Proposed Thanksgiving Menus

Discussion in 'Food & Cooking' started by boar_d_laze, Nov 10, 2011.

  1. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

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    There are already a few Thanksgiving threads, but I thought this one might synthesize some of what's going on.

    We're hosting Thanksgiving this year (and for many more to come, I hope.)  The weatherman says we can expect good weather, so we'll be eating on the patio.  As our dining room isn't that big, that makes things a lot easier.  

    We're expecting 12, including a child and a "tween."  Two of our adult guests are non-drinkers.  Service will be buffet.

    Our family situation has changed significantly over the past year, and we find ourselves putting together a newly blended group of family and friends.  My goal is to observe some old traditions and create some new ones, by going with a fairly traditional menu (everything from dead scratch except the pita chips, crackers and sourdough),

    Cutting to the chase, I'm asking for your reactions to my menu -- any suggestions or improvements -- as well as asking about your own plans.

    Proposed Thanksgiving Menu

    Cocktails:

    Choice of sparkling apple/cranberry juice or (shaken) Manhattans

    Appetizers:
    “Marcona” style almonds, cheese, grapes, terrine of chicken liver pate with cognac and truffles (grilled slices of sourdough baguette)
    Spinach and Artichoke dip, with pita chips
    Spiced cheese with “Stoned Wheat Thins”

    Salads:
    Cole slaw (sweetened rice vinegar/onion dressing), dried cranberries,  blue cheese and pecans    
    Sliced avocado, lime juice, salt.

    Bread Basket:
    Onion-dill rolls

    Sourdough bread

    Pumpkernickel rolls

    Main:
    Smoked Turkey
    Cornbread-pecan dressing
    Giblet gravy (with smoked drippings)
    Cranberry relish
    Green Beans in beurre noisette with almonds
    Mashed potatoes
    Glazed yams    
     

    Beverages:
    Schramsberg Mirabelle Brut (NV)
    Sparkling Cider
     

    Dessert:
    Pumpkin pie with bourbon and pecans, served with Chantilly

    Coffee service:  
    Espresso, cappuccino, latte, mocha or Mexican hot chocolate.

    So?

    BDL
     
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2011
  2. siduri

    siduri

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    OH!  Stoned wheat thins!!!!!!!  How i miss them!
     
  3. phatch

    phatch Moderator Staff Member

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    What do you do with your smoked turkey BDL? I've not smoked one of my own, but a lot of the ones I've eaten came out more like a turkey ham after the brine and smoking. What  do you do to avoid that?
     
  4. french fries

    french fries

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    Sounds great!! The only concern I have is with serving green beans with almonds, when you already serve almonds as an app. Personally I wouldn't add almonds to the beans. Chop up some garlic and parsley, and add them to your beurre noisette haricots verts during the last mn of cooking. Add some freshly squeezed lemon just before serving, or better yet, serve with lemon wedges. 

    Do you prepare glazed yams the same you would glazed carrots? Never tried that...

    And what is a cranberry relish? You've aroused my curiosity. 
     
  5. mister tailgate

    mister tailgate

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    BDL,

    Very nice...count me in for a Manhattan to start...

    The terrine sounds incredible.  I've been itching to make a chicken liver pate, and your decadent terrine inclusion really will start the meal off nicely.  Would love a picture of this and some of the other items, btw.  I like the traditional but "spiked" menu theme.  Good list of items that are ok for the less adventurous palate, but some really interesting options for those looking to be "wowed."  I am trying to look for something to add...and the only thing that I would consider is a different dessert option...I have two family members that won't touch pumpkin pie, so we always have some different desserts.  A homemade chocolate creme pie has been a hit the past few years at our gig, and I see you have the Mexican hot chocolate to satisfy the choco-holics.  Nice.

    I really like the slaw/smoked turkey pairing.  I am imagining a "round 2" episode of smoked turkey breast and slaw on homemade pumpernickel at, oh, 9pm?

    I expect that your menu will be a crowd-pleaser.  It looks like a "fun" one to cook too, not mundane, not too intensive, good selection of items you can make well in advance.  I get an odd feeling that this isn't your first shindig.../img/vbsmilies/smilies/smile.gif

    Thanks for sharing...and FYI, being in Upstate NY, our T-day will definitely NOT be on my outdoor patio...enjoy!
     
  6. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

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    Phatch wrote:
    A few things.  I don't burn smokewood throughout the duration of the smoke, but only during the first half.  I use lighter woods -- no hickory, no mesquite, no walnut.  Pecan, fruitwood, alder, pecan and fruitwood in combination, or fruitwood mixed with oak are the best choices; this bird will be cooked over two splits of peach and one of oak.  I cook at moderate (as opposed to low and slow) temperatures, usually around 275F (not 225F) .  The first two things are the most important to controlling smoke taste, and the third helps quite a bit.   

