|Photo Courtesy of Fine Cooking|
So far, I've finalized my menu, ordered my 20-22 pound fresh, organic turkey from Dean & DeLuca for Tuesday pickup, and plotted out a timetable for what needs to be done when over the next two weeks in order for the meal to come together smoothly. I ordered my spices from Penzey's yesterday and placed a wine order at wine.com that will be delivered this Thursday. I went with four bottles of Oregon's Domaine Drouhain pinot noir for red, and two bottles of Adelsheim's Pinot Cris, also from Oregon, for the white. Six bottles of wine for 5 adults -- do you think that will be enough? ;-) It's better to have too much wine than too little; any unopened bottles can be saved for another occasion.
Most of my Thanksgiving recipes come from a menu published in Fine Cooking magazine in October 1998. What's great about this menu is that it uses all fresh ingredients, and although it's challenging (and impressive!), a lot can be done ahead of time, and the flavors of each dish complement the others so nicely. I really can't imagine ever making anything else for Thanksgiving dinner, so the most I change is to experiment with a new green vegetable side dish or pie recipe each year. In case you are in charge of cooking this year and haven't yet finalized your menu, might I suggest:
|Spiced Pecans, recipe HERE|
|Buttercup Squash & Leek Soup with Herb Butter, recipe HERE|
Roasted Turkey with Apple Cider Thyme Gravy. The recipe calls for a 12-14 pound fresh turkey, but I ordered a 20+ pound bird because of past experience. This turkey is so good, there aren't enough leftovers if I don't get a bigger bird! I'm allowing for an additional hour and a half of roasting time for my bigger bird. By the way, if you've never cooked a fresh bird for Thanksgiving before, there's nothing to fear. In fact, I think frozen birds are much harder. I've heard so many horror stories about frozen turkeys not thawing in time, or not cooking as quickly as expected because they weren't completely thawed, resulting in sub-par Thanksgiving dinners served at 11 PM to grouchy, starving guests. You don't have to worry about that with a fresh bird, and you can order one ahead of time from most butchers or specialty grocers. The recipe for this delicious, knock-your-socks-off Thanksgiving turkey is right here.
Wild Rice, Spiced Pecan & Apple Stuffing. Mmmm... This recipe is fabulous with the Apple Cider Thyme gravy, and it's really easy, too. It uses some of the spiced pecans, and you prep most of the ingredients the night before so you're just folding in the wet ingredients on Turkey Day. Michael Brisson, the chef who came up with these recipes, suggests sticking a fork into the middle of the stuffing to draw the heat into the bird and ensure the stuffing cooks completely. I've done that every time I stuffed a turkey and have never had a problem. The recipe also makes enough stuffing to fill a separate baking dish. You can find that recipe here.
|Whipped Yukon Gold Potatoes with Horseradish|
|Cranberry Citrus Compote, photo courtesy of Fine Cooking|
|Green Beans with Pancetta, Mushrooms & Shallots|
For dessert, I'll be making the Cinnamon-Molasses Pumpkin Pie with Pecan Crust that I've served every year since the recipe was published in Bon Appetit in 1999. The original recipe calls for a bourbon whipped cream that I tried once and loathed, so I skip that and serve my pie with vanilla ice cream instead. The pecan crust and molasses elevate this pumpkin pie so far beyond anything I could buy in a store. Every year I work myself up about the pie crust and consider buying an ordinary pastry crust from the grocery store, but it's really not all that hard to make pie crust from scratch and the results are so worth it. I find that a glass of wine for the pastry chef goes a long way towards calming the pie jitters! I couldn't find my pie recipe online at the Bon Appetit web site, but I did locate the exact same recipe (with no credit given to the source!) here in the archives of a Colorado newspaper. Since Bon Appetit published the recipe in 1999 and the Greeley and Weld County, Colorado Tribune published it in 2007, I'm guessing some unscrupulous Colorado baker tried to pass it off as his or her own creation. Tsk, tsk, tsk... I always bake two pumpkin pies: one for me, and one for everyone else to share. And no, I'm not kidding. Momma eats pumpkin pie for breakfast every year on Black Friday.
Since I'll have eleven mouths to feed this Thanksgiving, and since I'm only willing to share one of my pumpkin pies, I'm going to be testing out a new-to-me fruit pie recipe this year. With apples playing a prominent role in the main courses, an apple pie was the obvious choice, but I have never like the super sweet versions. I found a recipe for Crimson Appleberry Pie in Carole Walter's Great Pies & Tarts cookbook, available here from Amazon. I figure the cranberry/apple combo works great for juice, so why not for pie? The cranberries should add just enough bite to the apple pie to keep it from being too cloyingly, annoyingly sweet. What's more, I found instructions on the Baking Banter blog at King Arthur Flour for making any kind of fruit pie ahead of time and freezing it just prior to baking. I would be skeptical if this was coming from just any source, but the folks at King Arthur Flour are fanatical when it comes to baking, so I'm going to give this a try. I'm going to be making and freezing my Crimson Appleberry Pie this weekend, defrosting it the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, and then popping it in the oven to bake the day before the Big Feast. I'll let you know how it turns out.
Meanwhile, it's almost lunch time on Saturday and I need to get out from behind the computer if I'm really going to get anything done today. I need to do my non-perishable grocery shopping for Thanksgiving and make Spiced Pecans, Buttercup Squash Soup, Herb Butter, and Appleberry Pie. I also have my parents coming over for dinner tonight for a belated birthday dinner (Bernie's birthday fell on Wednesday this year) and I'll be baking ziti and serving cupcakes for dinner. Is it too optimistic to think the laundry might get washed as well?
Have a great weekend!