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Here is the way I like to make Thanksgiving dinner.  (I'm sure everyone lies awake at night thinking, 'I wonder what FightingRegistrar cooks for Thanksgiving.')

1.  The Turkey.

Personally, I like a 12 pounder or less because I don't like having leftovers for like ten weeks after Thanksgiving.  Even with a large group of people, I wouldn't personally go over a 14 pounder.  The only time I have ever run out of turkey at Thanksgiving dinner was when I threw a Thanksgiving Party, inviting just 8 people, but 17 guests somehow showed up.  Word of mouth?

Does anyone else out there like using a brine?  I swear by this technique.  Basically, you need some sort of saucepan or bucket or other large container that is big enough to fit the entire turkey inside of it.  Once the turkey is placed inside, you fill the container with water and pour in roughly equal amounts of salt and sweet.  I use honey or maple syrup and of course regular table salt.  The salt draws the moisture out of the bird initially, but given enough time, the salt reintroduces moisture, and whatever flavors you've put into your brine, back into the bird.  It sounds strange, but it works via osmosis.  You can put any flavor you want into your brine actually.  I just like mine sweet because I like the taste of a sweet turkey breast.  Don't worry, the meat will not taste like a dessert or anything like that.  It's a pretty mild flavor, but a brine makes the turkey moist and tasty.  The important thing is that you follow the recipe of whatever brine you have chosen, because if you take the bird out too soon, you will end up with a dry bird.  

Generally, you want to bake a turkey at 325.  It's easy to find a chart on how long to bake a turkey just by googling it.  An 8 pound stuffed turkey should take about three hours.  A 12 pound stuffed turkey takes about 4 hours.  I have a friend who cooks his turkey all night long at about 225.  The only thing that matters is that the internal temperature of the bird (or the center of the stuffing) reaches about 165 degrees, after having been allowed to rest for about 15-30 minutes.  This is very important!  Letting the bird rest before carving allows moisture to get reabsorbed into the meat and it also allows the temperature to continue to rise a bit after you've taken the bird out of the oven.  A stuffed turkey will usually take 30 to 60 minutes longer to bake than an unstuffed turkey.  

During the baking process, I like to baste the turkey, using the juices from the turkey itself.  Sometimes, I will mix the juices with a little milk or cream and some garlic.  I guess I would say that I don't begin the basting until about two hours into the cooking and then for about each 30 minutes thereafter.

2.  The Stuffing.

Mmmmmmm..... stuffing is very yummy.  I noticed in a recent online article that Pepperidge Farm stuffing won a taste test of all major brands.  I've never used that brand so I will have to give it a try.  You can make homemade stuffing by toasting/baking bread and then cutting it into tiny pieces.  A lot of people like to mix carrots, onions, and celery with their stuffing.  I'm not a huge fan of onions in my stuffing so I skip that step lol.  I do love pearl onions though, which I will get into later.  In any case, stuffing is usually just a mixture of bread pieces, butter, veggies, and seasonings.

3.  Sweet Potatoes.

I really prefer to buy sweet potatoes raw from the produce section.  Canned ones are okay, but I always feel the need to doctor them up.  As far as raw ones go, you can peel them, cut them up, and boil them, or you can just stick them in the oven, skin and all, and bake them for about an hour at 350.  They get very soft on the inside just by baking them.  The also get very sweet that way.  My preference is to peel them, cut them up, and boil them until they are soft.  Then I drain the water and mix the sweet potato pieces with butter, syrup, and cinnamon.  They're so damn yummy.  By the way, in general, I prefer the orange ones over the yellow ones, but both are very tasty.  A lot of people believe that sweet potatoes and yams are the same thing, but that is a debate for another day.  According to my scientist friend, real actual yams are rarely found in the US.  But I digress.

4.  Pearl Onions.

Everyone has their non-Thanksgiving-y kind of food item they love on Thanksgiving and mine is caramelized pearl onions.  For this recipe, you need both colors - white and red (purple).  There are many recipes online for this.  Generally, you will use a balsamic vinegar in which to stew and caramelize the onions.  Of course, you can add whatever seasonings you like.  I just love caramelized pearl onions.

5.  Asparagus.

Asparagus is extremely good for you because it is packed with antioxidants.  I like to pan-sear or braise asparagus in a little butter along with garlic.  But don't overcook or you will have the dreaded limp asparagus!  I actually like my asparagus a little undercooked or firm when I bite into it.

6.  Mashed Potatoes.

Who doesn't like mashed potatoes?  I like mine skin-on but different strokes for different folks.  I use lots and lots of butter.  You can never overstir or overmash mashed potatoes.  In fact, the consistency of mashed potatoes at most fine dining restaurants is that of, dare I say, malt-o-meal.  I like to use half-and-half or heavy cream instead of milk.  And of course, I'm a hard core garlic addict.

7.  Bean Casserole.

I have never made green bean casserole, although I do like it when other people make it, which they sometimes do when I have Thanksgiving at my place.

8.  Cranberries.

I always buy the canned, gelatinous cranberries.  It's just habit, I guess.  But fresh cranberries are very beautiful and can easily be the most eye-catching dish you will serve.