    Citrus and herbs help cut the smoke flavor.  Sometimes I use my "All Citrus Brine" made from bottled orange juice, bottled grapefruit juice, commercial lemonade, commercial limeade, onions and salt; but most Thanksgivings use a kosher bird instead of doing my own brining.  Either way I stuff the cavity with whole rosemary branches, sprigs of thyme and a variety of citrus.  Rubbing butter and herbs between skin and meat helps control the taste of the breast, as well as keeping it rich and moist.  I may add truffle slices as well, but am not promising.

    Glazing the bird with something which has a definite flavor also helps.  For Thanksgiving, I go maple/black pepper -- the same glaze I use for Christmas salmon.  Maple syrup (real), butter, fresh cracked pepper, splash of bourbon, pinch of attitude. 

    The worst thing about smoking turkey is the pitiful quality of the skin.  I tighten it up with a torch after the bird is out of the smoker and before it goes in the cooler for resting; it helps, but the skin is still a little flabby.  Fortunately, the only places where the skin is important are the legs and wings. 

    _____________________

    French Fries said:
    Echoing flavors during a big meal helps tie things together.  Haricot vert almondine is something of a classic and a chance to work some garlic into the menu, but your suggestion looks at least as good.

    BDL
     
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2011
  7. french fries

    french fries

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    I hear you. It's a concern, not a problem. I'd never heard of haricots verts amandine before this post. 

    So what about that cranberry relish? And glazed sweet potatoes? Care to share what they are/how they're made? I'm curious!! :)

    Thanks BDL. 
     
  8. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

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    Cranberry relish is much the same as cranberry sauce, but chunkier and not as liquid.  Basically just cranberries cooked in a sweet liquid, with the liquid either reduced or otherwise thickened at the end.  I'll most likely use orange juice, but am still in the "roughing in" planning phase and remain open.   

    Glazed yams:  Bake the yams until just done (but not mushy); peel if desired; slice about 1" thick, place in a single layer in a baking dish, cover generously with a glazing sauce.  Here, I'll probably use a sauce made from honey, molasses, butter and bourbon or cognac.  Just enough booze for complexity, not enough to make the yams taste funny to the kids or tee-totalers (four of our twelve).

    BDL
     
  9. french fries

    french fries

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    I see. I suppose Cranberry relish is what I've always been making without knowing it then. /img/vbsmilies/smilies/smile.gif
    Wow that sounds really interesting, and here again, something I've never heard of. Something I'll have to try! 

    Thanks a lot for sharing. 
     
  10. durangojo

    durangojo

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    great menu and a wonderful time will had by all for sure .  i'm sure that you and linda are fabulous hosts, and what fun it will be to sit on your patio for the feast in sunny california....if you're really asking for opinions and not just approval i have a few...as a woeful woman who worries about ounces turning into pounds it would be nice to have a few fresh baby vegetables as an appetizer(sugar snaps, radishes, jicama,either with your green goddess dressing, or you could also serve them alongside your pita chips and the spinach dip...just something fresh and crunchy ..then another just simple straight unadorned vegetable...no sauce, no butter(well, maybe a smidgen), no crumbs...just beautifully and simply roasted or peas and pearl onions would be retro enough for you wouldn't it.?.dessert...only one kind of pie pie...hmmmm. a rustic apple tart  or pecan pie perhaps?...nice thing about pumpkin pie is that you don't have to even chew...it just slides right down!

    for a cranberry relish...i think i pretty much take mine off the bag of canberries with a  twist or two or i think it's martha's...the cranberriers are not cooked...just process(pulsed) with some orange zest,pecans if you like and a splash of grandmarnier or whatever orange liqueur you have on hand and cinnamom or clove...it's a wonderfully tart relish and takes 5 minutes....don't think you should replace your relish... maybe serve two types...a sauce and a relish

    wine...no red...what about a cava dry rose.?....just a thought.......no port with dessert?

    are you making those breads migo...nice.......just a truly nice and special day you'll have.....i do dishes!!!

    joey

    p.s. and what music will you be listening to?
     
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2011
  11. mister tailgate

    mister tailgate

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    My wife makes a kick a$$ cranberry relish, for two years now.  She has been modifying it a little each year, but I think the jist is cranberries (cooked in liquid like BDL notes--just until they start to pop), apples, orange zest, walnuts, and a little gelatin to hold it together...not so much that it becomes JELLO, but it helps give it a nice consistency.  I am probably butchering her recipe...but we love it.  A nice twist on cranberry sauce and SO good...

