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Author Topic: Thanksgiving menus, traditions, and recipes...  (Read 1173 times)
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PeteRock
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« on: November 23, 2010, 05:22:51 AM »

With Thanksgiving rapidly approaching and having just returned from the grocery store after a marathon trip to pick up all of the ingredients for our planned menu (my wife and I are hosting Thanksgiving at our home this year for 8 to 10 friends and family), I was wondering what others are planning to do for the holiday in terms of menu, recipes, traditions, etc.

My wife has typically handled the menu for Thanksgiving for the past 10 years, but we've been talking about changing things up a bit.  Especially since she just got back from a six-week trip to Asia and not quite ready to handle Thursday.  So this year a lot of the menu will fall on my shoulders (everything but the stuffing).  

She has always stuffed the bird, which I feel is not really a good idea as the bird cooks longer, the stuffing temperature has to be around 165 degrees for it to be safe to eat, which means the bird is closer to 180 degrees and therefore overdone.  So this year we're roasting the stuffing in the oven separately.  She's still making her classic recipe with fresh apples, sausage, cashews, fresh sage, cornbread, etc, but in a roasting pan instead of the bird.

Also, she has made the bird in an oven bag for 10 years.  You don't get much crispy skin, and while the meat is tender, you don't have pan drippings for making gravy.  This year we're roasting the bird on a rack, starting out at a scorching 500 degrees to crisp up the skin, then finishing the bird at 350 for a few hours until the white meat is 161 degrees (using Alton Brown's method for covering the breasts with foil during cooking to make sure the white meat is not overdone by the time the dark meat is cooked to the appropriate temp).  We're brining the night before with allspice berries, vegetable stock, black peppercorns, candied ginger, kosher salt, and brown sugar.  And the bird will be roasted with apples, sliced onions, cinnamon sticks, fresh sage, and fresh rosemary inside.  

Our sides include cranberry sauce made from fresh cranberries (kind of like a compote or relish - one of my wife's specialties), scratch-made gravy from the pan drippings with red wine, chicken stock, and fresh sage, creamy mashed potatoes with half-and-half, sour cream, cream cheese, shredded cheddar, heavy cream, and plenty of butter, caramelized brussels sprouts with crispy bacon, green bean casserole with fresh green beans, wild mushrooms, heavy cream, sour cream, oven-toasted onions, and shredded cheddar, Moliere's homemade cornbread, freshly-baked dinner rolls, and my wife's sausage-sage-apple-cashew-cornbread stuffing.

Dessert will be my pumpkin bourbon cheesecake with a graham cracker and candied pecan crust and topped with a sour cream topping and we might also have a pecan pie with a whiskey maple cream sauce.  

Thursday cannot get here soon enough.  I'm practically salivating just thinking about the food, and while it'll be a long day of hard work (and endless dishes), when we're all stuffed, tired, and have the dogs napping at our feet while we're dozing on the couch and watching National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation with close friends and family, it will have all been worth it.  Especially each and every time we sneak into the kitchen to make little leftover "sliders" with cold turkey, a dash of cranberry sauce, a little stuffing, some gravy, all on individual little dinner rolls.

The day will be spent cooking, talking, laughing, watching football, snacking on specialty cheeses and meats, sipping mimosas in the morning, then beer and wine later in the day, playing bocce out back or tossing the football around, playing fetch with the dogs, watching more football, eating dinner "round 1" somewhere between 3:30 and 4pm, followed by dessert and freshly ground coffee, then a brief reprieve in the living room with a viewing of Christmas Vacation, followed by leftovers and dinner "round 2."  Perhaps dessert "round 2" as well. 

What do your menus look like, or the menus of the homes you'll be visiting for the holiday?   drool
« Last Edit: November 23, 2010, 05:30:35 AM by PeteRock » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: November 23, 2010, 05:40:56 AM »

Fumble and I will be having lasagna.
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« Reply #2 on: November 23, 2010, 05:57:09 AM »

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« Reply #3 on: November 23, 2010, 06:38:29 AM »

I've only spent Thanksgiving with family once in the last 10 years or so as none of them live in this area and my job means I don't have any time off around it.   I've usually had Thanksgiving day off, though.  In those cases I either spent the time with friends and did whatever they did or spent the day by myself, in which case I usually just got a take n' bake pizza.  icon_lol

This year I have to work from 3PM until midnight on Thanksgiving.  I haven't decided if I'm going to do anything special but there is a good chance it will be just another normal work day with whatever people at work bring in.
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« Reply #4 on: November 23, 2010, 12:25:47 PM »

Gotta have devilled eggs, gotta have pumpkin pie, cranberry sauce must be in the shape of a can, leftover turkey must be converted into mayo-y turkey salad sandwiches.

