth which we read on Thanksgiving Eve, thinking about all of the ingreds that came from the earth and went into the feast...

                                                                                  For Thanksgiving Eve, we went to my mom's, and she insisted that I not make "a big production" in the kitchen so we could visit and catch up. Whatever did she mean by "big production"? ha ha ha. My mom made her stuffed mushrooms, which we all love, and her blue cheese dip, and I did the rest, soup and sandwiches -- all prepped ahead of time, just assembled that night, which really did enable us to spend time chatting etc.

                                                                                  In advance, I made my own stock for the soup (Silver Palate) and roasted a couple of sugar pumpkins and their seeds and played with a pumpkin soup recipe on Epicurious ("Spicy Pumpkin Soup") until it tasted fantastic. It was perfect for the occasion, and I totally suggest it to those wanting to try a creamy pumpkin soup, minus all of the curry, cumin, apple, etc. -- basically without a lot of other ingreds tainting the pumpkin. We loved the soup - which I served with roasted pumpkin seeds and pepita cream that I blended up and some sage leaves on top -- pretty, pretty.

                                                                                  My mom LOVES eggplant, so I also marinated eggplant for three days, and that went into sandwiches, my spin on a Silver Palate catering-sandwich-recipe. My version was homemade baguettes, yummy garlic vinaigrette, arugula, proscuitto, ricotta/parsley mixture, and the marinated eggplant. YUM. (More details on SP threads, and check out Tyler Florence's recipe for baked baguettes at FN - just wonderful).

                                                                                  For Thanksgiving, we dined at the home of other chowish friends and their cool relatives, a warm eclectic group of 10 people and four dogs (for whom bones were provided). I brought garlicky hot artichoke dip (thank you, chef chicklet) , wild-mushroom-leek-spaghetti squash casserole (again, thanks to hounds for helping me revamp this) and roasted brussels sprouts with olive oil, salt, pepper. The brussels sprouts were superstars with guests fighting over who got to finish the batch :) I loved that, especially b/c last year I turned the same group into beet-lovers... they're wondering which veg I'll "bring back" next year!

                                                                                  (RE brussels: We did a trial run at my mom's in the morning, to check out optimal roasting time at 400 degrees, sampling them after 30, 35, 40, 45 minutes - all great, getting crunchier of course with more time, but not burnt. I like how versatile and EASY it is to cook brussels like this. Low maintenance. I also tried them with lemon or Parmesan but by far my mom, sweety, and I all voted that we much preferred just the oo, salt, pepper.

                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                  1. re: foxy fairy

                                                                                    I tried your high heat roasting method last night. I started to peel off each leaf (I'd seen this somewhere) but it became too tedious and they were too tight so I just sliced them in thin slices, oo and s & p. Checked them after 15 min and decided to put back another 5 min but they were done. I liked them and they were easy; my daughter scarfed them up.

                                                                                  2. Ours was simple but really good. We brined the 12lb fresh turkey ala Alton Brown and as I was washing the turkey the first time around, I removed the neck and the bag of innards and Jake about died...he said is that the turkeys d**k??? in complete horror. No, silly man, its a neck. Then we played 20 questions about what exactly I was going to do with the neck and innards. (stock for gravy and treats for the dog). I baked 2 loaves of challah early in the week and toasted the cubes a few different times. Wednesday night I did the roasted garlic for the mashed potatoes, roasted and whipped the yams with lemon zest, maple, brown sugar, BUTTER, cinnamon and topped it with pecans, more brown sugar and butter. Then I made the cranberry and apple chutney and fried the bacon for the salad while the sage sausage, celery, carrots, onions, apple and BUTTER were sauteeing for the stuffing. I mandolined the gala apples to dehydrate in the oven overnight and woke up at 5am with a double ear infection and a stiff neck. Sigh. Swallowed a handful of pills and tried a warm peroxide rinse to no avail. Slept til the pills kicked in then tackled the bird around 1, warmed the sauteed veggies/sausage, mixed the stuffing, peeled the potatoes, brought out the cranberries and yams to come to room temp, made thepioneerwomancooks.com green beans and laid on the couch waiting for death. Forced the non-cooking types to pitch in and make the salad of romaine, gala apple chips, bacon, candied walnuts, gorgonzola and apple cider viniagrette. It all came out pretty good and a trip to my ear, nose and throat doc at 10am left me spy enough to do a double batch of cinnamon ornaments tonight and 2 double batches of biscotti.

                                                                                    Today I am thankful for having the brains to do ALOT of prep on Wednesday night!

                                                                                    1. We had 9 for dinner - a mismatched group of "Thanksgiving orphans". The twist is that I do all the cooking and prep, but we actually do the final cooking and serving at a friend's house - my kitchen is tiny. I would have sworn I had done more than enough prep by Wednesday night, but come Thursday noon I got a little panicky, but it all turned out well. Moving everything for Thanksgiving feast, along with 4 dining room chairs, is tricky, but on the up side, I didn't have to worry about picking up the kitchen.

                                                                                      15 pound "natural" grocery store turkey, dry-brined with the LA Times recipe, which was really good. 10 pounds of mashed potatoes, which one of our guests jumped in a peeled and diced for me. For the first time in my life, dressing instead of stuffing, which came out dry, but was tasty with gravy. Green beans with caramelized onions, which were mediocre, as was a wild rice/butternut squash pilaf - neither were saved for leftovers! And, in the midwest tradition, a cherry jello-cheesecake salad dish that all of three of tasted.

                                                                                      Dessert is my thing - we had pumpkin cheesecake (my first cheesecake ever!), cranberry bakewell tart (also a first), and my favorite chocolate-caramel tart. And petit fours, which was a little over the top, but delish - chocolate swirl marshmallows that are like eating a bite of hot cocoa, butter crunch, espresso cookies, cranberry-pear jellies, cream cheese mints, and tiny gingerbread men. All delicious, and while completely over the top, well received and nice to nibble on during post dinner coffee.

                                                                                      1. I'm going to enjoy reading and seeing what great ideas and lessons I can learn from everyone here, for my Christmas planning, jnk. Thanks for the thread.

                                                                                        My successes:

                                                                                        Actually, Wednesday night. Needed something quick to make for dinner so I could get back to Thanksgiving prep. Broiled shrimp after marinating for a couple of hours in the following (we like spice/heat): equal parts EVOO/Chardonnay (about a quarter cup each, for a pound of 16/20 count), plus an extra splash of the wine, teeny dash of salt, fresh cracked Telicherry pepper, chives, 1 tsp. country Dijon, 3 tbsp. Chili oil, about 1/2 tsp. of a high-oil, hot cinnamon. Cracked a little more pepper over the shrimp once they were in the broiler pan. I'll do this again, probably on the grill pan, but if broiled, I think they'd be good cool, too, as an appetizer.

                                                                                        I'll give myself A+++ for the desserts, which is odd, since I'm a cook, not a baker. But they were my best dishes this year. JoanN and chowser helped with me the almond layer of what was going to be a tart, but ended up being an apple crumb frangipane pie. To my surprise, it ended up being one of the very best pies I ever made. I can't think of anyway to improve it, which is a very, very big deal to me, since, I'm often disappointed in at least some aspect of things I bake. Great texure, seasoning, flavor mix and balance. So, Joan and chowser, if you see this, thank you so much.

