Thanksgiving Tidings…

By Published On: November 23rd, 2013Categories: Chicken, Meals, Uncategorized0 Comments

We just got back from the Thanksgiving Day Parade here in Plymouth. This is the second largest Thanksgiving parade in the country, after the Macy’s Parade and this year it was truly spectacular! It has everything you want to see in a parade: marching bands, drum and bugle corps, horses of all kinds, old cars, floats, those big huge balloons that take several people to hold down and of course, Santa riding in to conclude the parade.

But before we get into Christmas I want to share my Thanksgiving Day menu and give you a couple “do-ahead” tips. I made two cranberry relishes last week; one is a repeat from last year–back by popular demand, Ginger Cranberry and the other is a fairly standard Cranberry Orange relish with the addition of pineapple. These sauces keep well for a week or more in the fridge making them a quick and easy do-ahead for your big dinner. And so much better than the stuff from the store.

You can find the Ginger recipe from my November 30, 2012 blog. The freshly grated ginger root gives the cranberry a nice kick. Here’s the recipe for the new sauce:

CRANBERRY ORANGE PINEAPPLE SAUCE

The Ginger Cranberry is on the left and the Orange Pineapple on the right.
They look nearly identical, but taste very different!

Ingredients:
3 cups fresh cranberries (1 12 oz. bag)
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
Peel and cut the other half into small pieces; remove any white membrane
Zest from the whole orange
8 oz. can crushed or chunk pineapple in its own juices (not sweetened). I used crushed so the pineapple itself disappeared, but left a nice pineapple flavor.
1 cup water

Preparation:
Bring all ingredients to a boil over moderate heat stirring occasionally. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered stirring occasionally until slightly thickened, about 20 minutes. Sauce will continue to thicken as it cools. Cool completely and then store in tightly covered glass container in the refrigerator.

Here is the complete Thanksgiving Day menu. You will find some of these recipes on last year’s November 2012 blog.

Hors D’oeuvres will be handled by my brother Skip and his wife Esther, and his son Chris and wife Sarah who are also joining us at my Dad’s this year with their adorable 2 year old baby, Peregrine.

*TURKEY ROULADE WITH CLASSIC STUFFING AND RICH BROWN GRAVY
*HAM WITH CLOVE STUDDED ORANGES AND MAPLE SYRUP
*BRINED HERB-CRUSTED TURKEY WITH SAUSAGE STUFFING AND APPLE CIDER GRAVY

*TWICE BAKED SWEET POTATOES WITH PECAN, CINNAMON, BUTTER AND BROWN  SUGAR TOPPING
*BOURSIN CREAMED SPINACH
*STEAMED PEAS AND PEARL ONIONS

*BAKED ROLLS
*SPICY CRANBERRY GINGER RELISH
*CRANBERRY ORANGE-PINEAPPLE SAUCE

*PUMPKIN CHEESECAKE WITH GINGER SNAP CRUST
*PUMPKIN ICECREAM

Esther is also bringing an apple pie and who knows what other goodies will show up on the harvest table!

Today I also want to talk about a do-ahead gravy that I made last week. It may be the best gravy I ever made and takes all the last minute frantic effort out of doing gravy when everyone is ready to sit down and eat. This gravy can be frozen for a couple weeks. I took this photo after freezing the gravy.

Here’s another trick which you may want to try. I just learned about it. Cook white flour before using in a brown gravy or rich stew. It darkens the color and I believe removes any of that ‘floury’ taste that sometimes occurs. All you do is heat a dry, clean skillet over medium heat. Add 2 cups white flour and stir frequently with a wooden spoon or heat-proof spatula. Just as the flour begins to darken stir constantly. I stirred for 20 minutes and said “enough!”, but the technique I read about said to stir for 50-60 minutes. The stirring is important as the flour can burn fairly easily which stirring avoids. This is how the flour looked before and after:

 

You can store the cooked flour for up to a year in the freezer.

DO-AHEAD RICH BROWN GRAVY

Ingredients:
1 large onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 Tbsp. olive oil/1 Tbsp. melted butter
Turkey parts-I used 2 large legs cut up by the butcher into 2″ rounds. Necks or wings would also work well.
2 Tbsp. cold water
8 cups chicken or turkey stock
2 cups water
4 sprigs fresh thyme
1 large sage leaf
2 cloves garlic
3 Tbsp. butter
1/2 cup browned (or white) flour
Salt/Pepper to taste
Pinch of cayenne

Preparation:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine onion, carrots, celery, olive oil, 1 Tbsp. melted butter in a large roasting pan and toss to coat. Place the turkey parts on top of veg. Liberally add salt/pepper. Put the roasting pan in the preheated oven and cook until the turkey wings are browned and vegetables are caramelized and softened, 40-45 minutes.
Transfer turkey and veg to a large stockpot. Place the roasting pan over a stovetop burner on medium heat. Pour 2 Tbsp. cold water into the pan and bring to a boil, scraping up all browned bits. Transfer mixture to the stockpot and add 8 cups chicken or turkey stock and 2 cups water, thyme, sage leaf, garlic. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered until meat falls off the bone, about 3 hours. Skim off turkey fat throughout the process and set aside 2 Tablespoons.
Strain turkey stock through a fine mesh strainer and reserve 6 cups of stock. When I made this, 6 cups was all that was left after it bubbled on the stove for 3 hours.
Heat 3 Tbsp. butter and 2 Tbsp. reserved turkey fat in a large saucepan over medium heat. Sprinkle in flour and cook, whisking continuously until it begins to thicken, 3-4 minutes. Simmer until desired thickness. Season with salt, pepper and a pinch of cayenne to taste.

On turkey-day I will scrape some of the turkey pan drippings into the pre-made gravy to give it a little more richness as it reheats. This recipe sounds like a lot of steps, but it is VERY easy and makes a perfect gravy. Next time I think I might try adding 1/2 cup dry vermouth or white wine or possibly some shitake mushrooms.

Yum! Yum!

Here are a couple more photos from today’s parade…

Playing the fife while riding these crazy bicycles looks like no easy feat!

Preparing a big Thanksgiving dinner does not have to be stressful. By doing a few things ahead of time it takes a lot of the work out. Tomorrow I am going to share with you the recipe for the turkey I am making this year. It’s one from Anne Burrell using some different techniques, but much of the work is done ahead.

I am incredibly grateful for the beautiful day I spent with my husband, cousins Joe and Kathe and tens of thousands of other people all feeling the spirit of this tremendous season. There was lots of love in the air.

Thanks, as always for sharing with me!
 

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