Thanksgiving dinner for most of us in the U.S. carries sweet (and sometimes bittersweet) memories. Here is my list of favorite Thanksgiving day dishes and a few tips on how I make them mine..
Thanksgiving just isn't right without turkey and it always astounds me to hear people complaining about dry turkey meat. I've cooked at close to a hundred of them and never had one come out dry. Then again, I don't do they exactly by the instructions. Instead of tenting them with foil I seal them with foil, only removing it for the last few minutes to allow the skin to brown. Even if I have a roaster with a lid I seal it by putting foil over the turkey before putting on the lid. Another perk to sealing the turkey with foil is that end up with more luscious, rich liquid with which to make gravy for your potatoes and dressing.
Gravy is a vital part of any Thanksgiving dinner. Whether or not you put the giblets into the gravy, they are useful in making the gravy. As soon as I remove the turkey from its wrappings I toss the giblets (please take them out of their little paper package first) and neck into a small pot and start simmering them with a little sage, garlic, onion powder, etc.... While the turkey is cooking I simmer them on low, adding water whenever necessary. This creates even more lovely broth for the gravy. When the turkey comes out of the oven I remove them from the pan where they have been simmering and either discard the giblets (if I'm making regular gravy) or chop them finely to be added to the finished giblet gravy. Next, drain the liquid from the turkey pan and add it to the pot and bring it back to a low boil. Now for the thickener. I use a cornstarch thickener for my turkey gravy because I like it to be a bit translucent. Put a small amount of water into a bowl and add cornstarch, stirring until all lumps are gone. Once the cornstarch mixture is ready, pour it into the turkey broth/dripping combo, stirring constantly.
Everyone seems to either love or hate cranberry sauce. I, personally, don't even want to think of thanksgiving turkey without cranberry sauce -- and not the canned stuff either. I make my own. All I do is follow the directions on the back of the cranberry package and substitute 1/4 cup of the water (per package of cranberries) with lemon juice.
Fruit salad is a very personal taste. I like mine made with apples, bananas, oranges, and real whipped cream. Some people add nuts (pecans or walnuts, usually). Some put marshmallows and maraschino cherries, fruit cocktail, and/or coconut in it. However you make it, make plenty of it because it will go fast.
In my household there is no thankgiving dinner without pumpkin pie. It doesn't always have to be round, either. When baking for a large group I make mine in 13x9 pans because its easier to make two or three than five or six.
Oh. And don't forget the whipped cream.
select one here...