Thanksgiving lessons: What did you learn this Thanksgiving that might interest others here? Any hidden gems (recipes) or tips to share? ;o)

I asked this 2 years ago but, knowing that we all learn new things, have new insights, etc., every year, I am starting a new thread. I look forward to your responses! (I’ll share mine once the thread gets going.) ;o)



mainecook61 December 6, 2017
Pumpkin pie is not required. Cherry pie is so much better. And a couple of teaspoons of curry powder in a pot of basic turkey-rice (+leeks, carrots, celery) soup really brings out the flavor. (The soup does not taste of curry.)
MMH December 6, 2017
I agree. I really really really dislike pumpkin pie and stopped feeling compelled to serve it long ago. Serve what you like! In my house it's not dessert unless it has chocolate it in.
Saffron3 December 6, 2017
I've been thinking about curry powder in a soup. Because of your thought, I'm going for a test on this! Great idea maine!
cranberry December 5, 2017
I made this recipe last year to some resistance (in lieu of the sweet potato with marshmallow stuff that I abhor) and this year, people were requesting it - plus asking for enough to have leftovers. The flavor is different but not too different, and it is a not-rich offering on a table full of very rich foods. Plus you can make it the day before, which is always a bonus.>
cranberry December 5, 2017
So my linkie didn't work for some reason, but you can google "sweet potato salad with warm chutney dressing" on food network to find it. And I'll post it again in case it will work:>
(Sure would be nice to be able to edit one's replies...)
Saffron3 December 4, 2017
Make more stuffing! Correct amount of turkey, more leftover than used gravy, cranberry sauce, brussels, salad, pie. Folks had plates of sweets, mashed whites, turkey, stuffing, gravy. Amazing. And I made LOTS of stuffing.
AntoniaJames December 5, 2017
And to extrapolate on that . . . . make more stuffing so you can have leftovers for making stuffing waffles! Nothing better, really, the day after Thanksgiving, topped with a few bits of leftover turkey and a touch of leftover gravy. (I actually made a batch of the bacon and tamari gravy featured here a few weeks ago, just for this purpose.) If you want them for breakfast or brunch, top with warmed maple syrup.
Heat waffle iron. Warm the stuffing a bit in the microwave. If it's got largish bits of anything harder than bread in it, put the stuffing on a large cutting board and chop it up into small pieces. In a large bowl, beat 1 egg for each 2 cups of chopped stuffing; stir the stuffing into the beaten egg(s). I add fresh parsley, chopped (which I've prepped a few days before with the other parsley I use for the Thanksgiving Day meal), but that's strictly optional. Stir it well. If it seems too stiff, add a touch of stock or milk. Cook on the waffle iron and enjoy! ;o)
MMH November 29, 2017
Well, you just never know. We are the cooks but we are the out of town guests. We really only care about the togetherness. I love being in the kitchen with my sister in law.
So- 22 year old nephew came to us as the gravy poobas because we make it every year and I don't mind admitting we are good.
The liquid was delivered to us (without telling us that there were 2 sticks of butter in it). So the lesson became a lesson 3 ways around. And, fortunately, we also know how to make gravy from stock.
Love family.
AntoniaJames November 29, 2017
Another gem - a method I'd never used before, which I tried because I had to make a larger quantity than usual: polenta practically makes itself in the slow cooker! I was making polenta strata for the morning of our hike on Mt. Tam but wanted to increase the overall recipe, plus have some roasted polenta cubes to top a gratin.

