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My House Smells Like Thanksgiving


Kim Shook
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Since I have Veteran's Day off and gravy prep takes three days around here, I am in the midst of getting Thanksgiving gravy ready for freezing. I always freeze it so that I won't have so many last minute things to do on 'The Day' and it tastes better anyway. Last night I roasted a gazillion turkey wings with onions, celery, carrots, salt, pepper, a sprinkling of Bell's poultry seasoning and slurry of tomato paste and olive oil. They got all tanned and sexy and the vegetables caramelized beautifully. This morning I am simmering them in water and the turkey version of ‘Better than Bouillon’ (I LOVE this stuff) in my 16 qt. le creuset and another big ass no-name stock pot. The aroma is luscious!! Later, I will strain and shred the meat and refrigerate the stock. Tomorrow morning I’ll have gallons of lovely turkey Jell-O! Then I’ll make a good dark brown roux and spend most of the day making the gravy in my mother-in-law’s huge cast iron soup pan, tasting and adjusting seasonings as I go along. I’ll add my shredded turkey bits and freeze it all. I love this process! The smells and tastes. It makes me feel like a real cook!

So what preparations has everyone else started?? What do you do ahead? My mom is making the cheese potatoes for Thanksgiving and I got a warm, cozy feeling knowing that, even though we are a couple hundred miles apart, we are doing the same thing and will be together to share the results of our labors in a couple of weeks. Sentimental, of course, but that’s what holidays are about, no?

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So far, my only preparations have been to print out all of the recipes I plan on using (even the ones I've done many times before) and making a shopping list. Today I am making a house cleaning list and a "to-do" list that includes a minute by minute plan for the day before and day of.

This weekend, I am making stock and gravy, much like yourself. I am also making pie crust and an apple and a pumpkin pie, which I am going to freeze and bake from the frozen state while we eat the actual dinner. (It will take several hours for us to be ready to eat dessert, anyway!)

Monday, I am placing two online orders and one order with the butcher.

Next weekend I am making danish dough for the post-Thanksgiving brunch and shaping it. I'll also make making cranberry orange jam, spiced rosemary plum jam, and maple, walnut and pear jam for the danish filling.

Two or three days before, I'll make the cranberry sauce and cranberry relish and flavored butters. The day before, I will cut up everything I can and brine the turkey.

The day of, I will assemble and bake everything! If only I had two ovens....

I wish I could make the mashed potatoes in advance, but they never seem as light and creamy after I reheat them.

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I already made plenty of chicken stock to use for my Thanksgiving cooking. Even though we're going to my parent's house for dinner, my husband expressed the desire to come home to a meal too. :biggrin: So the stock is all divvied up in containers in my freezer. I'm going to bring a container to my mom too.

Tomorrow I'm going to make 2 sweet potato cheesecakes, a pumpkin cheesecake and a regular cheesecake and those will go in the freezer.

I think I'm even going to get a head start on my Christmas fruitcakes...I'll bake them tomorrow and bathe them in my spirited rum and port concoction. Then they'll be nice and ready come December! LOL

Edited by Kris (log)
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The only actually cooking prep that I'm doing yet is rendering some lard for the pie crusts. (I use half butter, half lard). Most of the menu is set, but I've also been cruising my farmer's markets and produce stores for inspiration to see what they have and what looks particularly good.

Interesting to make the gravy ahead of time using turkey wings. Besides having it done in advance it seems like a great way to insure plenty of gravy.

On Thanksgiving day do you just deglaze the turkey pan and add it to the prepared gravy?

Edited by ludja (log)

"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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ludja, that's one of the reasons that I do it in advance - there was NEVER enough gravy for me. I adore good gravy and have been known to pour it over leftover rolls for lunch! I do use the gravy drippings on the day of the meal. I just use a fat separator and add it to the hot gravy. Since I serve the meal buffet style, the gravy goes in a slow cooker early in the day and I serve it right from there. I love the look of a beautiful gravy boat, but don't like having to refill it constantly.

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Just got the menu of where I'm dining off the fax. O boy is this gonna be good.

Bruce Frigard

Quality control Taster, Château D'Eau Winery

"Free time is the engine of ingenuity, creativity and innovation"

111,111,111 x 111,111,111 = 12,345,678,987,654,321

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Wow that sounds so delicious and practical as well Kim. I've never roasted turkey parts for gravy, but I think I'll have to try this. I do have a question about the roux. Can roux be made in advance and frozen? Will you be adding the turkey drippings to the finished gravy?

