Thanksgiving Wrap-Up

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Are you sick of Thanksgiving yet? You should be! For the past few weeks, every website, every magazine, every food guru has been espousing the merits of dressing vs. stuffing, cajoling you to make your own cranberry sauce and badgering you to brine your turkey. Now that the big day is over, Thanksgiving Talk is as welcome as deconstructing the sex you just had: “I liked it when you put your right hand on my left shoulder.” Not fun. So, for the sake of knowing when to quit, I’m going to keep my Thanksgiving wrap-up short.

[Note, you can find all the corresponding recipes in my Thanksgiving PDF.]

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The Big Hits

– The turkey was a triumph. Brining in cider is a logical, flavor-enhancing technique and it gets even better with the cider glaze. The only thing I did different, based on the advice of Dan Barber and another chef I spoke to, is I started the turkey earlier and cooked at a lower temperature: 275. The meat was incredibly moist–it couldn’t have been moister–and the turkey was a universal hit, across the board.

– The cornbread dressing, which I also made last year, was again a bit hit:

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How could it not be with cornbread, sausage, pecans, cranberries and homemade chicken stock?

– And everyone loved the gingerbread truffles:

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A perfect morsel after dinner for a very full crowd.

The Very Goods

– People really liked the butternut squash soup:

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That’s a dollop of pecan cream spreading in the center. This definitely got raves, but it wasn’t my favorite: I’ve made better before, and next year I’ll do better again.

– The biscuits were a nice touch, and I was glad I did all three flavors:

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Next year I might try a different biscuit recipe; but it was definitely good to have a bready thing to start.

– The pumpkin mousse parfaits were greatly admired and enjoyed:

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But, next year, I might do something lighter. These were a bit heavy and most people went for the other desserts.

The Just OK

– The green beans were fine, no one raved:

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– And the beet salad, which I really enjoyed, left many people indifferent:

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[I took your advice, readers, and roasted the beets myself: I’m glad I did, they were beautiful!]

The Only Mess Up

The only thing I think I really messed up were the mashed sweet potatoes. I didn’t cook the sweet potatoes long enough so they weren’t mushy enough; here’s grandma scraping their insides into a bowl.

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Alas, there was so much other food that it really didn’t matter. And people were so elated by the food, the wine and the company that it became clear that no one really cares that much how lumpy their sweet potatoes are when they’re having a great time.

Extra points go to mom who did a terrific job decorating the table:

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If you any questions for her about how she did it or where she got things, I’m sure she’d be happy to answer them in the comments.

And that, my friends, is the Thanksgiving wrap-up. Hope you had a happy holiday and let’s never talk of Thanksgiving again! Well, until next year.

20 comments

  1. Oh no – I should have looked here first!

    Is that a plastic tablecloth too?

    Oiy Vey!

    Table decorations look lovely though!

  2. Are those disposables? I would never have known. I love the way it looks! I wouldn’t mind knowing where she bought the table decor if she has the time to tell me!

  3. Are the plates plastic? I really think for thanksgiving that finer dining requires real dinnerware(and it’s earth friendly) the table cloth is alright, but I geuss it doesn’t take much to wash a real one. lol I feel like such a snob! It does look nice, but really now…I’m a fan of Martha (I know I know…)….what would Martha say? lol

  4. Adam, great job! I think I made the same soup you did (got the idea from your PDF). I found it to be a little weak at first but after a few hours simmering in a crockpot the ginger really perked up.

    For the cream, I whipped some mascarpone in with the other ingredients, that added a little extra something.

    I plated it the same way you did (the cream melting into the soup looked great) but I also topped the cream with a couple fennel fronds I had left over from the turkey I made. That gave a very nice color contrast.

    Sweet potatoes take forever to roast don’t they? I almost had the same problem as you.

  5. What a beautiful home!The kitchen must have been a dream to cook in,your Mom has exquisite taste.You did a great job with the food,really is a tremendous amount of work!!Are you “fooded-out” yet? Looks like you had a great time-thanks for sharing.