                                                                                        I made a drunken pumpkin pie with a crust made from Vermont Button Cookies (ginger version), which some of my fellow New Englanders will know about. Not the best one texturally for a gingersnap crust, though I like the flavor, but all my little market had. The pie filling gets 3-4 tbsp. of bourbon or scotch (baker's preference) and then a little flour since the liquor thins it out, so the final texture would be somewhere between the typical pumpkin pie and a cheesecake. The only thing is, we always use reduced fat milk for coffee/tea, and when cooking, if cream is indicated, I use whole milk...but this time, I said to myself, Self, it's Thanksgiving, so let's get crazy and use the cream. I'm just not used to the mouthfeel of so much cream. It was great when the pie was just made and a room temp, but it's a little too much like unguent to me when the pie is cold. But I loved the flavors.

                                                                                        Then, for chocoholics here, I make these (fudgy more than light cakey) brownies to which I add a mashed banana, sour cream, Irish whiskey, a little coffee, and a moderate (not too heavy here) quantity of choc chips or chunks. When the baked product is a little bit warm, glaze with either a buttercream or chocolate glaze to which has been added a tbsp. of the Irish whiskey. Sprinkle some chips/chunks across the top. I usually put chopped walnuts or pecans on half the pan only (9 x 13 recipe), so that folks can have their choice. This is for serious sweet-addicts only, but they always scarf this bad boys up.

                                                                                        Gravy was perfect. Stuffing was good; could have been a little better. For some reason it was a little salty for my taste, although I didn't salt it in process and used a low sodium broth for the chicken wine reduction that provided some of the moisture. Next time, I'll make sure I have homemade stock on hand. Otherwise, half honey wheat white bread, half sourdough, chopped pecans, about a cup cooled half wild rice, half Mahogany rice, sauteed onion, celery, the juice and rind of one large orange, T-Day herbs (heaviest on dried sage, supporting members dried oregano, French thyme, and a little fresh minced rosemary). Great taste, great texture, too salty for me.

                                                                                        Turkey, A-. Very moist, browned like magazine cover. Stuffed the cavity with apple quarters and onions simmered until just soft, quartered lemon, sage, rosemary, thyme, a couple of great quality slab bacon from my butcher. Stuffed between the skin with herbed butter, sauteed thinly sliced onion, and three or four sices of the slab bacon on each breast. Outside oiled, cracked pepper, salt, sage, Thyme, three or four slices of the bacon draped randomly across the top (moved around during basting so that all the bird browned), a couple of wands of celery and a couple of carrots in the pan. About a cup of Chardonnay in the pan. Really moist, people ate lots of it, but...I used a roaster with too high sides, which I *knew* would steam it more than roast it, but the pan was the easiest for basting in pan juices, so I did it anyway. So...everyone else loved it, but I didn't like it as much as roasting in a shallow pan. Great mongrel Alsatian-Normand kind of flavor, though...next time I want to go totally Normandie and try Calvados instead of the Chardonnay, but my little packy in my little town doesn't have Calvados, so I'll have to plan ahead.

                                                                                        Side dishes, lackluster, due to faulty organization on my part, for which I'd generously give myself a D-. Everything was going very smoothly, right on time, but one of my pups has some health issues and had a little spell, for which I had to take out a half hour just before the turkey was due to go in the oven. That's when things went to heck in a handwagon. If I had been just a little bit more organized, that half hour wouldn't have bothered me at all, but I wasn't, so it did, a lot, in the last three hours. So I simplified the potatoes and baked them, did simple sauteed veggies, and warmed and sliced a sourdough boule, instead of making the cranberry and blueberry muffins I had planned. No one else knew, no one else cared, but it bothered me a lot, because I KNOW better than to live so close to the edge when planning a holiday meal or party. It could have been a disaster, one of those times when dinner is served two hours past it's scheduled time, if I didn't know enough to just serve something easier in place of the things undone. That disaster *would* have happened when I was younger (and did, a couple of times), so I guess I should at least be glad I have enough age and experience to know when to go to Plan B. But I have to say, I was personally stressed out by the time we sat down, wasn't hungry, and sat with a cup of coffee while everyone else ate. I guess the moral is, you're never too old to re-learn a lesson you learned multiple times eons ago!

                                                                                        1. Mine was a disaster! I started coming down with a cold the day before, but foolishly didn't cancel (no-one else could host, and there was all that prepared food in the fridge). So, every time I had to cough or sneeze or blow my nose, I would race to another room, then wash my hands thoroughly. You should see how red my hands are today!

                                                                                          And because I wasn't thinking clearly, I undercooked the turkey dramatically. The white meat was done, but the thigh meat wasn't. I still don't understand where I was sticking my thermometer to give me that 170-degree reading! (I was cooking the bird breast-down, so that probably confused me.)

                                                                                          Dinner was already 30 minutes late, and everyone was starving, so I carved off the breast meat and put the rest of the turkey back in the oven. Luckily, there were tons of side dishes, plus 4 desserts for 8 people. So no-one starved. I must say that the breast meat was lovely and moist - definitely not overcooked.

                                                                                          I'm not sure how the other food turned out, because I couldn't taste much. I think I overcooked and underseasoned the wild rice - no-one had seconds. The stuffing was popular, though - good thing I made a huge pan of it. Others brought apple-endive salad, orange jello, and sweet potatoes swimming in butter and brown sugar. For dessert we had pumpkin pie, apple pie ala mode, banana cream pie topped with meringue, and fresh raspberries with real whipped cream (which tasted great to me - I ate all the leftover whipped cream with a spoon, after everyone had gone).

                                                                                          My relatives were charming about this infectious fiasco, and no one cursed me for exposing them to my germs. (I sent them all home with bags of Echinacea tea.) If they survive without food poisoning from the turkey, I'll count myself lucky.

                                                                                          Next year, I'm buying a smoked, pre-cooked turkey! If, that is, my family ever lets me host Thanksgiving again.

                                                                                          Anne

                                                                                          4 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: AnneInMpls

                                                                                            Oh, Anne, that's so tough. A gold star for you for being a trooper. Hope everyone else stays healthy and you feel better soon.

                                                                                            1. re: AnneInMpls

                                                                                              Hey, you did the whole dinner being sick--I think you should get major praise just for that! I find it hard to cook when I'm sick, not just lack of energy but that you can't taste or smell well. It sounds like you had plenty of great food and, when you come down to it, the white meat of the turkey is more heathful anyway! BTW, it is nice to see that others also have meals that don't always turn out as planned, especially here at chowhound!

                                                                                              1. re: AnneInMpls

                                                                                                I hope you're feeling better by now...and that there is enough leftovers so that you can taste them once you can breathe again. Hooray for you for charging on through though!

