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  1. #21
    Join Date
    Jun. 26, 2001
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    California
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    1,305

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    Too funny! Ok gravy is not hard to make from scratch. I prepare a large jar early in the day with chicken stock and flour to make a roue for the gravy. Just shake shake shake (say 3-4 cups of stock) until nicely blended with flour. Flour say around 3/4 cup.

    When you pull out turkey, you will strain the drippings in the pan and then wipe out pan, return strained drippings to pain and place pan over 2 burners on stove. Keep heat medium low.

    Slowly start adding in the roue and keep it moving! Stir stir stir, until all the roue is mixed in. For a darker color gravy add a little Kitchen Bouquet. Make sure you let it cook a bit on the burners to get a nice even flavor. Very easy to do!

    But as someone mentioned never hurts to have canned backup!!!! You can always doctor the canned gravy with drippings from the pan to liven it up!
    Lions and Tigers and Bears, oh my!!


    1 members found this post helpful.

  2. #22
    Join Date
    Apr. 28, 2008
    Posts
    7,281

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    Quote Originally Posted by talkofthetown View Post
    There's no way it can be that easy....
    Well, to be fair, there are many schools of turkeydom. I don't baste because I have better results when I don't. Basting ruins the crispy skin, IMO. I have tried tenting with aluminum but I have a convection oven and the foil just blows around so that was a fail. Cooking is a favorite hobby so I came up with this approach after a lot of reading and I've been very happy with the results. Really, the meat thermometer is the best/most important part of everything I typed, don't rely on that pop-up one they come with -- it leads to overcooked, dry meat every time I tried that.



  3. #23
    Join Date
    Jul. 5, 2007
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    Beside Myself ~ Western NY
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    6,620

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    Oh, and if somehow the turkey gets locked in the oven, be sure to come to CoTH to ask for advice on how to free the turkey.

    That's a requirement.


    2 members found this post helpful.

  4. #24
    Join Date
    Jul. 20, 2010
    Location
    Texarkana, AR
    Posts
    1,574

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    You don't have to make everything from scratch. Find a local bakery or restaurant that is know for its pies and buy a pumpkin pie and what ever other desserts you might want. Find a pumpkin spice candle or scentsy to burn and everybody will think you've been baking.



  5. #25
    Join Date
    Sep. 5, 1999
    Location
    Central FL
    Posts
    4,397

    Smile

    Good for you! We had Thanksgiving and Christmas at the farm when we were there, and never for less than 50 . I loved it!

    As others have said, do anything beforehand that you can possibly do. I have a great mashed potato recipe that tastes much better if you make it 1 or 2 days ahead - reheating is simple, and takes the panic out of last minute things!

    You know me and my lists (!) I do a timetable counting backwards so that last minute items are not forgotten. In 15 minute increments. Starting with waking up that morning.

    Tables can be set days ahead of time.

    Paper napkins, plastic cutlery, very solid "paper" plates are your friends.

    Set a LARGE GARBAGE CAN (empty) in the garage or just outside around the corner, so there is never a pile up of garbage in the kitchen.

    Potluck: We asked everyone what was their "must have" for Thanksgiving dinner. Then each family takes on one "big ticket" item (ham, turkey, pork, vegetarian) and one "specialty" item. Everyone also brings serving forks, etc.

    Table: host (now my brother) always sets up long tables for pot luck, and we put same dishes in generalized areas (appetizers/salads, vegetables, bread, meats, desserts). Drinks and ice are on a different table away from the "buffet".

    Turkey: In the bag! We add a few touches like herbs/seasonings, etc., but put that bag in the oven and forget about it while you do everything else.


    Set aside 15 minutes ONE HOUR before first guests arrive for you. That's when you get to shower/put on makeup/throw hay/put pretty clothes on.

    Take lots and lots of photos - you will be amazed at how people change through time.

    Have "props". A football, a basketball, deck of cards, horse shoes, etc. At my brother's home, dinner time is sancrosanct - but before and after there is football / basketball on the tvs, a dvd running in another room for kids, a pickup football or basketball game (we try to avoid ER visits, but we are a competitive family!), and wine for those to sit and comment about the rest of us.

    Finally, enjoy! The best part isn't the food (although I love food). It is seeing everyone from year to year, and "remember when".


    1 members found this post helpful.

  6. #26
    Join Date
    Mar. 22, 2007
    Location
    Bremo Bluff, Virginia
    Posts
    1,310

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    Brine the turkey: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/a...ipe/index.html It's not as daunting as it may look. Very tasty.

    Stuffing made ahead, cranberry sauce can be made ahead. Pawn off desserts.
    "In the beginning, the universe was created. This made a lot of people angry and has widely been considered as a bad move." -Douglas Adams



  7. #27
    Join Date
    Feb. 23, 2005
    Location
    Spotsylvania, VA
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    12,932

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    Quote Originally Posted by rustbreeches View Post
    We do lemon, onion, celery, garlic and rosemary in the cavity and if you want to get really fancy, large sprigs of fresh rosemary under the skin. Looks amazing. Yes, brine that bad boy if you want any flavor at all.

