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Turkey-Day Hits and Misses

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Lets dish about the good, bad and ugly...............

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  1. Tried the traditional stuffing recipe from the recent Saveur magazine.
    I think I didn't have enough of the toasted white bread. I maxed out at around 8 cups, and the recipe called for 10 1/2 cups.
    Being not so experienced with making stuffing, I'm thinking that was the reason it was a bit wet. The flavors were good, but the outcome was not what I expected. I also didn't have the 15 cup baking dish called for, so I used two smaller dishes.

    From the recent Cooking Light magazine, the "Sweet Potato and White Bean Soup with Sage-Walnut Pesto" was a huge hit, and very very tasty. I will make that again soon.

    1. No bad and no ugly. Turkey was moist and flavorful, the stuffing good, the potatoes wonderful and the gravy great. Hits this year were the cranberry salsa (11 calories/2 Tbls. serving, and no fat) and the pumpkin panna cotta

      3 Replies
      1. re: DiningDiva

        I have a package of cranberries leftover and that salsa sounds awesome! What did you serve it with and would you mind sharing the recipe?

        1. re: Reene902

          1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries
          1 1/2 cups dried cranberries
          1/4 cup minced onion (red, white or yellow)
          4 Tablespoons minced cilantro
          Zest of 2 oranges
          2 oranges peeled, seeded and diced
          1 Tablespoon minced ginger
          1 Tablespoon minced jalapeno, seeded
          Salt and Pepper to taste

          Put cranberries in a food processor and pulse until semi-finely chopped. Transfer to a bowl. Add remaining ingredients, stir to mix. Cover and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.

          NOTES:
          - Don't use Craisins, they are too sweet.
          - If a tart salsa is preferred increase fresh cranberries by 1/2 cup and decrease dried cranberries by 1/2 cup.
          - Zest oranges with a channel zester rather than a microplane. A microplane sometimes gets too much of the white pith which can be bitter
          - Substitute flat leaf parsley for people that think cilantro tastes like soap
          - If more heat is desired don't seed jalapeno, or use 2 serrano chiles, or 1 jalapeno and 1 serrano.
          - This salsa definitely improves the longer it can stand in the fridge.

          1. re: DiningDiva

            Thanks DiningDiva! I'm going to put this together as soon as I get home tonight!

      2. brined for the first time

        a hit!

        BUT, getting it into a container was rough LOL

        The food was great, very traditional this year.

        Pie from scratch, extra buttery crust, yum

        Backed up kitchen sink, having to do dishes in the bathtub...........arrrrrrrg!

        4 Replies
          1. re: Glencora

            LOL! We had T-Day at my sister's in-law's new mountain chalet, and I backed up the sink the next morning with potato peels (I made latkes for breakfast). Fortunately, my BIL was able to figure out where the clog was, disassemble the drain and clean it out.

            We had a pretty traditional meal, with the major differences being that we cooked a heritage turkey and we did it on the gas grill (we've been doing it on the charcoal grill for years). The turkey was the best we've ever had, so it was a definite hit. I guess the miss was the cranberry mushroom sauce my mom made that was so unappealing I don't think anyone even tried it (I don't like mushrooms, so that was my excuse).

            1. re: Ruth Lafler

              I did the same thing last year with the butternut squash peels. What a PAIN!
              And eeewwww! That cranberry mushroom sauce is just wrong. I made the brie in puff pastry with the marsala cranberry sauce but there wasn't any room in the oven to bake it off! Oops! Overall, everything was great.

              1. re: Ruth Lafler

                I did try the cranberry-mushroom thing. One bite, only. Bleah.

          2. left the evaporated milk out of the pumpkin pie... surprisingly, wasn't a flop! Flavor was intense and delicious!

            1. Realized after I put the Turkey in the oven that I forgot to get the Giblets out.....so, no Giblets for the Giblet gravy. I just chopped some dark meat and added it instead. No one knew the difference. It was a great Thanksgiving overall!!!

