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My First Thanksgiving Dinner


Verjuice
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I agree with Badiane - the simplication posted seems to fit the bill.

I've been hosting Thanksgiving for a few years now and I have found that simple is best. Make one wow show stopper item and keep the rest traditional, unless all the guests are as enthusiastic about food as you are you may be disappointed/suprised on what will be eaten/left.

I write out a timetable for myself and checkoff each item as I complete the task.

Also I layout all the serving dishes and put slips of paper in each for what goes where.

I'm having approx 21 people this year:

Beverages:

apple cider

wine

beer

soda

ice

appy

brie en croute

shrimp cocktail

cheese plate - bread/crakers

first course

salad (have not decided what type or if I'm going to serve)

Main

Turkey (High heat roasted method ala B. Kafka)

gravy

Stuffing - apple sausage (cooked in seperate dish)

Mashed potatoes (I think people would walk out if I didn't serve plain mashed potatoes)

Corn

Spinach

Roasted sweet potatoes w/carmalized onions & rosemary

cranberry sauce

dinner rolls

popovers

cornbread

butter

My MIL & SIL will probably bring creamed onions, plain stuffing, green bean casserole

Dessert

Apple pie

Pumpkin pie

My SIL will bring some desserts (she usually goes overboard last time she made, cupcakes, chocolate lollipops, cheesecake, chocolate covered pretzles & Paris Brest)

Coffe & Tea w/various liquors & dessert wine

Remember this is a time for family and friends, not for you to be stuck in the kitchen (unless of course you don't like your guests) :biggrin:

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I second using a cooler for holding hot sides. I use one for holding BBQ and it keeps the meat HOT. Lay a couple of bathroom towels in the bottom (depending on the size - you want two layers of towel) pre-heat a couple of foil wrapped bricks and place them in the cooler and cover with another towel. When you are ready just place the food in the cooler under the towel. I don't use the bricks because a brisket or pork butts are screaming hot, and stay that way up to 3 hours later.

Edited: Fingers too fat to type properly

Edited by JimH (log)
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I would also pare the appetizers down to two; as much as I love deviled eggs, they are a bit heavy right before the Big Meal.

I also happen to really, really like salad as part of the main meal -- it provides a nice crunchy, fresh contrast to the rest of the meal, which can be heavy. If you want a first course, how about teacups of a light soup?

Other hints, besides using the cooler as a heater: get your serving dishes in order, and label what goes in what so if you have guests helping you, they know what to do. As fridge space can be at a premium, don't ignore putting things out on the patio or deck. Get your dishes and silver or flatwear out a few days before hand and make sure that all of the pieces are clean, and get your linens out and draped over a spare bed or shower curtain rod a couple of days in advance as well. Prepping the setting stuff several days in advance can alleviate a lot of last minute crises. Oh, and do not make any labour intensive dish that requires a lot of ingredients and demands ala minute preparation (especially if you've never made it before).

Congrats on your first holiday entertaining in your new house, BTW. When we moved from our house of 18 years into our new house, I did Easter for 30 three weeks after we moved.

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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When paring down the menu (which is an excellent suggestion, by the way, as is looking seriously at the number of dishes you have), just make a "Thanksgiving" list and a "Next Time" list. Then the day after your Thanksgiving meal, sit down with both lists and list all the things you wish you'd done differently, and the things you DID do that you're glad you did. The Thanksgiving list will give you ideas for what to change on the other list, or ideas for things to do ahead, etc. Then begin planning your next dinner party!

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Wow- we are in astonishingly similar positions actually. This will be the first big dinner I host in my new home, which I bought in April. And technically I am hosting 9 as well since one is my sweetie who'll be helping me host and cook in my not-very-big home. So you are definitely not alone there! Don't know about you but I have an open kitchen so I can't have any meltdowns in the middle of this whole project if it all falls apart! :smile:

Your idea about using outdoor appliances is great, and while I contemplated borrowing a grill since I don't own one myself yet I am somewhat intimidated by the idea of managing an additional cooking surface. Is that weird? I am definitely going to consider, though. What kind of charcoal grill do you own?

Also, have you given thought to what you will be serving to drink? Folks will bring wine, but I wanted to supply one or maybe two great cocktails. Do you have anything special in mind for your own dinner?

