Jump to content
Capital Icebox

U.S. Thanksgiving Dinner (1621-) - Celebrating and Giving Thanks for the Good Harvest in Plymouth, Massachusetts

Recommended Posts

I prevailed upon our family gathering of seven adults on Thursday to let me take over not just the kitchen for Thanksgiving, but the menu as well. At first they were skeptical and worried about missing the same old meal, so we had an early lunch with all the usual items and then a late dinner, a tasting menu of sorts that had a strong Thanksgiving theme:

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Fried Sage and Nutmeg Creme Fraiche (adapted from Thomas Keller's Bouchon cookbook)

Trio of Sweet Potato Raviolis in a Brown Butter and Thyme Sauce

Mustard and Herb Crusted French Rack of Lamb with Cranberry and Polenta Stuffing, and pureed yukon potatoes with a shittake gravy

Pumpkin Creme Brulee

Apple, Pear and Quince Turnovers with Vanilla Custard


For palate cleansers, I baked some pumpkin bread with cranberries and blueberries and teaspoons of raspberry sorbet.

Overall, it was a success, but due to an unforseen potato shortage I had to use leftovers from lunch and that side turned out far from perfect, but the gravy made up a bit for that. I also had issues getting the tops just right on the brulees, but I couldn't exactly bring a blowtorch on the plane. Using freshly grated nutmeg and vanilla bean made all the difference, though -- I'm not much of a baker, but I will no longer shortcut on these two ingredients. The lamb I bought from Cheeseitique, and it was also a hit.

We roasted a smaller turkey (around 13 lbs.) the day I arrived and used the meat for sandwiches throughout the week. We also made a pie every night, and this way we weren't bombarded with leftovers but were able to enjoy Thankisgiving favorites throughout the week.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I originally posted this under dinner, but it is more appropriate here:

Thanksgiving with my mother-in-law cannot be simple, and since I am the designated cook, it is up to me to top the previous year’s feast. This year I ordered a wild shot Scottish pheasant from D’artanian. When I opened the package, the smell of wild game filled the kitchen and drove the dogs nuts. The bird looked rather small, and I feared that there was not going to be enough for the three of us, I could not have been more wrong.

Because of the nature of Pheasant I decided to make two dishes out of this one bird. I braised the legs and thighs in a broth of Calvados and apple cider, seasoned with onions, juniper, and thyme. With about 15 minutes left, I tossed in some sliced Nitney apples. When it came out of the oven I shredded the meat to remove all of the tiny bones that are inherent in a pheasant. I served this with a side of roasted whole spiced endive (whole coriander, cumin, cardamom, fenugreek, and fennel seeds, this is similar to what is found in one of the Craft cookbooks). I also strained and reduced the cooking liquid, fortified it with butter, and dressed the plate with it along with the shredded pheasant. This was matched with a 1982 Beychevelle, an elegantly beautiful wine and a perfect match for this dish.

The second dish I made out the meat was a bacon wrapped breast. I sliced the very meaty breasts into thirds, rolled them, and wrapped them in bacon. I then pan seared them, and finished them in the oven. These were served with a pheasant stock reduction (made from the carcass), grilled broccoli rabe, and truffled pecorino risotto. This was matched with a stunning Pegau Chateauneuf du Pape Cuvee Reserve.

To finish the meal, we had a ricotta cheese cake. This not so sweet desert was accompanied by a honey like 1998 Inniskillin Oak-aged ice wine.

Since Thanksgiving is more of a weekend than a single day on Saturday I duck:

After my Thanksgiving of rich pheasant, I followed it by an equally rich meal of a trio of duck. For this I made duck confit ravioli (black pepper pasta stuffed with shredded duck confit, with caramelized shallots, and goat cheese) topped with a tangerine butter sauce, seared foie gras with a yuzu (I found them at Balducci’s and could resist using them) cranberry sauce, and a pan roasted duck breast (from Cheestique) with cocoa scented lentils and wilted arugula dressed with a vinaigrette of duck fat and sherry vinegar. With this dish I served a 1998 Monbousquet, and followed it with a bottle of 1990 Cuvee William Duetz Champagne.

Everyone loved the meal but me. I found faults in each item, that no one else realized. But I guess we are all our own worst critic.

