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Thanksgiving Successes 2012!

  • meatn3 Nov 22, 2012 07:25 PM
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Did you try something new and loved it? Have a trick that makes the meal perfect? A foolproof recipe which is always on your holiday table?

Please share!

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  1. This year we tried making the mashed potatoes earlier in the day and holding them in a crock pot set at low. Past years threads had suggested buttering the crock and pouring a little cream/half and half/etc. to the bottom, adding the mashed potatoes and covering them with a little cream, etc. Stir well just before serving.

    We loved this trick. It was so nice not dealing with the steam and mess just before dinner. It was great having the last minute chores simpler and everything seemed calmer. I'm adding this to my game plan for now on!

    7 Replies
    1. re: meatn3

      We did the same. It was quite a success!

      1. re: pagesinthesun

        We did too - even did a small vegan batch with soy milk and earth balance (one vegan in the crowd) in a smaller crockpot and added more of the soymilk and earth balance to the bottom and that worked too. Am thinking next time I would even make them the night before. Mashed potatoes for 25 is a heck of a lot of work.

        1. re: LilyB

          We also did the mashed potatoes early and stored in the crock post this year. Husband was resistant but declared it a stress-reducer.

      2. re: meatn3

        I make the mashed potatoes a day ahead, and put them in the crock pot and into the fridge overnight. I bring them to my folks' house (25 for dinner) the next day and put them on low to reheat, stirring occasionally. Works like a charm.

        I use a recipe that calls for butter, cream, cream cheese, and roasted garlic. Everybody raves. :)

        1. re: Madronatree

          You can't go wrong with potatoes, butter, cream, cream cheese, AND roasted garlic. :-)

          1. re: LindaWhit

            So right Linda... :)

            www.saffron215.blogspot.com

        2. re: meatn3

          what a wonderful idea!!!

        3. I don't have much experience cooking large pieces of lamb and I successfully deboned, butterflied, marinated and cooked a leg of lamb on the charcoal grill today. It had a gorgeous crispy crust and was perfectly medium rare. It was delicious!

          2 Replies
          1. re: weezieduzzit

            Yay! You go, weezie!

            1. re: weezieduzzit

              wow, sounds great!

            2. My contributions were the vegetables and cranberry sauce, and they all turned out very well. I love playing with cranberry sauces, and I'm really pleased with the one I made this year, with orange, pomegranate molasses, and fresh pomegranate seeds. The pomegranate arils added great texture as well as flavor.

              Green beans with sauteed mushrooms, toasted hazelnuts, hazelnut oil, and sherry vinegar were delicious (how could they not be?), and the shaved fennel salad with orange, watercress, and pom seeds worked nicely as a fresh and bright counter to the heavy dishes.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                I brought dessert, both of which-pumpkin spice cookies and cranberry bread, came out very nicely. Both were first attempts, and everyone raved.

                1. re: lovessushi

                  I finally learned to make my own pie crust this year, and it came out as light as a feather. I filled it with pumpkin pie which is a must for husband's family; but when I went to get the can of evaporated milk discovered the expiration date was years ago. I saw someone here recommend the Silver Palate version, using half and half and cream, and it was fantastic. Just had some for breakfast!

              2. No real failures this year, in I'd say everything was a success. I wasn't overly thrilled with the buffalo andouille sausage I used in my dressing as I thought it was too dry.

                This year my only new recipe was trying King Arthur Flour's recipe for Parker House rolls. They got raves all around and will be made again. Lovely texture and flavor. I also made their yankee pecan pie, this is the 3rd year for that one, but I make my moms pie crust recipe with it.

                I've been doing the same cornbread dressing recipe for years now, although I always doctor it up slightly differently. Next year I think I want to try something different. Maybe Challah dressing?

                Cranberry, tangerine and crystalized ginger relish from Bon Appetit is one must have at our house, always gets raves from everyone. I love it's fresh and bright flavor. I did a cooked one for years but once I found this fresh chopped relish we haven't gone back to cooked.

                We always smoke a turkey and it was great as usual.

                1 Reply
                1. re: rasputina

                  I do a challah and cornbread stuffing, half of each. I always added sausage, but this year also added chestnuts.

                2. It was actually my 1st time roasting garlic and my 1st batch of roasted garlic mashed potatoes - so easy and delicious.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: fldhkybnva

                    fld, you can roast multiple heads of garlic and freeze it in small containers after mashing. I've got mini-Tupperware containers (2 Tbsp. each) lining my freezer door shelf with several containers of mashed roasted garlic. :-)

                    1. re: LindaWhit

                      Great, thanks for the tip, it was magical deliciousness. I am looking forward to leftovers.

                  2. Dungeness crab seasoned opened on November 15 - my fave dish on the Thanksgiving table was the Crab and Fennel salad with a lemon vinaigrette.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: Cynsa

                      Anything else go into it besides the crab, fennel and vinaigrette? (Not that that combination doesn't sound delicious...)

                      1. re: inaplasticcup

                        that was it. Two crabs (each 2 lbs. +), two small fennel bulbs. EVOO + fresh lemon juice/zest, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, 1/2 tsp. mashed capers.
                        This year's theme for Thanksgiving was 'Keep it simple' and enjoy the company.
                        Note that everyone at the table relished the 'mass quantity' of crab on their salad plate. My partner in crime and I steamed two large crabs and picked them so there was not a shell to be seen in the salad. We plated fresh salad greens from the backyard garden with the crab and thinly sliced fennel in the center. Wedges of Heirloom tomatoes - the last from our neighborhood farmers' market were served in another bowl with a balsamic vinegar toss and fresh basil.

                        for another optional approach read this: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

                        1. re: Cynsa

                          Sounds perfect as is. :)

                    2. I kept the appetizers light, and with the cheese, apples and crackers put out small jars of various jams I made and canned this summer, so everyone could see what I'd been up to since last they saw me. Good thing I had extra small jars because I had some requests to add to their doggie bags.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: coll

                        Also did light apps. I used the Chow recipe for rosemary walnuts (but I used a combo of walnuts, pecans and almonds) and the goat cheese toasts and added crisped proscuitto. Both were a huge hit.

                        1. re: cleobeach

                          Yum. How did you do your goat cheese toasts?

                          1. re: sandylc

                            I followed this recipe -

                            http://www.chow.com/recipes/13518-fig...

                            and added pieces of crisp prosciutto to half of the toasts. I crisp the prosciutto on a rack in the oven, it is our household guilty pleasure but there were some in attendence that are wary of anything "odd" so I did half with/half without. The prosciutto ones went first, go figure!

                      2. I dry brined our turkey -- first time I used that technique and it was a success. I've wet brined turkey, pork, and chicken in the past, to varying times, and was never happy with the results. Yes, the the meat was moist, but I don't want meat to taste like flabby salty water. I want it to taste like meat.

                        Think of the difference in taste between a true country ham (or Serrano or Prosciutto) and "city ham".

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: carbonaraboy

                          I also tried a quick dry-brine by salting the turkey breast on Monday night. Didn't have a large bag to put it in (and didn't want to use a garbage bag) so I did what someone else reco'd on another thread - I lay a paper towel on top of the breast and then tightly covered the pan with foil. I uncovered the breast and let it air-dry in the downstairs fridge from Wednesday night into Thursday morning. Yes, I know the bird is supposed to reabsorb the juices, but surprisingly, this quick method worked! There was little turkey juice in the roasting pan, so I transferred the turkey breast to another roasting pan and stuffed an herb butter under the skin. Came out very nicely.

