Thanksgiving is an odd holiday in our house. We get kids who are friends of our kids, and our friends, and everyone is dropping by the house at a different time, so we make a ton of food and set it out buffet style. You get here when you get here, grab a paper plate, fill it up and find a spot to sit. And when you leave, you take a full plate home. There were years when we had almost no leftovers, because free food when you are young and hungry is the best thing ever.
This year we’re getting new kid friends who also happen to be starving college students, so we are making extra. And because we are able to feed everyone and we are very fortunate, we give thanks by contributing to a local food bank. If you happen to have plenty this year, please consider giving a little to your local food charities. Here, in Hays county, because of the corporate sponsorships, $1 buys 4 meals.
On to the menu.
- Smoked turkey
- Smoked ham
- Mashed potatoes
- Homemade cranberry sauce
- Green bean casserole (Kid 1)
- Roasted vegetables
- Crescent rolls
- Mac and cheese (Either S or Kid 2)
- Candied yams (Kid 1)
- Pecan pie (Kid 1)
- Pumpkin pie
- Zucchini bread (Kid 1)
I think that’s it. Turkey and ham are the staples, but the thing is, neither Gordon nor I are huge turkey fans, so this year we decided to add a roasted duck to the menu.
The turkey also presented us with a new dilemma. Previously we would go to a local BBQ joint, Smoky Moe’s, and buy a smoked turkey. This time the closest Smoky Moe’s is about 35 minutes away and we missed the deadline. I have roasted turkey before, but it is a pain.
I was going through the mail and saw a flier advertising an electric smoker. We’ve had the regular wood smokers before and you have to baby the damn things. Is the fire too hot? Is the fire too cold? Is the rain falling down on the smoker changing its temperature? Where is the smoke going and are we inconveniencing the neighbors? The electric smoker had the potential to solve all these problems.
So we went to Lowe’s and bought an electric smoker for under $200.
Here is how it works: you assemble it by putting shelves and trays in, you add liquid to the liquid pan, season your meats and poultry, and place them one the racks inside, and turn it on to the desired temperature. It only goes up to 275 degrees Fahrenheit (about 120 degrees Celsius). Set the time and let it run for about 20-30 minutes. We set ours in the garage.
Now the best part. On the side of the smoker is this doohickey.
You put the wood chips into it, slide it into the smoker, turn it, and the chips fall into a special heated tray. In minutes this thing fills with smoke. Then all you have to do is check it periodically and add wood chips as needed. We did a test chicken with some nice cilantro lime seasoning yesterday. I used a can of ginger ale with some cider as liquid and Gordon chose hickory for the smoke chips. It took about 3 hours, but the chicken was excellent, moist and flavorful and cooked through. You can definitely taste the smoke.
So the turkey and the ham are going into that bad boy tomorrow at 5:00 am. Well, the turkey is. The ham is smoked already, so we are just popping it in there for a couple of hours to add a bit more flavor.
The duck will be roasted. The cranberry sauce will be made according to this recipe: Deanna’s Cranberry Sauce, but instead of brandy, I’m going with Cointreau, which is an orange liqueur. I might make this today, since it needs to simmer for a bit.
The stuffing is a huge part of Thanksgiving, but instead of stuffing it into the bird, I make it separately. My stuffing requires a very flavorful stock, so tonight I will brown vegetables in butter, stick them into the slow cooker with water, add some cheap smoked turkey drumsticks I bought at the grocery store, and let the whole thing cook overnight. Tomorrow I will blend everything into a really good quality soup and that’s what I will use for the stuffing.
Also tonight Kid 1 will hit up her end of deserts and I will make Gordon the pumpkin pie he requested. Then tomorrow, all I have have to do is roast the duck – might be ducks, since we bought two, make mashed potatoes, make gravy, bake the rolls, roast the veggies, and I am golden.
Kids also want to make some sort of fancy holiday drinks, but I am not involved in that. 🙂
So a little bit of work ahead. Today once we hit our word goal, I’ll get started. What about you?