Thursday, November 15, 2012

Thanksgiving Menu

Since I'm having all new people to dinner this year (many of whom I have never met), I'm going with ultra-safe, expected dishes.  While I like being inventive for Tea, Passover, and pretty much any fancy dinner through the year, Thanksgiving is something you don't mess with.

The only major change to the menu was making sure everything except the turkey was vegetarian.  I'm not saying that a vegetarian at the table is a bad thing, but it really makes you conscious of every ingredient.  At least she's ok with gelatin in the Pumpkin Chiffon Pie.  I'm not changing that.  You can just skip it if you have an issue.  It's going on the table no matter what.

Turkey:  I don't do anything fancy.  Light rub of salad oil, generously salt and pepper the outside for a crispy skin, stuff the cavity with the parts of onion, celery, and carrot that I didn't use for everything else, and roast at 325º until the thermometer hits 160º.  Let rest during the half hour that the starches and green beans are in the oven.  Serve with a couple of jars of gravy and cranberry sauce carefully removed from the can.  Keeping the ridges intact is important. :)

Greenery:  I was going to do either a salad or the Cream of Asparagus Soup.  The vegetarian voted for salad, so that's what I'm making.  Just chopping up a head of red leaf lettuce and adding tomatoes, green onions, and candied walnuts.  Also vital is the French's Green Bean Casserole.  To reduce the salt, I plan to make my own sauce instead of using cream of mushroom soup.  Just basic White Sauce Base with a can of mushrooms and a reasonable amount of salt and pepper.

Starch:  Candied yams out of the can (baked with marshmallows, orange juice, and brown sugar) and stuffing.  I expected to have to make the stuffing from scratch, since the boxed ones have chicken stock in them, but Mrs. Cubbison's basic version is a blank slate of seasoned bread bits.  It costs a tiny bit more than the other brands, but far less than making it all from scratch.  I'll just doctor it up with celery, onion, dried cranberries, herbs, and sliced almonds, and use plain water for the liquid.

Kick-Ass Rolls:  Because they're awesome.  Also an excellent do-ahead.

Dessert:  Pumpkin Chiffon Pie.  Can be made the day before, then put a lock on the fridge.

I did make a conscious cost-cutting effort for the shopping, mostly that I got the dry goods and turkey at Vons and will get the last-minute fresh produce at Sprouts.  Everything traditional is on sale anyway.  It's when you think out of the box that a holiday meal gets expensive.  I also loaded up my Vons card with online coupons and found a few paper ones that were useful.  The best deals were getting an extra dollar off the turkey ($9 for a 14-lb Butterball), the French's onions for under $2, and $4 off the dried sage.  Basically, the meal cost what I thought it ought to, not what today's inflated prices have done to a trip to the grocery store.

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