              6 Replies
              1. re: Terri C

                Well, after 8 years of various sweet potato recipes (all of which have been varying degrees of sweet) that have sat untouched at the table I have decided to either completely omit them from next years dinner or try something savory.

                1. re: EAH

                  I love sweet potatoes in all sorts of preparations, savory and sweet. My favorite, though, is just washing, piercing the skin, and cooking the whole potatoes on low heat (around 300) for several hours. It caramelizes them to an unbelievable flavor that requires no embellishment.

                  You do have to put tinfoil or a cookie sheet on the rack underneath them b/c the sugar will drip a little, and where it escapes it'll get a little black (just remove that before serving). But this is just so good, easy and healthy.

                  1. re: diablita FL

                    how many hours? at 300, I figure an avereage potato will be done in one and a half to two hours.

                    1. re: Diana

                      I go for about 2, or until the drippings coming out of the fork holes smell really burnt. (The rest of the potato will be fine, and you can pull those black spots right off.) The potato is fantastic this way.

                  2. re: EAH

                    Chile Glaze Sweet Potatoes with Cinnamon and Orange, pg. 226 of Rick Bayless's Mexican Kitchen (original edition) is not overly sweet, savory, not super picante and a really interesting variation on Thanksgiving sweet potatoes. The chile paste used for seasoning can easily be made ahead of time and held until needed, the rest of the recipe is dead easy.

                    1. re: DiningDiva

                      I was just going to suggest this recipe--it was a big hit with my family a few years ago, and is absolutely the best way to use sweet potatoes!

                2. I made the Cranberry Ginger relish from Martha Stewart. It was fantastic. I think I might have to make another batch tomorrow just to have it around as it is already gone.

                  1. HIT: When I went to pick up the turkey I ordered from a local market, instead of a fresh Empire Kosher bird they wanted to give me a frozen one of some other brand...I passed on it, and was looking at other turkeys when the meat manager came out and told me he would give me a lower price if I wanted a Bell & Evans fresh one,so I bought it, and it was excellent, moist and flavorful.

                    NEAR MISS: Right before sitting down to dinner, my husband gave me a flute of champagne which I seemed to just scarf right down and then another and I got a bit tipsy before the meal even started...probably the adrenaline rush from the cooking and such...

                    HIT and MISS:: The traditional sausage bread stuffing was flavorful, and disappeared, whereas the fruit variation my husband wanted with apples and dried cranberries and cherries was bland. We'll practice on a variation with sausage and fruit for next year.

                    OTHER HITS: Cranberry fritters, Apple, Chocolate Cream Pies.

                    MISS: Corn, no one ate much of it.

                    A note about yams/sweet potatoes, which another poster mentioned, I just bake a few, and those who want them cut off the size piece they want. No fancy casseroles, and the ones who like them get any leftovers to take home.

                    I sent everyone home with plastic containers of food so we wouldn't have too many leftovers.

                    7 Replies
                    1. re: TrishUntrapped

                      Champagne will do that! The carbonation gets you tipsy faster. I've also noticed that it seems to happen faster when you're feeling excited or keyed up, though I have no scientific proof of that.

                      1. re: Glencora

                        I've heard it's because it gets absorbed through your tongue, as opposed to your stomach.

                      2. re: TrishUntrapped

                        Can you give a little more info on the cranberry fritters? That sounds fantastic!

                        I too love sweet potatoes in any form, but most other diners are so gorged on meat and stuffing they don't care about the veggie. That's fine, because sweet potato keeps really well so I get to eat leftovers for days. I usually mash them/whip them with cream and chopped up apples and top with pecans sauteed in butter and brown sugar. The sweetness attracts some diners without being overly sickly sweet for me.

                        1. re: ScarletB

                          Sweet potato pancakes for me. And I love that no one eats the veg - more for me! Pass the Brussels sprouts, please.

