Yesterday, my husband and I had Thanksgiving with our oldest son, his wife and twin baby girls, and our #3 son. I had the rare luxury of getting to sit and relax while my boy (a real Emeril wannabe) and his wife slaved away in the kitchen most of the day. I was given only two duties: making a pumpkin pie and making the gravy. The kids did everything else, and they did it splendidly.
After thirty years of making turkey dinners for my family, I learned a trick or two yesterday that I plan to incorporate into my future Thanksgiving efforts. My son found a recipe for cooking a turkey on-line that included two interesting techniques I'd never thought to try: peeling away the skin so that little blobs of butter could be tucked inside of it, and then putting it back in place--which makes the white meat extra tender and juicy; and putting about four cups of chicken broth seasoned with herbs and spices right in the roasting pan with the turkey before sticking it in the oven. I always add seasonings to the drippings when I make gravy, and I also add chicken broth so that I can extend the drippings and make a larger amount. But I never thought of having the seasoned broth right in the pan with the bird from the beginning. It mixes with the drippings throughout the cooking process and leaves you with an enormous pan of gravy makings (and you don't have to keep stirring it up to keep the fat from separating--it's wonderful!). I was able to make a VAT of gravy yesterday. And I don't know about your family, but mine can never get enough gravy.
The other thing I learned is that I haven't been using enough butter in my stuffing--which I should have known, because when it comes to butter, our family tends to believe there is no such thing as too much. My daughter-in-law followed her mother's traditional stuffing recipe (delicious!), which called for two sticks of butter instead of the one I've been using. It also called for Jimmy Dean pork sausage, and I have to say that adding that spicy ground meat made for exceptionally tasty stuffing. I usually make a simple seasoned bread stuffing without any meat in it, but I may need to re-think that plan in the future. (That's if I ever cook a Thanksgiving dinner again. I could really get used to being pampered the way I was yesterday.)
Every single dish we had this Thanksgiving was delectable, and our meal looked so festive served on the kids' Spode blue-and-white transferware dishes, which they got as wedding gifts. This was the first time they've ever hosted Thanksgiving, and they didn't even make any of the boneheaded mistakes that most newbies make, like cooking the turkey with the package of giblets inside it. They're like a couple of old pros already. A couple of seasoned pros, I should say.
I've always enjoyed preparing the Thanksgiving feast for my family; but yesterday I realized that as much as I like playing hostess, I can be equally happy passing the baton on to the younger generation and playing the part of appreciative dinner guest!