                                                                                                1. re: AnneInMpls

                                                                                                  Thanks for the nice words! I haven't been able to face the leftovers yet, but I'm looking forward to some really nice soup, especially with that overcooked wild rice. I just happen to have most of a pint of half-and-half, too, so I'll be *forced* to make a cream soup - hooray!

                                                                                                  Anne

                                                                                                2. We had a lovely Thanksgiving with way too much food.

                                                                                                  Started off with cheese, crackers and salami, a fabulous shrimp spread that my MIL brought. Forgot to put out the nuts. Included the edamame-feta spread that someone here posted - I liked it but it didn't fit with the meal, which I knew but put out anyway. Makes a nice sandwich on pita, though!

                                                                                                  We dry-brined the turkey and will do that from now on. It was a beautiful bird. I stuffed it with mashed potato stuffing (one guest allergic to wheat, dairy, rice....) and the folks that tried that liked it. Make ahead gravy - I will never do a big Thanksgiving dinner without making ahead the gravy. Also made-ahead and froze Martha's Parker House Rolls from the December book - they were very good.

                                                                                                  My son made mashed potatoes with more butter and cream than should be legal. Fantaastic, though.

                                                                                                  Made dressing with Italian sausage, pretty traditional but good.

                                                                                                  I roasted carrots with garlic and a friend brought sweet potatoes and a delicious pea salad. The only real flop was the Green Beans with Balsamic-Shallot reduction I made. Eh. I think we're just not a green bean group!

                                                                                                  My MIL made two types of cranberry sauce. I made the Pear and Prune Compote MMRuth posted because I thought it would be a good substitute for the cranberry sauce a guest is allergic to - that was a very nice addition to the table. Everybody loved it.

                                                                                                  I made the Thorne pecan pie (with a pound of nuts instead of just 2 cups) which was great. My MIL made a wonderful apple pie and a SIL brought some sort of cream cheese pie, which must have been good because it disappeared quickly, but I didn't get to.

                                                                                                  And LOTS of wine.

                                                                                                  Thank you to everybody for their generous posts. I get so much from this board.

                                                                                                  5 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: mirage

                                                                                                    I just looked at those rolls in the book - so pretty. Would you make them again? How long did it take to assemble?

                                                                                                    1. re: foxy fairy

                                                                                                      I made them last week (barely remember yesterday, nevermind last week) but I don't recall them taking a long time to assemble, despite making two batches at once. I thought that the dough was really easy to knead, which is a plus. A minor quibble - the parts of the rolls underneath another roll didn't brown at all (of course) and were a teensy bit doughy, but one of my sons liked that aspect of the roll best. So, yeah, I'd make them again.

                                                                                                    2. re: mirage

                                                                                                      So glad you liked that compote - I didn't get around to making it for myself. We did the LOTS of wine thing too - realized we went through five bottles and some port for four of us (OMG)! Thank goodness the dog was up late as well and didn't want to go out at 6am as usual.

                                                                                                      1. re: mirage

                                                                                                        Hi,

                                                                                                        I was wondering if you could share how to dry-brine a turkey? All I've ever heard of are wet brines and I don't like the results from that (mushy meat and rubbery skin). Thanks!

                                                                                                        1. re: Michelle

                                                                                                          Found the method here on Chowhound. Was sure that it would work well, because of the esteemed Zuni chicken. We did rub butter over the skin before roasting but that is all. The turkey was too large to think about flipping, so it roasted in one position - breast up - the entire time. Waaayyy easier than dealing with a wet brine, with excellent results IMO.

                                                                                                          http://www.vaildaily.com/article/2006...

                                                                                                      2. The company was good, the chicken was dry, and my MIL made this "congealed salad" for dessert. Lime green Jello, cottage cheese, and marshmallow's. Even my husband (who will eat anything) had to force himself to eat it. To be polite I told my MIL that it would make a great Halloween dessert for kids.

                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                        1. re: MrsT

                                                                                                          LOL, hysterically.

                                                                                                        2. Ours turned out well. The only casualty were the brussels sprouts.

                                                                                                          I brined a 9 lb humanely-raised local bird (modified Alton Brown brine recipe) for 12 hours, then let it air dry in the refrigerator on T-day until it went into the oven around 3:30. I cooked it at 500 for 30 minuted, then down to 350. I really expected it to take 2 hours, but the turkey cooked in 90 minutes!

                                                                                                          I made the Spirited Cranberry Sauce from Cooking Light (I make this every year; it's an apricot cranberry sauce and is delicious!) the day before, as well as the pie crust.
                                                                                                          Then early on Thursday I made the pecan pie filling, chocolate-bottomed banana cream tartlets, and did all of the prep work (e.g., chopping vegetables) for the last minute stuff.

                                                                                                          I should have had plenty of time to get the stuffing and tofurkey in the oven with the bird, then make the mashed potatoes and cook the brussels sprouts while the bird rested. But when it came out early I had to speed things up. In my haste to get 2 lbs of yukon golds peeled, diced, boiled and then mashed, I let the brussels sprouts cook too long -- still tasty but the color was not nice.

                                                                                                          Still, all in all, it was a VERY nice meal. The best part was the company. WIth my parents divorced for many years and my father living quite far away (until my DH and I recently moved), this was his first family Thanksgiving in 7 years. I could have served Kraft Mac & Cheese and it would have been a nice evening.

                                                                                                          1. This was a hard Thanksgiving for me. Usually my mother (82 now) does Thanksgiving and for the past 3-4 years I have been doing about half, between our two house 1/2 hour apart. I didn't realize until Wednesday that while she was talking a good game she wasn't following through with things.

                                                                                                            Got there Wednesday evening for dinner expecting to put turkey #1 in the oven-it was frozen. So we had my brother's girlfriend put it in early the next morning. When I called at a couple of hours later to see how the turkey was doing and my parents told me it was still in the oven, my brother & girlfriend were out for a walk and no one had checked the turkey. My mother said she didn't know how to check to see if it was done. Broke my heart.

                                                                                                            We managed to get there get the apple pie made, the stuffing made, the second turkey into the oven at a reasonable time. Dinner was lovely since we had 23 of the family in attendance. Everyone loved the sausage stuffing with the homemade sausages my father and I made.

                                                                                                            I guess next year it will be my job to make Thanksgiving which is fine though the next night I have 30 or so people to my house for Chinese food. No we don't order out!

                                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                                            1. re: AGM_Cape_Cod

                                                                                                              Oh AGM -- sorry to hear about this ... your mom's hard time and your realization that it's now your time. Next year, let mom just enjoy your meal. All the best.

                                                                                                              1. re: AGM_Cape_Cod

                                                                                                                Oh, that is hard, AGM - my sympathies. But it sounds like you pulled off a great dinner, and that your mother was surrounded by loving family. Next year, I'm sure you'll cope just as well. Best wishes for you and your mom!

                                                                                                                Anne

                                                                                                              2. We had a canned/boxed Thanksgiving this year. Cans of green beans, french fried onions, cream of mushroom soup, jellied cranberry sauce, chicken broth. Boxes of bread cubes, a supermarket bird. We bought an apple pie, pumpkin pie and ice cream. My brother, the wonder cook, wasn't around this year, hence the downsized dinner. Our parents’ house has nothing in the way of…anything: pans, spices, utensils. I finally realized why my brother always brings over a huge box of stuff to cook with when he comes to cook for Thanksgiving.

