This is a membership forum. Guests can view 5 pages for free. To participate, please join.

[ Pitmaster Club Information | Join Now | Login | Contact Us ]

Only 4 free page views remaining.


No announcement yet.

Looking for Thanksgiving advice

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

    Looking for Thanksgiving advice

    We're attending a Thanksgiving meal with people who are not necessarily food people.

    One example: on occasion, they say that they make duck for dinner.

    They take the frozen duck out of the freezer, defrost it, score the fat, put it into the pan and cook it to whatever their desired temperature is, drain off the rendered duck fat into a jar so it can be thrown away, then they serve the duck with perhaps some hoisin sauce and moo-shu wrappers from H Mart for duck tacos.


    Anyway, they've invited us over for Thanksgiving and are doing one of those grocery store package deals, which lessens a lot of the stress from having to prepare a meal (plus guarantee minimal leftovers).

    They've asked what we would like to have available in the pantry/fridge to zhuzh up the meal a bit. Make it more restaurant quality. Think of this as one of those mystery box challenges on Masterchef, or maybe a basket on Chopped.

    Here's what's on the menu:
    • Roasted boneless turkey breast
    • mashed potatoes
    • herbed bread stuffing
    • roasted Brussels sprouts
    • home-style turkey gravy
    • cranberry stuff
    We hope that they have the usual assortment of salt, pepper, fresh garlic... and maybe something like smoked blue cheese that could be added to the mashed potatoes. We're also hoping to be able to add a bit of sausage to the stuffing, but that may be a no-go.

    but what else would you want, or what would you try to "enhance", to make the meal a little less..... "bland" or "boring" ?

    One clarification: all the food will come prepared already., This is a "heat and serve" event.
    Last edited by WillTravelForFood; November 14, 2021, 11:08 PM.

    I have a recipe around here somewhere for a Brussel sprout dish, the just of it is
    1lb bacon cut into 1/4-1/2 inch strips and fried to just under done and strained
    1 large onion diced and sauted in butter
    Grated Brussel sprouts, you determine how many you need and how fine you want them grated or coarsely chopped
    Mix together fried bacon, sauted onion with grated Brussel sprouts, season with salt and pepper in a large fry pan.
    Transfer to a oven safe casserole dish cover with foil and bake for 30 mins or so at 300. Remove the foil at 20 mins
    I think you may shake some seasoned bread crumbs on top.
    Disclaimer: This is off the top a my head there may be important omissions....
    I'll look for the recipe tomorrow


    • WillTravelForFood
      WillTravelForFood commented
      Editing a comment
      Thanks. We weren't clear in the original post: this is a "heat and serve" event. All the dishes will arrive already prepared.

      if it was merely the raw ingredients and up to us to assemble 'em, we'd be talking a completely different meal plan.

    • smokin fool
      smokin fool commented
      Editing a comment
      Now I see your problem.
      You may be worrying for no reason, my sons employer gave all they're employee's a precooked Turkey dinner from a local food chain.
      Everything was precooked and we reheated.
      Two thumbs up, everything was very tasty possibly above average as far as taste went.
      We would go that way again in the future, I hope you get the same experience.
      Next solution, liberal servings of red wine and bourbon.

    Here's what I'd do:


    Thanksgiving isn't about the meal. As long as it's edible, that's a win.

    So, unless they know you're into cooking and asked you to do this, just don't do anything. You'll survive a basic, rather boring meal.

    If they asked you to do some thing, you could bring cooked bacon deglazed in balsamic and warm the Brussels sprouts with it or add stuff to the mashed potatoes but... why?

    Last edited by rickgregory; November 14, 2021, 11:35 PM.


    • glitchy
      glitchy commented
      Editing a comment
      This exactly, imagine you’re eating at a hospital cafeteria and enjoy your friends.

    • jfmorris
      jfmorris commented
      Editing a comment
      I second/third this advice.

      I've survived MANY bad Thanksgiving meals at my inlaw's for the past 31 years. If I bring the turkey, that is usually the only hot part of the meal, as non of them even know how to reheat or hold stuff at temp for serving, even though I show up with two 20 pound turkeys in cambro. This year, I am taking exactly NOTHING over there, and I will eat their cold honey baked ham and cold boneless turkey breast from the honey baked ham store, and deal with it.

    Chinese Buffet

    See ya there...


    • B-30
      B-30 commented
      Editing a comment

    Or, Feed Em Rice.

    Surely, ya can come up with innovative, yet pseudo traditional rice dishes, yes?
    Last edited by Mr. Bones; November 14, 2021, 11:47 PM.