    Glazed yams sound nice...

    LOVING this Thanksgiving chat, BTW.

    Mr. Tailgate
     
     
  12. chefedb

    chefedb

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    BDL  Nice Menu

    My 2011 sweet potato 3 sweets boiled al dente cool then peel cut in 1 inch dice

     SWEET KABOBS

    1 can pineapple chunks  

    1 can  comstock cooked sliced apples

    Marashinno cherries or any ther peeled pitted cherry

    pitted prunes or spiced apple rings

    about 8 bamboo skewers  Soaked in water for 1/2 hour

      Alternate all of the above on skewers ,put in baking dish

    top with your favorite glaze and bake till glaze sticks or save all juices and reduce with some spice to make a glaze(I add some maple syrup)

    Reason I like these is you don't have to figure amounts it's 1 per person and its neat and clean
     
  13. chefedb

    chefedb

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    aPALM BEACH TROPICS. CRANBERRY RELISH

    2 Pkg (24 ounces fresh crans.

    1 can Pineapple tidbits or chunks

    1 large orange peeled de veined and seeded

    8 -10 marischino cherries rinsed

    1 1/2 cups sugar

    1 apple peeled

    1/2 cup orange juice

    Pulse pine, cherries, orange , apple till chopped  coarsly

         Cook berries in juice from pineapple, and whatever juice comes out of orange and  1 cup water   and the 1/2 cup OJ and sugar. Bring to simmer add everything else and bring to boil stir well  and cook  4-5 min.,let stand in pot a while till room temp or warm ,then cool in fridge.

        You can serve individual in a hollowed out scalloped orange or just in a serving dish garnished with orange slices.

    I have also added yellow plumped raisins and sprinkled the top with chopped pecans,but some people do not like raisins and are allergic to nuts
     
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2011
  14. petalsandcoco

    petalsandcoco

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    Chef BDL,,

    Your proposed meal sounds terrific. I would not change a thing. You have every item paired just nicely, as someone who pays attention to detail , you have it well covered.

    So that is my reaction. If I had lived closer to you, I would have loved to have chopped beside you. You will have a lovely dinner party.
     
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2011
  15. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

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    Durangojo -- You're a tough boss.  I love your suggestions, but they add a lot of work.  Don't forget, I'm lazy.

    I love the chile gravy recipe.  I'll make it. but not for this meal.  It's pull to a different sensibility is too strong, and it would be a complication on a plate which already has a lot of things.  The next time I do brisket, or maybe for the "extra" turkey (I'll make two).

    If I were going to add another sauce, it would probably be a mushroom cream, probably a mix of chantrelles, crimnini, miyataki, oyster and shitake.  If the main could use anything it's more vegetables, and mushrooms are like a vegetable.  Right?   We suffered through my sister's horrible version for years, and there would be a certain schadenfreude in doing it right.   How she managed to screw it up is beyond me.   However the gravy made with smoked drippings has a constituency of people who try to bathe in it, and might be enough.

    Choice of cranberries, eh?  Maybe.  I could make both on Tuesday, so not overwhelming.  I'll make the bread doughs Tuesday evening let them "retarded" rise overnight, and bake on Wednesday. 

    The chocolate bourbon pie is a good idea but I'm already baking two different breads and scratch making two bourbon/pecan pumpkin pies on Wednesday.  Plus doing a lot of other stuff, not counting the things Linda will invent.  Plus, plus I need something without booze for the kids and non-drinkers.  Maybe pull the bourbon from the pie and make a Mexican chocolate mousse with rum?    Maybe leave the bourbon in the pie and make a pineapple flan? (H/t Ed.) Whatever it is, it needs to be easy.  Wednesday is a lot of work so Thursday doesn't have to be.

    I'm always amazed at how similar our approaches are but how we land in different places. 

    Chef Petals -- Thank you.  It means a lot coming from you. We also have similar approaches and cooking philosophies.  I'd love to share a kitchen with you and Durangojo both. 

    Chef Ed -- You like lots of pineapple my friend.  Who doesn't?  Interesting connection with pineapple and traditional American foods.  Maybe KY will talk about it.

    Tailgate -- You have high standards, so the compliments mean a lot coming from you as well.   

    Thank you to everyone for the feedback, keep it coming.  You're helping fill in the blanks. 

    BDL
     
  16. koukouvagia

    koukouvagia

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    Mmmm save me a seat I've never had smoked turkey sounds like my kind of meal.  I usually skip the turkey and head straight for the ham so this might be even better and more fitting. 

