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

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Tday plan:

Roast turkey, dry-brined, smeared with herb butter, cooked on a v-rack over a sheet pan laid on pre-heated baking steel

Twice-baked potatoes

Sauteed butternut squash

Mushroom soup (Bourdain's recipe)

Savory corn pudding (really a custard) using this recipe

Sausage stuffing

Roasted brussels sprouts with thyme and dried cranberries

Roasted sweet potatoes

Mushroom gravy (recipe from above)

Green bean casserole (Kenji's recipe, more or less)

Rolls

Chocolate silk pie

Pumpkin pie

Whipped cream

All of this for...the 2 of us, plus a baby. We REALLY like Thanksgiving food (though yes, originally we were going to have guests) and love leftovers. Already made/in the oven now - soup, squash, corn pudding, pumpkin pie, chocolate pie crust, and sweet potatoes.

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I usually plan holiday menus much more and earlier than I have this year.  It's also just 2 of us, but I have trouble figuring out what to leave out.  I skipped potatoes and rolls since we have stuffing, and also dessert, since we don't really need dessert with all this food.

I made the stuffing yesterday, which will go into the bird and also into a separate dish.  I'm thinking of doing the turkey on convection but wonder if that will wreak havoc with getting the stuffing cooked to the correct temperature by the time the bird is done.  Should have thought about this before...

Also made the reiish yesterday.  I decided to throw together the concoction that Wonkette runs every Thanksgiving.  No real measurements, just cranberries, orange zest and juice, a little sugar, and bourbon.  Cooked in the oven.  I didn't test it after I made it, so we'll see how it goes. I think that's in the spirit of the dish :P .

I precooked the cauliflower for the soup, since I'd had it a while and it had developed a few small spots on it, which I didn't want to risk being lots of bad spots by today.  I'm not even sure how I'm making the soup, but decided sage and truffle salt would be nice.

Apple salad from Heidi Swanson of 101 Cookbooks.  Mushrooms don't really need a recipe but I got the idea from a blog.  Green beans don't need a recipe.

Cream of Cauliflower Soup with Truffle Salt and Fried Sage

Heirloom Apple Salad

Herbed Roast Turkey with Sausage Cornbread Cranberry Stuffing
Cranberry "Business" Relish
Sauteed Mushrooms with Garlic and Lemon Pan Sauce
Green Beans with Toasted Walnuts and Walnut Oil

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I outdid myself on the turkey this year. Best I have had at any thanksgiving in my life and my guests were saying the same thing.

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I outdid myself on the turkey this year. Best I have had at any thanksgiving in my life and my guests were saying the same thing.

Do tell! Any tips?

We petered out a bit from our plan - didn't make the potatoes or brussels and decided that we would use the mushroom cream sauce from the green bean casserole as the gravy instead of making a separate one. Oh, and I forgot to mention that we also had cranberry sauce, which we had made earlier in the week (with grade B maple syrup - so deeply caramel and delicious!). The corn pudding was fantastic and has earned a spot in our Tday rotation. I followed the recipe I found, except using mozzarella and parm cheeses. Next time I think I'll whiz half the corn and make the texture even more custard-y, as The Hersch suggested.

Even with the omissions (and we'll at least make the sprouts this weekend) we have a ton of leftovers. Turkey carcass is in the crock pot making stock and the sweet potatoes and most of the squash will be frozen as baby food. A quart of the mushroom soup also went into the freezer. Some of the turkey meat will go into a pot pie (we made extra pie crusts) this weekend and some of the pie will be given away. The rest, honestly, won't last that long, since we're good eaters! I think the green beans will last the longest. We made the whole recipe and it's too rich to eat in large portions. While it was good, I think the work/deliciousness/richness ratios demand that we go back to having a plainly sautéed green vegetable on the table.

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^^I also cooked a ton for just two of us (plus Hoku, our newish rescue Akita who doesn't like bread, but really loves liver). It was all simple and classic so the leftovers can get smothered in red chile before being eaten in front of the TV.

Roast turkey and gravy out of CI's "The New Best Recipe"
Baguette stuffing with sauteed mushrooms

Mashed potatoes

Potato-chive monkey bread

Orange-cranberry relish

Pumpkin bread pudding

Skipped -- brussel sprouts and sweet potatoes

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Post-game analysis:

1. Used the convection setting, and the temperature probe from the oven was saying it was done about an hour before it should have been.  Even the most cooked parts weren't up to internal temperature, and the stuffing lagged behind.  I kept basting and checking, and it eventually came out pretty well and was done at about the time I would have predicted based on guidelines.