    That being said, we eat ham at TG now that I'm in charge
    If you get a good turkey you won't need to brine it. Expect to pay about $2/lb for it, if not more. Don't get the frozen $0.39 special
    I wasn't always a Smurf
    Penmerryl's Sophie RIDSH
    "I ain't as good as I once was but I'm as good once as I ever was"
    The ignore list is my friend. It takes 2 to argue.


    1 members found this post helpful.

  8. #28
    Join Date
    Jul. 5, 2007
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    Beside Myself ~ Western NY
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    Quote Originally Posted by FlightCheck View Post
    You know me and my lists (!) I do a timetable counting backwards so that last minute items are not forgotten. In 15 minute increments. Starting with waking up that morning.

    Tables can be set days ahead of time.

    Paper napkins, plastic cutlery, very solid "paper" plates are your friends.


    Set a LARGE GARBAGE CAN (empty) in the garage or just outside around the corner, so there is never a pile up of garbage in the kitchen.

    Set aside 15 minutes ONE HOUR before first guests arrive for you. That's when you get to shower/put on makeup/throw hay/put pretty clothes on.
    This is all such good advice!

    And: buy a bunch of Gladware to divvy up or deal with leftovers.
    Last edited by SmartAlex; Oct. 31, 2012 at 03:49 PM.



  9. #29
    Join Date
    May. 28, 2006
    Location
    Florida
    Posts
    3,127

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    Speaking from experience??

    Flightcheck, good idea on the props! Our house is IttyBitty, I'm praying for good weather so I can kick everyone outside

    Quote Originally Posted by SmartAlex View Post
    Oh, and if somehow the turkey gets locked in the oven, be sure to come to CoTH to ask for advice on how to free the turkey.

    That's a requirement.


    1 members found this post helpful.

  10. #30
    Join Date
    May. 28, 2006
    Location
    Florida
    Posts
    3,127

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    Is there such a thing as over-brined? I can see myself panicking not knowing if it's "good" enough to not brine, or if I still need to, or what if it's "good" but I still brine it? Will I toughen it up or make it too salty?

    Quote Originally Posted by carolprudm View Post
    If you get a good turkey you won't need to brine it. Expect to pay about $2/lb for it, if not more. Don't get the frozen $0.39 special



  11. #31
    Join Date
    Sep. 5, 1999
    Location
    Central FL
    Posts
    4,397

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    Talk, we eat in my brother's garage. Nowhere else to fit that many people now that we sold the farm.


    You are going to have a great time!



  12. #32
    Join Date
    Oct. 14, 2003
    Location
    Florida
    Posts
    1,453

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    PS--keep your first turkey easy. Here you go: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/fo...-Butter-368268

    Brining is good but if you're going to do one or the other, I've had better feedback from herb butter under the skin. Flipping the bird partway through takes some coordination, but helps keep the breast from getting dried out and overcooked.


    1 members found this post helpful.

  13. #33
    Join Date
    Mar. 10, 2009
    Posts
    5,444

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    I prefer kosher turkeys myself - for some reason they just seem to have more flavor.

    Skip the organic free-range ones unless you want to spend valuable prep time picking pinfeathers out of the bird!

    I like to add about a cup of port wine to my gravy as it's simmering.



  14. #34
    Join Date
    May. 28, 2006
    Location
    Florida
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    3,127

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    FC, encouraging to hear! I really am excited, just nervous



  15. #35
    Join Date
    Jul. 28, 2006
    Posts
    343

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    TOT, you will love it! I have such fun planning and preparing a big family dinner. Tips from our household:

    1 - cook the turkey on your bbq, it keeps the oven space in your kitchen open for casseroles, etc. I've had our turkey on the bbq for the last 4 years;
    2 - a lot of dishes you can make a day in advance (i.e. boil your potatoes, turnips, etc.);
    3 - definitely make your stuffing separately - it is so much easier;
    4- plan on having your turkey sit for a good 15-20 minutes before carving;
    5- have your hubbie do all the chopping



  16. #36
    Join Date
    Jun. 23, 2010
    Location
    Connecticut
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    1,664

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    Unless I've missed it here, no one has yet posted that you should roast your turkey breast side down until the last 1/2 hour. It keeps the breast juicier, and still allows time to brown the skin. When your meat thermometer (if you don't have one, buy one, they're great!) reads the correct temperature, take it out and let it sit for a good 20 minutes before carving. It will not get cold.

    As everyone else has said, don't try to do it all. Desserts are a good thing to farm out, because your oven will be full with the turkey & stuffing

    If you have a large group, paper plates are indeed a blessing, at least for appetizers & desserts.

    If you'll be having a lot of kids, be sure to have a kid's table..they really like to be apart from the adults.

    I have a terrific easy cranberry recipe at home, I'll try to post it later. But basically, it's a bag of cranberries, one large tart apple peeled & chopped, about 1/2 cup of walnuts, chopped, a cup of apple cider and a bit of sugar, cinnamon & nutmeg. Microwave, stir, nicrowave again, stir, chill & serve. Looks fancier than cranberry-in-a-can and tastes great!