This year I'm brining my turkey for the first time, as I keep hearing that there's no better way to do it.
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« Reply #5 on: November 23, 2010, 02:57:55 PM »

Quote from: wonderpug on November 23, 2010, 12:25:47 PM

This year I'm brining my turkey for the first time, as I keep hearing that there's no better way to do it.

There isn't.  We brined our turkey for the first time last year and we could not believe what we had been missing all these years.  We went with Alton Brown's recipe as I appreciate his understanding of chemistry and trust his knowledge of the actual chemical functions of cooking rather than just flavors.  It worked our beautifully and will be using the same recipe this year.
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« Reply #6 on: November 23, 2010, 03:13:37 PM »

Quote from: pr0ner on November 23, 2010, 05:40:56 AM

Fumble and I will be having lasagna.

why do I suddenly have that scene from Lady and the Tramp going through my head? Tongue
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« Reply #7 on: November 23, 2010, 03:15:15 PM »

Quote from: CeeKay on November 23, 2010, 03:13:37 PM

Quote from: pr0ner on November 23, 2010, 05:40:56 AM

Fumble and I will be having lasagna.

why do I suddenly have that scene from Lady and the Tramp going through my head? Tongue

You do know there are no meatballs in lasagna, right?   icon_wink
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« Reply #8 on: November 23, 2010, 03:18:51 PM »

Quote from: PeteRock on November 23, 2010, 03:15:15 PM

Quote from: CeeKay on November 23, 2010, 03:13:37 PM

Quote from: pr0ner on November 23, 2010, 05:40:56 AM

Fumble and I will be having lasagna.

why do I suddenly have that scene from Lady and the Tramp going through my head? Tongue

You do know there are no meatballs in lasagna, right?   icon_wink

I know, out of the whole picture in my head that's the bit that doesn't make sense.  of course you could make meatballs on the side so you have extra meat in the meal.....
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« Reply #9 on: November 23, 2010, 03:19:51 PM »

Quote from: CeeKay on November 23, 2010, 03:18:51 PM

Quote from: PeteRock on November 23, 2010, 03:15:15 PM

Quote from: CeeKay on November 23, 2010, 03:13:37 PM

Quote from: pr0ner on November 23, 2010, 05:40:56 AM

Fumble and I will be having lasagna.

why do I suddenly have that scene from Lady and the Tramp going through my head? Tongue

You do know there are no meatballs in lasagna, right?   icon_wink

I know, out of the whole picture in my head that's the bit that doesn't make sense.  of course you could make meatballs on the side so you have extra meat in the meal.....

Well, I was hungry for Thanksgiving. 
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« Reply #10 on: November 23, 2010, 03:38:32 PM »

I have one of Emeril's cookbooks and there's a recipe for a brined turkey that is absolutely amazing. Normally I like the fried birds, but my mom wants to cook it in the oven this year. I'll have to take a look at that Alton Brown recipe and see if I can convince her to give it a shot.

This year is going to be slightly different than previous years. I used to go down to Fort Lauderdale to have Thanksgiving with the gf's family, but since she is now an ex I'll be staying home this year. Normally this is the one holiday that my mom loves to have a ton of people over, but this year is going to be relatively quiet... for dinner anyway. It's looking like there will just be 5 of us for dinner, but we'll be heading over to have dessert with my step-brothers and their mom's side of the family. So in the end we'll probably still spend a good chunk of the day with 20+ people.

The menu for dinner is turkey, green bean casserole, sweet potato casserole, mashed potatoes, rutabaga, stuffed mushrooms... and some other appetizers that I can't remember right now. I know I saw some tuna smack in the fridge.  drool

For dessert we'll be continuing our annual pie making contest. Everyone makes a pie, and then we all vote for the best (no self voting). In the past the winner got a $50 gift card, but I don't know if we'll be doing that this year. The first year I made a chocolate-pecan pie that I thought was amazing, but I lost points because everyone else thought it was a brownie. However, the winner that year was a pumpkin cheesecake... I called shenanigans, but nobody would listen to me.

