Tag Archives: Sauces

Thanksgiving Redux: Game Day

This is a re-post from last Thanksgiving with added content.

With At Home I see myself as your “home entertaining coach” — not just a provider of recipes.  The central task of great coaches – and I aspire to be a great coach – is to have a good game plan and get the players mentally and physically prepared to play the game. But, it’s the players who actually take to the field. The coach stands on the sidelines. So, as you prepare to take the field, some last minute advice and a final thought.

For hosts
• The less you have to think about, the better. Tape your menu to your refrigerator or kitchen cabinet, plan and post your reheating schedule, and label all your bowls and platters with what goes in and on each. (Ideally your table was set by Wednesday evening, your wine chilled, platters and bowls pulled and labeled.)
• Clear counter tops of everything that is not related to serving your Thanksgiving meal.
• Start with an empty sink and dishwasher and set-up your bus area according to this plan. (For book owners, generally review Part 1 of At Home — Planning to Entertain.)


• Review Monday’s post for ways your guests can help and assign tasks.
• Plan one relaxed hour prior to guest arrival.
Remember, you are already a Good Enough Entertainer. Relax. Your Thanksgiving will be great.
For more on the Good Enough Entertainer, check out this previous post: A Conversation with Myself

For guests
• Do not arrive early.
• Stay out of the kitchen unless you have a clear kitchen task.
• Don’t bring anything that creates more work for your host.
• Review Monday’s post for ways you can help.

A final thought
Here’s something important you need to bring to Thanksgiving: Thanksgiving is not about the food and gluttony. Way too much energy goes into what’s on the menu and not enough about what’s in your heart. Thanksgiving is a time to pause and acknowledge what we have to be thankful for…most of all the family and friends gathered at tables…at home around America. Take it as your responsibility to bring this perspective to your Thanksgiving table. You will be happy that you did.

Last Thanksgiving Day the lead editorial in the New York Times was A Thanksgiving Toast. It’s still worth reading.

Our Game Day
Christina and I are hosting Thanksgiving this year in our apartment. Two years ago this time preparations for our Thanksgiving Weekend Wedding left us no time for Thanksgiving so — slightly embarrassed to say, we just dined out with my mother, Christina’s mother and younger brother. It was at our neighborhood Smith & Wollensky’s where I enjoyed their Pork Porterhouse. Last Thanksgiving we were in the midst of assuming operation of The Franklin Institute restaurants and book promotion and…yes, we dined out again! My recollection is that I switched to their turkey dinner.

This year we are having a family Thanksgiving that includes Christina’s brother Larry and his family, her mother and brother Mike as well as my son Noah, his mother and grandmother.

The tasks are nicely spread and most of my cooking is complete. Here’s our menu with notes as to who is responsible for what.

As guests arrive
Champagne with Cranberries (See At Home Page 43) (Steve)
Anniversary Tangerine Kumquat Martini (Steve)

Hors d’oeuvres
Tuna Tartare (Noah)
Venison Pate with Gingered Quince Relish (Steve)
Brandied Chicken Liver & Bacon Pate (from The Frog Commissary Cookbook) (Steve)
Amazing Acres Chevre with Chives (Steve)
Kohlrabi & French Radishes with Sea Salt (Steve)
Pickled Okra & Watermelon Radish (See Quick Pickles At Home blog post) (Steve)

Buffet Dinner
Roast Turkey (Brined by Frog Commissary kitchen, Steve to roast)

Larry’s Sausage Stuffing (See At Home Page 332) (Larry)
Tarragon Gravy (Steve) (See At Home blog post)
Pear, Cranberry & Blood Orange Mostarda (Larry)

Sauteed shaved Brussels Sprouts (Steve)
Green Bean, Mushroom & Corn Casserole (Larry)
Bourbon Sweet Potatoes (Steve or Christina)

2006 Chardonnay & 2004 VSP
J.Maki Wines, Elverson, PA

Dessert
Pecan Pie (Ginny)
Pumpkin Pie (Ginny)
Chestnut Ice Cream (Steve)

Christina is responsible for “front of the house” including wines, setting the table, and pulling platters plus general household organization. She will also be the principal host for the day.

Behind the Scenes
Here’s my Football Sunday Do Ahead No Compromise Turkey Gravy.

A generous amount of turkey parts were well roasted until nicely browned.

Vegetables were also roasted. No oil, just vegetables in the oven.

Everything went into a big pot and cooked slowly for several hours until the leg meat fell off the bone. This stock was then strained. It sat for a while until the fat rose to the top. The fat was aggressively skimmed. The strained stock went back into the pot — cleaned first — and reduced by about two thirds.

