Thanksgiving: the plan

I had originally hoped to have the majority of my intended Thanksgiving recipes posted on here, but alas, no such luck. So I figured I’d offer the next best thing: what I intend to cook (some of which is already posted here).

I’m hosting a small Thanksgiving this year, and I’m looking forward to preparing everything. I hosted a Christmas get together once before (20-30 people), and I remember the meal going well (good food, enough for everybody–it all came together!), but realistically, I barely squeaked by. I was still pretty new to cooking and did an awful job of planning, so I was running around like a headless chicken all day. I’ve cooked a lot more since then, I’m much more comfortable, and I feel like I can put a lot more thought into what and how I intend to get things done. With that said, I’m really looking forward to this dinner, even if its not quite for the 20-30 sized crowd.

I’ve finally settled on my planned menu (about time, right?), and I thought I’d post my plans here in case it was of any interest for my readers. I intend to follow up later with detailed posts for each recipe (so I guess I’ll be much better next year when it comes to having the recipes ready on the site, huh?). I’d be glad to hear from you if you have any favorites during the holidays as well or what you intend to serve this year.

The plan

Jalapeño corn bread: I’m thinking a simple corn bread with chunks of jalapeño and creamed corn mixed in, maybe some pimentos. I’ll probably knock this off a day ahead.

Sweet potato soup: I was originally leaning towards a traditional, creamy butternut squash soup, but this recipe caught my eye. I figure soup can be done in advance and keep growling bellies at bay until dinner is ready. This might also be done a day ahead and reheated and slightly rehydrated prior to serving.

Turkey: this is kind of a given, right? I’d searched high and low in town thinking I’d have no trouble finding some duck (or goose) fat. I had my heart set on slathering the turkey with duck fat for some really intense flavor, but without the pre-rendered fat, I unfortunately don’t have the time to cook a duck this week and render it myself (although I guess there is always an alternative route…). The butcher, grocer, and local “fine” restaurants all thought I was crazy for using duck fat for flavor which kind of surprised me… but anyways, with that out of the picture, I’ve instead opted to brine (overnight) and roast my turkey. I expect the brine to be a savory mixture (e.g. cloves, star anise, vegetable broth, apple cider, that kind of mix) and the turkey will be buttered and stuffed with some coarsely chopped herbs (sage, thyme, rosemary) and veggies (carrots, celery, shallots, apple). I’m debating employing pancetta (worked into a sage butter) on the outside of the turkey where my beloved duck fat should be.

Garlic mashed potatoes: simple and fairly traditional. I like to work a pinch of goat cheese in there since goat cheese seems to bring mysterious deliciousness to everything it touches. I’ll do this at the same time as the stuffing.

Garlic mashed potatoes

Gravy: made from a roux and the turkey drippings.

Savory Stuffing: I’m looking forward to this one. The plan is to go with a sourdough bread, mushrooms (I’m thinking porcini and/or chanterelle), sweet sausage, leeks, and goat cheese. I think this ought to really be something. This will be done while the turkey is cooking.

Cranberry sauce: I still haven’t 100% decided on how to do this, but it will probably involve red wine and sugar. I’ve never been a fan, so I guess if I can convert myself, it will be a success, right? I’ll probably have a back-up can ready for action. 😉

Green beans: I suppose there should be at least one green item on the menu so we can pretend to be eating healthy. Will probably use almonds as well.

Butternut Squash Apple Cranberry Bake: this seemed like it would be a nice contrast to all of the heavier side dishes…and butternut squash needed to go somewhere.

Poached pear bread pudding:
The plan is to poach some pears a day or two in advance (cloves, orange juice, vanilla bean, etc). Then, I’ll make a bread pudding using the pears and a bit of bourbon, and I’ll either top this off with a thickened version of the poaching sauce or caramel sauce (or if they go nicely, maybe a little of both). I’ll probably toast some hazelnuts and crumble them on top. I’ve put way too much thought into this one and I’d like to make it and eat it today, but I guess I’ll have to wait.

Pecan Pie: Hey, there’s always room for pie.

Slice of pecan pie

Given how long this post has become, I get the strong feeling that I’m cooking too much, but that’s what Thanksgiving is all about, right? 😉

Anyways, some other recipes which won’t be on my table this holiday, but are still very appropriate for the season and might pique your interest:

Sweet potato pecan pie slice Pumpkin pie fresh out of the oven

Sweet Potato Pecan Pie: This is a really fun pie and is guaranteed to impress. Thanksgiving brings a lot of pumpkin pies and a lot of pecan pies with a few sweet potato pies here and there, but sweet potato pecan pie seems to be less common and simply incredible. If you have a little extra time in your cooking schedule (or you need a dessert to bring), this is worth a look.

Pumpkin Pie: Traditional and always a favorite this time of year. If you’re a little more pressed for time, you could always use a can of pureed pumpkin instead of baking the pumpkin yourself.

Slice of warm apple pie Toasted Pumpkin Seeds

Apple Pie with Walnut Streusel: with all of the apple picking this time of year, you might still have an obscene number of apples in your kitchen without a home. This is a great dessert that’s not quite as heavy (and orange-colored!) as the many other typical pies you might be considering this holiday. Not your mother’s apple pie (since its my mom’s)!

Toasted Pumpkin Seeds: if you find yourself using pumpkins or squash in any of your cooking this holiday, don’t throw away the seeds. With minimal effort, you can slap together some simple finger food (well, snacks) that you can leave in a bowl to keep your guests slightly occupied while you toil away in the kitchen.

Happy (early) Thanksgiving (and happy cooking to all the other food bloggers entertaining this weekend)!

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7 Responses to “Thanksgiving: the plan”

  1. Lydia Says:

    Too much is the hallmark of Thanksgiving — which is why we have to invite lots of people to share the meal!

  2. Katie Says:

    What time’s dinner? I could bring the duck fat…or goose fat. They both went on sale in our markets last week… they’ll be available through Christmas. I’d send you some but I don’t think you’d get it in time…then there’s customs….

  3. mike Says:

    Lydia — glad we’re on the same page.

    Katie — haha, it should be served real soon now. 😉 I’m jealous of your markets and I appreciate the offer. I’ll just have to skip customs and go to France. 😉 And hey, now there’s a theme for the next Seasoned Eatings: oils and fats!

  4. Deepak Says:

    I plan on enjoying this meal thoroughly Mike. . . as well as packing/stealing some of it for college.

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