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Thanksgiving 2019

Here are my preparations for Thanksgiving dinner. Actually, I copy and pasted this from the Thanksgiving 2018 post and only edited the changes, so a bunch of the pictures are from 2018.

I did the first round of grocery shopping today. I did another round on Tuesday morning for fresh vegetables and a few things I forgot, but got most of the stuff today.

I got a frozen turkey, and I kept it in the chest freezer until ready to defrost it in the refrigerator on Saturday.

I got a medium-sized 15.03 lb. turkey so I only needed to defrost it for 4 days at 40°F following this guide . I started defrosting Saturday at 1:00 PM, but I should have started it around 9:00 AM because the neck was still pretty frozen inside on Wednesday evening.

Final grocery shopping.

Gravy Defrosted 32 oz. of turkey stock. I vacuum sealed and froze it last year, and will be the base for the gravy. I put the frozen bags in the sous vide at 140°F which also had the advantage of making the stock warm to add to the roux.

The gravy is based on this recipe and is: 1/2 cup butter (1 stick) 1/2 cup all-purpose flour

32 oz. turkey stock

freshly ground black pepper (optional) soy sauce (optional)

Add the butter to the pan and melt. And the flour and cook for 5 minutes or more to make a roux. It should smell slightly nutty, but not burnt.

Add the turkey stock and combine. Stir for a several minutes until thickened. It will start out shockingly thin, but it thickens quickly.

I'm used to having soy sauce in my gravy because Mom always made it that way, so I add that too, several ounces.

Cool and refrigerate. Reheat in a large saucepan on the stove. Makes 4 cups.

4 cups easily fits in a 7 cup Pyrex container. It would be too full in a 4 cup/2 pint/1 quart container.

I'll add pan drippings (and possibly water) when reheating as it's a little thick now.

Rice Put 3 dry cups of Nishiki white sushi rice in a zip-lock bag. I'll cook that at the lake tomorrow. (Yes, we have both rice and mashed potatoes.)

Mashed potatoes I made 3 pounds of mashed potatoes . Peel and dice the potatoes. There are yellow flesh potatoes (like Yukon Gold). I've also used Russet successfully.

Add to a pot of boiling water and cook for 20 minutes or until soft.

Drain in a colander. I normally use a potato ricer to make mashed potatoes, but I used an electric hand mixer like Mom did. It makes really smooth whipped mashed potatoes, and is easier to clean than my gigantic potato ricer.

Add a stick of butter (4.0 oz.), diced.

Add a few ounces of heavy cream.

Season with salt and freshly ground white pepper.

3 pounds of mashed potatoes just fits in a 7 cup Pyrex container.

I reheated the potatoes in a crock pot. 1 hour on high. This works the best of the oven, stovetop, and microwave. (Sous vide also works well.)

Green bean casserole Prepped a traditional green bean casserole, based on this recipe . Last year I used fried jalapeños instead of fried onions and it was a little on the spicy side for others. I went back to regular fried onions this year. This is a half recipe.

1 can of green beans (14.4 oz.), drained and rinsed 1/2 can of condensed cream of mushroom soup (10.5 oz. can), not diluted 1/3 cup shredded Mexican cheese (I used Sargento 4-cheese Mexican)

1 cup French's fried onions (reserve until almost cooked)

Combine the ingredients except the fried onions in a bowl.

Put in a 1 quart Pyrex bowl with lid.

Bake for 1 hour at 325°F, uncovered, adding the fried onions during the last 10 minutes of cooking.

Dressing I used this recipe to make the dressing/stuffing. Stuffing, if I stuffed it in the turkey, which I don't. I also added in sausage from this recipe to give it some more flavor.

Prepare the bread. I used 1 pound of Heidelberg white bread, about 3/4 of a loaf chopped into 1/2" squares. Bake on a sheet pan for 1 hour at 250°F. Some people swear by ripping the bread, but I find the chunks are too large. I like the smaller, more uniform cubes. After cooking, let cool before combining with the other ingredients.

