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Thanksgiving – My Two Cents

November 22, 2010

I have hosted Thanksgiving for 8 years for anywhere from 14 to 18 people and I’ve kind of got this little
feast down pat at this point.  Here’s a few tips I’ve collected over the years:

  • If you are serving a lot of people, if you just like a lot of leftovers, or both, do yourself a favor.  Instead of buying one gigantic turkey, buy two small to medium turkeys instead.  They are easier to handle and will roast quicker than one huge bird. 
  • Unless you have a roasting pan large enough to fit both birds, pick up a few recyclable aluminum roasting pans instead.  Get the rectangular large lasagna pans rather than the oval turkey roasters – two oval pans may not fit side-by-side in your oven. Double the pans up for strength.
  • Brine those birds to keep them juicy and tender.  I like to use Alton Brown’s recipe, but there are a lot of other nice looking brines out there too.  Check out Pioneer Woman’s brining recipe and tips here.
  • Personally, I don’t worry any more about the drippings from a brined turkey being too salty.  I make my gravy ahead of time instead. There’s still time! You can easily whip up this gravy on a weeknight while you go about doing other things.
  • Make your mashed potatoes early in the day and keep them warm in a slow cooker on low.
  • Keep gravy warm in an insulated coffee carafe instead of a gravy boat.
  • Skip the baby food!  Instead of pureeing your butternut or acorn squash, give it more flavor and texture by roasting it instead.  Here’s the recipe I use, from a class I took at the former Connecticut Culinary Institute:

Sage Roasted Winter Squash

2 large butternut squash, cut into 1″ cubes
2 large acorn squash, cut into 1″ cubes
2 large onions, large dice
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
1/2 cup rough chopped shallots
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup dry rubbed sage
Salt & pepper to taste
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon allspice

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and toss together. Spread evenly on a cookie sheet or in a roasting pan and roast at 375 degrees for approximately one hour or until squash is fork tender. Cover and allow to rest for 20 minutes before serving.

My final tip is this – when dinner is over, stay seated.  Plant yourself in your chair and have another glass of wine, and let your spouse do the dishes.  🙂

p.s. – Do you have any Thanksgiving tips or tricks to share?  Any fun turkey disaster stories?  Do tell in the comments!

p.p.s. – One more important tip.  Do not deep fry a tofurkey.  It will explode.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. November 22, 2010 1:15 am

    I’ve got nothing to add since I am one of the 14 to 18, but I did want to remind you while you are creating blog posts that Scott’s assignment is due in a few days! See you Thursday!! 😀

    • Jennifer A (Bread and Putter) permalink*
      November 22, 2010 1:20 am

      Yes! I was planning to actually go through my photos and see if anything needed editing tonight before I post it tomorrow or Tuesday. Thanks for the reminder, though.

  2. November 25, 2010 7:28 pm

    Great tips! I always end up opting for nontraditional fare for thanksgiving because 1.) I really dislike turkey, 2.) I rather dislike tradition. We always go for some fowl other than turkey: duck, goose, or pheasant. My only tip is to have fun! Try something different, even if it’s just one thing new every year and have everything made by someone rather than do it all yourself. At my dad’s he does the bird, pumpkin pie, & corn casserole, I make cheddar & onion pie, biscuits, and gravy, my brother makes green bean casserole and stuffing.

  3. November 26, 2010 6:59 pm

    Sounds like fun, Val! I’ve never tried goose or pheasant before. I try to throw in one new thing every year too, whether a dessert or a different side dish, and everyone pitches in here too. This year my sister made the caramelized onion bread pudding (which we enjoy instead of stuffing), cranberry & zucchini bread, and cranberry sauce. My mother made green beans almondine and yam casserole, and my brother-in-law made apple pie and chocolate cream pie.

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