                                                                                                                My parents didn’t have anything to flavor the turkey with, so my sis just rubbed on some salt and pepper on the bird and threw the whole thing in the oven. Surprisingly, the turkey was one of the best I’ve had! The breast came out moist and flavorful. The thigh was very slightly underdone, which I like. She did baste a couple of times.

                                                                                                                The whipped sweet potatoes were a surprise hit. I just cooked them and then whipped them with some cinnamon syrup and a tiny bit of butter. They were gone fast.

                                                                                                                Green bean casserole: gross due to using canned beans and soup; obviously I should have known better. We’ve never had it before.

                                                                                                                Next year, we’ll go back to making stuffing with actual bread. Those dried out bread cube things in the box don’t really soak up stock that well.

                                                                                                                We spent about $50 for the Thanksgiving dinner for 7 people with tons of leftovers that nobody wants. LOL.

                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                1. re: choctastic

                                                                                                                  Everything went well for our family and everyone enjoyed what they ate and we sent everyone home with lots of left overs. Hubby and I've had two dinners and lunch from left overs too. They're gone now, except for the strawberry trifle my MIL made, that's my bedtime treat tonight.

                                                                                                                  I'm not a white meat lover cause I always think it's dry but it was extremely moist this year. I put butter/evoo/herb mixture over the skin, but this year added some under the skin, it may have made a difference. Everyone loved the sage sausage and apple stuffing and maderia gravy. We love the old Campbells green bean casserole too. This is the second year I've made pearl onion au gratin. I love the flavor, but don't like the pearl onions firm. Next time I'll cook it longer than it calls for. Everybody loved the Bourbon Cranberry sauce even more then the cranberry orange sauce from last year. Even the MIL tried the homemade cranberry sauce this year - and liked it! Another breakthrough!

                                                                                                                  This is only the 2nd Thanksgiving I've cooked for my new family. I've noticed that the niece and nephew are becoming more comfortable trying new foods. That makes it all worthwhile for me. Especially when they go back for seconds!

                                                                                                                2. Sounds like some great feasts and some great learning experiences... I myself chose to try and make myself happy this year, and not get sucked into all the bemoaning of those with whom I dine and those that make demands upon my menu... So, I made...

                                                                                                                  Small salad w/ hearts of palm and artichoke hearts and marinated mushrooms
                                                                                                                  Two-in-a-bowl broccoli soup side by side with cauliflower soup topped w/ some fried basil leaves and a single parmesan crouton
                                                                                                                  Deep Fried Turkey
                                                                                                                  Traditional Stuffing except with the twist of pistachios and minced pears
                                                                                                                  Roasted Green Beans
                                                                                                                  Balsamic Wild Mushroom Medley w/ Caramelized Onions
                                                                                                                  Mashed Potatoes w/ red skins, garlic, and a little gouda
                                                                                                                  Bruleed Sweet Potatoes [with a thick top crust... this was just for me]
                                                                                                                  Cranberry Sauce and Jelly [damnit I prefer the jelly sue me]
                                                                                                                  Pumpkin Pie
                                                                                                                  French Apple PIe
                                                                                                                  Pumpkin Cheesecake
                                                                                                                  Bread Pudding [half chocolate, half vanilla]
                                                                                                                  Panna Cotta

                                                                                                                  The only issue I had was that it was sooo much food; the cooking was rather easy and enjoyable. The surprises to me... pumpkin pie was hardly touched but the panna cotta gone. Fighting over the sweet potatoes when most claimed not to like the "gooey sweet kind." Lots of "hmm why are these mashed potatoes so good?" and "Gouda." and "no that's not it..." and "okay, fine." soup and salad to start were a bit of overkill; they were really enjoyed and most commented how they didn't feel "thanksgiving-y," but how it was nice to start out different... only problem is that they take up stomach space. don't know if i'd make two different veggie dishes next year, but i don't know how i'd choose because both got devoured.... oh, almost forgot my one really silly mistake... the cornbread muffins never got to the table, and were certainly completely unnecessary and uneaten; however, they made a really great, unique cornbread french toast strata the next morning!

                                                                                                                  1. I think it's fair to say our Thanksgiving was "memorable." Full of lessons, good and bad, but truly wonderful to have my son and daugher-in-law and grandson with me. My brother and sister-in-law had to cancel because my brother is still recovering from a daddy long legs spider bite! Beware of daddy long legs with big mouths.

                                                                                                                    The fiasco side of things were plentiful. The new kitchen counter tops weren't "fully functional" until just short of noon on Wednesday, then it was a scramble to get everything back in place to start cooking.

                                                                                                                    My son owns his own business and contractual commitments prevented them from leaving for the 600 mile drive before Thanksgiving morning. Planned dinner time was 4:00. Driving through 600 miles of snow and high winds moved it to 6:30.

                                                                                                                    As a result, the shrimp and cocktail sauce are STILL in the refrigerator! But the turkey was fantastic! A 23 pound monster for four people? Hey, I like to send leftovers home with everyone!

                                                                                                                    My own sweet potato souffle turned out delicious, as usual. As were the honey glazed carrots. Silky mashed potatoes. From scratch cranberry relish. And a really great dressing that I forgot to take out of the freezer and bake. Can you believe? But it did give a new zing to day-after-Thanksgiving leftovers! I had two kinds of pumpkin pie on hand, and the kids brought a pumpkin cheesecake. I was pumpkined out before we started! But that's okay. After everyone was settled in front of the TV, I sneaked a dish of vanilla ice cream topped with Cross and Blackwell mincemeat. It is the best holiday ice cream topper ever!

                                                                                                                    Valuable lesson I learned about my GE Trivection oven. Or maybe I just learned something about impaired thinking on my part! For whatever reason, this year I decided to use a huge lidded roasting pan. Not to use the lid while roasting, but to use the lid in my frustratingly cramped counter depth refrigerator as a shelf! This allowed me to get the fowl all prepped in its herbed butter robe the night before.

                                                                                                                    Without the lid on, the roasting pan is about three inches deep. I tested the bird for proper temperature, both in the thigh and thickest part of the breast, before taking it out of the oven. And the bird was fantastic! I've been cooking turkeys for decades, and never ever had them turn out as juicy as they do in a Trivecion oven! So we all ate our fill and then some. But this morning, when I seperated flesh from bones for freezing, the flesh around the backbone was VERY pink! How could that be, I wondered. And then it hit me. The depth of the roasting pan had prevented the microwaves from getting at the back of the bird. Trivections have a special kind of microwave "gun" that allows for the use of metal pans. You cannot use them as microwave alone, but only with thermal and conduction in combination with the microwave. Standard Trivection cooking time for an unstuffed 23 pound turkey is two hours. I've done it before and had no pink problems. So from now on, NO deep roasting pans! Which is what it says in the Trivecion cook book, if I'd just bothered to review it BEFORE roasting the turkey!