9.  Pumpkin Pie.

Okay, who doesn't like pumpkin pie?  I usually throw in an extra pinch or two of cinnamon.  I like my pumpkin pie spicy!  Every once in a while, I will serve it when it's still a bit warm, with a dollop of vanilla ice cream or cool whip.  Yum.  

10.  What else is there?  I guess a lot of people have dinner rolls, or brussel sprouts, or corn, or apple pie.  I'm just writing about what I usually have.  Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.  You don't have to worry about gift-giving and all the drama that that entails, for instance.  It's just a whole day devoted to giving thanks for what you have, being with family and friends, and cooking up some kick ass food.  

UPDATE

11.  Okay, I forgot to talk about the appetizers/things to nibble on before Thanksgiving.  And I forgot one of my favorite things!  Deviled Eggs!  Yum yum yum.  I make deviled eggs to eat around lunchtime along with a relish plate of cornichons, baby dill pickles, olives, and crackers and cheese.  I live for Thanksgiving!

What does everyone here have to drink?  Usually I have sparkling apple cider.  I like a glass of white wine as well or a hard apple cider.

Originally posted to FightingRegistrar on Wed Nov 21, 2012 at 05:50 PM PST.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

Poll

What is your favorite dish at Thanksgiving?

13%26 votes
46%92 votes
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7%15 votes
2%5 votes
0%1 votes
4%9 votes
0%0 votes
7%14 votes
2%4 votes
1%3 votes
1%2 votes
3%6 votes
2%4 votes
3%7 votes

| 197 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  we are having tacos with ground turkey filling (16+ / 0-)

    and refried beans...yum!

    An idea is not responsible for who happens to be carrying it at the moment. It stands or falls on its own merits.

    by don mikulecky on Wed Nov 21, 2012 at 05:57:22 PM PST

  •  It's the perfect day too for all Obama (18+ / 0-)

    supporters to take a moment and raise a toast to the re-election of our president.

    Mission Accomplished.

    Other than that, it sounds like you're having a lovely Thanksgiving dinner.

    On my list of things to bring is vanilla ice cream, which I just sat down and little by little, ate most of. LoL.

  •  I voted for asparagus (11+ / 0-)

    because it is my favorite.

    Thanks for sharing your diary with us. I wrote a similar one. It's fun to see what people are cooking.

  •  We're Doing a Cornish Game Hen Because Herself (10+ / 0-)

    is mostly vegetarian any more, and my meat portions are small. An entire turkey for the 2 of us would have leftovers frozen so long that there'd be a lot of freezer burn.

    I'll be brining the bird for 4 hours beginning in the morning tomorrow, inside a ziploc freezer bag since it's 1 pound hen. We like to add lemon juice to our brine.

    Also I baste the skin with olive oil that has a lot of fine popcorn salt, garlic powder, paprika and some ground up dried garden herbs like basil and a little thyme.

    The first brine we did was a turkey and it was Alton Brown's recipe I think posted here at dKos, or maybe it was the early Dean campaign blog. To minimize the amount of fixings, we put the bird in a stout garbage bag, put that into a garbage can and filled it with ice cubes and water so that the freezer bag was against the bird, then poured in our brine mix into the bag & tied it airtight against the bird. A brick on the bag held the bird immersed, and midway through I flipped the bird over vertically so that the brine had a chance to fully penetrate both ends.

    After that, we usually brine poultry, it's a great approach.

    It also helps to have an accurate digital probe thermometer when cooking. I set the probe on the rack for the first 30-40 minutes to be sure I've got the oven temperature I want, then I pull it out, and I don't insert it into the bird until it's within 20-30 minutes of expectable finish time. I've found that the probe conducts heat into the meat leaving a tunnel of well-done meat and I worry that it'll give a premature reading. Also it tends to leak juice if it's in for the entire cooking period.

    When I cook various foods low and slow at 250° or so, I've never seen it rise in temperature after removing from the oven, even if I tent it in aluminum foil for 15-20 minutes. So if you're doing that, my experience suggests you should leave it in the oven till you get the exact peak internal temperature you want.

    Happy eating to everyone tomorrow or whatever day you have your feast.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Wed Nov 21, 2012 at 06:05:38 PM PST

  •  My sister didn't have the traditional get-together (20+ / 0-)

    this year with tons of family, and I'm skipping one of my niece's houses that we were invited to, so I just opted for my wife and I staying home and me cooking. This is good because I won't eat as much and won't drink as much wine.
    When I'm at a big table with a lively group and good food I always go overboard.

    My wife doesn't eat turkey, so I'm making all the other traditional fixin's and something substituted for turkey for her.

    I bought some carved turkey from a steam-table deli for myself so I can have that turkey taste. (Although to me thanksgiving is really stuffing and mashed potatoes and cranberry and pumpkin pie. I don't even need the meat anymore.) I'll heat up the turkey tomorrow and ladle some turkey gravy over it.

    I'll enjoy preparing all the other stuff. That's what I'm looking forward to. That plus the fact that it's just my wife and I and a much less hectic day.  We just celebrated our 29th anniversary last Monday and we're calling this dinner a continuation of that day. It's a good week.

    Happy day, all.