      Yup. Unless they asked you for something specifically (bring bacon so we can jazz up these potatoes please) do nothing. Otherwise you will likely offend them and create an awkward dinner.

      At most, since did they ask in a way, I would ask them if they think a sauce like honey mustard might work as a side for a few dishes. Then if you are asked to bring something you can bring the honey mustard sauce that can be placed on the table and used as desired (not everyone’s taste might be the same). In this case, it would be even better if you ask for something you know they already have, so they can have the pleasure of saying "oh yeah, we have that cool thing for you".

      Also, keep in mind they may have ordered the food because they knew they could not make anything to make you go wow given your foodie status.

      Again, these friends sound like they really enjoy your company, and are clearly spending some money to make a better meal that they would maybe have been able to make. Focus on having a good time and don’t worry about the food. Frankly, with it already prepared, there’s virtually nothing you can do anyway.

      Wine and side dish are also classic choices as others have mentioned and would not offend.
      Last edited by STEbbq; November 15, 2021, 07:47 AM. Reason: Added wine and side dish


        I'd ask if you could bring anything. Maybe desert or homemade bread of some type. Or maybe some wine, (but not expensive wine - it will clash with the prepared meal ).


          Just sit back and enjoy the evening and make it more about laughing and having a good time and not so much the food they are having.
          We never go to a dinner or cookout empty handed so I would make a nice side dish to help with the meal and bring a good bottle of wine or even some nice bourbon....just to say thanks for the invitation.


            Do you have an SV heater? Heating the turkey an hour or two (during cocktails and conversations) with some good chicken broth in the bag could make a world of difference. Likewise, a few ounces of broth into the dressing as it reheats could help a lot, too, since they asked for you to help jazz it up a bit.


              Give Thanks Every Day.


                Agree with others. Just relax and enjoy the time. I bet you end up having a great time and just enjoying the fellowship. Happy Thanksgiving!


                  Sounds like a standard Thanksgiving menu to me.
                  If the food is already prepared I say just enjoy it.
                  You can always add butter and cream to mashed potatoes. Possibly chives?

                  I generally make everything from scratch so if the food was prepared already at someone else's home I wouldn't do anything except thank them for cooking.


                    Because in the spirit of closure -- we know you wanted to know how the meal was....
                    • The directions said to reheat the turkey for about 20-30m in a pan with chicken stock (covered? uncovered? directions weren't entirely clear - but we went with covered) until the turkey reaches 140.

                      it took an hour.

                      There was twice as much turkey as we actually needed. In the end, it wasn't mushy.... but it didn't have a ton of herby-garlicy-smokey-whatever-else-you-wanted flavor. No skin. It was your basic turkey breast. Will go well on sandwiches later. Rating: a pretty solid B, when all was said and done.

                      Because the turkey took SO DARN LONG to heat up, somebody thought it would be a good idea to put all the sides into the oven at the same time - for convenience sake.
                    • The once-crispy Brussels were a bit softer than they should have been due to the extended heat-up time under foil for steaming. Not our favorite, but they had potential. In hindsight, probably should have done a quick saute pan bit with some duck fat. That would have helped them tremendously. B-
                    • Mashed potatoes were pretty standard. Could have used some extra zing for seasoning -- but the entire platter was demolished. B for effort, A for total audience appreciation.
                    • Herbed bread stuffing. Oh, they tried. The *flavor* was there, but the texture was horribly off. Gotta go with a C rating here.
                    • Gravy was gravy. Nothing overly remarkable. We'll give this a PASS on the Pass/Fail scale.
                    • Cranberry. Heard good things, didn't try it. We'll say B+
                    • Green Beans. Solid B. Could have used a little something more for seasoning, but they didn't die in the reheating process.
                    • The store package of rolls. Those rolls sacrificed themselves for the cause. Somebody thought it would be a good idea to heat them for the same amount of time the turkey was warming up, when in reality they probaby only needed about 8-10m in the oven to be warmed through. Edible, sure. But not ones you'd go back for more. Rating: C-
                    The chocolate cake was phenomenal.

                    FINAL VERDICT:

                    While yes, from a price perspective, a store-package Turkey Dinner isn't the best value. But there's a huge benefit in time-savings and lower overall frustration (and dishes to clean up)!!!! It will definitely be an option to consider in the future, but we will make better reheating suggestions in advance.

                    Overall grade: B- . Good enough to try again, with room to improve.


                    • STEbbq
                      STEbbq commented
                      Editing a comment
                      So….did you bring anything?😁

                    • WillTravelForFood
                      WillTravelForFood commented
                      Editing a comment
                      We supplied the cake and wine

                      The cake was for everybody, the wine was for us


                  No announcement yet.