Let me start by reminding you that I come from a fairly traditional New England family and most of them will be at my house this year. Now, I admit I did go astray when I lived in Switzerland and reinvented my Thanksgiving menu. Since returning to New Hampshire, I’ve been corralled back into the fold.
That said, I like to do as much in advance as possible. A few weeks ago I made Roasted Butternut Squash Soup and tucked it into the freezer. I’ve I already bought cranberries and will make Cranberry Sauce sometime over the weekend. For the rest, I’ll shop on Tuesday and spend most of Wednesday in the kitchen.
Dad is in charge of the hors d’oeuvres. He’ll be serving his family-famous shrimp cocktail. He buys the great big shrimp (16/20 per pound) and makes up a batch of traditional cocktail sauce. His recipe? Put 3/4 cup ketchup in a small bowl, add a small dollop of drained horseradish and a squirt of fresh lime juice and stir to combine. And since he never adds enough horseradish any or all of his kids stir in a second dollop of horseradish. In addition, I think I’ll get some chips and whip up some Guacamole and Simply Delicious Salsa for the kids.
Next comes soup. We’re juggling different schedules, arrivals and departures and, at least for now, plan to sit down around three o’clock. In spite of the shrimp, I expect people will start to get hungry by two, two-thirty. I’ll have a big kettle of Roasted Butternut Squash Soup simmering on the back of the stove. I’ll serve the soup before we sit down and let everyone enjoy a mug while they share news in the kitchen, check out football in the den or relax by the fire in the living room.
Dinner is served. By popular demand, the center of the meal is Roast Turkey with Mom’s Stuffing and Giblet Gravy and, of course, Cranberry Sauce. I’ll prepare the stuffing on Wednesday and stuff the bird on Thursday morning.
Unlike my mother and grandmothers, I do not serve three, four or five side dishes and insist on something green. Broccoli Purée is probably my favorite. An added bonus for the cook, I can make on Wednesday and then pop it in the oven for 30-45 minutes before serving.
Along with turkey, Thanksgiving wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without mashed potatoes. I have a couple of versions. While there is still time to decide, I’m leaning towards my truly Decadent Cheesy Potatoes. They are delicious and, like the broccoli purée, can be made ahead. Alternatively, I may go with Smashed Potatoes. They are quick and easy but are made just before dinner is served which can to the confusion and chaos. Although I have to keep an eye on him, I’ve usually delegated this job to my brother John in the past. Don’t tell him I told you but he has a tendency to overwork the potatoes. Potatoes can get glue-y if you overdo it. (If you want very smooth potatoes, don’t mash them to oblivion. Instead, run them through a potato ricer and stir in butter and/or cream or sour cream. They will be light, smooth and creamy.)
Finally, I’ll ask my sister Brenda to bring a salad to complete our dinner.
To end on a sweet note, I’ll be baking a rich and creamy Pumpkin Cheesecake. Not only is it delicious but you make it in advance. (Are you seeing a pattern here!?!) My sister-in-law Jennifer will bake an apple pie with her girls and bring it along as well. If you are thinking of baking an apple pie, you might want to try my French Apple Croustade or Rustic Apple Tart.
Want more? As I said my traditional New England family is looking forward to a traditional feast. However … when I lived in Switzerland, I kept a foot in both continents and served a Five Course Dinner with a Little French Flare. Now, if I wasn’t going with tradition, I would probably cook up a Rustic Italian Feast or design your own. I’ve set up an index of seasonal recipes with links to make your Thanksgiving special.
Have a fun this Thanksgiving and bon appétit!
What’s on your Thanksgiving menu? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going. To make a comment, just click on Comments below.
I invite you to take a minute to learn about my philanthropic project Eat Well-Do Good. © Susan W. Nye, 2012