Early on, I had worried the bird was going to burn--and I could not manage to keep those wing tips tucked in--but tenting with foil and periodically basting kept it okay.  This was without a doubt the most beautifully bronzed turkey I've ever made.  The convection worked splendidly towards that end.  The breast meat was a little dry but not too much.  I hadn't made gravy, which would be the typical remedy, but the pan sauce from the mushrooms plus the cranberry relish worked to provide enough moisture when piled on the plate.  I saved the pan juices and giblets and am going to make gravy to go with leftovers, of which we have an ample supply.

2. My husband liked the cranberry stuff more than he ever likes anything in that genre and didn't think it was too tart.  I thought it could have used a tad more sugar, but it was quite good.  I reheated it, covered, in the oven after the turkey came out.

3. Apple salad was a big winner.  It was slightly reminiscent of a Waldorf salad but with no raisins and served with baby romaine leaves.

4. Mushrooms were also good.  It seemed like it would be a huge amount but mushrooms shrink down as they cook, so there isn't even much in the way of leftovers.  I cooked those while the turkey was being carved.  As an afterthought, we drank more of the Kirkland pinot grigio (classy!) used in the mushroom pan sauce along with our meal.

5. I ended up more or less following a simple Gordon Ramsay recipe for the soup and then topping with the fried sage leaves and pinches of truffle salt.  The sage and truffle salt paired well with the creamy cauliflower. Will do that again.

6.  Probably didn't need the green beans.  They were what you'd expect.

7. I enjoyed the stuffing. I'd never put cranberries into stuffing before, but they were a fine addition, especially up against the savory sausage and the breads. (I supplemented the cornbread with some cubed Italian bread.)   My husband doesn't like stuffing, so I get it all to myself.  That's why I hardly ever make it...

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We did a completely pre-fab meal from Whole Foods at the inlaws supplemented by pies and extra veg procured by MIL at a local store.

It was surprisingly succesful. The brussels sprouts were underdone and the turkey skin didn't crisp up but otherwise we were pleased.

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Do tell! Any tips?

I started out with a 14-pounder from Maple Lawn, which I got for $1.99 a lb from MOM's. I used Kenji's dry-brining method, using 2 tbsp of baking powder and 6 tbsp of Morton's kosher salt. I mixed them together and sprinkled the mixture all over the bird, making sure to get every last inch of skin. I ended up using the entire bowl. I then put the bird in the fridge uncovered to sit for 48 hours.

Then I set the turkey on a v-rack set inside a roasting pan, making sure the turkey sat high above the pan where its legs and thighs would not be shielded by the sides of the pan. Then I put a pizza stone on the lowest rack in the oven and preheated the oven to 500 degrees for about an hour. Then I put the roasting pan, with the v-rack and bird, on the pizza stone, shut the oven and immediately lowered the temp to 350 degrees. Set my timer for one hour, after which I started checking the turkey's temperature with a Thermapen every 20 minutes. When the deepest part of the breast registered 145 degrees (the thighs having reached 180 at this point), I pulled out the bird and transferred it to a cutting board to rest uncovered for 30 minutes. Carved and served.

Perfectly moist white meat with an abundance of turkey flavor and skin so crispy I had people asking "did you fry this?"

It was the first time I had ever cooked something in my life (yes, really). After the meal, my older brother -- who is nothing but ever brutally honest -- came up to my room to say goodnight and said "oh, and that was the best turkey I've ever had."

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The highlight was my daughter's hair catching on fire from a too close candle but thankfully being put out by a quick thinking uncle.  We can still smell the hair.  The turkey and ham were good, too.  So was the wine.

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TG2015.  The more photogenic fabrications.

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Pickled mackerel.  Onion, garlic, rosemary, lemon and a few mustard seeds.

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Roasted Virginia chestnuts.

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Turkey consommé.  Smokey turkey neck, broccoli and carrots

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Caulilower Polonaise.  Yellow, purple and romanesco lathered in white cauliflower and sweet onion soubise

before getting the gratinéed treatment and lemon-toasted breadcrumbs.

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A stuffing of sorts.  Vegetables glazed in duck fat with some crusty bread and such.