    2 members found this post helpful.

  17. #37
    Join Date
    Jul. 5, 2007
    Location
    Beside Myself ~ Western NY
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    6,620

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hinderella View Post
    I have a terrific easy cranberry recipe at home, I'll try to post it later. But basically, it's a bag of cranberries, one large tart apple peeled & chopped, about 1/2 cup of walnuts, chopped, a cup of apple cider and a bit of sugar, cinnamon & nutmeg. Microwave, stir, nicrowave again, stir, chill & serve. Looks fancier than cranberry-in-a-can and tastes great!
    Sounds very similar to what I do except I chop the cranberries, and don't microwave. I just make it the night before so it has time to absorb the flavors. And, I toss my apple chunks in lemon juice to keep them white.



  18. #38
    Join Date
    Aug. 15, 2008
    Posts
    4,579

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    Quote Originally Posted by talkofthetown View Post
    There's no way it can be that easy....
    It IS that easy. But DO NOT TELL ANYONE THAT IT IS!!!
    "Aye God, Woodrow..."


    2 members found this post helpful.

  19. #39
    Join Date
    Mar. 23, 2005
    Location
    SF Bay Area
    Posts
    2,660

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    I second getting help from those who offer to bring dishes. First, because people know that hosting is a big deal and genuinely like to help. And second, because people often have special dishes that they associate with the holiday, dishes that they and some of the other family members might miss if not there made "their" way.

    And a gravy tip .. I use some of the water drained from the cooked potatoes pot to add to the gravy mix - the starch in it aids in thickening.

    Even fresh turkeys are at least partially frozen due to the cold storage. The last time I hosted I didn't take the bird out soon enough to "thaw" it completely and dinner, shall we say, was a bit late.

    Have a great time.


    1 members found this post helpful.

  20. #40
    Join Date
    Oct. 25, 2008
    Posts
    2,158

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    I love hosting the big holiday meals!!! It's really not so bad as long as you PLAN AHEAD, and timing is everything.

    I usually end up hosting the meal for about 12 people total, give or take (and there's always enough food to feed at least twice that-- I often invite some last-minute stragglers). Invite guests to arrive at 1pm, dinnertime is usually around 2pm-- early enough that there's plenty of "running late" elbow room for cooking, and not so late that the out-of-towners are driving home stuffed and sleepy at 9pm.

    Appetizers are cheese and crackers, raw veggies, pretzels, shelled nuts. Dinner menu usually consists of the turkey, gravy, mashed taters, stuffing, baked corn, candied sweet potatoes, roasted Brussels sprouts, and bread. (My MIL has a special cranberry recipe which she always insists upon bringing too.) I always make a couple desserts (pumpkin cheesecake and pecan pie). Anyone who offers to bring something is encouraged to bring an appetizer, a dessert, or wine. (I DON'T like people trying to bring a side dish, especially if it's something I have to worry about heating-- oven space is prime real estate with a meal this large, and I HATE people getting in my way in the kitchen on "game day!!")

    One week before-- buy most of the food and all of the beverages. Put (frozen) turkey into a cooler to start to thaw, check daily. Get the fancy plates and serving dishes out of the basement, clean everything up and set out of the way. Make sure I have the incidentals-- enough napkins, tablecloths, etc. Appetizers and desserts are self-served on paper plates, so make sure there's plenty of paperware.

    Spend the next 3+ days cleaning the house.

    2-3 days before: Make desserts. Shop for last-minute perishables (veggies). Buy fresh loaves of bread, wrap in foil and freeze.

    Day before: take off work if at all possible. Put turkey in brine. Prep the oven dishes (corn, sweet taters, Brussies) and have them in their respective baking pans; cover and refrigerate. Prep appetizers, put them on their serving trays, cover and refrigerate. Get the beverages table set up.

    Game Day: Get up about 7am. Set up dining tables and buffet tables with linens, S&P shakers, silverware, etc. I'm lucky enough to have 2 ovens, so I don't have to juggle oven space too much. Turkey (Alton Brown's recipe) goes in about 3 1/2 hours before mealtime. Wash/peel taters for mashed potatoes around 11am, get them into pot to boil. Other oven-ready side dishes go into oven around noon.

    12:30pm: Set out appetizers, change into presentable clothes.

    1:00pm: guests arrive, nosh on appetizers. About 1:00 is when foods start coming out of the ovens; I have a 3-dish insert for a huge roasting-pan-size crock pot which acts as a steam table, so the oven foods (stuffing, baked corn, Brussies) go into the steam table. Turkey gets done around 1:30, sits to rest while I mash taters and make gravy. Loaves of frozen bread go into the oven to heat when the turkey comes out. Designate one person (my mom) to help me get things from kitchen to table.

    2:00: Carve turkey, put on table. Slice warmed bread and put into baskets. Dinner is served buffet-style.

    Sit back and bask in the glory of a job well done.
    *friend of bar.ka

    "Evidently, I am an unrepentant b*tch, possible trouble maker, and all around super villian"



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