                                                                                                                    The kids leave tomorrow morning, probably for another snowy drive. But my son put on new tires today, and to take the taste of leftovers out of our mouths, I did a standing prime rib with Yorkshire pudding for dinner tonight. But the damned shrimp and cocktail sauce are STILL in the refrigerator...!

                                                                                                                    Now, for the Christmas tree....

                                                                                                                    1. Overall it went well - wonderful time, everyone enjoyed the food, but I was a little underwhelmed, myself. Initially it was just the two of us, but a friend from law school came into town with her fiance, so they joined us.

                                                                                                                      Started out with some simple hors d'oeuvres - unplanned but made from things in the fridge - brie de meax on toast points (over baked the first batch but my husband ate them with the soup) with a small dollop of apricot jam, and smoked salmon on thin slices of dark bread (which I'd thought was pumpernickle but turned out to be an odd nutbread that my husband likes to eat with herring), with a mayonnaise/mustard/dill spread that I concocted - spread on the bread, added salmon, put a little dollop on top with a dill spring. Also some toast points with Goose foie gras terrine.

                                                                                                                      Wild Mushroom Soup (from epicurious.com) - this was wonderful - found the recipe on a CH thread - loved the flavor imparted by the sherry, and added sauteed chanterelles and snipped chives as garnish. Served with a Trimbach Gewurtztraminer.

                                                                                                                      Cornish Game Hens on Canapes with a chicken liver/foie gras spread (from JC MAFC) - this was a real mixed bag. Made the liver/foie gras thing in the morning - seemed very liquidy to me, fried up a bit to taste and thought it had a very strong liver flavor, not tempered by the port and shallots. Put it in the fridge in the hope that it would set up a bit, which it did. Made the canapes - those turned out very well, full of butter and nice and crisp (I made an extra one to test). Seasoned the hens and trussed them. Trouble came at cooking time - recipe says to cook for about 45 minutes at 350. Well, after 20 minutes, absolutely no browning was apparent, so I moved them from a roasting pan to a jelly pan and turned up the heat to 450. After they browned nicely, turned the temp down to 375. When they were done, I turned on the broiler and slipped in the canapes with the liver spread - they burnt almost immediately, so I didn't serve them, but my husband ate them. The hens themselves were perfectly done - the meat still very moist.

                                                                                                                      Wild Striped Bass en Papilotte (sp?) -from Martha Stewart recipe - this was for my pescatarian friend - didn't taste it but she said it was very good, and her fiance tasted as well.

                                                                                                                      Peas and Pearl Onions - have to confess, I used frozen, undercooked them ahead of time, then combined at the last minute and reheated with butter, salt and tarragon and they were quite good.

                                                                                                                      Potato Gnocchi Galettes - from a Charlie Trotter recipe - you mix up the riced potatoes, flour, semolina flour and chopped arugula, press into 8 x 8 pan, chill, then cut out rounds with a biscuit cutter. Even after being in the fridge for more than 24 hours, it was still quite soft. I sauted them in clarified butter in the morning, then reheated for the meal - a little better before being reheated but still a dish I'd make again.

                                                                                                                      Cranberry Wine Rosemary Jelly - from an epicurious.com recipe - loved the color and flavor, but didn't set up too well - a little wobbly.

                                                                                                                      Tarte Tatin with Creme Fraiche Whipped Cream - JC's TWC recipe, which I've made many times. Made it in the early afternoon and this was probably the best one yet - I think because I didn't overwork the pate brisee and it had lots of lumps of butter still in it. The result was a wonderfully crisp dough. The Creme Fraiche Whipped Cream was from the Lucques cookbook - whip together 3/4 heavy cream and 1/4 cup creme fraiche - I added a little powdered sugar as well.

                                                                                                                      I think part of my frustration was that I was cooking a lot of things that I'd not cooked before and, as often happens, things didn't turn out quite as expected. However, we had a wonderful 5 hour meal of great conversation (fiance is in the military and has spent quite a bit of time off and on in Iraq, with whom my husband does a lot of businss - so a lot of interesting talk about those experiences) and lots of laughs (which I partly attribute to the amount of wine consumed - counted up the bottles in the am - one champagne, one white, three red, and quite a bit of port!).

                                                                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                                                                      1. re: MMRuth

                                                                                                                        MMRuth:

                                                                                                                        I realized too late that I had no whipping cream for the dessert I'd made. Ended up inventing a topping that turned out very nicely: I whipped together non-fat yoghurt and mascarpone. I think I like it better than whipped cream!

                                                                                                                        1. re: oakjoan

                                                                                                                          Mmm - that sounds good!

                                                                                                                        2. re: MMRuth

                                                                                                                          I took a photo of the mushroom soup we had as leftovers - no chanterelles this time though.

                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                        3. I'm generally overly compulsive about Thanksgiving, cook too many fancy dishes, and wear myself out to a level that is not compensated for by people's appreciation of the meal. So, this year I decided to relax and just do what I know. I even cooked w/o recipes for the turkey, stuffings and collards! Who needs bacon wrapped turkey? Fruit stuffing? People in my family like the standards. Anything homemade I realize is gonna be great -- I and most of my family are good cooks. It depressed me to go into Walmart and see cranberries in a jar, stovetop stuffing, etc and realize that's how most of America eats.

                                                                                                                          Made chicken stock and roasted a pumpkin for pie ahead of time. Made triple cranberry sauce and cranberry chutney ahead (epicurious) -- both great. One is traditional; I love the chutney. Made pumpkin pie one day ahead; sister brought a purchased pecan pie.
                                                                                                                          Loaded up on heavy cream, butter, fresh herbs and eggs, and was ready to cook!

                                                                                                                          I made turkey stock w/ defrosted chicken stock and turkey neck and giblets.

                                                                                                                          Free-range 17 # turkey, stuffed w/ regular stuffing -- sauteed onions, celery, dry bread, herbs, poultry seasoning, S&P and stock. And I didn't even measure!
                                                                                                                          Made stuffing on the side w/ crimini mushrooms, chestnuts and sausage (and stock). that was a hit.

                                                                                                                          Sweet potato gratin w/ chipotle cream (from this site -- yum!)
                                                                                                                          sauteed collards w/ pancetta
                                                                                                                          Started w/ composed salad w/ mixed greens, roasted beets, goat cheese & pistachios w/ shallot vinaigrette.
                                                                                                                          Made gravy regular way. I bought a Caphalon stainless steel roaster which worked well. Poured off (most) fat, added flour and turkey stock, and a bit of apple cider to sweeten. It was lumpy but no one but me cared.

                                                                                                                          Apps: stuffed mushrooms, cheese & crackers, chicken liver pate (SP), deviled eggs, olives & "olive puffs" (pitted olives wrapped in refrigerator aisle dough topped w/ rosemary and baked)
                                                                                                                          We didn't get to the pies until the next day, we were too full.

                                                                                                                          It was great, everyone was happy, and I wasn't too frazzled at dinner time! I let people pitch in at the end, as I was the director when I felt I could not go on (sister: take stuffing out of bird, brother: wine glasses on the table, neice: pour water), SIL: cook collards.

