Thanksgiving Dinner Dreams and Schemes
I finally started planning my Thanksgiving dinner. Last night. This is unusual for me. Most years, I have an airtight plan prepared about three weeks out. But hey, I’ve been busy this year. Also – my Thanksgiving dinners are pretty low stress since they’re for only six people. I don’t ever have to worry about not having enough food. On the contrary, we usually always have way too much. Luckily, I’m completely content eating leftovers all through the long weekend.
After much consideration, here’s what I’m planning to make this year. Now, I very rarely print recipes and follow them to a tee. But these are the loose guidelines I’ll be using to prepare my feast.
- Simple Appetizers – I’ll be honest, I don’t really like messing around with appetizers for Thanksgiving. I don’t want people to spoil their dinners, and I want to focus my cooking attention on the main event. This year, I plan to put out some sausage, cheese and crackers from Harry & David and call it good.
- Sourdough, Wild Mushroom & Bacon Dressing by Bobby Flay – I usually put mushrooms in with the green beans, but this year, it’s going in the stuffing! I also rarely (or ever?) use bacon in my Thanksgiving dinner, so this should be interesting.
- Sauteed Apples with Thyme by Martha Stewart – I won’t need to follow the “recipe” for this at all. It’s a simple five-minute dish that can be prepared at the last moment while the turkey is being carved. I just thought that since apples pair so wonderfully with roasted pork, they’d work pretty well alongside turkey, too. And it’s not like they’ll be a shortage of fresh herbs in the kitchen.
Middle Row, Left To Right
- Cranberry Compote with Riesling and Pears by Williams-Sonoma Kitchen – My mom is one of the few people around my Thanksgiving table who likes cranberry sauce. She also loves riesling wine, so this one seemed like a no-brainer. Just need to pick up some star anise pods, and I’m all set.
- Good Eats Roast Turkey by Alton Brown – Remember when I interviewed Alton? I almost ended up mumbling something about how I use his turkey recipe every year, and it’s the best turkey ever. It is. Also, this recipe sets some sort of world record for fastest turkey cooking ever. The recipe says it takes 2-1/2 hours to cook, but last year, our turkey was done in 1 hour, 55 minutes. Seriously. A 14-pound bird cooked in under 2 hours. So fast, so tasty.
- How To Make Gravy Without A Recipe by Food52 – I just wing the gravy. And to be honest, some years it turns out better than others. One year, it was all thick and gloppy. My goal for this year is to just get the damn gravy right, by using these tips. I’m starting with homemade turkey stock, which should help the flavor situation.
Bottom Row, Left To Right
- Sour Cream Mashed Potatoes by Bon Appetit – Have potato ricer, will travel. It’s pretty hard to mess up mashed potatoes when you’re using cream, milk, sour cream AND butter, right? Hey, I literally make mashed potatoes once a year. I’m doing it right.
- Apple-Walnut Galette by Food Network Magazine – I’ve been making this for the past three years, and everybody seems to love it. The homemade walnut butter really makes it. While I love the rustic nature of a galette, I may make it in a tart pan for a prettier, more formal presentation this year.
- Brûléed Bourbon-Maple Pumpkin Pie by Bon Appetit- It’s a pumpkin pie. With bourbon. And maple syrup. And I get to use my blowtorch, which is one of my favorite activities. How can I go wrong with this? I’ll be using regular pie crust instead of the chocolate, though. There’s 364 other days of the year to eat chocolate. I don’t eat it at Thanksgiving.
- Green Beans – My dad is makin’ these! Last I heard, he was thinking something along the lines of Green Bean Salad with Basil, Balsamic and Parmesan.
- Roasted Sweet Potatoes – My mother-in-law always makes these, and tosses them with pecans. No marshmallows in sight. You guys know how I feel about marshmallows.
- Dinner Rolls with Parmesan-Chive Compound Butter – My mother-in-law also makes her famous bread rolls, and I whip up a simple flavored butter for spreading. Compound butter is a five-minute activity, but it really seems special when it’s out on the table.
- Kale Salad with Lemon-Tahini Dressing – I know many would disagree, but I feel that Thanksgiving isn’t complete without a salad. I love one with a bright, acidic dressing that cuts through all the richness on the plate.