T-day dinner scorecard
- goodhealthgourmet Nov 27, 2008 05:55 PM
was there any new recipe or technique you tried for the first time that turned out to be a smashing success...or a total flop?
this was the first Thanksgiving in a long time that i wasn't hosting, so i only had to make a few things. a couple of them were standard dishes that i make for various occasions [spicy black bean dip & roasted carrot purée]...but i have to say, i was *thrilled* with the new ones i made for the first time - a brussels sprouts dish, a triple-ginger molasses cake with lemon curd, and a dark chocolate cranberry tart.
what were the biggest hits & misses at everyone's tables this year?
I did the high heat roast w/ my 12 lb turkey and I turned the turkey upside down half way through the cook time. The turkey turned out perfect - juicy and flavorful, and the stuffing was off the hook (just the basic bread, onion, celery, butter, sage, stock).
My gravy was way too salty. I made the mistake of seasoning it before I tasted it (no lectures please). I used an organic chicken stock to supplement the drippings and, after realizing the gravy was over-salted, I read the nutrional information and the stock was high in sodium - ugh! Live and learn.
Grammy's Fred Waring Chocolate Pie was a big hit as always, as were the dark rum spiked sweet potatoes. :)
I just finished my first plate of leftovers and I feel like a$%. A walk would be good, but I think I'll put on elastic and climb into bed.
lynnlato...did you brine your turkey ? our hostess over-brined ours so much that it was practically inedible from the saltiness...and my entire body is swollen from it today! i didn't have any gravy because i can't eat the flour in the roux, but she added the drippings to it, and apparently it tasted like a mouthful of seawater...
My big disappointment was the sweet potato dish. I tried the sliced sweets baked with cream and chipotles, as described in these boards. When I took it out of the oven, it looked beautiful and tasted dreamy. My mistake was to re-heat it after the turkey came out of the oven. The cream curdled, and it looked awful, although the flavor was still great. Only a few guests were brave enough to try it.
On the plus side, I made the mushroom and leek stuffing from Epicurious. and that was a unanimous hit. It will become my standard stuffing.
I was charged with making dessert and the mac & cheese. I made Paula Deen's Not Yo' Mama's Banana Pudding
I whipped cream instead of using Kewl Whip. I was a little nervous about doing that but it came out grat. I just weighed the cream then added sugar and whipped it. I also made cherry cheese cake. That came out well as well as the mac & cheese. I come from a family of cooks so there was much food left over. We wont need to cook again for a week. :-)
Completely out of the blue, I decided to try rotisserie cooking my 19 lb. fresh bird on the weber kettle using hardwood lump charcoal. I rubbed it first with butter & spices, including under the skin and in the cavity. It cooked up to an even 165 (thighs and breasts) in a little less than 2 hours - the hardwood lump starts out very hot, but then cools down as it burns up. It created a very tasty bird with a smoke ring, not as moist as some, but not dry. The skin was nice and crispy - especially on the wings - I ate the long pieces like chicarones from a smoked pig.
Now I've got the chassis and some skin with a mirapoix and spices in the pot. Some beans soaking in another. Can't wait for the smokey bean soup tomorrow.
My brussels sprouts turned out way over-roasted, even though I cut 10 mins from Ina's recipe -- overly charred but tasted -eh, okay. Would love to hear how you did yours. CF pumpkin-pecan cheesecake wasn't nearly as fabulous as I remember from five years ago...
I want the ginger cake and choco-cranberry tart recipes :-) YUM!
We had one miss this year and that was the cranberries. I thought the cranberry recipe by Dorie Greenspan that appeared in Parade a couple of weeks ago sounded good. Not so much. I think this was a case of the parts not adding up to the whole. I've made a lot of recipes from Dorie's baking cookbook and none of them failed, so I was reasonably confident the cranberry recipe would work. Guess there's a first time for everything.
The hits were
- Panela con Oregano from the Mexico the Beautiful cookbook. I used queso fresco instead of panela; cheese is marinated overnight in oil, garlic and oregano and then baked to heat through. I had no expectations for this appetizer going in, just a nibble before dinner. Boy, was I wrong on that. This turned out to be the real home run in the meal.
- Cornbread & Tortilla stuffing from the Nov. 2007 issue of Food and Wine magazine was also a winner. A real departure from our usual bread stuffing
- Pavo Horneado y Jugo de Pavo (Roast Turkey with Pan Juice) from Zarela Martinez's Veracruz cookbook produced a moist, flavorful bird and an even more flavorful pan sauce. The turkey was smeared with a paste of chiles, tomato and spices and then roasted on a bed of aromatics including an entire head of garlic and a gob of laurel leaves. At the end of the cooking time after the turkey had been removed, the roasting pan was deglazed with a generous amount of turkey stock to produce a lovely mahogany colored, intensely rich sauce.
- And, as usual, the pecan pie from a recipe in a 1946 edition of the Better Homes & Garden cookbook was hard to beat.
Carcass and scrapes have been made into stock that is resting in the fridge awaiting further use.
Here you go, super simple. This recipe appeared in much under-rated Mexico: The Beautiful Cookbook published in 1991. I've paraphrased and updated the method
Note: Any cheese that holds it's shape when heated would be suitable for this recipe, just don't use a cheese that melts easily when heated.
1 lb. Queso Panela (you can substitute queso fresco or baby mozzarella)
6 ea garlic cloves smashed and minced
1/3 Cup Olive Oil
1/2 Cup Corn Oil
2 Tablespoons dried, crumbled oregano (use Mexican oregano if you can find it)
1. Put the cheese in an earthenware/ovenproof dish and puncture it in several places with a fork. Or, once cheese has been punctured, place it in a zip-lock bag.
2. Whisk the oils, minced garlic and oregano together and pour over the top of the cheese and flip it over to coat. If using an ovenproof dish,cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, overnight is better. Baste the cheese 3 or 4 times during the marination period. If using a zip-lock bag store flat in the fridge and flip over occasionally to ensure all surfaces spend some time in the marinade.
3. Heat oven to 350*. If cheese is in a zip lock, turn it out into a baking dish along with all the oil and spices in which it's been marinating, or as much of the marinade as can be squeezed out of the bag. Bake cheese for about 15 minutes or until heated through. Does not need to be bubbly hot
Serve with slice bolillos or crusty french bread if you don't have access to bolillos. I served it with a new cracker variety of cracker - Pain Rustique from LU.
I agree on that panela con oregano - it was a surprise hit when I first made it too, I think as an app for a Mexican party. It's usually the first to go and always very popular. Lots of requests for the recipe. I've forgotten all about it and haven't made it in a while - thanks for the reminder! I love that book. Everything I've made from it has been a winner, most recently the Chiles En Nogada which I've made 7-8 times now.
I didn't tell them what I was making, I just started cooking ;-)
I was very concerned that the dressing would be a flop no matter how good it tasted. We have a long tradition of exceptionally good bread dressing in the family and none of us can really imagine not having enough for leftovers afterwards. I was just sure it wouldn't go with a Veracruz-style turkey which is what led me to the Cornbread & Tortilla dressing recipe. This was a total departure for us, and remarkably well received, even by the very senior citizens (89 and 91) in the group. Had I given everyone days or even a couple weeks notice about what I was making they would have had that much time to come up with reasons not to like it, or why I shouldn't make it (too spicy, it wasn't...too time consuming...it was, but so what...and so on). I figured the Margaritas would take the edge off of people being too picky about some of the non-traditional dishes, and it did. Once people started in on the maggies and the cheese, it didn't really matter, it all tasted good and they ended up enjoying it.
In the end, the turkey tasted pretty much like regular turkey, tho' the pan sauce was pretty amazing. Rich, meaty and velvety. Our regular dressing would have paired just fine with the Veracruz turkey, but it was a fun break from the monotony of tradition to try the Cornbread & Tortilla dressing instead. As Nike said..."just do it".
Attached are a few pix from the dinner. I'm not the best photog, but you'll get the drift
If you don't have that issue of F&W the dressing recipe is on-line and it makes a lot. The yield said 90 servings and I thought it was a misprint since it fits nicely into a 9"x13" baking dish. It has certainly seemed like 90 servings. A lot of people don't care that much for creamed onions, but the recipe from the same article is really, really good too.