On Friday we decided to have a tapas dinner. I made a salad of apples, raw milk Manchago (from Cheesetique) drizzled with sherry vinegar and Spanish olive oil. I also made a shrimp in garlic and pepper scented olive oil. With this we had a selection of Spanish sausages and cheese.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I put down a $40 deposit on a Polyface Bourbon Red heritage turkey at the Dupont farmers' market, a couple of weeks before T-day. We decided to go all-out for the meal this year, and so $5.99 a pound for a special bird for the meal's centerpiece seemed expensive but do-able. I have to admit I was a bit miffed when I came to pick it up, and paid another $80 for my 20 pound bird and it was frozen. I assumed that for a premium price like that, they would be delivering fresh birds. Since I didn't have a back-up plan and was really curious to experience a heritage bird with all the buzz about them lately, I decided not to make a fuss and ask for my deposit back. It defrosted in my refrig until Wednesday, and then I brined it overnight in an herbed salt-sugar brine with some juniper berries in it. On Thursday, I took it out of the brine and rinsed it, and then let it sit out at room temperature for a few hours, with ice-packs on the breasts, a technique I learned from Harold McGee, which slows down the cooking of the breasts. (I'd done it before--it works!) Then, I oiled the bird with EVOO and set up my Weber Kettle with a drip pan in the center full of white wine, shallots, thyme, bay leaf and parsley, the hot coals around the perimeter. I sprinkled wet applewood chips on the coals and put the bird on to smoke. It cooked for about three hours, without stuffing in it. I had made turkey stock with the neck, giblets and wing tips, and when the turkey came off the grill, I strained the remains of the drip pan into the stock and made the gravy with it.

Despite having been frozen, it was the best turkey I've ever made or tasted anywhere else. The meat was dense and juicy, with a deep flavor, neither too smoky or too salty. The thighs were fully cooked and the white meat still had a slightly pink tinge near the bone.

For starters, I made roasted squash soup, with blue hubbard, kuri and delicata squashes and bosc pear served with creme fraiche and Meyer lemon olive oil. Chestnut and wild mushroom stuffing (chanterelle, pleurottes, and porcini), creamed pearl onions, garlic mashed potatoes, pureed sweet potatoes with maple and lemon zest, haricots verts with fried almonds. Roasted scarlet turnips. Dessert was pumpkin pie made with orange-spice pate brisee from Sherry Yard's baking book (really good!) with Trickling Springs whipped cream.

With the first course, we had a 2003 Lucien Albrecht gewurz, and with the turkey we had a 1995 Elyse Howell Mountain zinfandel (gorgeous) and then opened a 2001 Vieux Telegraphe Chateauneuf-du-Pape Le Crau, brought by my sis and bro-in-law. (Wow!)

Great sandwiches for a few days now!

Edited by zoramargolis

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I am happy to hear that you enjoyed the Vieux Telegraphe, it is one of the best CdP's made.

It's the first CdP I've had that really knocked my socks off. I've had several that received good scores--'99 Guigal, '99 Louis Bernard, 2000 Les Cailloux, '98 Clos du Mont Olivet, 2000 Pierre Usseglio-- and while they were all very good wines, I've had other "lesser" Rhones that I enjoyed as much or more. It is the first individual vineyard CdP I've had, though. They're not in my budget, unfortunately. The VT Le Crau was spectacular.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's that time of year. What are you cooking for Thanksgiving dinner? Have you sourced your heritage turkey yet? And what kind of pies will you be making?

Or if you're not cooking, where do you have reservations?

(ETA can we change the subtitle and make this more of a generic "holiday" thread?)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Last year I made a wild shot pheasant, this year I am going back to the traditional turkey. I have ordered my Heritage bird from Townline Poultry. The Thanksgiving dinner before last I made one of their birds, and it was the best tasting and most succulent turkey I have ever had. For sides the definites are:

Buttermilk mashed potatoes

Brioche Dressing

Brussels Sprouts with Chestnuts

Buttercup squash roasted in a pumpkin

Spiced mixed fruit relish

Hickory nut pie

I know that there are going to be one or two more dishes, including at least one more dessert.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm still puzzling it out--we're going to the IL's and cooking at their house on LI.

Probably nothing to fancy and I'm already pondering how much of my own kitchen equipment I should take--clearly the potato masher-ricer; the good peelers, the apple corer. It will be hard to get knives on the plane and mine are nothing special. Oh, and I'll bring my own apples for the apple pie...

Control freak? Who, me????