In a separate pot — in this case my favorite enamel over cast iron, I sauteed shallots and garlic in butter, added flour to make a roux and poured over the reduced stock. To this I added some white wine, rosemary, thyme and tarragon and let it simmer until it reached the consistency of heavy cream.

What began as about ten quarts of stock was is now a quart of “restaurant worthy” sauce. Tomorrow I will add some fresh chopped tarragon, heat and serve.

My signature effort this Thanksgiving was venison pate — two of them — accented with orange peel, juniper berries, coriander seed and pink and green peppercorns, Calvados and studded with Black Forest ham and pistachios  — plenty to take us deep into the holiday seasoning. Here they sit in the blessedly cool weather just outside our kitchen on the outdoor service porch. When pates come from the oven they need to be weighted overnight in order to compress their texture and transform them from an elaborate meatloaf into a pate.

My re-positionable labels sit ready to guide Christina in pulling platters and setting the table. Also my menu sits ready to tape up on the kitchen cabinet.

Christina has a good start on setting the table and will finish this today. I will get flowers and make a centerpiece for the table. If you serve your Thanksgiving meal family style on platters placed on the table, you should probably remove the centerpiece once guests are seated. We are serving as a buffet on the side board in the dining room.

The coffee table in the living room is ready to go…but for hors d’ouevres that will be placed there shortly before guests arrive.

Good Morning Philadelphia on Fox 29
As of today, I expect to be appearing on Fox 29’s Good Morning Philadelphia on Friday morning where I will provide some coaching on Thanksgiving Leftovers. On Friday I will also have a post about Thanksgiving Leftovers.

Happy Thanksgiving,

Steve
Your Home Entertaining Coach

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Do Ahead, No Compromise Turkey Gravy Recipe

Making Turkey Gravy is a bit like a football game. It takes hours to watch a football game. But, on average there are 125 plays per game, each lasting about 7 seconds for a total of just 14 plus minutes of action. This leisurely paced recipe — strongly recommended for this coming Sunday before Thanksgiving — begins at the pre-game show and is ready for your Thanksgiving turkey by the end of the second game. Most of the time can be spent watching TV.

Why is this “No Compromise” Turkey Gravy?
It’s no compromise because it’s simply great turkey gravy based on a rich wine-enhanced turkey stock that gets it’s flavor from roast turkey — in this case turkey legs — including pan drippings just as if you did this on Thanksgiving Day.

Do Ahead This gravy should be made the Sunday before Thanksgiving or up to a week ahead. If longer than a week place in freezer. Do not add optional tarragon until reheating. Defrost in refrigerator two days prior to use.

2-3 medium to large onions, root and shoot end removed, quartered
4-5 celery ribs, rinsed cut into 1″ pieces
3-4 large to medium carrots, rinsed and cut into 1″ pieces
2-3 parsnips, rinsed and cut into 1″ pieces
1 tablespoon oil
5-6 cloves garlic
6-8 springs parsley, rinsed
6-8 springs fresh thyme
3-4 dried bay leaves
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
Approximately 12 cups water plus some to de-glaze roasting pan
3 1/2 cups dry white wine*
5-6 turkey legs, about 6 pounds
5 tablespoons butter
5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/3 cup chopped fresh tarragon leaves (stems removed) and diced, optional

Start during local pregame show – about 1 1/2 hours before kick-off. During this time you will roast turkey legs and get the stock ready to cook.
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Pat turkey legs dry and lightly oil bottom of roasting pan. Place turkey legs in roasting pan and roast for about 1 1/2 hours until legs are well browned. About half way through, turn legs.
2. While turkey legs are roasting, get your stock pot(s) ready. You will need one large 10-12 quart pot or two medium pots. Combine onion, celery, carrots, parsnips, garlic, parsley, thyme, garlic, parsley, thyme, bay leaves and peppercorns. If you are using two pots, divide ingredients approximately equally.
3. When turkey legs are done roasting and nicely browned, add to stock pot(s).
4. Pour out all rendered fat from roasting pan. Add water to a depth of about 1/2-inch. Place pan over burner over moderate heat. Scrape bottom of pan as water is heating to remove and dissolve crusty bits of turkey. Pour into stock pot.
5. Add white wine and enough water to cover ingredients by about an inch.

During the first game the stock will cook slowly.
6. Bring to simmer. Stock should be lightly bubbling but not boiling. When stock begins to simmer a bit of scum will form on top. Remove this with a large spoon or ladle. Repeat as needed. Simmer until the first game is over — about 3 1/2 hours. Check occasionally to make sure ingredients are still covered with liquid.