This year I'm going with an ice cream pie. I know I'll get criticized for "not making a pie," but I thought the recipe looked delicious. The crust is made from crushed oreos, drizzled with caramel and chocolate-espresso sauces. Then you layer it with vanilla ice cream, and drizzle the remaining sauce over top of it. I've been debating about adding some heavy whipping cream to the chocolate-espresso sauce and turning it into a whipped topping for the pie, but I'm afraid the leftovers wont freeze well so I'll probably just stick with the recipe as is.

I love Thanksgiving.  The Weghted Companion Cube will never threaten to stab you.
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« Reply #11 on: November 23, 2010, 04:40:53 PM »

I have to work and the family will be heading out of town , so I will have endless gaming, football and pizza!!!   thumbsup
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« Reply #12 on: November 23, 2010, 04:48:54 PM »

Quote from: Soulchilde on November 23, 2010, 04:40:53 PM

I have to work and the family will be heading out of town , so I will have endless gaming, football and pizza!!!   thumbsup

Instead of cheese and red sauce, the pizza should be gravy, turkey, mashed potatoes, with dollops of cranberry sauce.
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« Reply #13 on: November 23, 2010, 04:56:17 PM »

we actually had our Thanksgiving last Saturday.  It's always a close group of friends, but this year most of us will be scattered to the four winds on Thursday so in order to keep the tradition it had to be done early.  I grabbed stuff for a mini Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday, but it's mostly going to be a gaming holiday.
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« Reply #14 on: November 23, 2010, 05:31:22 PM »

My mom is a very simple cook so we have always had the same basic stuff for 30+ years now, but it is such a reminder of home that I couldn't imagine being happy with anything else.

Turkey is cooked in the oven with minimal prep, stuffing inside (generally only eaten by me and my mom) and out made with croutons, onions and celery.  Cranberry sauce from the can, whole cranberry sauce mixed with pineapple, gravy from a jar, sweetened greenbeans and carrots, mashed candied yams with toasted marshmallows on top, and rolls from a can. Dessert is usally brought by guests, but my mom always makes me this crazy cake that's basically a store-bought angel food cake suspended in layers of jello. It frightens most people but I love it, and have to find times to eat as much as I can before I leave to go home.

None of that fancy-schmancy crap slywink
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« Reply #15 on: November 23, 2010, 06:15:13 PM »

Quote from: Moliere on November 23, 2010, 05:57:09 AM



which one is pete?
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« Reply #16 on: November 23, 2010, 06:25:03 PM »

The one on the right looks pretty fabulous.....
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« Reply #17 on: November 23, 2010, 06:38:23 PM »

Normally I deep fry a turkey, but this year I am tempted to try this instead: Needs more bacon!
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« Reply #18 on: November 23, 2010, 10:31:58 PM »

It's the same every year:

B-I-L's wife makes turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, pea & peanut salad, chutney, and a green salad.

My wife makes El Azteco cheese dip, green bean casserole, and a pumpkin pie.

I make wheat bread (by hand) and candied yams.

B-I-L makes trouble.
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« Reply #19 on: November 23, 2010, 10:53:52 PM »

Quote from: PeteRock on November 23, 2010, 02:57:55 PM

Quote from: wonderpug on November 23, 2010, 12:25:47 PM

This year I'm brining my turkey for the first time, as I keep hearing that there's no better way to do it.

There isn't.  We brined our turkey for the first time last year and we could not believe what we had been missing all these years.  We went with Alton Brown's recipe as I appreciate his understanding of chemistry and trust his knowledge of the actual chemical functions of cooking rather than just flavors.  It worked our beautifully and will be using the same recipe this year.

Good to know!  I've actually been following the exact same brining & roasting recipe, except that I'm doing a 3 day marinade instead of just the 8-16 hours or whatever listed in the recipe.  I figure if I'm giving this crazy brining thing a try for the first time I better give it every opportunity to be the best it can be. 
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« Reply #20 on: November 23, 2010, 11:30:20 PM »

Quote from: wonderpug on November 23, 2010, 10:53:52 PM

Good to know!  I've actually been following the exact same brining & roasting recipe, except that I'm doing a 3 day marinade instead of just the 8-16 hours or whatever listed in the recipe.  I figure if I'm giving this crazy brining thing a try for the first time I better give it every opportunity to be the best it can be. 

