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Thanksgiving Menus 2002–2011: The Topic


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After it dawned on me that crackers are basically a cross between a pie crust and a biscuit, I became truly cracker-empowered. My generic cracker recipe is

2 c. whole wheat pastry flour

2 tsp baking powder

1 stick butter

3/4-1 c. liquid (milk, pumpkin puree, whatever)

salt to taste

spices to taste, or pat seeds onto the dough before baking.

Buttermilk crackers are very tasty-- change the leavening to 1 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp. baking soda, and use buttermilk for the liquid (obviously).

Mix it like a biscuit-- cut butter into dry ingredients, then mix in only as much liquid as you need to get it to form a ball. Be gentle, and finish the mixing with your hands. Wrap it in plastic, let it rest a while in the fridge, then roll it out on a Silpat as thinly and evenly as you can, cut into squares with a pizza cutter, and bake at 375 for 12-15 minutes. I usually remove the edge pieces just as they begin to brown and return the rest to bake a bit more to ensure nothing gets burnt or underdone. 2-3 reps of that usually gives good results.

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I’ve started my planning – we are invited to my parents in law so they are taking care of the bird and most side dishes, but I’ve volunteered for the appetizer and dessert courses. I have to admit that I don’t care much for turkey in general (heresy, I know; my excuse is that I am French and turkey is considered a lower grade meat in France), so I am relieved that I don’t have to prepare it. I tried to convince my in-laws that we should start a cassoulet tradition for Thanksgiving, but they did not buy it. I thought that it was a great idea tough, and we could have made confit turkey legs!

In any case, I was thinking along the lines of foie gras au torchon and squash soup for the first courses. There is a good kabocha soup recipe in Sunday Suppers at Lucques that I’ve made before and that would be appropriate for the occasion; it has just the right amount of spice/heat to keep it interesting.

Foie gras just because it’s the holiday season and now is the time to be decadent. Last year I had made pate de campagne but I think that I want to “upgrade” this year. Also the days of foie gras in California may be limited – we only have one more year before the ban in 2012. I was going to buy a lobe at our local French grocery and prepare it au torchon per Paula Wolfert’s instructions (just got her book). I’ve never prepared foie gras au torchon but after doing some research and looking at a few tutorials online, I think that this is something I can handle, even the deveining part which sounds intriguing to say the least.

Another option would be to combine both courses and make squash soup with seared foie gras – there is a great recipe by Anne Willan in the Country Cooking of France that I’ve made for a dinner party once and was a big hit. But it requires last minute searing which may not be ideal – typically the kitchen is a war zone that day so I prefer dishes that can be prepared in advance.

For dessert, last year I had made a chestnut charlotte which had the advantage of being surprisingly light and airy. The recipe was from Les Halles. I am still undecided for this year, but David Lebovitz’s recipe for eggnog ice cream looks good. If I make this, I will need something else to go with it (cookies? a tart? I have not yet decided).

Lastly, since Dave Wondrich’s book on punch just came out, most likely we will be having a champagne punch. I just need to remember to order the book though!

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I'm hosting for the first time. Dinner for 10, including DBF's mother and brother with his GF, and my brother's GF's mother as well. Lots of potential family to impress.

My plan is:

- Appetizer spread that includes

jalapeno poppers (stuffed with boursin, wrapped in bacon)

spinach artichoke dip (homemade)

hummus (Sabre from Costco )

spicy nut mix

goat cheese log w/ pistachios/cranberries

tortilla chips / pita / crackers

- Salad w/ granny smith apples, greens, goat cheese, pecans, dried cranberries, w/ apple cider vinegar dressing (DBF and I eat a version of this salad a lot, and we both love it)

- Brined / roasted turkey (based Alton Brown's recipe, but I'll probably simplify the brine and the aromatics, since I'm getting a high quality fresh turkey)

- Brussel sprouts w/ bacon

- Boursin mashed potatoes (made ahead)

- Turkey gravy (made from turkey stock I'll make this weekend)

- Stuffing / cranberry sauce (Mom's making these, from her mom's recipes. The stuffing is the standard, sage flavored, bake-in-the-oven variety.)

- Really good sourdough from a local bakery, with some high quality butter and some fun salts

- Pumpkin spice cheesecake

- Apple crumble - anyone have a good recipe for this, or suggestions for an alternative apple dessert?

- My dad may require a key lime pie, but I'll buy that from a little pie shop

- Vanilla / cinnamon ice cream from a local artisan shop

How does it look?

Edited by dividend (log)

"Nothing you could cook will ever be as good as the $2.99 all-you-can-eat pizza buffet." - my EX (wonder why he's an ex?)

My eGfoodblog: My corner of the Midwest

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Well, I've been putting off thinking about it, other than ordering a local turkey, but this thread has made me realize it's time to decide. We're hosting, probably 10-12 people, including a couple of young kids and some folks who aren't big eaters, so I'll try to keep it simple. Oh - it also has to be gluten-free. So here's what I'm thinking:

*some kind of munchies/appetizers, probably mediterranean (hummus, veggies, pita chips, etc.)

*roast turkey - I don't like brining, but I'm going to try the ice pack on the breast while legs come up in temp before roasting.