With the turkey the recipe said to start is breast down, which I did, and then turn it every half hour. After the first turn I decided that with only 1 set of tongs to work with that it was too cumbersome, so I left it breast side up and started basting with the fat that was rendering out of the turkey. I think it came out a little darker than if I'd kept turning, but even though it looked almost black it wasn't burned :-)
I had quite a bit of the chile paste mixutre left over after smearing the turkey. This evening I thinned it out with some turkey stock I had made form the wings, drumstick bones and carcass and mixed in all the remaining turkey and froze it. It will eventually become the filling for some tamales.
Good luck and just have fun with it.
I also served the Pavo Horneado y Jugo de Pavo (Roast Turkey with Pan Juice) from Zarela Martinez's Veracruz cookbook. I found the turkey to be moist and have a very suble smoke flavor - I slathered the chili paste under the skin. The gravy was also amazing. This year, I removed the wings from the turkey (they never get eaten in my house) and made stock with them. I boiled them for hours and had a very rich, gelitin-like stock to add to the pan drippings. I will definatey do this again the future.
Also on the table were cornbread stuffing, bread stuffing for the traditionalists, sauted yams, cranberry sauce, roasted onions, gingered carrots, green beans and tomatoes, mashed potatoes, vegan turkey, two gravies (vegan and the chili), and a jicama and dried cranberry salad. Desserts were pumpkin tarts, apple tarts, and pumpkin mousse.
The downers were the tarts - I cut corners this year and bought pie shells. They had no flavor and were too dense. The jicama salad didn't get eaten up either so will have to tweek this before I serve it again.
Last year I used the Alton Brown recipe and method for the turkey. It was great. Everyone loved it. Decided to do it again this year. Bought the same brand, same size turkey. Brined it. Air dried it overnight in the fridge. Same as last year. Had made a note last year that instead of the 2 to 2½ hours the recipe said it would take, it took 3 hours. So that was how I scheduled it.
After the first half hour, when I went to turn down the heat and insert the probe thermometer, the thermometer was reading 163F. Now, how could that be? Tried inserting the thermometer in a different part of the breast. Same thing. Once more. My turkey breast was beginning to look like a cribbage board. Okay. Dig around and find my old non-digital, non-instant Taylor thermometer and it reads somewhere in the low hundreds.
Put the turkey back in. Check it at 2 hours, about 15 minutes before my family is due. The temperature reads about 170F. Waaaay overdone. Haul it out of the oven and let it sit there and get cold for about and hour and a half. Looks good, though. When I go to carve it, it’s still a little bloody around the joints. Too late now. So I put all the non-bloody pieces on the serving platter. Tastes pretty damn good. Breast not overcooked. Dark meat a bit underdone, but edible, even tasty. I still have no idea what the hell went wrong. Will boil water and test all thermometers after another cup of coffee, but I’m thinking this may be the excuse I was looking for to buy a Thermapen?
Two new (for me) recipes were a huge success. The spiced cranberry sauce with zinfandel from Epicurious and the honey ginger gelato from “Dolce Italiano” that accompanied the apple pie. And although I’d done it once before, my family just couldn’t stop raving about the Kabocha Squash and Fennel Soup with Crème Fraîche and Candied Pumpkin Seeds from “Sunday Suppers at Lucques.”
question about the Sunday Suppers... i'm a vegetarian and that soup sounds amazing...can i ask if most of the recipes in the book are meat focused? my husband eats meat and i've heard so much about this book. i guess i'm looking for a reason to buy! must be the black friday mentality!
It's a bit hard for me to judge whether or not a cookbook is vegetarian friendly since I'm not one and therefore don't look at a book with that in mind. That said, I do think there are plenty of recipes that would work for you, some with only minor changes. And the recipes are just so outstanding, I think you'd be happy with the book even if you could only make a few things from it.
Sunday Suppers was Cookbook of the Month in May of '07 (and is one of two COTMs next month and the month after). Perhaps it would be helpful for you to look through some of the reports people posted about their experiences with the recipes and see if there's a selection that would appeal to you. Here's a link to the master threads:
i know a couple of people have requested the recipes i mentioned in my OP, so i'll try to get them up later today, or some time over the weekend.
we just hosted our first thanksgiving - just got married - invited some of each family. all in all it went pretty well. the parents showed up late! eek. but here's what we had...the turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry-orange relish, bourbon pecan glazed ham, nikki's sweet potatoes from 101 cookbooks - with coconut milk, fresh ginger and macadamia nuts., apple chestnut stuffing, homemade rolls , Cooks Illustrated green bean casserole, and a bourbon pumpkin cheesecake for dessert!
it actually all went pretty good. i realllllllly dug on the sweet potatoes.
re: Katie Nell
At my sister in law's in the Dominican Republic, you get invited to Thanksgiving dinner at 8:00, and they serve after midnight, because all the guests have yet to arrive. But, I agree with you, better a little late than early. I'd love the recipe for that apple chestnut stuffing.
Had turkey day with friends this year, as we're all transplants to CT and our families are all far away.
I'm really the only one that cooks (from scratch), so my friends brought lots of run-of-the-mill stuff - green bean casserole, jarred gravy, canned cranberry, frozen rolls - in addition to what I made - roasted garlic mashed potatoes, roasted broccoli, herbed turkey breast, honey corn muffins, green salad, blueberry tart, etc.
Everything was pretty good and we chowed down!
One of my girlfriends raved for weeks that a client of hers was giving her a homemade sweet potato pie and she was going to bring it to our Feast. I got all excited - sweet potato pie from scratch - YUM!! Turned out to be a soggy, store-bought pumpkin pie that her client 'made'. Such a disappointment.
cranberry sauce with pears poached in strong sweetened coffee (none left)
apple pie cooked in custard
turkey was awesome -- brined overnight, stuffed it and put it in a 500-degree oven for half-hour then reduced heat to 325. Unfortunately it cooked in 3-1/2 hours instead the planned 4-1/2 so I took it out, covered it with foil and let it sit on the counter for an extra hour. Not a problem. Brining is a miracle. It overcomes all kinds of disasters.
Good but not raves:
winter squash roasted with onions and topped with a honey-cayenne and dried cranberry glaze
brussels sprout hash with scallions and prociutto.
pumpkin squares from a consistently forgettable baker
grandma's creamed spinach
Sausage apple stuffing (would have preferred cornbread oyster)
Canned jellied cranberry sauce (yay!)
Sure. I got the recipe from "Deenso," another CH. And soooo easy.
4 ripe Bosc pears
6 cups very strong coffee
3 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 (8-oz.) bag of cranberries
1. Peel and slice the pears lengthwise, rubbing with lemon to keep them from turning brown. Core the halves and remove the stem & bud ends with a paring knife.
2. Pour the coffee into a large sauce pan. Stir in 1½ cups of sugar and bring to a boil. Add the halved pears. When it comes back to the boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for about 15 minutes. Remove the pears and set aside to cool a bit. Discard the coffee.
3. While the pears are cooling, prepare the cranberries according to the directions on the bag, (i.e., cover with water, add about 1½ cups of sugar, bring to a boil, then simmer ‘til they’ve all ‘exploded’ and the mixture is thick). It doesn’t take very long... Remove from heat and put into a large bowl.
4. When the pears are cool enough to handle, cut them into small chunks and put them into the bowl with the cranberries. Toss to mix well, transfer to a serving dish, cover and refrigerate until ready to serve (or at least a couple of hours).
Not to toot my own horn, but the dishes I contributed to the meal were darn good -- Nigella Lawson's Brussels Sprouts with pancetta and parsley (though I left out the chestnuts -- forgot them at home!), a variation of Bobby Flay's chili sweet potatoes -- I layered the sliced potatoes (7 skinny ones so they're easy to slice in the food processor) in a big pot with smoked paprika, cayenne, salt, pepper and dots of butter, then poured over about 3 c. heavy cream. Baked at 375 for about an hour with the lid on -- fantastic. I like the paprika cayenne combo better than chipotles. Finally, the best cranberry sauce -- I used cranberries, walnut halves, a generous amount of allspice, canned mandarin oranges, and a little bit of salt with 1.5 c sugar and 1/4 c. port. mmmm.
I didn't host and just brought a few things. The big hit was tarte tatin from Thomas Keller's Bouchon, with home made sweetened creme fraiche and rum. Few ingredients, came together well and the presentation was beautiful. I made rolls with the brioche recipe from Artisan Bread in 5 minutes. They were okay but not chewy enough for me. I'll knead my own next time.
highlights: cinnamon gelato with candied pecans, rolls (thanks to those CHs who recommended SAF yeast).
could have done without: pumpkin bread pudding.