:smile:

My grill is actually a char-griller that is half gas and half-charcoal. Two separate cooking surfaces. It looks like a big barrel smoker, is heavy as hell and pretty useful. It was relatively cheap, around 300 bucks, but I also had to assemble it, which wasn't fun. Can't recall the brand name and I'm too lazy to go outside and cook. I have a separate smoker -it's one of those 60 dollar bullet smokers, Brinkman. It's peretty handy to have around for Thanksgiving - while I'm smoking the duck I'll smoke the butternut squash I'm using for the mashed B.S.

I would say that if you can get your hands on a gas grill and don't mind blowing through a tank of LP gas (propane) then you could set it to low, close the lid, and you'd have a separate oven/warming area. That's what I'll probably be doing with mine. I'll be making the mashed potatoes in advance, cooling them and then putting them in a roasting pan. Then I can just reheat them in the oven or on the grill. I'll use the charcoal side to do my grilled endives. Even if it's cold here the grill kicks out plenty of heat.

Drinks? My wife's family is a "one-glass-of-wine" type. Well, actually my father-in-law enjoys a nice sherry and my brother-in-law drinks coors light. My other brother-in-law doesn't drink, so our drink menu will probably be a couple nice wines, probably a lighter red, a pinot noir(to match the smoked duck) and some dry whites.

Unfortunately, cocktails are not my specialty.

"A culture's appetite always springs from its poor" - John Thorne

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And while I would agree that paring down the menu is a good idea, I would also say that this is your party, and if you want to serve that menu then you should do it. But do it smart. For every single dish create a start-to-finish procedures list, then figure out ways to compartmentalize tasks - if you're using slivered onions in three things, prep them all at once; make all your stocks and slow-cooked stuff a few days before - all that stuff is better reheated anyway. Make your mashed potatoes early, and, like somebody here suggested, make them a little dry and add copious amounts of butter and cream before putting them in the oven. I am a kitchen manager so this stuff comes second nature for me (I've done parties for as many as 40 people in my home with 10 courses in a kitchen that was 100 square feet), but, honestly, planning and lists are the two key skills you need for this task. Be obsessive about making lists and following them, and you can pull this menu off.

And then, can I come over? Because that menu looks amazing.

here's my menu: (keep in mind that my in-laws are not adventurous eaters)

Oven-Roasted Heirloom Turkey (Brine Tuesday, wednesday remove from brine, rinse and rub under skin with citrus butter [lemon zest,, orange zest, butter, minced garlic, fresh herbs, salt and pepper - the butter will be made the week before and refrigerated], Roast Thursday approx. 4 hours before dinner.

Smoked Duck with Black Cherry relish. (Score fatty part of duck on Wednesday. Soak wood chips on wednesday. Smoke Thursday, approx 3-4 hours. Relish will be made the week before and refrigerated)

Braised, bacon-wrapped endive. (Braise endive Wednesday [chicken stock, fennel, and lemon], wrap in bacon and secure with twine. Place on hot charcoal grill Thursday 30 minutes before dinner.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with toasted nuts. (Toast nuts [done already], Tuesday, mince and marinate sprouts. Cook thursday morning, then place in warm oven)

Smoked butternut squash puree. (Halve squashes Thursday. Rub with olive oil, garlic and cumin. Season. Put in the smoker with the duck. Smoke until soft. Puree with butter and stock. Keep warm)

Mashed potatoes. (peel potatoes on wednesday. roast for 1 hour. mash and add butter, cream and stock to a slightly dry consistency. Put ina roasting pan. On thursday a.m., add more butter and cream and stock to potatoes and place them, covered, in the oven.)

That's just an example.

Edited by david coonce (log)

"A culture's appetite always springs from its poor" - John Thorne

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Something that might help you pare down the menu is to start grouping your items in terms of starch/protein/veg. Just looking at your menu that way, you can see that it's really heavy on the starches, and people just aren't going to be able to eat cornbread and popovers and dinner rolls and three kinds of potatoes and stuffing. So, cutting it down to one kind of bread, one or two kinds of potatoes (if you want to do sweet potatoes and mashed), and stuffing seems reasonable to me. Same with the vegetables -- you may not really need creamed spinach and endive and red cabbage and brussels sprouts. Two or three of those would likely be enough. That's the approach I'd take, anyway.