                          1. re: LindaWhit

                            we did the exact same thing! i think my sister rinsed the salt off after the first night tho, because she was afraid that our turkey was already pre-brined. but we let it sit in the fridge uncovered for 24 hours. i used a truckful of butter and basted a LOT. very good, especially since we didn't have one of the nice, organic, free range birds this year (decided kind of last minute to cook at home instead of going out.)

                          2. re: carbonaraboy

                            Do you have a source for instructions on this? Sounds very interesting. TIA.

                            1. re: hambone

                              Google the "Judy bird" from the LA Times.

                              1. re: sandylc

                                Thanks.

                                The salt penetrates the skin and makes it into the flesh?

                                I brine the my turkeys I roast and did a butter herb rub for the one I smoked yesterday, But this sounds interesting. Thanks.

                          3. I did a few things differently this year and they were a success!

                            I spatchcocked, brined & air dried the turkey. It roasted quickly & evenly, was tasty & moist. The skin wasn't necessarily the bomb, but overall the turkey was a great success which I will repeat.

                            Bummer, I forgot my traditional garnish of rosemary sprigs and fresh cranberries on the turkey platter. Didn't even think of it until this morning & I'm sure none of my guests noticed.

                            My dressing started from loaves of bread this year - I graduated from packaged, seasoned bread crumbs. I used all fresh herbs. The dressing was yummy, but didn't have enough crunch for my taste so next year I'm going to toast the #$% out of the bread & leave it out for days.

                            This year I used roasted delicata squash in place of sweet potatoes which eliminated a bunch of peeling. I did just olive oil, s&p with no further embellishments. They were fab & served exactly the same purpose as sweet potatoes, minus the work and extra butter/brown sugar calories.

                            Can't wait to feast on the leftovers later!!

                            1. The whole thing was a success which was great because it was our first time hosting. The real highlight was Ina Garten's Accidental Turkey. I've never had juicier turkey.

                              1. I made a very nice dish orange and white sweet potatoes roasted whole and then pureed with roasted celeriac, coconut milk and a chipotle in adobo sauce.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: magiesmom

                                  Yum. I may try that with my sweet potatoes that didn't get cooked....thanks!

                                  1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                                    I hope you like it as much as we did!

                                2. Everything was pretty good; but the standouts were the gravy (!) and desserts.

                                  My heavy roasting pan with V-rack holds the turkey up off the bottom far enough I can scatter onion, carrot, celery, thyme and bay into the bottom, add a couple cups of water and wine, and not steam the bird, all the while keeping the drippings from burning. Since this year had a smaller turkey - just 13+ pounds which had been salted then dried, it worked especially well. The bottom of the roaster had a good inch of dark golden liquid to mix with flour slurry and nice homemade gelatinous chicken stock made last week, so we had a good quart and a half of rich dark tasty gravy - plenty for today's hot turkey sandwiches:)

                                  Dessert was simple, but very satisfying.... Jeni's splendid ice cream in Pumpkin-5 spice flavor made a couple of days ago, served on the side of a very rustic apple tart made on quick puff pastry rolled free form, sprinkled with sugar, pinch of cinnamon, then lots of thinly sliced apples all arranged in overlapping rows, a little lemon juice and demerarra sugar over top, edges folded in and baked.

                                  The nice clear taste of buttery pastry, apples and sugar with the cold spicy pumpkin ice cream was a great combo we will repeat!

                                  1. I'm the resident Brussels Sprouts Skeptic--have tried all those "sure to convert the b.sprouts hater" and didn't like 'em. However, this year I candied some chopped bacon with Grade B amber maple syrup, kept some of the bacon fat in the pan, and briefly cooked the halved Dreaded Sprouts. Not bad. Won't ever be my favorite, but edible (Mr. Pine loved them).

                                    5 Replies
                                    1. re: pine time

                                      A friend of mine showed me a recipe for brussels sprout salad. It's about five cups of sliced brusssels sprouts (I used the food processor), four or five sliced raw shallots, crumbled gorgonzola, and a handful of dried, sweetened cranberries. Add a dressing of 1/3 cup mayo, 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar, 2 tsp. ground mustard, and salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste.

                                      My mom's cousin, after telling us how happy she was that we had no brussels sprouts because she hated them, immediately said "this salad is so delicious! What's in it?"

                                      1. re: JonParker

                                        Wow, JP, that salad DOES sound good! Thanks for the tip. Kind of a winter holiday sprout slaw.... Just might make that for the holiday reprise tomorrow!

                                        1. re: JonParker

                                          Jon: thanks--does sound good. You could probably put Gorgonzola on a shoe and I'd be tempted to have a bite. Are the sprouts kinda the size of a cole slaw shred? Will keep this idea for Christmas.

                                          1. re: pine time

                                            Yes, they are roughly the size of a cole slaw. Below is the link to the original recipe, which I had modified by bumping up the ground mustard a bit and substituting shallots for the onion.

                                            http://www.coconutandlime.com/2012/11...

                                            1. re: JonParker

                                              Thanks! You may convert this Brussels sprouts nay-sayer to a fan yet!

                                      2. I made a sweet potato casserole as a way to appease the candied sweet potato loves, and those who hate anything to sweet.

                                        I cut the amount of sugar called for in the actual sweet potatoes by 2/3, and left the butter out of those mashed sweets completely. The crumble topping resembled that of a Dutch apple pie, and I used walnuts for that instead of pecans (long story).

                                        It was delicious! The amount left over could be measured in tablespoons.

                                        1. Made a Green Bean Succotash, from Cooks Country 2005, the Charter Issue. I doubled it for our crowd. Best side dish of the year, in a year where everything was really good. But I should note, the only dish that was totally gone, was the Brussels sprouts with bacon.

                                          1. I tried this Paula Deen recipe for pumpkin crisp: http://www.food.com/recipe/pumpkin-cr...

                                            I was very pleased with it. Perhaps surprising for a Paula Deen recipe it wasn't too sweet or too rich (although it was very dense and filling). I liked that I could actually taste the pumpkin, not just the spices. And of course it was a million times easier than making pie. I mixed up the pumpkin filling and the dry ingredients for the crisp topping ahead of time, then when the time came I melted the butter and tossed the crisp ingredients, assembled it and put in the oven as everything else was coming out. No muss, no fuss!

                                            1. I think I was most proud of my turkey. It was the first one I've ever done and I don't usually like turkey so I wasn't that excited about it. But it turned out very good and juicy. I used this recipe http://allrecipes.com/recipe/rosemary...

                                              3 Replies
                                              1. re: juliejulez

                                                I'm glad it turned out for you, but I have a question: did you roast it to 180, as the recipe instructed? Because that recommendation is way out of date. My experience is that you don't need to go to a huge amount of trouble to get a moist bird if you just don't overcook it (no more than 160).

                                                1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                  Oh, no I didn't roast it to 180. I took it out when it was 165ish and then it sat for like an hour because it was done earlier than expected.

                                                  1. re: juliejulez

                                                    Good, thanks!

                                              2. I think the big hit was a two layer key lime cheesecake w/ candied cranberries on top--nice combination tang/ tart and sweet.

                                                1. Everything went VERY well this year. I planned ahead and things worked. I made the piecrusts and froze them rolled out and in their foil pans a week ahead and filled and baked them from their frozen state. Worked great. I even wove a beautiful lattice for the top of the fruit pie and froze it on a pizza pan. It was so cool to just pick it up and place it on top of the unbaked pie before popping it into the oven. I baked the pumpkin pie a day ahead because it tastes better the second day, and did the others morning of.

