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Nov 25, 2011 01:46 PM

Detroit Thanksgiving - Any Lessons Learned? [DTW]

Okay, you’re exhausted. But, please share a few takeaways from your DTW Thanksgiving this year, while it’s all still fresh in your mind. Where did you eat, or what did you make? What were the great scores (price/quality) at the markets? What shortages did you encounter?

I looked for good deals at Trader Joes on organic/natural products. But, their potatoes, onions, sweet potatoes, turkey, etc., were not quite as good as I had hoped, price or quality wise. No complaints, but no accolades. The cornbread mix was too sweet for stuffing making. The vac packed chestnuts were a good deal.

Fortunately, I started Monday, so there was time to recover. I got an Aaron’s Best frozen boneless turkey thigh roast from One Stop (Kosher) which I braised as a backup in case my roast turkey was a loser. That came out great, but so did my roast whole turkey—which I bought from Roperti’s Farm of Livonia ($3.49/LB). I think(?) Oppsie was leaving Roperti’s as I was arriving. I didn’t quite get to say Hi-- my many years in the disco scene eventually taught me it is “bad form” to run after a girl leaving a parking lot. Anyway, samples of Roperti’s house smoked turkey were offered at the counter. It was decent, but I’m glad I roasted mine. (The Trader Joe’s turkey was relegated to, and made, good stock.) Roperti’s photos are attached.

Great Harvest Bread Co. bakes a beautiful fresh bread herbed specifically for stuffing, and they ran it thru the slicer from two directions, leaving me with (long) finger-sized bread pieces. I’ll be back next year but I may buy their regular bread and then add my own herbs. Aside: The girls there remind me of my old liberal university days…tie dyed shirts, bead jewelry, no makeup, scarves as hair adornments, enthusiasm despite minimum wage pay, etc.. Love it.

I liked the Wisconsin cranberries from Trader Joe’s more than the local Michigan cranberries (sorry Blueberry Farms cranberry company, maybe it was my technique). After the Lions game I’m thinking to revisit that evaluation. Papa Joe’s (sorry to keep switching-up on the Joe’s) green beans were okay, but I wanted stars. Next year I’m going with brussels sprouts. My organic-heritage-yada-yada-yada pumpkin flesh came from ROFM’s Cinzori Farms. It was a fantastic looking pumpkin. Big, beautiful, juicy, $5. Too bad I couldn’t match it with a competently made crust. Other than that, GFS was good for Kosher salt and disposable chafing dishes.

Looking forward to hearing about your experiences.

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  1. Made several "go-withs" (Pumpkin Cheesecake, Baked Pearl Onions, Celebration Bean seven layer torte) on Wednesday. BIG win in the prep category.

    Hand-mashed appx eight pounds of potatoes, finished with appx a quarter pound of butter and a more than generous splash of heavy cream.

    Bought a loaf of TJs Tuscan Pane to make open-faced, turkey sandwiches yesterday. Good move.

    2 Replies
    1. re: RedTop

      Baked pearl onions. That sounds fantastic. I might try that this week. You started with frozen onions, right? Was your recipe from on-line? (PS--the potatoes weren't make-aheads, were they? ---I've not been able to figure out how to pull that off)

      1. re: VTB

        Pearl onions, yep, 12 oz frozen pkg from Kroger. Boiled the onions, made the sauce a day ahead. Refrigerated overnight, baked them for T-Day dinner as the turkey rested. Used a white sauce recipe from't include the Cayenne Pepper sauce. Wanted a sort of sweet taste. Got it.

        Mashed potatoes were finished as turkey rested also.

        Thanks for the inquiry, Tom.

    2. My family raved about the sweet potato souffle from Honey Baked Ham ata pre-Thanksgiving get together, so I spared myself the grief and bought four pans. Super easy. Every last bite was eaten.

      Wish I'd have known about the vac-pack chestnuts. It took me an hour and a half to shell a pound and I did a terrible job even after the effort.

      Roperti's turkey was wonderful.

      1. Great meal pre-prep with roasted turkey legs and thighs for stock for the gravy. A mix of a bottle of dry white and a stick of butter bastes the bird, with a dunked big square of cheesecloth on top of the breast to keep it moist, taken off just at the end of cooking. I always make my own cornbread for dressing with sausage, really good this year with a ton of celery and huge Spanish onions. berkleygary made homemade rolls, the spuds, apple crisp and an apple pie...I bought a mince pie, and we had his 24 hour-rise homemade bread for sandwiches. All great...gravy rocked it this year as well. Best of all having the DNA pool around the table.

        2 Replies
        1. re: berkleybabe

          I'm gathering that the DTW Chowhounders stepped up to the plate cooking-wise, but making one's own yeast rolls may "take the cake," given all the other required tasks of Thanksgiving. Tip of the hat to bg. (still skeptical about the cheesecloth thing, though)
          Still no comments from anyone who got a heritage breed bird from a SE Mich farm, or from anyone who leaned on a DTW restaurant (sucessfully or unsucessfully).

          1. re: VTB

            Thanks, I'll pass it along VTB. He's got the roll/yeast/bread thing down! The main thing with the cheese cloth is it keeps the breast from overbrowning and the extra liquid (wine and melted butter) really increases the yield of the gravy -- doubles the amount. Which is essential as this is the annual "sacred nectar" of the berkleys.

        2. made dinner rolls from scratch, black bottom key lime pie, and a turkey w/ gravy....all in about 6 hrs, not too shabby

          1. My SIL hosted, but I was responsible for a veg side. I bought a couple pints of little tiny brussel sprouts from the RO farmer's market the previous Saturday, which I pan roasted in olive oil (brown food tastes good!) and sprinkled with some freshly grated Parm. Way superior to green beans this time of year.

            Also did a pumpkin-cranberry bundt cake with canned TJ pumpkin and fresh Michigan cranberries, which was yummy.

            And while at the farmer's market, I bought a head of romanesco cauliflower which got pan roasted for yesterday's dinner...fantastic! I hope they still have some this Saturday.