                          1. re: ScarletB

                            Here is the link to the Cranberry Fritter recipe I use. Make them small as they expand when deep fried. They look like Dunkin Munchkin doughnut holes. Instead of confectioner's sugar, I sprinkle them liberally with cinnamon mixed with granulated sugar.

                            Also, all ingredients were room temp.

                            Enjoy!

                            http://www.recipegoldmine.com/worldna...

                            1. re: TrishUntrapped

                              Thanks for the recipe Trish! Did you actually make these right before serving, since the recipe says serve hot, or did they sit out for a while?

                              1. re: ScarletB

                                I put a platter of them out hot, before dinner, and let the platter sit there so those who wanted could have them with and after dinner as well. They were hot for awhile, then cooled off. All I know is they disappeared. I will post pix tomorrow.

                        2. Good--caramel macchiato cheesecake
                          And, believe it or not, I made this Durkee fried onion dip w/ cream cheese, pepperoni, sour cream, red pepper, garlic all baked for my niece who loves the Durkee stuff, plain by the can. It was really good. The sleeper hit of dinner.

                          Bad/ugly--my in-laws love stove top stuffing so rather than fight the trend this year, I made store bought. I think it was Pepperidge Farm cornbread. Maybe I don't know how to make it correctly, but it wasn't good. We have a lot left. I'll stick to home made next time.

                          1. cherry cranberry sauce from epicurious...best yet.

                            1. Whatever is half way between hit and miss is what the turkey breast ordered from the local bbq place turned out to be.

                              The turkey my FIL and I did was a huge success. Much better than the one mentioned above. We smoked ours as well.

                              SIL's, MIL and SIL's sweet potato casserole and deviled eggs respectively were gigantic hits. Both were above their usual excellent. SIL's, SIL also made a raspberry lemonade pie which was a huge hit.

                              No real misses although I always steer clear of the gelatinized foods. This year was no exception.

                              DT

                              1. Hit: I made some vegan collard greens, which were devoured by my vegetarian guests (Anyone want the recipe?) My white sauce for the creamed pearl onions was really tasty too. The fried chickpeas and sage -- recipe from Chow -- were also quite popular.
                                Miss: I tried using the King Arthur flour white whole wheat flour for the pumpkin pie crust. I'm on a mission to work this into my baking and it's proven fabulous for zucchini breads and crusts for frying. But it really wasn't good in the pie crust, where you can feel every little chunk of whole wheat, which makes for an unpleasant mouth-feel.

                                5 Replies
                                1. re: Fuser

                                  My mom used white whole wheat bread for the stuffing and though it was quite good, there was a bit of grainy mouth-feel. Not a big problem, but I was aware of it.

                                  1. re: Fuser

                                    Whole wheat pastry flour would probably work better than white whole wheat. With heavier baked goods, I can substitute half white whole wheat and no one can tell but if it's light, or flakey, you can.

                                    1. re: Fuser

                                      Would love the collard recipe, thanks.

                                      1. re: Fuser

                                        I'd love the recipe for vegan collards!

                                        1. re: bear

                                          This is my own recipe for Vegetarian (vegan) collard greens

                                          1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
                                          2 pounds collard greens, stems trimmed and chopped into 1/2 inch pieces -- roll the leaves and cut across in strips, then chop the strips into squares.
                                          3 shallots, chopped
                                          1 quart vegetable broth
                                          Tabasco sauce to taste (you can also use dried red pepper flakes)
                                          salt and pepper

                                          Heat the oil in a Dutch oven and add the shallots, cook until translucent and add greens. Saute in the oil until the greens wilt about five minutes. Add some of the broth until greens are just covered and salt and pepper and cover and cook for about 20 minutes, adding more broth as needed. Add Tobasco to taste and cook and additional 10 minutes or until somewhat soft, but with some crunch.

