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Thanksgiving Dinner

by Michael Chu
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Every November, millions of Americans get together for Thanksgiving Holiday. On the evening of the fourth Thursday of November, days of culinary preparation come to a climax in the traditional Thanksgiving dinner. Need some ideas for what to serve at your Thanksgiving? Let Cooking For Engineers provide some recipe suggestions.

Start your feast with a salad made of hand torn romaine lettuce and a homemade vinaigrette dressing. A turkey noodle soup made from homemade turkey stock, diced carrots, egg noodles, and seasoned with salt & pepper is a great way to start everyone's appetite.

For your main course, serve a turkey prepared in your favorite manner or use one of our recipes: Classic Roast Turkey or Smoked Beer Can Turkey

While the turkey is resting, finish up a Giblet Pan Gravy. In addition to the gravy, Thanksgiving turkeys love to be accompanied with some Cranberry Sauce.

For side dishes, Garlic Mashed Potatoes or Garlic Roasted Red Potatoes are both winners. In addition, Campbell's Green Bean Casserole is such a regular guest to the dinner that recently a television commercial was made presenting the awkward situation of all the guests bringing a Green Bean Casserole to the feast. (But, I think it's better to have too much green bean casserole than too little.) A bit of sweet corn bread might also welcome.

Finally, bring out pumpkin pie(s) for dessert.

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Written by Michael Chu
Published on November 04, 2005 at 11:56 AM
22 comments on Thanksgiving Dinner:(Post a comment)

On November 05, 2005 at 09:44 AM, an anonymous reader said...
out of curiousity, why is this article dated on 11/24/2005, when it's still only 11/5/2005?

On November 05, 2005 at 10:22 PM, Michael Chu said...
I post-dated the article so it way stay ontop while I post new articles in the next couple weeks. I'm planning on releasing a chef's knife review and a recipe for dirty rice before Thanksgiving (if all goes well).

On November 07, 2005 at 10:39 AM, pimp5life (guest) said...
Subject: thanks
im getting bored with the traditional thanksgiving dinner

On November 08, 2005 at 11:04 AM, Yasminah (guest) said...
Subject: Boring!
How about something not so traditional? There is nothing worse than green bean casserole. In the south, we serve rice and sweet potato casserole (NOT with marshmallows -- yech!), and of course cornbread. Of course, as one professor friend observed at Thanksgiving, its the only time when all Americans are likely doing the same thing -- eating the same meal at about the same time, etc. We have varying traditions for other national holidays, but Thanksgiving is our only truly consensual tradition.

On November 11, 2005 at 04:03 AM, Carol (guest) said...
I think this should say bringing the Green Bean Casserole, not brining the Green Bean Casserole.

On November 11, 2005 at 10:51 AM, jpeck (guest) said...
Subject: thanksgiving dinner
Sweet Potatoes are a must, as are "Greens", preferably collards and kale mixed and cooked forever in smoked ham hocks! (don't forget the vinegar).

On November 11, 2005 at 01:53 PM, Syd (guest) said...
Michael, I've read this article in a magazine about this strange dish called Turducken.

It's a deboned turkey stuffed with a deboned
duck stuffed with a deboned chicken stuffed
with corn bread and pork stuffings.

It was invented in Maurice, Louisiana. No recipe
was mentioned but it sounds nice.

On November 11, 2005 at 06:19 PM, SUNGODDESS444 (guest) said...

On November 13, 2005 at 08:19 PM, phinky (guest) said...
Subject: Soup for Thanksgiving
I would recommend a pumpkin curry soup. And then an apple pie for dessert. If you want to try something different.

On November 14, 2005 at 10:29 AM, Yasminah (guest) said...
Subject: Turducken
A lot of grocery stores carry this in the frozen foods section. It costs around $65. Its a very old concept -- this was common in the middle ages. Personally, I would not take on trying to make one, but maybe one day I would buy one, just to try it.

On November 14, 2005 at 12:39 PM, Marsha (guest) said...
Subject: Blackened Turkey (also Turducken)
My main question is whether anyone has experimented with Morton's Blackened Turkey (you'd know it if you had--it's a long, complicated recipe involving "painting" the elaborately stuffed turkey with an egg paste several times during baking to achieve a crust that blackens; I can provide the recipe on request). I like the recipe, but cannot seem to achieve the predicted break-off-able crust that I am supposed to get, which breaks off to reveal crisp and delicious skin. Any hints on temperature control or other physics-type stuff that could help me with this?

As for turducken, it takes longer than a regular turkey, but is very good (depending on who makes it) and quite expensive (around $200 in California for a large one, which comes frozen). The ones I have cooked have a rice stuffing somehow tucked in and around the bird(s), and the fun part is carving as you would slice bread, getting concentric layers of different meats.

On November 20, 2005 at 04:19 PM, Kaydub (guest) said...
Subject: Preventing the crack in the middle of the pumpkin pie...
What causes the crack in the middle of a pumpkin pie? How do you prevent it?

Thanks for the tips.

