Saturday, November 26, 2011

Thanksgiving Dinner

Thanksgiving is my most favorite holiday of the year. It's centered around good food, family, friends, and what you're thankful for. I think the idea is fantastic and take it very seriously every year. I take charge and make the entire meal. I've done it so many times already that I have everything done to a science. The food, the timing, the layout is all put together by me. However, I'm always open to new dishes and ideas. And this year had a couple. Some worked better than others. But overall, the whole dinner was successful.

The turkey is always a must. I don't serve it whole. Instead, I carve it up into smaller pieces so that people can easily serve themselves. Dark meat on the left and white meat on the right. Homemade gravy is on the side (not pictured). This year, I premade turkey stock using smoked turkey wings. That was really successful. It was amazing. Very flavorful and it was a true stock because it was dark brown and gelatinized on its own.

The turkey was very juicy as usual. My method of herbed butter under and over the skin plus 2 batches of bacon never fails. The method creates a self basting scenario. Even the white meat is super juicy. If you want to see the steps to my turkey, please see my old post here.

A ham is also another dish that's present at my Thanksgiving dinner. Unfortunately, I overcooked it. I left it in the oven too long and it dried out. Not only did it looked dried out, but when you used the tongs to pick up a piece, it fell apart. Not good.
There's always a corn side dish at Thanksgiving. Usually, it's just boiled corn with butter, salt, and pepper. However, I decided to change things up this year. I had recently saw a recipe for corn pudding in a magazine and was automatically intrigued. I've always wanted to spice up my corn dish and this sounded perfect. Well, it was a super hit! The was the most eaten side dish of the night. I loved it. It tasted both sweet and spicy. The texture was soft and fluffy with little nuggets of corn, red bell peppers, and jalapenos. The cheese and milk smoothed everything out. This will become a staple for future Thanksgivings. Maybe even other holidays as well.
The sausage and sage stuffing remains the same every year...except this year. I added sliced granny smith apples and used fresh turkey stock and more eggs. The texture was much better this year. Soft on the bottom and lightly crisp on top. I was very happy with the outcome. The main base of the stuffing recipe can be found here.
And of course, we always have mac n cheese. This year, I made it in a smaller, flatter tray. The extra surface area worked really well. The crust on top was very nice this year. The bread crumbs and the pecorino romano was a good combination. The macaroni with the cheddar and monterey jack cheeses were really nice. I made a roux then added the milk and cheeses. The result was fantastic. I think I'll continue to make my mac n cheese this way. I was very happy with it.
For the mashed potatoes, I decided to add a bit more flavor by using Boursin cheese. It was really good. It actually made it quite creamy even though I had already used butter and milk. The garlic and herbs flavor was very nice.
This year I made mashed sweet potatoes by  mistake. I normally make roasted sweet potatoes which plays on the sweet and salty aspect. However, I made a mistake and started slicing them thinly. By the time I realized, it was too late. I thought about making sweet potato chips but it was going to be too much. I mashed them instead then made them sweet with maple syrup and spices. It almost tasted like sweet potato pie without the crust. Not my favorite. I won't make it this way again. Back to roasted next year.
Another must in my Thanksgiving feast is brussels sprouts. I love these little cabbage nuggets. When roasted and charred, they develop this delicious sweet candy-like nature. The salt and pepper cuts it nicely. I can pop these into my mouth all night. So incredibly good. It's so easy. Just roast in the oven at 375oF with salt, pepper, and oil until browned and charred. A lot of people cook it with bacon but honestly I don't think it's necessary. I think it's perfect on its own.
And as usual, here's the bowl of bacon from the turkey. It's perfect for snacking on while the food cooks during the day.
And the garlic bread always makes an appearance. This year was slightly different. Instead of using an Italian loaf that's long and slim, we picked up a rustic Italian bread that was more flat and wide from Amy's Bread. It was great. The crust was perfectly crunchy while the inside was soft. I spread a layer of softened butter studded with sauteed garlic and added fresh parsley on top. So garlicky and delicious. Fresh from the oven, the smell was intoxicating.
Of course there has to be some cranberry sauce. I like the contrast of tart with the savory foods. I especially like to eat it with my turkey with gravy.
After dinner, we sat around and relaxed until it was time to eat some pie. Naturally, I kept it warm in the oven until it was ready. Paired with a scoop of creamy vanilla ice cream, it was great. The apples are a little too tart this time. Otherwise, the crust was golden brown, flaky, and delicious.
And here's a plate of my food. A little of everything and just fantastic. One plate was enough for me since I piled it up high. At the end of the night, I was happy and full. The perfect Thanksgiving.

7 comments:

  1. That's quite a spread. I agree that brussel sprouts don't need any bacon adornment. :)
    Happy Thanksgiving!

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  2. Oh my stars that looks FABULOUS!!! There are a lot of similarities between what I'm making today and what you made, though I have to say: WHERE IS THE CORN PUDDING RECIPE?! :)

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  3. @FF: Tomorrow, my dear. Tomorrow.

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  4. OMG, now that is a THANKSGIVING DINNER!!!
    Roast turkey, tons of sides/fixings and warm apple pie (with a turkey pattern on it. Nice!).

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  5. very nice!

    i found a recipe for lime & pepper brussels sprouts. they turned out really well, but of course people still gravitated to my bacon & brussels sprouts

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  6. Looks fabulous! It's my favorite holiday too! Though my next day thanksgiving-sandwich is almost always as enjoyable as the day-of feast too. Hehe

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  7. One plate? Noooo! Though I'm certain you went back for more later that day, the next day, the day after...

    Looks great. I can't wait to try out that corn pudding recipe.

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