                                      2. I made a maple custard tart from Smitten Kitchen. It came together nicely and was cooling on the kitchen table. I had it on a baking sheet on top of a bowl so there would be air circulation under it. Just as we were ready to leave for dinner, I went to the table and it somehow fell off. Was a collapsed mess of tart shell and custard. My sweetheart came into the kitchen just as I was sampling a bit from the floor with a spoon. (Had to know how this new recipe tasted.) It was good. A keeper recipe. Luckily I baked the leftover custard mix in ramekins. So we will have that with leftovers tonight. I think I need a better system for cooling things like this, though. And luckily, there was also pumpkin pie for dessert.

                                        5 Replies
                                        1. re: karykat

                                          Sounds like it's time to invest in a cooling rack. Luckily, they're pretty inexpensive and widely available.

                                          1. re: karykat

                                            Oh, dear! Your sweetie should get you some cooling racks for Xmas! I have some that stack, so I can cool a fair amount of stuff without taking up too much space. I have this one, but I use it mostly for cookies: http://www.cooking.com/products/shpro...

                                            For heavier stuff, this one looks good: http://www.absolutehome.com/web/catal...

                                            1. re: karykat

                                              Poor kary!! An attorney co-worker who is a spot-on awesome pastry chef (she COULD be one, no lie) made a beautiful pumpkin chiffon pie for her MIL...had it all figured out how to transport it over to MIL's house, got it into the car...it flipped over in the car before she got to the end of her street and went ker-splat on the passenger side floor of the car. Said she cried for a while and then went to Perkins to pick up some kind of replacement. These things happen after all....

                                              1. re: Val

                                                I had it happen with a blueberry buttermilk tart. It slid off the plate and went splat upside down on a cream colored wool rug. What a mess.

                                                1. re: Val

                                                  I had this happen with a hazelnut brioche cake (from The Cake Bible) a few years ago at Rosh Hashanah. It was my favorite aunt's special request and I worked hard to make it perfect.

                                                  I had the transport all figured out: bought one of those big plastic cake transporters with the top that snaps on, had my sister drive slowly and carefully to my aunt's house. Carried the cake in like it was a ticking time bomb. Everyone oooh'd and aaah'd when they saw it. Then somebody knocked it (inside the cake dome) on the floor during dinner. I almost cried.

                                                  In the end, we all ate smooshed cake, which was delicious, and laughed about it.

                                              2. had good luck with dry brining my Diestel turkey - also smoked it in the Weber kettle.
                                                almost a huge miss - later in the day when we went to a friend's house (they were housesitting) and had an impossible time trying to figure out how to use the fancy oven ( Jade ) ..... 4 or 5 college educated boomers couldn't figure out how to turn on the oven!
                                                The one non boomer ( mid twenties ) was also defeated initially but eventually came back for round two and saved the day. The oven worked well once on but the controls were far from intuitive ..... why doesn't Apple make a convection oven?

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: gordon wing

                                                  Tried some of turducken at a friend's house. Everyone was raving about it, but I kept getting same fatty pieces of what I think was duck. Dunno if I'll be moved to try it again.

                                                2. I bought an heirloom bird from Whole Foods that was described as having more dark meat. That it did. However, the dark meat was very gamey tasting and the strong flavor was not a hit with the table. I also found the meat, overall, to be stringy.

                                                  Not something I'll purchase again.

                                                  1. After many years of contemplation, I made a turducken, with lots of help from my FIL. It was a HUGE hit with everyone there -- admittedly, all adults, and all adventurous eaters.

                                                    We used Paul Prudhomme's recipe, for the most part, but removed all the skin from chicken and duck. Chef Paul's three stuffings (cornbread/giblet, andouille, shrimp) are the bomb -- very spicy, rich, and delicious. The roasted-vegetable gravy was pretty fine also, after the key additions of more than a quart of defatted drippings and some heavy cream. The duck breast was a bit livery for some reason, but the dark meats of all three birds were fabulous, and for most of us, Thanksgiving is about the dark meat anyway.

