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Thanksgiving Menus 2002–2011: The Topic


awbrig
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Mon Dieu! Any menu that includes chex mix, pigs in a blankie, corn, morels, duck demi-glace and celeriac puree gets my vote for most multi-generational French-American Thanksgiving ever. But do go the extra mile and make your own chex mix! Or farm out the job to a relative if they promise to use butter and not margarine.

ha!

i don't think i'm going in the chex mix/pigs in a blanket direction. maybe some kind of cruditee, if i can thing of something seasonal and interesting that also works the rest of the meal. some kind of bruschetta thing might also work.

i don't want to do anything heavy or anything that will require complex assembly/plating.

Notes from the underbelly

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Paul, I'm not big on eating before dinner when it comes to the Thanksgiving feast. There's just far too much food! My husband's family doesn't care for variety or adventurous eating as much as they care for quantity, but after 28 consecutive Thanksgivings with these people I have finally made inroads in my attempt to limit the hors d's to the very basics. My FIL, given the slightest opportunity, will be inclined to bring out a massive "pupu platter," as he calls it. The kids all fill up on the stuff and then get antsy and are ready to leave the table five minutes after the meal is served. Really annoying! It's getting better, now they are older and now that we have limited the pre-meal stuff. I agree: go light!

A selection of olives and some marcona almonds maybe? Nice with martinis if that's what you do, and fine with wine, which is what we usually drink before dinner. I think people appreciate a really lovely cruditee plate with vegetables, especially if you can find some beautiful French radishes, exotic skinny carrots, kohlrabi, endive and serve it with aioli. If more protein isn't a turn-off, my idea of decadent but not heavy would be oysters on ice, served with nothin' but lemon wedges. Wouldn't be a bad fit with your menu! But for that you want an extra pair of talented hands in the kitchen and it's pretty much of a mess. We do oysters before dinner the next night when the meal consists of leftovers and there aren't 12 people jockeying for counter space. Your menu sounds delicious.

What is French farm-style stuffing?

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I agree: go light!

A selection of olives and some marcona almonds maybe? Nice with martinis if that's what you do, and fine with wine, which is what we usually drink before dinner. I think people appreciate a really lovely cruditee plate with vegetables, especially if you can find some beautiful French radishes, exotic skinny carrots, kohlrabi, endive and serve it with aioli. If more protein isn't a turn-off, my idea of decadent but not heavy would be oysters on ice, served with nothin' but lemon wedges. Wouldn't be a bad fit with your menu! But for that you want an extra pair of talented hands in the kitchen and it's pretty much of a mess. We do oysters before dinner the next night when the meal consists of leftovers and there aren't 12 people jockeying for counter space. Your menu sounds delicious.

What is French farm-style stuffing?

Amen to everything Katie, including your question about French farm-style stuffing.

A medium wedge of soft and stinky French cheese on a platter with, say, figs and grapes might give some ballast to guests who've already had a couple of martinis. Carr's Water Wafers work fine, taste good and are cheap.

I'm loving the idea of a corn chowder, and brussel sprouts are as classic a Thanksgiving veg in my house as green bean casserole is at my sister-in-law's -- along with her "au gratin" potatoes from a box and her spiral ham. (Doesn't matter:everything tastes good at Thanksgiving dinner)

I'm bummed. We'll be doing Thanksgiving a deux for the first time in my life. I want the kid's table, me as sweaty hostess, mashing eight pounds of spuds and making a side of cornbread dressing while stuffing the bird with breadcrumb/herb stuffing. Please God, don't let me do something clever with a turkey breast.

Margaret McArthur

"Take it easy, but take it."

Studs Terkel

1912-2008

A sensational tennis blog from freakyfrites

margaretmcarthur.com

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  • 2 weeks later...

alright. i havent settled on a final menu yet. this is to be my first turkey.

and im worried about transferring the turkey to a platter. (im sure, come the day, this WILL be the least of my worries but still, its my nature to worry about something of no consequence).

how do yall do this?

tips? things to avoid?

im going to use a roasting pan and the (flat) rack that came with the pan. but i have yet to run out to go buy transferring paraphernalia.

thanks so much in advance!

"Bibimbap shappdy wappdy wap." - Jinmyo
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Amen to everything Katie, including your question about French farm-style stuffing.

Sorry, I missed the question a while back.

That was just my descriptive name for a stuffing recicipe by George Perrier, who I thnk has some great ideas about thanksgiving turkey.

