I’ve been putting this post off for far too long. It’s been over a month. Being constantly in and out of town and family coming and going has taken up mucho time.
My family never really did anything for thanksgiving and I can’t remember what we always did on Thanksgiving, as everything is closed with nowhere to go and everyone is off from school and work.
Last year I wanted to do a dinner to save myself from boredom but I knew I couldn’t pull of such a big dinner myself. I decided to ask two of my friends if they wanted to co-host which they agreed to. We didn’t think we could pull it off, but it was the best dinner party I’ve had. From the cooking to eating scrumptious food with great company.
Which led us to do another turkey dinner this thanksgiving but with quite a lot more people. It took us a while to figure out how to squeeze everyone into my dining area. Here is the menu that we had:
CPK Waldorf Salad with a choice of Blue Cheese Dressing and Balsamic Dressing
Mac and Cheese
Dessert-we left this up to the guest this year
We split up the dishes and helped each other with pre-prep along the way. The recipes for the dishes that I was in charge for are below:
1 turkey (mine was ~13lbs)
1/4 cup coarse sea salt
1 tsp fresh black pepper
pads of butter
mix of herbs, rosemary, thyme, sage
Make sure to defrost your turkey properly before it needs to be cooked. You can look up the times according to how much your bird weights. The night before your dinner, open up the bag your turkey has been in. Drain out all the water and take out the gizzards. In a cup combine the salt and pepper. Add some herbs if you like. Rub the salt mixture alllll over the bird, inside and out. Cover up the bird and put it back in the fridge. Let the bird brine for as many hours as it weighs. Mine was 13lbs so I brined my bird for 13 hrs. Rinse off the salt mixture, in and out and pat dry.
Melt some butter, mixed with herbs, and cut up some pats of butter. Insert the pats of butter under the skin of the turkey in various places, breast, legs, etc and smush it around from the outside. Spread the melted butter on the outside of the turkey skin. Place the turkey breast side down (since there won’t be any stuffing placed in the cavity) on a rack that can fit in a roasting pan.
Tie up the legs together and wings together so they don’t stick out and burn during cooking. Cover the roasting pan with foil and bake in the oven for 1.5 hrs at 350 F. Afterwards, bake for at least another hour uncovered, basting the turkey frequently, about every 15 min, with either melted butter, olive oil, or turkey drippings. Once the red insert pops out, the turkey is done and is taken out of the oven.
Let the turkey rest for about 15 min before cutting up the turkey. Save the turkey drippings to make gravy later on. Here is a really good video to learn how to successfully Carve a Turkey.
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
1-12 oz package of cranberries
juice of 1 orange
spices such as cinnamon, all-spice, nutmeg
In a sauce pan, mix together the sugar and water and heat till boil. Add the cranberries and cook for additional 10 or so minutes, until the cranberries start too pop open. You can add the various spices at this point as well as the orange juice. The orange juice helps cut the tartness of the cranberries so add as much as desired.
Once everything comes together, remove from heat and either you can cool it in the refrigerator or serve it warm. Sauce will thicken as it cools.
Butternut squash (by here)
2 lbs butternut squash, peeled & chopped bite sized
juice & zest of 1/2 lemon
3 tbs honey
Lay out the squash on a lined baking sheet evenly. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. Bake at 400 F for about 45 min. Stir the squash occasionally so they don’t brown on one side.
In a bowl, whisk together honey, lemon juice and zest. Adjust taste. Take out the squash from the oven after 45 min and drizzle evenly with this mixture. Bake for another 20 min. Serve with a little zest grated on top.
Note: If your going to make this, make sure you get the squash pre-peeled & chopped. Takes way too long to do it at home. Also, this was one of my least favorite dish that we had & I don’t think I’ll be making it again. It was nice to have one tester dish on the menu though.
Yams (from here)
4 tbs butter + more to butter dish
4 medium yams/sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped bite sized
1/2 c brown sugar
3 tbs maple syrup
nutmeg, freshly grated to taste
Preheat oven to 375 and butter a 9 by 13″ baking dish. Lay out the yams in an even layer in the dish.
In a sauce pan, melt the butter. Add in the sugar, syrup and nutmeg. Pour the sauce over the yams evenly. Cover dish with foil and bake in oven for about 45 min or until tender.
I ended up making two batches because we kept eating them while cooking and didn’t have enough for our guests 😛
Homemade Stuffing (from here)
1 loaf of day old french bread
2 cups onion, chopped
2 cups celery, chopped
6 tbsp butter
1 green apple, peeled, cored, & chopped
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1-2 cups chicken stock
1 tsp poultry seasoning/sage
salt & pepper to taste
If you have fresh French bread, carefully cube the bread with a serrated knife into bite size pieces. Lay them out evenly on a baking sheet and bake for about 7-10 min at 350 in the oven so they are dried.
In a large saute pan, melt 3 tbs of butter and add in bread cubes. Stir till toasted. In another saute pan, melt the remaining 3 tbs of butter and cook the onions and celery till translucent. Add bread, apple, and parsley. Stir in the stock and add salt, pepper, and poultry seasoning. Cover and turn onto low. Cook for an hour and check every ten min to add stock/water as needed.
This stuffing turned out okay this time around but it was a lot better last year. I might try another one out next year.