    "There's a lot to be said for making people laugh. Did you know that that's all some people have? It isn't much, but it's better than nothing in this cockeyed caravan." --Joel McCrea as "Sully," in "Sullivan's Travels."

    by Wildthumb on Wed Nov 21, 2012 at 06:12:32 PM PST

  •  Pepperidge Farm stuffing is good (11+ / 0-)

    I like sage and oysters in my stuffing.  While basting the turkey, I always put some of the drippings in the stuffing.  I also make my mom's recipe for fresh cranberry relish: cranberries ground up w/ sugar, oranges and pecans. It actually tastes better after sitting in the fridge a day or so.

    Today I made fresh vanilla ice cream and pumpkin pies.  Tomorrow I'll do the rest.  

    Home made turkey gravy is also a must.

    Thanks for the info about the brine. I've heard others talk of this method and I may give it a try next time.  It sounds good!

    Please stand by. I'm looking for a new sig line.

    by Betty Pinson on Wed Nov 21, 2012 at 06:21:44 PM PST

    •  Have cut up sage and thyme and (4+ / 0-)

      rosemary for the herbed whole wheat rolls, and gravies. Fresh from the garden!

      Everybody always asks me what 'special' way I cook turkey so it tastes so herb-alicious, but I just cook 'em. 20 minutes a pound, some foil tent for the main part and then let them brown. No spices or salt or butter or such - spoon juices over occasionally. It's a turkey. Cook it until it's done.

      Then go hog wild with the gravies or the break/cornbread and the taters and whatever. Guess that's what I get for not eating meat except on Thanksgiving/Christmas. It's just turkey. Max out your tastes on the 'else' and it usually works out okay... §:o)

    •  Your menu sounds good (though quite different (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      FightingRegistrar

      from mine. ) Fresh, home-made ice cream--wow!
      Problem with brining is that you can't make gravy with the pan drippings. That rules it out for me.

      I'm seeking to organize DKos members in SE Michigan--roughly, from the Ohio line at Lake Erie NE to Port Huron, W to Flint and back S from there. If you'd like to join our new group, Motor City Kossacks (working title), please Kosmail me.

      by peregrine kate on Thu Nov 22, 2012 at 06:55:06 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Our menu: (4+ / 0-)

    Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, creamed corn, squash, green bean casserole, salad, rolls, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie and pecan pie.  Nibbles include: cheese ball and crackers, veggies and dill dip, guacamole and scoops and a big bowl of punch.  We will probably watch a little Lions football and play Pictionary or some other games.  It is supposed to be a nice sunny day - maybe we'll all walk along the river too.  Have a very thankful Thanksgiving !

    Gravitation cannot be held responsible for people falling in love. - Einstein

    by moose67 on Wed Nov 21, 2012 at 06:24:00 PM PST

  •  Re: Brine, I swear by this technique, also (8+ / 0-)

    The article I read recommends 2/3 cup of salt to a gallon of water, but I use 1/2 cup per gal.  And as noted  equal parts of sugar as the salt - and all the other stuff as noted in the diary.

    Also, brine in cold water for at least six hours - I brine over night, take bird out and let rest in frig for another night.  I think the resting part is important, but I forgot what the article recommended - maybe six hours.

    .....but a brine makes the turkey moist and tasty.
  •  Sounds great,but I need my sisters apple pie (6+ / 0-)

    She puts some kind carmelized chopped pecans with cinnamon all over the top of the pie and bakes it with the pie. Traditional pie crust on the bottom,but the top has no crust just the pecan thing. It's awesome.

  •  Cranberries, but pie also... (14+ / 0-)

    I voted for cranberries, because they are so ruby red and sensationally sharp. Best dish I made with them: cranberry & kumquat relish. You prepare them separately then mix at the last minute to retain the distinct colors. Really nice. But I digress...
    At my home growing up we always had friends and acquaintances come over who didn't have somewhere to be on Thanksgiving. One year a friend who had been in a hospital for a while had a pass to come home for the holiday, but his family had left town for the South of France or who knows where. Brutal, right? So I asked my mom if he could come. She said sure. Then she said, ask him what his favorite kind of pie is. She was planning to make the usual pumpkin for my dad and sister (neither she nor I like it), and the usual apple because it's the season, and who doesn't like it... but thought as his situation was difficult she'd make something special too. He chose blueberry, and was blown away that someone would "go to the trouble." [NB my mom could make pies in her sleep, blindfolded, one hand tied behind her back... from scratch... so she didn't think of it as "trouble."]
    Anyway, more people started turning up and for each new guest on a whim she asked the same question - "What's your favorite kind of pie?" That year we had 11 pies on the table. All different. Each in front of the person who chose it. Strawberry-rhubarb (me - from her garden); blueberry for my friend with the absent-in-all-ways family; pumpkin; apple; mince; banana cream; peach; pecan; coconut cream; cherry and lemon meringue. It got to be funny after about the fifth or sixth, as we kept thinking someone would repeat a favorite flavor that had already been mentioned, but no... all different. We had a cake too - because my mother the pie chef has her birthday on the 25th of November and that year it was Thanksgiving, or close enough.
    She no longer bakes, nor gardens, though the fruits of her prior labors still bear in the raspberry patch gone wild and from the pear tree. Her memory fails... but I remember, with love. She'll be 90 this Sunday. She has been a blessing to those she touched with her playful and generous spirit. I hope to be like her when I grow up.