Be careful.  You can over-brine the meat, whether it be pork loin, turkey, chicken, etc.  I would strongly urge you to limit your brining to no more than 16 to 24 hours, otherwise you risk oversalting the meat.  Many people think that if you brine for a few hours, more has to be even better, similar to a marinade, but brining is not the same as marinating.  You eventually reach a point where too much salt is worked into the meat through osmosis and if you let the meat brine for too long it becomes overly salty and the texture of the meat changes as well.

If you are going to brine the bird, do not exceed the recommended brining time, as more, in this case, does not mean better. 
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« Reply #21 on: November 24, 2010, 01:27:08 AM »

Hmm...  A lot of brining things I had read aside from Alton Brown's said to do 2-3 day brines, but that most of the goodness happens in the first 16 hours, which is what I assumed was the reason for Alton's timing.

Dangit, now I'm worried.
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« Reply #22 on: November 24, 2010, 01:38:06 AM »

Quote from: PeteRock on November 23, 2010, 11:30:20 PM

Quote from: wonderpug on November 23, 2010, 10:53:52 PM

Good to know!  I've actually been following the exact same brining & roasting recipe, except that I'm doing a 3 day marinade instead of just the 8-16 hours or whatever listed in the recipe.  I figure if I'm giving this crazy brining thing a try for the first time I better give it every opportunity to be the best it can be. 

Be careful.  You can over-brine the meat, whether it be pork loin, turkey, chicken, etc.  I would strongly urge you to limit your brining to no more than 16 to 24 hours, otherwise you risk oversalting the meat.  Many people think that if you brine for a few hours, more has to be even better, similar to a marinade, but brining is not the same as marinating.  You eventually reach a point where too much salt is worked into the meat through osmosis and if you let the meat brine for too long it becomes overly salty and the texture of the meat changes as well.

If you are going to brine the bird, do not exceed the recommended brining time, as more, in this case, does not mean better. 

Absolutely correct.  I have overbrined pork chops before to disastrous results.

As for Thanksgiving in my world - baby sister is visiting town this week for work so she's going to have Thanksgiving with us and our band of misfit friends.  We'll be doing two turkeys this year: one traditional that Girlfriend will be responsible for and one smoked that I will be trying for the first time on the Big Green Egg.  Both will be prebrined for us by our butcher, which I'll be picking up tomorrow afternoon.
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« Reply #23 on: November 24, 2010, 01:40:19 AM »

For the record Pete, I convinced my Mom to give this recipe a shot. I just finished preparing the brine now, and tomorrow night will add the bird and really get to the point of no return. If it turns out to be terrible, I will blame you.
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« Reply #24 on: November 24, 2010, 09:35:02 AM »

Well, I'm making cheesecake for the family. Was going to make an entree, but everyone has everything else covered.

I think I'll make an appetizer instead, some kind of stuffed mushrooms sounds delicious.
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« Reply #25 on: November 24, 2010, 04:01:52 PM »

Quote from: msteelers on November 24, 2010, 01:40:19 AM

For the record Pete, I convinced my Mom to give this recipe a shot. I just finished preparing the brine now, and tomorrow night will add the bird and really get to the point of no return. If it turns out to be terrible, I will blame you.

It will be fabulousFabulous

We used Alton Brown's recipe last year and loved the flavor and moisture results.  I'd be a little more concerned if I made it up myself, but I trust Alton and at least have experience with this particular recipe so things should work out just fine for your mom.  I'm using the same brining recipe myself and am not at all worried.  I'm more worried about being responsible for the entire dinner for the first time ever.  My wife has handled it for 10 years, and now it will all rest on my shoulders. 

Time for Chef Peedro to shine.   
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« Reply #26 on: November 24, 2010, 05:28:25 PM »

Quote from: PeteRock on November 24, 2010, 04:01:52 PM

I trust Alton and at least have experience with this particular recipe so things should work out just fine for your mom.  I'm using the same brining recipe myself and am not at all worried. 

Somehow I think my mom used this as an excuse to dump the responsibility of the turkey into my lap. I cooked the brine last night, and will be doing everything else associated with getting the turkey ready.  icon_eek
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« Reply #27 on: November 24, 2010, 09:06:50 PM »

Quote from: PeteRock on November 23, 2010, 05:22:51 AM

Dessert will be my pumpkin bourbon cheesecake with a graham cracker and candied pecan crust and topped with a sour cream topping and we might also have a pecan pie with a whiskey maple cream sauce.
   
