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Poll: Stuffing: in or out? (47 member(s) have cast votes)

Do you actually stuff your bird or cook the dressing in a separate dish?

  1. Of course, I stuff the bird! It's the way my mamma did it! (3 votes [6.38%])

    Percentage of vote: 6.38%

  2. Out of the bird! Stuffing is unsanitary and makes the dressing too moist. (26 votes [55.32%])

    Percentage of vote: 55.32%

  3. In and out...give the people a choice! (18 votes [38.30%])

    Percentage of vote: 38.30%

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#41 MaBell

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Posted 27 November 2006 - 12:01 PM

Thanksgiving turned out to be a 19 hour day on my end.

I was up at six and out on the water paddling in the rain at 7. Then home to clean and get the house ready. Work was very busy in the lead up to the holiday so I just delegated a lot of things I normally do and decided there was no way I was fitting oysters and several other items into this year's menu due to my lack of time. None of this was missed by anyone other than me, I'm sure.

I got the bird in the oven around 10:30 (stuffed with chestnut dressing). Before putting it in the oven I put a mixture of butter and herbs under the skin and then basted it in red wine and orange juice. The turkey turned out fine but I will never make such a large bird again. Next year - two smaller birds.

Then I turned to the curry deviled eggs - I modified the recipe and used creme fraiche instead of sour cream, curry powder and lemon juice.

Iced the chocolate turtle cake which was not one of my prouder moments. The icing was too thin and resulted in a gooey mess but it still tasted good. I stressed about it for 30 minutes or so but the perfectionist in me just had to let go. I decided mid day that I was eliminating the pumpkin souffle from the menu. Someone else was bringing a dessert and I just didn't think we needed three desserts for 10 people.

More cleaning and furniture arranging. People were asked to arrive around 4, so of course the first guest arrived at 4:57. Our 5:00 dinner happened at 6:30 and we didn't eat dessert until 10:00. I think we averaged a bottle of wine per person - and there were a couple people who mostly drank beer and hard liquor.

It was a great day - one of the best T-givings yet.

Here is the final menu:

Apps included curry deviled eggs, spicy eggplant dip, pumpkin hummus, rice crackers with wasabi cream cheese and shrimp, two kinds of red pepper dip.

Turkey
Chestnut dressing
Cranberries (recipe from the back of the bag plus a little salt)
Three kinds of potato dishes - mashed sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, potato gnocchi
Brussels sprouts with buttered pecans
Green beans with beets
Broccoli with cheese sauce
Bread from La Petite Provence
Probably forgetting a couple of things.

Dessert - pumpkin roll and chocolate turtle cake and there was a small cheese course .

On Saturday I used the turkey leftovers to make turkey sloppy joes and turkey soup. I also made a cole slaw with cranberries and walnuts to go w/ the sloppy joes and I froze most of the soup.

Onward to Christmas!
Homer: Are you saying you're never going to eat any animal again? What about bacon?
Lisa: No.
Homer: Ham?
Lisa: No.
Homer: Pork chops?
Lisa: Dad, those all come from the same animal.
Homer: Heh heh heh. Ooh, yeah, right, Lisa. A wonderful, magical animal.

#42 Angelhair

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Posted 19 November 2007 - 08:43 AM

Last night at Chinese Delicacy, our end of the table was all in a flush talking about Thanksgiving. Knobcreeky is cooking for 14, Vrunka may have that many and so too might MaBell.

From MaBell, I got the great idea of setting up a buffet in the kitchen for my humble party of eight. A magazine gave the 'tip' of making your mashed potatoes 4 or 5 hours ahead of time and keeping them warm in a crock pot. Think that'll work? Anyway, Vrunka mentioned that this was her first Thanksgiving cooking for such a big group, and I think this might be the largest I have ever made Thanksgiving for too. So, does anyone have any tips or recipies they might want to share?

#43 krispenn

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Posted 19 November 2007 - 08:57 AM

Crockpot will work, but any heat over a long time will dry out the 'taters.

Usually when I make them ahead, I put them in a big bowl covered with some plastic wrap and towels. As the bird's coming out, put the potatoes back in the pot and reheat adding some extra liquid (and in my case butter or sour cream) of choice.

What's everyone bringing/having?

