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Thanksgiving Menu and Review – 2017
We have finally cleared out all of the turkey leftovers. I love turkey, especially how versatile it is. But, honestly, after an entire week it gets a bit repetitive. We did hot open sandwiches on delicious toasted sourdough bread. We did turkey chili with butternut squash…turkey soup, pesto turkey and pasta… and on and on. I did freeze some of the soup so it will come in handy later.
Although my sister hosted, we had a potluck arrangement since we are all super busy. It worked out pretty well with an early dinner with enough time between dinner and dessert to make some room.
So much turkey!
We actually did two 20-lb turkeys this year because we didn’t know who were going to have last minute. Dear hubby made has been obsessed with the turkey fryer using peanut oil so that’s been his responsibility the past two years. There is something with guys and gadgets. Throw in some fire and meat on the bone and they can be in 7th Heaven.
The second turkey we cooked in the grill. This was a great trick passed on to us from my mom. We use a disposable aluminum pan for the turkey, throw in some wine, onions, oranges, and rosemary, and keep the grill going at 350F for about three 1/2 hours. It’s amazing and saves a lot of room in the oven. This year, I tried brining for the first time.
Frankly, the idea of brining always sounded like a huge ordeal. Other recipes talked about keeping the turkey outside in a cooler and needing to constantly take the temperature and add ice…it just frankly sounded like. too much.
But this recipe from Pioneer Woman for her Favorite Brining Recipe sounded delicious and achievable. Even better, we were able to use the generic brining bag from the regular grocery store, take out one of the refrigerator shelves, and rotate the bag after about 8 hours.
On the side, we had vegan green bean casserole (upcoming post)*, mom’s famous stuffing with apricots soaked in Grand Marnier, mashed potatoes, butternut squash/pineapple and roasted pecan casserole, homemade cranberry sauce*, apple pie*, pumpkin pudding. (*what I brought)
For the apple pie, I tried a frozen gluten-free pie crust for the first time. It was a disaster. Normally, you need to let the frozen crusts get closer to room temperature to be able to crimp the two layers. But this particular brand just completely crumbled. Well, mushed is more like it.
So, I tried to save it. I smushed the pieces together and rolled it out. Then I used some small cookie cutters to decorate the top and cover the -ahem- less desirable sections. Normally, my Thanksgiving philosophy is to avoid any special ‘diet’ steps. This year was an exception though as my sister and I are trying to avoid full gluten for health reasons. (That’s a whole other story.) Lesson learned but one of my 2018 resolutions is to perfect pie crusts.
Homemade Cranberry Sauce
For the cranberry sauce, I’ve made the Williams Sonoma Apple-Orange Cranberry sauce for the past couple of years. It’s not very complicated but it did take me a few years to perfect. And you can make it a day or two ahead of the big day! With a few tweaks, it’s now the perfect blend of tart and sweet. Here’s what I did:
- Double the recipe to make sure there’s enough for 7 people and for leftovers.
- Be sure to trim the white membrane away from the orange rind as much as possible. It will be bitter if you don’t take it off.
- Cook the diced rind in apple cider.
- Instead of discarding the water (or apple cider) you cooked the rind in, add it to the pot to cook with the cranberries. The recipe doesn’t call for this liquid but I found that it needed more liquid to cook the cranberries down some more and the apple cider was perfect.
- Add a little more cinnamon. (This is really one of my life rules. Cinnamon is my BFF.)
Thank goodness for recipe notes!
Honestly, it’s taken me a couple of Thanksgivings to get this recipe down. Thank goodness for my notes! I’ll show you a picture soon. Don’t be afraid to write on those print-outs or even in your cookbook. They aren’t library books!
They are essentially living histories of your life moments. Think about how many birthdays, holidays, and special occasions were fed by those pages and your hard work. My hubs has even made a note in our Joy of Cooking under the bacon meatloaf. Every time he made it, he had to add about 30 minutes at a much higher temperature. And I will always treasure a recipe of thumbprint cookies with my grandmother’s notes.
So, don’t fret about some small gravy stains, write those notes, and think about the ‘love notes’ you’re leaving your family. And, next year, you’ll be glad you did!
How was your holiday?