Goodness. I think my mouth filled with saliva and my eyes rolled back in my head just reading about your desserts. smile
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« Reply #28 on: November 24, 2010, 10:52:57 PM »

Towel?
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« Reply #29 on: November 25, 2010, 05:22:43 AM »

Yes, please. smile
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« Reply #30 on: November 25, 2010, 04:50:42 PM »

I went to the gym first thing in the morning, so now I can gorge myself the rest of the day completely guilt free. Until I get on the scale tomorrow, anyway. I've already had eggs, bacon, gorilla bread, coffee, and mimosa's. Now I have to get the turkey ready for the oven.

Happy Thanksgiving everybody.
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« Reply #31 on: November 25, 2010, 05:02:54 PM »

Quote from: msteelers on November 25, 2010, 04:50:42 PM

I went to the gym first thing in the morning, so now I can gorge myself the rest of the day completely guilt free.

I ate a salad last night for dinner, walked the dogs 2 miles this morning followed by a Clif bar for breakfast in preparation for gorging myself later today.
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« Reply #32 on: November 25, 2010, 05:40:25 PM »

Quote from: Moliere on November 25, 2010, 05:02:54 PM

Quote from: msteelers on November 25, 2010, 04:50:42 PM

I went to the gym first thing in the morning, so now I can gorge myself the rest of the day completely guilt free.

I ate a salad last night for dinner, walked the dogs 2 miles this morning followed by a Clif bar for breakfast in preparation for gorging myself later today.

heck, I just rolled out of bed so I got nothing to work off  icon_biggrin
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« Reply #33 on: November 25, 2010, 05:53:16 PM »

We always spend the week of thanksgiving in New York City.   The first part of the week is spent wandering the city and usually do two nights of dinners and shows.    We spend Thanksgiving day watching football and doing the turkey thing then spend Friday checking out NYC holiday traditions like skating at rockefeller center, looking at the macy's windows and catching a Christmas show at radio city music hall.  Then we go home and set the Christmas tree up on Sunday.   One of the best weeks of the year for me smile
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« Reply #34 on: November 25, 2010, 06:01:03 PM »

Every Thanksgiving the wife and I listen to Alice's Restaurant. Then we gorge ourselves on two dinners at two different places.
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« Reply #35 on: November 25, 2010, 06:19:05 PM »

Quote from: WorkingMike on November 25, 2010, 06:01:03 PM

Every Thanksgiving the wife and I listen to Alice's Restaurant. Then we gorge ourselves on two dinners at two different places.

That came on my iPod while I was on the treadmill.  icon_biggrin
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« Reply #36 on: November 26, 2010, 04:25:17 PM »

Quote from: msteelers on November 24, 2010, 05:28:25 PM

Quote from: PeteRock on November 24, 2010, 04:01:52 PM

I trust Alton and at least have experience with this particular recipe so things should work out just fine for your mom.  I'm using the same brining recipe myself and am not at all worried.

Somehow I think my mom used this as an excuse to dump the responsibility of the turkey into my lap. I cooked the brine last night, and will be doing everything else associated with getting the turkey ready.  icon_eek

So, how did things turn out?

I'd say that our Thanksgiving menu was a huge success.  As Moliere commented to me while we were prepping things, the biggest challenge with a meal like this is timing.  Making sure that all elements are prepared and ready to serve at the same time.  I played out the logistics and timing of everything in my head over and over again the past few days, barely being able to sleep or focus on much else.  Being the first Thanksgiving I'd have to handle on my own (with help, of course), I was a bit nervous, especially with seven other hungry people at my house expecting a quality meal for the holiday.  

The biggest concern is obviously the turkey, since if the turkey is a failure, the day is pretty much ruined.  I removed the turkey from the brine around 7am (about 16 hours of brining), rinsed it thoroughly, and set it on the roasting rack.  I dried the skin with a paper towel, but it would continue to air dry while I prepped other food items.  Around 11am I rubbed the skin with canola oil, microwaved a sliced green apple, an onion, and a cinnamon stick to release their juices and flavors, stuffed the bird with the apple slices, onion, cinnamon, plus fresh sage leaves and fresh rosemary sprigs, then in went the bird into a ripping 500 degree oven for 30 minutes to crisp up the skin.  

