Thanksgiving Game Plan

That's a lot of pies

Five apple pies and one buttermilk, down on the end.


Have I ever mentioned how much I love Thanksgiving? It really is my very favorite holiday. Whats not to love? As far as I’m concerned a day dedicated to sharing a meal with people we love is just about the perfect day – all the good stuff without the pressure of extraneous obligations like costumes or gifts. 

Plus we get to cook all kinds of foods we don’t ordinarily cook. Why is that so many of the Thanksgiving standards are really only made once a year? Especially when they’re so delicious. 

As I mentioned over here, I have quite a bit of family coming for the week of Thanksgiving and I don’t want to be overwhelmed with shopping and cooking while they’re here. All of my family lives in the midwest, and since we’re the lone outliers, some people (I don’t want to point fingers or anything) think it’s most appropriate for us to travel to them. It’s actually pretty rare for them to come here. (rare as in, the last time some of them were in Oregon was for our wedding, almost 23 years ago).  Naturally I want to be able to enjoy their company as much as possible – while still feeding them well of course. So I’ve been doing lots of planning and prep ahead of time. 

 * Just a note about the photo above. No, we’re not having six pies at our Thanksgiving dinner, I just like the picture. Last night we had a going away party here for one of our employees and at some point in the days preceding one person challenged another to an apple pie bake-off and, well, as you can see, one thing led to another….By the way, the buttermilk pie won.

And now, back to the real subject at hand. Here’s my menu. I think I have it finalized, though I reserve the right to make last-minute changes!

Hors d’oeuvres

Salmon Rillettes 
Sweet and Spicy Herb Mixed Nuts


Main Event

Roasted Turkey with Herb Butter
Classic Turkey Gravy
Mashed Potatoes
Cornbread Bacon Stuffing
Mushroom and Leek Bread Pudding
Warm Brussels Sprout Salad with Toasted Garlic and Lemon
Celery Root Remoulade
Roasted Shallots with Balsamic Glaze
Spiced Cranberry Sauce
Pear and Apple Compote
Whole Wheat Buttermilk and Thyme Rolls



Pumpkin Chiffon Pie (from the Joy of Cooking)
Deep Dish Apple Pie


And what about a schedule? I’ve already made several things and have them in the freezer, ready to go. Those are: Gougères, turkey stock and gravy (to be finished with the pan drippings at the last minute, cornbread for stuffing, cranberry sauce, the rolls, the deep dish apple pie and the crust for the pumpkin pie. I’m not trying to be a show off or anything, it’s just that in addition to having all that family coming, I’ll be working right through next weekend and won’t have much time to do anything those precious days. Oh, I’ve also made a Leek and Potato Soup and a Meaty Ragu Sauce, those will be the foundation of some other meals while my family is here.

Here’s my plan for the week of Thanksgiving:


pick up mom and dad at airport
pick up turkey and get it in the brine
roast and season nuts
shop for produce
Dinner: leg of lamb per my mom’s request



make Salmon Rillettes
turn the turkey in its brine
Dinner: Garlic and Thyme Roasted Chicken on Dijon Croutons



assemble bread pudding
assemble corn bread stuffing
make pear and apple compote
prep shallots and brussels sprouts
Move the apple pie and rolls from freezer to fridge
Remove turkey from its brine. Rinse and let it air dry for 24 hours
Dinner: Meaty Ragu sauce on Papperdelle. Served in stages. Round 1 for parents and kids, Round 2 when my sister’s family gets in from the airport – 10pm



Join in our neighborhood 5K walk/run at 9am – get things off to a good start!
Breakfast: pumpkin pancakes for the kids, smoothies for my sis and me
make Celery Root Remoulade
make filling for Pumpkin Chiffon Pie (this has to refrigerate for several hours total, so I like to start it early)
Set the table for the big feast
Bake frozen Gougères about 5:30 and get the festivities started with hors d’oeuvres and Bubbly!


We have our Thanksgiving dinner in the evening, not the afternoon, as some do. So this gives us plenty of time to get the turkey in the oven at a leisurely pace, make the gravy and cook all the sides. My sister will be in the kitchen with me, and I’m pretty sure some nieces and nephews will wander in and out. With a lot of the work done ahead of time, it should be a relaxing day of good conversation and fun capped off with a great meal. 


Friday: Leftovers! (my favorite is a classic turkey sandwich – sourdough bread, mayonnaise, turkey, lettuce, salt and pepper, that’s it. The best!)


Happy Thanksgiving to all!









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