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Thanksgiving Menus 2002–2011: The Topic


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So, the beautiful jewel red cranberry orange sauce out in the freezer wasn't. It was ligonberry. So now we're having Ligonberry Grand Marnier Trifle. Not quite the Native American theme we were shooting for...but hey...

“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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Marlene:

Glad you're still enjoying that sauce. It's always a great addition to the table and everyone seems to like it, children and adults both. My batch this year came out particularly thick and delicious. I've begun adding a bit of unflavored gelatin to the pot (about half an envelope to a batch with four bags of cranberries) at the beginning of the process and am liking the results. Keeps it from being runny. I think I might try making a mold of it next year and see if that works.

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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My dad came down from Sheboygan, Wisconsin (my hometown) on Wednesday. My mother-in-law came from North Western Indiana on Thursday. My wife hosted like crazy. I cooked dinner. Here's the breakdown...

brined/maple-glazed turkey.

21# bird brined overnight in water, apple cider, kosher salt, brown sugar, thyme, peppercorns, bay leaf, and chamomile tea. maple glaze was maple syrup, chicken stock, chicken fat, and turkey fat. the chicken fat came from preparing the chicken stock. the turkey fat came from the turkey's neck skin. the neck skin was rendered for the fat, crisped, and dehydrated overnight so i could blend it to make "turkey salt". the "turkey salt" was sprinkled over the sliced meat that was on the plate.

the bird was stuffed with 2 heads of garlic, 3 sliced limes, sage, rosemary, and thyme. it was seasoned with kosher salt and roasted in a pan that had apple cider, water, sage, rosemary, and thyme in the bottom.

corn/cranberry/oxtail stuffing.

the stuffing base was made from a box. the only difference was chicken stock instead of water. the corn was cooked sous-vide with butter, thyme, peppercorns, and bay leaf. the cranberries were cooked sous-vide with butter, thyme, peppercorns, and bay leaf. the oxtail was marinated overnight in apple cider. it was braised with chicken stock, apple cider, carrot, onion, thyme, peppercorns, and bay leaf. the ingredients were combined and spooned into the stuffing until the ratio looked right. the dish was finished with kosher salt.

pumpkin/chicken jus.

a great chicken stock was made and strained. more chicken bones were toasted and a second stock was made using the first stock instead of water. a bit of apple cider was added to the second stock. the mixture was strained and a jus was created. the chicken jus was mounted with a prepared maple/pumpkin butter from whole foods and a bit of heavy cream was added to mellow the intense "chicken" flavor. the jus was finished with kosher salt.

green bean casserole with almonds.

my dad loves a plain green bean casserole (with french's fried onions!) and my mother-in-law loves grean beans with garlic/almonds. i combined the two dishes to satisfy them. and they were really, really happy! i halved the green beans, blanched 'em, and chilled 'em. the mushrooms for the casserole were cooked sous-vide with butter, thyme, peppercorns, and bay leaf. the mushrooms were added to heavy cream, seasoned with kosher salt, and simmered for alittle while to make the "cream of mushroom soup". i sauteed some onions in roasted garlic oil (always homemade, always available, all the time)with kosher salt and added the green beans. tossed everything together and put 'em in a casserole dish. poured the mushroom cream over everything, sprinkled almond slivers over the top, and roasted. finished the dish with a fistful of parmesan cheese and a quick visit under the broiler.

butternut squash/goat cheese mashed potatoes.

the butternut squash was cooked sous-vide with butter, thyme, peppercorns, and bay leaf. everything else was straight-forward. the potatoes were cooked in salted water with two bay leaves. a fistful of goat cheese was folded into the finished mixture and the dish was seasoned with kosher salt.

pumpkin cheesecake w/ cider-poached figs and pumpkin pie-spiced crema.

the cheesecake recipe came from Better Homes and Gardens. i can't bake. the cake turned out absolutely amazing. period. the figs were cooked sous-vide with apple cider and peppercorns. i put together a "pumpkin pie spice blend" from reading the ingredients from the grocery store bottle, imagining the aroma, and combining the spices at home. i folded the spice blend into heavy cream and poured the mixture into an isi canister. i cracked two nitrous charges into the can and set the gun aside. it was a nice dessert.