*wild rice stuffing, probably with lots of mushrooms, sage, chestnuts. I'll likely just wing it.

*maple-glazed hammon sweet potatoes (my favorite variety, from a local farm, pale yellow in color and a little floral tasting)

*a green veggie - either roast brussels sprouts or green beans

*cranberry sauce

*grandma's cranberry jello mold, made w/pecans and pomegranate

*an assortment of pies, at least a couple being gluten-free, and at least one my grandmother's pumpkin chiffon recipe, and maybe some homemade ice-cream if I'm feeling ambitious and have room in the freezer.

Edited by KitchenMom (log)
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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


Giblet Stuffing


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.

Wonderful sounding menu! Looks like quite a bit of it can be done ahead of time so you guys can enjoy thanksgiving with everybody else. The zucchini pie sounds very interesting would you care to share the recipe?

I've learned that artificial intelligence is no match for natural stupidity.

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I am also late in my planning. I saw a recipe for cardomom honey ice cream somewhere earlier this year. If I can locate that I think it would be a delicious accompaniment to Thanksgiving pies. Hmm, maybe it was in David's book.

I always make a cold wild rice salad with artichoke hearts and grape tomatoes. I also roast 1" diced pieces of sweet potato with brown butter, sage, maple syrup and cinnamon.

I sure would like to do a turkey roulade this year but I don't think the family would stand for it. Maybe I'll cook the turkey in the Big Green Egg!

We have a giant party the first week in December every year. Most of my brain power has been devoted to planning that. Thanks for getting me started on Thanksgiving. I'll post my full menu when it gels in my brain.

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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.

If you feel comfortable inviting strangers, I'd suggest calling the International Students Centre at your local university (or boarding school). There are always international students alone during the holidays, and they would probably really enjoy experiencing TG with a "real" American family.

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Sounds like I'm not the only one who is suddenly feeling Thanksgiving nipping at my heels, so I need to get cracking, too. I'm feeding 10, a mix of family and friends. Most of the guests will bring a little something and one friend is always in charge of the gravy. Here's my thinking at this point:

Pre-Dinner fare:

Bloody Marys, wine, beer

Stuffed mushrooms (friend contribution)

Homemade Chex Mix (We always called this Nuts and Bolts)(another friend contribution)

Possibly an antipasto platter--ok, not very American, but do-ahead easy


Roasted Trader Joe's brined turkey

Traditional Southern Cornbread dressing


Cranberry sauce with kumquats

Mother's Corn Pudding

Potato-Carrot Mousseline

Brussel Sprouts with Bacon and Figs

Wild Rice Salad with oranges and dried Cranberries

Haricot verts sauteed with garlic and spinach

Sister Schubert's rolls (ok, I cheat here but they're really good)

Pickled Peaches, celery sticks (don't quite know the origin of the celery sticks, but Mom always had them on the Thanksgiving table so I do, too)


Pecan Pie

Pumpkin Pie

Pear and Fig Strudel (courtesy of my newly-cheffy brother)

Fresh whipped cream

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

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I usually do a honey-brined and smoked turkey.

We've moved to an apartment and I no longer have my smoker.

Plus I have a much smaller kichen and only one rack in the oven.

Only 1 fridge, so I'm not sure I have enough space to brine a whole turkey over night.

I'm considering parting the thing out and slow smoking on my Weber kettle to free up oven space.

I'd then assemble as best I can over stuffing.

Or something, heck I dunno. But I gotta start planning soon.

That's the thing about opposum inerds, they's just as tasty the next day.

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Only 1 fridge, so I'm not sure I have enough space to brine a whole turkey over night.

Even though I have 2 fridges, I do the brining in a cooler. Should be especially easy in KC, where it is much cooler than here in the Deep South! You might not even need ice! :smile:

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Ah, personally i'm a little sad about this year. At work we are doing a coursed dinner on Thanksgiving itself, so I won't be having dinner with the family this year, and since they all live a few hours away and all have it planned to have it on the day itself, as opposed to last year, when we had it the weekend after.

Still, i'm trying to get a little something together with a few friends where I am the weekend before. We have a few ideas rolling around right now, and I think the plan is to pretty much just make it a giant meat-filled and gluttonous holiday meal. So far, it's as follows:

-Salad of sorrel, radicchio , and crispy pigs ear

-Roasted bone marrow, parsley, capers

-Pork belly confit, trio of homemade mustards

-Fois gras stuffed trotters

-Rosemary smoked turkey, cast iron roasted brussels, spiced macomber turnip puree

Just an early set of ideas, although in all likeliness will just be adding to that list, rather that subtracting and/or changing.

Cheese - milk's leap toward immortality.

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Small group this year -- two "adult" eaters, three or four 20-somethings, and a fifteen-year-old who eats nothing green.