    Let every man make known what kind of government would command his respect, and that would be one step toward obtaining it. --Henry David Thoreau

    by pam on Wed Nov 21, 2012 at 06:48:08 PM PST

  •  In honor of your Mom (9+ / 0-)

    You better start baking 11 pies minimum ! A 90 year old lady deserves 11 pies. Nov. 25 is my daughters birthday as well.

  •  Favorite menu (8+ / 0-)

    One of my favorite menus was completely nontradional. We had Cranberry encrusted salmon for the main dish, with roasted winter root veggies ,fresh green beans with almonds, and sweet potatoes rolls. All very yummy.

    If I mistyped, I'm typing on my nook, so sorry!

    "Do you just - you know - I know - people were wondering - you don’t - handle that OK." - Clint Eastwood, 2012 RNC convention, Aug. 30

    by Older and Wise on Wed Nov 21, 2012 at 07:02:44 PM PST

  •  don't use yams (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Gooserock, blueoasis, peregrine kate

    use red garnet sweet potatoes, much less stringy and much more tasty

  •  Other: tossup (6+ / 0-)

    Can't decide between pecan pie or wild rice.  

    Your menu is heavy on cooked veggies, which I like!

    Any wild game is also welcome at Thanksgiving!

    I usually chill with a couple glasses of eggnog & bourbon as well.  

    Political compass: -8.75 / -4.72

    by Mark Mywurtz on Wed Nov 21, 2012 at 07:20:09 PM PST

  •  Rice Stuffing (4+ / 0-)

    Since I can't do gluten we can't make bread-based stuffing. So Herself has me make up a batch of basmati rice made with turkey or chicken broth, and then does her stuffing thing to that.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Wed Nov 21, 2012 at 07:53:04 PM PST

  •  Have To Have That Pistachio Pudding-Pineapple (4+ / 0-)

    Cool whip-mini marshmallow thing.  I don't care if it's not acceptable to the traditional Thanksgiving menu.

    Everything else is by the book.....but dang, I want a dab or two of that salad on my Thanksgiving plate.  

  •  Just the two of us (7+ / 0-)

    so it's a roast turkey breast, mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy, roasted broccoli and cauliflower, fruit salad and (canned) cranberry sauce.  For dessert this year, a cranberry-carrot cake with cream cheese frosting. YUM.

    Being "pro-life" means believing that every child born has a right to food, education, and access to health care.

    by Jilly W on Wed Nov 21, 2012 at 08:58:37 PM PST

  •  Chicken mole with corn pancakes (4+ / 0-)

    It is in fact  a chocolate mole, but lightly so. Some roasted root vegetables with a tomatillo sauce, some tamales (not sure - Mom's making those, and something with brussel sprouts), odds and ends appetizers -- and pumpkin pie.

    Conservatives believe evil comes from violating rules. Liberals believe evil comes from violating each other.

    by tcorse on Wed Nov 21, 2012 at 09:26:37 PM PST

  •  I make my pumpkin pie with lots of Spice (3+ / 0-)

    I then melt some Hershey's Special DARK Chocolate
    and drizzle it over the top.

    I Know. It's Not exactly Traditional.

    What can I Say ?    I'm a Fool for Dark Chocolate.

    On Giving Advice: Smart People Don't Need It and Stupid People Don't Listen

    by Brian76239 on Wed Nov 21, 2012 at 09:28:39 PM PST

  •  Pecan Pie! (3+ / 0-)

    That's pee-cann pie!



    Those who do not move, do not notice their chains. Rosa Luxemburg

    by chuckvw on Wed Nov 21, 2012 at 09:54:02 PM PST

  •  Just because. :) NT (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    blueoasis, FightingRegistrar

    "We need a revolution away from the plutocracy that runs Government."

    by hangingchad on Wed Nov 21, 2012 at 10:12:04 PM PST

  •  Don't know what the meal is going to be (3+ / 0-)

    It's likely going to be a turkey, with lots of veggie based sides.  Mashed potatoes, lima beans, green beans, salad.  Probably some variety of cranberry stuff, which I will studiously ignore.

    I'm doing deserts.  For that I have a couple different custards - a dark chocolate custard (brulee optional) and a simple vanilla creme caramel.

    "And the President of the United States - would be seated right here. I would be here. And he would be here. I would turn - and there he’d be. I could pet ‘im." - Lewis Black

    by libdevil on Wed Nov 21, 2012 at 10:55:23 PM PST

  •  I have a turkey roaster. (6+ / 0-)

    It was part of a divestment from the aunt of the wife of a friend of my husband's....long ago. It is domed and black and has white speckles and the enamel has come off in places. It collects dust all year. Sometimes it hides because I forget where someone put it. I haven't located it yet. I will send out my minions to look in the usual places and they will bring it to the main kitchen and I will wash it.

