Thanksgiving Bonanza

For thanksgiving this year, we hosted our first family gathering at the Leung-Wood house. A total attendence of 14 people (plus left overs for a some who couldn’t attend), it was daunting. After weeks of prep, I was proud to present a menu aimed to satisfy all my guests. Everything from chicken stock for mash potatoes to bread for stuffing and biscuits was homemade.

No need for appies when you have a full entree and dessert lined up, so let’s get to it.

Menu items included:
1. Biscuits with gravy
2. Cornbread with honey butter*
3. Pan fried brussel sprouts with bacan and garlic*
4. Mushroom gravy green bean casserole
5. Candied yam topped with marshmallows
6. Roasted garlic mash potatos with bacon and cheddar
7. Cranberry apple stuffing with english sausage (ok, you got me, I didn’t stuff my own sausage; but I did bake my own cranberry walnut bread and stew my own chicken stock)
8. Brown sugar maple honey glazed ham with bone in
9. 18lbs turkey*
10. Fresh cranberry sauce
11. Gravy
12. Pumpkin pie
13. Pecan pie*
14. Pumpkin coffee cake
15. Cranberry Orange short bread

*I was particularly please with these dishes!

Biscuits
Recipe was from Joy of Baking website. Easy to follow and came out great. I ended up with about 16 biscuits, 2″ diameter cookies, 1/2″ in height before baking. I baked a batch a week or so ahead of time, let them cool for about 2 hours and threw them in a ziplock before they were stored in the freezer. The morning of, I pulled them out of the freezer to defrost. Just before dinner I heat them up on the top rack for ~5mins at 400F to warm and brown the crust a touch.

Cornbread with honey butter*

Pan fried brussel sprouts
The recipe from Epicurious was fantastic as is. The only change I would have made was to make more, the dish ran out after the first plating! I didn’t add in pine nuts in mine though.

Roasted garlic (for mash potatos)
The secret to my garlicy mash was to roast whole garlic and make garlic butter out of it ahead of time to let the garlic infuse with the butter (then potatoes). To roast the garlic butter, chop off the head of the garlic, leaving skin on, pour 1 tablespoon of grape seed oil (grape seed oil has a higher smoking point), and wrap it tightly in aluminum foil before baking it at 400F for 45 mins. Let them cool down before squishing them out of their pods – ready for butter!

Cranberry apple stuffing with english sausage
For cranberry walnut bread recipe, visit my previous blog.
1. Toast ~ 10 slices of bread in toaster or oven until crisp on both sides. Cut into cubes.
2. Dice 1.5 cups yellow onions. Brown onions and 1 lbs of pork sausage links (casing removed). Breaking up big chunks into bite size pieces.
3. Add 1 stalk of diced celery, 3-1/2 tablespoon sage, 1 teaspoon dried rosemary, 1 teaspoon thyme and 2 cups of peeled and diced apples. Cook for 5-10mins until well mixed.
4. Mix in 1 cup of dried rough chopped cranberries with two cups of chicken stock. Place into roasting pan and wrap with aluminum foil.
5. Bake in oven at 300F for 1-1/2 hours. Add more stock as necessary (until desired tenderness).

Brown sugar maple honey glazed ham with bone-in
With one oven and over 10 dishes to cook and/or reheat, I knew I had to purchase a precooked ham. This was actually just half a ham.
To prepare, I pulled it out of the fridge an hour ahead to let it set to room temp. So by the time it got it’s turn in the oven, it didn’t have to heat up as much (good way of saving yourself a few extra minutes – oven space is precious during big feasts). Before going in the oven, I covered it was brown sugar and wrapped it tightly with aluminum foil to reheat @ 325 ~ 15-20mins. Then, I uncovered it, made slits of cross hatching and smouldered it with maple syrup and honey. Put it back in the oven @ 400 for another ~ 20mins to broil. Tender and flavourful. Yum!

18lbs turkey
Original method of cooking came from my aunt, who taught my mom, who taught me. (It’s that good!) Bathed it with 3 pots of boiling water (outside and inside the cavity, after removing giblets and such). Lightly pat it dry with a paper towel. Lathered it in butter (brought to room temperature to ease greasification process. Toss it in the oven @ 325F for 8-10mins/lb. When ready, insert chopstick into thickest part of turkey (breast and drumstick); juices run clear, you’re golden. Cover with aluminum foil and cloth to let the moisture settle and run back into the meat; otherwise, all the juices will leak as soon as you make your first cut. I let mine sat for 2 hours. It was the juicest turkey I’ve ever had and still hot!

Fresh cranberry sauce
Dissolve 1 cup white sugar into 1 cup orange juice. (I used orange juice to add some sweetness and cut the tart with some tang). Add 12oz (1 bag) of fresh cranberries, cook & stir until cranberries begin to break down. Voila!

Pecan pie
I made this a couple days ahead of time. After cooling it completely for a few hours, I popped it in the freezer until the morning of. The day of, I pulled it out of the freezer and let it defrost at room temp while tightly wrapped in Suran. By dessert time, it was ready for us to devour.
I was actually told this was the best pecan pie he/she (can’t remember) has ever had!
Refer to previous blog for crust recipe

Pumpkin coffee cake

Cranberry Orange short bread

More to come…

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