We washed the meal down with 2 different kinds of Riesling and 2 different kinds of Moscato. There were smiles, stories, and laughs in between. It was a great meal!

Cheers.

trevor williams.

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Made a few changes over the course of the week, subbing in home-cured salmon for the nuts, a Pisco Punch for the cocktails, and butternut squash to the vegetables. My wife made a Peter Reinhart corn bread (a bread with corn, not a pan cornbread), as well as my favorite Pierre Hermé lemon tart and a pecan tart. Everything turned out great -- best Thanksgiving meal ever, I think.

butternut squash/goat cheese mashed potatoes.

the butternut squash was cooked sous-vide with butter, thyme, peppercorns, and bay leaf. everything else was straight-forward.

KC, at what temp did you cook the squash? I'm thinking of doing that next year, especially with the rutabaga....

Chris Amirault

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Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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I sort-of wonder about the point of cooking squash sous vide. Most of what we want to do when cooking squash is evaporate moisture to concentrate the flavors. One could, I suppose, pre-treat the butternut squash doing the starch retrogradation trick if there was some concern that a squash puree might become gluey.

--

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Thanksgiving Menu:

Potato Feta Leek Soup

Pickled Vegetable Intermezzo

Smoked Turkey with:

roasted butternut squash with pomegranate

spinach with country ham and juoiper vinegar

giblet gravy

pumpkin cornbread dressing

fresh popover loaf

Fried Sweet Potato Pie with homemade vanilla ice cream and caramel drizzle

The meal was served with champagne and/or beaujolais nouveau

It was fantastic!

Edited by Doc (log)

-Doc

"Everything I eat has been proved by some doctor or other to be a deadly poison, and everything I don't eat has been proved to be indispensable for life. But I go marching on." ~George Bernard Shaw

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I sort-of wonder about the point of cooking squash sous vide. Most of what we want to do when cooking squash is evaporate moisture to concentrate the flavors. One could, I suppose, pre-treat the butternut squash doing the starch retrogradation trick if there was some concern that a squash puree might become gluey.

I usually roast squash, but we have only one oven and Thanksgiving baking/roasting keeps it busy. That means it's boiling atop the stove and thus at risk, when I'm juggling too many things, of being overcooked and watery. Hence the interest in sous vide.

Chris Amirault

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Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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turkey three ways:

1)sous vide turkey thighs/legs

the legs were seasoned with a rub of kosher salt/thyme/fresh bay leaf/black pepper/garlic for 6 hours in a ziplock bag (modified from the keller recipe for duck leg confit), then sealed in a bag with a stick of butter and several large scoops of rendered turkey fat, and a "herb sachet" made up of 6 sprigs thyme, 2 crushed garlic cloves, 10 peppercorns, a bay leaf all tied in cheesecloth. 180 degrees for 12 hours ... THIS WAS THE STAR OF DINNER

2) Left turkey breast fricasse in leek/cream/vadouvan sauce

3) Right turkey breast seasoned with Ras al Hanout, seared.

garlicy mashed potatoes - HEAVENLY

5 pounds Yukon Gold spuds cooked

4 headed of roasted garlic

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1/2 stick unsalted butter

1 cup heavy whipping cream

lots of black pepper

consistency adjusted with milk

Focaccia bread

700 ml water

50 ml rosemary garlic infused olive oil (lots of rosemary, lots of garlic, 1 cup oil, buzzed with a stick blender. the oil is strained (bits are reserved)

2 tablespoon of reserved bits (return remainer of bits BACK into the oil, and save for second step)

12 gms yeast

20 gms malt powder

20 gms semolina flour

20 grams kosher salt

1000 gms all purpose flour (KA)

4 hours rise time

divide into two batches

simply flatten dough with fingers on a silpat placed in a sheet pan. 1 hour second rise

press dimples all over surface of the dough with index finger. Brush rosemary olive oil mixture over the dough.

sheet pan with dough goes into preheated 400 degree oven for 25-30 minutes

toss large cup of water into the hot broiler pan in bottom of oven, close the oven door.

