I hope everyone reading had a wonderful Thanksgiving! Mine was busy but great. My dad and stepmom drove down from Kansas to visit us, and my mom, stepdad, younger brother, and my in-laws came over for dinner. I had grand plans for dinner and dessert and with lots of help we managed to pull off most of them. The above picture shows me in the center with my main helpers - my mom (on the right), my dad, and my stepmom (on the left).
Let me back up to last weekend first. I went to two Thanksgiving related classes last Saturday. The first was a Thanksgiving dinner class at Le Cordon Bleu. I learned some new recipes, and I decided to incorporate the brussels sprouts recipe and dressing recipe (with some tweaks) in my menu. The second class was a tarts class. I didn't make any of the tarts from class yet, but I plan to make one or two of them sometime during the holidays. I did use the Chantilly Cream (whipped cream) recipe from class rather than using canned or frozen whipped cream.
I wanted my Thanksgiving menu to use more fresh produce and scratch recipes than usual so in addition to the two recipes from class I also used Alton Brown's green bean casserole recipe, a mashed sweet potato recipe from Cooking Light, and butter rolls from the Bread Bible. My mom brought fruit salad, and my mother-in-law brought cranberry sauce.
We also had the normal turkey (bought a free range one from Whole Foods this year) which I had hoped to brine, but I ran out of time. The instructions that came with it made it sound like it would take 4 hours to cook the 17lb bird, but I was planning to follow the Le Cordon Bleu chef's and Alton Brown's suggestions to cook for 20-30 minutes at 500 degrees first and then lower the temperature. I didn't realize how much faster the turkey would be done doing that so it ended up being done really early and was a tiny bit dry. It still tasted good, but it wasn't perfect. We also had ham which was really simple and turned out great. My dad took care of cooking the ham.
I had never made brussels sprouts before, and I didn't really think they would be good. But, they were great with maple syrup, bacon, and pecans. I was really amazed that everyone ate them.
The green bean casserole was really good, but it was definitely a bit more work than your normal canned variety. You have to blanche the green beans, bake the onions coated in panko crumbs, cook the mushrooms and other ingredients to make the cream of mushroom, and then bake it all in a cast iron skillet in the oven. But, it really did live up to the recipe's name of Best Ever Green Bean Casserole.
The day before Thanksgiving I had planned to spend the whole day baking, but I had an appointment and a couple other errands so I was a little short on time. Fortunately my mom came over to help when she got off work. I had chosen three recipes from the Pie and Pastry Bible - Pumpkin Pie, Designer Apple Pie, and Pecan Tart. I also chose Bobby Flay's pumpkin pie from Throwdown which has a graham cracker crust. I made all of the pie dough before my mom came over and had started making the dough for the rolls and the first pumpkin pie filling so we had a lot of work left to do. This was my first time making pie dough (outside of a class) so I ran into some problems, but it mostly turned out okay. The all butter recipe was my favorite. I did discover that I prefer Alton Brown's technique of rolling the dough in a ziplock bag and just cutting the edges of the bag. Amazingly in a few hours we managed to get everything except the apple pie mostly done, and the apple pie was about half way there. I finished the pie and rolls that evening except for baking the rolls. I stuck them in the fridge overnight, pulled them out of the fridge a few hours before dinner so they could continue to rise, and baked them right before dinner.
Here's the designer apple pie. My one complaint about this pie is it was a little shallow. I almost wish I had filled it with apple and then put the design on top of the other apples.
The pecan tart with a chocolate lace design and whipped cream rosettes:
The butter rolls were delicious. I bought some backup premade rolls just in case, but there was no need to even open the package.
I had my husband set up the tables. We put the food on a separate table buffet style so we could have more room at the table. He was a great help with all of the little things that needed to be done.