                                                  Did the stuffing (four eggs - love it moist) in the crockpot. GREAT way to do it. Poured some of the turkey drippings over it at the end.

                                                  Did a dry-brined, deconstructed, slow-roasted then high-temp browned turkey. Best turkey I've ever had. We don't like turkey much, so that's saying a lot! We have only had turkey a few times over the years, but decided to do it this year for something new.

                                                  I always make the pumpkin pie with rum and cream. It's just better that way. Also had bourbon-pecan and sour cherry.

                                                  Oh, the cran-apple-orange relish was a big hit. Simple and fresh.

                                                  That's what I can think of right now.....

                                                  4 Replies
                                                  1. re: sandylc

                                                    I will add a vote for stuffing in the crockpot! With some drippings or other gravy over it- always moist.

                                                    1. re: Florida Hound

                                                      Oh boy, I need another crock pot or two.

                                                      1. re: coll

                                                        An indepensible appliance (or two...). And you have probably followed several Chowhound "crockpot" and "slow cooker" threads over time. A treasury of ideas out there from the Chowhound community.

                                                        1. re: Florida Hound

                                                          Saw an ad for Kohl's (or somesuch store)--a 3-fer crockpot (albeit 3 small compartments) for about $15. May be a great idea for a buffet, too.

                                                  2. I usually hate green bean casserole but make it for guests who request it. This year it was delicious! Used new kind of onion ring bits purchased at Costco instead of the old Durkee's or French's. They tasted great straight out of the bag with none of the solid saturated fat taste. Used frozen green beans and Campbell's Cream of Celery and a little soy sauce. I was amazed as it was so edible. I've finished up the leftovers myself instead of the usual composting them.

                                                    9 Replies
                                                    1. re: rccola

                                                      It's really good with french cut frozen string beans.

                                                      1. re: rccola

                                                        We used fried onions from trader joes.. Huge improvement over Durkee! Also made the soup base from scratch...

                                                        1. re: firecooked

                                                          I'm thinking of throwing out the rest of the Costco sized bag (brand-named "Fresh Gourmet") as I hear them calling me from the pantry. Have chevre and crackers almost every day for breakfast and I found myself thinking, "Wonder what they'll taste like on top?"

                                                          Campbell's Cream of Celery tasted great and, as my husband makes the turkey and monopolizes the kitchen for hours, I elected to mix it up early and then just slide it in the oven between turkey basting. Sounds like yours were way more gourmet. (And I admit fatigue after making the sweet potato pie and the mashed potatoes and fighting at the last minute for counter space to make salad. Not only counter-hogging husband but just-learned-to-walk grandchild racing underfoot!)

                                                          1. re: rccola

                                                            The base came together really quickly... Saluted onions and mushrooms. Sprinkled with flour, added turkey stock and half & half , plenty of salt and pepper.

                                                          2. re: firecooked

                                                            At Asian markets you can find giant containers of fried shallots, which are absolutely delicious.

                                                            1. re: JonParker

                                                              Thanks, I have a container of them and never thought of gravy with them.

                                                              What else do you use them for Jon? Thanks.

                                                              www.saffron215.blogspot.com

                                                              1. re: mcel215

                                                                I never thought of gravy with them either. I use them crmbled as a savory topping in place of breadcrumbs for things like mac and cheese. They can also add crunch and texture to a salad.

                                                                1. re: JonParker

                                                                  Thanks Jon...

                                                                  www.saffron215.blogspot.com

                                                          3. re: rccola

                                                            My family would refuse to come to dinner if that casserole was even on the table. The worst was the year SIL brought one pre-made. frozen from the grocers freezer case. We almost had a rebellion. We brined our turkey in a maple syrup brine and cooked it breast side down. The plan was to turn it over for the last 45 min, but when we went to do it, the bird was already done. Since we don't bring it to the table whole it was not a big deal. Most tender moist one ever. A 22lb one got done in 3.5 hours at 350. I'm thinking the mashed tater crowd on here has some great ideas to try next year.

                                                          4. Pearl Onions and Cardoon in a Wasabi Cream Sauce

                                                            I was at the fresh produce place with pearl onions the other day and saw a giant stalk of cardoon/cardone. My Brooklyn neighborhood is old working class Italian and I have had fried cardoon before and loved it. The first time was a fortuitous day I rescued one of Mrs. P's dogs which had gotten out of her yard. Best reward ever! (If you are unfamiliar, it is a stalk which looks like mega celery -- very fibrous and in the thistle family. It has a nice flavor of artichoke.) I grabbed the cardoon figuring I would cook it one night before Thanksgiving but never got around to it.

                                                            So Wed night, i figured I'd give it a try. I prepped and blanched the cardoon. Cut it into two inch lengths. Mixed that with the blanched pearl onions and a wasabi cream sauce.

                                                            Yesterday I just baked it and served. (I debated panko on top but decided at the last minute to go without.)

                                                            It was a huge hit and something I will add to my repertoire. I imagine if Mrs. Palumbo were still around she might even like it!

                                                            5 Replies
                                                            1. re: hambone

                                                              Had to google cardoon, but that sounds delicious! Mind sharing your recipe, hambone?

                                                              1. re: inaplasticcup

                                                                Second. "Wasabi" always gets me drooling.

                                                                1. re: inaplasticcup

                                                                  Don't mind at all.

                                                                  I'm kind of a seat of the pants cook so take this with a grain of salt:

                                                                  Trim the cardoon ends. Then basically, you use a veg peeler on the outside of the stalk to remove the fibrous ribs, then cut them into two inch lengths and par boil in heavily salted water for ten minutes or so (till tender.) For one bunch/head(?) of cardoon I used three of those small bags of pearl onions. I blanched them and then let them cool so I could peel. (I'm sure you could use frozen pearl onions too but I find the fresh ones have more tooth.)

                                                                  Cream sauce was a roux of four table spoons butter/ four (or five) tablespoons AP flour (I didn't want it to get dark so I kept the heat low but let the flour cook.) As it thickened, add cream, once consistency is right, add 2+ Tablespoons wasabi paste (to taste.)

                                                                  Then mix the onions, the cardoon and the sauce in a bowl, transfer to an oven safe dish. I did this all Wed night. Then Thursday I threw it in the oven for 30+ minutes to heat.

                                                                  As I said, I would seriously consider a panko breadcrumb topping if it were not for my Thanksgiving table.

                                                                  (If I make this again next week, I'll write everything down and post back corrections.)

                                                                  1. re: hambone

                                                                    Thanks for the recipe, hambone. Definitely filing this away for a special dinner. Think I might throw some crispy fried shallots on top!

                                                                    1. re: inaplasticcup

                                                                      That could definitely work!

                                                              2. Success:
                                                                Turkey on Big Green Egg
                                                                first try at mashed potatoes, made early in day and then rewarmed in crockpot,
                                                                Cranberry sauce with figs/port/rosemary,
                                                                Sweet potatoes just scrubbed, really ugly parts peeled off, cut into reasonable sizes, tossed with a tiny bit of olive oil and salt, and roasted forever until they candy. Could have done these the night before and reheated - might have even been better. Or maybe they turn funny color if you do that?
                                                                Not so good:
                                                                2 vegan baked goods for a newly vegan family member -- made both the night before, both kind of unfresh for Thanksgiving. Apple tart on vegan puff pastry (pepperidge farm) was especially meh.

