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Going to someone's house for Thanksgiving--keeping the vibe Friday night

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I started a thread on this a couple of years ago. We're invited for Thanksgiving tomorrow. We'll be contributing a pie but we won't expect to take leftovers home. So I'm looking for suggestions for having some Thanksgiving atmosphere for Friday night dinner. We're a family of four so another turkey is too big a deal. Just roasting a turkey breast doesn't seem that interesting (plus no bones for stock). Last time I made Cornish hens with wild rice, which was good, but I'm open to other ideas.

Here's the original thread, with a lot of postings from people who are tired of turkey by Friday:

http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/749384

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  1. I understand some people serve lasagna or mac-and-cheese at Thanksgiving as a side, so would you consider a pasta dish? Butternut squash ravioli with a butter/sage sauce or ham and spinach stuffed manicotti in a cream sauce sound holiday-ish to me. Maybe a seafood risotto, crepes, or mac-and-cheese, just because they'd be a smidge extravagant. I didn't see pasta mentioned on your linked thread.

    Make your own manicotti crepes or buy the shells. Some stores carry fresh pasta sheets which would make the ravioli less of a hassle, but you could always turn that into a butternut lasagna if it's easier. We don't eat much meat, so you may consider these ideas lightweight.

    2 Replies
    1. re: nemo

      We used to have pan of lasagne bolognese for those who didn't want turkey. Love the ideas of making it with butternut squash or other lighter versions than meat sauce. Wild mushroom is lovely too.

      I think this year we may do duck breasts over the weekend. Still festive, less work & will go with any leftovers we have.

      Rack of pork with a stuffing is nice too.

      1. re: Dirtywextraolives

        Of course, there is always the Calvin Trillin option--Spaghetti Carbonara. There's an article about it in today's NY Times. Actually, I often make it with turkey bacon (don't tell your Nonna) on the Sunday night of Thanksgiving weekend.
        Duck breasts are closer to what I had in mind but my family doesn't like them--go figure. I also like Cornish hens but I will take suggestions for alternative foul.

    2. If you have a Panera Bread shop near you, you can order one or more of their sandwiches that has turkey in it. My wife is a devotee of their turkey panino (that's the singular for 'panini'). I just looked at Panera's menu online...they have a 'Turkey and Cranberry' panino as well as 2 other turkey sandwiches.

      1. If you can find an appropriately-sized, fresh turkey on Friday, and feel like you can cut it up without too much difficulty, you can have some turkey for sandwiches, some in the freezer to use in a month or two, and can use a drumstick or wings (or whichever parts your family might not use as leftovers) to make a good stock for gravy and soup.

        I prefer the thigh meat when it's hot, but the breast meat when used in sandwiches, so I have frozen the thighs for future meals (almost always bone it out and stuff with a mushroom concoction), and grilled or baked one lobe of the breast at a time for sandwiches or salads. I've even made "Buffalo wings" out of turkey wings. You can probably tell -- I use the drumsticks for the stock unless I can grill them.

        1. I'm making stuffing, sweet potatoes, roasted string beans. Turkey dish will be decided when I go shopping tomorrow. Either turkey cutlets or drumsticks.

          1. bone in Turkey Breast gets me excited....this is what we do

            http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/in...

            1 Reply
            1. re: LaLa

              Thanks for that link, LaLa. I love Ina's recipes. They always seem to be right up my alley.

            2. How about roasting a turkey breast....and then making turkey pot pies? Or turkey enchiladas?

              1 Reply
              1. re: perk

                Turkey pot pies--or rather a cobbler with biscuit topping--are definitely in the future. I actually bought a couple of turkey thighs for such purposes. Right now it's a choice between roasting legs and breast separately and getting some other kind of bird.

              2. Thanks for your suggestions, everyone. So I had a couple of turkey legs (because I wanted to use some of the skin for dressing plus stock, etc.). I combined a couple of recipes I found and made a wild and brown rice stuffing with hazelnuts and cranberries, spread it on a pan, and roasted the turkey legs on it. It turned out pretty well. And now I'll have a little for leftovers. Now if only I could convince my family to try goose or duck...