The new things that I made this year were mostly successes: I had never made, or even had, green bean casserole before, but my sister was intrigued by the idea, so I tried Alton Brown's recipe ( http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/al... ) and surprisingly, I really loved it! After consulting with my friends who are green bean casserole veterans, I used the fried onions in a can from Trader Joe's instead of baking them with panko like he says, and they worked fine. I also made sauteed green beans with shallots, because I was suspicious of the casserole, and they were delicious, but I think that I liked the casserole better!
I made this souffled macaroni and cheese (also requested by my sister) instead of my usual recipe http://www.gourmet.com/recipes/2000s/... and it was fine, but kind of a pain to make, and I don't really need to make it again.
I also made Dorrie Greenspan's Apple Pie-Cake (from her Baking cookbook) and liked it, though the baking time was a little off, so it was a little drier than I would have liked.
I also made these sweet potato rounds, which were easy and delicious http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...
I also made the cranberry Parker House rolls from the NYT a few weeks ago, and they were great, though I again slightly over cooked them (this is what happens when I'm doing five things at once on Thanksgiving). The directions to make them on the weekend, cover and freeze, and then defrost and bake were perfect, and I'll definitely do them again. I did half with cranberry butter and half with regular butter, because I wasn't sure about how my family would feel about the cranberry butter, but they loved it.
JoanN, I also had a digital meat thermometer crisis! I pulled it out to put in the turkey before it was in the oven, and it told me that the turkey temperature was at 155! So that one was obviously broken. Cue a frantic search for the other digital thermometer (my mom and I both independently bought one a few years ago, thank goodness for that), and that one seemed to work fine...except that when I took the turkey out of the oven at 165, the temperature never rose while it rested, and in fact went down. So after five minutes we put it back in the oven, for a few minutes, and the same thing happened when we took it out again, so we gave up. In the end, the turkey was fine, and probably didn't need the extra time in the oven, so I think that we were just cursed when it came to meat thermometers yesterday.
All in all, thumbs up!
You know, I think the whole meat-thermometer thing is overrated. I was at a friend's house, and she also had a thermometer freak-out, where the thermometer registered 170+ and yet the bird was still bloody in the thighs. (I carved the white meat, took off the legs and popped them back in the oven for 15-20 minutes, which finished them off). I'd trust cooking times, and the whole wiggle-the-leg, poke a sharp knife into the fleshy part of the thigh more than I would a thermometer.
That said, I was on pie duty, and had good success with a classic apple pie (butter crust, organic granny smith apples that I'd picked myself), a spelt-crust cherry pie with tapioca thickener, and an eggless pumpkin pie, made with a mix of roasted butternut, kabocha, and sweet potato, with pureed silken tofu instead of egg. Came out creamy rather than custardy, but really tasty. And my hostess was very happy to have desserts that she and her husband could eat (they have sensitivities to wheat/corn/eggs), without her having to make them for a change! And it was very satisfying to make from-scratch desserts that fit their dietary issues w/o them looking like sorry health-food replacements.
I bought small-pearl tapioca instead of the granulated (Minute) type, so I was really worried that my pie was going to come out like cherry bubble tea. But mixing the cherries (TJ's jarred Morello cherries) with the tapioca and a good splash of cherry juice for 30 mins. before baking seemed to do the trick.
"I bought small-pearl tapioca instead of the granulated (Minute) type, so I was really worried that my pie was going to come out like cherry bubble tea"
i couldn't help but giggle at that.
you're an extremely thoughtful friend to go out of your way to bake specialty items for your sensitive hosts...allergen-free baking isn't exactly easy!
let me pull something together, because as usual, i sort of did it on the fly without a formal written recipe...i'll post ASAP. oh, and i'll post it HERE, because i'm having a problem with the member recipes section...it already ate my triple ginger-molasses cake recipe earlier today :)
Overall, I'm proud of the meal I put together for my Thanksgiving meal. There wasn't anything that was a total miss, although the cheese straws I made for the pre-meal snacks didn't wow me (first time trying). My family liked them though.
One thing I'm particularly happy about is my bread stuffing - it tasted just like my mom's. My mom makes the most delicious homemade bread stuffing and for years I could never get mine to taste like hers. But this year I finally got it. Even she tipped her hat to me. :)
ok, so i did the best approximation/re-creation i could. i should have written it down as i was cooking, because i totally improvised on the spot, but this write-up should be pretty close. it's somewhat tedious/time-consuming - which i know is the last thing we all want for a holiday dish! - but one bite was all the justification i needed. i wouldn't go to all the trouble for a regular, everyday meal, but it's definitely going into my permanent holiday/special occasion rotation.
GHG’S BRUSSELS SPROUTS “TWO WAYS” WITH ANCHOVY-LEMON SAUCE AND PAN-FRIED CAPERS
Makes 8 side-dish servings
2 lbs. Brussels sprouts, divided
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 large garlic cloves, minced
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
6 anchovy fillets, roughly chopped, or 2 tablespoons anchovy paste
1 tablespoon EACH butter and olive oil (or 2 tablespoons oil)
½ cup vegetable or chicken stock
1 large garlic clove, minced
Juice of 1 lemon
¼ cup capers, rinsed, drained, and patted dry
1 teaspoon EACH butter and olive oil (or 2 teaspoons oil)
2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest (preferably done with a microplane)
1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
1. Preheat oven to 425. Trim tough core ends off all Brussels sprouts, and discard any blemished leaves. Halve 1 lb. of sprouts (quarter extremely large ones), toss with 1 tablespoon oil, season with salt & pepper, and roast in baking dish, shaking the pan occasionally, for 35-40 minutes or until soft (but not mushy!) and nicely browned in spots.
2. While the first batch of sprouts is roasting, shred the remaining 1 lb. of sprouts using a mandoline or the shredding disk of a food processor, toss the shredded sprouts in a large bowl with the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil and half of the minced garlic. Season with salt and pepper.
3. Heat a large, heavy skillet or sauté pan, and sauté the shredded sprouts over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, for 3-4 minutes, or until softened and beginning to brown in spots, but still mostly bright green. If necessary, work in batches to prevent overcrowding the pan – you don’t want to steam them. (If doing multiple batches you may need to add a tiny bit more oil to the pan to prevent sticking/burning). Transfer cooked shredded sprouts to a bowl and set aside.
4. Using the same pan, reduce heat to medium, and add 1 tablespoon each butter and olive oil. Add remaining minced garlic and sauté for 1-2 minutes, just until fragrant, being careful not to brown it. Add anchovies or anchovy paste, and sauté for 1-2 minutes, breaking them up with the back of a spoon. Add stock to pan, increase heat to medium-high, and simmer until anchovies have dissolved and liquid is reduced by about one-half. Remove from heat, squeeze lemon juice into sauce, season with pepper, and swirl to combine.
5. Add all Brussels sprouts – the oven-roasted halves and the sautéed shredded ones – to the pan with the sauce. Toss to coat and make sure all sprouts are heated through. Turn off heat and leave pan on burner.
6. Prepare capers - heat 1 tsp. each butter and olive oil in a small skillet or sauté pan over high heat, and pan-fry capers until puffy and crisp. Drain briefly on a paper towel, add to Brussels sprouts, and toss.
7. Transfer to serving dish and garnish with toasted pine nuts, lemon zest, and chopped parsley.
I had success with two firsts this year - buying Trader Joe's pre-brined turkey (a 16-1/2 lb bird, 99 cents a pound), and roasting in a convection oven. It was perfect! It was juicy, evenly browned, and crispy-skinned all over. I was so relieved that it came out so well as it was the first Thanksgiving in our new house. I stuffed it, rubbed an herb butter rub under the skin, and never basted, though added broth to the pan for good pan juices. I used the thermometer probe that came with the oven, roasted it at 325 to 165 degrees in the inner thigh, and let it rest about 20 minutes. Next year I'm not going to change a thing.
