The Thanksgiving Dinner Feast Was Awesome

As host to the family Thanksgiving dinner this year, we spent the 36 hours before the day itself sleeping off an on to get everything ready.  The sheer amount of flour, white sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, eggs, white wine, and heavy cream we went through was staggering.  The counters were stuffed with fresh green beans, corn, potatoes of multiple varieties, onions, carrots, cranberries … it looked like a farmer’s market.

We baked, cooked, sautéed, roasted, kneaded, and whisked to the point that two days later we couldn’t stand up for very long.  It’s our own fault but even now, I wouldn’t change it.  Take the pumpkin pies.  Did you we use the recipe that most Americans use, provided by pumpkin giant Libby?  No.  Of course not.  That would be too easy.

[mainbodyad]Instead, we spent three hours making the homemade pie crust (pro tip: when baking a pie crust, substituting half of the water volume with pure vodka will result in a moister, fresher-tasting cake without the use of preservatives, without any alcohol since it burns off during the baking process), then preparing an out-of-this-world recipe that involved pumpkins, mixed with a small amount of strained candied yams, cooked and mashed for long periods of time, then blended with the eggs, heavy cream, cinnamon, nutmeg, and freshly ground ginger, among other things.  They turned out the single best pumpkin pies I’ve ever eaten my life.  My dad, who is not really crazy about pumpkin pie, even loved them.  But everything was that hard.  That was the downside.

But this day is supposed to be extraordinary.  Isn’t that the entire point?  To be with people you love, prepare a meal unlike almost any other you have all year, and spend time together as you do it?  I don’t mind the work.  If I did, I would have had it catered.  It matters that we made it.

Here are the few pictures I managed to take while we were in the kitchen and around the table.  This is only 50% of the food, at best.  I didn’t even get pictures of the cinnamon rolls, the corn chowder, the hand rolled egg noodles in broth, the candied yams, glazed carrots, the bread … to the foodies who share so many tips and recipes with me, I missed a huge opportunity here to document our techniques and things we’ve learned but I couldn’t keep up and finish at the same time.  This is all I have for you.  I’ll try and make up for it this holiday season.

I hope you all had as amazing of a day as I did.  Happy Thanksgiving.

My Thanksgiving Plate Joshua Kennon

This was my plate. The corn chowder is in the pumpkin tureen, the turkey gravy is made from some of the drippings and features butter and white wine, the mashed potatoes are golden yukon whipped with heavy cream and butter, the stuffing was baked inside the turkey so it could absorb the flavor … I drank cranberry juice with it.

 

Homemade Cranberry Sauce

I made homemade cranberry sauce by boiling down sugar, water, and some other ingredients, adding fresh cranberries, and then letting it simmer down, almost like a jam, before removing it from heat. It was delicious.

 

Whole Turkey Joshua Kennon

The turkey we made was from one of our favorite sources for recipes. It involved creating a mixture of kosher salt and baking soda to maximize osmosis of the juices, then adjusting the temperature during cooking to cause the skin to become crisp. It worked like a charm. The meat was juicy but the skin golden.  This was a 12 to 15 pounds bird.

 

Thanksgiving Turkey Before Being Served

I really couldn’t get over how extraordinarily well the meat turned out … a big part had to do with us maintaining internal temperature measurements at different parts so that no one piece became overcooked. It was easy with the instant-read electronic thermometers.

 

Green Beans Thanksgiving

Most of us had never had a green bean casserole so we decided to make a gourmet version of it …

 

Cream of Mushroom Base for Green Bean Casserole Thanksgiving

We used three types of mushrooms to make the base of the green bean casserole, and then simmered it in heavy cream and butter.

 

Thanksgiving Green Bean Casserole

The finished product turned out beautifully.

 

Thanksgiving Baked Macaroni and Cheese

My brother made a baked macaroni and cheese dish for everyone, which I appreciated. My grandmother brought candied yams, a vegetable salad dish with cucumbers and onions, and my mom brought dinner rolls and cinnamon-infused honey butter.

 

Putting Food in the Pots and Pans for Thanksgiving To Serve

We transferred food to their serving dishes, and were still cooking when everyone started. That’s the problem with a coursed-meal. But it was fun playing host.

 

Joshua Kennon Thanksgiving Baking the Pumpkin Pies

I spent three hours making a special pumpkin pie recipe we found, which involved from-scratch pie dough, pumpkin puree, cooked and smashed candied yams, cinnamon, nutmeg, ground ginger, eggs, egg yolk, and heavy cream.  My only miscalculation was the amount of pie dough necessary to cover the non-standard pie dishes, which are deep-edged.  The flavor more than made up for it.  This is now the go-to pumpkin pie recipe.

 

Thanksgiving Chocolate Chip Cookies

Aaron made a cache of the amazing Ghirardelli chocolate chip cookies. Everyone attacked them quickly, long before dinner was served.

 

Thanksgiving Bar Seating

We ran out of seating at the table so we had to add places at the bar. It’s a good problem to have at Thanksgiving.  The corn chowder is served in the pumpkin tureen.

 

Joshua Kennon Thanksgiving Set Table Day

Getting ready to serve the food …

 

Christmas Decorations 2012 Mantel Joshua Kennon

As the food was cooking, with the Christmas decorations now out, we watched classic movies and listened to albums, talking with the family. None of them will let you see their picture.  The rooms were full but the privacy concerns won out so you don’t get to see the people.

Not only was it a fun, and we got to the spend the day with people we love, but the actual quality of the food was fantastic.  I didn’t push the limits too hard – some of my relatives get nervous if there is any side dish other than ketchup – but the balance made everyone happy.  My mom has decided that we now host Thanksgiving every year.  I’m not so sure about that, but I’ll definitely do it, again.

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  • Ashly

    You’re making me hungry!!! I still need that cookie recipe 🙂 I miss everyone and am glad you had an enjoyable Thanksgiving!!

  • Austin from TX

    Happy Thanksgiving Josh!