Make Master Plan For Big Meal

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Photo courtesy of The Food Channel/David Nehmer

Making a master plan and using these recipes will help you create a memorable Thanksgiving meal.

It’s hard to believe, but Thanksgiving is just 15 days from now. So, this is probably the last weekend to make a master plan for the feast.

To help with the tasks at hand, The Rim Review has been given permission to use the wonderful resources of The Food Channel (www.foodchannel.com) to provide a preparation timeline and some recipes for the holiday.

Timeline

This weekend: finalize guest list; finalize menu; plan the décor — decide if anything new is needed; clean the house and clear out the refrigerator; make the grocery list and purchase all the ingredients.

Monday, Nov. 23: put turkey in the refrigerator to thaw, keeping it in its packaging, but set on a tray (cookie sheet or jellyroll pan); if using it in the menu, make Holiday Cranberry Salad (recipe below).

Tuesday, Nov. 24: polish all the serving ware that will be used, making sure every recipe has a dish; if something is missing, either purchase it or ask someone else to bring it; if using Homemade Turkey Stuffing (recipe below), cut and sauté onions and celery and store in fridge; start making pies and other desserts.

Wednesday, Nov. 25: go to grocery for any items that might have been forgotten; set the table; prepare bread for stuffing and leave out to air-dry; is using Cheesy Cream Corn with Bacon (recipe below), fry bacon, saving grease and store both in fridge; finish pies and other desserts.

Thursday, Nov. 26: make the stuffing; put the turkey on; make the Cheesy Cream Corn with Bacon; make Roasted Carrots with Cranberries, if using (recipe below); make Sweet Potato Soufflés, if using (recipe below); heat rolls; set out beverages; put out meal; sit down and enjoy it, giving thanks; brew some coffee to go with desserts; clean up or have someone else do it; put feet up and smile.

Holiday Cranberry Salad

Sweet fresh orange and apple chunks accent the tart flavor of the cranberries to create this classic holiday side dish. Using fresh oranges, apples, and cranberries gives this salad a robust flavor that’s hard to resist.

3/4 cup orange, fresh, with rind, 3/4-inch diced

1 cup fuji apple, fresh, with peel, 1/2-inch diced

3 cups whole cranberries, fresh

1/2 cup celery, fresh, finely chopped

1/2 cup sugar

1 cup whole berry jellied cranberry sauce

1/2 cup pecan pieces

Process orange in Cuisinart (or similar) for 30 seconds.

Combine all other ingredients (except pecan pieces) with orange in Cuisinart (or similar) and pulse 8 to 10 times or until ingredients are coarsely chopped.

Stir pecan pieces into mixture.

Cover and chill.

Homemade Turkey Stuffing

Cooking time: 45 minutes; makes 8 servings

This is a traditional and very indulgent stuffing. Roasted turkey stock, plenty of real butter and fresh herbs give it a natural flavor and the combination of different breads gives it subtly complex flavor and textures. The recipe can be varied by adding a couple of chopped apples or some chopped toasted nuts. Never throw 3 or 4 day old bread away in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving — bag it, freeze it and don’t be afraid to use 2 or 3 different breads. In this recipe we used Italian bread, sour dough and cornbread to add dimension and flavor complexity.

4 cups corn bread, diced

8 cups rustic bread with crust, diced or torn

1/2 pound (2 sticks) butter, unsalted

2-1/2 cups (2-3 onions) yellow onion, chopped

1-1/2 cups (2-3 stalks) celery, chopped

2 tablespoons + 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh sage, chopped

2 tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped

1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground

2 to 3 cups chicken or turkey stock

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Toast bread cubes on baking sheets until slightly crusty, approximately 10 to 12 minutes. Cool and transfer to a large mixing bowl.

In a large heavy sauté pan, melt butter and sauté onions and celery on medium heat until vegetables are tender.

Add herbs and sauté for an additional minute.

Combine vegetable mixture with bread, seasonings and stock.

Transfer to a deep buttered baking dish.

Bake for 45 minutes uncovered until stuffing is hot and crusty on the top.

Cheesy Cream Corn with Smoky Bacon

The amazing combination of sweet corn with melted Cheddar cheese and smoky bacon makes this side dish a worthy candidate for your Thanksgiving table. The bacon adds a wonderful finishing touch to this dish. Avoid the temptation to use less than the recipe calls for.

4 strips bacon, 1/2-inch diced and drippings

1 cup onions, chopped

2 packages frozen corn

1 cup cheddar cheese, grated

1 cup half and half cream

Salt and pepper

1/8 or 1/4 teaspoon powdered ginger

Cook bacon until crisp. Remove from pan.

In drippings, sauté onions until soft but not brown. Add corn and cheese to onions. Cook, stirring about 10 minutes.

Add cream and seasonings. Top with bacon and heat until bubbly.

Roasted Carrots with Fresh Cranberries

Preparation time:10 minutes; cooking time: 1 hour; makes 14 servings

The accent of fresh cranberries makes this simple side dish extra special. If you want to take the extra time to julienne the carrots yourself, have at it — especially if you have a food processor. But if you want to trim the work and lower the stress, prepackaged julienne-shredded carrots will do just fine.

5 - 10 ounce packages carrots, julienne-cut

1-1/2 cups cranberries, coarsely chopped

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, cut into chunks

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

Juice of 2 lemons

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Butter a shallow 3-quart baking dish.

Place all of the ingredients in the baking dish and toss to mix.

Cover and bake until the carrots are tender, about 1 hour. Stir once or twice during baking.

Sweet Potato Soufflés

Preparation time: 15 minutes; cooking time: 25 minutes; makes 8 servings

These lightly sweet and airy autumn soufflés can serve as a special side dish or dessert. Try adding a little rum with the maple syrup, for a nice finishing touch.

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 cup granulated sugar

1, 15-ounce can sweet potatoes

8 large eggs, separated, at room temperature

1 cup heavy cream at room temperature

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1-1/4 cups pure maple syrup

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter eight 4-inch, 1-1/4 cup-capacity individual soufflé dishes. Dust bottoms and sides lightly using 2 tablespoons sugar and set aside.

In a large bowl, mix together sweet potatoes, egg yolks (reserve whites), cream, 3/4 cup sugar, cinnamon, and 1/4 cup maple syrup; beat until smooth. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, beat egg whites with remaining 2 tablespoons sugar until soft peaks form. Add one-quarter of the egg whites to the bowl with sweet potato mixture and gently fold in with a rubber spatula. Fold in the remaining egg whites until just incorporated.

Arrange prepared soufflé dishes evenly spaced on a flat baking sheet. Fill each dish no more than two-thirds of the way up with sweet potato mixture and bake for 20 to 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, heat remaining 1 cup maple syrup over low heat.

Serve soufflés immediately with warm maple syrup.

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