Within seconds you could already smell the turkey starting to cook.  After the 30 minutes I wrapped the breast meat with foil, inserted a meat thermometer into the breast, then back into the oven at 350 until done (the thermometer reads 161 degrees).  We estimated a 3 1/2 to 4-hour cooking time, assuming longer as turkeys in the past have always taken longer than anticipated.  So dinner should be around 3:00 to 3:15.  Back to snacking on cheeses, meats, crackers, chili dip, banana bread, etc, and moving on from bloody marys (the morning's starting beverage) to Guinness.  

Friends and family were mingling, laughing, watching football, drinking, and being merry.  The dogs were enthralled by a chihuahua our friend's sister brought with her (unexpectedly  disgust), but there was minimal doggie drama (he was a bit scared at first of our two ginormous labs, but eventually Simba retired to his bed and Nala lost interest).  Around 2:00pm I checked on the bird and it was already approaching the 161 degree mark.   icon_eek  It was cooking faster than I anticipated.  Granted we didn't stuff the bird so cooking time was reduced, but I figured it would take closer to 4 hours than 3 1/2.  Time to get scrambling on everything else!

Jaime assembled her stuffing (cornbread - no, not the cornbread Moliere baked for dinner - sausage, green apples, fresh herbs, cashews, chicken stock, onions, seasonings, etc), I got to work on peeling and boiling the potatoes for the creamy mashed potatoes dish, cutting the fresh mushrooms and sauteing them in butter with salt and pepper for the green bean casserole, back to mashing the potatoes with cream cheese, lots of butter, salt, pepper, and a dash of sour cream, that went into a casserole dish to bake, then back to the mushrooms, added flour, then heavy cream, half and half, chicken stock, salt, pepper, let that simmer and thicken, had already blanched the beans in boiling water then shocked them in an ice bath, mixed the creamy mushrooms with the green beans, added a healthy handful of cheddar, put in a casserole dish and topped with more cheddar and crispy onions, and then back to the turkey.  Moliere put together his cornbread recipe and baked it in the roaster, then when that was finished in went Jaime's stuffing.

The bird had hit 161 degrees and so I had taken it out of the oven, covered with foil, and allowed to rest while prepping everything else.  I was a bit concerned that the turkey would cool off, so I was scrambling to get everything else done.  The green bean casserole went into the oven with the mashed potatoes and both just needed to bake until bubbling, Moliere's corn bread was finished and Jaime's stuffing was baking in the roaster.  Now time for the gravy.  I moved the bird to a cutting board and wanted to use the roasting pan to make the gravy, but because we used a store-bought throwaway pan I wasn't able to.  There weren't any charred-on bits, so I didn't really have to deglaze the pan, but I wouldn't be able to use any of that fat to make a roux.  So, thinking on my feet, I took the pan drippings, put them in a pot, added red wine and chicken stock, brought that to a simmer, and in another pot I put together some fat (olive oil and butter), then added flour and made my own quick roux.  After the wine/stock/drippings mixture reduced I started to add it to the roux, whisking constantly to thicken things up.  We added fresh chopped rosemary and a dash of salt and pepper.  I was shocked at just how tasty the gravy turned out.  My wife was eating it with a spoon in the kitchen and the gravy boat was completely empty following dinner.  

My wife and friends set the table, took care of drinks, made sure all of the food was in serving bowls and on the table, and I was left with carving the turkey.  The moment of truth.  Would my turkey be a success, or a horrific (yet memorable) disaster?  I started with cutting into the breast, squinting my eyes in concerned anticipation.  It was the most juicy turkey breast I've ever seen.  And it was still smoking hot.  I mean melt-your-fingerprints-off hot.  Even after resting for 40 minutes the juices still poured onto the cutting board and also the counter ( icon_eek) and the bird was still hot enough to serve.  It was the most moist white meat I've ever tasted.  The skin had ridiculous amounts of flavor, the meat was moist and flavorful from the brine, and everything was cooked to the appropriate levels of doneness.  Holy shit I did it.   icon_eek