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Turkey leg, liver, gizzard and quince ballotine.

Slowly roasted in gravy with cranberries, chestnuts and Brussels sprouts.

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Hot & cold turkey pies.  More gizzards, black truffle, dried cranberries and pecans in savory brown butter pastry.

Star shaped cutters were readily available.

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 A "DC" shaped cutter was found in a free-stuff box.

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Filled with spiked cider aspic.

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Well everything this year was delicious!

I made this Alton Brown turkey recipe again this year, and people really noticed how good the turkey was (Maple Lawn 14.6 lbs from MOM's): http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/good-eats-roast-turkey-recipe.html

We ended making this stuffing which was very good, not overly bready in a good way and we didn't have to worry about mushrooms or no mushrooms: http://www.kingsburgorchards.com/cranberry-ap-stuffing-recipe

I made this cranberry sauce the night before, although I edited it and added some lavender salt I had on hand which really helped the flavor: https://food52.com/recipes/1424-spiced-mandarin-cranberry-sauce-with-port

I made this cornbread, which others really liked, but I wasn't crazy about it: https://food52.com/recipes/8195-double-corn-corn-bread-with-fresh-thyme

My Mom made mashed potatoes and gravy, which were delicious, I made her go lactose free on them so she used a combination of lactose free milk and sour cream for the potatoes. SIL brought butternut squash soup.  The green bean bundles wrapped in bacon were a hit brought by another friend.

Friends brought a pumpkin pie from Happy Tart and Pecan Pie from Bayou Bakery.  The pumpkin was very traditional, the pecan though was just really tasty.  Other friend brought the pumpkin custard pie from my Amish Nanny, which is ALWAYS the best, hands down.  I also had as leftovers at my in laws an apple, pear, cranberry pie bought from the Smithsonian that had a strudel top and was really good too.  We also had yeast rolls from Great Harvest Bread Company that were very good.  BUT the surprise winner of the evening was potstickers that a friend brought, a perfect addition to traditional thanksgiving tastes and REALLY good covered in gravy.

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It's amazing, some guy in Todd Kliman's chat did the exact same thing for his turkeys!!  Small world.

:P

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& I just got the idea from Poivrot Farci's post, that I need to save the turkey necks (which for some reason freak me out), freeze them, smoke them, & make stock- this is going to be long term, since I don't cook whole turkeys that often.

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I know it's really early to plan out T-day dinner but you'd be surprised at how fast time flies.

This year I've decided to have ragu della domenica as part of the main event. The rest of the menu has yet to be decided and I'll update things as I go along. I'll also blog about it here and on Twitter so you can follow progression.

In the past when I've made Sunday sauce, it's typically been with a base of lard, a battuto of garlic, onion, meat juices (from the meats which will be browned first) and red wine. The meats are sausages, spare ribs, and pork chops. There are also meatballs which are composed of a 2:1 ratio of pork to beef, and also contain breadcrumbs, parsley, mint, milk, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, nutmeg, salt, black pepper. The meatballs are baked, then braised in the sauce.

This year will be a little different. I've elected to make bruciuluni (this is the Sicilian term, otherwise known as braciole or involtini) in addition to the above. Maybe will add a pig's foot if I can get that from the butcher's shop which we'll have to order in advance. The bruciuluni involves stuffing sliced beef with celery, carrot, parsley sprigs and some prosciutto (for that extra-special oomph) maybe some raisins and pine nuts, frying the bundle in olive oil, then braising in the sauce.

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For pasta, I'm thinking we might go the Roman route and that would involve gnocchi. Since I've never made gnocchi before, now is a good time as any to practice. There's also store-bought and this might be the path we'll eventually take depending on how much effort is involved.

More later.

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On 9/25/2019 at 3:22 PM, TrelayneNYC said:

For pasta, I'm thinking we might go the Roman route and that would involve gnocchi. Since I've never made gnocchi before, now is a good time as any to practice. There's also store-bought and this might be the path we'll eventually take depending on how much effort is involved.

More later.

My most successful efforts with gnocchi have been sweet potato gnocchi. I'm not sure why, but they just turn out better for me than white potato gnocchi. I have no idea how the sweet potato element works with your Italian concept, but thinking about them makes me think I'll make some (maybe with sage butter?) for Thanksgiving, if we're home. (That part's still undecided.)

