Thanksgiving – Yikes!

It’s just a few days away and you’ve been asked to bring ‘something’… I suggest my friend Pat Devine’s potato dish.  One of the least exciting elements of getting the feast to table is how to keep things hot.  On Thursday, in thousands of households, there will be nail biting over last minute mashed potatoes.  But hold on there, pilgrims!

Pat’s potatoes can actually be made in advance and while you’re sawing through that turkey, her ‘souffle’ can be quietly heating up.  Try it!

I’m also including my sister Claudia’s turkey roasting method in case you misplaced it.  It does require that you stick around the house but that’s part of the holiday, right?

Careful readers will immediately scream “Retreads!” at these recipes but be charitable: 

Right now, I’m in Paris and cooking Thanksgiving dinner for 100 people who come to Jim Haynes’ house.  Jim has dinners every Sunday night for about 100 people and has been doing it for the past 30 years.  The cooks are volunteers and anyone can come for a modest contribution.  Thanksgiving is a lot of fun with a huge crowd of American, French, English and assorted other nationalities who either are homesick, hungry, curious or a mixture of all three. 

Jim admits he’s no cook but at Thanksgiving, he does have a favorite and this will appeal to the Southerner in all of you… If you’re having a hundred folks in your cozy living room, this should feed them nicely.  (But I’ll cut down the recipe just to be fair.)

Following are the recipes.  Gotta go and find some cranberries in this town!  Happy Thanksgiving!

Mary

MASHED POTATO SOUFFLE

I got this originally from Pat Devine, my neighborhood friend. It isn’t really a souffle but I call it that because it does puff up and get nice and brown on top.  It’s unusual to find a hot potato dish that can be made in advance and actually be reheated.  In fact, Pat used to freeze this. A great dish if you have to bring something for Thanksgiving dinner.  Don’t overdo the garlic.    

  • 10 (about 2 ½ lbs) medium red potatoes
  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 8 oz sour cream
  • Garlic – 1 clove, minced
  • Chives (optional) – 1 – 2 teaspoons minced
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • Butter 

Cook and mash potatoes.   Mix the cream cheese and sour cream and add to the hot potatoes.  Add the garlic,chives and baking powder  and put the mixture into a greased 8 inch baking dish or round souffle pan.  Dot with butter. Bake at 350 for 1 hour.  This can be made in advance.Serves 4 – 6 

LARGE RECIPE

To make the peeling simpler, I sometimes use russets instead of the smaller red potatoes.

  • 12 large baking potatoes or 5 pounds of medium red potatoes
  • 1 lb. cream cheese
  • 1 lb. sour cream
  • Garlic – 1 large clove, minced
  • Chives (optional) – 1 heaping tablespoon, minced
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • Butter 

 

Proceed as above using two pans or one large oblong baking dish (13 x 9).

This will serve at least a dozen people.  It’s rich so just a spoonful will do if there are other vegetables.

 

CLAUDIA BUSHEE’S MOST DELICIOUS ROAST TURKEY

(Also, gravy)

Claudia’s method – which was her father, Derak Ward’s method first – is suitable for any size turkey.  It produces a beautifully browned bird that is perfectly moist. A package of Cheesecloth is an essential purchase. 

In her own words…

Clean and stuff bird.  Fold a large piece of cheese cloth so that it completely covers the turkey.  If the cloth is triple, that is fine.  Remove cheesecloth but keep it in its form.You are going to need at least a pound of butter, if not more.  Melt ½ pound in a little bowl.  Spread some on the naked uncooked bird.  Then immerse the cloth in the bowl o’ butter.  Slap the cheesecloth on the bird.

Every half hour, you must do some thing.  At the first half hour check, baste with butter on top of the cheesecloth.  Don’t be stingy with the butter.  The next half hour interval (so the bird has been in an hour), remove the cheesecloth.  Dip in water.  Get fairly wet but don’t wash all the butter out of the cloth.  Pour more butter over the cheesecloth once the cloth has been draped over the bird again.Alternate between just basting and pulling the whole thing off on the half hour.  Remove the cloth the last half hour to allow turkey to brown.

I follow the New York Times cookbook low temp roasting method to know how long to cook. 

Mary’s note: The low temp method is 325 degrees throughout; length of time depends on whether your turkey is stuffed or not (stuffed is usually an extra ½ hour cooking) and its weight.     

Turkey Stock

Plan to make this stock the day before Thanksgiving so that you can use it for the gravy. 

Neck, giblets, liver of the turkey

2 large onions, peeled and chopped in a rough dice

2carrots, peeled and chopped in a rough dice

3 stalks celery, chopped in a rough dice

Handful of celery leaves

A few garlic cloves

2 bay leaves

3 sprigs fresh thyme

5 sprigs fresh parsley

4 or 5 pepper corns

Place all ingredients in a large stock pot and cover with cold water.  Bring just to a boil and skim the accumulated foam from the surface.  Reduce heat and simmer very slowly for two hours.  The broth should have a robust taste but will be somewhat insipid due to lack of salt.  Strain and discard the meat and vegetables.  Stir in several spoons of salt or to taste.  Cool and refrigerate.  When cold, skim off the fat. 

Turkey Gravy

Turkey stock (see preceding recipe) – about 6-8 Cups

Pan drippings

¾ to 1 Cup flour

Salt and pepper

Bring the turkey stock to a simmer in a large pot and keep warm. Combine the accumulated pan drippings from the turkeys into one roasting pan, warm the pan over medium heat and add the flour (shaking it in through a sieve to remove lumps) whisking continuously.  Cook this mixture – the roux – until the flour is cooked (about 8 to 10 minutes, approximately).  Add the heated broth several cups at a time stirring with each addition. When the gravy reaches the desired thickness, lower the heat and simmer several minutes.  Check the seasoning, adding salt and pepper as necessary.  Let cool and reheat for serving.

Jim’s Glazed Carrots

This is less of a recipe and more of an engineering marvel.  Jim Haynes somehow perfected a method of packing a large pot with row after row of carrots, standing on top of each other end to end.  Once that’s done, the rest is easy.  

For 100 servings                                               For 25 servings 

22 lbs carrots                                         5 ½ lbs carrots            

2 lbs light brown sugar                          ½ lb light brown sugar  

1 lb butter, unsalted                              4 oz butter, unsalted

5 cinnamon sticks                                1-2 cinnamon sticks     

Salt and pepper                                    Salt and pepper

Water                                                               Water 

Wash and peel the carrots. Slice into julienne strips about 3 inches long and 1/2 inch wide. (Another general way to think of it is: cut the carrots in half, then each half in eighths)  They will not all be the same but take care not to cut the carrots too thinly or they will be too soft when cooked.

Now, the engineering part.  In the large pot, (we use a very tall-sided pot, but a fat will one do as well), stack the carrots in bunches on end.  Continue until the bottom of the pot is covered with a tight row of carrots.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Repeat with a second row on top of the first.  Continue in this manner until all the carrots are tightly pack in the pot.  There should be about 2 to 3 inches remaining at the top.Add water to the pot just to the top of the carrots. Strew on top of this:   the butter, sugar, cinnamon sticks, and a generous amount of salt and pepper.Bring the contents to a boil. (This will take quite some time)  Immediately turn off the heat. Keep the pot covered, leaving the carrots to cook as they cool down. They can simply sit there stewing in their juices for a couple of hours.  Reheat before serving if necessary but they stay hot quite a long time. 

  

 

 

One comment on “Thanksgiving – Yikes!

  1. retro says:

    This year my wife decided to have a dry run thanksgiving day to test out her recipes. OMG, thge t was so good and I get to do it again in a few days!

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