    Over the years I have used it to good effect. I have plopped totally frozen turkeys complete with plastic bags of giblets and hearts and livers inserted in the cavities. After a quick wash and a salting/herbing/oiling the heavy rocks of bird have gone into the roaster on Thanksgiving day. They have come out perfectly. No worries. Crank the oven to 450 to start the ball rolling, back off after a bit and roast as usual. This means no stuffing in cavities, but stuffing can be accomplished sans actually stuffing it. The turkey experts say not to do this, but I have done it. It works fine. I have not done it recently, I have my act slightly more together these last 15 years or so and have been able to buy fresh or practice the slow messy thaw process in the "other" refrigerator. It's hard to pass up something at $.39/lb.

    I always buy a 22 to 27 lb turkey or thereabouts. We have family and friends come over. The turkey seems to be the easy part for me. What's easier than throwing something in the oven for hours and doing other stuff? The roaster makes large birds take less time. I know it's in the same oven at the same temperature, but being lidded, it takes less time. Works every time.

    As for the rest of it. Crudite with all sorts of veggies and crackers and chips and dips go out during the day. I'll saute the onions and celery for the stuffing first. We are big celery freaks around here and there will be a lot in the stuffing, I'll make 2 batches of stuffing. Mashed potatoes of course. Then I make a massive amount of creamed spinach which will probably disappear, all 7 or so pounds of it. I picked up some green beans which I will steam, I like them green, not olive drab. Sometimes I have broccoli, I do this year, but for the crudite, raw.

    The rest of the sides, breads etc. may vary. I have some canned cranberries, the gelatinous kind and the whole berries. I can easily make either, but it's cheaper and easier to get the canned. I made a fabulous cranberry chutney one year and everybody liked it but there was too much and it went begging. I have gravy always. I make it after the turkey comes out. I serve it in a pitcher.

    I always have more stuff I completely forget to make so I make it the next day to go with leftovers.

    I always have dessert, either pies and cheesecakes or something, but the creamed spinach usually makes everyone too full to care. I think we will make some pumpkin whoopee pies or something and those sweet potatoes might make it into a pie or on the table, haven't decided which.

    The turkey is coming from the farm across from my other house. It will arrive tomorrow morning.

  •  Simple (5+ / 0-)

    My SO and I are going pretty simple as it's just going to be the two of us as both our families are 1600 miles away.  My first year living away from most friends and family we invited another couple over and I prepared a pretty big spread.  When our guests arrived they informed us they were on a diet  and pretty much ate a tablespoon or less of everything.  

    I never realized how hard it was to scale down Thanksgiving dinner after so many years of cooking for large groups but I think I have it down this year after a failure last Thanksgiving.

    1.  Breast section of a locally raised turkey, lightly smoked over low heat on the Weber outside. (I'm really going to miss the Thanksgiving night tradition of boiling the turkey carcass down in a pot of onions, herbs and garlic.)

    2.  Stuffing/dressing made with challah and traditional herbs, onion and celery.  Might sneak some bacon in there but still haven't decided.  

    3.  Green bean casserole or as I like to call it, Crispy onion casserole with some green beans on the bottom.

    4.  A little bit of mashed potatoes.  SO doesn't like them.  Texture issues.  Bah.

    5.  Dulce de leche milkshakes for dessert.  Neither of us are pie fans and we've both been craving milk shakes so I made ice cream last night and dulce de leche tonight.

    6.  As far as drinks go, SO will stick with water as she quit smoking about 18 months ago and even a sip of booze triggers bad cravings.  I will have some locally produced hard cider and probably a little locally produced "Bourbon" later, maybe in the milk shake.  I put Bourbon in quotes because it's technically produced like Bourbon but it's made it Portland which is about as far from Bourbon county Kentucky as you can get.

  •  other: ROASTED potatoes, from the turkey pan! (4+ / 0-)

    full of turkey juice, crispy on the pan side, soft and salty on the top -- I could almost eat nothing else!

    "real" work : a job where you wash your hands BEFORE you use the bathroom...

    by chimene on Thu Nov 22, 2012 at 01:03:59 AM PST

  •  Make sure it reaches 165° (6+ / 0-)

    Cooking to 165° inside the bird is the most important thing to do.  The way poultry is slaughtered quickly by the chicken processors means almost all turkeys will be contaminated with salmonella.  Microwave your kitchen sponge after cleaning up from preparing the turkey to insure the salmonella.  I put all knives, prep boards and utensils in the dishwasher after they had contact  with the turkey.  Don't take any chances, you don't want any or all of your guests to be sick with food poisoning.

    We have country ham along with turkey. My mother in law is from southwestern Virginia and brings the delicious salty ham for us.  

    Husband fixes the turkey and puts herbed butter pieces under the skin, it keeps it moist and delicious.

    Will have steamed green beans, Brussel sprouts, rolls, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, dressing, pumpkin and sweet potato pie.  Yummy!  

    Have a Happy Thanksgiving everyone.  

  •  I'd amend the roasting instructions here. (2+ / 0-)

    After many long years of roasting turkeys, I find there are two "tricks":  First, preheat the oven to 450, then turn the heat down to 325 as soon as the bird is in the oven.  The high heat seals the pores of the skin so you don't lose any moisture.  After a half hour, cover the bird with a doubled length of cheesecloth soaked in melted butter or, even better, duck fat.  From then on, baste every 15 to 20 minutes until the bird is done.    For a 16 lb turkey and over,15 minutes per pound; under that, and 20 should do the trick.  The result is spectacular.  And never forget, of course, to rest the bird for at least 20 minutes before carving.