                                                                1. This year for the green element I did a raw kale salad (this recipe from food52 http://www.food52.com/recipes/9114_ka...). I loved this and will repeat. I usually struggle with the green veg because everything sits around so much at thanksgiving. The green beans or Brussels sprouts cool to room temp, the green salad/slaw wilts etc. Raw kale salad is perfect! You can make it hours ahead and it sits wonderfully and if anything only gets better. The dressing wilts the leaves enough to tenderize them but they aren't soggy. I really like a sharp green counterpoint to all the sweet soft roasted foods, and this is the best I've found so far.

                                                                  1. For the first time, we roasted the ten pound dry brined bird, and instead of aromatics & herbs, we stuffed the bird, and it was delicious. Definitely more flavor than the one in the pan. I probably cooked the bird a bit longer, just to make sure the stuffing was hot enough! But will certainly continue this way from now on. My mom used to make two stuffings, one was her Memere's, that was ground beef stuffed in the bird, and a sausage & bread stuffing, which I always liked better. This year made it with leeks & fennel instead of onions & celery. I also added roasted chestnuts. Definitely a p.i.t.a. to peel, but boosted the flavor. This will be our new traditional stuffing from now on.

                                                                    8 Replies
                                                                    1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                                                                      I've never had a problem with the stuffing getting hot enough (I figure if it's steaming it hot enough), but if you're concerned, you can use a stuffing bag, remove the stuffing and heat it further in a casserole dish while the turkey is resting. That way you get the best of all worlds: the turkey and the stuffing flavor each other and keep each other moist, and then you can also have brown crusty bits. I first used a stuffing bag last year and thought it was the best 99 cents I ever spent!

                                                                      1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                        Good to know, thanks!

                                                                        1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                          Ack! Totally forgot I had purchased one of these last year. Maybe if I move it to my seasonal decoration box I'll see it in time next year.

                                                                          1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                            Where did you find the stuffing bag? I could not find any in stores and Amazon wants a lot more for these.

                                                                            1. re: walker

                                                                              My local store does not have them either, only bags for cooking the turkey.

                                                                              1. re: walker

                                                                                You can just use cheescloth.

                                                                                1. re: sandylc

                                                                                  You can indeed use cheesecloth (the loosely woven kind). I bought my stuffing bags at the 99 cents only store. It comes in a hanging package that looks just like the turkey lacing kit by the same company. A quick google reveals that they carry one at Bed, Bath and Beyond.

                                                                                  1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                    Thanks, will check there next time I go, appreciate it.

                                                                          2. A couple of hits this year, new to my line up -

                                                                            Turkey on the grill (also did one in the over) - my friend that carved it was in fits of delight, he said it was the best skin ever. The funny thing is, it was a last minute idea and all I did was rub it all over with butter and some random spice mix from the cupboard.

                                                                            brussel sprouts sauted in bacon fat. The non-foodies in the family went bats over the brussel sprouts and I got two phone calls this morning to ask about how I made them.

                                                                            5 Replies
                                                                            1. re: cleobeach

                                                                              Don't you just love when someone who is relatively non-enthusiastic about food goes crazy over something you've made? :-)

                                                                              1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                Yes... But sadly my family is still not a Brussel sprout crowd even with lots of bacon.

                                                                              2. re: cleobeach

                                                                                see my missive upthread about candied bacon...truly delicious. I used maple syrup, but have read you can use brown sugar, too.

                                                                                1. re: cleobeach

                                                                                  I've been doing mine on the grill for a while the skin is the best. I have found to make it even crisper and darker, give it a butter, salt and herb massage. I also, start the bird in oven at 400 for about 40 minutes (until the coals get hot).

                                                                                  Glad you found success with the grill - lots easier than it first sounds.

                                                                                   
                                                                                  1. re: sparky403

                                                                                    Beautiful bird Sparky! That is one fine mahogany crust!

                                                                                2. Cooking just for myself but tried a new recipe this year as I saw packages of pearl onions so decided to give them a try.....DELICIOUS!! I found a new dish I like and was pretty easy to make! The roux is what made the dish IMO & I'm so happy it turned out so well.

                                                                                  And GRAVY! I grew up with terribly thin gravy & always made it terribly thin....bleh! This year was spot on! Thick, yummy, delicious gravy.....I'm so happy I remembered the directions a friend's mother gave me years ago.....Another roux came thru for me....

                                                                                  7 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: jenscats5

                                                                                    Hi Jen,

                                                                                    My gravy tends to be thin too. Got the directions to share with me?
                                                                                    Thanks.

                                                                                    www.saffron215.blogspot.com

                                                                                    1. re: mcel215

                                                                                      More roux, less liquid.

                                                                                      1. re: mcel215

                                                                                        Oh, and after you add the liquid, it will not thicken fully until it lightly boils.

                                                                                        1. re: mcel215

                                                                                          I did as Sandy posted.....sauteed some onion in butter & made a roux, added the liquid then lightly boiled till it thickened.

                                                                                          My liquids were a combo of the broth used to boil the neck, wing tips & giblet bag contents and the strained drippings.

                                                                                          1. re: mcel215

                                                                                            My gravy:

                                                                                            I pour off and separate the liquids in the bottom of my roaster pan, remove anything BURNT from the bottom, then put the pan on a low flame and make my gravy there. Good amounts of roux to thicken, the defatted liquid from the pan, some cream and turkey stock I make ahead of time with a couple of wings/necks which are almost free the week before Thanksgiving.

                                                                                          2. re: jenscats5

                                                                                            Creamed pearl onions?

                                                                                            1. re: sydthekyd

                                                                                              http://www.williams-sonoma.com/recipe...

                                                                                              I followed this recipe, but didn't use as much milk....

                                                                                          3. I FINALLY tried the vodka instead of water trick in my pie crust (with lard, you'll never talk me out of that) and admit that it's amazing. Perfect even.

                                                                                            Which brings me to pumpkin pie made from sugar pumpkins that I'd roasted. I basically added fresh grated ginger to the pumpkin puree, allspice, cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, salt & sugar all more or less to taste, then mixed in evaporated milk until it was "sloshy." Or maybe it was ME that was "sloshy" - the reason I didn't follow a recipe may've had something to do with my generous libations during my pie baking. ;) Not recommended for anyone, but less so novice bakers.

                                                                                            At any rate, I'm known in my family for my apple pie, but this year the pumpkin stole the show - particularly since only one of us even likes it to start with. It was amazing.

                                                                                            5 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: shanagain

                                                                                              I made the vodka crust for the first time this year as well and it's just such a pleasure to work with. It rolls out so beautifully and evenly that I was able to make the crust thinner than I usually do, which I also appreciated. I made a second pie with a different, also new to me, crust and I wasn't anywhere near as pleased with that one.

                                                                                              1. re: JoanN

                                                                                                Totally intrigued by this vodka idea. Going to try it with my empanada pastry. Thanks!

                                                                                                1. re: JoanN

                                                                                                  I noticed the same thing, but wasn't sure if it was attributable to the vodka or not. That is a definite keeper.

                                                                                                  1. re: JoanN

                                                                                                    This crust is the best! I made it for pumpkin pie Thursday and everyone couldn't stop talking about it. I started experimenting with it this summer, it's the first crust I ever made that always comes out perfect. Plus I get to take a sip of vodka while throwing it together, just for quality control of course.