Good luck, keep planning, and you'll do great!

Edited by plk (log)
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I wanted to add, since you are serving stuffing, maybe just stick too dinner rolls?

I'm really trying to be helpful.

Bread and bready type foods fill you up like the dickens! :rolleyes:

ETA PIk beat me to it, LOL!

Edited by christine007 (log)

---------------------------------------

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I wanted to add, since you are serving stuffing, maybe just stick too dinner rolls?

I'm really trying to be helpful.

Bread and bready type foods fill you up like the dickens! :rolleyes:

Save the bread for later-that-night turkey sandwiches. :wub:

Can you tell we eat quite early on Thanksgiving? :smile:

 

“Peter: Oh my god, Brian, there's a message in my Alphabits. It says, 'Oooooo.'

Brian: Peter, those are Cheerios.”

– From Fox TV’s “Family Guy”

 

Tim Oliver

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Again, tons of helpful input so thank you very much. In addition to being really informative and supportive, I find it just fascinating to learn how others approach the challenge of cooking this holiday while still having a good time. :smile:

I live in Santa Fe, but will be in Seattle until the early morning of the 20th so none of my shopping or prep will begin until then, though I'm sure that I will be bringing back an oppressive amount of food from Seattle since I cannot resist Pike Place Market and will be making a trip out to Porcella in Bellevue.

When I complete my timetable for those few days before the feast I will post that as well. I also just found out that a good friend who is Muslim will be coming by, so I removed or subbed everything containing pork (the candied bacon in the salad, the sausage in the stuffing).

A lot of people have commented on the fact that it is unnecessary to have both cornbread (vegetarian) AND a cornbread stuffing (non-veg) on the table, but I am uncertain. I am taking it off the menu for now to see how it feels ie. if the idea of going without it keeps me awake at night :biggrin:

I figure that since I am going to be buying the cornbread for the stuffing from Whole Foods so it wouldn't be a big deal to just buy an extra tray, warm it, brush with butter and pile it onto a plate in slices so that the vegetarians can have a little something with corn in it to enjoy.

But it definitely won't be homemade. I know that I can't do any better than Whole Foods under the circumstances, and if I bake a bad batch of high-altitude cornbread it will probably make me cry.

:rolleyes:

Also, what can I say, I haven't been the best friend these past few years as I've been living abroad and incommunicado. So now that I'm back, I want to spoil the people I love. But I can see from looking at my menu that showing some restraint would not be a bad thing!

Revised Menu:

Cocktails

Cranberry Kir Royale

Hors d'oeuvres

-Tanabutler's Spicy Roasted Herb Nuts

-Filo rolls: Swisskaese's "ducklava" and Sigara Borek (vegetarian)

-AlexP's White Gazpacho

-Brie en croute with apple compote, fred sage, port reduction

Dinner

Mashed potatoes

Goose-fat roasted potatoes with semolina (for crunch)

Green Salad wth pecorino, pecans and blackened onions

Maple sweet potato custard

Braised red cabbage with goat's cheese

Roasted brussels sprouts with pecans

Some kind of cornbread, sage and turkey sausage dressing

Cranberry sauce

Gravy

Bird (called, pled, and switched it out for a 16 lb turkey)

Dessert-- I really cannot pare this down as a) I have no reason to; it should be easy enough for me to manage and b) an additional four people are dropping by for dessert and I am terrified of not having enough!

Royal Tokaji 2001 (I have four bottles that I am willing to share)

Pumpkin Pie with Gingersnap Crust

SLKinsey's Derby Style Pecan Tart

Tarte Tatin

Cinnamon Ice Cream

Salted Caramel Ice Cream

Edited by Verjuice (log)
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Couple more quick thoughts before the panic sets in:

