Home Cooking 106

Thanksgiving 2011 -- the Good, the Bad and the Ugly

TorontoJo | Nov 25, 201107:56 AM

Since no one seems to have started this discussion yet, I figured I'd get it going.


Happily, everything turned out well this year. There wasn't any dish that I was upset by, but these were the best of the bunch:

Turkey was dry brined with salt and thyme and cooked spatchcocked. It was moist and tasty and so easy. My favorite method of making roast turkey. Lots of compliments on the turkey.

The brussels sprouts hash were also a big hit, even from brussels sprouts haters. Great epicurious recipe.

The boston cream pie and the carrot cake were made by a friend, who's a fantastic baker and they were wonderful and beautiful. My husband declared the carrot cake the best he's ever had. I believe it's a CI recipe. And my friend knows me well, and brought the extra pastry cream from the boston cream pie as a gift. :)

The banana pudding. Oh dear. After reading a bunch of positive reviews here, I made Paula Deen's "Not Your Mama's Banana Pudding". I made several substitutions (mascarpone for cream cheese, unsweetened whipped cream for Cool Whip), but stayed reasonably true to the recipe. Dang, that stuff is good. It was wiped out.

The full menu:

The apps:
- spicy caramel popcorn
- wonton cups w/wasabi guac and shrimp
- Thai red curry squash soup
- blue and gruyere thumbprints w/fig jam

The mains and sides:
- 19 lb. turkey + two 5 lb. turkey breasts
- 10 lb. honey glazed ham
- classic herb stuffing
- roasted garlic mashed potatoes
- brussels sprouts hash w/caramelized shallots
- roasted cauliflower
- chipotle roasted sweet potatoes
- green bean and pine nuts salad
- bourbon cranberry sauce
- turkey gravy w/roasted shallots
- mushroom bourgignon (for the vegetarians)
- vegetarian stuffing

The desserts:
- boston cream pie
- carrot cake
- banana pudding
- pumpkin spice cookies
- laceys cookies
- a small cheese plate


I totally underestimated how much certain dishes would get consumed. In the past, I've found that people weren't that interested in cranberry sauce and mashed potatoes. Oh, most people would take a little just to be polite, but I always had a ton leftover. So I made what I thought was a sufficient amount of both, only to discover that they had both been totally decimated before the evening was out. Oops.

The same thing happened with the sweet potatoes -- "oh, not that many people like sweet potatoes". Oops, wrong again. And I had meant the sweet potatoes to have a bit of heat by mixing the olive oil with adobo sauce from a can of chipotle peppers. However, I was worried about getting it too spicy, so I was cautious with the amount of adobo sauce I added. Well, I was too cautious and there was no discernible bite whatsoever. Someone did say that there was a nice hint of smokiness that offset the sweetness of the potatoes, though, so I suppose it was not totally for naught. :)

The cheese plate. I thought that perhaps people not interested in sweets would like a savory bite after dinner. Nope. Cheese plate was all but ignored as folks tore into the sweets.

The pumpkin spice cookies received mixed reactions. They are a REALLY heavily spiced cookie, which I love, but I think turned a lot of people off.


No true uglies this year. The closest thing was coming THIS close to not having enough space or flatware for the 25 people we ended up having over for dinner. But with good food, good drink and good company, it was a great time.

I love Thanksgiving!

What was your Thanksgiving like this year?

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