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Thanksgiving Dinner For 2


bookluvingbabe
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Mr. BLB and I are in the early stages of deciding to stay home this year.

As tempted as I am to go make reservations at Corduroy, I also really want to cook dinner right. (Mostly I want to make a dinner that tastes good and isn't cold...)

I always want to plunge into the Gourmet or Bon Appetit recipes but they are always for 8-10 people or more. Since I don't want LOTS of leftovers but some would be nice. Somehwere, perhaps Eating Well, I saw a recipe for a stuffed turkey for two. That might be fun.

Any good recipes out there for the basics?

Thanks!

Jennifer

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This is a great topic, Jennifer!

I don't have any answers right now, but as I find ideas, I'll be glad to share them here. I don't know what Mr. S and I will be doing for Thanksgiving. We usually go to mom-in-law's, but she's not up to cooking this year. Maybe I'll be cooking for the 3 of us.

ScotteeM

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For a variety of reasons, which I won't elaborate, I am happy to forego turkey on Thanksgiving. Because of the alignments of our various family members, Craig and I normally found ourselves alone on Thanksgiving. I viewed that as a time to experiment. One year, when Larimer's still existed on Conn. Ave., I sent him to get a pheasant. Pheasant for Thanksgiving, who knew? Kinda reminds me of one Easter when we were first together and ate leg of lamb in our bathrobes. :lol::P:D

Once Bistrot du Coin opened, I saw this as a place to get my favorite meal (mussels!!!) on the day you are supposed to give thanks for the bounty of our country.

Lately, we have been sharing Thanksgiving dinner with neighbors who were not born in this country (Venezuela, Wales, Costa Rica, etc.) and, thus, have no particular traditional foods for the day.

Those who insist on the Thanksgivings of their childhoods, with concomitant food cooked exactly as they remember, are doomed to disappointment. Flexibility, however, has great virtues. And, makes for some memorable, if not exactly traditional, Thanksgivings.

Edited by Barbara
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Why not do a turkey breast for 2? Dead simple and you can focus your time on side dishes.

Great suggestion!

But Mr. S loves thighs, drumsticks, and wings.

Whole Foods offers turkey parts, which could be easier than a whole bird.

Also, if it is warm enough, roasting the turkey on an outdoor grill (I love my Weber kettle) is awesome!

Brining is a nice thing to do to turkey parts before cooking.

I definitely agree in keeping the meat simple and focusing on more complex sides.

ScotteeM

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The one time I did that I used turkey parts to make mole poblano de guajolote (Diana Kennedy's recipe, The Cuisines of Mexico ). My theme was foodstuffs that originated in the new world: squash, corn, potatoes, chili peppers, tomatoes, chocolate... I don't remember the menu exactly, though, sorry. But it was a great meal. :lol:

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Certain traditional side dishes don't have to be made for an army. You can cater the following to any number of people, including 2:

Mashed potatoes - my newest version is to boil the potatoes while roasting a bunch of unpeeled garlic cloves in the oven. Then I squeeze the roased garlic into the drained potatoes, add olive oil and salt and mash. I've skipped the butter and milk version and settled on this one for the time being.

Yams and apples. Get a can of Bruce's Yams and some baking apples. Drain the yams, reserve the liquid. Slice the yams and apples and alternate their layout in a baking pan. Add some liquid and some butter, dot with butter, and bake.

Stuffing: My father's version (simple and homey) is to saute onion, celery and garlic then add hot or mild italian sausage out of the casing. When mostly cooked, add bagged stuffing, season accordingly and moisten with chicken stock - not too much so it turns to a gloppy mess, but enough to take the dryness off.

Then we do another veg or 2.

We do thanksgiving for a minimum of 15 each year, but our menu is flexible enough to cut it down or bump it up for last minute changes. It is also such a low effort meal that we spent time with our guests.

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Like your husband, I prefer the other bits of the turkey, but my husband will only eat the white meat. For Thanksgiving, I get a small breast (4-6 lb) plus some wings. After brining the breast, I tuck herb butter under the skin and start roasting. After about a half hour, I slather the wings with the herb butter and add them to the roasting rack. Everybody's happy, especially the cats. I like stuffing, he likes mashed potatoes, so I make both plus garlicky green beans.

In previous years, our Thanksgiving dinners have featured spaghetti or sirloin or whatever the heck sounds appealing. We're not exactly tied to tradition. And I give thanks for that!

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David Rosengarten's "It's All American Food" had an interesting recipe for turkey with two sauces -- I think it involves taking the white meat out and eating it with one sauce while you cook the dark meat longer. But if what you're going for is dinner for two, I'd cook the whole bird and just shred and freeze the leftover meat. Turkey pot pie, French turkey stew, turkey enchiladas... it's a great blank slate.