Quite by happenstance, a few days before I needed to make the polenta, I came across Sarah DiGregorio's "Adventures in Slow Cooking" (featured here, in fact). I used DiGregorio's ratios, adding herbs, and the result was fantastic! Ratio: 1.5 cup regular polenta, 6.5 cups water, 2 tablespoons butter, cut into bits, 2 teaspoons kosher salt. I heated the water in my kettle and set the slow cooker on high; stirred the polenta in and after about 5 minutes, stirred again and added the other ingredients. I let it cook (ancient slow cooker) for about 3 hours on high and then turned it off and let the polenta sit in the insert (removed), covered, until cool, about another 2 hours.
Try this. The result was as good as my usual method -- adapted from Judy Rodgers' -- of cooking for 30 minutes over simmering water in a double boiler, followed by a second 30 - 45 minutes sitting covered over the hot water. The polenta plumps up so nicely! The long rest in the steam in the slow cooker produces the same positively luscious resutl. ;o)
Cav November 29, 2017
If your Thanksgiving is with young children, and your young child has a cold a couple of days beforehand, make sure you have food for your family in case you get uninvited. Ten pounds of potatoes and six pounds of carrots does not a whole meal make.
creamtea November 29, 2017
oh my goodness, uninviting a family is so rude and on Thanksgiving no less! I'm sorry if someone did that!
AntoniaJames November 29, 2017
Cav, next time that happens (and I hope it never does), let me know. You'll be welcome at our house! ;o)
Cookin' K. November 29, 2017
When sharing T-Day dish responsibilities, make sure to align the 'vibe' of the foods. I tend to make side dishes that can stand well on their own - each food is its own flavor symphony. My mother, on the other hand, isn't much for seasoning, depending more on the salt, pepper, butter and gravy each guest adds to their own plates.
I made sweet potatoes that had several flavor overtones, using brown sugar, orange juice, a dram of whiskey, butter, etc. I also kept some rustic chunks in (as opposed to the silky-smooth russets Mother made). While all the fam love my sweet potatoes (no leftovers!), it ended up overpowering EVERYTHING during the meal. Oops.
AntoniaJames November 29, 2017
Cookin' Kim, I hear you! This year I dialed back several of my recipes, inspired by and applying lessons learned in "Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat" by Samin Nosrat. With so much happening on your typical Thanksgiving plate, simple often is much better. ;o)

Voted the Best Reply!

inpatskitchen November 29, 2017
I hope all had a happy Thanksgiving...and remember that it's not what's on the table that's who's in the chairs!
Rachel E. November 29, 2017
On baking fresh bread....

Works so much better when liquids are warmed to ~100 degrees F rather than cold or room temp. Dough is softer, more pliable, easier to manage and rises faster!
Summer O. November 28, 2017
The perfect amount of pecans for a truly nutty, not gelatinous 12" pie is 1lb.
AntoniaJames November 28, 2017
And, for those of you who missed it, here are the tips from two years ago, responding to the same question: ;o)
AntoniaJames November 28, 2017
First, some recommended recipes. This salad, especially the dressing, was a huge hit:

I made it with red and green little gems, thinly sliced Honeycrisp apples and toasted pistachios (and no feta or raw alliums). Everyone loved it. Who said people don’t eat salad at Thanksgiving? Of course, it should be a good one. This one delivers.

I’ve noticed over the years that my tribe really doesn’t care about whether there are mashed potatoes, or sweet potatoes or rice, for that matter, or even rolls. This year I dispensed with all of them, serving instead my son’s favorite chorizo and sweet potato stuffing, and three vegetables with two tasty condiments — lemon tahini and the charmoula from “Gjelina” by Travis Lett, for the whole roasted cauliflower (didn't serve with cheese) -- a keeper -- and broccolini, poached in the same broth and also roasted. Frankly, the roasted vegetables with the two sauces stole the show. ;o)

