Cooking Thanksgiving Dinner

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Cooking Thanksgiving Dinner

Postby Karen/NoCA » Thu Nov 15, 2012 9:43 pm

How do you do yours? Do you do some things ahead, or all on Thursday morning, or do you assign food for everyone to bring?

For me Thanksgiving dinner used to be a real chore, and I would be so tired that I did not enjoy the meal until everyone left and I could plate up the food and zap it in the microwave. Now I am smarter and for years here is how I have done it.

One week before, I plan my table setting, get everything out, check for spots, wash if necessary, then pile it up on the dining room table. Three days before, I make my cranberry sauce, cover tightly and put in fridge. Next day, I make our dressing, and the gravy, into the fridge, well sealed. Next day the mashed potatoes and family green beans are made. Thanksgiving morning, I prep the turkey and prep the salad ingredients. Usually the table has been set by this time, glasses and plates turned upside down.

Our turkey is done on a Weber by a method called Pandora's Turkey. After prep of an 18 lb. turkey, it is put into a throw away foil pan, on a bed of ashy coals, lid is put on and it is not looked at or peeked at for three hours. Viola, it is done, browned and beautiful. During this time, the dressing warms to perfection in my crock pot. The mashed potatoes are heated slowly in the oven in a glass casserole dish. Green beans and gravy heat on the stove at the last few minutes. What ever juice is released from the turkey, gets sucked into the baster and put over the dressing and some into the gravy. Salad ingredients are put into a bowl and tossed and dressed while Gene is carving the turkey. Finally, I enjoy the meal, rested and relaxed!

I serve dinner buffet style, on warmed plates, and everyone takes their own plate to the table, even the kids.

I do it this way because our kids come up on Thursday. I ask one person to bring something for breakfast on Friday. One son brings the wine for the weekend.
Lunch on Friday is turkey sandwiches, which everyone makes their own. I also send turkey home with them for the kids lunches. We keep the rest of the leftovers for our dinner on Sunday night and a lunch or two. :D
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Re: Cooking Thanksgiving Dinner

Postby Mike Filigenzi » Thu Nov 15, 2012 11:43 pm

Sounds like a great way to do it, Karen. It's important that the person doing the majority of the cooking still have time to enjoy the day, and it looks like you have that down pretty well.

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Re: Cooking Thanksgiving Dinner

Postby Jeff Grossman/NYC » Thu Nov 15, 2012 11:44 pm

My game-plan is very similar to yours. The only things cooked on the day itself are the bird, the stuffing, the potatoes, and a simple green veg. Everything else can be made ahead by 1-3 days -- pumpkin soup, gravy, cranberry sauce, ice cream (pumpkin and chocolate orange), pumpkin pie, chocolate pumpkin cake.

We always do sit-down service so lots of platters, big bowls, and serving utensils.

Table trim is the same every year so that's easy, too.

I pick the wines but that takes less time than washing the flutes!
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Re: Cooking Thanksgiving Dinner

Postby Carrie L. » Fri Nov 16, 2012 12:25 am

Karen, sounds like you do have your Thanksgiving "fine tuned." Good for you.
I try to do as much as I can as early as possible. I finalized my "menu" yesterday and delegated several of the dishes to a friend who loves to cook and always wants to contribute.
The table is the first thing I get ready, then the platters to serve everything on. (We also do buffet style.)
This year we are very excited to have two Marines from the local base joining us for dinner. We enrolled in an "adopt a marine" program in our area and are thrilled about it. Talk about giving thanks--can't wait to give these guys our thanks.

Here's our menu:

-Small crudite platter
-Shrimp salad in endive leaves

-Shredded Brussels Sprouts with Walnuts
-Butternut Squash Souffle
-Sweet potato gratin with Chile-spiced pecans
-Traditional bread stuffing (stuffed into the turkey)
-22 lb turkey, roasted
-Turkey breast, smoked on BGE
-Chardonnay pan gravy
-Jellied Cranberry and Port Sauce
-Pumpkin pie
-Custard pie
-Maple Apple Pan Dowdy
Hello. My name is Carrie, and I...I....still like oaked Chardonnay. (I feel so much better now.)
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Re: Cooking Thanksgiving Dinner

Postby Mike Filigenzi » Fri Nov 16, 2012 1:53 am

Jeff Grossman/NYC wrote: ice cream (pumpkin and chocolate orange),


Homemade chocolate orange ice cream?? If so, I'd love the recipe.

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Re: Cooking Thanksgiving Dinner

Postby Jeff Grossman/NYC » Fri Nov 16, 2012 2:01 am

Carrie L. wrote:-Shredded Brussels Sprouts with Walnuts

OK. I loathe Brussels Sprouts. But this is the second time in a week that someone has touted shredding them -- raw, I suppose? -- and adding a contrasting ingredient to make a crisp salad. (The other one used craisins.)