His version is basically this:

olive oil

1/2 lb veal stew meat, in 1” cubes

1/2 lb pork butt,, in 1” cubes

2 shalots, finely chopped

9 slices firm white bread

1 cup milk

1 egg

1/4 cup cognac

1 Tbs chopped fresh parsley

salt

white pepper

1 lb chestnuts (prepared ones are great)

Heat olive oil in sautee pan, add veal, pork, and shallots. Cook but do not brown.

Soak bread in milk until soft. squeeze out excess milk. Put meat and shallots and all pan juices and bread in food processor. Chop until sausage-like. Beat in egg and parsely, cognac and seasonings. Gently mix in whole chestnuts.

I've played with it over the years. The last version I made was this:

1 lb. veal stew meat in 1” cubes (or half can be replaced with ½ lb pork butt, 1 inch cubes)

2 shalots, finely chopped

2 granny smith or macintosh apples, peeled, cored, and chopped into small pieces

1/2 cup golden raisins

5-7 slices lightly toasted sourdough bread

1 cup milk (for soaking bread if it's stale; otherwise don't bother)

2 eggs

1/4 cup calvados

1 Tb chopped fresh parsley

1 Tb chopped fresh thyme

1 tsp ground allspice

1/2 tsp ground mace

1 ground nutmeg nut

2 tsp ground cinnamon

salt, cracked pepper, cider vinegar to taste

Macerate the apples and raisins in the brandy (in a covered bowl) for at least an hour before mixing. Heat olive oil in sautee pan, add meat and shallots. Cook but do not brown.

Soak bread in milk until soft. squeeze out excess milk. Put meat and shallots and all pan juices and bread in food processor. Chop coarsely. Beat in egg and parsely, cognac and seasonings. Gently mix in apples and raisins.

Edited by paulraphael (log)

Notes from the underbelly

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alright.  i havent settled on a final menu yet.  this is to be my first turkey.

and im worried about transferring the turkey to a platter.  (im sure, come the day, this WILL be the least of my worries but still, its my nature to worry about something of no consequence).

how do yall do this?

tips?  things to avoid?

im going to use a roasting pan and the (flat) rack that came with the pan.  but i have yet to run out to go buy transferring paraphernalia.

thanks so much in advance!

If you have a long, strong wooden spoon or spatula, or set of tongs, you can insert it deep into the turkey's cavity and use it as a handle. The other hand can hold the head side of the turkey with a towel or silicone mit. If the turkey is big and you are small, you might want to delegate.

At any rate, get the roasting pan and platter on a surface right next to each other so you don't have to go far.

Actually, your biggest concern is taking the turkey out of the oven at the right time. That spells the difference between a really good bird and the kind of dried out bird everyone seems to be used to. If it's your first time, I'd skip any turkey lifting gadgets and treat yourself to a remote probe thermometer.

And if you get one of those birds with the built-in indicator that pops up, ignore it! Using that thing is no better than using the smoke alarm to tell you dinner's ready.

Notes from the underbelly

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alright.  i havent settled on a final menu yet.  this is to be my first turkey.

and im worried about transferring the turkey to a platter.  (im sure, come the day, this WILL be the least of my worries but still, its my nature to worry about something of no consequence).

how do yall do this?

tips?  things to avoid?

im going to use a roasting pan and the (flat) rack that came with the pan.  but i have yet to run out to go buy transferring paraphernalia.

thanks so much in advance!

If you have a long, strong wooden spoon or spatula, or set of tongs, you can insert it deep into the turkey's cavity and use it as a handle. The other hand can hold the head side of the turkey with a towel or silicone mit. If the turkey is big and you are small, you might want to delegate.

At any rate, get the roasting pan and platter on a surface right next to each other so you don't have to go far.

Actually, your biggest concern is taking the turkey out of the oven at the right time. That spells the difference between a really good bird and the kind of dried out bird everyone seems to be used to. If it's your first time, I'd skip any turkey lifting gadgets and treat yourself to a remote probe thermometer.

And if you get one of those birds with the built-in indicator that pops up, ignore it! Using that thing is no better than using the smoke alarm to tell you dinner's ready.

I have also improvised with a sharpening steel, well washed before and after :rolleyes: then used the selfsame to sharpen the carving knife.

eta: spelling

Edited by judiu (log)

"Commit random acts of senseless kindness"

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I'm having 16 ppl for my ex-pat Thanksgiving in Canada. Its also my spouse's bday so I'm making a salty/sweet cake from a bakery in Brooklyn. I might add a pie for the older folks who think pie is traditional for Thanksgiving( even though they're all Canadian and its American Thanksgiving).