I finally took the plunge and brined my turkey. It was a little over 18lbs and I didn't fancy leaving it in salt for 18 hours - so I cut down the kosher salt - 1/2 to 3/4 cup and overcompensated the brown sugar - 1 1/2 cups, a head of garlic cut in half longways, a handful of pink, green and black peppercorns. The reason I never brined before was I don't have a huge fridge - but I used the sink in my laundry room which I filled with lots of ice and a little water and put the bird with brining liquid in an oven bag overnight. I didn't stuff it - just lathered it with a mix of butter, olive oil and oregano - sat it on a turkey lifter (the best $10.00 I ever spent at Bed Bath and Beyond) - loosely covered the breast with foil and put it in 325 degrees for 4 hours - basting hourly and taking the foil off for the last hour - the timer hadn't popped yet but, again using some online advice - I took it out to rest anyway and lo - it popped after about 10 minutes - the bird was juicy, crisp-skinned and not salty at all - the best I ever made and now I know what all the fuss is about when it comes to brining - can't wait to try tweaking the brine and using smaller birds in the fridge - hmmmm "Tweaking the Brine" sounds like a good blog name for a foodie.
1. Mashed taters with butter
2. Mashed taters with plain yoghurt, cheddar, fried onions and mushrooms.
3. Mashed parsnips with butter and nutmeg.
4. Mashed turnips with butter and black pepper.
5. Stuffing 1 - corn bread, corn niblets, pineapple, TJs orange scented cranberries.
6. Stuffing 2 - pumpernickel bread (crusts cut off), fried onion, apple,celery and rosemary. Both stuffings were made in muffin pans - I should have added a little egg or egg white to the mix to make them hold together better.
7. Homemade cranberry compote - another 1st try - so easy and 1,000,000 times better than the canned stuff - making it is 1% harder than opening a can. Simmer cranberries in sugared water - add seedless tangerines - cool - eat. My wife grabbed some while it was still hot and had it as soup with a dollop of sour cream - very similar to Czech cherry soup.
8. Sweet potatoes - roasted peeled then mashed with cinnamon and maple syrup and - yes - topped with marshmallows and broiled to a crisp.
With the Texas wind sending the chaff blowing away over the last couple years I'm now down to my core group of friends.Which is perfect.Arose bright and early to put a rack of baby backs on the smoker and walked back inside to start the sides.
My Alabama green beans recipe calls for 5lbs of smoked,outside slice bacon,5lbs of Texas Sweet onions and 3lbs of green beans.This is the perfect ratio.
I then begin preparing my Mac and Cheese w/Gouda,Comte and Extra sharp Cheddar,throwing a half dozen roasted Hatch peppers in for good measure.
Next up ,Pumpkin sponge cake that I turn into a roulage with Chantilly cream.
I have a quart of top notch Ganache that transforms into truffles with toasted Hazelnuts a friend smuggled in from Turkey.
Banging out a batch of Kentucky cornbread is nothing but a g thing at this stage.I could do it in my sleep.
As the guests arrive I pour pre prandials of Bulleit with Topo Chico,Maudite from Canada and Modela Especial from Mexico.
For a starter I take a little leftover Bechamel from the Mac and Cheese,top it with chopped tomatoes and Avocado and voila Queso.
Then I just start coursing everybody out whilst rocking Blind Willie Johnson with Planet Earth[volume off]giving the visuals.
It's a nice scene.Lots of good food...I warned everyone not to bring any food whatsoever.I hate potlucks,they're never very....lucky.
We make do with what we have and finish off the evening with a nice bonfire in the backyard accompanied by glasses of Gruet.
We had semi-potluck at my sister's in-laws cabin. I say "semi-potluck" because in fact, my family did basically all of the cooking (my sister's SIL didn't lift a finger to either cook, set-up or clean-up, and her MIL is a terrible cook: we let her make green salad).
17-lb Heritage turkey, roasted on the gas grill (no clean-up!) -- came out perfect and was delicious
Cornbread, apple, sausage stuffing from The Silver Palate -- my favorite, modified this year to use pumpkin seeds instead of pecans, because my niece can't have nuts
Creamed onions -- instead of the usual creamed onions I did the Epicurious Four-Onion gratin someone recommended here: it was delicious, and easy because I could make it the night before: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...
Root vegetable gratin (Mom made) -- potatoes, sweet potatoes, turnips and celeriac -- good
SIL brought pumpkin pie and BIL made his famous cheesecake.
We decided a green veggie would be nice, so my sister sliced up some celery and sauteed it with sliced garlic, and it was pretty good.
Well, we had Thanksgiving dinner at a Chinese restaurant with a bunch of visiting relatives and friends of my husband, and the tale of that dinner is worthy of a Not About Food thread, except it would just be a rant! So, I left it really craving a real Thanksgiving dinner. Went to the grocery store around 1:30 on Friday, got home and got cooking:
Roast Chicken (from Think Like a Chef)
Oyster Dressing (latest issue of Saveur)
Olive Oil Mashed Potatoes (Hopkinson's book)
Peas (frozen, with a little salt and butter)
Cranberry Sauce (recipe on the back of the bag - sugar & water, used a little less sugar)
Turkey Gravy (courtesy of Citarella, and it sure was good)
Sauteed Apple Tarts with Creme Fraiche (NYT recipe mentioned to me by a friend and fellow hound - makes a pie, but I went with tarts, and heated up the extra apples to serve with them.)
It was all delicious and at 8pm we were happily tucked into bed!
P.S. Please forgive the ridiculous looking pomelo in the centerpiece & the coat hanging on the chair!
Photos of tarts. I used snow flake cookie cutters for the tops, but I think they look a little funny - a simpler shape like a heart or a star would probably be better. The crust was so light and flakey (http://www.nytimes.com/2001/11/14/din... ) Next time, I think I'd add a little more apple as well, and also let them bake just a little longer, so that they got a little browner (I did put them on the pizza stone for about ten minutes so the bottoms would brown nicely). I can't remember how long I cooked them for - maybe 20 minutes - but my husband was getting antsy and I needed to get the chicken in the oven. I loved the oyster dressing - had never had one before, and look forward to making it again. I baked it for 10 minutes less than called for in total, ahead of time, then popped it back in the oven for 10 minutes while the chicken was resting.
re: Tom P
If it's not too cumbersome, I would love to see your Shrimp and Crabmeat Dressing recipe - sounds delicious. This dressing was a bit dryer than the one my mother makes (no recipe, but she kind of tells me what to do over the phone each year that I make it), but hers has egg in it too. I might try it with some eggs next time.
Not cumbersome at all, but will need some adaptation and you will see why. I love this stuff, but I actually have not made it in a few years as I have been trying different stuffings for fun (I love chorizo stuffing now) and I have been trying to figure out the adaptation as well.
My mother was an amazing cook. She at times, though, given her generation, did the whole casserole or short cut thing which a lot of us have left behind. Believe me, I LOVE a good casserole. I just want them natural, not processed anymore.
My mom made a very tasty stuffing that could be served on its own or as a base for takeoff. She used Stove Top, but she doctored it up so that you could never really know it was stovetop.
She started with the chicken flavor stovetop, and made it with chicken broth not water. In the meantime, she would saute down- in butter of course - the southern triumvirate: diced onion, celery and green pepper. She added minced garlic, green onion (tops and bottoms) as well, with lots of salt and pepper. She would do this the night before Thanksgiving, mix it all together with other herbs and spices, whatever she had on hand, put it in a casserole and bake it the next day with a little broth and pads of butter on top.
it was quite good, but she began to do riffs on it. She did a great Southwest version where she added lots cheeses, black olives, jalapenos and appropriate spices.
With the shrimp and crabmeat version, she would create the base using 2 boxes of stuffing, adding red bell pepper, a diced jalapeno and a jar of pimentos to the standard vegetables saute. The amount of vegetables you use kind of depends on how 'veggie' you want the stuffing, i.e. the ratio of vegetable to bread.
Then in a large bowl toss the stuffing with 1 lb fresh shrimp, peeled but not cooked, 1 lb fresh lump blue crabmeat (we grew up on the gulf, there is no better crabmeat), 1 can of Campbells Cream of Mushroom Soup, 1 can of Campbells Cream of Chicken Soup, and a ton of cajun spices.
Pour into 2 9x13 casserole dishes, dot with butter and bake. Honestly, it is like crack. I often doubled the seafood when I made it, just to be decadent. It was best prepped the day before, to let it get very flavorful before you bake it.
It would be easy to replicate the base with fresh bread... what to do about the soups, I guess, is my question. It might be great as described without the soups. I have had so many requests for it the last couple of years I am going to try it 'fresh' next year. If you have any ideas, let me know, we can try it!
