I am so excited for this Thanksgiving. For the first time ever, I am getting to host a large family dinner. As military folk, we're usually by ourselves far away from family. Sometimes we invite a few airmen or colleagues who are in the same boat over, but often it's just us. One year, when my husband and I were doing split duty for a time, I went to visit him and we had Thanksgiving dinner in a pub. Finally, we are close enough to one side of the family to be able to host the event. It's not a huge crowd; I expect it to round out at close to a dozen, but that's enough for me to have an enjoyable time hosting a dinner I don't normally have a chance to.
So, what am I serving? I am so glad you asked! (You did ask, didn't you?). As I sit here writing this, I am smoking my first turkey on the grill. I'm a huge fan of smoked salmon (which I plan on serving cold as an appetizer), but I've never tried to smoke poultry, let alone a bird big enough to serve twelve. I figured I'd better give it a test run, and that's what I'm doing today. I'll let you know how it works out. It's been out there for an hour and a half, and it already looks great. Fingers crossed!!
In addition to a turkey, I'll serve a small ham (just in case I blow the turkey, right!?!). Not everybody loves turkey and leftover ham is awesome, so why not? I have a counter top roaster oven to bake it in, so I'm not hurting for oven space.
Let's see... so that takes care of the meat. I'll be serving the traditional dressing. I like a bread cube stuffing with mushrooms and sage. And, of course, there will be mashed potatoes and gravy. I may even spike the potatoes with a little cream since it's a special occasion!
I'll be making my green bean casserole from scratch. No cans of mushroom soup here!
I also plan on making my fabulous and gorgeous spiced cranberry sauce, shown - here - with currents, and shown - at the top of this post - without. I love it both ways, but maybe just slightly better with. I know a lot of folks aren't cranberry sauce fans, but this version has certainly converted a person or two.
And what Thanksgiving meal would be complete without some form of home baked bread? These refrigerator dinner rolls fit the bill since they taste phenomenal. Additionally, they fit well with my "do as much in advance as possible" doctrine.
For a nice change of pace, I decided I would serve these mincemeat peaches as a side dish. They're sweet and sassy with all the spice of the holidays. Using canned (whether home canned or store bought) mincemeat makes them the fastest dish in the west.
I'm still thinking about maybe adding one more side dish... a vegetable, I think, but we'll see if it happens. I've been thinking about creamed pearl onions or maybe slices of pecan crusted acorn squash. Since we have plenty of food already planned, I'll play this last dish by ear.
What about dessert, you say? Well, of course, I can't forget about dessert. While I like to get really fancy for Christmas desserts (think buche de noel or cream puff swans), I'm more of a traditionalist for Thanksgiving. Pies it is! I plan on making a classic apple pie and will serve it with homemade vanilla ice cream. I do think, however, that I will make the pie with my newer, super flaky pie crust. I've even held back a few Cortland apples for making the pie extra tasty.
And, what Thanksgiving would be complete without pumpkin pie? Apple pie may be all American, but pumpkin pie is all Thanksgiving! I always make mine with pumpkin puree I've put up myself. I can't abide by canned pumpkin.
Lastly, I think I'll make a pecan tart. This is like a pecan pie, but not so... well, goopy. I love the flavors of pecan pie, but am always overwhelmed but how much filling there is compared to nuts. It's too heavy and sweet for my tastes. I've made it as a tart before. I just used a tart pan instead and only added half the amount of filling (but all of the nuts!!). I found the balance perfect. Nutty, sweet, and delicious. A perfect ending to a meal filled with family and fellowship.