    Regarding pies, if you're making the crust from scratch -- as you should! -- the trick is to keep EVERYTHING cold.  I put the flour, shortening, bowls, pastry cutter, and even the rolling pin in the fridge for a minimum 30 minutes.  I mix the salt into the water I'm going to use for the pastry in a glass and put that in the freezer, too.  

    I've been doing all this for well over 30 years.  It works.  

    -7.13 / -6.97 "The people never give up their liberties but under some delusion." -- Edmund Burke

    by GulfExpat on Thu Nov 22, 2012 at 04:41:52 AM PST

  •  Somewhere along the line I turned into Mama (6+ / 0-)

    My menu goes like this..all scratch and homecooked

    TurkeyDressing
    cranberry sauce
    Baked butter brown sugar apples
    Homemade potato salad
    Baby Lima Beans /dried beans
    Glazed carrots
    Steamed Broccoli with cheese
    Corn on the Cob
    Giblet Gravy
    Mashed potates
    rolls (brown and serve)
    iced tea
    Walnut brownies
    Choclolate cream pie

    I get up at 5:30 AM every Thanksgiving to get it going
    and sometimes at the last minute put together another side dish.  

    We the People have to make a difference and the Change.....Just do it ! Be part of helping us build a veteran community online. United Veterans of America

    by Vetwife on Thu Nov 22, 2012 at 05:31:30 AM PST

  •  My mom's creamed onions (6+ / 0-)

    She's in a nursing home now, so I haven't had them at Thanksgiving for years. I'm going to try making them for Christmas this year, however.
    If you know how to make a roux, you can make these. It's basically a white sauce to which you add cheese (mom always used cheddar). You need pearl onions (jarred, fresh or frozen will work - just be sure they're blanched, or lightly cooked, before using).
    Make a roux. Add milk to make a white sauce. Add cheese. put the onions in  a casserole dish. Pour sauce over. Crumble Ritz crackers over the top. Bake about 350 degrees until bubbly.

    This year I'm doing a Trader Joe's brined bird (FightingR is right, brining makes all the difference. I've done my own before and used Alton Brown's, which is fabulous and highly recommended. This year, as I'm working at TJ's, I went that route. But I hear they're wonderful).
    Other than that, it's cornbread stuffing, mashed potatoes, mashed butternut squash (with a little butter, maple syrup and nutmeg), and green bean casserole (Trader Joe's recipe using TJ's real fried onions and portabella mushroom soup - customers tell me it's really good. Other than that, shrimp cocktail for an app and some wine or spirits.

    Happy Thanksgiving all...

    Isn’t it ironic to think that man might determine his own future by something so seemingly trivial as the choice of an insect spray. ~ Rachel Carson, Silent Spring ~

    by MA Liberal on Thu Nov 22, 2012 at 05:56:32 AM PST

  •  Flabbergasted by how overwhelmingly (2+ / 0-)

    stuffing is winning the poll.  No wonder people seem vaguely disappointed by my (totally delicious!) stuffing, which is not really very traditional in its recipe.  In fact, I made it up.  But people have a whole deep love-of-stuffing thing I didn't know about, and mine is Not Right.  I understand now.

    I voted for pumpkin pie, but really it's the fresh whipped cream that's my favorite.

  •  Instead of mashed potatoes (3+ / 0-)

    I've been making cauliflower - cut it in little pieces, boil or steam, then mash it up with a little cream, plenty of butter, and shredded cheddar cheese. If you add some bacon bits, or some sour cream, you would swear you are chowing down on a loaded baked potato.

    I first had this at a hotel restaurant in Alabama, and it was awesome... I'm really no fan of cauliflower at all, but this made me a believer!

    Those who do not understand history are condemned to repeat it... in summer school.

    by cassandracarolina on Thu Nov 22, 2012 at 06:40:02 AM PST

  •  Love your lede, FR. And look at all the comments! (4+ / 0-)

    We're going to be just about as conventional as can be this year. For a welcome change, we're at home--husband and two daughters, his son and a friend, and three friends of my daughter's.
    We've spent the last three days cleaning and touching up household stuff, which is wonderful. Last night we started cooking.
    My daughter made pumpkin and apple pies. She also made some mac & cheese from a friend's recipe; it is a little too dry and also too mustardy, so we're going to fuss with it a little more today.
    Otherwise:
    turkey (fresh one, not brined) & stuffing
    mashed potatoes & gravy
    sweet potatoes (brought by a guest)
    cranberry sauce (canned jelly kind)
    green bean casserole
    plain green beans, steamed
    green salad
    bakery rolls
    pies as above

    plus lots of sparkling things to drink, alcoholic and non, and lots of crudites beforehand--veggies, dips, cornchips and salsa, cheese and crackers.

    I am so looking forward to it! But I have a lot to do for the rest of the day, so I'd better get on it.

    Happy Thanksgiving, all.