I was thinking of cooking and freezing my greens and maybe making the cranberry sauce in advance and freezing it, but wonder if the ingredients would suffer. The ingredients are: cranberries of course, diced apples, golden and dark raisins, walnuts, orange juice and zest, cinnamon, sugar, pinch of salt. Should I make this sans walnuts and maybe just stir them in after I've defrosted them?

Any advice will be appreciated.

Inside me there is a thin woman screaming to get out, but I can usually keep the Bitch quiet: with CHOCOLATE!!!

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Wow that sounds so delicious and practical as well Kim.  I've never roasted turkey parts for gravy, but I think I'll have to try this.  I do have a question about the roux.  Can roux be made in advance and frozen?  Will you be adding the turkey drippings to the finished gravy? 

I was thinking of cooking and freezing my greens and maybe making the cranberry sauce in advance and freezing it, but wonder if the ingredients would suffer.  The ingredients are: cranberries of course, diced apples, golden and dark raisins, walnuts, orange juice and zest, cinnamon, sugar, pinch of salt.  Should I make this sans walnuts and maybe just stir them in after I've defrosted them?

Any advice will be appreciated.

Most cranberry sauce recipes have enough sugar and pectin in them to keep pretty well for a long time in the fridge. I wouldn't freeze it because I'd be afraid it would get ice crystals in it and then get watery when defrosted. I'd just make it up to two weeks in advance and keep it in back of the refrigerator. Defintely fold the walnuts in at the last minute so they stay crunchy.

I've never put fresh apples in mine, but my Cranberry-Orange Sauce with Grand Marnier has kept well for a couple of months the last several years. It does have fresh oranges and zest and I do put one envelope of unflavored gelatin in it so it thickens up right. Not sure if the liquor helps. :hmmm:

Nothing better than homemade cranberry sauce with roast chicken after Thanksgiving. :smile:

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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Katie, I don't know if you could freeze just the roux or not - I'll have to let someone else answer that one. But I ALWAYS make my cranberry sauce ahead of time (I made enough today for Thanksgiving and Christmas). My recipe is just a bag of cranberries, 1 c. sugar, 1 c. orange juice and the zest from one orange. It turns out perfectly when thawed. If I were using your recipe, I would add the walnuts before serving. That sounds like a wonderful recipe!

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Katie, I don't know if you could freeze just the roux or not - I'll have to let someone else answer that one.  But I ALWAYS make my cranberry sauce ahead of time (I made enough today for Thanksgiving and Christmas).  My recipe is just a bag of cranberries, 1 c. sugar, 1 c. orange juice and the zest from one orange.  It turns out perfectly when thawed.  If I were using your recipe, I would add the walnuts before serving.  That sounds like a wonderful recipe!

Kim:

My recipe is pretty similar to yours. I basically follow the recipe for cooked whole berry sauce on the back of the cranberry bag. I use two bags of cranberries, two cups of sugar, about 1 cup of orange juice (whatever half the volume of water called for is) with one envelope of unflavored gelatin melted into it, the zest of one whole orange and then I cut the rest of the pith off the now "naked" orange and run the segments through the processor and add that to the pot as well. Boil everything up, add about 1/2 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice and 1/2-2/3 cup of Grand Marnier to the hot sauce and mix well. Then I refrigerate everything until it "gels" up.

There's never any of this leftover. It's really good!

The other cranberry sauce recipe I keep going back to every year is Jalapeño-Cranberry Sauce from the FabulousFoods.com website. This one is particularly good with deep fried turkey, which my hosts make every year. The Fabulous Foods website has some pretty good recipes on it as well.

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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Thanks so much Katie and Kim for your advice.

Katie I love your advice and will definitely just make the cranberry sauce and park it in the back of the fridge, folding in the walnuts shortly before serving. And I never thought about substituting the orange juice for the water used as well as adding Gran Marnier; brilliant! I usually just use the juice of one orange, with the rest of liquid being water. As for the Gran Marnier, Kim why not, since sadly I'm the only one in my home that will eat this! :shock: The rest of my family doesn't care for it, even though perfect strangers :biggrin: who've tasted this say it's delicious, they still want the stuff from the can, which I must also admit I like as well. Also, pumpkin pie spice, well I never thought of that, but I think maybe with the apples and raisins that might be an improvement on just the cinnamon. Actually, I might just use a seasoning called apple pie spice made by McCormick that I have hanging out in my pantry right now. Thanks so much to the both of you.