I'm buying my turkey tomorrow in MI. They're a lot cheaper there than here. I'll probably buy an extra turkey breast too.

I have to figure out the rest of the menu. I just hope the weather holds out so people can get here.

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I'm having 16 ppl for my ex-pat Thanksgiving in Canada.  Its also my spouse's bday so I'm making a salty/sweet cake from a bakery in Brooklyn.  I might add a pie for the older folks who think pie is traditional for Thanksgiving( even though they're all Canadian and its American Thanksgiving).

I'm buying my turkey tomorrow in MI.  They're a lot cheaper there than here.  I'll probably buy an extra turkey breast too.

I have to figure out the rest of the menu.  I just hope the weather holds out so people can get here.

My tentative menu for 26 is below. Everyone has their own "must have" thanksgiving item, so the list just keeps getting longer . . . .thankfully we have many big eaters so hopefully we won't be stuck with leftovers for a week. Randi, I hope that your guests arrive safely and hungry!

Shrimp and Lobster Bisque

Mixed Green Salad, Blue Cheese Crumbles and Bacon, Herb Vinaigrette

Maple-Glazed Grilled Turkey

with Giblet Gravy

Family Stuffing Balls

Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Oyster and Cornbread Stuffing

Roasted Butternut Squash, Turnips, Carrots and Apples

Baked Sweet Potato Casserole w/praline topping

Acorn squash with molasses

Grandmother’s Baked Onions stuffed with Spinach

Collards

Baby peas and pearl onions in butter

Corn Pudding

Cranberry Sauce

Cloverleaf Rolls/Pumpkin Bread

Lemon meringue ice cream pie in toasted pecan crust

Pumpkin Pie

Sweet potato pie

Mincemeat pie

Apple Pie

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since i'm single that day i'm thinking something easy like a white chili or a bacon blue cheeseburger. depends on how much time i have after being on the hawkwatch.

Nothing is better than frying in lard.

Nothing.  Do not quote me on this.

 

Linda Ellerbee

Take Big Bites

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Any pickle ideas? Each time I think about this meal my mouth aches for acid to play off of the salts and starches in the dense required savory dishes.

We have always done a fresh cucumber pickle with just salt, touch of sugar and vinegar. Last year I took the cucumber idea and added carrot shreds (with the peeler) and some ginger juice and fish sauce. Also subbed some plum jam for the sugar element. It was devoured by the folks who normally favor bland with a capital "B". Their taste buds over ruled their narrow mindsets. Plan the same this year with the addition of some half-ripe mango. Greenish ones are going for $1 a piece here in the big chain market.

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Paul, I'm going to do your turkey recipe, if I can get a turkey here that will fit into my stockpot. It's a beautiful recipe. That said, let me suggest that you stay in the French tradition for a before-dinner bite.

The most normal drink to serve with that menu (here in France, that is) would be a glass of Champagne or a kir, either royale or still. And to nibble, just a couple of bites per person. To limit how much people nibble, it's easier to have little composed appetizers. A chilled marinated shrimp on a skewer, a little toast with foie gras and fig jam, maybe a few olives.

Last year was our first Thanksgiving in France. This year will be a bit different, as our guests will be the members and spouses of the French rock group my husband plays with. I think none of them has ever done Thanksgiving, and there will be more people than we can have seated at the table, and it'll be all music and confusion. I only have one small oven and not much fridge space for make-aheads, so I'm working on a pared down but still perfectly representative American menu. Luckily I get a few extra days, as we'll go to an American friend's house on actual Thanksgiving, then have the gang here on the Sunday after.

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Any pickle ideas? Each time I think about this meal my mouth aches for acid to play off of the salts and starches in the dense required savory dishes.

We have always done a fresh cucumber pickle with just salt, touch of sugar and vinegar. Last year I took the cucumber idea and added carrot shreds (with the peeler) and some ginger juice and fish sauce. Also subbed some plum jam for the sugar element. It was devoured by the folks who normally favor bland with a capital "B". Their taste buds over ruled their narrow mindsets. Plan the same this year with the addition of some half-ripe mango. Greenish ones are going for $1 a piece here in the big chain market.

Simple fresh pickles with a twist: that sounds like a really good idea. I'm especially interested in the plum jam substitution, or maybe pomegranate molasses....

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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Any pickle ideas? Each time I think about this meal my mouth aches for acid to play off of the salts and starches in the dense required savory dishes.