  6. As a person who hosts lots of dinners and parties I used to put the pressure on myself to use all linens, china and glass, yes it looks great, but after cooking all day and entertaining who wants to do dishes till kingdom come!!! I say to your Mom, you go girl, your table looked great and because there weren’t a ton of dishes to do, you got to spend time with your family, friends and guests and thats what really matters!!

  7. Hi

    Loved the entire menu….but since my partner and I were guests of other people (and did not cook the turkey), I contributed the mashed yams. Yummy…to save time, I cooked the yams in the microwave, and the whole dish came out ultra-smooth. Our microwave has a setting for potatoes, so that is what I used–took about 20-25 minutes total. And they were so hot I had trouble scraping them into the bowel!

  8. Hi

    Loved the entire menu….but since my partner and I were guests of other people (and did not cook the turkey), I contributed the mashed yams. Yummy…to save time, I cooked the yams in the microwave, and the whole dish came out ultra-smooth. Our microwave has a setting for potatoes, so that is what I used–took about 20-25 minutes total. And they were so hot I had trouble scraping them into the bowl.

  9. Yes, Adam’s mom: you did a great job with the table! I’m a huge proponent of keeping the dishes to a minimum, especially when it’s such a big crowd. Who wants to be stuck in the kitchen with all the plates afterwards, you know? The food’s the thing, and good food is good food is good food. I liked the gold, too. Very warm.

    And Adam, you’re an inspiration. I for one love Thanksgiving season and am sad it’s over — that pumpkin mousse might have been too heavy for most of your guests for the actual Thanksgiving meal, but it will be perfect for a dinner party in early December. Yay.

  10. Hi Adam,

    Nice to meet you. Every thing looks and sounds

    great…so when do we get the recipes? and kudo’s to your Mom

  11. Something I proved this year: if you bake the sweet potatoes and scopp out the innards, the skins can be fried like standard baked potato skins and THEY ARE EVEN BETTER!

    I lost them all to a golden retriever last year, but this year he stayed in Texas. Oh, my, were they nice.

  12. Now that the big day is over, Thanksgiving Talk is as welcome as deconstructing the sex you just had: “I liked it when you put your right hand on my left shoulder.”

    oh god adam, I about spit out my water on my keyboard when I read that hahahahahaha!!!

    and, um, your grandmother looks curiously like mine. O_o

    everything looks good, but I can see how the parfaits would be ignored after the big meal. loooove the look of your turkey and dressing. yum.

  13. For those who have the audacity to complain about someone elses dishes, may I suggest that you volunteer to wash the required number of dishes per place setting, the accompanying silverware, glassware, the serving utensils, the utensils, dishes, etc. used to prepare said meal and, of course, all the lovely pots and pans! Get real! Wash those sour grapes (cranberries?) off your face and admit you wish you had been invited to that wonderful meal. Also, Adam, sometimes sweet potatoes have some very fiberous areas in them. Can’t see them until its too late to do something. Smaller s-potatoes are one suggestion.

  14. Hi, we don’t celebrate Thanksgiving here in the Philippines so it was great to see all the preparations and photos going on as you prepared for Thanksgiving Day. Thanks!!!

    Gay

    PS – Wish we have your book here…

  15. I was the first to post about the disposables. I’m glad others agreed with me (or had their own thoughts!) I felt bad about saying anything.

    To ‘misterybus’ I am a HUGE entertainer – we entertain about once a week (a 3-4 course meal) and I always use real china, glasses and cutlery. My husband knows that it’s not an option to argue with me over it.

    I caved and now allow soda bottles on the table (as opposed to pouring them into glass pitchers, the way I was brought up!)It became quite wasteful.

    If everyone pitches in to help, it’s no big deal.

    Do you think that kitchen doesn’t have a dishwasher? I don’t have one, and I still do it.

    You eat with your eyes – if it doesn’t look good, why would one think it tastes good?

  16. Guess I dont have a good eye for tableware – I thought it looked rich. All the gold must have added to the candlelight.

  17. Guess I dont have a good eye for tableware – I thought it looked rich. All the gold must have added to the candlelight.

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