Chat Leftovers: Post-Election Eyes on Thanksgiving
With the all-consuming presidential election now behind us, we can now focus our attention on another pressing countdown -- just three weeks until Thanksgiving! In this week's What's Cooking, readers began getting itchy for Thanksgiving ideas and tips. For the next few weeks, we'll ramp up the holiday meal coverage, with a weekly Thanksgiving Clinic feature to help you plan, shop, prep, and most importantly, have fun. Read on.
Centre of Nowhere: So, when can we start talking about the immediate days after Thanksgiving? I am throwing a family dinner (16 people) for a non-Thanksgiving event the Saturday immediately after the big feast, and am wondering what to serve everyone who'll be turkey-ed and pumpkin pie-d to death by then. Suggestions for easy, filling, light and fit for a crowd?
Centre, you haven’t said whether your crew is adventurous or finicky, but I’m going to throw an idea out there nonetheless: What about a curry party? You could do two or three pots of curry, all different – one for chickpeas, one for chicken and one for beef, lentils or shrimp. A fourth pot would be devoted to rice (perhaps you could borrow someone’s rice cooker), and you’d have naan for sopping up juices. I realize you’re in the middle of nowhere, but there are some really good brands of naan available in the frozen section, or you might be able to order online.
This would not only be a departure from the Thanksgiving feast, it would be a great lineup for a big group and great fun to prepare. You could even make some of the stuff in advance and reheat on Saturday. Let me know if you’d like guidance in the recipe department.
P.S. Haven’t forgotten the Curry Club idea. Planning on this after the holidays, unless of course y’all want to forget the holidays and make curry instead for a week in December. Let me know.
Seafood Thanksgiving?: Kim, do you have any recommendations for a seafood Thanksgiving dinner? My sis and I are on our own for the meal as our parents will be on a cruise spending our inheritance. We want to do something different from the normal turkey & stuffing.
In your shoes, I would probably play with octopus on Thanksgiving. You can’t get much different from turkey and stuffing than a plate of grilled octopus tentacles, and it might even magically transport you to that cruise your parents will be enjoying. Talk about a taste of warmer climes!
I love the sound of char-grilled octopus with pineapple sambal from “Fish Forever,” a terrific resource on sustainable seafood by fishmonger Paul Johnson. The pineapple gets grilled as well and marries with a zesty mix of garlic, chiles, fish sauce, rice vinegar and brown sugar. Could make a dynamite first course. You’ll need to boil larger octopuses until tender before grilling. By the way, wild-caught octopus from Hawaii is considered a “good alternative” to the overfished populations in Vietnam and Madagascar, according to Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program.
For the main, I’m thinking seafood paella or something stewy, with a mix of cephalopods (octopus and squid) and bivalves (mussels and clams). A risotto with any of the above would be slightly less complicated but festive nonetheless. Let me know if you’d like more details on braising octopus.
Falls Church, Va.: For the first time, I'm hosting 10 adults and 3 kids for Thanksgiving. My oven is very small and I'm concerned about fitting a huge bird in it. I'm thinking of getting cut-up turkey parts -- breast, leg -- and cooking that way instead. Have you ever done this? Does this make sense to you? Any pointers?
Do you have one of those apartment sized ovens? That’s what we have at Casa Appetite on the east coast, and I have cooked a 12-14 pounder in my little engine that could with great success. For your crew, you’ll need a 12-15 pounder, if you want leftovers, 10-12 pounds if you don’t.
The tricky part is coordinating oven time for your side dishes, but that would be an issue no matter the size of your oven. My vote: Go for a whole bird over the parts.
Chat Alert: Mark your calendars for two extra Thanksgiving-focused chats this month.
Thursday, Nov. 13: What's Cooking Vegetarian Thanksgiving, for meatless feasting
Thursday, Nov. 20: What's Cooking Thanksgiving, for turkey, giblets, sausage stuffing and all the rest...
Both chats begin at 1 ET.
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