If you haven't done this before, figure out the serving dishes, and also the intermediate holding and prep dishes. Now is a great time to look at just how much you can prep 2 or 3 days in advance. After hosting Thanksgiving for 12 years with wife number one and for 5 years with wife number two, there's a lot of lessons learned. Do practice your gravy skills. Do your stuffing separately. If your family is strange about stuffing the bird formally... use a cheesecloth "condom" to contain it and it will all come out in a single tug without being part of the bird... or changing the cooking time. You really CAN do two types of stuffing, one in the neck/breast cavity and one in the "kishkas". The cat or dog will love you forever if you cook down the innards that you don't use in the gravy and feed them instead. Turkey neck makes a good stock start for gravy, too. Always remember to leave adequate thaw time if you buy frozen. Don't buy frozen. When it says cook 20 minutes... that means per pound (unlike x SIL who fed us very, very, very late one year). Don't tolerate grace that goes over 3 minutes. A 45 minute grace will make the most wonderful meal cold and congealed. Do realize that it all tastes better when done with love and not stress. Plan a 5 minute wine break at least one an hour. DO post a full to-do list and check stuff off when complete. If you cross it out you won't be able to double check.

Lastly, reflect on how wonderful it is that you're not a Pilgrim, just off the boat in a strange land, trying to eke out an existence in a hostile and foreign world. May you have all the joy of the holiday and your friends and family.

hvr :biggrin:

"Cogito Ergo Dim Sum; Therefore I think these are Pork Buns"

hvrobinson@sbcglobal.net

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Again, tons of helpful input so thank you very much. In addition to being really informative and supportive, I find it just fascinating to learn how others approach the challenge of cooking this holiday while still having a good time.  :smile:

I live in Santa Fe, but will be in Seattle until the early morning of the 20th so none of my shopping or prep will begin until then, though I'm sure that I will be bringing back an oppressive amount of food from Seattle since I cannot resist Pike Place Market and will be making a trip out to Porcella in Bellevue.

When I complete my timetable for those few days before the feast I will post that as well. I also just found out that a good friend who is Muslim will be coming by, so I removed or subbed everything containing pork (the candied bacon in the salad, the sausage in the stuffing).

A lot of people have commented on the fact that it is unnecessary to have both cornbread (vegetarian) AND a cornbread stuffing (non-veg) on the table, but I am uncertain. I am taking it off the menu for now to see how it feels ie. if the idea of going without it keeps me awake at night  :biggrin: 

I figure that since I am going to be buying the cornbread for the stuffing from Whole Foods so it wouldn't be a big deal to just buy an extra tray, warm it, brush with butter and pile it onto a plate in slices so that the vegetarians can have a little something with corn in it to enjoy.

But it definitely won't be homemade. I know that I can't do any better than Whole Foods under the circumstances, and if I bake a bad batch of high-altitude cornbread it will probably make me cry.

:rolleyes:

Also, what can I say, I haven't been the best friend these past few years as I've been living abroad and incommunicado. So now that I'm back, I want to spoil the people I love. But I can see from looking at my menu that showing some restraint would not be a bad thing!

Revised Menu:

Cocktails

Cranberry Kir Royale

Hors d'oeuvres

-Tanabutler's Spicy Roasted Herb Nuts

-Filo rolls: Swisskaese's "ducklava" and Sigara Borek (vegetarian)

-AlexP's White Gazpacho

-Brie en croute with apple compote, fred sage, port reduction

Dinner

Mashed potatoes

Goose-fat roasted potatoes with semolina (for crunch)

Green Salad wth pecorino, pecans and blackened onions

Maple sweet potato custard

Braised red cabbage with goat's cheese

Roasted brussels sprouts with pecans

Some kind of cornbread, sage and turkey sausage dressing

Cranberry sauce

Gravy

Bird (called, pled, and switched it out for a 16 lb turkey)

Dessert-- I really cannot pare this down as a) I have no reason to; it should be easy enough for me to manage and b) an additional four people are dropping by for dessert and I am terrified of not having enough!

Royal Tokaji 2001 (I have four bottles that I am willing to share)

Pumpkin Pie with Gingersnap Crust

SLKinsey's Derby Style Pecan Tart

Tarte Tatin

Cinnamon Ice Cream

Salted Caramel Ice Cream

Love it! Can Linda & I fly over now? I'll bring the cheese.

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Love it! Can Linda & I fly over now? I'll bring the cheese.

