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Thanksgiving Plans

I love Thanksgiving! I love tackling the challenge of putting together a complex multi course dinner (There are only two in my family, so it's mostly one-dish meals for us) and of trying to stay true to the tradtions and yet be creative. Is anyone on here responsible for cooking for Thanksgiving? If so, what are you planning to make? I'd like to hear all about it. - the frustrations, the satisfactions, the innovations, the things you dare not change.

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  1. A truly great recipe from Gourmet (RIP) from November 1985 is smoked sausage and rosemary dressing, I've made it every year since, in addition to at least one other dressing. And once I discovered Heritage turkeys I've never been without one.

    1. Starting to cook tonight... Family coming tomorrow and leaving Tuesday so we'll eat several Thanksgiving meals.

      Oh Yeah I'm in Canada so T'giving is in October.

      Lot's of stuff from our garden: tomatoes, squash, beets, carrots, swiss chard, mustard greens. A heritage turkey for the main event, with steamed mussels as an app and date custard pie, apple pie, pumpkin pie for dessert. (butter tarts too!)

      Other meals will be braised beef pasta sauce with home made pasta noodles, Weather is still good so we'll grill one night as well.

      Gotta get back to it.


      1. Some years it's just the four of us, other years we've had friends and neighbors by, and the past three years, we've gone to another family's and had about 12-16 people. Each time different, but fun. Not sure what we're doing yet this year, my kids are still little and we have to get through Halloween first! ;)

        I love Sara Moulton's green bean casserole moderne, I usually make that when I'm the one hosting. I make my mom's sausage & bread stuffing every year, but sometimes add things to it, like dried cranberries or leeks or use cornbread. Every year that I cook, I do the turkey a little differently, depending on what's in the mags that year. One year, my MIL & I did a turkey breast wrapped in bacon, it was great. But when I do a turkey, I definitely dry brine it, from a Fine Cooking mag a few years back, and it was undoubtedly the MOST juicy and delicious bird we ever had. So I always use that technique, which works great for any large piece of meat. No longer worry about a container big enough to immerse a full turkey in water, then keep it cold!

        If we go to our family friends' house, she's a caterer and always cooks for lots of people, so she does the turkey, and I bring a lasagne. Lasagne was a family tradition in my home growing up, mainly b/c I (the youngest) didn't care for turkey, and we lived in an italian-american neighborhood, so we always supplemented the turkey with a baked lasagne. And when my mom found a deli with homemade noodles, we were in heaven. Now I either use her recipe with a light version of a bolognese meat sauce, no ricotta, or I bring over a wild mushroom with bechamel, Ina Garten's portabello lasagne recipe. Both are delicious and feed a crowd.

        1. I BBQ my turkey, stuff it with 1/4rd citrus, ginger, garlic, and rosemary. I make a cornbread stuffing it's here on chow (Jennifers Southern stuffing) sausage cornbread french bread, peppers, corn, onions, mushrooms, apples, I can hardly wait!, 2 types of cranberries, carmelized onions, some type of sweet potatoes roasted (here on chow) or sweet potato pudding, a nice watercress salad with pears and nuts, and pie!!! I start on Tuesday and prep all that I can ahead of time. Doing the turkey in the BBQ free's up the oven for other items and gives the turkey a great taste. I start buying the cranberries as soon as I see them and freeze those that I don not use right away. BUT you know the turkey sandwhich the next day is what really rocks my boat. White bread, turkey, cranberries, stuffing, and mayo!!!

          1. Every year I brine the turkey and then cook and smoke it in our Weber kettle bbq. If I so much as suggest cooking the turkey the traditional way in the oven, my wife and family protest. I do enjoy preparing it, however.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Antilope

              Oh another thing we started making several years ago is sweet-potato pie with marshmallow-meringue topping. My family now prefers this to traditional pumpkin pie.

            2. Saturday night pre-Thanx dinner: pasta with roasted tomato sauce (garden), tomato salad (garden), green salad (mostly garden), bread (bought) and croquembouche (cheaters version made with frozen Costco mini-profiteroles built into croquembouche shape). This last is a special request for a young member of the clan - go figure. Another Chowhounder-in-training.

              Sunday Thanx dinner: Local turkey stuffed with my mother's weird but delicious Hungarian-style stuffing, red cabbage with apples and wine, baked hubbard squash pureed with (hopefully) roasted garlic and butter, salad (garden), gravy, cabernet cranberries (the only kind of cranberry sauce I like), apple and pumpkin pies (made with local honey and fresh pumpkin). This is a highly ritualized menu which I dare not tamper with. The year I foolishly made a very delicious sweet potato chipotle casserole in place of the baked squash I was severely reprimanded.

