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Old 11-05-2006, 09:44 PM   #1
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I need some creative Thanksgiving ideas

So it's my first Thanksgiving. I'm having 10 guests (including my Mother). I love to try new recepies...I'm definately a foodie, but my mother is more traditional. A couple people are bringing the basics...mashed potatoes, yams, string bean caserole, etc. I have to take care of the turkey and appetizers. I'm already making bacon wrapped shrimp but I'm looking for something different to add. To be honest, if it was up to me I would rather cook a totally different dinner. Does anyone here have any ideas, either for an appetizer or side? Also, can I do anything different with the turkey? Additional sauces or something? I'm also cooking for Christmas, so if anyone has any ideas BESIDES a turkey or ham I would be most greatful!


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Old 11-05-2006, 10:19 PM   #2
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Let me just throw out a few ideas.

Stuff the cavity with a Granny Smith apple cut in half or quarters and pour about 1 cup of sherry in there. This makes the BEST sherry gravy!!!!

I brine my turkey in apple juice, (all these herbs are fresh) rosemary, thyme, oregano, garlic, oranges cut in half and squeezed, limes cut in half and squeezed, brown sugar, kosher salt, bay leaves.

Take two of the VERY large apple juices and put in a pot (hopefully large enough to hold your turkey too). Add about 1 solid cup of brown sugar, 1 cup kosher salt, 2 oranges, 3 limes, 20 garlic gloves smashed, 4 bay leaves, (I'm just guessing at these amounts but it's like you can't go wrong no matter what you do. Heat this mixture until the salt and sugar dissolve and thoroughly cool.

When cool lower your turkey into the brine. Let brine for a good solid 24 hours either in the fridge or a cooler in a big garbage bag. You can place all around to keep it cool.

One really cool side I did last year was Wild Mushroom Bread Pudding - it was fantastic!

I also did a port wine caramelized pearl onion and cranberry sauce - hopefully I'll find it again!

There will be MANY suggestions to come I am sure. And we all want to you try ALL of them.......and report back!


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Old 11-05-2006, 11:02 PM   #3
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This sounds good to me!

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Old 11-06-2006, 06:03 AM   #4
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Check out the lemon creme mold recipe I posted last week. I serve it as a side dish to cool the palate during the dinner. It's been a hit here since the early 70s!
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Old 11-06-2006, 08:59 AM   #5
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Just be sure to give any new recipes a trial run - even if you cook a micro-sized batch. Better to "learn" things the day before than the day of... (thats a hard lesson I learned once... ).

Try making home made cranberry sauce and gravy (if you don't already). Make your own turkey stock (and save the turkey fat) to make great stuffing and gravy (if you don't already that is). Think of all the different cooking methods (steaming, poaching, braising, roasting, frying, sauteeing, etc...) and then use those methods on traditional ingredients for a different spin on the same grocery list.

You could also minimize the importance of the "main meal" (serving smaller portions) and give greater focus to other courses like appetizers, soup, salad, cheese/bread, dessert, etc.
Nick ~ "Egg whites are good for a lot of things; lemon meringue pie, angel food cake, and clogging up radiators." - MacGyver
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Old 11-06-2006, 11:13 PM   #6
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One thing years of experience has taught me is not to experiment on Thanksgiving, especially dealing with family, who will often have set ideas of what should be prepared. I tell people what I will make, then ask them to bring their traditional dishes. I just don't get "creative" when it comes to that particular meal. Christmas, New Years, Easter, etc, I might play around. But Thanksgiving seems set in concrete in most peoples' minds. Personally, I think putting sugar on a sweet potato is .... well .... let's just say too much. So I don't make sweet potatoes and tell everyone if they want them, go for it. I'm a lousy baker, so I tell everyone it will be Sarah or they can bring pies. On the other hand, no one makes a better turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and definitely gravy. I gave up trying to be creative years ago. I'm creative 300+ days a year, and give it a rest on Thanksgiving. Tried and true for that one meal. It is my husband's favorite holiday meal, so I stick to what he wants, tell my guests what I'm fixing, and go with the flow from there. Then I get creative with many other meals (yes, I entertain a lot).
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Old 11-07-2006, 08:39 AM   #7
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Being from New England, tradition is in firm root with Thanksgiving in my family. But last year I had people over and I focused more on the other courses. Instead of a buffet plate piled nine inches high with roast turkey, taters, stuffing, and gravy - I made the main course much smaller (in a nine inch low-bowl). This allowed me to serve four other courses. I stuffed a turkey breast and roasted it for the main course (along with a bit of mashed taters, gravy, and steamed/sauteed green beans). But I started with some hot cider, apple smoked cheeses, and good rolls with a sweet compound butter. Then we had some creamy butternut squash soup, followed by a salad with a maple vinaigrette and other fall items like dried cranberries and nuts. Then we had the main meal, and finally a slice of apple tart with homemade pumpkin ice-cream and caramel sauce. People appreciated that I left the "main meal" fairly "traditional", but they loved that the meal involved more than just a single plate of standard grub. Dinner was stretched out as we took our time with each course.

Definetly takes more planning ahead, but it's really easy to do. Everything is already cooked for every course. I just kept a small saucier of soup and a saucier of caramel sauce warm in the oven (along with the gravy in stainless bowl). I'd get up and return with the next course in less than 5min. The bread/cheese/cider was already on the table for everyone. The soup was already finished, the salad just needed to be dressed and plated, and the same with the other remaining courses. Might not be as practical for 12+ people, in which case buffet style is usually better. You could do other things, such as a butternet ravioli with sage infused butter sauce as an appetizer to replace, say, the soup.

But the main course was a healthy dollop of creamy mashed potatoes topped with a slice of the stuffed turkey breast and then garnished with some greenbeans, gravy, and warm cranberry/grand marnier sauce. Just enough to satisfy your hunger and leave you wanting the next course (a great method used by people like Thomas Keller).

Good Luck!
Nick ~ "Egg whites are good for a lot of things; lemon meringue pie, angel food cake, and clogging up radiators." - MacGyver
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Old 11-07-2006, 09:40 AM   #8
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Thanksgiving is a pretty "set" menu in our house, but our traditional Christmas day menu is beef stew in wine sauce, cooked in a large crockpot that folks can dip into whenever they want, with crusty bread and salad fixings on the side.

My maternal forebears (mom and grandmother) always did a one-dish meal (beef stew or "tamale pie") with a salad for Christmas, so they could go to church, enjoy the festivities, and hang out with everyone. There were always plenty of dessert-type contributions in the gift piles (my aunt always made popcorn balls for all the kids, and there was always a pinata) and the whole point of the day was to enjoy it with the children, not worry about the kitchen.

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