Roasted red bell pepper/goat cheese/eggplant terrine

fire roasted red bell peppers, charred skin/seeds removed (keep as large single sheets of bell pepper)

1/4 inch slices of eggplant, salted for 1 hour, rinsed, compressed to remove more liquid, repeat 2-3 times, then brush eggplant slices with garlicy olive oil and saute until golden brown.

line a mold (like a bowl) with saran wrap. line the interior of the bowl with roasted red pepper. then layer goat cheese, eggplant, bell pepper until the mold is full. Season with black pepper and balsamic vinegar and garlicy olive oil over each layer of goat cheese. when the mold is full, fold the redundant saran wrap over the terrine, and place a plate on the terrine, and a heavy can, and place in the fridge overnite.

others made walnut spinach salad with sesame seed dressing

apple and pumpkin pie

stuffing

kale with garlic chips

lord, i woke up this morning feeling like i had been mugged by a angry mob of food.

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Post mortems, anyone?

Hits:

-Great big free range turkey from Bo Bo farms in New York, poached and roasted

-Madeira sauce made with duck coulis

-Stuffing made from mixed wild mushrooms browned in duck fat, ground duck leg, toasted almonds, dried cherries

-Apple tart with many layers of thinly sliced apples and cardamom, cognac vanilla ice cream

Misses:

-sunchoke and fennel puree. I meant to puree celeriac, but couldn't find any at the last minute. Guests liked this; I thought it tasted like burned milk. Maybe I don't like sunchokes?

Notes from the underbelly

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CA - I cooked the butternut overnight at 65C.

SL - I understand your opinion on squash cookery. However, the moisture works in my favor because the compounds stay in the bag and mingle with the butter. The entire finished product is poured into (thyme/bay leaf removed) the potato mash and given a few final whips with the KitchenAid. The moisture contributes to the mash.

And there's no gluey texture at all. The product has always turned out beautifully for me.

Cheers.

Trevor Williams.

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CA is absolutely right, too. The reason why I cook so many of the Thanksgiving meal components sous-vide is simply because I don't have the stove-top/oven space during that meal. Every burner is occupied and so is the oven. The only other time I used the oven was during the resting period of the finished Turkey or for the baking of the pumpkin cheesecake the night before.

And cooking the components sous-vide reduces alot of dishes in the sink which helps to conserve water!!! :cool:

Cheers.

Trev W.

Edited by KendallCollege (log)

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Old World France meets New World America.

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Preamble of my Mt. Pleasant dry cured sausage, turkey pâté en croûte with currants, a friend’s blood pudding and some Nîmes style brandade. Pickled purple cauliflower accoutrement and mulled cider adulterated with a trickle of George Dickel whisky to warsh it all down, then a bit more for social lubricant.

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*Consommé du Barry. Turkey consommé from turkey parts from the neighborhood Latino grocer, with a few cauliflower-mornay agnolotti swimming around and florets of different cauliflower varieties clearly visible at the bottom.

*Scalloped potatoes sandwiching a middle layer of caramelized onions and anchovies.

*My rye bread, as a stuffing with pomegranate seeds, celery root, celery stalks and their leaves.

*Pear roasted heritage turkey breast. Roasted on the bone on a bed of pear scraps with shingled bosc pear slices under the skin, basted with pear juices.

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"Pan Coudoun". Little breads, stuffed with a wedge of cooked quince.

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Turkey leg ballotines, in their reduced braising juices with some dried cranberries (rather than raisins), mushrooms and a couple sliced gizzards here and there.