                                                                                                                          1. I think I managed to balance nicely reaching for new fancy recipes with simple standbys. And I started early enough.

                                                                                                                            Great hits included the honeyed-ginger pecans with the cheese plate to start, the brussels sprouts with bacon and chestnuts, the gingersnap gravy, and the sweet potato bundt with brown sugar frosting. The yeast chive rolls were a little on the tough side. And I tried last year's NYT recipe for pie crust with suet, which was majorly too tough and thick. Hmmm. Still have some suet so I'm intending on trying it once more ... once I get over my pie overload.

                                                                                                                            I'm never allowed to brine a turkey because of mom's low-sodium diet, but it doesn't make much of a difference because the turkey is that good naturally. Neighbors of my brother's raise them, and various people send over their excess apples and such. My SIL helped butcher and pluck them on Sunday. We've done this twice now and the meat is incredible. Unfortunately, the smallest of the flock was 23 pounds. When I put it in the oven, the rack kept clattering down. I'd carefully slide it in, tiptoe away and hold my breath. The seventh time, it actually stayed up. Each time afterwards it still involved breath-holding and sneaking away.

                                                                                                                            3 Replies
                                                                                                                            1. re: thinks too much

                                                                                                                              Do you have a recipe for the pecans? I have a nice amount of pecan halves: had intended to make a pecan pie to go with my two pumpkin pies,but when one of the guests asked if she could bring something baked (she brought a very nice apple galette) I decided not to bother.....but some pecans to snack on might be nice with some port in front of the fire one night this week if the rain finally shows up...

                                                                                                                              1. re: susancinsf

                                                                                                                                5 cups pecan halves
                                                                                                                                1/2 cup sugar
                                                                                                                                2 teaspoons kosher salt (I'd go easy on this)
                                                                                                                                1 teaspoon ground ginger
                                                                                                                                2 Tablespoons honey
                                                                                                                                2 teaspoons canola oil
                                                                                                                                2 Tablespoons water

                                                                                                                                Toast the pecans in a 325 oven. Mix other dry ingredients and set aside. Combine wet ingredients in large saucepan and bring to boil. Add pecans and cook, stirring occasionally until liquid has evaporated. Transfer to a bowl and toss with dry ingredients. Dry nuts spread out on parchment.

                                                                                                                                I made a half batch and they disappeared. Port and maybe some cheese would be wonderful!

                                                                                                                                1. re: thinks too much

                                                                                                                                  made a similar recipe with walnuts and maple syrup, ginger too, fresh and ground with some butter and tabasco. warmed the mixture and then tossed with walnuts. baked this in a 400 degree oven for 45 mins until mixture absorbed. they were delicious.

                                                                                                                            2. Ironically enough, I read an advice column a couple weeks ago about how to deal with perfectionist hosts - it fit my husband and I to a T. So I decided to relax this year and try to let Thanksgiving Day take its course. My husband takes care of the turkey and gravy and I handle the sides. This year the desserts were made by the guests. I made the cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes and butternut squash puree on Wednesday (well, finishing up around 12:30am Thursday). The latter two recipes were from the Cook's Illustrated Make-Ahead cookbook. I prepared the stuffing Thursday morning and my mom did the rolls. We started the afternoon off with a cheese platter, brie kisses (brie in puff pastry, baked in mini-muffin tins), sourdough cocktail bread with a dill/cream cheese/sour cream spread and cucumber, assorted olives etc., homemade jams, and other goodies. I had just gotten dressed for the evening when my husband came to the bedroom door and said "Honey, I just took the turkey out of the oven; it's done." Eeek! Mind you, this is the turkey that weighed 25 3/4 lbs. although we had reserved a 15-17 lb. turkey at the local turkey farm (next year we'll revert back to the Tuesday pick-up and not wait until Wednesday). So we went into overdrive, my FIL helping with the green beans/fennel wrapped in bacon, and had everything onto the table within a decent amount of time. I highly recommend trying make-ahead recipes whenever possible - although our range has 2 ovens, there's not a lot of counter space, so it's a lot easier to reheat things once the turkey is out and at the last minute. Friends arrived as planned and we started the meal on time with a delicious carrot-ginger soup that was brought in. Next year, I'm going to do a turkey temp. check MYSELF!

                                                                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                                                                              1. re: bakinggirl

                                                                                                                                Is it possible to mix up the stuffing the day before? Will taste suffer? Or, should I only chop and bag celery, onion, etc? I'll be cooking for Christmas and find it always takes me much longer to chop up everything.

                                                                                                                                1. re: walker

                                                                                                                                  We always do the dressing the day before (everything but the final baking) and I actually think that it works better that way, because all of the flavors meld. But yes, the chopping does take forever!

                                                                                                                                  1. re: JasmineG

                                                                                                                                    I do the same as JasmineG - make the dressing the day before.

                                                                                                                              2. Check out my T-day experience in the Not About Food section.

                                                                                                                                http://www.chowhound.com/topics/463473

                                                                                                                                1. something went wrong with my turkey. It was 10 pounds and I estimated 2 hours of cook time (first hour at 450, then turned down to 350) but after 3 hours it still wasn't done! The outside was getting way too overdone, even covered with foil, and the inside still wasn't registering to 165. I finally had to take it out and serve the parts that were on the outside which were done and then put the rest back in to finish cooking. I don't know what happened!

                                                                                                                                  11 Replies
                                                                                                                                  1. re: rockandroller1

                                                                                                                                    Such a bummer! I had a similar situation, and I've been puzzling over why my turkey took so long. I used a small roasting pan that was just the size of the turkey, but I propped it up on a bed of root vegetables.

                                                                                                                                    The Best Recipe cookbook says that the pan needs to be big enough to allow the heat to circulate around the turkey. This sounds wacky to me, but what do I know...

                                                                                                                                    Did you use a really small roasting pan, like me?

                                                                                                                                    Anne

                                                                                                                                    1. re: AnneInMpls

                                                                                                                                      My guess is that both of you bought frozen turkeys. Making sure they are completely thawed can be a guessing game at best, and it seems most likely that a bird that wasn't thawed completely is responsible for both of your problems. When I use a frozen turkey, and I have to admit that's the kind I use most often, I thaw it completely a day or two ahead of time, refreigerate, then bring it up to room temperature before roasting. That means room temperature when you stick your hand inside the bird too.

                                                                                                                                      I do not stuff mine. I do dressing in a casserole because I hate cloudy turkey soup from the dressing that sticks to the carcass. And you lose so much flavor if you wash the stuffing away before boiling the bones for soup stock.

                                                                                                                                      Good luck with your next turkeys, and I suspect "room temperature" will take care of your problems. I do it with all meats and poultry (but not fish) so I don't get overcooked spots cuddled up next to underdone.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: Caroline1

                                                                                                                                        In my case, my turkey was completely thawed. It was never frozen, and wasn't even "deep chilled". I checked it carefully before I brined it (overnight in the fridge). And mine was unstuffed, too - I didn't want to extend the roasting time with stuffing. The turkey wasn't completely room temp when it went into the oven, but it did sit out for about 45 minutes.