              Monday morning: French toast with local maple syrup. There cannot be any substitutions.

              3 Replies
              1. re: Nyleve

                Nyleve -- that's a great idea for the croquembouche! After you build the tower, do you still drizzle the whole thing with the spun sugar?

                And can I also ask where do you get your maple syrup locally?

                1. re: TorontoJo

                  First the croquembouche. I made a gigantic one recently as a wedding cake for a friend's daughter. I am glad to give you the benefit of my rather complicated learning curve for this.

                  Using an old Crazy Carpet (you know those plastic things that kids use to slide down snowy hills?) I made a cone-shaped mold. Cut a semicircular piece of plastic and rolled it into a cone-shape, secured with duct tape (what else?). Next, I cut a similar shape from heavy-duty aluminum foil and used that to line the inside of the cone completely. Taped the edges together and taped it around the bottom of the cone opening. This was my mold. I sprayed the inside lightly with Pam.

                  Defrost the puffs overnight in fridge. Make a melted sugar caramel thingy - I have to go and re-look-up the exact recipe but it was basically sugar and water cooked with a bit of corn syrup until golden. Now the assembly. Place the cone upside-down into something that will hold it - for the large one I used a big bucket. Working with one puff at a time, dip it in syrup and place it into the cone, pressing them very lightly together to fit. The entire cone should be filled solid with puffs. Once filled, you can carefully invert it onto a platter and remove the mold. If the foil comes out with the puffs, that's ok - just peel it off afterward. I then basically faked the spun sugar effect by dipping a wooden spoon into syrup and whipping it around the tower of puffs to make sort of stringy things. I have yet to perfect my spun sugar technique - but this worked well enough to be gorgeous anyway. People were speechless. I never told anyone I didn't make the puffs myself - the Costco ones are really good and filled with real cream.

                  Maple syrup. I live near Peterborough so I get my syrup from a friend who makes it. If you live in Toronto, I suspect there are many outlets for the stuff - St. Lawrence Mkt. etc.

                  Have a great Thanksgiving.

                  1. re: Nyleve

                    Thanks, Nyleve. Great tips! Have you tried the Alcan Slide foil? It's a non-stick foil and it's amazing. I haven't found anything that will stick to it (as long as you use the correct side!).

                    Nice about your syrup-making friend! Enjoy your Thanksgiving day breakfast!

              2. Dual citizen here, living in Toronto. I LOVE that I get to celebrate Thanksgiving TWICE every year! When I first moved here, I was fascinated to see how many people have their Thanksgiving dinners on the weekend, rather than on Thanksgiving Monday (whoever thought to make the holiday on the Monday was not thinking clearly). The neat thing about this tradition, however, is that I find I often get to eat more than one turkey dinner over the course of the weekend.

                This year, we're going to a friend's house on Saturday for their Thanksgiving dinner. Then Sunday is Thanksgiving Sunday brunch at the King Eddie with the MIL. Then Monday is finally Thanksgiving dinner at our house.

                We're pretty traditional with our menu:

                - 15 lb. roasted turkey (free range, antibiotic free, yadda yadda from our local butcher). I'm going to spatchcock it this year to see if I like that method better than the hoops I usually jump through to ensure the breast meat stays moist
                - my mom's classic herb stuffing (I'm pretty sure it's based on a recipe from a very old Better Homes and Gardens Holiday Cooking cookbook)
                - roasted garlic mashed potatoes
                - roasted brussels sprouts
                - balsamic glazed roasted onions (from Epicurious -- amazing recipe)
                - cranberry chutney (also from Epicurious -- I love that it isn't sickly sweet like most cranberry sauces)
                - lots of gravy, which I make ahead of time with a 5 lb. bag of turkey parts from my butcher (yet another great tip that I picked up from trusty hounds on this board)

                Friends are bringing dessert. Hopefully, it will be a fruit pie from Flaky Tart in Toronto.

                I suppose I should really start planning and shopping! Happy Thanksgiving to all my fellow Canucks!

                1 Reply
                1. re: TorontoJo

                  2 staples are:

                  Haricots Verts with Shallot Dressing
                  Gourmet Mag 1999

                  Ina's Spinach Gratin