    When I think of Thanksgiving I'm envisioning a fall harvest and like to include ingredients like leeks and mushrooms as well.  Your avocado salad is throwing me for a loop, what's in it and are avocados in season in California?

    Pumpkin pie goes without saying but I can't tolerate just one dessert.  I want apple pie too :)
     
  17. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

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    Avocado season here runs from January 30 to January 29.  Avocados; thin sliced (soaked in ice water) red onions, fresh lime juice, best olive oil, salt, chile de arbol. 

    OK, you guys are beating me down.  I'll think about apple pie, apple tart, or tarte tatin.  It means doubling the dough recipe on Tuesday night, for a Wednesday assembly, roll-out and bake; but otherwise it's just slicing apples, and not exactly the end of the world.  FWIW, I make over-filled, high-rise apple pie, if you like that sort of thing.  A tart or tarte tatin would look prettier on the sideboard but not as homey.  Creme anglaise from scratch, or "lazy man's?"  Hmmm.

    BDL
     
  18. siduri

    siduri

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    I never celebrated Thanksgiving since I moved away,  and it was never a holiday i enjoyed as a kid (no presents, no tree, no candles, it was just the annoying drone of football games, a ton of dishes for me to wash, and all the men of the house sleeping on the couch in a cloud of cigar smoke!).  Coming to Italy, it was just another thursday and whole turkeys were unavailable and not having ever liked the holiday i never missed it.  But, BDL, your menu would make even jaded, cynical me hope for an invitation. 

    Your menu sounds superb, of course.  I just got stuck at the stoned wheat thins, which are one of the few things (along with thomas english muffins and the possibility of getting a large cup of american coffee to go) that i sorely miss living here.  There is no substitute for stoned wheat thins.

    But for feedback, the only thing that seems strange to me is the cole slaw.  It feels too summery to me (though I know you;re in California).  In any case, in a heavy meal like that, i would appreciate a nice mixed salad at the end of it, to sort of clear things up, cutting the richness with something sharp and crispy. 
     
  19. durangojo

    durangojo

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    sorry bdl,

     i rewrote my post without telling you so your post will look disconnected. after thinking about your very long list of things to shop for, prep and cook, i didn't want to add any more work for you. are you farming any of this out or are you and linda doing it all? yo, you have a busy few weeks ahead of you....the cranberry sauce you could make today if you like...it freezes well....  the relish has to be made day of or day before as it gets soggy, but the good news is that it only takes a few minutes...takes longer to clean the fp than to make it, if that helps...me say no to the creamy mushrooms and yes to something green...how hard can peas and pearl onions be?  s&p and a bit of butter, dry vermouth...thyme? mint? classic retro pearl onions are creamy as you know, but i like them unadulterated.... please, no pineapple...sorry chefed i think that pineapple has no place on a plate, especially a thanksgiving one....

    just a thought...maybe make one of the pumpkin pies w/o the booze for the little ones...sorry pineapple flan sounds awful...do kids even like pineapple?...kids like ice cream....sounds like a weird question, but what kind of china...formal? just curious, that's all...

    joey

    just as a total aside and a different way to skin the cat, what about a plated salad?...baby greens, pears, apples, cranberries, spiced pecans... roastsed raspberry vinaigrette....that kind of thing...it's a little more work on the outside, but it's so nice to sit down to a beautiful plated salad with some wonderful fresh breads...as guests are done with their salads they can get up for the main....as i said, just a thought.....
     
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2011
  20. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

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    China?  Good question.  Besides the everyday stuff, we have 8 settings of Villeroy and Boch Basket which I bought 30 years ago and like tremendously.

    [​IMG]

    Also, we recently inherited (not quite) 10 settings of (my mother's) Royal Doulton Adrian,

    [​IMG]

    and that's Linda's favorite. 

    We can't do 12 with just one pattern, so we'll mix those two along with a lot of motley wood, porcelain, china, stainless, plate and silver serving pieces.  A lot of that stuff is in the garage, so organizing that is in the plans for next week.

    As of the moment, Linda intends to do the stuffing and maybe something else; but the road to hell is paved with good intentions.  I usually end end up doing all the prep according to her instructions, or just doing it all.  She's a lot better than me at set up, making the house inviting and all that stuff, so it evens out.  The trick is nailing down who's doing what enough ahead so there aren't last minute surprises.  

    Minted peas is a good idea, and very easy.   We have beaucoup mint plants in the back yard, they scent the patio.  Yes to that. 

    Cole slaw is admittedly unusual, but Linda wants it.   Boar only pawn in game of life.  Besides, it will go very well preceding the smoked turkey along with the onion dill rolls.

    BDL
     
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2011