                                                                                                    1. re: coll

                                                                                                      Definitely a perk for those of us with a taste for such things. ;)

                                                                                                2. I have to count 3 successes: first was a roasted squash salad, started with a base of baby arugula lightly dressed with sherry vinegarette, topped with roasted butternut squash cubes dressed with same vinegarette, pomegranate seeds and toasted pecans on top.. Beautiful and perfect for a warm Arizona day. The 2nd success was showing the family how easy it is to make "mushroom soup" and how tasty it is compared to what come out of a can. Lucky there was enough left for green bean casserole. The last was also mushroom related -- this time rehydrating dry shrooms for the stuffing.. Maybe the folks will replace cans of mushrooms in the pantry with dried!

                                                                                                  1. I made my turkey (breast only) in an immersion circulator. I used Michael Voltaggio's recipe -- adding a bit of duck fat & some herbs with each breast before sealing the bag, then cooked to 144 degrees.

                                                                                                    It's nice to roast a whole bird & have the dramatic effect of carving the whole turkey, but I'd gladly give that up to have meat as tender as what sous vide provides.

                                                                                                    8 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: calumin

                                                                                                      But there's no crispy roasted turkey skin! :::Sadz:::

                                                                                                      1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                        I'll have to duck when the rotten tomatoes start coming my way (or even worse, leftover green bean casserole), but we don't eat the skin. I just peel it off and immediately drop it into the stock pot. Should I resign from CH right now and save myself the angst?

                                                                                                        1. re: pine time

                                                                                                          As long as you use it somehow, even if it's giving it to the cats and dogs. Just don't throw it away, please.

                                                                                                          1. re: coll

                                                                                                            Coll- I remember my dad one year had gotten it in his mind that what the family needed was less turkey skin in our diets. I banned him from ever carving my bird again.

                                                                                                            1. re: hambone

                                                                                                              I remember there was a fad at one time that eating chicken or turkey skin would make you drop dead on the spot. I actually believed it for awhile myself.

                                                                                                          2. re: pine time

                                                                                                            Yes, resign immediately!

                                                                                                            If you put the skin, and any other large pieces of fat, in a pan and rendered it you'd (a) have turkey fat to sous vide your turkey, and (b) have cracklings to nibble on or crumble to use as a garnish.

                                                                                                            I love cooking meat in it's own fat, as it enhances the natural flavor of the meat. IMHO if you want turkey to taste like duck, just eat duck!

                                                                                                            1. re: pine time

                                                                                                              pine time, I'm sobbing thinking about all of the wonderful turkey skin that has been thrown away! It's a national tragedy!

                                                                                                              You just call me over when it's time, and *I'll* pick off the crunchy skin (when roasted, of course!) and eat it. Only the crispy-crunchies. No flabbaroony-type turkey skin.

                                                                                                              1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                Used a bit of the skin-infused stock last night--it was delicious. I even make my mock KFC chicken skinless, too. Other than the lovely crunch, just get skeeved eating skin. Makes no sense, since I do eat meat. Have been skin-weird after being vegetarian for nearly 30 years then went back to eating meat.

                                                                                                        2. Two modifications to our family feast. I made a composite butter with toasted walnuts, maple syrup, cinnamon, and lovely butter... great on sweet potatoes and also, according to some, on the popovers. Also my daughter made a fennel gratin with peccorino romano that was simple and very tasty.

                                                                                                          1. We had a pan-Asian inspired menu this year, so I made some jasmine tea infused pumpkin creme brulee for dessert, and we were pretty happy with it.

                                                                                                            Some pics I took of the process attached.

                                                                                                            Happy Holidays, all! :)

                                                                                                             
                                                                                                             
                                                                                                             
                                                                                                             
                                                                                                             
                                                                                                            1. In one of the “What Cookbooks Have You Bought Lately” threads, Quintious highly recommended “Holiday Dinners with Bradley Ogden” saying that the Three-Layer Pumpkin Pie was alone worth the cost of the book. She was right. My guests were very generous in their compliments throughout the meal but when they got to the pie it stopped them dead in their tracks. One guest said it was the best pie he’d ever had in his life. I think I might agree with him. Didn’t, by the way, particularly care for the pie crust recipe in that book so will make a different crust next time. But I suspect this pie is about to become a Thanksgiving tradition so a next time there will definitely be.

                                                                                                              Oh, and the Ginger-Honey Gelato I made to go with the apple pie garnered high praise also.

                                                                                                               
                                                                                                              4 Replies
                                                                                                              1. re: JoanN

                                                                                                                I have to know, what are the three layers composed of?

                                                                                                                1. re: coll

                                                                                                                  Hard to see in the photo, but the bottom layer is a pumpkin custard, the middle layer is pumpkin chiffon, and that's topped with whipped cream. It's a bit of a megillah to make since it's do this, wait, do this wait, do this, wait. But it was worth it.

                                                                                                                  Here's a link to the recipe:

                                                                                                                  http://www.mercurynews.com/recipes/ci...

                                                                                                                  1. re: JoanN

                                                                                                                    Thanks so much, I will save this for my extended family the next time we get together. Mom only made chiffon pie, so she will love this.

                                                                                                                2. re: JoanN

                                                                                                                  Thank you for recommending this pumpkin pie - it is delicious!

                                                                                                                3. I had friendsgiving at someone else's place. For my contribution, I made two Smitten Kitchen recipes: cream biscuits and red wine chocolate cake with mascarpone whipped cream. The cake, especially, was very well-received.

                                                                                                                  My first time making the red wine cake was for the last New Year's Eve party I went to. I think it will be my new go-to cake for special occasions -- so simple, I always have the ingredients on hand (except for the mascarpone), can be made a day or two ahead, and easy to transport.

                                                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                                                  1. re: calmossimo

                                                                                                                    That cake sounds wonderful!

                                                                                                                    1. re: calmossimo

                                                                                                                      that's a great cake, I agree.

                                                                                                                    2. my dad's on a low salt diet, so I made everything with almost none and was surprised at how good everything turned out! other than the mashed potatoes (both a sweet and yukon variety), most of us didn't even feel I needed to add salt at the table. It helped that I'd made all of the stocks in advance with no salt, and was heavy handed with butter, pepper and fresh herbs. I was most surprised that the turkey (skin and all) and stuffing turned out so flavorful without salt.

                                                                                                                      also, I have a 2 month old so I felt it was a success just to cook and serve the meal at all!

                                                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                                                      1. re: kazhound

                                                                                                                        It can be a challenge with adults around, to which many other threads can attest, so congratulations!!

                                                                                                                        1. re: sr44

                                                                                                                          thanks! I feel that we've turned a corner because of the triumph, and have really cooked a lot more since then - turkey pot pie with our own crust, poached eggs, chili, fancy salads, it's like old times here in our household. just a lot more tag teaming on the cooking, prep and cleaning.

                                                                                                                          on the low salt front, I made the turkey the standard jew-y way of oil (I used olive), minced garlic, pepper and paprika. and just upped the paprika and omitted the salt, and it was really delicious. If anyone's low salt, I highly recommend it.

                                                                                                                          i also managed to convince my sister who doesn't cook that yes she can make the overly sweet cranberry compote that my family demands. she brought all of the cans over early and i talked her through dumping everything in a bowl and mixing. she was so excited that she now has declared that this is "her" dish. probably the biggest success of all!

                                                                                                                      2. i did my own very vague interpretation of the Robuchon potatoes - for 9 medium sized yellow potatoes (there were only 4 of us) i used about 2 sticks of butter and 8 ounces of heavy whipping cream. i peeled, mashed and riced them, then slowly whipped them by hand, hoping they wouldn't go gluey. they didn't - they were delicious, and creamy, and buttery, but still had such a very rich potato flavor. certainly not something for every day but for holiday fare, they were pretty special.