There's 2 to 2 1/2 cups of Vidalia or other sweet onion (one really large one) and 1 1/2 cups celery. Also works fine with regular yellow onions.

Cook 1/4 to 1/2 lb. loose sweet Italian sausage in a large sauté pan with a few ounces of olive oil. This is the addition from the second recipe. I used 4.9 oz., which was what was left after separating out 3x 4.0 oz. servings out of 1.09 lb. package. I vacuum sealed and froze the remainders for things like egg roll in a bowl.

Add 1/2 cup (1 stick) of butter and the 2 1/2 cups onions and 1 1/2 cups celery. Cook for around 10 minutes.

The recipe calls for 2 tbsp. fresh sage, 1tbsp. rosemary, and 1 tbsp. thyme. My grocery store conveniently has all three in a single bag labeled poultry blend. Also 1/2 cup fresh flat leaf parsley.


Combine bread and vegetables in a big bowl. Add 1 1/4 cup chicken broth, season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Beat 2 eggs. Combine with 1 1/4 cups chicken broth. Add to the cooled bread mixture, then put in a greased 9x13 baking dish. Cover with foil and bake for 40 minutes at 350°F.

After baking. It will be baked once more, uncovered, tomorrow (40 minutes or 1 hour from refrigerated temperature).

Cranberry sauce I made the Food Network cranberry sauce recipe . It's basically just a 12 oz. bag of fresh cranberries, 1 cup of sugar, a strip of lemon zest, and 1 oz. water. I like it. Add the cranberries, 1 cup of sugar, lemon zest and water to a sauce pan and heat over low heat, stirring occasionally until the sugar dissolves, about 10 minutes.

Increase the heat to medium and cook until the cranberries burst, about 12 minutes, then continue to cook until it reaches the desired consistency.

Season with salt and pepper. Put in a 1 quart Pyrex bowl with lid.

The original recipe calls for adding some reserved uncooked cranberries at the end, but I like it better without.

Mama Stamberg's cranberry relish

I made a half batch of Mama Stamberg's cranberry relish . It's a famous recipe from NPR, that contains onion and horseradish! It's not a huge hit, though I like it, so I only make a half batch.

1 cup cranberries (less than half a bag) 1/2 cup sugar 1/2 of a small onion, diced 1 tbsp. prepared horseradish

I minced the onions a bit in the food processor. Then added the cranberries. Finally, at the very end I added the remaining ingredients and pulsed for a few times.

That's it! Put in a 1 pint Pyrex bowl with lid. Refrigerate until tomorrow.

Freeze for an hour or two before serving so it's a little icy but not a frozen block.

Sweet potatoes I made Mom's recipe for sweet potatoes. I used two very large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into spears. I test fit them in the 9x13 Pyrex baking dish.

The cut sweet potatoes keep better if you store them in water, or vacuum seal them, as I did here.

Vacuum sealed bags of sweet potato, 1 stick of butter, and 1/2 cup light brown sugar, ready for use tomorrow.

Fully packed and ready to go. It's stored in the refrigerator until tomorrow.

Final preparation is to dice the butter and scatter around the sweet potatoes. Top with brown sugar. Bake uncovered for 1 hour at 325°F.

Sweet and spicy meatballs The sauce will be the standard chili sauce and grape jelly, reheated in a small crockpot. Two years ago I made the meatballs from scratch but this time I used frozen, which is way easier!

One 18 oz. package of pre-cooked mini-meatballs (1/2 oz each, 36 count). And the sauce of Polaner All Fruit Concord Grape (10 oz. jar) and Heinz Chili Sauce (12 oz. jar).

Vacuum sealed and refrigerated, ready to cook tomorrow in the crockpot.

Broccoli Cut up a small head of broccoli. In the past I've cut it the day of and boiled it at the lake. This time I cooked it ahead, drained and shocked it in cold water, so I don't need to cook it there. I'll just warm it a bit in the microwave before putting it in the steam table.