My mom always served either pickled peaches or these fabulously crisp, sweet green tomato pickles. Alas, she's no longer with us and I was too lazy this year to make pickled peaches and too scared to commit to making her Transparent Green Tomato pickles. So, I took the easy, cheap way out and made these:

CHRISTMAS PICKLES

1 Gallon jar whole dill pickles, drained and cut into 1” slices

5 lbs sugar

½ bottle Tabasco

3 tsp whole allspice

2 tsp whole cloves

4 cinnamon sticks

2 Tbsp pickling spice

1 cup coarsely chopped fresh ginger

Rind of 2 oranges cut into strips

Layer pickles with remaining ingredients in the jar the pickles came in. You may have to wait a couple of hours before you can add all the sugar. Let stand 24 hours, then refrigerate. Ready to eat in 2 weeks. :sad:

Sorry, they probably won't be ready for next week, but they'll be tasty at Christmas!

I may be in Nashville but my heart's in Cornwall

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i will be alone for thanksgiving as usual. i love it since i can then cook what i want. the twist this year is my dear sil, julie, is going to follow johnnybird home for a weekend visit so we will be decking the halls and she and i will get to have cooking lesson #2(lesson #1 was macaroni and cheese from scratch).

for the day itself i'm thinking a day of nothing but veg that i can reheat to go with dinner on saturday. because of some health issues john has had to stay away from the green leafy veg and he has extended it to basically all veg except cooked red peppers, a moderate amount of onion and garlic and yellow or green beans. <BIG SIGH>.

right now i'm craving cauliflower so maybe a casserole made with some caramelized onions, tarragon, bechemal and emmentaler. enough brussel sprouts for me and do with some garlic, broth and apple cider vinegar. carrots with sage honey and dill. hmmm..... i do have some "emergency" crescent rolls and mini smokies. maybe i will have to do pigs in a blanket with honey mustard for the main course.

i'm also making meatballs to use, a la tony danza, to make THE LASAGNA on friday(this is lesson#2). saturday will be lesson #3. it is an old 60's recipe modified : game hens lacquered with a sauce of (some leftover) caramelized onions, apricot jam and red french dressing. serve with some rice and the leftover carrots.

Nothing is better than frying in lard.

Nothing.  Do not quote me on this.

 

Linda Ellerbee

Take Big Bites

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Simple fresh pickles with a twist: that sounds like a really good idea. I'm especially interested in the plum jam substitution, or maybe pomegranate molasses....

I would be worried about an odd blue-gray color from the pom. I can see the pom molasses in the sweet potatoes or winter squash preps

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I'm planning a Northwest theme Thanksgiving with a focus on local products. I'll take pictures for everyone of each dish.

Here's the menu so far:

-Smoked Pacific Turbot, Smoked Sea Scallops, Flying Fish Roe, Olive Oil, Lemon, Radish Sprouts. (The Turbot and Scallops are from Gerard Dominique's Seafood of Woodinville, Washington).

-Apple, Pear, Parsnip Salad with Bleu Cheese, Toasted Hazelnuts and Apple Cider Vinaigrette. (I'll be using Bartlett Pears and Pinova Apples from Washington, Oregon Hazelnuts and Bleu Cheese).

-Traditional Turkey, Sausage Dressing with Apples and Pecans, Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Walnuts, Cranberry-Apple Cider Compote, Mashed Potatoes. (The only Northwest products will be the Apple Cider and Idaho Russet Potatoes).

-Northwest Cheeses with Fruit and Nut Crostini and Blackberry Honeycomb. (The Cheeses are from Oregon and Washington, the Biscottie from Anjou Baker of Cashmere, Washington and the Honeycomb from Bauman Farms of Salem, Oregon).

-Apple Pie with Pumpkin Ice Cream. (The apples are from an Organic orchard in Central Washington).

-Mince Pie with Bourbon Whipped Cream. (The pie is from Cyrus O'Leary's bakery of Spokane).

Lots of good food and I hope lots of leftovers for wonderful lunches.

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Paul, I'm going to do your turkey recipe, if I can get a turkey here that will fit into my stockpot.

Abra & Paul -- I'm going to do a poached-roasted turkey based on Paul's recipe too, although without the stuffing (my mother and brother want my French-Canadian family's traditional meat stuffing, which is really just a repurposing of toutiere filling.)

But I'm going to go out and buy a new stockpot that will fit the turkey, rather than the other way around! After all, what's not to love about a cooking technique that gives you an excuse to visit the kitchen supply store!