    I'm seeking to organize DKos members in SE Michigan--roughly, from the Ohio line at Lake Erie NE to Port Huron, W to Flint and back S from there. If you'd like to join our new group, Motor City Kossacks (working title), please Kosmail me.

    by peregrine kate on Thu Nov 22, 2012 at 07:10:59 AM PST

  •  I admire your menu but swing differently (3+ / 0-)

    in many ways.  

    First, turkey is never cheaper than at Thanksgiving, so I stock up.  The first, I cut up into breasts, thighs and drumsticks and freeze - using the remainder to make my broth in advance.

    Second, while once a die-hard briner, I've become a die-hard salter.  The principle is the same, but you omit the liquid and add seasonings to the salt.  This year, it was oregano, lemon rind, garlic.  The difference is that with a brined turkey you get tender meat and flabby skin.  By salting, you get tender meat and crispy skin.  (Yes, you rinse and pat dry the turkey at a minimum when it goes in to roast.)

    Third, I've learned that slow-roasting almost any large piece of meat is better IF you roast it slow enough:  300F for the first hour (to kill surface bacteria), then reduce the temperature you want it to be upon "done".  The logic for this is simple:  Fat cooks faster than meat does.  When you cook at a higher temperature, the fat squeezes the meat as it cooks, squeezing juices out and away from the meat.  Slow-roasting also gives you more lee-way when trying to get everything on the table in a well-tied manner.  It's far easier to speed up the cooking than it is to slow it down.

    Stuffing is crucial!  

    Government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth - Abraham Lincoln

    by Gustogirl on Thu Nov 22, 2012 at 07:19:34 AM PST

  •  Thanksgiving for the cats and me (5+ / 0-)

    I live alone--well, with four adopted stray cats who are now indoor cats and two more who are on their way inside before the weather turns bitter cold. And I feed assorted others daily.

    I'm recovering from back surgery, so I've cooked a bit each day.

    Tuesday I cooked fresh turnip greens. (I'm Southern.)

    I baked a seven-pound turkey breast yesterday--and the kitties and I give it thumbs (and paws) up.

    Today I'll make sweet potatoes--the boiled til soft then mashed with lots of butter, cinnamon, and a little dash of vanilla method.

    I can't eat gluten, so the sweet potatoes will double as desert.

    I'll spend the day chilling with my feline friends, chatting on the phone with my human ones and my long-distance family, and being thankful that we don't have a Republican president. I'll also be thankful for the gifts of good memories, good family, and--lousy back and celiac disease aside--reasonably good health otherwise.

    "'Things would be a lot worse without us,' is not a winning campaign slogan." Barney Frank

    by cassandraX on Thu Nov 22, 2012 at 07:30:06 AM PST

  •  We always cook a huge dinner on Thanksgiving (5+ / 0-)

    I never know how many I'll end up having over to eat. And I try to send a plate to any neighbors I have who might not have anywhere to go on Thanksgiving.

    We're having

    Turkey
    Cornbread Stuffing
    Mashed potatoes
    Giblet Gravy
    5 Bean Casserole (a kind of baked bean dish)
    A veggie casserole I throw together
    Fruit salad
    pasta salad
    rolls
    deviled eggs
    Pumpkin pie
    Chocolate cake (for the kids)
    Carrot cake
    Strawberry cheesecake

  •  The restaurant that expanded into my former (2+ / 0-)

    apartment does a delicious Prix Fixe Thanksgiving dinner that my niece and I have been enjoying for the past several Thanksgivings.

    An added advantage of this annual trek is I get to check up on the BEST TUB IN THE WORLD that I plan to insist the landlord sell me if I ever buy a house. I mean, it's just sitting there all covered up in my old apartment. They don't let the diners nip into the bathroom for a quick bath or anything. Of course, if customers knew it was the BEST TUB IN THE WORLD they could probably make a ton of money but it's totally going to waste just sitting there all covered up. Surely they'll sell it, right?

    Tomorrow I'll still be giving thanks with a few friends. Cooking a spiral-cut ham, biscuits, steamed broccoli & cauliflower, chocolate-chip cookies, and some spinach. Of course, some Glenfiddich to imbibe.

    Saturday probably just drinking peppermint tea all day to settle my stomach.

    Happy Thanksgiving to All!

    At every crossroads on the path that leads to the future, tradition has placed 10,000 men to guard the past.--Maurice Maeterlinck / In America we call these obstructionists Republicans--me

    by EverGrateful on Thu Nov 22, 2012 at 08:17:43 AM PST

  •  Vegan Thanksgiving (3+ / 0-)

    100% Animal friendly meal:

    Gardein Holiday Roast, roasted with leeks, beets, carrots and shrooms (pre-made and I never had it before, though I love Gardein products)
    Mushroom and Shallot Gravy
    Mashed Potatoes
    Peas
    Cranberry sauce, homemade
    Stuffing (cooked in a casserole, extra crisp)
    Cucumber Salad
    Apple Pie
    Pumpkin Pie
    Cranberry Juice
    Coffee

    My partner is vegan too but my mom is not but she is open-minded and we have a great time.

    "I am in favor of animal rights as well as human rights. That is the way of a whole human being" -Abraham Lincoln

    by joojooluv on Thu Nov 22, 2012 at 09:08:59 AM PST

  •  I'm not cooking. Nothing. Not one dish. (3+ / 0-)

    My daughter-in-law and granddaughters are doing it all.  Hubby and I just have to show up.