My greatest triumph this year was to make brussels sprouts that I actually liked. It was an amalgam of a few hounds' recommendations: I filmed a big pan with olive oil and lay down the halved sprouts until the cut sides got pretty brown. Then I shook them around in the pan, sizzle sizzle, and tossed them with a lump of butter, a drop of maple syrup, salt, and a jar of chestnuts. Underdone rather than overdone is the way to go with these guys, I've now decided.
A huge hit was the cranberry jam shortcake from Dorie Greenspan's baking book. A double recipe fit in a 9x13 pan, as follows: make a simple cranberry sauce from two bags of berries, 2 cups of sugar, and the zest, juice and sections of 2 oranges. Make a dough in the mixer of three sticks of butter, 2 eggs, 2 yolks, sugar, and about 5 cups of flour. Press half the dough into the pan, spread on the cranberries, roll out the rest of the dough onto the top. Paint the top with water and sprinkle with sugar, and bake until light brown. Wow, was it buttery! It was softer than a cookie, firmer than a cake, sweet and tart and rich, popular with kids and adults. And a little goes a long way: everyone had seconds and we aren't even through with it yet.
Otherwise... I also tried DG's caramel pumpkin pie, and it was good, but I prefer the traditional flavor. Oyster dressing, more-or-less according to Saveur, was terrific. My dad makes a "Sicilian stuffing" with olives, capers, fennel, and raisins soaked in Marsala--also a success.
Nigella's paradise chutney wasn't terribly compelling, but I did veer from her recipe in ways I'll never recreate. That was the only miss, really. I love Thanksgiving!
This year I tried for the first time the Sourdough Parmesan Stuffing recipe from Sunset magazine. They said it was one of their most requested recipes. Well, I can certainly see why - it was a huge hit!! Definitely going into the keeper file...
BEST IDEA OF THE CENTURY IN MY HOUSE -- We have six kids (ages 8-17), and each kid was responsible for one dessert and one side dish...they had to research recipes, make grocery lists, and do the shopping themselves, too (and the shopping was absolutely hilarious, but extremely educational!). My husband and I did the turkey and gravy, but otherwise we sat back and answered questions when needed.
No one complained that they didn't like this dish or that dish, because they cooked it all themselves...they had a great time, and more important, I think they appreciate mom and dad a lot more for cooking for them every single day.
TONS of fun, and a new Thanksgiving tradition for us...
We do something similar. It's just my family & my sister's. All but one of the kids are out of college -- the last one is a HS senior. We had an Appetizer Throwdown. All had to do an app -- they even practiced earlier in the week to make sure they got it right. There was a bit trash-talking, and a few offers of bribes for votes, but it was great fun. We voted after dinner. No prize, just bragging rights. We had a crab mousse, shrimp toast, a pepperoni/cheese roll, and (in defference to my 2 & 3 year old grand kids, a jello/cream cheese/strawberry/crushed pretzel concoction. Not bad, and a lot of fun. The jello thing won, but only because the kiddies voted too. Shrip toast came in 2nd.
Yep, it won. I think it was because the nephew who made it is the "baby" of the family (other than my grand kids), and because we all got such a kick out of watching the grandkids devour it as their "app". We all knew he had practiced it several times earlier in the week just so he had it right. We are such suckers for sentiment. I forgot to mention my daughters buffalo chicken dip (hot). That was a big fave.
Your daughter's buffalo chicken dip? <snerk> Why, we've been discussing buffalo chicken dip on this board for a few years now....believe me, I'm aware of how some people go gonzo over it! I brought it to a Super Bowl party a couple of years ago and those guys about died--it was gone in minutes. Yes, the one we know of is hot (or warm) also...is it made with Frank's Hot Sauce by any chance? Wonder if it's the same recipe.
I'm sorry, you probably took my remark out of context. I did not mean to imply that it was "her" buffalo chicken dip <snerk>. A prior post talked about the appetizer throwdown that we had on T'giving amongst all of the cousins. The buffalo chicken dip was her contribution, not her creation.
I am not sure where she got the recipe, but I do know that elicits raves whenever she takes it somewhere. And yes, it has quite a kick to it. She poaches/boils her breasts (actually the chickens' breasts), shreds the meat & then vacuum seals/freezes it in recipe portions. Makes it a little easier to assemble the dish if she needs a last-minute party contribution. This time she pre-made 4 portions of the dip earlier in the week, then baked them as she needed them. One went to our dinner, one went to her in-laws, one went with her hubby for his fellow nurses who had to work on T'giving, and the last went with my hubby on his annual Hatteras fishing trip.
Since we had tons of overnight guests, I made an apple/onion/cheese quiche for breakfast along with some bacon (needed some for the green beans later). That and bloody mary's got the day off to a good start.........LOL!
Everything else went well, but since the "Outlaws" were responsible for dessert (they brought store-bought), I didn't make my chocolate pie. My daughter was upset! Too bad since it's so easy (prepared graham crust, 1.5 cups heavy cream, 18 ozs chocolate bits, tsp of vanilla) - served with whipped cream and a few raspberries.
Hard Cider for the FB games went over well and the "second round" turkey sandwiches were a big hit
My new recipe that was a big hit, was actually a cocktail I served with apps.
1 can of limeade poured into my KA blender
1 can of 1800 tequilla poured into the blender
1/3 can of Triple Sec also poured into the blender
Fill ice cubes into the blender 3/4 the way up
Slide a piece of fresh lime along the rim of a margarita glass
dip into kosher salt (makes 4 to 6)
Puree in blender and serve in margarita glasses
I had to make a second batch. : )
We were only 8 this year, but oh so glad to be together and a truly splendid afternoon/evening was had by all. Like so many of you, I LOVE Thanksgiving. Here's what we had:
Maple and Tangerine-Glazed Carrots
Cranberry Sauce with Roasted Shallots and Port
Winter Fruit and Nut Stuffing
Macaroni and Cheese
Brussels Sprouts with Marjoram
Cranberry Nut Bread
(many red and white wines......my son chose a wonderful selection)
Ginger Bread Pumpkin Trifle
I'm making turkey stock now and will make a turkey noodle soup tomorrow. This, ladies and gentlemen, is true happiness. Happy Thanksgiving to all.
That all sounds fab, but especially the carrots and the trifle. I googled the trifle recipe and found several links to a gingerbread pumpkin trifle recipe by Paula Deen. Is that the one you used? It calls for a lot of pre-packaged ingredients -- did you make it using those or is there a version using ingredients you make from scratch, because honestly, I can whip up a batch of gingerbread from what I have in the pantry a lot more easily than going out and buying a mix! And it calls for "frozen whipped topping" aka Kool-Whip!
re: Ruth Lafler
You caught me red-handed! My husband and I had a great laugh when I asked him to pick up the ingredients for Paula's trifle ( I made it last year also to rave reviews). I said "Here's the difference between everything else I've made, and the trifle recipe: all the other ingredients came from the earth or animals. This all came from boxes". Yes, indeed it did! It's mighty tasty and I encourage you to make it with healthier ingredients and let me know what you do. (I am so not a dessert maker).
Ruth, Ruth.....the carrots were the real deal! They are on epicurious and are truly luscious.
Thanks! I guess my only problem would be that I don't know how much gingerbread "two boxes" is -- but I found another recipe for gingerbread trifle (with lemons and blueberries) that has the gingerbread from scratch, so I could start with that. I don't mind using vanilla pudding mix or canned pumpkin pie mix (as long as I can find one without HFCS), but I'd definitely use whipped cream instead of "frozen whipped topping"!
re: Ruth Lafler
I decided to make this for our family December birthday dinner (Dad and sister). I made my favorite gingerbread recipe (from the Silver Palate Cookbook). I didn't have any vanilla pudding, but I did have butterscotch and I thought that might go well with my canned organic (no HFCS) pumpkin pie mix, so I used that. I used a pint of whipping cream, whipped with some sugar and some chopped crystalized ginger. I omitted the sugar from the pumpkin mixture and doubled the cardamom (I love cardamom).
Verdict: Easy enough, and great for a weeknight dinner since it has to be made in advance. Dad loved it, which was the point. I thought that actually the butterscotch pudding didn't quite work -- I wished I'd used vanilla. Plus I made the bottom gingerbread layer thicker than I should have, so the ratio of gingerbread to pumpkin and whipped cream was off a little. So basically, it was a success but I wasn't completely satisfied with the way it turned out. However, that was my fault, not the recipe's! It's worth trying again, with a little less tweaking.
