Thanksgiving Wrap Up

04Dec07

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This year I invited my entire family over to my apartment and hosted Thanksgiving dinner. If you’ve ever been to my apartment, you know it’s in no shape to be hosting any kind of gathering for more than 3 people. But I figured if I’m going to be doing all the cooking that day, I might as well be in my own space. Worried that my brothers would have nothing to do, I went to Target and bought Jenga and Scrabble. Oh ya. And my brothers are 15, 18, 21. Maybe I should have gotten Chutes and Ladders. We played one game of Jenga, mom lost of course. My brothers quickly lost interest once they discovered HBO.


Every Thanksgiving has to have at least the awkward family member, unwanted guest, or drunk uncle present. WE had the unwanted guest. My mom brought her boy SPACE friend. Neither my brothers or I like him because if an old Korean man could be a tool/douchebag/idiot, he would be it. I The point is, I only had plates enough for my family because I didn’t know he was coming. So he had to eat his dinner off a serving plate. haha.

Even though this is my 3rd year making Thanksgiving dinner, I still don’t know what the f I’m doing. In preparation for the dinner, I had dreams of a Moroccan feast with all of my turban- clad brothers or an intimate tapas dinner lit by candles. I had hopes in baking pies and roasting meats galore. The morning after, I had an international menu ready to feed the children of the world. After the first panic attack, I decided to start fresh and began reviewing past Thanksgiving recipes and ripping out entire sections of new magazines. Second time around was just as bad. This time, not only was I unable to choose a running theme for my menu, but I couldn’t narrow down the quantity of sides! I was only feeding 5 people and with a budget of $100. I had to get real. After I knocked off a couple of big contenders, I was left with a somewhat simple and classic Thanksgiving menu.

Yi Family Thanksgiving 2007

Roasted Tomatoes with Thyme on Crostinis (appetizer)

Lemon Herb Turkey (purchased brined and ready to roast from Whole Foods)

Roasted Broccolini with Garlic-Parmigiano Butter

Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes

Mac & Cheese for the Bros

Braised Red Cabbage with Apple Wood Smoked Bacon

Artichoke, Sausage, and Parmesan Cheese Stuffing

Cranberry Fruit Conserve

Gravy from Turkey Drippings

Lessons from Thanksgiving 2008:

1. Make sure you have a good balance between your starches, vegetables, and proteins. You don’t want to overload your guests with pastas and potatoes like they’re in the geriatric line at Hometown Buffet. Don’t be shady. They know where you live.

2. Make sure there is a theme- At one point I had curry butternut squash and Oyster sticky rice on the same menu. Even though both recipes may sound great, you have to learn to cut things out when the entire menu is at stake.

3. Have 1 main dish in your menu, not 5. Don’t let your dishes overpower each other. Have one or two great mains that take center stage in flavor and presentation and let the others be milder in intensity. Since my stuffing was fairly rich in flavor, I opted for simply prepared vegetables as my sides.

The Night Before

I made some crostinis with olive oil and salt to be served the next day with my roasted tomotoes and brie.

crostinis

Then I cut my sourdough bread into cubes to be used the next day for my stuffing. Only I would eat the leftover cubes like I was eating popcorn at a movie theatre. It’s best to use stale bread when making stuffing because it retains liquids better. Then I made the wet ingredients of the stuffing separately (sausage, artichokes, and cheese).

prep station

Next I made the cranberry conserve. It’s probably one of the easiest things to make. Just add water and sugar to your bag of cranberries, throw in some old fruit and 10 minutes later you have your cranberry sauce.

cranberryconserve

Thanksgiving Day

9:00 AM- I pre made the dough for my poppy seed lemon scones to be baked the next morning for my brothers’ Thanksgiving football game.

11:00 AM- Prepared braised cabbage. For lunch, I tossed some in to a bowl of bulgur (a type of wheat, can also use rice, cous cous, quinoa etc.) and made a salad for lunch!

red cabbage

2:00 PM-My brother (David) made the mac & cheese and mashed potatoes. He also has a girlfriend in junior high. Remember how cool you thought you were if you were in jr. high and you dated someone in high school?

3:30 PM- Began roasting turkey, the Alton Brown way (http://www.foodnetwork.com/food/recipes/recipe/0,,FOOD_9936_8389,00.html). This turns out to be a problem when dinner is set to be served at 7 pm. Now I know turkeys usually take 4-5 hours. But I thought since my turkey was small it would only need about 2.5-3 hours in the oven. Needless to say, we had some undercooked parts that I had to re-roast. Why didn’t I just leave it in the oven longer? Because my mom was being 5 and asking when dinner was ready every 2 minutes.

everything but…

6:00 PM roasted brocollini

roasted broccolini

7:00 PM Turkey is “done”

turkey

7:30 PM Dinner is served!

plate

Everything turned out great and to my surprise, there were barely any leftovers! It was a huge success and I am looking forward to hosting many more Thanksgiving dinners. The day will come when I can patent the perfect Thanksgiving menu. Until then, you’ll have to eat my trials and errors.

(I know the turkey seems pink but that was after we cut off the meat and braised it in it’s own juices..mmm)

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One Response to “Thanksgiving Wrap Up”

  1. 1 Shanna

    I am coming to your house for Thanksgiving next year. I miss you and your cooking!


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