:biggrin:

Awesome. Can you wrestle a 16 lb turkey into an oven? Do you know what gravy is supposed to taste like? Because... uh... I don't. I've never actually had any before. All I know is that it's supposed to be delicious and piping hot.

And so: practice practice practice practice.

And Jack, no to the green bean casserole. I am not from American shores, and have never even tasted this legendary side dish that gets so much attention here on eG, so it doesn't hold any sentimental value for me. Nor does it sound very appealing, to be honest. :shock:

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That looks like a great menu!

To me, turkey gravy is basically a thickened brown sauce. The turkey makes it taste slightly gamier than if you'd used chicken, but less beefy than if it were made with veal bones. It will also thicken as it sits on the table, so you don't want it to start out overly thick. The main things to avoid are lumps and the appearance of greasiness, but it's not too hard to avoid that. I can PM you a recipe I use if you want.

One thing to consider is if you do brine the turkey (which I think makes it easier for it to end up flavorful and juicy), that takes 12 hours, and then it ideally should be air-dried, uncovered, in the fridge for 8-24 hours to give the skin time to dry back out and tighten up. This makes the skin crispy when you roast it. But, that all takes up valuable fridge space, so it may not be worth it.

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The first time I was tasked with making gravy at my Mother in Laws Thanksgiving dinner I was presented with a measuring cup filled with the pan juices and a pot. OK so far right? Apparently the dear woman had jammed about a cup of butter under the skin of the turkey and that 2 cup measure had about 1/4 cup of non-fat liquid. I sent one of the kids around the corner for 2 cans of chicken broth, which I brought to a boil, added what I could separate out of the "drippings" and whisked in a white wine-flour slurry. TADA gravy.

Now I make a nice stock the day before and bring it with me :wink:

tracey

Edited by rooftop1000 (log)

The great thing about barbeque is that when you get hungry 3 hours later....you can lick your fingers

Maxine

Avoid cutting yourself while slicing vegetables by getting someone else to hold them while you chop away.

"It is the government's fault, they've eaten everything."

My Webpage

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Lots of great suggestions already. I confess I've just skimmed through the topic so I don't know for sure if these suggestions have been made already, but I think they're important enough that they bear repeating:

Turkey logistics--especially since you've never roasted a turkey before, be aware that there are some unique issues to wrangling a cooking object that big. I see you switched from a 20-pound to a 16-pound bird, so that'll cut down a little on the cooking time, but be aware that it still takes awhile for something that massive to roast. And all those minutes-per-pound tables can look helpful but be deceptive, because a lot of 'em are aiming at a finished product that a lot of us foodies would consider overcooked and dried out. Going by internal temperature from a properly-placed (i.e. thickest part of the thigh, not touching bone) meat thermometer or instant-read thermometer is much more reliable.

I think I saw you're getting a fancy-shmancy turkey, so it probably will not have one of those abominable little plastic pop-up thermometer gizmos. But if it does, don't rely on those things--they're calibrated to go off at way too high an internal temperature. However, do NOT just remove the little plastic thing before cooking the bird--that will leave a gaping hole in the bird's skin that will let precious juices leak out while roasting. Leave the thing in, but otherwise ignore it.

Also, make sure your turkey will fit in the size oven and roasting pan/rack set you're planning to use! Nothing is as frustrating as only discovering at the last minute that your bird and/or pan won't fit in your oven! And make sure your roasting pan and rack are sturdy enough for the task. Those flimsy disposable foil jobbies only lead to tears.

Another potential logistical nightmare: getting your cooked turkey out of the roaster in one piece! Especially when it's a big bird, this can be extremely challenging. There are a variety of turkey-lifter gizmos available in kitchen shops. A strategy I've used is simply to put on some kind of insulating gloves and just reach down around the bird on each side, grab the roasting rack, and lift that sucker out to a waiting plate. (But you don't want to be doing that while wearing your dining/guest-greeting outfit!)

Oh yeah, and maybe this is way elementary, but beware the secret bag of giblets tucked inside the bird. Yep, I have witnessed a turkey-roasting newbie roast his bird with that bag still inside (fortunately I and a fellow turkey-veteran intervened and rescued it).