#44 Angelhair

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Posted 19 November 2007 - 09:00 AM

According to the Amateur Gourmet, I should have started cooking yesterday. Crap! I am already behind!

http://www.amateurgo...ingGamePlan.pdf

#45 polloelastico

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Posted 19 November 2007 - 09:01 AM

I voted for stuffing out of the bird. I like a crust on my stuffing, and I actually mold them into muffin pans for individual stuffings that are crisp on the bottom with a crust on top too. My stuffing foregoes anything like fruit or chestnuts (my Mom was a chestnut freak), and it's very straightforward. Pretty much stale bread reconstituted with a fine stock, aromatic vegetables, sage, and, yes, MSG!

My mom also was a firm believer in slow and low and basting early and often - with a combination of butter and Maggi (more MSG goodness). The turkey itself is rubbed with garlic, melted butter, and Maggi, and would marinade overnight in the fridge. Not really the most "traditional", but damn, the bird came out perfectly browned and the skin was the best part.

We have a small contingent this year, just my sister-in-law and her husband (and two mostly non-meat eaters) so I'm actually leaning towards butterflying 4 cornish game hens, steeping them in olive oil and rosemary overnight, and grilling them on the Weber. Sort of leaves a vacuum in terms of gravy fodder, but I have nearly two pints of reduced stock in my freezer I've been saving for a time like this.

Mashed potatoes with an unseemly amount of roasted garlic is always a must.
“Think of how stupid the average person is, and realize half of them are stupider than that.” — George Carlin

#46 Knobcreeky

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Posted 19 November 2007 - 09:12 AM

Knobcreeky is cooking for 14, Vrunka may have that many and so too might MaBell.

Found out that 4 more got added over the weekend- thank god for bourbon.

I use the BBQ for as much stuff as possible- apps., veggies, roasted garlic, roasting sweet potatoes. Once that turkey goes in the oven there is not much room for everything else.

Roasted Garlic mashed taters rock.

I shall not stuff the bird- except with a few aromatics and an apple.

Making 2 kinds of stuffing and am putting sausage in one.

Haven't decided which kind of sausage to go with- Any opinions?
"Shop smart- shop S-mart"- Ash

#47 StMaximo

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Posted 19 November 2007 - 09:17 AM


Knobcreeky is cooking for 14, Vrunka may have that many and so too might MaBell.

Found out that 4 more got added over the weekend- thank god for bourbon.

I use the BBQ for as much stuff as possible- apps., veggies, roasted garlic, roasting sweet potatoes. Once that turkey goes in the oven there is not much room for everything else.

Roasted Garlic mashed taters rock.

I shall not stuff the bird- except with a few aromatics and an apple.

Making 2 kinds of stuffing and am putting sausage in one.

Haven't decided which kind of sausage to go with- Any opinions?


I've used andouille and made it Cajun with some green peppers along with the onions and celery before. It got a mixed reception - Some folks loved it and other folks scorned it as non-traditional.

I've also made it with Sweet Italian or with breakfast sausage heavy with sage. If you're going with Garlic in the mashed you might not want to use a garlicy sausage.

#48 MaBell

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Posted 19 November 2007 - 09:34 AM

I would love some recs. on some affordable wines that will appeal to all palates.

A few things I like to do to stay sane -

Pat and my bro-in-law get assigned to purchasing alcohol and ice. Pat also does the cranberries and mashed sweet potatoes. This year we're doing two turkeys so my sister and I are dividing that task. I've asked a guest to bake the desserts as that's the part that I tend to put off to the last minute. I also asked two guests ((single guys with no desire to cook) to bring salad and a cheese course. One of my favorite turkey days ever (on a farm in NY state) involved a cheese course so I wanted to give it a try this year.

I usually buy some extra Ziploc or Glad containers before T-giving so I can send all the guests home with leftovers.

Put someone else in charge of the bar. I keep beer and white wine in a cooler so I don't have people rummaging thru the fridge while I'm trying to cook.

Set up any hors dourves as far away from the kitchen as possible - keeps guests out of the kitchen.

It helps to get out all your serving dishes and utensils and do a little "inventory" of which ones you'll need before Thurs. Because I'm so type A-minus, I try to mentally rehearse what goes where on buffet and also how the timing will work out for each burner while cooking, reheating, etc.