stacy November 28, 2017
Make more gravy than you think you need (we ran out for leftovers). Similarly, make more cinnamon roll frosting than you think you need
ktr November 28, 2017
I learned you can never make enough mashed potatoes.
We reminisced about the year my oven broke right as I was about to cook the pies (this was the one and only time I have cooked for a holiday). We went out for pizza and had a great time. I've learned that it is only food and sometimes the mistakes make for the best stories in the years to come.
Windischgirl November 27, 2017
I made too much cranberry sauce! I just made several batches of my cranberry crumble bars to give away, and I’ll be eating sauce as my fruit for lunch, as a topping for Camembert spread on a piece of pumpkin bread, and maybe swirled into a Christmas cheesecake...?
Also, invite the relatives to come an additional 2 hours earlier, which might improve the odds that they show up on time :-/
BerryBaby November 28, 2017
I purposely made extra cranberry sauce. Had a pomegranate that I added to half the sauce and it is magnificent!
Today I made muffins using the sauce and added pecans and a streusel topping.
What I've learned is double the cranberry sauce recipe. Buy small containers and give each guest done to take home. Been told they love spreading it on waffles!
I like it on a toasted bagel with cream cheese. Yum!
creamtea November 27, 2017
1) a new "filet" (boning) knife (plus cut-resistant glove) to remoe the wishbone prior to roasting, and to carve the white meat off the bone, and this made all the difference in the world vs. my usual long carving knife.
2) The turkey finished about an hour before guests arrived but I jeot calm: I did a preliminary carve in the kitchen, cutting off the wings, legs, dark meat, and the breast meat (without slicing the latter). When I saw that parts were underdone, I was able to put back in a lower oven, covered, in several roasting pans to finish cooking with no loss of moisture.

3)I also plugged in a hot tray to keep things warm, as there were some late guests.

4) Not new, but i try to get as many things cooked or at least assembled beforehand so I have just pie and turkey to make on Thanksgiving day.

Stephanie B. November 27, 2017
A cut resistant glove sounds like just what I need! I cut myself dealing with carving the leftover turkey for stock this weekend.
creamtea November 27, 2017
I meant to say "I just remained calm"
creamtea November 27, 2017
Stephanie, I have a "policy" of not using a new knife during a holiday, when guests are present, because of fears of cutting myself, which has happened to friends of mine. I decided to go ahead as long as I had the glove and because the guests were busy chatting in the living room so I had a little time and no distractions. (I had also watched a helpful video on care of the knife I'd purchased, as well as Kenji's video on how to carve a turkey).
Stephanie B. November 27, 2017
I learned Long Island Cheese pumpkins have a distinct fruitiness that goes great with the caramel pumpkin pie recipe (on epicurious) I usually make.
I've used a different squash almost every year I've made this pie, and I was not drawn to the Long Island Cheese pumpkin I used this year, there just wasn't much choice. But what a great flavor that unassuming squash had!

Oh and if you want to try a new recipe for something that your guests/family have come to know and love, don't tell them. Or do TELL them but don't ASK them about it. I was was met with fierce resistance when I said I was thinking about trying a new pie recipe, which is flattering but frustrating if you like to mix things up.
saramarsh November 27, 2017
I've used the Judy Bird recipe (the 2008 L.A. Times version) for nearly 10 years now! The seasonings I prefer are pulverized bay leaves, sage, salt, and pepper for the dry brine, and for the last two years, cooked the bird on my gas grill so my oven's free for other things.
A couple of changes:
1. initial temp 500º, breast side up for 25 min. for color, lower to 325º, flip the bird and cook until it reaches the usual safe temps. Mine was a 15lb. turkey, it took about 2.5 hours total, and an additional 30 to rest.
2. The Thermopop thermometer is the best little gadget, if you haven't looked into Thermoworks, do it. Holy cow.
3. I warmed milk, cream, butter, and those Dorot garlic cubes (in the frozen foods section) in a pan to mix into my potatoes (russets through a ricer), and it was heaven. Having those ingredients warmed up kept my 'taters from cooling off.
And if you haven't discovered those little frozen garlic cubes, look into it. It's not a replacement for minced or sliced garlic, but they're SUPER handy for fast meal prep, and a garlicky essence.
702551 November 27, 2017
At my dinner table, duck confit is a preferable to turkey.

Also, ignoring the Internet is a good way to spend Thanksgiving.

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