Totally off on another tack: I love brussels sprouts for Thankgiving (or anytime!), and have often run into the too-many-dishes not-enough-cookspace dilemma, so I've often resorted to serving brussels spouts in a nice maple/mustard vinaigrette. These are dirt-simple to do, can be done in advance, and do just fine served at room temperature.

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Oh yeah--I am a certified turkey giblet gravy freak, so I will go to the lengths of re-arranging my menu so that no other dishes will claim major attention in the half-hour while the turkey's resting, so that I can devote that half-hour to making proper gravy with the pan drippings. While the turkey's roasting, the neck and giblets simmer away with some aromatics to make broth for the gravy, to be augmented as needed with broth either from freezer or market (I love liver, but not in giblet gravy, so that becomes a cook's treat). The giblets get chopped; the meat from the turkey neck gets shredded. And once the turkey's out of its pan and resting, the gravy zen begins. :wub:

Others may make other dishes their priority; it all depends on what food most says "Thanksgiving" to each person, as it's a meal fraught with childhood and familial emotional significance. To this day, I listen to all the folks advising all the wise reasons for cooking stuffing outside the bird--and to this day, I can't bring myself to roast an unstuffed bird, because stuffing the bird was MY job growing up, and I loved it. :biggrin:

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Oh yeah--I am a certified turkey giblet gravy freak, so I will go to the lengths of re-arranging my menu so that no other dishes will claim major attention in the half-hour while the turkey's resting, so that I can devote that half-hour to making proper gravy with the pan drippings. While the turkey's roasting, the neck and giblets simmer away with some aromatics to make broth for the gravy, ...

and the wingtips, if you like!

"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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Wow, what a great thread. Where were you people when I, as a blushing bride, needed you twenty years ago? :biggrin:

I was so squicked out by the turkey that to wash it, all I did was up end it under the tap. Imagine the surprise when my husband went to carve and he started sawing through a plastic bag of gross innards. :biggrin:

There, now you know no matter what you do, your Thanksgiving feast is going to be better than that. :laugh:

“Don't kid yourself, Jimmy. If a cow ever got the chance, he'd eat you and everyone you care about!”
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Let's talk about timing a bit. For your Hors d'ovures, the nuts can be made ahead, and I think the gazpacho can be as well. Are the filo rolls served at room temp or hot? The brie en croute needs to be done ala minute, and depending on when your guests arrive, the turkey will already be in the oven.

Hors d'oeuvres

-Tanabutler's Spicy Roasted Herb Nuts

-Filo rolls: Swisskaese's "ducklava" and Sigara Borek (vegetarian)

-AlexP's White Gazpacho

-Brie en croute with apple compote, fred sage, port reduction

You've at least three things that need oven time here, stuffing, roasted potatoes and roasted brussel sprouts. You could braise the cabbage stove top, and I have no clue whether the potato custard is a stovetop or oven thing. The thing is, all of these will take varying times and temps, in particular the roasted potatoes.

I'll say it again. Beg, borrow or buy a toaster oven. The brie can be done in it, without worrying about the turkey. The filo rolls, if you need to serve them hot, can go into the toaster oven before or after the brie.

The roasted potatoes could be done in it while the other things, which are closer in temp and time can be done in the oven while the turkey rests. Cranberry sauce can and should be made ahead so the flavours can meld. Potatoes can be mashed when the turkey comes out and held, covered.

I still think you've got too many starches here: 3 potato dishes and a stuffing. If I was going to remove one, it would be the goose fat potatoes. Yes, they are lovely, but unecessary to this meal. Mashed potatoes are kind of a must for gravy :biggrin: and you can perk them up with chives or thinly sliced green onions or something. Sweet potatoes just seem to go with Thanksgiving dinners.

Dinner

Mashed potatoes

Goose-fat roasted potatoes with semolina (for crunch)

Green Salad wth pecorino, pecans and blackened onions

Maple sweet potato custard

Braised red cabbage with goat's cheese

Roasted brussels sprouts with pecans

Some kind of cornbread, sage and turkey sausage dressing

Cranberry sauce

Gravy

Bird (called, pled, and switched it out for a 16 lb turkey)

I'll be interested to see your timing and prep lists when you have them. And there's nothing more exciting than doing a meal like this for the first time. Scary sure, but it can also be a lot of fun!