I'm a bit nervous, because I have a history in my family of "incidents" with attempts to cook turkeys, that involve everything from almost leaving the bag of giblets and whatnot inside the bird (hey, I was only 16 at the time and my mother was in the hospital giving me directions over the phone) to birds that were underdone and had to go back to the oven for another hour, then another hour....

So I'm hoping that this technique is going to work for me, because I can poach it and be sure it's cooked all the way through, without drying it out, and then still get it nice and crispy in the oven when I'm ready to serve it. My mother has only one oven, so I love the idea that this recipe gives me more flexibility than putting a bird in the oven for hours and hours would.

Paul, any tips to offer for a 20-22lb bird? (Besides the fact that I'll need a really big pot :laugh:)

- Laura

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Paul, any tips to offer for a 20-22lb bird?  (Besides the fact that I'll need a really big pot   :laugh:)

- Laura

That's a bigger one than I've done by a few pounds. I've found a 20qt pot to work well for a 16lb bird, so maybe you need 25qt? It will be great to have around for stock making any time of year you're not poaching turkeys.

I'd estimate that cooking time will increase in rough proportion to the weight of the bird. So for a 21lb bird, expect it to be about a third longer than the times I give. I'd time the poaching, and then base the cooking on observation. A remote probe thermometer is your best friend with a turkey, unless you've coked enough of them to a good sense of when they're done.

Also, really keep an eye on the poaching liquid temperature. You want it to be below a simmer. Like, maybe a bubble wandering to the surface and popping once in a while.

I added some edits to the recipe online, since people are actually going to be following it ... I don't want to get thrown off the island for ruining everyone's holiday!

In that spirit, I offer one more suggestion: if observed reality clashes with what the recipe tells you, trust your senses and your instincts, not me.

Edited by paulraphael (log)

Notes from the underbelly

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posting a bit late here, but i'd love to know your chard casserole recipe

Thanks,

Chalant

I'm not the original poster, but here is a great chard gratin recipe from Fine Cooking magazine: chard gratin with cream. You can make it with any greens -- spinach, chard, kale, collard (kale and collard greens ake a longer pre-cooking though; I blanch them first).

It can be made a couple of hours ahead and then baked later, which makes it good for Thanksgiving.

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That's a bigger one than I've done by a few pounds. I've found a 20qt pot to work well for a 16lb bird, so maybe you need 25qt? It will be great to have around for stock making any time of year you're not poaching turkeys.

Well, the best I could find at short notice was a 50qt behemoth, but it'll be great for a lobster fest later on, and I've been meaning to get one of those big outdoor propane burners anyway, so it all works out!

I'd estimate that cooking time will increase in rough proportion to the weight of the bird. So for a 21lb bird, expect it to be about a third longer than the times I give. I'd time the poaching, and then base the cooking on observation. A remote probe thermometer is your best friend with a turkey, unless you've coked enough of them to a good sense of when they're done.

Also, really keep an eye on the poaching liquid temperature. You want it to be below a simmer. Like, maybe a bubble wandering to the surface and popping once in a while.

Thanks for the timing tips. I've got one of those remote probe thermometers, so I won't have to guess. And I'll definitely keep an eye on the poaching liquid...it'll probably be all I can do to keep that big a pot on a relatively small burner all the way up to a simmer anyway.

I added some edits to the recipe online, since people are actually going to be following it ... I don't want to get thrown off the island for ruining everyone's holiday!

In that spirit, I offer one more suggestion: if observed reality clashes with what the recipe tells you, trust your senses and your instincts, not me.

Don't worry...I know my mileage may vary! This is definitely in the "experiment" category, and I promise to photograph and post the results, whatever they may be. But I'm really grateful for the guidelines for this technique.

- Laura

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I'm hoping that more people will post menus. I'm pretty well stuck with traditional dishes -- I have family members who will kill me if I deviate -- but I am allowed to play with drinks and apps. I gave up on pickles and am left with this:

Starters: root vegetable chips with jerk seasoning, rosemary bacon candy, and pine-cured salmon skewers, all served with Regent’s Punch.

Mains: roast turkey with gravy (the Gourmet 2001 version with oranges and red onions), pecan sage stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce with orange and ginger (fingers crossed that it will gel), lemongrass carrots and scallions, and bacon & white pepper brussels sprouts.

My wife will be making a cookie assortment: orange almond tuilles, world peace cookies, and thumbprint cookies at the minimum.

Coffee, tea, espresso, cappuccino, brandy to close.

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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