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Topic: Thanksgiving menu - whatcha planning?

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Subject: Thanksgiving menu - whatcha planning?
Date Posted: 11/3/2013 12:27 PM ET
Member Since: 7/10/2011
Posts: 2,353
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Do you always do the same things, or do you change it up?

I make a different stuffing most years, but my favorite is Sourdough with Bacon, Mushrooms and Leeks, leaving out the celery.  Or I'll use a combination of breads made into croutons in the oven with Italian sausage and wild rice.  It just depends on the mood I am in.  Some years it is good old Pepperidge Farm stuffing mix with some onion and mushrooms added.  I love oysters, but no one else likes them, so I have never had an oyster stuffing. 

We have to have turkey most of the time, but have done cornish game hens in the past.  When it is just hubby and me, we will do the breast only.  It isn't Thanksgiving without the jellied cranberry sauce on a plate with the indentations of the can in it.  The past couple of years we have skipped the mashed potatoes to lower the carb count of the day.  The vegetable changes too, sometimes broccoli, sometimes asparagus, sometimes spinach.  Bread has to be there, sometimes crescent rolls, and sometimes the hard sourdough french style rolls from the freezer section.  I do miss my grandmothers rolls which she would "set" on Thanksgiving morning - but I am not that ambitous.

I remember a wonderful Thanksgiving where my mother and I made the Heartland Thanksgiving menu out of Bon Appetit magazine, yes the whole thing.  It was 1995 the year the issue was published.  The Corn and Wild Rice soup I still make regularly, and that was the year I found that stuffing recipe.  Mom loved to try new things, and shake up the menus every year.  We laughed at a lament in that magazine one year about putting out that kind of meal with only four burners and one oven, we did that every year!!

Last year I brined our turkey for the first time, and it was absolutely wonderful!!  If you haven't done this, I highly recommend trying it.  You do need a bit of space in the fridge overnight as well as a big bucket.  I used one of the turkey roasting bags as a liner for the bucket.

This year will have only MIL, but she is a total traditionalist.  So, a whole turkey, probably that favorite dressing, cranberry sauce, broccoli and rolls.

What are your plans?

Barb S. (okbye) - ,
Date Posted: 11/3/2013 12:54 PM ET
Member Since: 3/14/2011
Posts: 5,767
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I don't really like turkey so I'm a big sides freak. I'm curtailed by my sodium issues now but normally I am a huge stuffing fiend and mashed taters, sweet potatoes, all the veggies. Not being able to eat normal food really messes up holidays for me. I'll take some low sodium veggie dishes, a few other things I can eat, and just nibble bits of the real food.

If you really want to try a good turkey do a dry brine. I can get the recipe if you want, it is much easier and better results than the wet brine,.

Date Posted: 11/3/2013 4:38 PM ET
Member Since: 7/10/2011
Posts: 2,353
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Found this on All Recipes - "Dry Brining: So, what is dry brining? To dry brine a turkey you apply salt directly to the meat, like using a rub. The salt draws out some of the moisture in the meat, mixes to form a salty liquid that is absorbed back into the meat with a higher salt concentration. In most ways this works similarly to a traditional water brine but, without the extra moisture.

Since the idea behind brining is to add moisture to the meat, not salt, this doesn't make sense.  I can fit the bucket with the water in my fridge, just have to take out one shelf and only for one night.  Totally doable.

Date Posted: 11/3/2013 5:19 PM ET
Member Since: 1/12/2012
Posts: 266
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I've got a 20 lb butterball turkey and I've never had to do anything to a butterball to have a wonderful turkey without muss or fuss.

I try different stuffings every year because I'll only ever run into one that was to die for and I can't remember how I did that one, lol.  This year I'm going to try a mix of rye and cornbread black walnuts and raisins with the ubiquidous lipton's dry onion soup.

Mashed potatoes and gravy instant with homemade gravy for me.

Sweet Potato Casserole this year I'll add corn starch so the syrup isn't so liquid.

Pumpkin Pie Famous Libby Recipe

Dinner rolls from the frozen foods section Richlands if I can find them

Deviled eggs using the pickle juice and dry mustard

Barb S. (okbye) - ,
Date Posted: 11/4/2013 12:41 AM ET
Member Since: 3/14/2011
Posts: 5,767
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Since the idea behind brining is to add moisture to the meat, not salt, this doesn't make sense.

It's not just for moisture, it's also for flavor. Turkey doesn't taste like much. And wet brining should take 4 days if you do it right. The message board I have belonged to for about 11 years is based on the show Good Eats, Alton Brown did not invent brining but he did popularize it. Our group is even called The Briners. Anyway, we all switched to dry brining 2 years ago, using the method printed in the NY Times and I think slightly tweaked by one of our members. Every single one has prefered it, and it is so much easier.

Commercial turkeys like Butterballs are "injected with solution" which is essentially brining them. In fact you should not re-brine them.

Date Posted: 11/4/2013 7:48 AM ET
Member Since: 7/10/2011
Posts: 2,353
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Disagree, the reason I brine is to add moisture to the meat.  Yes, the salt will add some flavor enhancement, but I want that turkey moist on the table and still moist two days later.  No, I don't do Butterball turkeys, I get the less expensive ones that don't have water injected.   America's Test Kitchen says 24 hours is plenty.  I don't mind the work.  To each his/her own.

I also brine chicken breasts in salt water for about one hour before putting them on the grill.  The meat comes out really moist and flavorful.



Last Edited on: 11/4/13 7:50 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Barb S. (okbye) - ,
Date Posted: 11/5/2013 1:17 PM ET
Member Since: 3/14/2011
Posts: 5,767
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I said - "It's not just for moisture, it's also for flavor". Also the brine process isn't a 4 days soak, there's more to it than that.

Whatever works for you is great. I thought the purpose of these discussions was to learn new things, I'm putting out a new thing you may not be aware of. If you really want to try something good brine your pork roasts and chops next time. Ooops, stuck a new idea in there ;)

Barb S. (okbye) - ,
Date Posted: 11/23/2013 1:34 PM ET
Member Since: 3/14/2011
Posts: 5,767
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America's Test Kitchen ditches the water and is now advocating a dry brine. Of course they act on facebook like they invented it, lol.
http://www.americastestkitchenfeed.com/cooking-science/2012/11/we-prove-it-salt-makes-meat-juicy-and-skin-crisp/ explains how it works

Their recipe doesn't use the 24 hour drying period the NYT recipe does, which gives you even better skin.

Date Posted: 11/23/2013 2:02 PM ET
Member Since: 1/12/2012
Posts: 266
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The only time I had a dry turkey it was a jenny-o.  It is also the only time I've done a bird that wasn't a butterball.  Now I do butterball exclusively.  I always have a moist turkey.  And I like the turkey to taste like turkey do I don't add anything to it besides the stuffing.  I salt the interior cavities prior to putting the stuffing in and that is it.  I probably take traditional too far but since I only have to please myself it works.