                                                                                                                        5 Replies
                                                                                                                        1. re: mariacarmen

                                                                                                                          Sounds deliciously decadent, mc!

                                                                                                                          1. re: inaplasticcup

                                                                                                                            Those potatoes do sound wonderful, Mariacarmen!

                                                                                                                            1. re: sunflwrsdh

                                                                                                                              thanks ladies! and ulp - i just realized that i actually used almost 16 ounces of cream in those potatoes! for sure - a once-a-year-type dish! but oh so good.

                                                                                                                          2. re: mariacarmen

                                                                                                                            Yum.... I think we ended up with about that much butter in our 'family' thanksgving saturday night; my stepmom put in a stick of butter not long after I did - I usually don't do so much butter - but they were AWESOME! Great yellow potatoes as the base really makes it - you can add all that fat and still taste the potato flavor!

                                                                                                                            1. re: gingershelley

                                                                                                                              it's so true!

                                                                                                                          3. Nothing too new or original this year - but one tip with the cranberries (I am not a fan of overly complicated cranberry). I added some ginger, star anaise and clove - it was rockstar.

                                                                                                                            In addition to my regular juice of two oranges and zest, cinnamon and grand mairner. It gave it some extra tartness and I will definitely do this again.

                                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                                            1. re: sparky403

                                                                                                                              Nice, that sounds a lot like the cranberries I usually make. This year's hybrid recipe was a surprise hit on the table: 1 12-oz. bag of cranberries, 1 1/2 c. sugar, 3/4 c. water, 1 peeled, diced apple (I think ours was a honeycrisp). Simmer the above together with 2 star anise pods, 1 cardamom pod, and half a cinnamon stick until the berries are just beginning to burst. Then add 2 clementines-worth of segments, a bit of grated clementine zest, and about 1/2 c. of chopped toasted walnuts. Chill until serving (remove the spices).

                                                                                                                              So good. I really think the apple makes it. I might reduce the water slightly next year because this is a very saucy cranberry sauce :)

                                                                                                                            2. I was thrilled with the results of two extremely simple things this year - my cranberry sauce and homemade pie crust (finally.)
                                                                                                                              Was on a mission to get back to basics with the cranberries. Never have enjoyed them using the family recipe, so decided to use a 100% apple juice instead of water to simmer them this year. Added a little lemon juice and a bit of lemon zest, and absolutely loved them.
                                                                                                                              Again, so incredibly simple (and so many of you likely have much more advanced recipes and ideas) but it was nice to know that I made a variation on our family's usual take that completely changed my mind about cranberry sauce!
                                                                                                                              I have made homemade pie crust, with varying success, for the last 5 or so years, but finally found a recipe this past year that treats me right, so I used that for my grandmother's pumpkin pie :) Just a simple Pate Brisee from Martha Stewart...

                                                                                                                              9 Replies
                                                                                                                              1. re: ItalGreyHound

                                                                                                                                My cranberry-orange relish is less complicated than yours....it's the one that used to be on the Ocean Spry cranberry bag - *NO COOKING*. A bag of cranberries, a navel orange cut into eighths and then each eighth cut in half. Process the lot of it in a blender or a food processor until finely chopped. Add sugar to taste (probably 1/4 to 1/2 cup), and it's done.

                                                                                                                                1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                  I've always wondered about that one! I think I will give it a go at Christmas and maybe have a little side by side taste test - even if it is only for myself :) Thanks!

                                                                                                                                  1. re: ItalGreyHound

                                                                                                                                    I thought it was weird when I was young, and always went for the canned ::::schloop!:::: sauce. But now the cran-orange relish is all we make. I ended up buying Trader Joe's brand this year, and it's slightly sweeter than we like, but it worked. I will have to freeze most of it, however.

                                                                                                                                  2. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                    My mom makes a cranberry salad you might also like -cranberries, pecans & pineapple (canned w/out juice or fresh) get processed with a bit of sugar to taste, then folded into whipped cream.

                                                                                                                                  3. re: ItalGreyHound

                                                                                                                                    I used to use butter only in my pie crust but it comes out slightly cardboardy. Now I use 1/3 of the fat in it as lard or Crisco. Still has butter taste but is flakier. (I also add some flax seed meal too, for extra taste and crispness and a touch of color.)

                                                                                                                                    1. re: rccola

                                                                                                                                      Good to know - for me, the buttery taste is everything.
                                                                                                                                      About how much flax seed meal do you add? I use the pate brisee for my quiche crusts year round, so definitely something I will try out soon. Sounds like a fantastic idea...

                                                                                                                                      1. re: ItalGreyHound

                                                                                                                                        A handful? Sorry, I'm a non-measurer. A bit the next time and then more the next until you're satisfied?

                                                                                                                                        I just remember reaching in the bag and dropping into the Cuisinart as it was making the pastry for me. I add it to pancake batter too. Edges get SO crispy-crunchy! No one yet has objected to them in any way. In fact, I'm kind of known for my pancakes but I always assumed those praising them were too lazy to make them and were just buttering me up.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: rccola

                                                                                                                                          lol - that's ok - you are a non-measurer speaking to another of your kind :) I tend to eyeball things, unless I am baking from a recipe and trying to be precise.

                                                                                                                                          Also glad to know you use your Cuisinart for the pastry. Everyone has their preference, but I have tried it every way under the sun, and gone back and forth for years, and this last go round was such a success with the Cuisinart that I just can't see using a pastry cutter again in the near future.

                                                                                                                                          Great note about pancakes - can't wait to try it in there next time I make a batch of pecan ones!

                                                                                                                                          1. re: ItalGreyHound

                                                                                                                                            Use the Cuisinart because I'm lazy. I glance ruefully at my grandmother's pastry cutter and think, Nah It's button down, release, button down, release, button down.

                                                                                                                                            And I made the sweet potato pie in the Cuisinart, too. Unfortunately made the error of adding the 1/2&1/2 before blending the sweet potatoes and it lifted the blade and I spent the next 15 minutes wiping the counter and floor. Sometimes laziness is its own reward.

                                                                                                                                            BTW: Flax seed meal gives these things the illusion of being whole wheat without the rapid stale and concrete texture (don't care what anyone says. I want tasty pastry). And they are more wholesome.

                                                                                                                                  4. Not sure if it counts as a Thanksgiving success or not but I made a Turkey pot pie last night which was slammin'!

                                                                                                                                    Made a bechamel, added armagnac then folded in sauteed mushrooms, carrots, peas, celery and left over turkey.

                                                                                                                                    A biscuit dough topping really sealed the deal.

                                                                                                                                    6 Replies
                                                                                                                                    1. re: hambone

                                                                                                                                      Nice on the addition of brandy!

                                                                                                                                      1. re: hambone

                                                                                                                                        Yum - I add sherry to mine, along with some parmesan, and am regretting that I don't have anymore leftovers for pot pie this year. (Unless I buy another turkey, which are still on sale...)

                                                                                                                                        1. re: shanagain

                                                                                                                                          Shanagain,
                                                                                                                                          They were on sale here too...I got two (fresh) on Friday for 49 cents a pound. My husband ground the 20 pound one ( and made more turkey stock) and we have 10 pounds of ground turkey in the freezer, and I froze the smaller ( I think around 12 pounds) one....where else can you get meat for 49 cents a pound??? Great deal, we usually buy a couple right after Thanksgiving every year.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: sunflwrsdh

                                                                                                                                            I'm adding one to my cart today - I didn't even think about grinding the lion's share of one, so smart, thanks!

