Thursday, November 6, 2008

Thanksgiving Day Menu, BRINE baby, BRINE!

I have found after working for chefs for 5 years, that I LOVE TO COOK! I don't do it as much as I'd like, but I LOVE the holidays because I look forward to preparing a masterpiece for a large group. I have a lot of family here in Orlando, and the baton of being the "Holiday Matron" has been passed to me. Every year the size of the group grows. This is also something my husband loves to do, thus has become one of the few pastimes we enjoy doing together.
I purchase fun, sturdy, holiday themed PAPER plateware so that the cleanup is much less. Sounds almost a crime to serve the following menu on paper- but it can still be done beautifully.

The past few years, I have prepared my turkeys by the same method and they have turned out SOOOOO succulent and delicious that my family fights over the leftovers.

3 words...
You can purchase a disposable brining bag at places like Bed Bath and Beyond or other kitchen stores.
I brine the turkey overnight at least 24 hours ahead of time. I use a basic brine of water, 1 cup kosher salt, 1 cup brown sugar or honey, and whatever else I decide to throw in there: cloves, orange slices, whatever sounds good.
Brining serves two purposes: it seasons the bird, and increases the moisture content resulting in a more flavorful and juicier turkey. This technique helps it retain the juices during the long roasting process.

When it's time to roast the bird, I make a basting concoction of apple cider, maple syrup, and white wine. And I baste every 15 - 30 minutes

So, below is my menu for this year. It will be basically the same as last year. I begin cooking a week ahead by making my soup (b/c this alone is an all-day event). Soup can be refrigerated or even frozen until the big day.

• Starters: (to be eaten while the rest of the meal is being prepared)
~ Butternut Squash Soup with Sage garnish (another thing my family fights over...)
~ Stuffed Mushrooms
~ Emmenthaler Fondue with French Bread and Apple Slices
~ Warm Spiced Apple Cider

~ Spinach Salad with Cranberries, Almonds and Feta ~ Light Citrus Vinaigrette
~ Avocado Grapefruit Salad recipe from BOMA at the Animal Kingdom Lodge, Disney

• Main
~ Maple Cider Turkey with
~ Cider Gravy
~ Apple-Maple Sausage stuffing
~ Sweet Potato Gratin or Carmelized Sweet Potato Wedges
~ Green Bean Casserole (of course)
~ Mashed Potatoes (of course)- made with whipping cream
~ Dinner Yeasty Rolls

• Dessert
~ Warm Apple Cobbler ala mode with Haagen Dazs Dulce de Leche ice cream.
~ Mom's Lemon Icebox Pie

• Perrier or Pelligrino with lime-
• Iced Tea
• Wine- Cape Indaba
This is a South African white that I highly recommend.
Can be purchased at World Market among other places.
This is really the only white I like, being a red wine girl.

• Espresso
• Coffee

If any of these recipes look good to you, email me and I can pass along.


HipHome said...

You go girl!! Way to be on the ball! I have been thinking for weeks about making my Thanksgiving Day Menu but haven't buckled down to do it.
2 years ago we bought our first Organic Turkey. This year I want to buy one straight from the farm. I LOOOOVVVEEE making out the menu and all the planning that is involved in holiday meals. Isn't it a blast???

Dianna said...

Your menu sounds YUMMY!! I'd like a couple of your recipes, but I can't figure out how to send you an e-mail from here...

I admire your ability to take care of your family AND still prepare such an AMAZING Thanksgiving day feast! You are awesome!!

Would it be possible to send me your "turkey baste recipe" and the Butternut squash soup recipe??

I make a butternut squash soup, but it's only "good" it's nothing to swoon over! I'd love to try yours!

Thanks so much!

JulieM said...

My goodness, that food sounds delicous. Do you and Gabe do all that yourself? I cooked a few side dishes this year, and that was a lot of work!
I may try to make your butternut squash soup for next year:)