Thanksgiving 101

 

 

We hosted our first Thanksgiving dinner (15+ people) when we were 21…and about every other year since.  I come from a family which regularly gleaned stranded students and set them around a heavy-laden Thanksgiving table.

I’ve had my share of fiascoes. After I made my first pumpkin pie, I couldn’t find space for it in the refrigerator; so I placed it on top of the fridge and walked away. When it was time for dessert, that pie had polka dots of mold from crust to crust.  I’ve spattered mash potatoes on the ceiling, set off the smoke alarm, and discovered unserved salads in the fridge long after the guests had left.

Along my journey, except for the deep-frying gig, I think I’ve tried every new twist on cooking turkey. Breast down, in a bag, on the grill, very low heat overnight, high heat, covered, uncovered.  I am a sucker for three words: New and improved.

I saw good words about Rick Rodger’s Thanksgiving 101 and promptly put it on my Trade Books for Free - PaperBack Swap.  wishlist. A book that focuses on one meal intrigued me. Even though I’m not a novice, I wasn’t satisfied that I had found the best methods. This is the first Thanksgiving where I used Rick Rodgers for my guide. Color me thankful!  There is so much I love about this cookbook.

Rodgers includes many versions of traditional Thanksgiving dishes, with the kind of explanations you would find in Cook’s Illustrated.  He is frank in debunking what he calls Thanksgiving Myths. I followed his Perfect Roast Turkey directions, tightly covering the breast with aluminum foil; it was the very best turkey I’ve ever tasted.  Rick’s stuffing recipe was the best stuffing. Really! 

On Tuesday I made stock from turkey necks and legs (I could not find turkey wings, but I only checked one store). I used the stock instead of canned chicken broth for the stuffing, in roasting the turkey, and in the gravy. What’s left went into the soup.  I highly recommend this extra step. If time is tight the week of Thanksgiving, the stock (and gravy) can be made and frozen three weeks in advance.  Another tip was to heat the milk before adding it to potatoes for mashed potatoes.

I feel confident that I won’t deviate from the turkey and stuffing recipes I used.  But there are so many varieties of side dishes that would be fun to try. The chapter on Leftovers offers great ideas. Menus and timetables give all the practical help you need. I highly recommend this book as a reference for your future Thanksgivings.  Turkey is a budget-friendly protein. You may want to have a practice turkey dinner in March. (← brilliant thought, eh?)

One last thing. Guess what I plan to use a month from today? winky  Christmas 101

The Best Crescent Rolls

 

 

Decades ago my neighbor called me up.
“I have extra rolls, would you like them with your dinner?”
Yep. She’s some kind of wonderful.

They. were. stupendous.

I prayed that this wasn’t a secret family recipe.
I think she dictated directions over the phone.
As you can see, my recipe card has survived a Niagra of spills.

This is a vintage recipe.
Given before the days of KitchenAid mixers in every kitchen.
So half the time you use a hand-mixer,
then you shift to mixing by hand.

The good old days of mixing and kneading by hand.

Rhonda’s Rolls

1/2 cup canned milk
1 cup lukewarm water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 pkg yeast
1/2 cup sugar
2 t salt
2 eggs
5 1/2 cups flour

In large mixing bowl add yeast to water.
Add canned milk, oil, sugar, salt and eggs.
Mix well.
Add half the flour; using mixer, mix well for 3 minutes.
Add the rest of the flour cup by cup,
mixing with wooden spoon.
Knead dough for 10 minutes.

Wash out bowl and coat bottom with oil.
Place dough in pan and rise until doubled.
Punch down and cut in half.
Roll dough into a circle shape.
Cut like a pizza.
Roll up and place on cookie sheet.
Let rise until double.
Bake 400° for 6-8 minutes.

 

 

Above: Baked in my nifty Demarle Flexipan.
Below: Baked on a pizza stone.

 

Notes:

I always double this recipe. The family demands it.
I use whole milk instead of canned.
I buy yeast in bulk. 1 package = 1 scant Tablespoon
I used to brush melted butter over the tops.
Now I spray olive oil cooking spray.

Oh yes. I make the entire recipe, kneading and all,
in a Kitchen Aid or Bosch mixer.