One year it was just the two of us, so I bought and cooked game hens... all well and good, but I still craved turkey, so I ended up buying and cooking a turkey that weekend. And the only one left was 20 pounds. It took forever to thaw and to cook, so I tasted its turkeyish deliciousness at 10:30 pm on a Sunday. Still, worth it. And, like I said: mmmm, leftovers.

My mom does a raw cranberry sauce, just cranberries, oranges, and sugar in the food processor. Green beans snapped up into inch-long bits and cooked for hours with bacon, that's an easy side. And you can't go wrong with sweet potatoes cooked in sherry and orange juice. I can find recipes if needed, but don't have them with me.

The one thing I make that's extremely complicated is a potato casserole -- but it's SO worth the trouble. Potatoes boiled, cooled, and shredded, then baked with cheese, sour cream, butter, milk, and more cheese. I went to a friend's Thanksgiving last year and my only condition was that she let me bring the potatoes. We were all happy.

The key is just to figure out what's stovetop and what's oven, and get the timing right. Good luck with it all!

Jael

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Last year, in cooking for just the two of us, I roasted a turkey breast in the manner of the Zuni Cafe roasted chicken and made their bread salad (similar to stuffing) that DonRocks loves so much.

And I love this recipe from Cooking Light for green beans. Except more bacon and I sub out red pearl onions for the cocktail onions. Did I mention more bacon?

Edited by bilrus
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Deep breath.

I can do this. I'm a good cook...not great but solidly good.

I'm not going to try to do it all and I have no problem about calling in the experts (Whole Foods et al) when I need help.

Turkey--must order from WF tonight

Recipe--TBD, Mr. BLB has rejected the maple bourbon glazed one I suggested. Will continue to review the literature.

Stuffing--prepackaged from WF, will add celery, onions and mushrooms. I make it with stock and cider instead of water.

Gravy--will make my own following the Guidelines from Dean Gold posted here recently. Will buy backup just in case.

Rolls--Will buy and freeze Challah rolls from Marvelous Market on Friday.

Roasted carrots--just olive oil and salt

Brussel sprouts--ditto

Mashed potatoes--I'm a Yukon gold fan and will have to pick up soon. Will get some cream or half and half.

Crazy thought--creamed onions but that would require a trip to Costco. Maybe not...

That's probably enough veggies for two people though I am tempted by the roasted cauliflower but that shows up reguarly on our table so it isn't special. I feel a little bad that sweet potatoes didn't make the cut but there is always Christmas.

Dessert:

Mr. BLB wants apple pie. I want pumpkin pie.

I've never made a pie beyond taking it out of the Mrs. Smith box.

But I'd like to.

I'm thinking of taking Tuesday off to shop and bake and leave the rest of everything for Thursday.

Am I crazy? What am I missing?

Jennifer

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I don't know how set you are on mashed potatoes...

BUT one way to get your sweet potatoes in there would be to do a roasted root/winter vegetables dish - expanding on your roasted carrots. I'm planning to do something like this with carrots, parsnips, sweet potatoes, maybe some new/yukon/other small potatoes, possibly turnips.

I just chop everything into smallish chunks, toss with olive oil, rosemary and/or other herbs, some salt and pepper, and then bang in the oven on about 425 for around 45 minutes. Yummy....

Then you can focus on your gravy, brussels sprouts (or add them to the roasting mix), and dessert.

My problem in past years has been making too much food - keep it simple and you'll be fine and full!

Good luck!

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Since you are skipping the creamed onions, cream the brussel sprouts. Boil or steam until just done, but still a little crispy. Drain and dunk in cold water and drain again (you can do this well in advance). Chop a little garlic and cook briefly in butter and add some heavy cream. Reduce. Throw in the sprouts and toss until covered with cream and hot. S&P, course. I love sprouts like this.

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Ok....some turkey breast questions to solve my Thanksgiving dinner for 6.....

First, some background. About 3 years ago I did a bone-in breast. It came out....ok. Nothing perfect. Did not brine. (didn't even know what brining was way back in those days!) Recently at Whole Foods I was looking for whole boneless turkey breast to see in advance how it goes. All I found there was this skin on breast bunched up inside some heavy netting with a pop-up thermometer thing. I'm cooking it right now. A report later. But it wasn't the kind of thing you'd cut the netting for. So I'm cooking it with the netting on.

I was actually expecting I'd be able to find boneless turkey breast the same way I find boneless chicken breasts. You know, lying flat in the package with the skin up top, tender underneath. Just like chicken. Only larger.

So maybe you can give me some advice. For thanksgiving I'm planning to simply slice the breast and serve it with a mole I found in a Rick Bayless book.....apricot and pine nut mole.

Do I go for the bone in? Are there really flavor differences with the bone in? Do they make the boneless breast similar to chicken breast? Is it better to have it as this bunched up boneless ball of turkey meat?

Where do you get yours? I was thinking of simply calling Whole Foods in the next day or so and placing an order. Any other suggestions? (Organic, antibiotic free is preferable).

Thanks.