Marlene

cookskorner

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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I don't think I've seen this mentioned, but you can roast the turkey and even carve it a day in advance. I usually do this if I'm serving a roasted turkey, it means I can just reheat the meat and not need to tie up my oven with the bird on the big day.

Of course, this year we're frying the turkey, which is super-tasty, super-quick, and means your oven is totally free all week if you want it. The only drawbacks: there are no drippings for gravy (so you have to make turkey stock in advance), and you can't use the carcass to make stock for the freezer after you're done (but you're already making stock in advance, so that's no biggie either...).

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I don't think I've seen this mentioned, but you can roast the turkey and even carve it a day in advance. I usually do this if I'm serving a roasted turkey, it means I can just reheat the meat and not need to tie up my oven with the bird on the big day.

Of course, this year we're frying the turkey, which is super-tasty, super-quick, and means your oven is totally free all week if you want it. The only drawbacks: there are no drippings for gravy (so you have to make turkey stock in advance), and you can't use the carcass to make stock for the freezer after you're done (but you're already making stock in advance, so that's no biggie either...).

I made wonderfuull stock for a fried bird carcass...actually the least greasy turkey stock I have ever seen

And here is a photo tutorial on one way to make gravy

http://thepioneerwomancooks.com/2007/10/tu...gravy_baby.html

tracey

The great thing about barbeque is that when you get hungry 3 hours later....you can lick your fingers

Maxine

Avoid cutting yourself while slicing vegetables by getting someone else to hold them while you chop away.

"It is the government's fault, they've eaten everything."

My Webpage

garden state motorcyle association

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I made wonderfuull stock for a fried bird carcass...actually the least greasy turkey stock I have ever seen

Really? I tried making a stock from the fried carcass last year and it had a scorched flavor--the action of the oil on the bones from the inside of the bird created that effect. It wasn't greasy, but it was too dark and bitter with a little burnt flavor and aroma. Now I'm wondering if I'm missing something here--if my friends fried the turkey at too high a temp or something. (They took care of the entire job, I just made everything else and helped lower the turkey into the oil.)

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And here is a photo tutorial on one way to make gravy

http://thepioneerwomancooks.com/2007/10/tu...gravy_baby.html

tracey

This is the way I have been making gravy for years and this is a fabulous demonstration. I have family members who have never known they are eating the giblets because I have whizzed them up in the blender with a little giblet water and added them during the cooking process. (Sounds and looks gross, but rinse that blender out quick and no one will be the wiser)

I have cooked many Thanksgiving meals and here is a bit of my planning schedule.

Order your bird fresh and pick it up one or two days before the meal.

Brine your turkey the night before cooking it. A good one I've been using is at http://www.foodnetwork.com/food/recipes/re...36_8389,00.html

The day before I make potato rolls, cranberry relish, macaroni and cheese.

I peel and soak potatoes in water in the fridge.

I bake the sweet potatoes with butter and a little brown sugar (no marshmallows -ugh) so they only have to be reheated the next day.

Brussel sprouts are washed and trimmed as are any other fresh veggies for dips etc.

Hot Artichoke dip made and ready to be nuked the next day. Slice baquette in serving slices. Prepare dips and make sure there is enough pickles etc for relish trays.

The day of: Get up early. Prepare the stuffing - mine favorite is oyster with walnuts but with picky people, the bird is not stuffed with that version, but rather the traditional version made with the packaged french bread mix that I 'doll up' with more spices, celery, onions etc. The oyster stuffing is made seperatly.

Make sure you have a sense of timing. Your bird should not keep your guests waiting because you didn't time it right. About an hour before serving, boil potatoes for mashing. When done, mash them (lots of butter and a little milk and salt) and keep them covered. While the bird cools make the above gravy, place items that need to be reheated into the oven, save the rolls for the last 10 minutes or so. Steam brussel sprouts or other fresh veggie you are serving.

Have a glass of wine (yes, I know it's only 11:30 am but you deserve it)

I know there is a lot of other little things I am missing but some other words of advice is to borrow a microwave if you can. I only use mine for heating things up but it is a real timesaver. Make use of appliances. I thank God for my Kitchen Aid mixer and my big range. Have others set the table and pass the beverages.

Most of all have fun and enjoy!

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