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Thanksgiving Grades

After writing earlier about my Thanksgiving dinner plans, I thought I should provide some self-assessment grades and comments:

  • Turkey: A-. Using the V-rack and following the timetable (for temperature changes and turning) from The Best Recipe gave an excellent result. The turkey browned nicely without resorting to foil, paper bags, or other enclosures, and the meat tasted just right. I graded myself down because there was a patch of skin on the breast that was over-browned. Other than that, I was quite happy with the results.
  • Stuffing: B+. The onions, apples, and bacon gave a great variety of flavors and textures to the stuffing. Still, though, there was something missing -- I can't put my finger on what. It was good, but not up there with the best stuffing I've ever had.
  • Mashed potatoes: C-. I over-mashed the potatoes and ended up with a dish that tasted good but had an almost doughy consistency. All my fault.
  • Gravy: B. I didn't think to buy a fat skimmer and didn't realize how necessary it would be to this recipe -- the book didn't mention buying a utensil for this purpose, nor did it provide (as far as I could see) any clever fat-skimming techniques. With the fat mostly gone, though, the gravy was very good. It was also a lot of work -- three distinct steps over the previous night and Thanksgiving morning.
  • Carrots: C. Not bad, but the brown sugar sauce ended up too watery and didn't stick to the carrots -- instead, it collected at the bottom of the serving bowl and had to be re-spooned over the course of the meal. One of two dishes not drawn from The Best Recipe.
  • Cranberry sauce: A. Adding orange rind and Grand Marnier to the recipe gave the cranberries just the right edge. This would have been an A+ if I had added nuts of some kind.
  • Dinner rolls: D-. Dough made using my bread machine, with the recipe drawn from that book. All my fault. Forgot to glaze the rolls before cooking them and then left them in the oven too long. The only reason I'm not flunking myself on this one is that my son Cameron ate two of them.
  • Pumpkin pie: C+. Tasted good, but leaving the pies in the oven long enough to cook the filling caused the crust to burn somewhat. I should have made my own pie crust instead of buying pre-made, and I should have used glass pie plates instead of disposable pie tins.
An overall grade point average of 2.59 -- between a B- and a C+. I'd like to get up to a 3.0 next year. Thanks to my family for serving as guinea pigs!

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