My menu for this Thanksgiving with hyperlinks to some of the recipes:

Appetizers
Butternut squash Bruschetta
Vegetable platter with pumpkin hummus


Main course

2 Turkeys
Chestnut dressing (no written recipe - I do it from memory/taste. 1 lb. blanched, shelled chestnuts, 2 loaves stale Italian bread, sauteed onion and celery, fresh thyme/rosemary/sage, chicken stock, salt, pepper)
Sausage dressing
Cranberries (Per a tip from Cooks Illustrated, I use the recipe on the back of the bag, plus a tsp. salt!)
Mashed sweet potatoes
Potato gnocchi with red sauce (this is my sister's task. It's a family recipe that I don't have written down, just committed to memory)
Brussels sprouts with spiced pecans
Green beans with carmelized shallots and gremolata
Mixed Green Salad with cranberry vinaigrette - a guest is bringing the salad and I'm making the vinaigrette

Cheese course - provided by guest

Dessert - provided by guests

Apple cobbler
Pumpkin pie
Homer: Are you saying you're never going to eat any animal again? What about bacon?
Lisa: No.
Homer: Ham?
Lisa: No.
Homer: Pork chops?
Lisa: Dad, those all come from the same animal.
Homer: Heh heh heh. Ooh, yeah, right, Lisa. A wonderful, magical animal.

#49 Angelhair

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Posted 19 November 2007 - 09:59 AM

Bell--You have some great ideas! Your dinner is going to be great!

#50 StMaximo

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Posted 19 November 2007 - 09:59 AM

I would love some recs. on some affordable wines that will appeal to all palates.


I've served Cristolino Rose in the past. It's a rose Spanish Cava (sparkler) for $7 or $8. It's available at New Seasons and Freddies.

I also like Pinots, Zinfandels and Rieslings. But the ones I prefer are in the $15 - $20 Range.

#51 LadyConcierge

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Posted 19 November 2007 - 10:22 AM

I just got back from an early Thanksgiving with my mom in eastern oregon. There were 40 people for dinner. This isn't unusual in my family. I have 30 first cousins on my maternal side. So, there was a 20-lb roasted turkey, prime rib and a ham. Mashed potatoes, dressing, peas and oh my god the gravy are prepared by mom and me, and guests bring more sides and desserts. After I made the mashed potatoes (simply with butter, evaporated milk, salt and parsley) we did put them in a crock pot to keep warm. Mom melted some butter in the bottom before adding the potatoes - no such thing as too much butter! A little bit stuck to the sides and turned brown, but no biggie.

#52 Flynn

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Posted 19 November 2007 - 10:25 AM

I would love some recs. on some affordable wines that will appeal to all palates.

At Toro Bravo, I had been drinking the Garciarevalo Casamaro (it's a blanco from the Rueda region of Spain) and liking it quite a bit. They had it at New Seasons for around $10, and it's currently on sale at Whole Foods for $6.99/bottle (at the Bridgeport location at least).

Solid value on a white that should appeal to all your guests (as opposed to a super oaked Chardonnay).

#53 LadyConcierge

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Posted 19 November 2007 - 10:29 AM

It helps to get out all your serving dishes and utensils and do a little "inventory" of which ones you'll need before Thurs. Because I'm so type A-minus, I try to mentally rehearse what goes where on buffet and also how the timing will work out for each burner while cooking, reheating, etc.


My mom has a map of where to put everything for the buffet, also photographs. It definitely helps her sanity the day of, but she gets teased a lot about it.

#54 RM

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Posted 19 November 2007 - 10:29 AM

I would love some recs. on some affordable wines that will appeal to all palates.


I'll second the vote for reislings, and add gewurtztraminier. Columbia Crest or Chateau Ste Michelle, both from Washington and distributed nationwide, should be available everywhere and fairly inexpensive (<$10). Pinot Noir would be my suggestion for a red but you're probably talking closer to $20. Try something from A to Z or O'Reilly for local reds. A Cline Zinfandel (from CA and under $11 at Costco) is another good choice for a red.



Many people like sparkling wines and Chateau Ste Michelle Brut is pretty good and usually available around $10-11. I'd avoid the super cheap/usually pretty sweet bubblies like Cooks, J Roget, etc.



Good Luck

#55 Sarah

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Posted 19 November 2007 - 10:46 AM

I think we'll have about ten people this year, and I'm a kitchen control freak so the only thing my guests are bringing is wine/cider/other beverages. I have a friend who knows more than I do (which is nothing) about wine, so I gave her the menu and she'll bring whatever sounds right.

