This was the first year we hosted Thanksgiving, and although it was only for one more person other than us (hi Mom!) and we didn’t need tons and tons of food…I still made tons and tons of food. The menu consisted of:
- Herb-Rubbed Crisp-Skinned Butterflied Roast Turkey with Basic Turkey Gravy (from Serious Eats)
- Roasted Acorn Squash with Sage Brown Butter (from Food & Wine)
- Ultra-Fluffy Mashed Potatoes (from Serious Eats)
- Classic Sage Stuffing (from The Kitchn)
- Moist and Tender Brown Butter Cornbread (from Serious Eats)
- Sticky Rice (adapted from Food & Wine)
- Extra-Smooth Pumpkin Pie (from Serious Eats)
I mostly followed the recipes above since I hadn’t made most of them before and didn’t want to risk any errors from improvising. The only thing on the menu that I’d made before was the Sticky Rice…and that was the dish that I ended up messing up (still edible though!) Sadly, I didn’t get pictures of everything, but I definitely learned some things that will come in handy for next year.
Last year, I followed Alton Brown’s turkey recipe. This year, I took a different route and decided to spatchcock the turkey. It roasted much more evenly and took less than 90 minutes to cook (9 lb. turkey). It did, however, mean that there wasn’t a pretty turkey to set on the table to carve. But we were all okay with that!
I dry-brined it overnight, so had to clear out a shelf in the fridge to rest. I’m still not sure whether I’m supposed to remove the breastbone before brining (which would make sense in that I would then use less brine) or after bringing (maybe there’s some sort of salt absorption secret that I don’t know about with whole turkeys).
This method was also a lot easier to control the timing and also meant that the oven wasn’t out of commission for the 3-4 hours that I would have roasted the turkey traditionally. It also meant that I could make the gravy within roughly the same timeframe as the turkey roasted in the oven.
I did discover that I don’t like my meat thermometer and it told me that the breast was cooking MUCH faster than the rest of the turkey, leading me to throw a piece of aluminum foil to slow it down in relation to the legs/thighs. It turns out that either we inserted it incorrectly or it really doesn’t work well, but in any case, I ended up with a very unevenly browned turkey.
Oh well, because my husband carved it all up before bringing it to the table anyway, so you can’t even tell! It was juicy and the ease and convenience means that I’ll be using this method from now on.
Roasted Acorn Squash
Last year, I forgot to make a vegetable dish, so I made sure not to make that same mistake this year. I love using browned butter in baking because I love the nuttiness (and it smells delicious when browning), but I hadn’t used it on other foods before. No big surprise that I’m a fan.
By the way, half a roasted acorn squash serves as a good base to a hearty meal. You can fill it with ground turkey and spinach or other similar fillings.
So while I didn’t forget to make a vegetable this year, I did forget to take any pictures of the dish.
Potatoes, garlic, milk. Such simple ingredients! I don’t own a potato masher since I really only make mashed potatoes once a year, but these were so soft after I boiled them that they were very easy to mash without one.
This is one of the dishes that I didn’t get a “Voilà!” picture of.
I know, I know – it’s technically called dressing. And no, I didn’t stuff it inside the bird, but I call it stuffing anyway. I don’t know why it bothers me so much to call is dressing, but it does. Maybe because I think of dressing as something you put on salad. And I don’t really eat or like salads.
Anyway, the only bread at our supermarket that was close to what I imagine the recipe calls for was French bread. I cut them into huge chunks and will likely make them smaller next year. So I actually didn’t really enjoy this when I first tried it, but my husband said it was his favorite dish. The dish actually grew on me as I ate more, which was a good thing because we had tons of leftovers and I ended up eating it for the next week.
I made this one ahead of time and then popped it back in the oven after I had turned it off and taken out the turkey, thinking that it would be nice to warm it up a little. So we carved the turkey, arranged all the food, got drinks…and I forgot about the cornbread and left it sitting in the oven until dinner was over and we started clearing the dishes. Oops.
Well theoretically this would have been good, but leaving it in the oven for much longer than I meant to completely dried it out. I’ll try this one again at Christmas!
Another dish for which I don’t have a “Voilà!” picture or apparently any pictures at all. All the better for this one though since this is the dish that I messed up. The first time I made this, I soaked the rice for a few hours and then cooked it in the rice cooker. This time, I soaked the rice overnight since that’s what all the directions say. Apparently (as my mom laughingly informed me), you only soak it overnight when you cook the rice the “real” way (i.e., steam) and not in the rice cooker. So the dish turned out SUPER sticky. Of course I messed up the one Asian dish. Figures.
Since my mom doesn’t really eat meat, I added extra mushrooms and didn’t add any Chinese sausage. I think I’m going to try it with chicken next time.
Dessert is of course the most important part of the meal. I’ve heard some people stuff themselves so full on Thanksgiving that they don’t have room for dessert – that has literally never happened to me. I’ve also heard some people don’t like pumpkin pie, which I simply cannot comprehend.
I’ve eaten lots of pumpkin pie over the years – store bought, restaurant-made, homemade by friends, and homemade by myself – and the pie I made this year is definitely my new favorite recipe and it will be a Thanksgiving staple from now on. In fact, I might make one for Christmas dinner too. I wish I had some right now.
Last year, I baked a test pie before Thanksgiving since it was the first time I made pie crust from scratch. This year, I was a little more confident in my pie crust making, except then of course I slightly over-baked the crust. I haven’t quite figured out why the one piece on the edge shrunk in towards the middle.
Well the good news is that when I poured in the filling, you couldn’t really tell the bottom was a little too brown.
This was a nice make ahead dish since the pie had to cool down anyway before serving and it’s easy to store off to the side while cooking everything else. The title of the recipe is true to its nature – the pie is indeed extra smooth. The crust is flaky and buttery and the pie filling is absolutely delicious.
And that’s it! ‘Til next time…
Estimated Nutritional Information: Haha, nope, not this time!