Now, I hope someone could clue me in on making a roux and freezing it or maybe just store it in the refridgerator for a couple of weeks since Thanksgiving is rapidly approaching!

Thanks again.

Inside me there is a thin woman screaming to get out, but I can usually keep the Bitch quiet: with CHOCOLATE!!!

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Wow, you have all shamed me. I haven't even begun thinking about the menu yet (last time I looked it was August). November always sneaks up like that.

Making the gravy in advance is actually a brilliant idea, and it never occurred to me. I suppose it's the imagery of the gravy simmering on the stove while everyone is waiting, and I'm stealing the crispy turkey skin. :rolleyes:

I find that using turkey parts is indeed essential, though we usually use the giblets vs. wings and meaty parts. However, you've given me new inspiration, Kim. Thanks!

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Just got the menu of where I'm dining off the fax. O boy is this gonna be good.

Well..........aren't you going to tell us what's on the menu???? :raz:

I'll be dining at The Generals Daughter in Sonoma. Perhaps Preston could post the menu. Let's say it's California cusine with a southern twist. Stone ground creamy grits with wild mushrooms lemon and thyme and the Butter braised turkey breast, leg confit, spoonbread, truffle sauce, are a couple of choices. Along with Fried apple pies.

:biggrin:

Bruce Frigard

Quality control Taster, Château D'Eau Winery

"Free time is the engine of ingenuity, creativity and innovation"

111,111,111 x 111,111,111 = 12,345,678,987,654,321

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Thanks so much Katie and Kim for your advice.

Katie I love your advice and will definitely just make the cranberry sauce and park it in the back of the fridge, folding in the walnuts shortly before serving.  And I never thought about substituting the orange juice for the water used as well as adding Gran Marnier; brilliant!  I usually just use the juice of one orange, with the rest of liquid being water.  As for the Gran Marnier, Kim why not, since sadly I'm the only one in my home that will eat this! :shock:  The rest of my family doesn't care for it, even though perfect strangers  :biggrin: who've tasted this say it's delicious, they still want the stuff from the can, which I must also admit I like as well.  Also, pumpkin pie spice, well I never thought of that, but I think maybe with the apples and raisins that might be an improvement on just the cinnamon.  Actually, I might just use a seasoning called apple pie spice made by McCormick that I have hanging out in my pantry right now.  Thanks so much to the both of you.

Now, I hope someone could clue me in on making a roux and freezing it or maybe just store it in the refridgerator for a couple of weeks since Thanksgiving is rapidly approaching!

Thanks again.

Diva:

The Grand Marnier (I actually use Gran Gala which is a perfectly acceptable substitute) gives the sauce a depth of flavor and that je ne se quois that makes even cranberry sauce haters sit up and take notice. It's like sneaking a little crack into the sauce. :biggrin:

Hopefully you can get some converts from the can-shaped stuff. :shock:

I suspect the apple pie spice would work just as well as the pumpkin pie spice. I use the pumpkin because it's what's in my cupboard. Just a little bit though. The spice should be in the background. The tartness of the cranberries and sweetness of the oranges and Grand Marnier should be what compliments the turkey.

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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I'll be dining at The Generals Daughter in Sonoma. Perhaps Preston could post the menu. Let's say it's California cusine with a southern twist. Stone ground creamy grits with wild mushrooms lemon and thyme and the Butter braised turkey breast, leg confit, spoonbread, truffle sauce, are a couple of choices. Along with Fried apple pies.

:biggrin:

This sounds absolutely incredible! What a feast! Feel free to provide a post-Thanksgiving review! I would just love to hear about the grits, especially. :smile:

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Diva:

The Grand Marnier (I actually use Gran Gala which is a perfectly acceptable substitute) gives the sauce a depth of flavor and that je ne se quois that makes even cranberry sauce haters sit up and take notice.  It's like sneaking a little crack into the sauce. :biggrin:

Hopefully you can get some converts from the can-shaped stuff:shock:

I suspect the apple pie spice would work just as well as the pumpkin pie spice.  I use the pumpkin because it's what's in my cupboard.  Just a little bit though.  The spice should be in the background.  The tartness of the cranberries and sweetness of the oranges and Grand Marnier should be what compliments the turkey.

