Successful Thanksgiving Day

1 Dec

Last night as I was flipping through Facebook and Instagram posts of friends and family, my heart swelled like it so often does around the holidays. We all have so very much to be thankful for, which shouldn’t be concentrated in just one day a year.

This morning [Friday, actually…I didn’t finish this blog in one sitting], for instance, I’m sitting at the dining room table working on this blog with my niece flipping through Christmas music stations on Pandora on the couch across from me. She also plugged in the Christmas tree that she and her sister helped us decorate yesterday after dinner. Family, peace, and Girl Scout Samoa coffee creamer are certainly on the Thankful List.

Anywho, yesterday was a success. We survived – the kitchen, our sanity, and maybe even waistlines. I learned one very important lesson in hosting Thanksgiving: Prepare 1/3 of the food that I *think* I need.

This is seriously a problem of mine, guys. There were more leftovers than what was eaten. It didn’t help that we had the extra Chinese and Viet dishes.

I mean, look at this well-stocked table!

Family gathered around the table for Thanksgiving dinner

Next time, however, I will do a buffet line in the kitchen. But anywho – here’s the final menu rundown:

The Smoked Turkey was the real deal. I used the Pioneer Woman’s amazing rosemary, orange brine overnight and then made an herb/olive oil wet rub that I shoved between the skin and meat for an even tastier bird.

Before, before:

Turkey in orange, rosemary, peppercorn, garlic, salt and sugar brine

Just before:

Turkey wtuffed with apples, carrot, onion and rosemary before going in the smoker

Stuffed with apples, carrot, onion and rosemary. It may not look well-herbed or spiced, but the herb oil web rub is stuffed between the skin and meat. Ohhhh yeahhhhhh


Taking a photo with the smoked turkey and a glass of wine

The look of success! (nevermind the shine, this is what happens when you spend the entire day in the kitchen!)

Ok, that’s enough of the bird.

I read in some blog to fill the drip pan with herbs and some veggies to make a more flavorful broth and oh boy were they right! I filled ours with 3 cans of low sodium chicken broth, 1 carrot, some onion skin (to darken the broth, the Internets say), garlic, and more rosemary. The turkey drippings and smoke flavor infused the broth to a heavenly state which made one of the best gravies I’ve ever had. Seriously.

This may not look nice, but I may or may not be drinking leftover gravy smoothies…

Pan drippings with chicken broth, carrots, onion skin, rosemary and garlic.

Inspired by Giada, I made a mashed potato concoction with some heavy cream (because why not), some Parmesan and salt, all topped with a breadcrumb, Parmesan and room temp butter crumble. Probably one of my favorite dishes on the table. I didn’t follow her recipe but more took inspiration, so no measurements for ya. Except that I’d estimate 1/3 a potato per person. I made at least 3x too much. Hooray for leftovers!

Just peel, cube, boil and mash the potatoes, season with salt and taste. The topping goes on the potatoes in a greased casserole dish and in the oven at whatever temp the other items needed for 15 minutes or so. Holy Creamy Potato Goodness. This may have been my second favorite dish on the table. Parmesan and cream (ok, maybe just milk) are now permanent partners in crime for my mashed potatoes. Thanks, Giada!

Rather than roast the Brussels Sprouts, I sauteed and simmered them in a little chicken broth. First sauté 1/2 a mined onion until soft and fragrant and brown chopped pancetta (bacon will also do here) in your pan. Then add a bit more EVOO and add the halved Brussels Sprouts and mix well. Pour over 1/2 a can or so (depending on how many Sprouts you have – you want to steam, not drown). Stir/toss/shake around and add some herbs if you like, cover and simmer until just soft. Serve immediately.

We ended up having all of the things mentioned in my prep blog, which made for a seriously gluttonous meal. And it was delicious.

For dessert, we feasted on Momofuku style cookies made by my sister in law, and pumpkin pie of course, with fresh whipped cream. Dad made one of the pumpkin pies with an Oreo cookie crust. I highly recommend it.

After we digested a bit, it was time to trim the tree with our nieces. It was so much fun to experience the ornaments I’ve gathered over the years from my family through their eyes for the first time. They especially loved the White House ornaments and hung most of the on the tree.

Our Christmas tree

I was stoked to break out my crocheted tree skirt, but found it’s more like a mini-skirt. Still looks nice, I’ll just have to crochet additional Granny rounds or squares before next year.

Crocheted tree skirt underneath the Christmas tree.

So how was your Thanksgiving? Filled with friends, family and amazing food? Do tell!


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