Cold balsamic green been salad This is a new dish, loosely based on this one . 6 oz. fresh green beans, tipped, tailed, and cut into 1 to 1 1/2" pieces 1 clove minced fresh garlic

Olive oil - a couple table spoons

Juice of 1/2 lemon

balsamic vinegar - a couple tbsp. salt

freshly ground black pepper

red onion, thinly sliced cherry tomatoes, 10, halved crumbled feta cheese (1 oz. by weight)

Turkey Prep The turkey, insides removed, drained and seasoned with salt, freshly ground black pepper, garlic powder, and rubbed sage. It will sit uncovered in the refrigerator until ready to cook tomorrow morning at 11:15 AM. (This is based on the Michael Symon technique for cooking turkeys.)

The neck, gizzards, and the other random stuff stored inside. Also the wing tips. Vacuum sealed and refrigerated until I make soup.

Prepped salad with lettuce mix, cucumber, grape tomatoes, celery, carrot, and grape tomatoes.

The bowl was just to I could check the volume of the various ingredients; I transferred it to a zip-lock bag and will put in a different bowl to serve. No dressing yet, so it stays fresh. And the bag is labeled not for now (it's salad, duh), but so I can put it in a serving bowl, then put the leftovers back into the bag later.

Prepped a cheese plate with horseradish cheddar, Cabot seriously sharp cheddar, peppered goat cheese, and Soppressata. And crackers: cracked pepper and olive oil Triscuits, Carr's peppered table water crackers, ak-mak crackers, and Late July crackers (like Ritz).

Heading out to the lake All packed up and ready to go!

10:15 AM Pack food, head to lake

11:00 AM Preheat oven to 325°F

11:15 AM Turkey into oven

11:30 AM Reheat meatballs in crockpot (high)

12:00 PM Lower meatballs to low heat

1:00 PM Put out cheese plate

2:15 PM Check turkey

2:40 PM Stamberg cranberry to freezer

2:40 PM Prep sweet potatoes for oven

2:30 PM to 3:15 Turkey done

2:45 PM Mashed potatoes reheat in crockpot high (lower once warm) (move to 2:30 PM next year) 2:50 PM Dressing, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole to oven

3:10 PM Make rice

3:15 PM Boil water for chafing dishes

3:35 PM Add fried onion to green beans

3:35 PM Slice turkey

3:40 PM Microwave broccoli, add to steam pan

3:45 PM Plate traditional, canned, and Mama Stamberg cranberry sauce

3:45 PM Reheat gravy 

3:50 PM Sides out of oven

4:00 PM Dinner

Turkey was good after cooking for 3:30 at 325°F. I could have cooked a little less, even.

After dinner I hacked apart the turkey to fit in zip-lock bags and refrigerated it until tomorrow when I'll package the left-overs and make soup.

The best parts separated out, and the carcass hacked apart to make stock and soup tomorrow.

4 servings for dinner each with 4.5 oz. turkey, 4.5 oz. mashed potatoes, dressing, and 5.0 oz. gravy.

2 servings diced for stir-fry, 2.8 oz. each and the rest of the dressing.

Almost our dinner packages, with turkey, gravy, dressing and mashed potatoes. (Missing mashed potatoes and gravy in one. I have other packages of mashed potatoes, so I'll just make an extra serving of chicken gravy when I make a roasted chicken and it will be fine.)

All that's left is to make the stock and turkey soup . 1 yellow onion

1 large carrots (or 2 small) 1 large stalk of celery (or 2 small) 2 bay leaves

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. whole black peppercorns

Into the Instant Pot for a soup pressure cooking cycle (30 minutes) with 68 oz. water.

Let rest for 20 minutes after the cycle, the depressurize. Chill in a cold water.

Most of the solids separated out. I just fish them out by hand before straining the stock through a mesh sieve.

68 oz. of stock. Refrigerate so the fat rises to the top, then skim off the fat.

Packaged into 2 packages of 16 oz. of turkey stock only; that will be used to make the gravy in 2020. And 3 packages of 12 oz. stock and 3 packages of 2.8 oz. turkey for turkey soup.

Now I'm really done!

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