Thanks Katie. I've tried the Gran Gala and it's very tasty stuff. I like the idea of sneaking a little crack into the sauce! :biggrin:

My family is quite frustrating in that they want the same the darn stuff every year, bless their thick hard heads. My mother also used to add a twist to Thanksgiving which I may make ahead as well. I think about her a lot around this time of year. She would always make a small pot of sauerkraut seasoned simply, with onions and sometimes added some type of pork for seasoning, such as ham hocks. Sometimes I add sliced apples. This is an absolutely declicious accompaniment with the turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes and the rest, although when I tell this to most folks I usually get a weird look from them. :hmmm:

Inside me there is a thin woman screaming to get out, but I can usually keep the Bitch quiet: with CHOCOLATE!!!

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Kris, how does that freezing the cheesecakes work?  Do you have to make any adjustments to the recipe?  I'd love to hear about it.  I love cheesecake and freezing them for special occasions would be wonderful!

Freezing cheesecakes is a wonderful, wonderful thing! No recipe adjustments are necessary, but if you're putting a fruit or praline topping I would do that just before serving. Just freeze the cheesecake plain, without toppings.

After baking, once the cheesecake is fully cooled to room temp, I remove the ring from the springform pan and stick the cake into the freezer unwrapped. Once it's frozen solid, I gently pry the springform pan bottom away from the crust and wrap the cheesecake securely in aluminum foil. (It's a lot easier to pry the springform pan bottom off if you spray the pan with Pam before adding the crust and batter). The cheesecake can be frozen up to two months - although mine never last that long. :biggrin:

When you thaw it, you can do so overnight in the fridge. Although admittedly, I've thawed cheesecakes on the counter in a few hours. :wacko: Sometimes some condensation will form on top of the cheesecake, but that's no big deal. I just take a paper towel and dab it away.

Being able to make cheesecakes in advance is a real time saver when I'm doing my holiday cooking. I already have my Thanksgiving cheesecakes done (one pumpkin, one sweet potato). All I have to do is thaw and box up! And they're ready to go.

No change in the taste either...if you wrap it securely in foil this won't be a problem either.

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P.S. - I've already gotten a head start on my Christmas baking - I've made 12 fruitcakes already - the West Indian black cake style, not the regular English style fruitcake. 10 of them are already spoken for!

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We are cooking at home in Union, NJ. We are making the Turkey brining it and then putting butter under the skin etc. Last year we had it fried and it was really good but every year we go for something different. Bread, salad, and then the sides mashed potato, corn pudding, miniature veggies. Pumpkin pie and Birthday cake for my dd. Party of 8 people.

Hopefully it will turn out well. Happy thanksgiving

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We're going to the best deal in the Northeast :cool:

Peking Duck House in Closter on ? Piermont Road ?

I'd call them for info/directions or see their web site I guess! :blink:

Anyhow it's around 20.00 PP all you can eat traditional and chinese!

Turkey, Duck, Stuffing, Cranberry sauce, Salad, Soup, Sushi! lol - chinese food of all types, great desserts (about 6 different pies/cakes!) and more! I think they raised it to $20.99 per person this year and if you order 2 soda's that'd set you back about 50. per couple so that's not bad at all for a huge supper! Enjoy, I do! :wub::wub::wub:

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As always, at home with family.

We're going "retro" this year, with our favorites from the past years:

I will arrive at my brother's home in time for breakfast.

Cranberry Apricot Corn Muffins

Coffee

At noontime , to stave off hunger...lol we will have

Veuve Cliquot Champagne and a Leek, Prosciutto and Gruyere tart

Dinner will be:

Pumpkin Ravioli in Sage Butter

Mesclun Salad with Walnuts, Goat Cheese and Pomegrante Seeds

Brined Turkey with Shitake Mushroom Gravy

Sauteed Brussel Sprouts

Braised Red Cabbage with Red Wine

Roasted String Beans with Shallots

Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Bourbon Maple Syrup Butter and Pecans

Mashed White Potatoes ( for that delish gravy ;-) )

Grandma's Old Fashioned Stuffing ( This is a keeper)

Cranberry Sauce with Candied Ginger ( love this one!)

Fresh Cranberry Relish with Orange, Pineapple and Apple

Pumpkin Pie ( trying out Cook's Illustrated version)

Lattice Cranberry and Apple Pie

Dried Fruits and Nuts

Chestnuts

Bro is also trying out a new way to roast the Turkey this year. Roasting it at 450 degrees . We'll certainly be turning off the smoke alarms...lol

Not sure what specific red wines he's picked out, but I purchased a bottle of 2002 Rene Mure Reisling.

Hope yours is as wonderful as ours will be..

BTW All this food is for three people!!!!!!!

Edited by Cook456 (log)
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