I look forward to reading your updates.

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I just bought a cookbook with a *great* gnocchi recipe (a Michelin 3-star chef) - I'll take a picture and post it here.

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I just invited someone to Thanksgiving, so I guess it's on.

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Ugh, I have trial Monday and Tuesday, that I hope is wrapped Tuesday, so that I can devote Wednesday to prep.  I ordered a turkey from Mom's.  They are using a new farm this year, but seems like it will still be great.  We will have a vegetarian this year, so I am going to make a few more things more vegetarian.  We will see how a veggie "sausage" works in the stuffing.  A sane person would find a good bakery and order pies.... BUT I often tempt fate.  I really want to make a pumpkin pie with the pecan topping that they made on Bon Appetit.  I feel like I can whip out a pie in no time.  Thank goodness my Mom will be here and can grocery shop, prep and etc.  

Matt is also smoking a turkey this weekend for his office can't wait to see how that turns out.  

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2 hours ago, ktmoomau said:

  We will see how a veggie "sausage" works in the stuffing.  

I may suggest picking up “Field Roast” brand sausage. It’s delicious& I actually prefer to it’s meat version.

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I also ordered my turkey from Mom's. Too many incidents where the staff at Whole Foods assured me that my pricey turkey is only "air chilled on the surface" when I said it seems awfully solid, only to find that it is frozen all the way to the fricking center when I got it home!

We have been smoking our turkeys of late; has anyone tried a combo of smoking and then finishing in an oven to crisp the skin?  I realize I might have to oil the skin post-smoking to make that happen.  

Two contrasts in recipes are on my list this year:  
cornbread souffle  which relies on Jiffy mix and canned corn.  It's been on the table the past few years and is much loved.  It does not reheat well.  

This stunning tart   True to my nature, I'm planning on using just the cranberry gelee and  leaving the non-seasonal, likely both tasteless and expensive, raspberries off the topping.  I'll put the gelee over something more to the family tastes, like cheesecake.  

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I got 2 14 lb turkeys, I’ll freeze one for later, the other is already spatchcocked & dry-brining in garage frig.  I’ll smoke that one & a pork butt either Tuesday or Wed (depending on forecast for rain). Also doing a small ham, rolls, roast green beans, Brussels sprouts w/ bacon & grapes, slaw & potato rolls to go w/ pulled pork (NC style sauce),sautéed mushrooms, potatoes roasted in duck fat, cranberry sauce, & a couple of desserts to be determined.  I’m not a gravy or dressing person, so if the kids want it, they will cook it. I hope everyone has a peaceful Thanksgiving.

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Going to in-laws this year and so my cooking duties are limited - but I'll probably make those dishes they don't make that I like - homemade cranberry sauce and stuffing. I may turn the stuffing into a knishes as a way to sneak in my favorite part of thanksgiving. I figure they all like my potato knishes and so if I also happen to make a few stuffing knishes no one will mind. Always tough dealing with the cook who refuses to let anyone bring anything.

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I have changed the menu I originally came up with a couple months ago. What I'm doing is somewhat similar but a little less work. I pushed the sweet potato gnocchi with sage butter to Christmas Eve.

I'm getting ready to make the chocolate pumpkin bread for dessert so I don't have to do that tomorrow. The rest of dessert is from my dwindling stash of Trickling Springs ice cream. The mashed turnips are from Molly O'Neill's A Well-Seasoned Appetite. The cauliflower is a Food Network recipe that we loved last time I made it. The sauce for the meatballs is from the NYT recipe for the turkey breast that I was originally going to make.

I've only had two crises so far: the parsley I grabbed at the store turned out to be cilantro. Should have double-checked instead of trusting the shelf label ☹️. I was able to find curly parsley at a nearby corner store that is reliable for fresh produce. The recipe that requires the most of it doesn't even specify type, so okay...The turnips only use a little of it and I think I might substitute (or combine with) the remaining fresh tarragon I have.

My baking powder had expired 🤨, but I tested it and it fizzed like crazy, so I'm forging ahead!

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Roasted Baby Beets with Feta and Toasted Walnuts on a Bed of Baby Kale
Turkey Meatballs in Cranberry-Wine Sauce
Mustard-Parmesan Whole Roasted Cauliflower
Mashed Turnips with Crispy Shallots
Chocolate Pumpkin Bread
Salted Caramel Ice Cream

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