    The menu will be a seafood feast, including Maryland crab cakes, oysters, shrimp, corn on the cob, cole slaw, and who knows what else.

    Oh, and there will be sweet potato pie.

  •  My favorite dish is Gravy. Most of your menu items (2+ / 0-)

    serve as a fine vehicle for gravy.

    We are roasting a duck today. 1st time eve,r but with just three of us, this year, we can't justify even a 12 lb turkey.

    Thank you for  the diary, and Happy Thanksgiving.

    Take back the House in 2014!!!!!!!!!!!! (50 state strategy needed)

    by mungley on Thu Nov 22, 2012 at 12:29:39 PM PST

  •  Aha! (2+ / 0-)

    Stuffing wins.  I love stuffing.  It is hands down the best part of Thanksgiving.

  •  About 25 years ago, Mom began vacating (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FightingRegistrar

    "traditional" fare. Nobody complained.
    Us 5 kids began congregating at her house around Sunday before, with her grandchildren. (Could easily be 30 people for dinner with 20-some staying in the house, on the floors, blow-up beds...) Mom's driveway looked like a rental car lot... cars everywhere.

    Within a very few short years, dinner became a competition amongst us... well, really a "treat" for everyone to make something dynamite, for everyone else.

    Someone once brought 15lbs of fresh jumbo shrimp from the gulf.
    My brother in-law learned hot to do perfect bbq ribs and would make 6 racks.
    I scored a huge rib roast on sale for $3.89/lb and did that.
    We always had a boston butt... a chicken for the kiddies.

    Then the grandkids learned hot to make simple things like boxed brownies... tube-cut cookies they bake in 8 minutes. Us adults did some serious sweets. At some point, someone would have to "schedule" the oven time

    Daylight hours during the week were dedicated to the kids. At night... hoo boy; adults drank beverages, played cards, and blew up fireworks. (More than once, the poker game was broken up by the rising sun).

    Enagaged activism wins elections. 100 million words on liberal/progressive websites gets beat by one new GOP voter casting their vote.

    by Nebraska68847Dem on Thu Nov 22, 2012 at 01:29:22 PM PST

  •  I'm on food stamps but that's no excuse (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FightingRegistrar, EverGrateful

    to skip a classic Thanksgiving dinner.  It's not like the pilgrims had a Kroger around the corner.  

    First I had to keep a close eye out for a small turkey at our only grocery store.  I found an under ten pounder on my fourth try.  For once, I was out of old bread so I had to buy some.  If I liked sourdough-y bread in my stuffing I could have baked a couple loaves myself but I like it mushy ergo the purchase.  My food stamps are already spent for the month so I paid about a buck fifty cash for two loaves.  The second loaf is for the mandatory sandwiches.

    I am so damn sick of the canned veggies like corn and green beans from the food pantry that I tell people I'd rather eat weeds.  That's exactly what I did--picked some arugula from my backyard.  It went to seed years ago so I guess it counts as a weed.  The temps have to drop below zero to kill that off.   And that, plus some fresh sage, parsley and wild thyme make a beautiful garnish for the turkey.

    You've got to have pie at Thanksgiving, right?  I didn't plant any eating pumpkins this year and I've only got a two pie sized can of pumpkin in my pantry.  I've got a casserole recipe that needs one that size so there's no sense wasting it on one pie.  But--I did have some sweet potatos.  I'm still too stuffed to try it yet but it looks beautiful.

    Dammit, my shithead cat Hector swiped a turkey leg off my plate.  He is sneaky!!! Oh, well.  I already ate most of the meat off of it.  I'll pick the rest off and give it to my dog Annie later.

    You know the best part of this meal?  My dishes are almost all washed.  No scrubbing, w00+, w00+! Thank you, pets!  

    Any jackass can kick down a barn, but it takes a good carpenter to build one.--Sam Rayburn

    by Ice Blue on Thu Nov 22, 2012 at 01:48:40 PM PST

    •  Awww cute Hector. lol, it's annoying when the (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Ice Blue

      cat takes the food, but it's funny to talk about later.  :)

    •  my cats are brilliant food-from-plate thieves (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Ice Blue

      my cousin used to let them eat from her plate so now they just step right up and snag what they want >^.^< Thanksgiving for everyone! They're not that good at the cleaning part though, go Hector.

      At every crossroads on the path that leads to the future, tradition has placed 10,000 men to guard the past.--Maurice Maeterlinck / In America we call these obstructionists Republicans--me

      by EverGrateful on Thu Nov 22, 2012 at 06:26:17 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  it's not thanksgiving without green olives (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FightingRegistrar, EverGrateful

    a happy memory from childhood family dinners, sticking the olives on the ends of my fingers!

    "Politics is like driving. To go backward put it in R. To go forward put it in D."
    Four More Years! How sweet it is!!!

    by TrueBlueMajority on Thu Nov 22, 2012 at 02:15:45 PM PST

  •  Mac and cheese. N/t (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    EverGrateful

    Charity is no substitute for justice withheld. -- St. Augustine

    by 3idirish on Thu Nov 22, 2012 at 05:20:50 PM PST

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