Turkey Day Prep

I’m hosting Thanksgiving Day at our place this year. With Chris & I, my parents, brother and his wife, I’ll be feeding six with plans for some leftovers.  I have a few requests plus things I’m absolutely going to make because its not Thanksgiving without them.

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of the year. I love fall, I love turkey and oh yeah, it also happens to be my birthday.  I was actually born on Thanksgiving Day.  Jen, one of my oldest friends was born 3 days before me (at one point we had it figured out to the second), my grandpa and I shared the same birthdate and Jen’s son was born the day before my day. His birthday happened to fall on Thanksgiving that year so although I was disappointed she couldn’t hold out one more day, we still have the turkey in common (I think she had him a day early on purpose- I told her if we shared a birthday she had to name him after me!).

So, the menu:

One turkey or other bird of a size to feed 5.  My mom is a vegetarian.  My brother offered to bring me a chicken or rather a couple of chickens but once I figured out he meant still alive, I politely declined. I can’t imagine the apartment neighbors would appreciate that too much.  Plus, I’m definitely sure the cats would be less than thrilled.   So if I can find a smaller turkey, I’ll do that otherwise I’m going to look for a big chicken.

In the past, I have brined my bird and I believe I’ll do that again this year.  It was fabulous and juicy with crispy skin.  Brining is just soaking the meat in a salt-water solution mixed with some other seasonings.  Tips on brining can be found HERE, HERE or HERE.  Most importantly, do not brine a turkey that has been treated with a saltwater solution or a kosher turkey – it will be very salty.  I usually  brine overnight then take the bird out, rinse it and let it airdry in the refridgerator.  You get better skin that way.

Gravy – made with drippings from the turkey, not from a jar.

Mashed potatoes – Red skin potatoes made with cream cheese.  A little different but rich and creamy while still having home-made lumps

Stuffing – I’m very particular about my stuffing. I do not want something that looks like it could be used to spackle walls.  The cubes of bread will be distinct.  Although I call it stuffing, technically, I’m cooking it outside the bird.  Usually I add nuts, cranberries and celery & onions to my stuffing.  I might do water chestnuts this year.

Corn – Really basic but I like corn with my stuffing and gravy. I’ll just use frozen.

Baked beans – per request of my brother. Baked beans with bacon.  I figure this is ideal for the slow cooker.

Green Bean Casserole – Oddly, I’ve never made this before.  Its not one of my favorites but it was Chris’s only real request.  He gave me his mom’s recipe and I guess I’ll just follow that.

Baked Butternut Squash – I’m using this recipe here from Simply Recipes.  Chris wanted (still wants) me to make the squash risotto from the other day but I think that’s too much starch with the stuffing and potatoes so I’m going this route instead.

Rutabaga – ha ha, not really.  I cannot stand this stuff but my parents like it so they can bring it, if they want but it better be pre-cooked since I don’t even like the smell of it cooking.  Ugh.

Biscuits – Simple drop style I think

Pre-Dinner nosh:

Peel & eat shrimp – When Chris’s mom sent us 3 lbs of shrimp for his birthday, we froze about 1/2 to save for Thanksgiving.  Now we just need to find some decent cocktail sauce.

Cheese, glorious cheese – Gotta have a cheese plate!  And crackers w/ veggies too.


I don’t really have any thing here yet.  We’ll probably make spritz cookies with our giant cookie press from Williams-Sonomoa.  And I saw this ginger-oatmeal cookie with dried cranberries in a magazine.

In the morning, my parents are coming up early and we three are walking the Lansing Turkey Trot 5k. As Chris did not want to participate, he is assigned the job of making breakfast for us when we get done.  We won’t have dinner until late afternoon as my brother and his wife are driving in from Iowa.

Oopsa Daisy Turkey

So, we bought some turkey tenderloins at the grocery store earlier this week. I’d never seen them before- you get two big tenderloins in the package. Well, after opening it, more like 1 big one and one medium size one.  I wasn’t really sure what to do with them so I Googled turkey tenderloin recipe and clicked on a few of the results.

I came across one for roasting with potatoes and it made a sauce. And it had mango chutney in the ingredient list. We happen to have a jar of this and Chris loves all things mango- chutney and salsa especially.  Seriously,  if you want chips and salsa at our house, be prepared for mango.

The orignial recipe is from a show called Quick Fix Meals with Robin Miller on the Food Network. I’ve never seen it but Robin’s picture is a little wide-eyed for my tastes.  Now the recipe, entitled Roasted Turkey with Potatoes and Tarragon Broth seemed pretty simple and I was looking for something that I could make in the oven with our russets.  I knew from the start that I’d be making some changes as I intended to have baked potatoes (why? because we bought a tub of sour cream for having with tacos and I don’t want to waste it; I also had made some chive butter from our herb collection and wanted some of that too) instead of the new potatoes in the recipe.

And I didn’t have fresh tarragon so I used dried.  I also substituted vegetable broth for chicken and rice wine vinegar for apple cider. Its all about what’s in the pantry.  But, I followed the measurements as called for.  Except, when I read the directions, it didn’t mention the mango chutney. The ingredient list said 4 tablespoons chutney but where did it go?  I figured it must be part of the broth so I mixed in it.  And poured the broth over the turkey and popped the pan in the oven.  About 20 minutes in I decided the broth was poaching the poultry so I siphoned most of it off in to a saucepan.  I cooked that broth on the stovetop and added 2 tablespoons of butter to help it thicken up a bit.

After the turkey was done (40 minutes being too long, by the way), I sliced one tenderloin and poured some of the slightly thickened broth/sauce over it. Served with a yummy baked potato and sauteed snap peas.

I admit, the tarragon and chutney flavors were a bit of a twist but not bad.  Now Chris, he loved the sauce- on his baked potato! In fact, he wants me to make mango chutney mashed potatoes with the remainder.

The turkey needed a stronger flavoring or perhaps time in a marinade before roasting.  Or gravy. Gravy can fix so many sins.

Now that dinner is over and I am still perplexed by the recipe’s mango chutney contradiction, I went back to the web and looked at the recipe again.  And then I looked at the link to the episode of Robin’s show. I’ve never seen Robin’s show; I probably won’t since she kind of scares me in that picture on her website.  Really intense.  But from the website, I glean that she makes one dish that can be used over the course of several days. In this episode, she uses one turkey tenderloin with 1/2 the potatoes and broth for dinner.  She then takes the other 1/2 of the potatoes and broth to make vichyssoise. In case you are wondering, that is a soup made of leeks, onions, potatoes, cream and chicken broth.  Pureed and served cold.

No mango chutney.  And honestly, that would just be weird.    I can only presume the listing in the ingredients is a typo.

It all turned out fine for us in the end.  I have to believe that I have enough cooking common sense to recognize if something was horribly wrong or could go horribly wrong.  I probably won’t make this again but if the broth works well with mashed potatoes, it could be interesting.