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One word: capon

Try it and you'll never go back to turkey.

That's EXACTLY what I saw Bittman has said. I presume it's some big-ass chicken? Kind of like a turcken? Or a chickey? :lol:

Who sells 'em locally? Whole foods? Eastern Market?

BTW, that netted turkey breast wasn't half bad. But the unnatural shape just made me think processed turkey roll, although it tasted and was 100% real turkey. It was actually quite juicy when I sliced it. But that juiciness didn't last long. It was pretty dry mid-meal.

I rested it for a while, but now I'm wondering.....do you need to rest poultry for the same length and same reasons as you'd rest a hunk of delicious mammal-meat?

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That's EXACTLY what I saw Bittman has said.
Smart man.
I presume it's some big-ass chicken?  Kind of like a turcken?  Or a chickey?
It's a castrated rooster grown to somewhere in the 5-10 lb range.
Who sells 'em locally?  Whole foods?  Eastern Market?
Both last time I checked, but that was a couple years ago.

I remember going to Eastern market to pick one up the day before Thanksgiving 2003. There was a sign for turkeys and a huge line snaking through the market and then outside. I walked over to the other side of the counter and asked if I needed to get in the turkey line to pick up the capon I had ordered. The man behind the counter smiled, shook his head no, and went back and retrieved my bird.

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One Christmas, just a couple of years ago, I found myself having to cook dinner for 8 people with not much more than 24 hours notice. I found a capon at the Safeway and roasted that. I didn't really notice much difference between that and a regular chicken, except for its size. At least it wasn't as dry a turkey tends to be.

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I love my office. When I announced I needed to take today off to get ready for Thanksgiving, no one blinked.

Anyone care to make side bets on how many trips I'm going to make to the store today? Mr. BLB has already predicted 2 which is the minimum I have planned. (Defined as how many times the car leaves our parking garage.)

My plan--early morning shopping at Target, Whole Foods and Trader Joes.

Come home to make stock, apple pie and pumpkin pie.

Finish cleaning out the fridge.

Late afternoon--second trip to Whole Foods just to pick up turkey.

Barbara-- I am going cream the brussell sprouts as a surprise for Mr. BLB. We'll see if his love of creamed veggies outweighes his inherent dislike of the sprouts. :lol:

Jennifer

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Anyone care to make side bets on how many trips I'm going to make to the store today?  Mr. BLB has already predicted 2 which is the minimum I have planned.  (Defined as how many times the car leaves our parking garage.)

Enjoy that - I was at Giant last night and there were about 25 people crowding around the turkey case like a pack of heyenas around a giraffe carcass at 8 o'clock.

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Enjoy that - I was at Giant last night and there were about 25 people crowding around the turkey case like a pack of heyenas around a giraffe carcass at 8 o'clock.

Yeah, the hysteria was ramping up at Wegman's last night too. Fortunately, we reserved one of the fresh turkeys through the meat counter, so all we have to do on Wednesday is pick it up and leave as quickly as possible. :lol:

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Pumpkin pie #1 is in the oven. (I expect a second pie will be needed at some point this weekend...)

Revised stock plan--not enough turkey parts available at WF. Guess everyone else read the same WP recipe and wanted to try it. Will make the recipe from Gourmet on Thursday with the simmering on the stove... (Bought wild mushroom gravy as backup just in case...)

Trying to decide if I should hit Kotobuki for lunch since I'm home for a change before I tackle the apple pie. :lol:

I also discovered that I own ONE mixing bowl. Not sure that it matters or that I'm going to need to be mixing two things at the same time but... Mr. BLB would probably prefer if I stayed away from Linens & Things today.

The stores weren't bad--I got out of TJ by 9:45 and WF by 10:45.

The pie smells yummy already.

Jennifer

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3 trips to the store... One 9 pound turkey in the fridge... A slightly irrational fear that the olive oil is going to run out between now and Wednesday... One delicious smelling but decidely ugly apple pie.

It's starting to feel a lot like Thanksgiving.

Now if they would just stop playing Christmas Carols on the radio so I could remember what holiday I'm celebrating, I'd be set!

Sigh...

Jennifer

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Revised stock plan--not enough turkey parts available at WF.  Guess everyone else read the same WP recipe and wanted to try it.  Will make the recipe from Gourmet on Thursday with the simmering on the stove...  (Bought wild mushroom gravy as backup just in case...)

If you buy the "oven ready" bird from WF, there are no giblets included. They take them all out and make stock. Kinda bums me out. :lol:

Good luck to everyone who is making the trek to the store today!

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Exhaustion.

But it's a good, warm fuzzy exhaustion.

Overall I think it went well. I thought the turkey was a little dry but I've certainly had worse.

The brussel sprouts were good, not great. Mr. BLB did try them at least.

The root vegetable weren't done when everything else was so I've designated them for dinner tomorrow night.

We're going to digest and then have the pies.

Thanks for all the suggestions!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Jennifer

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