Thanksgiving Special – A Traditional New England Dinner

This week, I’m sharing three different menus to help you create your perfect Thanksgiving feast.

Whether you and your family are hungry for traditional New England fare, a five course French bistro dinner or a rustic Italian feast, I’ve decided the turkey is sacrosanct  but the rest of the dishes are fair game. I’ll be doing a bit of mixing and matching and taking dishes from all three of these menus. Feel free to do the same!


For a traditional New England feast with a few contemporary touches …

Start with soup!
If it’s Thanksgiving in New England, you can’t bet more traditional than Butternut Squash Soup

Move on to the main event!
The star of the show has got to be Roast Turkey with Mom’s (or your Mom’s) Stuffing and Giblet Gravy. Growing up my grandmothers and mother made squash puree, turnip puree, creamed onions, mashed potatoes and, of course, Cranberry Sauce for Thanksgiving dinner. After the lovely soup to start, I figure two veggies are more than enough.

First, I like a little something green on the plate. Broccoli Puree is one of my favorites. You can make it a day ahead which is a real bonus. Then again, I love roasted vegetables. Either Roasted Green Beans or Roasted Brussels Sprouts & Pearl Onions would be a great choice for your Thanksgiving celebration. And second, Thanksgiving wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without mashed potatoes! My Decadent Cheesy Potatoes are rich and over the top wonderful. An added plus, you can make them ahead! Or maybe you’d like to try my family’s favorite Smashed Potatoes.

For a sweet finish!
If you’ve got a big crowd coming, Apple Crisp with Cranberry Coulis is a great choice. Just double the recipe and use a bigger dish. Otherwise, you might like to bake another favorite. My Rustic Apple Tart is homey and delicious.

The Game Plan

If you haven’t done it yet, order the turkey!

Saturday morning before Thanksgiving:
Finalize your menu, gather your recipes and make your shopping list. Check it twice. Pick up any and all nonperishable items and everything with a long expiration date at the supermarket and farm stand.

If you don’t already have a batch in the freezer, roast and puree the vegetables for the butternut squash soup (steps 1-3). Cool and store the puree in the freezer until Thursday morning.

Find 20 minutes or so to make the Cranberry Sauce and the Cranberry Coulis if you plan to serve Apple Crisp.

Set the table and pull out your serving dishes.

It’s Thanksgiving Eve, time to move into high gear. Check and double check your lists and head to the store. Pick up the fresh turkey, perishables, flowers and anything you forgot on Saturday.

Make your stuffing and store it in the refrigerator.

If you are serving Broccoli Puree, make it and store in the refrigerator. If you’re making beans or Brussels sprouts, clean and prep them but don’t roast them yet. Toast the walnuts.

If you are serving Decadent Cheesy Potatoes, prepare them and store in the refrigerator. If you are going with mashed potatoes, wash and dry the potatoes.

Turkey Day:
First thing in the morning, bake the apple tart or croustade. With sweet and spicy apples bubbling in the oven, the house will smell like Thanksgiving.

Don’t forget to remove the squash puree from the freezer. Put it in a large soup pot to thaw with more chicken broth.

If you haven’t already, check your recipes and, based on your dinner hour, list the start times for each and every dish. If you haven’t already, think about assigning tasks to friends and family. Let the wine aficionado in the group open and pour. Foodie friends will be happy help with carving, stirring and plating.

About a half hour before it’s time to shove the turkey into the oven, remove it from the refrigerator. Stuff, tie and truss the bird. Do not forget to remove the neck and bag of giblets from the turkey’s cavity.

While the turkey roasts, make broth for the gravy with the turkey neck and giblets.

As dinner time approaches, roast the beans or Brussels sprouts or heat the broccoli. Put the potatoes on to boil and smash or heat the Decadent Cheesy Potatoes. Finish making the soup.

When the turkey has finished roasting, remove it from the oven and let it rest for about thirty minutes before carving. Make the giblet gravy and keep it warm.

Carve the turkey, transfer the stuffing to a serving bowl and cover both to keep warm. Keep the other side dishes warm. Follow my Nana Nye’s example and put the apple tart or crisp back into the oven which is off but still warm.

Ladle the soup and dinner is served!  If you’ve got a large group, serve the main course, family style. It won’t take forever to get everyone served, if you pass two platters or bowls of everything. Start dishes at both ends and in the middle of the table. Relax and enjoy.

Bon Appétit and Happy Thanksgiving!

For a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog Click Here!!

What are you cooking for Thanksgiving? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going. To make a comment, just click on Comments below.

Want more? Click here for more seasonal menus! In addition, I hope that you will take a minute to learn about my philanthropic project Eat Well-Do Good. © Susan W. Nye, 2011


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