I found lots of great recipes in Bon Appetit this year, so many of these can be found on Epicurious:

Pancetta sage turkey with same gravy
Dried tart cherry and cranberry sauce
Quince-pomegranate cranberry compote
Sauteed parsnips and carrots with honey and thyme
Sauteed brussels sprouts with caramelized shallots
Plain mashed potatoes (these I do ahead and keep warm in a glass dish over a pot of hot water)
Dinner rolls or no knead bread, I haven't decided
Raw celeriac salad with anchovy-lemon vinaigrette
Three mushroom dressing with prosciutto
Apple walnut cake with maple frosting
Pumpkin mascarpone pie
Vanilla ice cream

Cheeses


I start several days in advance so I don't feel stressed. The cranberry sauces are done, the compound butter for the turkey is in the freezer. I made turkey stock yesterday and cooked the pumpkin for the pie, and tonight the turkey is going to be salted. Tomorrow I'll shop once more for vegetables and cheese. I'll also make the ice cream and maybe the pie. Wednesday I'll cut all the veggies (except potatoes) and make the cake, uncover the turkey and let it dry out, cook the mushrooms and dry out the bread for the dressing. Which leaves me with not a whole heck of a lot to do except have fun on Thursday!

#56 Sarah

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Posted 19 November 2007 - 10:48 AM

Making 2 kinds of stuffing and am putting sausage in one.

Haven't decided which kind of sausage to go with- Any opinions?



Try to make it to Otto's for that sausage if you can. I've tried just about every one they make and I love them all.

#57 jennifer

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Posted 19 November 2007 - 11:30 AM

One of my girlfriends has this huge Irish Catholic family, and they do Thanksgiving for 100 - 120 people every year, all family. Oh, and real dishes, no paper/plastic. I asked how in the hell...and she said everyone has a job and brings stuff. Yeah, but for 100 people?? Where does everyone fit?? Well, they have this big farm house in Albany, they cook 10 birds, a few hams, etc. My friend's job was/is to bring mashed potatoes. 40 pounds of mashed potatoes! She uses several croc pots to keep them warm & moist.

#58 MaBell

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Posted 19 November 2007 - 11:34 AM


It helps to get out all your serving dishes and utensils and do a little "inventory" of which ones you'll need before Thurs. Because I'm so type A-minus, I try to mentally rehearse what goes where on buffet and also how the timing will work out for each burner while cooking, reheating, etc.


My mom has a map of where to put everything for the buffet, also photographs. It definitely helps her sanity the day of, but she gets teased a lot about it.


Photos - I'll have to remember to do that this year!

Thanks to all for the wine recs. I'll be putting together a list for Pat to do the shopping!
Homer: Are you saying you're never going to eat any animal again? What about bacon?
Lisa: No.
Homer: Ham?
Lisa: No.
Homer: Pork chops?
Lisa: Dad, those all come from the same animal.
Homer: Heh heh heh. Ooh, yeah, right, Lisa. A wonderful, magical animal.

#59 Calabrese

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Posted 19 November 2007 - 12:40 PM

For most of the last 25 years, I've been part of a group thanksgiving event. Numbers vary from a dozen or so up to the year we had about 36 (there were some orphans who ended up with us that year). There is always one or more turkey. Main bird is grilled over mesquite charcoal. Mashed potatoes and gravy. One year the potatoes were completely messed up and ended up being starchy and poi like. Everyone brings dishes they love. For me it's deviled oysters. Inevitably there is lots of homemade cranberry sauce, lots of sides. Hubbard squash pie. Etc. We also have a lot of wine. We used to make a big deal about beaujalois noveau but we mostly outgrew that bubble gum. Now it's pinots, cabs, and sparklers.

For affordable, Domaine Ste. Michelle Blanc des Blanc, Flexinet Cava, Rodney Strong Cabernets come to mind.

#60 MaBell

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Posted 19 November 2007 - 12:59 PM

I'm one of the two votes for stuffing in the bird. As a market researcher, I think the poll is a bit "leading". If the bird is cleaned and cooked properly and the stuffing reaches a safe temperature, I'm eating it.

The USDA also suggests cooking pork to 160 degrees. Which is hooey. If I can eat pork medium-rare, I can eat stuffing that's been in the bird.
Homer: Are you saying you're never going to eat any animal again? What about bacon?
Lisa: No.
Homer: Ham?
Lisa: No.
Homer: Pork chops?
Lisa: Dad, those all come from the same animal.
Homer: Heh heh heh. Ooh, yeah, right, Lisa. A wonderful, magical animal.