Made green beans using Mollie Katzen's recipe. Cooked them in my wok, omitted the red pepper flakes. They looked great, were easy to make, delicious, and didn't require coveted oven space.
Also served butternut squash soup from Trader Joe's with some sweetened croutons. Great!!
As always, Turkey in the Reynolds Oven Bag turns out just perfect. It is a family tradition, we prep it a certain way then cook it according to the instructions on the bag... I have no idea why everyone doesn't do it. Moist meat, crispy skin, very flavorful if you prep it right... so easy. And no basting or worry! Just stick it in and then pull it out.
My friend Claire's Squash Gratin - very cheesy - is always the biggest hit. Amazing.
I tried 3 new dishes along with the regulars, all three were terrific:
1) The Chard Gratin from last month's COTM by Alice Waters. This will now be a staple on my table, and not just on Thanksgiving but throughout the year. GREAT. My only change was a mixture of kale and chard rather than just chard, and I added a little parmesan to the breadcrumbs.
2) A 'raw' cranberry relish: Cranberries, apples, oranges (with skin) shallots and a jalapeno chopped in the food processor, with some OJ and a little sugar mixed in afterwards. Did it the day before and it was very good. By Thanksgiving it was wonderful: crunchy, sweet and spicy, cool and fresh.
3) Rice Dressing... this was not entirely 'new', as I grew up with it in my Cajun household. But it was the first time I made it for my own table and it went over big time. Everyone tore into it, and if you have people who have trouble with wheat/gluten, it is perfect for it is a wonderful replacement for them for stuffing - though I love stuffing! (And we had two great ones friends brought: a bread stuffing with chorizo and a traditional cornbread stuffing.)
I did the peas and pancetta from Zuni and I think these need to be fresh peas for the dish to truly take off. I used frozen peas, all that was available. Good, but not great.
I often cook the Carrots Provence from Patricia Wells 'At Home In Provence' at holidays. It is a sublime recipe. I just messed it up this year: I rushed and they steamed more than caramelized.
I also just over-roasted the brussel sprouts. Usually they are just like popcorn. Not so much this year, for me, though everyone else demolished them.
Everything else worked very well: I did the Roast Tomatoes, also from At Home In Provence. These are one of my favorite dishes, period. If you love tomatoes... (and it works well with out of season tomatoes, even the harder ones from the market you have to use in the winter).
A friend, Collin, did the mashed, which he made with the milk/butter infused with a touch of ginger. No one could figure out what the hell was going on, we all just knew they were terrific. He finally told us what he added.
Another friend, Meyerer made cream biscuits with honey butter. Fluffy and excellent!
I also always do grilled rack of lamb chops. Talk about easy and people go nuts: At Costco I get the smaller racks of lamb, about 8 per rack, and cut them into single chops, about 1/2 inch thick. Toss them with EVOO, lemon juice, garlic, thyme and salt and pepper (lots of it all) and let them sit over night in the fridge. Grill them about two minutes per side at most. Just grab a rib, pick it up and eat it like Fred Flintstone on a dinosaur bone.
All in all we had a wonderful time. 16 around the table. Happy Thanksgiving to you all! I love this board.
re: Tom P
I did the turkey in the bag for years and agree with you. Leave it and forget it, wonderfully moist breast, crispy skin, can’t overcook. But I always had one problem with it and perhaps you’ve solved it and can help me out. Because the juices accumulate in the bottom of the bag, I could never get the wings crispy. And I love crispy turkey wings. Is there some trick to your prep that keeps the wings up out of the juice and allows the skin on the wings to get as crispy as the skin on the breast and legs?
Oddly, I never thought about that, but I know we always have crisp wings, particularly since this year, when my buddy Collin was carving the turkey and I was in the kitchen with him and most people were not around, the wing looked so amazing that I tore one off the turkey and dove in, before we said grace or sat down or anything. So I understand the love.
I had to think for a while why our wings always turn out crisp. I think it is our prep. Let me tell you what we do and then see if this makes sense.
The Wednesday before Thanksgiving (oh, and I never brine... well, I did once and it made no significant difference so it seems not worth the effort, at least given the way our Turkey turns out):
- Rinse and dry the turkey (always a 22-24 pounder with the people I feed).
- Melt 2 sticks of butter.
- Pour about 1/4 of the butter into both cavities. Liberally (and I mean a lot) salt and pepper and cayenne pepper the insides.
- Fill the cavities with large chunks of onion, chopped celery, garlic cloves, lemon halves, herbs of your choice.
- Slather the rest of the butter over the turkey. Then salt, pepper and cayenne pepper the outside. Seriously, you cannot do too much. Mine looks if not encrusted then close. Massage it all into the skin, your hands become a wonderful mess.
- Into the bag put the flour recommended by Reynolds. We also put large chunks of onion, celery, garlic cloves and about 1/3 bottle of white wine in the bag as well.
- Stick in the turkey, close and let sit in the fridge overnight, removing in time for it to come to room temp or close before putting it in the oven.
I think what happens is that the turkey always rests on the onion parts in the bag, which elevates it slightly. As it is a little higher than without the vegetables, the wings stay crisp. My theory anyway. I will pay closer attention next year.
Do try the cayenne. It is not spicy at all, just wonderfully flavorful with everything else added in.
re: Tom P
Thanks, Tom P. Just copied your message into my T’giving file. I use sharp paprika instead of cayenne (Hungarian heritage here), probably use less wine, and have never let the turkey sit in the bag overnight, but otherwise our prep is surprisingly similar. The really significant difference, and one I’m in no position to emulate, is the size of the turkey. Mine is usually barely half the size of yours. I’m beginning to wonder if how the turkey sits on the rack may be more telling than the preparation.
Perhaps next year I’ll make a singular effort to ensure the turkey sits as high as possible on the rack to keep it above, rather than in, the aromatics and juices. But whatever I do, I’m definitely going back to the bag next year. The past few years I’ve tried different methods and different kinds of turkeys. Some were a success; some weren’t. But none have been as consistent and reliable as the kosher turkey in the Reynold’s oven bag, which was how I prepared my very first Thanksgiving turkey.
The size has to be a big difference indeed, good thought. I've never used a rack, even, with the bag. I imagine you could put the rack inside the bag? There has to be a relatively easy way to elevate the turkey, even in the bag.
Give a little cayenne a try. I seriously cover the turkey with it and you would never know ... it is not spicy at all, just flavorful. I will add in the paprika next year, great idea.
ok, so after some technical difficulties with the recipe publishing feature, i decided to go ahead and post them on the Home Cooking board instead. i've created a separate post for each of the three recipes requested by you all - the brussels sprouts, the ginger cake, and the choc-cranberry tart.
~Cranberries with a whisper of cinnamon and vanilla--the standard "recipe" from the bag minus a 1/4 cup of sugar, plus a 1/2" of cinnamon stick (steeped in the simple syrup for 5-10 minutes, plus a generous 1/4 tsp of vanilla extract. The seasonings accent rather than dominate here.
~Cornbread-chorizo dressing--nothing particularly innovative here, but rather than follow a recipe, I just made it by sight and taste using things we had on hand, including some nice homemade chorizo. The surprise was how well it turned out. Definitely my favorite leftover item this year.
~Sauteed chard with pine nuts and dried tart cherries--simple and delicious treatment of some beautiful and tender young chard from a farm in the highlands of central AZ.
Pretty good, but could have been better:
~Homemade pecan pie--my first ever attempt at making pie crust turned out surprisingly well (thanks, Joy of Cooking!). For the filling, I followed a recipe we got from a central AZ pecan grower. Good flavor, but the filling failed to set up completely and collapsed pretty drastically--operator error I'm sure.
~Ancho-spiced sweet potato puree--an autumn standard at our house, but typically used in conjunction with roasted poblanos (and a bit of cheese melted on top), either in relleno or casserole form. Because this year's home-grown poblanos were uniformly blazingly hot, I skipped them this year. The dish suffered from the absence of the flavor and texture of the roasted chiles, so I'm going to have to do a little post hoc doctoring with these leftovers.
~Zuni-esqe smoked chicken--I salted and seasoned the bird following the directions in the Zuni cookbook (I think) and then cooked it in my outdoor smoker. The flesh had a delicious flavor and wonderful texture, but the skin turned out leathery rather than crisp. I'm not sure if the skin texture problem was due to the age of the bird, how the bird was stored (bird was previously frozen), a misunderstanding of the salting procedure, or a problem with how I cooked the bird. I need to investigate further. Meanwhile, we'll be enjoying smoked chicken sandwiches.