Just prior to kick-off of second game you will strain stock and allow stock to sit through the first half of the second game so you can remove grease that rises to top.
7. Off heat. Strain stock through a medium strainer into a large bowl or clean pot. With back of sturdy kitchen spoon or ladle, gently press against solid ingredients in strainer to extract liquid. You will need to do this in several steps. You should have about 10 cups stock.
8. Allow stock to sit though the first half, or at least 30 minutes, to allow fat to rise to surface. With a spoon or ladle, carefully remove fat.

During half time of the second game you will degrease stock and begin reducing to concentrate its flavor.
9. Pass de-greased turkey stock through a fine strainer into pot. Over moderate high heat, bring to boil. When boiling begins, a pale foam will collect on surface. Using spoon or ladle, remove and discard. Reduce stock by about half to 5 cups. If you reduce it too far, simply add back some water to get 5 cups liquid. Check occasionally during commercials to make sure stock is not cooking away.

If the second game is close, just wait until it’s over to finish gravy. If not, proceed to next step – turning stock to gravy by thickening.
10. In a medium pot — large enough to comfortably hold reduce stock — over low-moderate heat, add butter and melt. Add flour. This makes a roux. Whisk for about a minute taking care not to brown. Add hot turkey stock, increase heat to high-moderate. Bring to slow boil, whisking to break-up any bits of roux. Reduce to simmer. Check sauce for thickness. Sauce should lightly coat a spoon. If sauce is too thin, increase heat to slow boil and reduce to thicken taking care to check often. Add optional tarragon and salt and pepper. Allow to cool and refrigerate.

Thanksgiving Day
Reheat sauce over moderate heat until very hot.

Yield 5 cups turkey gravy serving 18-24 guests

If you must, you can add the pan drippings from your Thanksgiving turkey roast — though this sauce does not need it. To do this, remove turkey from roasting pan. Pour off all rendered fat. Add water, chicken or turkey stock or a bit of white wine and place pan over burner at moderate-high heat. Scrape pan, loosening and dissolving bits of stuck turkey. This should take less than a minute. Pass this liquid through a fine strainer into gravy. This will likely thin out gravy too much so cook gravy over moderate heat until it returns to desired thickness. Stir occasionally taking care not to burn gravy.

*Note about buying white wine for cooking: There is no reason to spend more than $8 – $12 on a bottle of white wine for cooking or utilize some leftover wine from large bottle.

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At Home’s Football Sunday Do Ahead No Compromise Turkey Gravy

All around America this Thanksgiving too many hosts and hostesses will be frantic in their kitchens making last minute turkey gravy with pan drippings of their just roasted turkey. It’s part of what contributes to Thanksgiving panic. There simply is no need for this.

Screen shot 2009-11-15 at 11.12.36 PMIf you follow this blog, you know that my goal for you is one relaxed hour prior to guest arrival and that the key to getting that hour is planning and doing things ahead. I bring the perspective of a caterer to home entertaining. Caterer’s have no time for last minute sauces for large groups. If you’re not the one making Thanksgiving, pass this along to your host. Better yet, volunteer to bring the gravy. And enjoy the Sunday football games!

At Home’s Football Sunday Do Ahead No Compromise Turkey Gravy
Making Turkey Gravy is a bit like a football game. It takes hours to watch a football game. But, on average there are 125 plays per game, each lasting about 7 seconds for a total of just 14 plus minutes of action. This leisurely paced recipe — strongly recommended for this coming Sunday before Thanksgiving — begins at the pre-game show and is ready for your Thanksgiving turkey by the end of the second game. Most of the time can be spent watching TV.

Why is this “No Compromise” Turkey Gravy?
It’s no compromise because it’s simply great turkey gravy based on a rich wine-enhanced turkey stock that gets it’s flavor from roast turkey — in this case turkey legs — including pan drippings just as if you did this on Thanksgiving Day.

Do Ahead This gravy should be made the Sunday before Thanksgiving or up to a week ahead. If longer than a week place in freezer. Do not add optional tarragon until reheating. Defrost in refrigerator two days prior to use.

2-3 medium to large onions, root and shoot end removed, quartered
4-5 celery ribs, rinsed cut into 1″ pieces
3-4 large to medium carrots, rinsed and cut into 1″ pieces
2-3 parsnips, rinsed and cut into 1″ pieces
1 tablespoon oil
5-6 cloves garlic
6-8 springs parsley, rinsed
6-8 springs fresh thyme
3-4 dried bay leaves
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
Approximately 12 cups water plus some to de-glaze roasting pan
3 1/2 cups dry white wine*
5-6 turkey legs, about 6 pounds
5 tablespoons butter
5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/3 cup chopped fresh tarragon leaves (stems removed) and diced, optional