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Buttercup squash roasted in a pumpkin

This sounds interesting. Care to share the recipe?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
This sounds interesting. Care to share the recipe?
I will share the concept, I don't really have a recipe. Find a pumpkin (size depends on how many people you want to serve), cut open the top, and core it. Peel and chop squash (I like buttercup, but butternut is easier to peel and the flavor also works very well) toss with mixed spices (think pumpkin pie spices, nutmeg, cinnamon, mace...) salt and pepper. Place squash in pumpkin top with soft butter, and cream. Place the top back on and cook in a 350 degree oven until the inner squash is tender. The pumpkin offers a little bit of flavor, but it really provides a nice fragrance, and while not really edible, the stringiness of the average pumpkin will act as a nice serving bowl.

Edited to add: I also add a little bit of bourdon into the cream.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Oh, and I'll bring my own apples for the apple pie...
You can't get good apples on LI?

Steve, your menu sounds great. How many people are you cooking for?

We are still at loose ends for Thanksgiving Day, but we'll be seeing out-of-town family the day after and might cook then (or go out to dinner if I have my way). If we cook it will be turkey and mostly traditional sides. I have a cranberry & tart cherry sauce I make every year, and we have to have a pecan pie.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I'm still puzzling it out--we're going to the IL's and cooking at their house on LI.
Does this mean you talked them out of the restaurant that received such wildly enthusiastic reviews?!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Steve, your menu sounds great. How many people are you cooking for?
Between four and eight, because of the impulsive nature of my wife's family I will not know until two days before. My mother-in-law likes to have plenty of leftovers so she does not have to cook for a week (or two).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For Thanksgiving dinner, we'll be eating stone crabs on the beach in Ft. Lauderdale.

Again.

I love my family. :)

Sides will be pretty traditional Thanksgiving dinner, but we nicely avoid the turkey and leftovers. We do a "shrimp toast" appetizer that's a big hit. Slices of a crusty baguette, topped with cooked jumbo shrimp. Mix some shredded cheese, mayo and spices, spread on top of the shrimp, and broil.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
For Thanksgiving dinner, we'll be eating stone crabs on the beach in Ft. Lauderdale. . . Sides will be pretty traditional Thanksgiving dinner, but we nicely avoid the turkey and leftovers. We do a "shrimp toast" appetizer that's a big hit. Slices of a crusty baguette, topped with cooked jumbo shrimp. Mix some shredded cheese, mayo and spices, spread on top of the shrimp, and broil.

Daniel, if you don't have enough for the whole class...I will be spending my Thanksgiving dinners in New Jersey with my parents. Our dinners are fairly traditional and low key food-wise (yet they still allow for maximum family stress). My contributions: mini-crabcakes for an appetizer, a cranberry-orange-jalapeno relish and a bread pudding with whiskey sauce. I trust that someone (hello, Jon, are you reading this?) will be kind enough to continue the tradition of providing many ice creams and homemade sauces.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My mom stuffs rosemary, garlic, lemon juice, and EVOO under the skin of the turkey, then stuffs it with parmesan and prosciutto rinds, and red onions. She roasts the whole thing, basting with balsamic vinegar and red wine. Then she turns the drippings at the bottom into an awesome gravy.

The turkey shares "main dish" status with the family ravioli (usually prepared with the help of many family members and, depending on the size of the gathering, a local italian food shop, weeks in advance) - this is my dad's contribution.

Large amounts of scotch, parmesan, and red wine are consumed. My mom puts out delicious (usually CostCo-derived) apps - fresh queso dip, brie with fig preserves and almonds, hummuses of every type, grapes and other fruits, shrimp and crab related things, etc.

We're not that big on sides, as everyone's usually so full from the apps, ravioli, and turkey.

Dessert's usually pie and Hostess cupcakes.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have never cooked a Thanksgiving dinner before, so this thread is timely and I know I can get good advice from this crowd.

I'm thinking of the following menu:

Grilled pizza appetizers

Pumpkin soup w. creme fraiche and crispy prosciutto

Turducken

Roasted garlic mashed potatoes with truffle oil

Maple glazed carrots and turnips

Raspberry mint sorbet

Sour cherry pie with homemade french vanilla ice cream

Everything will be homemade except for the Turducken which I'll order online.

The big questions is: Has anyone here got experience with Turducken (esp commerical stuff). I'm worried that it's more style vs substance. I'm also worried that by the time the inner most parts are cooked, the outside turkey portion will be drier than dry.