So... how does it taste? What's the texture like? Is there any dressing? Is it not just yuppie cole slaw?
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Re: Cooking Thanksgiving Dinner

Postby Jeff Grossman/NYC » Fri Nov 16, 2012 2:11 am

Mike Filigenzi wrote:
Jeff Grossman/NYC wrote: ice cream (pumpkin and chocolate orange),


Homemade chocolate orange ice cream?? If so, I'd love the recipe.


Nothing simpler: make your favorite chocolate ice cream goo and add a half teaspoon of orange essence. The stuff is incredibly potent. I got mine from Boyajian.

As to the chocolate, I follow a recipe I obtained from Eden Blum. But the one that came with the ice cream maker isn't bad.
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Re: Cooking Thanksgiving Dinner

Postby Carrie L. » Fri Nov 16, 2012 11:54 am

Jeff Grossman/NYC wrote:
Carrie L. wrote:-Shredded Brussels Sprouts with Walnuts

OK. I loathe Brussels Sprouts. But this is the second time in a week that someone has touted shredding them -- raw, I suppose? -- and adding a contrasting ingredient to make a crisp salad. (The other one used craisins.)

So... how does it taste? What's the texture like? Is there any dressing? Is it not just yuppie cole slaw?


Haven't had them cold. We are sauteeing them. This way, they have a yummy, nutty sauteed cabbage kind of flavor but better.
Up until yesterday, this is the recipe I was going to have my friend make: http://www.rachaelraymag.com/recipes/rachael-ray-magazine-recipe-search/side-dish-recipes/shredded-brussels-sprouts-with-walnuts, but she just told me her husband doesn't like nuts so we switched it to this one: http://joelens.blogspot.com/2012/04/shredded-brussels-sprouts.html but leaving out the bacon for one of our Jewish friends. Pork is her last hold-out from her past Kosher days.
Hello. My name is Carrie, and I...I....still like oaked Chardonnay. (I feel so much better now.)
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Re: Cooking Thanksgiving Dinner

Postby Jenise » Fri Nov 16, 2012 2:36 pm

Karen, you are amazingly meticulous. We don't host thanksgiving very often and I'm not able to do that this year, nut when I do my kitchen would be a train wreck compared tO yours. The pies are made the day befoRe, and everything else day of thiugh i do brine my turkey and that begins the night before (i limit the brine to 24 hours, and it is usually a little less. one of the great things about living in a cool climate is that in november its cold enough to store it outside, but not cold enough to freeze. storage would be an issue anywhere else! Any dishes invited friends volunteer to bring are accommodated gratefully--less for me to do but more importantly it gives everyone an opportunity to put a dish on the table that reminds them of home. I love that.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Re: Cooking Thanksgiving Dinner

Postby Carl Eppig » Fri Nov 16, 2012 2:43 pm

We do pretty much the same thing. We bake pies, and cornbead for stuffing the night before; and put veggies to be roasted into marinade, soak apple chips for the smoker, and put a can of cranberry jelly (oh the horror of it all) into the fridge.

The next day we put the turkey into smoker after washing and drying it. That's all! They we make the stuffing and cook sweet potatoe in the pressure cooker. The stuffing and the candied sweet potatoes go into the oven together, and then to the warmer. Then we roast the veggies, and make gravy with stock from last year's turkey carcess. We serve buffet style.
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Re: Cooking Thanksgiving Dinner

Postby Daisy D » Fri Nov 16, 2012 2:56 pm

We have not moved into the hosting realm yet, but know that time is coming soon (to be coordinated with my brother & his wife). Right now, my aunt hosts Thanksgiving and my parents host Christmas. They're both done essentially the same.

Hosting house makes the turkey, dressing/stuffing, and usually one of the veg. Everybody else brings a side or dessert. My husband and I are always asked to bring the wine. Green beans, sweet potato casserole, squash casserole, rice with gravy, cranberry sauce among other things all make regular appearances. Pies are usually store bought, but at Christmas, cookies are the main attraction. Our family does an annual cookie night a couple days before Christmas and it is a full blown affair; decorating contests and all.
A good cook is like a sorceress who dispenses happiness. - Elsa Schiaparelli, Shocking Life
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Re: Cooking Thanksgiving Dinner

Postby Mike Filigenzi » Fri Nov 16, 2012 2:57 pm

Jeff Grossman/NYC wrote:
Mike Filigenzi wrote:
Jeff Grossman/NYC wrote: ice cream (pumpkin and chocolate orange),


Homemade chocolate orange ice cream?? If so, I'd love the recipe.


Nothing simpler: make your favorite chocolate ice cream goo and add a half teaspoon of orange essence. The stuff is incredibly potent. I got mine from Boyajian.

As to the chocolate, I follow a recipe I obtained from Eden Blum. But the one that came with the ice cream maker isn't bad.



Great - thanks!

I know what you mean about that Boyajian orange essence.

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