Start during local pregame show – about 1 1/2 hours before kick-off. During this time you will roast turkey legs and get the stock ready to cook.
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Pat turkey legs dry and lightly oil bottom of roasting pan. Place turkey legs in roasting pan and roast for about 1 1/2 hours until legs are well browned. About half way through, turn legs.
2. While turkey legs are roasting, get your stock pot(s) ready. You will need one large 10-12 quart pot or two medium pots. Combine onion, celery, carrots, parsnips, garlic, parsley, thyme, garlic, parsley, thyme, bay leaves and peppercorns. If you are using two pots, divide ingredients approximately equally.
3. When turkey legs are done roasting and nicely browned, add to stock pot(s).
4. Pour out all rendered fat from roasting pan. Add water to a depth of about 1/2-inch. Place pan over burner over moderate heat. Scrape bottom of pan as water is heating to remove and dissolve crusty bits of turkey. Pour into stock pot.
5. Add white wine and enough water to cover ingredients by about an inch.

During the first game the stock will cook slowly.
6. Bring to simmer. Stock should be lightly bubbling but not boiling. When stock begins to simmer a bit of scum will form on top. Remove this with a large spoon or ladle. Repeat as needed. Simmer until the first game is over — about 3 1/2 hours. Check occasionally to make sure ingredients are still covered with liquid.

Just prior to kick-off of second game you will strain stock and allow stock to sit through the first half of the second game so you can remove grease that rises to top.
7. Off heat. Strain stock through a medium strainer into a large bowl or clean pot. With back of sturdy kitchen spoon or ladle, gently press against solid ingredients in strainer to extract liquid. You will need to do this in several steps. You should have about 10 cups stock.
8. Allow stock to sit though the first half, or at least 30 minutes, to allow fat to rise to surface. With a spoon or ladle, carefully remove fat.

During half time of the second game you will degrease stock and begin reducing to concentrate its flavor.
9. Pass de-greased turkey stock through a fine strainer into pot. Over moderate high heat, bring to boil. When boiling begins, a pale foam will collect on surface. Using spoon or ladle, remove and discard. Reduce stock by about half to 5 cups. If you reduce it too far, simply add back some water to get 5 cups liquid. Check occasionally during commercials to make sure stock is not cooking away.

If the second game is close, just wait until it’s over to finish gravy. If not, proceed to next step – turning stock to gravy by thickening.
10. In a medium pot — large enough to comfortably hold reduce stock — over low-moderate heat, add butter and melt. Add flour. This makes a roux. Whisk for about a minute taking care not to brown. Add hot turkey stock, increase heat to high-moderate. Bring to slow boil, whisking to break-up any bits of roux. Reduce to simmer. Check sauce for thickness. Sauce should lightly coat a spoon. If sauce is too thin, increase heat to slow boil and reduce to thicken taking care to check often. Add optional tarragon and salt and pepper. Allow to cool and refrigerate.

Thanksgiving Day
Reheat sauce over moderate heat until very hot.

Yield 5 cups turkey gravy serving 18-24 guests

If you must, you can add the pan drippings from your Thanksgiving turkey roast — though this sauce does not need it. To do this, remove turkey from roasting pan. Pour off all rendered fat. Add water, chicken or turkey stock or a bit of white wine and place pan over burner at moderate-high heat. Scrape pan, loosening and dissolving bits of stuck turkey. This should take less than a minute. Pass this liquid through a fine strainer into gravy. This will likely thin out gravy too much so cook gravy over moderate heat until it returns to desired thickness. Stir occasionally taking care not to burn gravy.

*Note about buying white wine for cooking: There is no reason to spend more than $8 – $12 on a bottle of white wine for cooking or utilize some leftover wine from large bottle.

At Home’s How to Chop an Onion Video

Chopping onions is probably the vegetable prep task you do most. To help make it easier to chop an onion, I have made a short video — How to Chop an Onion. I hope you find it useful and, if so, pass it along to others who you know struggle with onion chopping.

What Guests Can Do To Help
Numbers of readers have offered great suggestions for our list. Please post your suggestions for What Guests Can Do To Help on this blog by using the “Leave a Comment” under this post or send an email to me at steve@athomebysteveposes.com.I need your help now to come up with a great list to share with Thanksgiving hosts and I will need your help later in sharing the list. Let’s work on this together over the next two weeks.

Screen shot 2009-11-13 at 6.30.44 PM

The Perfect Gift for Your Thanksgiving Host
At Home by Steve Poses: A Caterer’s Guide to Cooking & Entertaining with At Home Online, the companion website for book owners, is the perfect house gift to bring to your Thanksgiving host. At Home is not available in bookstores, but only from athomebysteveposes.com. Order now in plenty of time for Thanksgiving.

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