We're in London and celebrated yesterday. Here was our menu:
spicy sweet and salty nuts (ho hum)
baked camembert with red onion chutney in phyllo with toasts made from honey bread (a big hit)
a spicy gingery spiced punch with orange juice, pineapple, and vodka. (a friend brought this and it was a huge hit)
Cornbread (indian head packaging recipe, made with my secret ingredient: molasses sugar. This was a big hit)
Cranberry sauce (I made it how my mother makes, it so it was sourer than most people expected, but it was more for me)
Butternut squash and goat cheese roulade (oozed onto the oven floor. People liked it, but I thought it was stodgy)
Mashed potatoes (my German husband made these. Lots of cream and butter)
Sweet potato mash (gingery and sage. A friend brought these. Very sucessful)
Le puy lentil salad (boring.)
Shredded brussel sprouts. (very nice leftovers with leftover spiced nuts)
Vegetarian Gravy (v. sucessful!)
Salad with almonds and cheese (to stuffed to really enjoy, but quite nice)
Chocolate cake with raspberry jam and cream cheese frosting (made from leftover batter from night before. Very good.)
Pecan pie (rich)
apple pie (better for breakfast this morning)
Thanksgiving Redux with pics -
A full Thanksgiving plate always seems to taste better when we have it again a couple of nights later. Last night we watched a movie, opened a bottle of Oriel Jasper Pinot Noir, and enjoyed a bit of everything I made for T-day again.
Roast Turkey with herb butter and gravy
Grand Marnier, dried apricot, sausage, and chestnut stuffing
Mashed potatoes with butter-poached leeks and fresh thyme
Orange-honey roasted carrots
Fresh buttered corn off the cob
Peas and pearl onions with cream sherry sauce
Cranberry sauce with marsala, rosemary, and cherries
On Thanksgiving Day, apps were brie en croute with the above cranberry sauce, popcorn with white truffle butter and fresh-grated parm, sun-dried tomato dip with crackers and crudites, and herbed olive oil-marinated cocktail shrimp. Desserts were Brandied Pumpkin Pie and mini-maple cheesecakes (both Epi recipes). My friend Jen's delicious contributions were oyster dressing, cranberry-orange relish, and pecan pie.
As I mentioned above, the Trader Joe's pre-brined turkey roasted in a convection oven was a huge hit. It came out absolutely perfect, juicy and flavorful (I always use an herb butter rub under the skin), and made for such a relaxing afternoon as it cooked - no flipping or basting needed. In fact, I had time to walk down to the local playground with Jen and her kids for an hour (nice time chatting as we watched the kids and enjoyed our hot spiced cider with Sailor Jerry!).
A couple of other firsts and what I would do differently:
Cranberry and vanilla bean-infused vodka. Gorgeous ruby-red color, though I would leave the vanilla bean out as I tasted a faint hint of cough syrup, and I think it was the vanilla. I would add orange instead. I'd cut down the sugar too as it was a bit too sweet to serve as a 'martini' and was better on the rocks. I also made maple cheesecakes for the first time instead of pumpkin cheesecake. The recipe suggested using grade B for more flavor, and I wish I had instead of using the grade A in my pantry. I ended up drizzling more maple syrup on top and sprinkling it with leftover crust crumbs to up the maple flavor.
I made a cream sauce using 2 Tb each of butter and flour for the roux, and then 1 cup of milk and some water to thin, along with 3 Tb of cream sherry. I boiled the pearl onions, peeled, and then simmered in the sauce for about 10 minutes the day before. On T-day, I just heated it up and added thawed frozen peas.
This is my favorite cranberry sauce. I've made it without the dark cherries and sometimes substitute dried cranberries for dried cherries, and all variations turn out great. Instead of minced rosemary, I simmer with a branch of fresh rosemary which I later remove:
Cranberry Sauce with Cherries, Marsala and Rosemary
Here you go cassoulady and almccasland - it was very easy.
The recipe doesn't say the amount of vodka, but on the show he used 1 liter. I had saved some of the whole cranberries, and we skewered a few to garnish the 'martini's - very pretty. We thought it was better served on the rocks, however, and the recipe recommends that, topped with tonic and a slice of lime:
I was a guest, not a host, so I just made a couple of dishes. Pearl onions in a Port reduction from Epicurious were a bit hit. I'll make them again. The hostess suggested that I make a chocolate dessert, so I brought something totally not Thanksgiving-ish, Nigella Lawson's gooey chocolate stack from "How to Be a Domestic Goddess." It's three meringue disks layered with a rich chocolate pudding. It was good but I wouldn't make it to transport elsewhere again. When I put it in a Tupperware-type container for the ride to my friend's house the meringue lost most of its crispness.
Our meal went very well. We served 20 and made a turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, roasted cauliflower, gravy and a salad.
Turkey - We got from a local farm, it was free-range and fresh. I brined the evening before. We were expecting guests at 3 and planned on eating at 6. The bird was 20 pounds so we put into the oven (unstuffed) at noon. By THREE PM it was reading at 160 degrees. We were not expecting this and removed from the oven and tented. We ended up popping back into the oven near dinner-time and it ended up slightly underdone. I still have no clue what happened, but it WAS delicious - the white meat at least!
Mashed potatoes were perfect. Made ahead and kept in a dutch oven, reheated.
Stuffing was great as well.
I made roasted cauliflower with butter/mustard sauce and even though I did just 1/3 of the butter it was STILL too heavy for my tastes, although everyone else liked it.
Salad was fabulous. Bibb lettuce, haricot verts, radicchio, candied walnuts.
Gravy was pretty meh......my boyfriend has a whole family recipe thing going on and I interjected this year, and I suppose I 'ruined' it.
the big hits at my table were the sausage fennel stuffing, that was eaten up. The roasted brussel sprouts with roasted shallots were great and I did roasted carrots and parsnips that must have been good because there were none left for me. I was not happy with my gravy which I had made ahead. The flavor was great and it had a great texture but the color was unappealing, too beige- what did I do wrong?? Also, my green beans were a bit too crisp although I prefer them this way, I realize now I should have cooked them longer to appeal to everyone else.
The good: Cornbread dressing with sausage, apple, and pecans - it turned out delicious
The bad: I burned the pie crust on my chess pie (the filling was delicious, though)
The ugly: Two of the people who had pie thanked me for getting the crust done enough ^_^;;;
This was my first Thanksgiving and I cooked all dishes and for 10 people -- everything was new to me, but the biggest HIT was a Sweet Potatoe Souffle from The True Grits cookbook. I doubled the recipe and I think if I trippled it everyone would still have eaten every last bite. A true winner! It is on page 23 of the link to this PDF:
We had a much smaller T-day - just 4 adults and two small children. My mom normally joins us for T-day but this was her first year away which also meant my first year doing all the food/cooking.
Make ahead mashed potatoes ala Pioneer Woman. Easy, tasty and did one day ahead.
Cranberry sauce with maple syrup instead of sugar and also cinnamon. Turned out pretty tasty and made a day ahead
Making the stuffing/dressing a day ahead
Turkey - used technique/recipe from Simply Recipies. Easy, simple and turned out great
Apple Pie - bought from Auntie Em's - delicious!!
Stuffing - loved that I did it ahead of time but first time to do cornbread stuffing rather than traditional bread stuffing. Used homemade cornbread. But not sure the whole thing worked for me. Liked doing it a day in advance.
gravy - my mom always handles this and it was obvious why. Mine was okay but I was pretty clueless.
I think the highlight for me was the fact that I was able to do so much in advance so T-day all I really had to worry about was letting the rolls rise, steaming some grean beans, and the turkey. Everything else just went in the over an hour or so before the meal. Easiest T-day ever.
Well, the first T-day was at 4 a.m. Success: everybody awake, not too intoxicated, very hungry (I paced the accessories), 3 of us plus I Irish wolfhound (guest), I brittany mix puppy, I lab mix, I golden retriever. They all counter surf. The wolfhound is counter height already. This makes things a little complicated! Second T-day was Sunday with 3 teenagers, 3 adults, our 3 dogs. Many things freshly cooked for Sunday.
Hits: Potato gratin with organic yukon gold potatoes, organic portabellos, smoked gounda, virgin olive oil, organic oil, portobellos, organic cream, evap. goat milk for that smoky flavor.