Appreciate any feedback y'all got.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Roasted garlic mashed potatoes with truffle oil
I would loose either the roasted garlic or the truffle oil, they are going to compete, and neither will shine. Personally I would go with the roasted garlic, and make certain that you use plenty of oil in roasting it so that you can drizzle some of the very flavorful oil over the potatoes.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
You can't get good apples on LI?

Steve, your menu sounds great. How many people are you cooking for?

Control freak and we're sending a shopping list up to the in-laws. Not sure how much effort they will make in taste testing every apple until they find just the right one when I know I can get an assortment of stuff at the farmers market here and be happy.

Or is that obsessive-complusive???

Does this mean you talked them out of the restaurant that received such wildly enthusiastic reviews?!

I couldn't eat most of the the menu thanks to the Pomegranate in the oven and I think Mr. BLB may have conveyed how important it was to me that we cook if only to stop the random crying. Hormones--got to love them!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

According to Paul Prudhomme the birds are not skinned.

A tradition in Scott's family is oysters with a little bit of creme fraiche and caviar. We had these the last time we spent Thanksgiving in New Orleans, along with all the champagne we could drink, turkey, cornbread dressing, stuffed mirlitons, and splendid pecan pie. We also caught a show by the late Chris Whitley at the House of Blues. That was a good Thanksgiving. :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
It's that time of year. What are you cooking for Thanksgiving dinner? Have you sourced your heritage turkey yet? And what kind of pies will you be making?
The fiasco that was Thanksgiving '04 has faded into the mists of time and the in-laws have become bold enough to descend once again... :)

Over many years of hosting rwtye's family for Thanksgiving, the menu has become pretty set and any deviation is met with copious amounts of whining. The only place I can go wild is with the appetizers -- I made a creamy mushroom soup last year that was a bit hit (and easy!), so I am very tempted to repeat that, and maybe some mascarpone-stuffed dates (a la Komi) and/or marinated olives to snack on earlier in the afternoon (breakfast traditionally includes big, gooey, sticky buns, so lunch is usually skipped).

The "But it is just not Thanksgiving without the ___________" Menu:

Grilled Turkey

Sourdough Dressing

Mashed Potatoes

Gravy!!!

Roasted Sweet Potatoes & Turnips

Brioche Rolls

Peas with Bacon & Garlic

Carrots glazed with Brown Sugar/Mustard/Chives

Hericorts Verts with a Roasted Onion/Basalmic Topping

Scalloped Onions, Sahallots & Leeks

Apple Chutney & my Mother-in-law's Cranberry Relish

Plus at least three pies: 1 Pecan, 1 French Apple, 1 Pumpkin (my mother-in-law is bringing fresh pumpkin in her suitcase!) and probably one other dessert TBD (or another pie -- it is also family tradition to have pie for breakfast the day after and it gets really ugly if there is not enough leftover).

We are nothing if not predictable! :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
According to Paul Prudhomme the birds are not skinned.

A tradition in Scott's family is oysters with a little bit of creme fraiche and caviar. We had these the last time we spent Thanksgiving in New Orleans, along with all the champagne we could drink, turkey, cornbread dressing, stuffed mirlitons, and splendid pecan pie. We also caught a show by the late Chris Whitley at the House of Blues. That was a good Thanksgiving. :)

From the link is this recipe: http://www.chefpaul.com/recipes/SPPPie.html Chef Paul's Sweet potato pecan pie (created by his pastry chef, Marty, who also does his fresh cracked coconut cake) is one of the best I've had. If you don't feel like making it you can order it directly from K-Paul's. What puts it over the top is what he calls "chantilly whipped cream." This is heavy cream laced with Courvoisier, Grand Marnier and sour cream.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
For Thanksgiving dinner, we'll be eating stone crabs on the beach in Ft. Lauderdale.
Stone crab season opened a couple of weeks ago. Amazingly enough I had a business trip that put me in South Florida for the opening. And then the trip got pushed back a month. How many trips do you think I can squeeze in before the season ends?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Last year was my first cooking a traditional Thanksgiving dinner with a double-oven range. I now love that second oven almost more than life itself. We hosted my brother's family and a friend of ours from Japan, who brought sushi as an appetizer.

This year, we're spending the day with my father-in-law's family, who will cook a traditional dinner. Our contribution will be Azami's deviled eggs and a double-crust pumpkin pie, made in the style of an apple pie using sliced macerated pumpkin. Someone at Chowhound gave me the recipe last year while I was seeking a non-dairy, egg-free pumpkin pie recipe for my youngest nephew -- Azami now prefers it to standard pumpkin pie.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×
×
  • Create New...