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Cheese, clockwise from center: Livarot, France; Nettle Meadow Kunik, NY; Gorwydd Caerphilly, Wales; Twig Farm Square Cheese, VT; Tarantaise, VT; Mondegueiro, Portugal; Rogue River Blue, OR.

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Apple tart with a nappage of my quince jelly with murmurs of rosemary and cinnamon.

Banda Aceh coffee.

Slight case of PTD (post-turkey depression) after having gestated the menu and formulations for the better part of 3 weeks. No glass breakage, pretty girls and early morning grazing on tryptophan & cheese scraps with fingers by the twilight of the frigidaire brings savory solace, albeit cold and perishable.

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Baron:

Wow. Most impressive. A meal camera ready for the centerfold of any magazine food porn spread. Really gorgeous. Well done.

I learned a lesson this year. I need to label the containers of different cranberry sauces. Seems the kid's table ended up with the spicy Cranberry-Jalapeno sauce that had uncooked tequila in it. Whoops. They all loved it though, and slept quite well into the next morning too. :blush:

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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Our Bourbon Red heritage turkey was (and still is!) simply amazing. The fat layer under the skin kept the proportionately sized breast meat moist and delicious!

the turkey I got from Bo Bo Farms had that thick fat layer too. I don't remember it from the heritage bird I got last year (don't know the breed but it came from Amish country). I'm not sure if I like the fat cap; it probably helps with juiciness, but I use cooking techniques to handle that. The fat makes the skin itself less appetizing to eat, for me anyhow. I want something thin and crisp, not a big mouthful of turkey fat.

Edited by paulraphael (log)

Notes from the underbelly

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We consumed our Thanksgiving Day Dinner as done for the last seven years amongst friends at their large home in Georgetown Maine. This year we were only 14, but in the past we were as many as 20 congenial people loving to eat, and loving to be together.

A newcomer to the festivities, a young man 18 years old, a casual friend, without parents, of our daughter also 18, whom she invited after asking us if it was alright, with which we agreed since we know him for quite a few years.

One has to mention, Devan is not much experienced in number one being treated and number two to eat a more tasteful prepared dinner, never mind a humongous Thanksgiving meal, all home-cooked and nothing fast about it. Many items totally strange to him, but he was very enthusiastic trying everything and apparently also enjoying all.

What took us all by surprise, was his comment as he was thanking everyone for the invite and good food.

Devan said, and it is worth mention here:

This meal was like going from a kiddy Merry-go-around to a Giant Roller-coaster.

Peter
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Aww, that's great! Lucky Devan! (Wow, a polite, well-spoken 18 year old boy!) He'll probably remember that dinner for the rest of his life. You have done a very good thing, my friend. This is absolutely what Thanksgiving should be all about.

I think my husband had the same experience his first Christmas with my family (we were about 16 years old then). First, we had a sedate little dinner party with his parents; very sweet. Then we went over to my folks' once-a-year blow-out party, with all the lights, the non-stop Christmas music, the huge tree with more gifts under it than anyone would believe (my mom has been known to wrap boxes of Kleenex "to fill in"), the huge commotion in the tiny kitchen with about five cooks (mom, aunts, neighbors, people I've never laid eyes on before or since), everyone trying to work at once, the game on - loud! - in the den adjacent to the kitchen, that room crowded with rowdy fans, the sugared-up kids and the dogs underfoot, somebody at the main table wrapping last-minute presents (or "fill ins") so it can't be set yet . . . oh, the poor guy didn't know what hit him, but I must say, he soon fit right in!

Christmas was the only time of the year we felt like a real family (because of the visiting relatives). I miss it. These days, 40 years later, all the family is scattered or gone, and my husband and I are back to sedate little dinner parties; very sweet, but . . .

(edited to fix typo)

Edited by Special K (log)
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That's very sweet. You've definitely done a good deed. That young man was deeply effected by that dinner and he will undoubtedly remember it fondly for many years to come. Sometimes a budding foodie needs someone to push them out of their nest/comfort zone and make them flap their little birdie wings and soar. I'm sure every wonderful food experience Devan has in his life will be measured against the lovely Thanksgiving meal he shared amongst you and your friends.