                                                                                                                                        So I'm still baffled.

                                                                                                                                        I think I should try again with another small turkey when I don't have company, just to see how long it takes to cook all the way through. Luckily, I love turkey!

                                                                                                                                        Anne

                                                                                                                                        1. re: AnneInMpls

                                                                                                                                          Honestly, your experience seems to defy the laws of physics! And speaking of the laws of physics, it's not wacky at all that the air needs to circulate around the bird -- the air is what's transmitting the heat! Although eventually heat from the parts of the turkey exposed to the heat will be conducted into the cooler parts of the turkey, the more surface of the turkey is exposed to the heat, the more heat it absorbs. The bed of root vegetables probably acted as insulation keeping the heat away from the turkey -- afterall, ounce-for-ounce vegetables cook more slowly than meat.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                                                                            Aha! That makes sense - I used a LOT of onions (and carrots, and fennel, and apples). When I add in the small pan and the flaky thermostat of my ancient oven (though I have two $3 thermometers, PLUS a pizza tile in the bottom), that probably explains my cooking problems.

                                                                                                                                            Next time, I'll get a rack and an instant-read thermometer so I can calibrate better.

                                                                                                                                            Anne

                                                                                                                                        2. re: Caroline1

                                                                                                                                          I did not buy a frozen turkey, I bought a fresh turkey from a local farm, same place I bought it last year and had no problems. I also only had a 10 pound bird and used a very big pan and had mine on a bed of root veggies as well. I don't think space was the issue at all. I also brought it to room temp before starting it and did not stuff it. It also was not brined. Sorry to shoot down all your theories!

                                                                                                                                          1. re: rockandroller1

                                                                                                                                            Well, since both of you had fresh birds at room temperature, that only leaves one explanation. I've experienced this myself. Your birds must have been on an asbestos diet. I bought a chicken like that once. Three pounds. When it wasn't done in four hours at 325F, I threw it away and we had omletts for dinner. True story!

                                                                                                                                            1. re: Caroline1

                                                                                                                                              I doubt that very much. However, there may be something wrong with my oven. I didn't cook much else in it but it does seem to be running a little slow so I will have to investigate.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: rockandroller1

                                                                                                                                                Cooks Illustrated has a method for checking your oven temp in this month's issue. To paraphrase, you set an oven rack in the middle and heat the oven to 350 for at least 30 mins. Fill an oven-proof glass 2 cup measure with one cup of water. Using an instant-read thermometer check that the water is exactly 70 degrees, adjusting with hot or cold water if necessary. Place the cup in the center of the oven rack and close the oven door. After 15 mins, remove the cup and insert the thermometer, swirling it around in the water. If your oven is properly calibrated, the water should be at 150, give or take 2 degrees. If the water is not 150, the oven is too hot or cold and needs to be adjusted. For safety, let the water cool before pouring it out so the cup doesn't shatter.

                                                                                                                                                Or just get an oven thermometer. :-)

                                                                                                                                                Hope that helps.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: yumyum

                                                                                                                                                  While the water method sounds interesting, I'm a big believer in oven thermometers (which is what I was also going to suggest).

                                                                                                                                                2. re: rockandroller1

                                                                                                                                                  The first rule of baking (and roasting) is to never trust your oven. Keep a $3 oven thermometer in there and verify that the temp is where it's supposed to be. And if you want to get a little carried away, add some thermal mass. Line the bottom of a gas oven or the bottom rack of an electric with fire bricks, and the temperature won't plummet every time you open the door. Takes 'em a while to warm up, but creates a much more stable cooking environment.

                                                                                                                                      2. great thanksgiving. 6 of us.just DH, daughter, SIL, son and daughter's MIL recently widowed. we went up north horrible weather on wednesday so reached 3.30 am thursday. crashed out after unloading the car. then woke up later and started frantically cooking. had ordered a cajun fried turkey fully cooked from honeybaked ham. very good. but i was scared since my first time.... trusting someone else's turkey so had a turkey breast to cook. creamed spinach, cornbread stuffing, gravy, mashed potatoes which i destroyed by overcooking, whipped sweet potatoes with chipotle which were scrumptious, maple spiced walnuts to start parker house rolls, cranberry relish with dried cherries and cardamom. scalloped corn pudding and dessert was apple cake with vanilla icecream. we drank sparkling apple juice. good meal very very stuffed and the leftovers were great as well. very little leftover after 4 days so i would term this a success the important thing was i did not get stressed out, my table looked beautiful and everyone enjoyed their food - including me.

                                                                                                                                        1. All I had to make this year were the pies and some Irish soda bread. Bread was great, pie fillings were wonderful, but my pie crusts were terrible. Really chewy! I'm about to give up on making pie crusts; ever since I moved to England I haven't had one turn out well. Not sure if it's the different butter or flour or what, but I've tried lots of different recipes and it just never works!

                                                                                                                                          16 Replies
                                                                                                                                          1. re: Kagey

                                                                                                                                            Kagey - did you use the Silver Palate recipe for your soda bread?

                                                                                                                                            1. re: foxy fairy

                                                                                                                                              No, I used a recipe that a friend's mom gave me years ago. Haven't tried the SP recipe. I don't make a lot of soda bread, though, so not sure I'll get around to it!

                                                                                                                                              1. re: Kagey

                                                                                                                                                It may be the flour - I did the opposite move - to the US from the UK & have had problems with all of my UK baking since I moved. Flour is completely different over here - also butter in the UK may have more fat, but if you're using supermarket butter I doubt that.
                                                                                                                                                I suggest getting a UK cookbook (delia S/jaime S/nigel S) & trying that.

                                                                                                                                                My mum made a syrup sponge pudding over here once & it bounced!
                                                                                                                                                My husband (fiance at the time) valiantly tried to eat it but it was inedible. Needless to say everytime we go back now she has to 'prove' that she can actually bake!

                                                                                                                                            2. re: Kagey

                                                                                                                                              It's almost certainly the flour. Were you using a recipe from a US cookbook? Flours not only differ between the US and the UK, but between UK and Europe and among the European countries as well. For nearly all cakes, and especially for pie crusts, you really need a UK-originated recipe if you're using UK flour.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: JoanN

                                                                                                                                                That leads me to wonder about some of my ups and downs with Nigella's recipes. I recently made three from Domestic Goddess - dense chocolate loaf cake (sigh - perfect), butterscotch layer cake (ick - dry, couldn't even finish a slice) and Blue Cheese Crackers (okay, but kind of crumbly Cheese Nips, though after a day they were better). I had chalked it up to the British palate differing from my own (ha ha) but maybe it could be the flour??? The texture on the first recipe (chocolate loaf) was excellent, perrrrrfect -- but I was quite put off by the second two... could it be that I need to adjust the flour some? Wouldn't she herself suggest that for the US printings of the cookbooks, as she changes to the measurements to our system? hmmm....