Simple appetizer of fresh chevre cheese rolled into balls, 2 rolled in smoke paprika, 2 rolled in herbes d'provence with Stonewall Kitchen's roasted garlic crackers. Boy, am I ever doing this again! Easiest thing ever!
Oyster stuffing with 1/2 pumpernickel, 1/2 white bread, tarragon, aniseed, butter, sherry, chervil, lots or rosemary, 1/4 tsp. fresh sage, some thyme, fennel seed, celery, chopped shallots, lots of celery seed.
Emeril's creamed onions with bacon. (new recipe)
Fresh green beans with serrano with smoked duck.
Wild rice and white rice (mixed) salad). (new recipe)
Boone tavern (Berea College, KY) spoon bread (new recipe)
That weird cranberry jello salad (new recipe for me) Some trouble unmolding due to all the bits of stuff in it.
Fresh fruit salad with Macs, oranges, pomegranate seeds, frozen rasperries & wild maine blueberries, fresh strawberries. One teenager was amazed that you can make fruit salad instead of buying it at the store.
Herbed gravy made with roasted turkey legs. (new recipes)
Pumpkin Panna Cotta with fresh pie pumpkin and organic cream despite losing my favorite recipe from from the old Budget Living. Had to reduce the sugar massively. Although no one else noticed, I would strain out the ground spices next time for ultra smoothness.
Near misses: Golden Retriever stole Harrington's cob-smoked turkey heating on the grill and ate rear end and drumstick meat. English Setter and Lab may have been involved. Irish Wolfhound ratted him out, and Golden was caught red-pawed.
Irish Wolfhound stole some bread crumbs and licked some gougeres.
Homemade cornbread made into stuffing (we call it dressing) with 1/2 white bread, apples, celery, parboiled onion, nutmeg, cardamon, cinnamon, ground ginger, allspice, grated apples, chicken stock grated orange peel, orange juice, and apple cider. Some liked it, but I found it a little underspiced. Also, I didn't have any apple jack.
Apple pie with Northern Spies and cardamon, streusal cinnamon topping. Everyone liked it, but I had crust problems. My store-bought Vt butter crusts got rice stuck in them when I pre-baked them, so I made my own sour-cream butter crust. Wouldn't hold together. Back to Crisco and white flour, I guess...
Misses: BF's chipotle, ancho sweet potatoes with sour cream on top. Too spicy. Also he forgot the brown sugar and pineapple. His first try at sweet potatoes.
First gratin in glass pan blew up in R2D2, our 1950s roaster. This one had manchego, fennel, sliced turnips as well as potatoes.
My pie crust as above (new recipe)
Harrington's brandied cranberries. BF prefers my cooked orangy, lemony, less sugary, spiced-up ones. First time he ever said anything, of course...
Chocolate chip panna cotta, except for 1 teenager. Too sweet, and chips negate the smooth textures.
Smoked gruyere gougeres with smoked paprika appetizer. Not what I expected. Tasted okay, but too much work for weird texture. (new recipe from a blog)
Let the sandwiches begin!
We had a terrific Thanksgiving in Houston this year. First time for T-day in Houston in 23 years. The big miss there was the terrible, traffic-filled drive from Denver to Houston. Yuck.
Hits: SIL's hot spinach and artichoke dip, eldest daughter and her 10-year old daughter's shrimp toast(this was a real hit) and my plastic olive tree that I got for my sister. She remembered the times from our childhood and it was really special.
Miss: By a mile, my mom's carrots, celery, broccoli, tomato tray with Kraft bottled ranch dressing.
Main & Sides:
Hits- My younger brother fried 2 big turkeys. I had never had fried turkey and was expecting a greasy mess. Wrong. It was delicious. I made a yam side whipped with cream, butter and nutmeg with a streusel/pecan topping that was best yam dish I have ever had. Also an onion au gratin that went over big. Youngest daughter and her oldest daughter made fluffy, homemade dinner rolls. Two different dressings - I made traditional cornbread/bread dressing that was just the way it always is and my SIL made a bread and dried fruit dressing that was excellent. My 8 year old granddaughter made a jello mold concoction that everybody just had to try.
Misses- I can't think of any side that wasn't homey and good.
Hits - Again the 8 year old made buttermilk chess pies (I made the crust).
Misses- Store-bought cherry pie. That niece doesn't know how to cook.
Exceptional Thanksgiving. So thankful that we could all be together again as a family.
We ended up spending too much time making and prepping for pies and sides that we didn't put the turkey in the oven on time. so everyone waited until 11PM for dinner but well worth it.
hits- chipotle glazed turkey -i brined it a la AltonBrown and glazed it with chipotle, adobo, lime, lemon zest and honey, made extra glaze for compound butter under skin, glaze as well as the gravy roux. the punch of flavor is subtle and awesome in the gravy. glad that we had a massive amount of drippings left, we had lots of gravy! it kicks the canned turkey gravy's ass. I don't know why i have to get a box of the cheap gravy every year.
Whole grain bread + soyrizo + kale/spinich + bacon (i can't help it) stuffed in onionshell stuffing is moist and makes great leftovers.
Mashed potatoes with lots of butter, sour cream and just bit of white pepper is a huge hits with the bambinos. We have 0 leftovers- which was sad.
Sauteed fennel with macrona almonds, raisons and saffron is very refreshing and quick. i might start making it just for kicks!
roasted red jalapenos stuffed with arugula, capers, anchovies and balsamic- fun to eat and not very hot.
Brown sugar Rum Ice Cream- mom took the ice cream bucket hostage.
Caramel, almond and cranberry tarts - these are one of my fav tarts. i might pull this out for friends again.
okay~~ Cranberry sauce with aniseed, too heavy, should of done something lighter to go with the meat and bacon stuffing. Roasted veggies of butternut squash, brussel sprouts, parsnips, carrots in pinenut pesto and bit of citrus juice, again a bit too thick and heavy as a veggie and reheated too many times, but good on a not such an intensive day, should just stick to balsamic and majoriam. Jicama salad with oranges- parents had jicama when they are children and think it is peasant food, taste good but that altered the way i thought about jicama...
Bust! Apple and Pumpkin pie- i don't like the crust cause it was tough (filling is very good though). this is the root of all the trouble since i was spending too much time baking pies instead of the turkey. good thing i have extra filling for the pumpkin and i'm going to try again!
well, i was looking at the packaging for the chorizo and it looked so oily... so i picked up soyrizo that has less than half the fat (not bad by the way, on some polenta and egg breakfast) but while i was making the stuffing, we felt that the soyrizo cooked down too much and we don't have extras, we added bacon... i know, i know, we shouldn't have, but if it counts for anything, we drained the bacon...
We were 15 at our table this year. Bought huge natural turkey from a farmer who sells poultry at the farmers' market. Fabulous, moist, hardly any fat. Didn't brine, becauseI understand that a brined turkey yields no gravy makings, and I think my husband would run away from home if there was no gravy. I made up a fruit and cashew stuffing that was excellent.. It's all at http://culinary-colorado.blogspot.com... -- including the stuffing recipe.
Late post but I wanted to chime in that the pre-brined organic fresh turkey from Trader Joe's was THE best turkey I've ever had! I totally even forgot to baste it but it came out the most deliciously moist turkey ever! Totally worth the extra $$$.
Everything else turned out absolutely fabulous too. i was so nervous something would get messed up but everything was a winner!
Stuffing was delicious that a family member made (we cook it inside the turkey and the rest that doesn't fit, into a crock pot)
I made a mixed root mash (similar to Tyler Florence's recipe on foodtv.com) with potatoes, carrots, and parsnips. Delicious!
A pan roasted gravy made from the drippings and homemade turkey stock.
Green beans with onions and reduced cream.
Cranberry-Orange sauce I just threw together.
and delicious homemade rolls form my SIL's mother.
Oh and pecan pie from "The New Best Recipe" from Cook's Illustrated. Best pecan pie I've ever had also!
I was very pleased with everything this year. I was sick on T-day and didn't really feel like cooking.
I tried the cranberry sauce recipe using orange juice, orange slices, and cinnamon. Wow, was that stuff good!
Last year, I tried to make cornbread/biscuit stuffing like my grandmother makes. It was horrible. I decided to try again this year and it turned out perfectly.
All in all, the timing was on target and everything was really good. I'd say it was the best holiday meal I've ever made. Too bad, it was only my family of four to eat all of it!