Sunday, November 27, 2011

Thanksgiving Leftovers

I needed three full days of rest to sufficiently recover from the cooking, cleaning and eating marathon before I could write about the results.

Our Thanksgiving feast was the best yet, with more dishes than ever before and no cooking disasters, at least not on Thursday when guests were present. Last year I apparently stuck the meat thermometer in the wrong part of the turkey thigh; when John began carving into the turkey at the table, blood seeped out and the whole thing had to go back in the oven while we waited for another hour. This year, I poked that turkey in several places prior to removing it and all was perfect.

Cranberry Sauce

Green Salad

Turkey (after carving)
In addition to the dishes pictured here, we had pumpkin pie, pumpkin cheesecake (more on that below), Madeira gravy, giblet gravy, and an appetizer tray of little cheese biscuits, spiced almonds, and olives.

I took John with me to the park to bring home the turkey from an Amish farmer who delivers each year. Of course, John decided to buy the biggest turkey he had, which was 22 pounds. After seeing that it barely fit in our oven and created a burdensome amount of leftovers, I think it's safe to say that John has learned his lesson about getting a turkeysaurus and that next year we'll stay under 17 pounds.
Wild Rice Dressing

I added one dish to the menu the day before Thanksgiving: this excellent wild rice dressing I made last year. As I almost doubled the recipe, we had a large amount of this left over. More on that below.

Cornbread Dressing
Squash with grapes, apples, chestnuts
John's Green Bean Casserole
My Green Bean Casserole
We also had dueling green bean casseroles. John insists on making his the "traditional" way, which is to open a bunch of cans and dump the contents in a casserole dish. I have been attempting to teach him that cooking from fresh ingredients is tastier, so once again, I offered one from scratch. It turned out even better this year than last, probably because I used baby portabellos for the mushrooms. I used a recipe from the Food Network, and my advice to anyone else who attempts this is to watch the onions very carefully in the oven; last year they burned before the timer went off. This year I checked regularly after 15 minutes and removed them after 25.
Corn Macque Choux
The table, ready for guests

Despite doubling the recipe, the corn macque choux was gone by the end of the day. This is a very popular dish for my family and one I should probably make more than once a year. Basically, it's a creamed corn with a cajun kick.

Now about all those leftovers.

I divided the carcass of the giant turkey into three stockpots and made about 8 quarts (maybe more) of rich turkey broth. Today some of that broth, combined with a fresh saute of celery, onion, carrot and garlic, because the base of a delicious soup. I added some of the leftover wild rice dressing, fresh thyme and parsley and about a cup of frozen corn. With a quick batch of onion biscuits, it was a pleasant Sunday night supper.

Now I must disclose the near disaster. I wasn't pleased with the texture of the pumpkin cheesecake. It was a bit too soft in the center; I think I should've cooked it for another 15 minutes. On Friday morning, still sleepy and not thinking clearly, I wondered what would happen if I baked it a little longer. This was after the cheesecake had been removed from its springform pan and cut. The cheesecake was still sitting on the bottom part of the pan, so I slid it into the oven and checked back 15 minutes letter. The whole thing had melted all over the oven! I removed the part that clung to the pan bottom and cleaned up the rest. What to do? It was too good to waste. So I thought, why can't it just be pudding, or cheesecake trifle? I spooned it all into a large bowl and chilled it again. Sprinkled with some sugared pecans, it's almost as good as it was when it was just cheesecake!

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