                                                    I had searched for a butcher to bone the birds, and finally found one -- but he made a mess of it, actually going through the breast of the turkey rather than the back, and then leaving the backbone intact and still attached to all the limbs! What a...butcher. Next time I'll just do the damn boning myself. With a sharp knife, the boning I did was surprisingly easy -- just gotta be patient.

                                                    The roasting took about 10 hours, but the result was impressively moist and succulent. Everyone's demanding we make this again next year, and I expect we will.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: Rick_V

                                                      I love this thread. It's great to read what other people made -- and from what sources. This year, I made a lot from recipes I've taped, in cookbook-like categories, into a three-ring, looseleaf binder. of course, I tinkered w/ this one and that one. Our whole dinner is at http://culinary-colorado.blogspot.com... incl a couple of pix.

                                                    2. I finally made the first good gravy of my life and the spinach gratin was a huge hit, even with the young nieces and nephews. Wasn't thrilled with my stuffing, a little too dry, I think I should have added more broth. Desserts were picked up from the store by my sister-in-law, next time I'll do them myself, a lot of people just passed on them as they weren't incredibly tempting.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: bananie

                                                        I had a great Thanksgiving dinner, but the best recipe was the creamed onion gratin from this month's Gourmet (pg. 198). I liked it so much, I ran out to get a copy of the magazine today, and am making it tomorrow for dinner as well.

                                                        My husband also made an incredible gravy using dry vermouth - fabulous.

                                                      2. had a great dinner! the highlights: brining the turkey for the first time (so moist and flavorful), simply roasted brussel sprouts (easy and delicious), ina's spinach gratin, and pumpkin cheesecake (first attempt at cheesecake and will most definitely not be the last!)

                                                        5 Replies
                                                        1. re: vballgal

                                                          I brought Ina's spinach gratin to a family dinner this year. HUGE hit. Everyone was asking me for the recipe.

                                                          1. re: jessicheese

                                                            See, I made Ina's spinach gratin for Thanskgiving, and it was the one big miss of the dinner. About 2/3 of it was leftover, and I didn't like it at all, and I expected to love it. I think that part of the problem was that the spinach that I used was a little bitter, but even with that, it didn't seem to have much flavor, and I was really disappointed. For those that have made it, do you think that the spinach made that much of a difference, or have you made additions or changes that you think work?

                                                            1. re: JasmineG

                                                              3rd year in a row i've made her spinach and it's been a hit each year. i pretty much follow the recipe but adding extra cheese...more cheese can never hurt right?!

                                                              1. re: JasmineG

                                                                That's strange- was it frozen spinach? I always use the Acme brand, leave it out to thaw, and squeeze out the excess water. I actually find mine to be a tad sweet (in a good way) from the yellow onions.

                                                                1. re: jessicheese

                                                                  It was frozen spinach, and that's what I did too. Maybe it was the brand -- I used Safeway's organic frozen. Oh well, maybe I'll see if someone else will make it sometime and I can figure out if I just don't like the recipe (which I really thought that I would, since I love almost anything with spinach in it) or if it was that the spinach was just off.

                                                          2. Our first heritage turkey turned out excellent. Despite the longer than expected cooking time (2 hours vs 1.5 hours that I had been told it should take-it was only a 9.75 pounder), the breast meat was some of the best I have ever had and the darker thigh meat was tasty as well. My husbands potato gratin was a big hit and my gravy was the bomb-no lumps (yeah!), thick and a with a really good turkey flavor.
                                                            However, my stuffing/dressing wasn't as good as I had hoped. My recipe called for smoked turkey sausage with the casing removed and I should have been warned when my husband said he smelled hot dogs while I was removing the casing and prepping the sausage. I should have stuck with good ol'Italian sausage just like mom used to do and not have followed the recipe to the letter. Everything else in the stuffing was a great additon (corn bread as the base, a gala and granny smith apple, chestnuts and dried cherries) but smoked sausage was an addition that didn't exactly meld with the other flavors.
                                                            Oh well, live and learn!

