Sunday, December 8, 2013

Thanksgiving Recipe Lessons

Whew! It was worth it, but after learning some important lessons, I’m making notes for the future and hope that since I didn’t know this stuff before, maybe someone can learn from my mistakes. At least the cranberry sauce, a favored standby, turned out great. 
I tried a plain apple pie recipe, not the custard recipe I’ve been making for years, because I had run out of sour cream . The plain recipe called for a top crust, which I didn’t have, and instead of adding a crumble, I left the pie “topless”. It tasted great but didn’t look too hot (just cut up apples). Moral of this story: use top crust, crumble, or stick with the original custard recipe. No photos of ugly but tasty pie.
Brined turkey: thumbs down. I know this is a common tradition for many, but my family votes “no”. Also, using a nice baking dish cover in heavy stoneware accelerates completion time for a turkey. Two different birds were done well ahead of time according to a meat thermometer than the times called for on the wrapping. Stay alert! The turkey wrapper directions called for melted butter, sage, thyme, rosemary, and marjoram. 
Creamed onions need a vast proportion of cream sauce to onions. My grandmother’s recipe listed the simple ingredients of onions, butter, flour, and milk, but did not indicate quantities. An on-line search quickly revealed many tablespoon/cup amounts for roux. When I poured the successful roux into the boiled and drained onions, it looked good from above. After baking, there was far too little sauce! The flavor was fine, but I’d recommend making a significant amount of roux and practically drowning the onions in it, if your family likes it the way mine does. I had drained the onions and dumped them into the baking dish, then poured the roux on top. Keep them separate, adding a layer of sauce, a small layer of onions, more sauce, etc. The flavor was fine, but it was dry. I didn’t weigh the onions I used, so I cannot recommend a specific weight to sauce ratio.
On the other hand, the scalloped potatoes were too soggy. My grandmother’s recipe listed the simple ingredients of sliced potato, butter, salt/pepper, and milk, but did not indicate quantities. I covered the potatoes with milk as directed, but apparently used a baking dish that was too deep, leaving the liquid to bubble nicely but not absorb into the many layers of sliced potato. The next day, it was better, but that was too late. Considered combining the onions and potato dish, but didn’t! My aunt recalled that a shallower baking dish had previously been used for the taters.
The chestnut stuffing turned out well, but I didn’t care for the celery flavor so I’ll omit that in the future. I used store bought corn bread stuffing mix, and sautéed a bit of chopped onion in butter, along with 7 ounces of chopped jarred chestnuts. Used chicken stock according to the package directions and baked to warm it up. Next time, more chestnuts!

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