We made a quick toast, Moliere blessed the food  icon_lol, and then everyone dug in.  Conversation immediately ceased and all you could hear was clanking plates, grunts, moans, and occasional burps.  Outside of "please pass the......" not another word was uttered.  Moliere rocked two full plates, our new friend John killed three helpings, occasional compliments were mumbled from full mouths, and all I could do was sit back in the kitchen and let out a sigh of relief that everything came together, our guests were pleased, the food was tasty, and the day was a success.  The only disappointment was our friend John had wanted to tear into one of the legs gargantuan-like, but he instead didn't want to act in an unrefined manner at a guest's house and was a little disappointed after the fact.  I guess he made up for that with three full plates of food.   icon_lol

I think Jaime and I did a pretty good job of not letting on that things got a little hectic in the kitchen for a bit (not really frazzled, just extremely efficient to ensure everything was done around the same time), the turkey was absolutely fantastic, the sides turned out really well (the creamy mashed potatoes were a big hit, especially with the fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants gravy), and despite being absolutely exhausted at the end of the night, it was all worth it to see so many happy, satiated, appreciative faces.      

After about an hour we broke out the after-dinner egg nog, brewed a pot of coffee, and served the desserts.  Pecan pie, my pumpkin bourbon cheesecake, and blueberry and blackberry cookies our friend baked.  

This morning I am still full from yesterday's gluttony.  And absolutely exhausted, especially following clean-up (even though I clean as I go, there still seems to be a metric shit-ton of stuff to wash following dinner).  But I'd say it was an even bigger success than I anticipated.  My wife jokingly said she had hoped my turkey turned out like the one in Christmas Vacation so she could yell "HA!" after I "inherited" the responsibility of Thanksgiving dinner (it was actually thrust upon me after my wife angrily said "then you do it yourself" when I suggested not stuffing the bird and perhaps roasting it without an oven bag, what I consider to be an archaic method from our parents' days), but at the end of the night she said the turkey was fantastic, she acknowledged that perhaps not stuffing the bird was the better method, the breast meat was even more moist than ever before, she appreciated not having to worry about the meal at all, and she wasn't mad or upset that things turned out so well.  She also said she's never been that good at making gravy, and she absolutely loved the gravy I put together.  Sometimes change can be good, and she understands that I wasn't criticizing her cooking or trying to usurp Thanksgiving from her, but I just always try to improve meals, even my own, as I feel we can always make adjustments to make a dish (or meal) that much better.    

I think it's time for some leftovers.  
« Last Edit: November 26, 2010, 04:54:11 PM by PeteRock » Logged

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« Reply #37 on: November 26, 2010, 05:31:03 PM »

Did ya serve him any bag with the noms?   icon_twisted

Missed Thanksgiving with you guys, glad it all turned out ok though. smile
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« Reply #38 on: November 26, 2010, 06:43:00 PM »

Quote from: Knightshade Dragon on November 26, 2010, 05:31:03 PM

Did ya serve him any bag with the noms?   icon_twisted

I knew there was a side dish we forgot. 

 icon_lol

Jaime still loves to tell that story.  And she laughs hysterically each and every time she does.

Yet another good reason why it was time for us to move on from the oven bag to open roasting.   ninja

Quote
Missed Thanksgiving with you guys, glad it all turned out ok though. smile

Yeah, we did too.  With Jaime being out of the country for six weeks and my academic schedule Thanksgiving was all of a sudden here, and now already done and past.  I have a feeling Christmas will be the same way, especially with finals coming up and more travel in Jaime's future.  We didn't even really put together much of a guest list.  It was more "hey, what are you doing, this is what we're doing, come by for grub" and people showed up.  I'm already back to homework and studying.   disgust

Better than shopping today, though. 
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« Reply #39 on: November 27, 2010, 02:34:50 PM »

Alton Brown's brine was a big success in my house as well.  After the thread's earlier warnings about overbrining, I took the turkey out of the water after it had been in for 24 hours, wrapped it tightly in a plastic bag, then proceeded as per the recipe when Thursday came 'round.  Not the ideal way to approach the brining, but it still did the trick and it wasn't oversalty or soggy.  I'm a dark meat preferrer but this was some of the best white meat I've ever had.

Adding to the turkey success was us going the extra mile* to get an ultrafresh turkey straight from a local farm rather than one from the regular grocers.  The farm says that their turkeys typically cook faster than expected due to their freshness and sure 'nough, the turkey hit the right temperature a good 30-40 minutes earlier than I thought it would.  It made for some hectic scramblings to get the mashed potatoes and other last minute things to come together in time, but in the end everything came out wonderfully.

*unintentional pun
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