                                                                                                                                        2. re: hambone

                                                                                                                                          Sure it does! My two biggest Thanksgiving successes this year involved using up leftovers....last night's dinner was Thanksgiving leftover casserole, inspired by (I think) a recipe I saw on Tast of Home....sprayed a one and a half quart casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray. Lined it (sort of like a bottom crust) with my leftover stuffing ( which is made from my 1975-ish Betty Crocker cookbook recipe for bread stuffing. I use sourdough for the bread, because I like the flavor and I add fresh rosemary , thyme and sage, and about 1/2 cup of Craisins.) . Top the stuffing with a layer of cranberry sauce. ( originally made from the recipe of the bag of cranberries, which consists of cranberries, sugar and water, and I added about 1/4 cup of Cabernet) top that with a layer of turkey ( sliced breast was what we had left) sweet potatoes on top of that ( I baked mine for Thanksgiving, so I just peeled and sliced them for the casserole. Pour gravy over those layers. ( our gravy was very thick, so I thinned it down for the casserole, but adding a little turkey stock and some light cream..(.I think the Taste of Home recipe called for cream of something soup, but I never make casseroles with cream of anything soup.) Top with mashed potatoes, and sprinkle about 1/4 cup shredded cheddar on top of the mashed potatoes. It was delicious! Dessert, which was actually "planned overs" was Bobby Flay's Pumpkin Bread pudding with spicy caramel apple sauce. I saw the recipe, and wanted to make it, so I made the extra loaf on pumpkin bread for Thanksgiving, and made this for Sunday dinner, after the Thanksgiving pies were gone. Yum! I would definitely make this again!

                                                                                                                                          1. re: sunflwrsdh

                                                                                                                                            wow, talk about decadence! sounds delicious!

                                                                                                                                        3. This was my first year roasting the turkey. My mom has always done it, and I'd never once experienced crisp skin.

                                                                                                                                          I kept myself awake all week worrying about that damn bird. But I stuck it in the brine on Wednesday, then took it to Mom's in a 5-gal bucket, still in the brine, on Thursday. When I went to put it in the oven, my mom was horrified that I wasn't going to cover it. "That's how you keep it from getting dry!" she lamented. But I was adamant that the instructions didn't say anything about covering it, so didn't.

                                                                                                                                          Best damn turkey I've ever had. The skin was gorgeous, and the flesh was deliciously juicy. (This is also the first time we've used a natural bird instead of a Butterball thing. I'm sure that was part of the taste difference.)

                                                                                                                                          The only issue was the drippings. Or rather, the lack of drippings. We ended up making the gravy with chicken broth instead, but I think it's worth it to have a turkey that good.

                                                                                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                                                                                          1. re: Kontxesi

                                                                                                                                            Next year, get a couple of wings/necks a few days before. Brown them and then cover with water and some aromatics and make a stock.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: hambone

                                                                                                                                              Yes, I can finally make great gravy. Buy 4 wings (WF organic), have butcher cut them at joints, brown them in roasting pan in oven, (after roasting about 1/2 hr, add 2 yellow onions, peeled and quartered.) turn the wings over a few times, then place in large stock pot, covered 1 inch higher than turkey with cold water. (Deglaze roasting pan with cold water and add that to pot, also.) Add about 8 sprigs parsley, about 7 sprigs of fresh thyme (I tie in a bundle), 1/4 tsp whole black peppercorns (no salt).

                                                                                                                                              Bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer and cook for about 3 hrs, making sure you don't run out of liquid. I then strain with a cheesecloth and strainer and when it cools off slightly, I pour into Ball wide mouth freezer safe canning jars. When cool, place in fridge. You can keep this in fridge about 3 days before T-day, remove fat from top before using. Or, you can freeze for 3 months. I also use WF stress free make ahead gravy starter recipe; makes T-day so much easier and always comes out perfectly.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: walker

                                                                                                                                                Could not agree more. I did a lot more prep than usual ahead of time and Turkey Day was a breeze.

                                                                                                                                          2. I had a lot of dried cranberries to get rid of, so I found a recipe for dressing online that used them. I substituted mild Italian sausage for the turkey sausage the recipe called for. It turned out great.

                                                                                                                                            1. I'm not sure exactly what I did this year (except for new cooking method - 30 minutes at 500; rest of roasting at 350), but this is the first year I felt compelled to take a pic of the turkey. And it was a juicy (both white & dark meat), crispy-skinned delight. (Plus, the carcass made an absolutely kick-ass stock today - can't wait to use it for soups!!)

                                                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                                                              1. re: Bacardi1

                                                                                                                                                That is a beautiful bird, Bacardi!

                                                                                                                                              2. I made a fantastic brussels sprouts recipe the second time around and it went like hotcakes at turkey day. Brussel sprouts in the style of ilili Lebanese Restaurant in NYC, roasted up with a drizzle of mint yogurt, fig puree, walnuts and grapes. Sooo so good. Salty, Sweet, Umami heaven. Here you go! For photos check out:
                                                                                                                                                http://www.neurotickitchen.com/2012/1... And here is the recipe below. I also did Eric Ripert's Olive and Onion Croustade which was a very nice app.
                                                                                                                                                Amazing Brussels Sprouts side (I tripled this recipe

                                                                                                                                                )

                                                                                                                                                ilili Brussels Sprouts
                                                                                                                                                Lightly Adapted from ilili Restaurant, NYC
                                                                                                                                                Serves 2-3 as a side dish

                                                                                                                                                Ingredients:
                                                                                                                                                1 lb Brussels Sprouts
                                                                                                                                                1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
                                                                                                                                                Mint Yogurt, Recipe Follows*
                                                                                                                                                Fig Puree, Recipe Follows*
                                                                                                                                                4 Tablespoon Toasted Walnuts, slightly crumbled.
                                                                                                                                                6 - 8 Tablespoons Seedless Red Grapes sliced into halves or thirds.
                                                                                                                                                1/2 teaspoon Sherry Vinegar or to taste
                                                                                                                                                Equipment - a baking sheet with sides or shallow roasting pan and 2 one gallon ZipLoc bags

                                                                                                                                                Fig Puree*
                                                                                                                                                Yields enough for 1 batch serving 2-3
                                                                                                                                                Can be prepared a day ahead and refrigerated. Bring to room temperature or warm slightly before using.
                                                                                                                                                Ingredients
                                                                                                                                                1/2 Cup Water
                                                                                                                                                1/2 Cup Fig jam

                                                                                                                                                Method - Combine Jam and Water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Allow to cook, gently boiling, for another 2-3 minutes or so, stirring occasionally until mixture thickens and is reduced by half. Remove from the heat and strain out and discard any solids. Alternatively, you can puree the mixture in a mini blender. Set aside.

                                                                                                                                                Mint Yogurt*
                                                                                                                                                Yields enough for 1 batch serving 2-3 plus extra.Can be prepared several hours ahead and refrigerated.
                                                                                                                                                Ingredients
                                                                                                                                                3/4 Cup (6 Oz) Plain Low Fat Yogurt - Emmi Swiss has great consistency and flavor
                                                                                                                                                1 Tablespoon Water
                                                                                                                                                3 Heaping Tbsp Mint, very finely minced
                                                                                                                                                1/4 to 1/2 Teaspoon Salt*

                                                                                                                                                Method - Combine Yogurt, Mint, and Water. Stir to incorporate. Next, start by stirring in a 1/4 teaspoon of Salt first and taste.* If you choose to add another 1/4 teaspoon Salt, you may find the Yogurt very salty. In the end, when all flavors are combined, the extra saltiness becomes very balanced, but I have a salty palate so use your discretion! You can always add more Salt later if you prefer.

