My Thanksgiving Game Plan
Thanksgiving is ten days away, but my freezer is practically
full with rolls, sweets, cookies, appetizers and many other assorted foods that
can be make ahead of time. Lisa, Lenny, Leo & Lucy are staying for over a week -
that is a lot of cooking. I am getting organized so Turkey Day will
be a breeze and allow me time for several glasses of bubbly. My busiest day in
the kitchen will be the day before Thanksgiving.
Ponzi Pinot Noir
Grilled Herbed Turkey
Maple-Glazed Delicata Squash
Shaved Brussels Sprout Salad
Buttermilk Cloverleaf Rolls
Chocolate-Pecan Shortbread Bars
Yeah, we were never one of those marshmallow-topped
sweet potato families.
The salmon rillettes is already prepared, pressed into a vacuum-sealed
bag and frozen. After a quick thaw, I will mold the spread into a pretty
crock, pour a layer of melted butter over, garnish with chives and
serve. When anyone asks if they can bring something to dinner, I ask
them to bring a bottle of Veuve Clicquot, which is more polite than
this rude situation. My Mom's Candlewick relish tray will be filled
with the usual suspects - olives, pickles, crudités.
For the first time EVER, DT is planning to grill the butterflied turkey -
outside, over his fancy gas BBQ! I can't wait for the result of this test
and I think Denny's
coffee shop is open 24-hours in case of failure. This experiment
also frees-up an oven. Yes! The bird will be
- with Kosher salt, pepper and fresh herbs - for two
days prior. Hopefully, I won't have too many glasses of the bubbly and forget to
photograph this epic moment in family history.
VEGETARIANS: Your nephew just called and said he is bringing his girlfriend for
Thanksgiving... and, hey, it's no big deal, Auntie... but she is vegetarian/vegan.
Never fails on a holiday featuring a massive bird. I was vegetarian for twelve
years, so completely understand.
No problem. Just make
Warm Potato Salad with Arugula and omit the Parmesan cheese if she is vegan.
This recipe is on our usual rotation, and you can make it with cubed butternut
squash if you get uber inspired. The potatoes and onions can be roasted the day
before, the dressing whirled and the potato/onion mixture will only need a simple
reheating before tossing with the arugula. Garnish with pepitas for a festive
touch. Biggest problem will be keeping the
carnivores away from this delicious dish. You can also be super generous and use
vegetable stock in some (or all) of the stuffing.
Or whip-up a little
Roasted Carrot & Ginger Soup, which also can be made ahead and quickly
reheated before serving.
SIDES: There are several recipes for make-ahead mashed potatoes, but
this is one thing I make just before serving. They can hold on the stove
for quite a while. I just smash with an old-fashioned hand-held masher
amounts of butter and cream. It's Thanksgiving. Since there will be no
roasting turkey drippings, I am buying gravy from our hippy gourmet grocer. It is
divine... and I don't have to make gravy. We are also not a family
that stuffs their turkey... which, this year, would be a serious
problem. I am using my homemade chicken stock, celery, onion, sage and
store-bought bread cubes - baked in a massive casserole. The dressing
will be prepared Wednesday. The Brussels Sprouts will be shredded and
the dressing will also be prepared Wednesday. Last minute toss (in a
salad bowl my parents received as a wedding gift). Delicata half-moons
will be coated in pure maple syrup, melted butter, a little olive oil,
Kosher salt and roasted. Cranberry sauce is also made ahead. I
use the recipe from the bag, but substitute orange juice for water and
garnish with orange zest. Lenny's Grandma always makes cloverleaf rolls
for him on Thanksgiving, so I made (and froze) a dozen for our table.
DESSERTS: I will make pie pastry and freeze it for
several days before filling/baking the pumpkin and apple pies.
The pumpkin pie filling is very traditional, with just a
splash of Jack Daniels Tennessee whiskey. The apples are grown at the
bottom of the hill. The shortbread bars are already in the freezer.
Since the kids will be here for a week, there are a few
more things in the freezer - chocolate chip cookies (no nuts) for Leo
and turkey-sage sausage, potato, spinach and Parmesan breakfast
This is my Thanksgiving game plan. What are you serving?
Do you make things ahead, or go full-on attack mode Thursday morning? Or
do you go to a restaurant? What are your family traditions?
Until my next update, I remain, your organized correspondent.
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