  • Appetizer spread with pate', fig-and-olive tapenade, and cheeses, with wine
  • Roasted, or smoked, depending on what the weather's doing, turkey breast
  • Sweet potato casserole (sweet potatos mashed with egg, sugar, vanilla, topped with a mix of brown sugar, butter, flour, pecans
  • Green bean casserole -- a homemade version of the canonical one with mushroom soup and french fried onions
  • Garlic mashed redskin potatos
  • Traditional Southern cornbread dressing
  • Giblet gravy
  • Deviled eggs
  • Cranberry salad with apples, oranges, pecans
  • Coconut cake with ambrosia for dessert

There are a lot of other sides I'd like to do, but there's no point with so few of us here to eat. So I'll roast a pork loin later in the weekend, and do some of the other sides I've been eyeing with that!

Don't ask. Eat it.


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MattyC, what is rosemary smoked turkey exactly?

Nothing super fancy, really, as we are just playing things pretty simply this year for all of this. Basically just brining the turkey in a fairly standard salt/sugar brine, roast as normal, then when it's done and it's pulled out to rest for a few, cover it with plastic wrap or a big bag or something, and cold smoke it with some rosemary and let it sit for a few. Just a finish for the turkey, too much smoke and of course it gets to be a bit much, but i've found it to be a nice hint as long as you just do it long enough while it rests.

I agree with you on the beer thing as well. I actually have a few big bottles of the Dogfish 'Theobroma' kicking around i'm going to bust out. Good stuff, part of their ancient ale series - it's based on some 500 year old alcohol, or so they say. It's good though, made with cocoa nibs, aztec cocoa powder, honey, and chilis.

Cheese - milk's leap toward immortality.

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How do people organize their planning? I've been using a google doc the last few years, and then print everything up for the last two or three days.

One other organizational question for those with big (8 or more?) groups. Do you do family style in bowls that are passed, or do you have a sideboard loaded up with stuff? I'm trying to figure that part out too....

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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Mu wife has informed me that we will be hosting this year. The last several years we have gone to her sisters house. I would always smoke a turkey and take it along to go with the oven roasted one my BIL did. This worked fine as I love the smoked but my wife does not. She also likes the stuffing done in the turkey and I do not. My problem is that this year I can't do two turkeys. So guess which kind we will be having?

I'm debating the family style or the buffet style. The buffet would be a lot eaiser to do at our house. But the family style is tradition. I guess we will see how it works out.

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There will be only three of us this year - my DH, his older brother, and myself. This will be a working holiday as my BIL is coming to help install a new front door and some windows on our home. We had already decided on ham and the coupon we recently received in the mail from our electric utility provider for a 7 - 8 lb. ham from Kroger has firmed up that decision. For nibbles, I have a wedge of locally made Manchego, some Spanish choriso and need to get some crackers and olives. To accompany the ham, I want to make a potato and cheese dish and a wild rice and mushroom dish. My BIL loves broccoli so we will have that and I will make homemade dinner rolls. For dessert I'm thinking of making a carrot cake.

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Sous vide Turducken (turkey, duck, chicken legs/thighs only)

The fowl will be cured in salt/thyme/peppercorns/garlic using Keller's recipe


Mushroom risotto (in place of stuffing, made with mushroom stock and whole mushrooms)

Rosemary/Garlicy mashed potatoes (substituting rendered duck fat for some of the butter)


Turkey/duck/chicken stock reduction with cream (gravy substitute)


home made mini-buns

haven't decided on the veg/salad choices

haven't decided on the dessert yet.

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The bitten word foodblog has their survey of Thanksgiving menus from food magazines up, including this terrific food word cloud. Interesting to read and compare....

Meanwhile, I think we're closing in on our menu:

Regent's Punch

a wine for the stalwarts

a beer selection (2? 3? not sure)

ras al hanout spiced nuts

curried root chips

smoked roasted turkey with oranges and red onions

pecan, pancetta, and dried cherry stuffing

chunky cranberry and apple sauce with orange and ginger

cucumber and vidalia onion pickles

mashed potatoes

butternut squash purée

rutabaga and parsnip batons with browned butter and pimento dram

carrots with ginger, garlic, and preserved lemon

brussel sprouts with white pepper, bacon, and sage

red cabbage slaw

fennel, parsley, and parmigiano reggiano salad

corn bread rolls

parker house rolls

Still working on desserts.

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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Still trying to figure it out, but it will just be my little family this year. Hubby will be working all night the night before and barring any crazy medical emergencies, he should be home for Thanksgiving. But given his potential absence we have ho-hummed about having guests.

We also don't have turkey. My kids like about 1 serving and then they are done, if that. My husband hates it, and I am not attached. So...

Lamb chops (from the meat CSA), probably crusted with something...

Potato and celeriac puree with Roquefort

Roasted parsnip and brussel sprouts

Pomegranate sweet potatoes

Pichet Ong's squash pie with butterscotch whipped cream. By request, but I will make it with a variation on the Crack pie crust.

Maybe mincemeat pie - my kids haven't had it and I think they would really love it. We really don't need two pies, but I may not be able to help myself. Of course if I make mincemeat pie, I think I will need to make a great ice cream to go with it. This could be a slippery slope!

Sheryl Davies


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We're just starting to think about Thanksgiving baking. One thing I know we're going to try is a pumpkin-pie trick one of my students, a pastry chef, taught me: use kabocha instead of pumpkin.

What are you all baking for Thanksgiving?

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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