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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  • 11 months later...

We've discussed Thanksgiving menus for a long time around these parts. Now that we're in 2010, it's time for a new topic.

And time to start crackin'! I'm way behind in my planning this year. Trying to weigh the benefits of whole roasting (the oohs-n-ahhs presentation; tradition), broken down roasting (properly prepared breast and thigh meat), or sous vide (truly succulent flesh but meh skin). Also fiddling with other do-ahead options, drinks, apps, desserts.... AUGH!

What about you?

Chris Amirault

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Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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We're hosting this year, 6 of us and a 10-month-old. I hope we'll be able to find a couple more people to invite, as we always make waaaayyy more food than we need (often we end up with 4 pies for 6 people, for example). Mainly because each family has their must-haves, and there's not much overlap.

So far, I'm thinking:

homemade crackers, deviled eggs, olives, some cheese for pre-dinner nibbles.

Then turkey (brined, roasted)

gravy

mashed potatoes

mashed sweet potato/pumpkin casserole (w/ brown sugar and pecan topping)

mother-in-law will bring the family's meat stuffing (think French Canadian tortiere, but sans crust)

some kind of bread stuffing (that's for me and my mom-- probably cornbread-based)(though whether it will be stuffing or dressing depends on who wins the argument this year)

cranberry sauce (homemade, not sure which direction I'll take it this time-- I get some flexibility with this one since it too is mainly for me and my mom)

butternut, cheddar, & bacon gratin

roasted brussels sprouts with cinnamon-bay balsamic reduction

a trio of roasted vegetables (green beans, cauliflower, parsnips/carrots?) with a mix-and-matchable assortment of compound butters. I haven't actually tried preparing roasted veg ahead and reheating yet, so this depends on that being an option. Advice, anyone?

The in-laws have a gelatin salad they do, which for the first time I'm told is not a must-have (hooray!)-- there just needs to be something fruity besides cranberry sauce. So I'm looking for something interesting to do along those lines.

For dessert, at least pumpkin pie and pecan pie. Sugar free apple pie? Tarte tatin? Apple/pear crisp?

Whipped cream (spiced if I do it, plain if brother-in-law is in charge)

Possibly homemade ice cream of some sort (maple walnut, nutmeg are the current contenders)

I've been threatening to make sage marshmallow, pumpkin graham cracker, and white chocolate smores, but we'll see if that ends up being doable (or even advisable) when the time comes.

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Getting started with the bird. I have been frustrated trying to negotiate local turkey issues in a timely manner, and the local Whole Foods is carrying Dietsel American Heirloom turkeys this year, so I'm going to give one of those babies a try (at $4/lb).

So, let's see: I need to have noshy treats around to go with a cocktail; then we'll do a full meal with the basics and perhaps an out-of-the-ordinary treat or two. Then dessert.

homemade crackers, deviled eggs, olives, some cheese for pre-dinner nibbles.

That looks like a fine set of starters. What cracker recipe(s)?

Chris Amirault

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Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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I was just discussing this with my room mate the other day. We will be cooking for ~20 people.

Homemade Applesauce

Pretzel Salad

Roasted Roma Tomatoes with a Blue Cheese Filling

Smashed Red Potatoes

Scalloped Potatoes with Cheese and Bacon

Corn/Edamame Succotash

Brown Sugar Baked Ham (Raised on our family farm)

Turkey (Brined and Roasted with Bacon Layering)

Baked Mac & Cheese

Duck & Cheese Tortellini Soup

Zucchini Pie

Egg Noodles

Corn Bread

Biscuits

Giblet Stuffing

Gravy

Vanilla Ice Cream

Apple Pie

Rum Pecan Pie

Marble Cake

We are attempting to cook most of this from scratch, and cut as few corners as possible. We will see how well it goes.

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