                                                                                                                                                Overall Preparation Method:
                                                                                                                                                Place your oven rack in the upper middle position and preheat oven to 500.
                                                                                                                                                Clean and fully dry Sprouts. Remove some of the loose, outer leaves, especially the smaller yellow ones, and trim the woody Sprout base just enough to shorten it without cutting it so high that you sever the part that holds all the sprout leaves together. Pour Sprouts into a gallon ZipLoc bag and add a Tablespoon of Olive oil. Seal the bag and give it a good few shakes and squish it around with your hands so that Oil is distributed evenly. Next, spread Sprouts out evenly on a baking sheet and place in the oven.

                                                                                                                                                *If you haven't already prepared your Mint Yogurt or Fig Puree, now is the time, while your Sprouts are cooking. Both sauces come together fast!

                                                                                                                                                Cook Sprouts for about 18 minutes, shaking the pan twice or more throughout the cooking process to turn the Sprouts and cook them evenly. If you like your Sprouts more well done and less al dente, cook for up to 20 minutes - you can feel free to remove a few extra-browned leaves that may result once you are done and Sprouts have cooled slightly. Instructions for that follow.

                                                                                                                                                When cooking is done, the Brussels Sprouts will emerge partially browned and crispy on the outside but the first interior leaves should be green and the Sprout itself should be tender but not mushy. Even if they look very browned to you, don't worry - it will all taste great in the end. If there are some overly browned parts that seem too burnt/bitter, feel free to let Sprouts cool a bit and peel just a few of the darker leaves off and discard. When in doubt, taste!

                                                                                                                                                Let Sprouts cool slightly and place in another ZipLoc bag or bowl. Pour in half a teaspoon of Sherry Vinegar, seal, and give the bag a good shake. Sprinkle ever so slightly with Salt if you choose.

                                                                                                                                                To Serve:
                                                                                                                                                Plate your Sprouts in one serving bowl, alternating layers of Sprouts, Grapes, and Walnuts.

                                                                                                                                                Next, the two sauces should be drizzled over everything in a crosshatch pattern. You should use about 4 Tablespoons of the Fig Puree and 4-5 Tablespoons of the Mint Yogurt. Do not over-sauce, you can always serve the extra Fig Puree and Yogurt on the side. Optionally garnish with Mint Sprigs or a sprinkling of Chopped Mint if you choose.

                                                                                                                                                In the words of Ilili Restaurant/ The Recipe Author - "You’ll know you’ve perfected the seasoning when you get the perfect bite - a balance between bitter, salty, sweet, and sour and the umami."

                                                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                1. re: Samurai Sam

                                                                                                                                                  I'm gonna have to try this. Thanks

                                                                                                                                                2. I just had to share how we did our turkey because it was so good.

                                                                                                                                                  I made a "compound butter" with equal parts unsalted butter and bacon fat. I used lots of chopped sage and parsley and seasoned with salt and pepper. I spread the compound butter liberally under the skin and all over the bird. We all agreed that it was the best white meat we ever had: very moist (without being spongy, as with brining sometimes) and flavorful.

                                                                                                                                                  1. We tried the Neely's recipe for turkey. It's just a simple rub but the result is fabulous. Best turkey ever

                                                                                                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                    1. re: mucho gordo

                                                                                                                                                      We always use a Reynolds turkey roasting bag, with wine over the turkey. Do you think the olive oil &rub would be compatible with this? I like the ingredients in the rub, but don't want to abandon our cooking method which has always done so well. Best of both worlds or not?

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Florida Hound

                                                                                                                                                        I honestly don't know about using the bag. I can't see where it would make a difference, except for being easier to clean up after, but I'm no expert. IMHO, wine can never hurt anything. We did tweak the rub a bit by using regular paprika instead of smoked and added a goodly amount of Cajun seasoning.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: mucho gordo

                                                                                                                                                          Your reply sent me back on the hunt, mucho. The first Neely rub I found had been their "Thanksgiving Turkey with Holiday Rub." No smoked paprika. The other one, "Oven Roasted Turkey," was not hard to find once I knew there were two. Both via the Food Network, both worth thinking about for a future turkey feast. Thanks again.

                                                                                                                                                    2. We just had a 'second Thanksgiving' dinner, since we were away at the S.O.'s family for the first one. The menu was more classically T-day than the earlier one, too, because the out-of-town event had a majority of vegetarians attending.

                                                                                                                                                      The biggest success was the mashed potatoes, which I made for the first time with a food mill, combining locally grown Yukon Golds with creme fraiche and roasted garlic. Smooth and delicious and not at all heavy; the potato taste really came through.

                                                                                                                                                      The turkey was good, and the skin the crispest ever (first time I had done the thing of letting it air-dry in the fridge for most of a day). Also first time for making the gravy ahead; I enriched it a bit with pan drippings just before serving.

                                                                                                                                                      Another success was the cranberry relish. Most years we skip cranberries altogether, but some of the preparations I'd read about on chow threads really appealed to me. So I got out the dried fruit container and put together a mix: dried cranberries, dried cherries, and chopped candied ginger, with orange zest and juice of the orange, a splash of Grand Marnier, a whole clove, and some persimmon wine jelly, simmered together until a bit jammy. Very glad I made this a day before, as the flavors deepened and blended. Remove the clove before serving...

                                                                                                                                                      Plain brussels sprouts with butter and our usual bread-rice-celery-onion-green apple-raisin dressing completed the meal. For dessert, our guests brought an excellent apple crisp, whose topping was heavy on nuts.

                                                                                                                                                      With the Christmas tree up (lights but no ornaments yet), it was peacefully festive. Now looking forward even more to our Christmas dinner, featuring our first-ever duck breast.

                                                                                                                                                      1. We hosted 40 people at home (standard suburban house with smallish kitchen.) It was ka-razy! But fun. And on the whole I was happy with the food.

                                                                                                                                                        We deep fried 2 turkeys (to conserve oven space and also fridge space.) I bought fresh turkeys and the store held them for pickup that morning.

                                                                                                                                                        Big shocker for me: RAN OUT of some food. what a hostess nightmare! We had plenty of turkey, rolls (Kings Hawaiian and French rolls from a local bakery), mashed potatoes, and stuffing. We ran completely out of green salad and brussels sprouts.

                                                                                                                                                        We did all Marie Callenders pies. I love fresh whipping cream so we did that to top them.

                                                                                                                                                        My personal favorite recipe was the brussels sprouts. I used the Scott Peacock recipe from Better Homes and Gardens where they kind of caramelize then you deglaze with lemon juice. It's simple and so good. People commented on how much they liked them.

                                                                                                                                                        I made it "to order" right when we sat down to eat and next time I think I'll just make them ahead and serve them refrigerated and brought back to room temp. This is an everyday dish for our family and I've noticed the leftovers taste just as good.

                                                                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                        1. re: drucie

                                                                                                                                                          The brussels sprout recipe sounds great! Is this the recipe?
                                                                                                                                                          I have so much trouble with the BH&G web site...

                                                                                                                                                          http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/4560519...