                                                            2 Replies
                                                            1. re: rosielucchesini

                                                              and next time you'll be pickier about what you add smoked sausage to. It's live and learn and it's all fun.

                                                              I'm in Oklahoma --- can I find heritage turkeys?

                                                              1. re: dutchdot

                                                                Dutchdot, I read an article recently abut a heritage turkey farm......I think in Oklahoma Today. You might try searching the archives there. I think the company was going to move to another state, though, sometime next year.

                                                            2. Let's see:
                                                              Gougeres - big hit

                                                              chicken pate and olive tapenade - hit

                                                              green bean parmesan pureed soup with a touch of cream - hit - mostly 'cause no one can believe greenbeans could make such a tasty soup

                                                              brined turkey breasts, grilled and then finished in the oven - hit, but took longer than expected

                                                              tuna, languedoc-style - miss. Nice flavor with the wine and lemon and garlic, but I used four small pieces of tuna instead of one big and it was overcooked.

                                                              homemade green bean casserole - big hit with the onion eaters (and no one knew the cream sauce was made with fat free half-n-half)

                                                              potatoes with horseradish cream - almost miss. The idea is a taffy-like gruyere potato mixture with horseradish whipped cream on the top that is then browned quickly. I forgot heavy cream (was using fat free half-n-half or light cream or evaporated milk for everything else). Ultimately I added the horseradish straight into the potatoes and then browned the whole thing slightly - ended up a hit.

                                                              broccoli - miss 'cause I forgot it

                                                              stuffing - miss. I did a sausage, apricot, pecan version - whoops, forgot the pecans. Literally as everything was in the oven I said aloud "what were these pecans for?" Also even though I only made a fourth of what I normally make, people just don't seem to dig stuffing. But they DO dig zuni bread salad so next year I'm going to create a version of that.

                                                              Pumpkin custard profiteroles with maple bourbon caramel - huge huge huge hit. The custard comes out perfectly and the caramel was delightful. The custard isn't sweet so the the caramel was perfect to make it as sweet or not as each person wanted.

                                                              Fallen chocolate souffle torte - almost a hit - I needed one lowfat dessert and this was great - however I very slightly overcooked it.

                                                              The things people can't stop talking about, though, are the gougeres and the pumpkin custard.

                                                              9 Replies
                                                              1. re: krissywats

                                                                Sounds wonderful - can you share the recipe for the green bean soup?

                                                                1. re: MMRuth

                                                                  Of course - i used to have a soup book with the recipe in it, but someone borrowed it and never gave it back so now i just wing it.

                                                                  16oz of green beans
                                                                  2 or 3 garlic cloves
                                                                  butter
                                                                  chicken broth
                                                                  light cream
                                                                  handful of parmesan cheese (grated finely works best)

                                                                  bruise and peel the garlic and put the butter in a dutch oven on medium high heat. When the butter is melted, add the garlic and let cook for about a minute, then add the green beans and a good pinch of salt, if you want, or you can wait and adjust at the end. I give them about 5-10 minutes and i just shake the pan a lot to let it begin cooking in the butter and let the garlic get a little golden - turn the heat down if necessary. Next add enough chicken broth to cover the green beans and garlic let this cook until they are soft.

                                                                  When the green beans are done, puree until smooth and off the heat add in about 1/4-1/2 a cup of light cream and a handful of parmesan. This recipe is very forgiving so taste a lot and add as much or little as you want. Right at the end give it a few turns of black pepper.

                                                                  Enjoy!

                                                                  1. re: krissywats

                                                                    Thanks so much - looking forward to trying it!

                                                                2. re: krissywats

                                                                  i've made those profiterols and they are a big hit. try garnishing with pepita brittle for more texture.

