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Thanksgiving dinner menu. Suggestions & recipes please.

mussel

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My sister and her husband are going to host the thanksgiving dinner for the very first time and they enlist my help. There will be 12-15 people. So I want your suggestions on the menu.

What are you going to cook this thanksgiving? Do we need a second meat dish other than turkey? How many side dishes other than stuffing, yam and some vegetables? As for the turkey, how big? Does fresh organic free range really taste better than regular supermarket variety? I'd like some updated recipes with a modern twist on the old standby.
 

Edward Appleby

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This is what we do:
Turkey
Dressing (cornbread base)
Gravy
Cranberry jelly
Broccoli and peas with Hollandaise
Sweet potatoes
Rolls
Black cherry gelled salad
Pumpkin, pecan, and mincemeat pies

The best part, though, is when you take the leftovers out of the fridge and:
Spread mayonaise on two slices of potato bread
Cut a ~.5 inch slice or two of dressing and put this on the bottom, then layer on sliced turkey and a good helping of cranberry jelly
Close the sandwich, cut, and enjoy with a cold Coke

My absolute favorite sandwich in the world.

ED: As far as modern twists, I think my family would disown anyone who tried. To most of us (and I fall in this camp), Thanksgiving is not the time for change and experimentation, but rather reassuring consistency.
 

pejsek

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It is really true: Not all turkeys are created equal. But the important distinction is not between free-range organic and industrial as much as it is between breeds. The modern turkey has been specially bred to grow quickly and yield lots of breast meat. I believe it's name is actually the Large Breasted White. These birds might taste a bit better grown free-range (though they have difficulty moving) and given organic feed. Far superior are the so-called Heritage Turkeys--those breeds that were the typical barnyard animals prior to the advent of industrial food. The Heritage Turkeys retain the link to the wild turkey in both look and flavor. What's more, they can actually fly! I've eaten both the Narrangasett and the Bourbon Red and both were memorable birds. They do tend to be smaller than the supermarket turkeys, so for 12-15 you might want to get two. Here's a Slow Food link if you want to read a bit more:

http://www.slowfoodusa.org/ark/turkeys.html
 

itsstillmatt

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Originally Posted by pejsek
It is really true: Not all turkeys are created equal. But the important distinction is not between free-range organic and industrial as much as it is between breeds. The modern turkey has been specially bred to grow quickly and yield lots of breast meat. I believe it's name is actually the Large Breasted White. These birds might taste a bit better grown free-range (though they have difficulty moving) and given organic feed. Far superior are the so-called Heritage Turkeys--those breeds that were the typical barnyard animals prior to the advent of industrial food. The Heritage Turkeys retain the link to the wild turkey in both look and flavor. What's more, they can actually fly! I've eaten both the Narrangasett and the Bourbon Red and both were memorable birds. They do tend to be smaller than the supermarket turkeys, so for 12-15 you might want to get two. Here's a Slow Food link if you want to read a bit more: http://www.slowfoodusa.org/ark/turkeys.html
Well said! Remember, we are really lucky with what we have access to in San Francisco. We generally do a Smithfield ham. Almost 35 years of turkey is enough for me.
 

globetrotter

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turkey
stuffing
yams
potatos (my wife doesn't like yams)
cranberrery sauce

I like a free range turkey - I was actually just thinking about doing my turkey shoping this week - you often have to order free range heritage birds early.
 

Kent Wang

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Some unconventional bird -- rara avis if you will -- would be nice, like goose, pheasant or quail (two birds for each person), .
 

mussel

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I really like the Heritage turkey idea, thanks for the suggestion. Now, I need to call some numbers on where to get one or two.
 

lawandorder360

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Our Thanksgiving extravaganza usually consists of:

Beef Tenderloin
Turkey with gravy
Stuffing (home-made, two flavors)
cranberry sauce
traditional roasted potatoes
sweet potatoes with marshmallows
croissants
dinner rolls
shrimp salad with crackers (as the hors d'oerves)
crackers and pits with hummus (another hors d'oerves)
Black Cherry jello with homemade whipped cream

Dessert:

Homemade biscotti
Homemade pumpkin pie
Homemade raspberry and blueberry tart
Ice cream
 

rdawson808

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Can I recommend a pumpkin cheesecake? My wife made one last T-day and it was just great. I may have a recipe around here somewhere...

Aha, not the same recipe, but one given to me by friends years ago. They swear by it.

bob



Chef Fred's Amazin' Pumpkin' Cheesecake

PREHEAT oven to 300

FILLING
2½ # cream cheese, softened
4 C brown sugar, lightly packed
½ t cinnamon
12-15 oz. canned spiced pumpkin (or unspiced w/ extra spices added)
1 t vanilla extract
4 eggs
2 T flour
2 egg yolks

mix cream cheese and sugar until smooth
add pumpkin, cinnamon, vanilla, eggs, egg yolks
mix until smooth
dust in flour

CRUST
2½ C graham crumbs
½ C melted butter
½ C sugar

combine all

pack crust mixture on bottom and up sides of springform pan
add filling, not quite to top of pan

BAKE 1½ - 2 hours, until cake is set in middle (doesn't jiggle too much when bumped)


Chef Fred's Delish' Cream Sauce

2 C half-n-half (or milk, if necessary)
½ C sugar
6-8 egg yolks
vanilla extract and/or Amaretto and/or other liqueurs, spices, or flavorings

mix ¼ C sugar with half-n-half
mix ¼ C sugar with egg yolks
heat milk over double boiler until warm
gently whisk in yolks
continue heating until sauce thickens - be careful not to overheat
add flavoring(s) to taste
 

Joffrey

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While on the subject, I'm considering cooking up the thanksgiving turkey for dinner at my house, I know my way around the kitchen and am not afraid to play with fire, does cooking the turkey sound like plan that will fail miserably and I should leave to my mother or you think I should give it a shot?
 

Thomas

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Originally Posted by chorse123
brine the turkey

...best thing you will ever do for your bird.

Last year we cooked three turkeys (for combined family, plus neighbors and unattached friends)
2 sweet potato casseroles (one sweet, one more savory)
mashed potatoes
fresh cranberries (cooked and sweetened, of course)
cornbread stuffing
homemade yeast rolls
red wine. Lots of red wine (in-laws)

Guests brought the rest / favorite dishes, most of which I don't recall since I didn't sweat about them like I did the turkeys.
 

Thomas

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Originally Posted by Jodum5
While on the subject, I'm considering cooking up the thanksgiving turkey for dinner at my house, I know my way around the kitchen and am not afraid to play with fire, does cooking the turkey sound like plan that will fail miserably and I should leave to my mother or you think I should give it a shot?

Buy a practice bird, find a good recipe, and roast it (the bird, not the magazine) before Thanksgiving (test run). I use Cook's Illustrated / America's Test Kitchen, but they are by no means the only good publication out there.

It's not hard, you just have to get the timing right, since you don't want people waiting around (for a long time) for the bird once everyone's arrived.
 

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