                                                                                                                                                1. re: foxy fairy

                                                                                                                                                  It's not just a question of changing the measurements. Books that are going to cross the pond need to be completely retested using the ingredients from the home country. One would think that Nigella is successful enough here that her US publisher would spend the necessary bucks (and it is expensive) to have the recipes thoroughly retested. Interestingly, her publisher here is Hyperion, not a company usually known for it's cookbooks, although they also publish Jamie Oliver. Anyway, some testers are very, very good and meticulous and some aren't. And more than one tester is usually hired for a single cookbook. It could just be that some poorly tested recipes slipped through.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: foxy fairy

                                                                                                                                                    I think that it's a problem with the US edition of that cookbook specifically, actually -- that one was her first one that really made it to the US, so I think that there were problems converting some recipes. I know someone who bought the UK edition, and we compared notes on some recipes, and some of them were very different (the dense chocolate loaf cake was just the same, which may be why it is just so wonderful). I think that the testing and changing has been much more rigorous with her subsequent cookbooks, because I haven't seen those issues with other books.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: JasmineG

                                                                                                                                                      That would make a lot of sense--that once her first book was a success and after they probably got a lot of complaints about the first one, they were indeed more rigorous in testing future titles.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: JasmineG

                                                                                                                                                        How interesting. I'm glad I have the UK edition of Domestic Goddess. I used to have the US version of How to Eat, but gave it away and bought the UK one because it's easier to use UK recipes with the measurements here. I've cooked loads of the recipes from the Domestic Goddess book, and have never had the kinds of problems that Foxy Fairy had, thankfully.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: JasmineG

                                                                                                                                                          WOW! That could really account for a lot of the mixups. ;) I just adore watching her on FN and reading her decadent food tales, so I was really crushed that her recipes have been all over the place.

                                                                                                                                                      2. re: JoanN

                                                                                                                                                        Thanks, Joan. The thing is, I've tried Brit recipes too. In fact, I was using a Delia Smith recipe for this one. I know the butter also seems denser here--I think it has less water than American butter. Maybe the flour here has more gluten. I wouldn't have thought so, but that's what it seems like. I hardly worked it at all, and my hands are always cold! But still, when rolling it out, I got the dreaded elastic shrink! Very upsetting!

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Kagey

                                                                                                                                                          OK, sorry, should have read down the thread... A delia recipe should work - you used 'plain' flour - right? Maybe it is the butter?

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: ctbrit

                                                                                                                                                            Well, I have friends who have access to American products (USAF base in Cambridgeshire). So I think I'll try substituting one ingredient at a time to try and figure it out. I can definitely tell the difference between US and UK butter, just by the texture. But I don't know exactly how that would be affecting the dough. My guess is it's the flour. I used plain, but it may be a little more glutinous!

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Kagey

                                                                                                                                                              I really doubt it's the butter. I use all different kinds of butter in my baking, from supermarket cheap to the super high-fat imported French stuff. The flavor certainly differs and, to a small extent, perhaps the texture. But I've never had a recipe not work because of the butter I've used.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: JoanN

                                                                                                                                                                The difference between Euro and U.S. butter isn't so much the fat content as it is the water content. U.S. dairymen up their profit with the water content (water weights 7 pounds per gallon). If you use Euro butter to make an omlett, for example, you don't have all of the frothing as the water evaporates. So depending on how critical the moisture content is in any given recipe, unless it calls for U.S. butter you can have bad results.

                                                                                                                                                                Don't know that this is the case here, but this morning Martha Stewart recommended store bought pie shells for one of her recipes! '-)

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Caroline1

                                                                                                                                                                  Good to know. I usually bake with European or European-style butter, but practically never saute with it so hadn't noticed the difference. I'll be on the lookout.

                                                                                                                                                    2. 11 of us descended upon my mom's house for three days of pandemonium. Thanksgiving itself was pretty tasty.

                                                                                                                                                      Around noon, we put out an assortment of salads and spreads from a local Russian grocer in Boston. These were all great and folks couldn't stop eating them. Especially the mushroom pate.

                                                                                                                                                      Butternut squash soup: a little sweet, a little spicy.
                                                                                                                                                      Vegan tomato soup: they said it was fine.
                                                                                                                                                      Buttery rolls: yes!
                                                                                                                                                      The vegan also made corn muffins that were just ok.

                                                                                                                                                      Turkey: this year in addition to placing buttered pieces of bread over the breasts to keep them moist, we also threw a little turkey stock under the turkey to help. Then we took the breast off whole and sliced it across the grain. Really very moist this year. Lovely.

                                                                                                                                                      Stuffing: In the turkey, in the corning ware, and then in a littler corning ware made with vegetable stock. It could have had more seasoning to it - just sauteed onions, celery, grated carrots, parsley, sage, thyme, s&p and eggs. We used three loaves of bread and it was gone by Friday morning. Oh dear.

                                                                                                                                                      Turkey gravy - how could this be bad?

                                                                                                                                                      Amy's vegan shepard's pie: they said it was great.

                                                                                                                                                      Cranberry sauce: the best yet - I used organic Maine cranberries and really let it reduce as well as skimmed off all the foam. Also gone by Friday.

                                                                                                                                                      Roasted sweet potatoes: tasty.

                                                                                                                                                      Mashed potatoes: sister made these and they were quite nice.

                                                                                                                                                      Sauteed broccolini with garlic and olive oil: nice to have some green on the table.

                                                                                                                                                      Caramelized pearl onions: I didn't have any of them, but they looked pretty.

                                                                                                                                                      Vanilla ice cream, mango sorbet, raspberry sorbet, sour cherry pies and pumpkin pies.

                                                                                                                                                      Here are bad phone pictures of the cherry and pumpkin pies.

                                                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                                      1. everything went very well - forgot the cranberry sauce but oh well - but my turkeys had no livers! boo. is that because they were kosher or just a freak? they had very little in the way of "spare parts" but I really wanted some liver. ;-)

                                                                                                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                        1. re: jujuthomas

                                                                                                                                                          See my note above:

                                                                                                                                                          http://www.chowhound.com/topics/46300...

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: JoanN

                                                                                                                                                            Thanks! that explains it! it was a very tasty bird all the same. :)

                                                                                                                                                          2. re: jujuthomas

                                                                                                                                                            My turkey had giblets and all but I never looked in the rear compartment of the turkey. My sister pulled out the little sack which she discovered while carving. Duh....luckily I'd made lots of broth using necks and wings and a drumstick.

                                                                                                                                                          3. My thanksgiving was so fantastic! It was my first turkey, on my own. I got a deisel turkey, and with loads of advice from chowhound, it was in fact the best Turkey I've EVER had! And the giblet gravy was so yum. The only thing I would do differently with the gravy is add more broth. It was so flavorful, it wouldn't have hurt to thin it out a bit. My mashed potatoes were a little gluey even though I tried not to over stir it... My pecan pie with bourbon and homemade pie crust was very good. I'm so proud of myself :)

                                                                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Lemonii

                                                                                                                                                              Great that it turned out so well for your first time.
                                                                                                                                                              One thing that helps me with the potatoes is a ricer -- I love the one from William-Sonoma.