The weeks of testing and retesting paid off. This was my third time making most everything, and by yesterday, I felt wiser for it. I knew to use a slightly larger biscuit cutter when making the cornmeal doughnuts (recipe updated) and to pipe in that cranberry curd while the sufganiyot were still warm.
The timing mostly worked out, too. That excel spreadsheet kept me on track, or even a few minutes ahead at some points. I loved nearly everything I made.
Here's the debrief with lessons learned:
Appetizers:No-knead sweet potato rolls
HarissaTurkey fat-fried latke with cranberry sauce and pear sauce
Kale salad with pickled radishes and pomegranate seeds
Cornmeal-bourbon doughnuts filled with stuffing
Main course:Dry-brined turkey (double the dry brine; roast at 425 for 25 minutes, then at 325 until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh reads 165; tent and rest for 30 minutes before carving)
My favorite gravy, with dark roux, plenty of turkey drippings, and just a hint of cider
Jana's wild mushroom-dried cherry stuffing
Cranberry sauce with nutmeg and fresh ginger
Sweet potato casserole with cornflake topping (a heavily-modified version of this, possibly the greatest hit of the evening)
All pie crusts were this recipe, which is perfect
Apple-cranberry pie with a lattice crust
Brandied pumpkin pie
Chocolate-bourbon pecan pieNutmeg doughnuts with cranberry curd filling
Best moment pre-Tday: stumbling into TJ Maxx with 30 minutes on the parking meter, four other stores under my belt, and no tablecloth, silver polish, gravy boat, or salad tongs to speak of. Walking out 15 minutes and $18 later with all four in hand.
Most stressful moment: the first half-hour of dinner. I was in the weeds, stuff wasn't done, and no one had a drink. Oops!
Best moments on Tday: our grandparents kvelling at getting to be guests in our house, eating our food, celebrating with us. I need nothing more. But, I will happily take any moment involving more gravy. I really love gravy.
When guests arrive, serve them a beverage. When folks started to arrive, I was in the weeds. I had semi-subconsciously decided to skip the punch, thinking we didn't have many drinkers coming over, but in retrospect, that was a mistake. Having even a light beverage to sip would have made those first 30 minutes or so more engaging for our guests, and thus less chaotic for me. Still, the rolls and spreads helped a lot with that first chunk of time.
The latke needed more oil. Late in the game, I switched the appetizer from individual latkes to one big latke, figuring it'd be easier and less stinky to make one latke than 24. Unfortunately, I didn't test the recipe in advance. As a result, I ended up skimping on the oil and not setting the flame low enough. I burned the first one crisp. Fortunately, I made a double recipe of batter in case the first one flopped, and the second one came out better, but still not a particularly memorable dish (at least, not for me).