                                                                  1. re: krissywats

                                                                    I posted a thread earalier today asking for non-pie pumpkin dessert recipes, and your profiteroles sound PERFECT! I am formally begging you for the recipe.... :) (Please?)

                                                                    1. re: adroit_minx

                                                                      OH great! I wish it were mine. It's from epicurious:

                                                                      http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

                                                                      I did not, however, use this profiterole recipe. I used a different one I was using to make gougeres but can't see why this one wouldn't be just as good.

                                                                      1. re: krissywats

                                                                        Thanks krissywats, you ROCK! I have a no-fail profiterole "puff" recipe in my arsenal so this'll be perfect. Thank you again!

                                                                    2. re: krissywats

                                                                      Where oh where did you find the recipe for pumpkin custard profiteroles? That just sounds amazing!

                                                                      1. re: ScarletB

                                                                        See right above this post - I posted the link for adroit minx. Enjoy!

                                                                    3. Total hit!

                                                                      I made duck with a mango orange sauce that had brandy and grand marnier added for flavor. Three cheese macaroni and cheese using campanelle noodle. Haricort Verts with mushrooms, scallions, and garlic. Wild mushroom stuffing with sage sausage and dried organic cranberries. The stuffing was flavored from a chicken stock I made that simmered along with the duck giblets, fresh sage and thyme, and a few other seasonings.

                                                                      Everything turned out lovely. The stuffing was a surprise! It was moist and very flavorful. This was my first time preparing dinner for turkey day.

                                                                      1. MISS - Noble Experiment, cooking the bird (12-lb brined from Trader Joe's) in my new-for-me antique Westinghouse electric cooker - it's a big squarish electric pot with a domed lid, and it sits on an enamelled-steel cabinet base. My brother-in-law has named it R2D2. Anyway, although an earlier attempt with a 6-lb chicken was a smashing success, the turkey wasn't so great. No browning of the skin - I didn't really expect any, but the pinkish-grey color was rather less than enticing. And by the time the insides of the thighs were up to 175º, the rest of the bird was REALLY COOKED. I have to say that the turkey I had the next day (yes, we have two TGs in our family, honest) at my niece's house was much better...and she got it from Marie Callender's! Will I ever live this down? Next year: the smoker!!

                                                                        HITS - Thanks to the wonderful juice from the turkey, plus the carrots, onions and celery the bird had been sitting on, the gravy was the best I've ever had, not to mention made. The bread/cornbread/chestnut & sausage stuffing was rich and delightful. My dish of scalloped corn, pretty much made up out of my head from childhood taste memories, was stunning and much appreciated. The brussels sprouts my sister-in-law made were perfect. My persimmon pudding, served over scribbles of some pomegranate coulis Mrs. O had made from our own fresh juice, and topped with scoops of Fosselman's pumpkin ice cream, had grown adults and elderly people licking their plates.

                                                                        CLOSE CALLS - Since I couldn't decide between the above-mentioned stuffing and bread-and-oyster, I made both. Unfortunately, I got real busy while the stuffings were baking, and neglected to take the lid off the oyster one halfway through to let it dry out a bit and brown, so it boiled itself into a solid, cohesive mass. I did not serve it, but refrigerated it later and took it out for a post-mortem on Saturday. It had become a very rich oyster-and-mushroom bread pudding. Just for grins, I cut a slice of it and threw it on a hot griddle until it was nice and sizzling brown on both sides. Bingo! Had it for supper like that with shredded turkey in gravy poured over, yum yum.

                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                        1. re: Will Owen

                                                                          Next year, try 165 (not 175) -- that should be plenty, especially since it's going to continue to rise while it rests.

                                                                          1. re: Will Owen

                                                                            I am very, very curious about the persimmon pudding. Any chance you'd share the recipe? It sounds right up my alley. Thanks!