On November 20, 2005 at 08:23 PM, Michael Chu said...
Subject: Re: Preventing the crack in the middle of the pumpkin pie...
Kaydub wrote:
What causes the crack in the middle of a pumpkin pie? How do you prevent it?

The most common cause of cracks in pumpkin pies is overcooking. If you bake the pie until the center has completely set, chances are during cooling, it will develop a crack. The trick is to bake it until the center just jiggles (like Jell-O) when you twist the pie gently. It should fully set while it cools off.

If it does develop a crack, cover it with fresh whipped cream (whipped with sugar and a few drops of vanilla extract; or use almond extract for a nice twist).

On November 21, 2005 at 12:57 AM, Aileen said...
Subject: another side dish for Thanksgiving
My mother-in-law makes a Chinese sticky rice (no mai fon) to accompany her turkey at Thanksgiving. It has bacon, Chinese sausage, onion, green onion, celery, shiitake mushrooms and oyster sauce. I made it for our church Thanksgiving potluck today, and went home with an empty dish! Good thing I doubled the recipe so we have some in the fridge at home. :)

I made Eric's Chocolate Pecan Pie as one of my desserts last year, and liked it so much that I may repeat it for this year!

On November 23, 2005 at 02:28 PM, Anonymous Coward (guest) said...
Subject: Turducken=good
I've picked up Turducken from Sam's (or was it BJ's?) for a pretty reasonable price (<$30, I think) and have even seen them seasonally at Food Lion. GOOD EATIN'. I've heard rumors that in some locales (and at particularly large feasts!) this is extended into the Osterducken--by shoving the Turducken into an Ostrich! Any confirmation of this rumor?

One nice thing about Turducken is that there's a different layer of stuffing between each bird--yummy!

On November 25, 2005 at 06:53 AM, starxcrost said...
Subject: Sewing a Deboned and Stuffed Turkey
I am celebrating Thanksgiving on Saturday (26th of November)

I plan to debone and then stuff a turkey for the main course.

I have experimented on two chickens with two different methods.

The first method was difficult and involved deboning the bird by basically turning it inside out as you cut away the carcass. (I literally butchered Bird #1 and practically minced most of the breast meat!)

The second method was easier but requires that the bird be stitched back together in order to regain its shape. (I was successfull with Bird #2).

Does anyone have any experience in doing this?

My main two questions now are regarding the best way to sew the poultry together and how long the turkey should be cooked.

Thanks in advance to anyone that can offer any suggestions.

On November 28, 2005 at 04:29 PM, J (guest) said...
Subject: Turkey, Cooked
Here is my thanksgiving tukey, ala the cookingforengineers recipie. Also used the giblet gravy recipie. The meal was fantastic.

On November 13, 2006 at 11:05 AM, Craig Fry said...
What causes the crack in the middle of a pumpkin pie? How do you prevent it?

Couple things:

1) Water bath. Put a pan of water in the oven, put the pie in the pan. The steam will keep the top pliable

2) When cooking time has almost ended, turn off the heat and crack the door a little. Cooling to fast can crack it also.

On November 21, 2007 at 05:41 AM, The Yakima Kid said...
Subject: No leftovers Thanksgiving menu
I've found that two people and one turkey makes for too many meals with turkey in it for marital harmony. :P

So I offer the "No Leftovers Menu" for Thanksgiving


V-8 juice, chilled. It's in a can, but it is good. Can be seltzer-ed up a bit into an ornate Virgin Mary and decorated with a lime slice.


Cornish game hen, decorated with beef bacon, with a slice in the cavity.

Stuffing prepared on the side for reasons of food safety: wild rice and brown basmati cooked in vegetable broth with onions, mandarin oranges, raisins, and a touch of rosemary.

Steamed "toy boy bok choy" and assorted Asian greens, including mustard, from the garden.

Applesauce and whole berry cranberry sauce as chutneys.


(yes, salad traditionally comes *after* the meal)

Sharp mesclun with lemon juice, dill, yogurt, and a touch of olive oil dressing.


Maple sugar pumpkin pie.

On November 21, 2011 at 11:06 AM, 65Monza (guest) said...
Subject: Thanksgiving Dinner

Any suggestions as to what to bring to a Vegan Thanksgiving dinner? Everyone is asked to contribute something to the meal.

On November 22, 2011 at 09:10 PM, yocona said...
Subject: Re: Thanksgiving Dinner
65Monza wrote:

Any suggestions as to what to bring to a Vegan Thanksgiving dinner? Everyone is asked to contribute something to the meal.

Acorn Squash Stuffed with Wild Rice, Cranberries & Hazelnuts
You can easily sub vegetable oil for the butter in the recipe. I usually make an orange buerre blanc to drizzle over it. To achieve almost the same flavor minus the butter, you could reduce orange juice with a little shallot and splash of vinegar.

On November 23, 2011 at 12:35 PM, Dude111 said...
pimp5life wrote:
im getting bored with the traditional thanksgiving dinner

I love thanksgiving :)

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