                                                                          2. Sweet potatoes (labeled 'garnet yams' at Monterey Market) boiled, peeled, mashed and then cooked down with butter, 1/2+1/2, a bit of maple syrup and sea salt. I adapted Dona Tomas' sweet potato dish from memory. They were addictive, not too sweet, amazing.

                                                                            I slathered my turkey in a lemon zest, shallot, marjoram, oregano and cracked black pepper butter, and basted with this butter every 30 minutes. Which was a pain, but the skin was to die for. Great gravy, with stock made from the turkey giblets and neck.

                                                                            1. I got an advanced copy of Trisha Yearwood's cookbook. I tried the Butterscotch pie. It has a meringue on top. I made the pie in advance, and put it in the fridge coveresd with Saran Wrap. When I took the Saran Wrap off to serve it, most of the meringue peeled off, leaving an ugly looking beigey-brown pie. Most people opted for the classic apple & pumpkin pies I made. It actually tasted good, though. But it didn't set all the wat. So now it's sitting in my fridge with some brown liquid on the bottom of the pie pan. It doesn't look very appetizing....

                                                                              1. HIT: succotash and bacon, leek and mushroom stuffing both from Epicurious. I make these every year and my in-laws rave over them.
                                                                                Also the turkey was great. My MIL gets a fresh turkey from the market every year, does nothing special to it, and it tastes great. T-day is at her house - she makes the turkey and I make everything else.

                                                                                MISSES: Sweet potatoes. I tried to make sweet potatoes for a non-sweet-potato crowd, thinking I would win them over like I did with the succotash. Bomb.
                                                                                Gravy. After going to all the trouble of making a giblet stock, MIL added so much water to the turkey roasting pan that I had no browned bits to work with. Gravy was pale and flavorless, so bad that I had to salvage it with a jar of Heinz (I always keep it around just in case!) - after adding the giblets it was passable, but barely.

                                                                                1. I love this thread -- so many great ideas!

                                                                                  HIT: real wild rice mixed with sauteed leeks (sauteed in butter) and with pomegranate seeds folded in right at the end. I made a ridiculous amount purely by mistake and there were no leftovers. And it was gorgeous.

                                                                                  Source for the best wild rice you will ever have: http://www.christmaspoint.com/

                                                                                  My host made a fabulous leg of lamb in his smoker (none of us are turkey fans) which he had injected with very finely chopped rosemary and garlic. Amazing!

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                                                                                  1. re: GretchenS

                                                                                    At my sister-in-law's we did the Lynn Rossetto Kasper Thanksgiving from Saveur - http://saveur.com/back-issue/other/20....

                                                                                    • Yams with Ginger and Scallions -- fabulous recipe
                                                                                    • Broccoli with Sicilian Sauce -- just OK
                                                                                    • Crisp Apple-Scented Roast Turkey with Cider-
                                                                                    Calvados Gravy
                                                                                    • Cardamom-Buttermilk Pie -- very good

                                                                                  2. Reading all this makes me think about what it was like to cook TDay dinner in the US. I had a perfectly lovely Tdinner in Mexico, but I guess the very best parts were the location (we ate on the terrace of my friends' penthouse in Mazatlan, with killer views of the sea and the city) and the good companionship. I loved the turkey, but of course it was a frozen one from Sam's or someplace, the gravy was delicious, the dressing was fine, there was cranberry sauce due to the twice-a-year availability of cranberries for the gringos, and there were great homemade pies. I sometimes long for all the ingredients that are available up north when I read the recipes here, but this is a great place to live. (My contribution was sweet potatoes (camotes) that are cooked at the market, probably boiled in a simple syrup. They are good). Actually, until recently, most people from north of the border were bringing the cranberry sauce, canned pumpkin and even frozen turkeys down here with them. Times are changin' but it will be a long time before we have some of the ingredients I read about here! (I am now making my own Italian sausage and am going to try a corned beef soon).