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Post Thanksgiving Blues

November 26, 2007

Damn, I love Thanksgiving.  This year most of the fam drove in from Maryland to have a Gourmet Grrl Thanksgiving feast.  Some dietary issues had to be considered, so I plunked down some change for a few specialty cookbooks, and voila!  Brand new traditions abounded.  This was my first ever attempt at roast turkey.  Of course I couldn’t just get a giant Butterball complete with thermometer and stick it in the oven for half a day.  Never. 

We special ordered an organic bird from Greenlife, and I found a unique brining recipe in the Thanksgiving issue of Saveur, my current favorite food rag.  If you picked it up, then you will recognize my experiment with the Granny Smith apple brine, featured in the Splendid Table NPR show, the one parodied perfectly on late 90’s Saturday Night Live episodes.  Athough these middle aged Martha/Garrison Keillor wannabes write just like they sound on the radio, mutedly unfunny, the ladies can cook.  I used not one but three of their recipes for my table.  The brining wasn’t very difficult, Fnord and I started it in the morning, brewing a puree of apples, garlic and chili powder and mixing it with cider, water, and kosher salt.  Later I started the roast in a white wine base, breast down.  “Breast down!!” you exclaim.  You read right.  After basting with white wine and butter every twenty minutes, we turned it over at the halfway point.   In all modesty, this turkey was the juiciest and tangiest bird I had ever tasted.  Not too much effort either. 

I also branched out with two other side items.  I tried Thai-flavored yams instead of the traditional sweet version.  These bright-orange roots I boiled and then topped with garlic, ginger, jalapeno, scallions, shallots and lime for a savory and healthy detour from the norm.  Least successful were my mashed potatoes and root vegetable combo.  Skimming the recipe, I failed to notice I was supposed to boil the turnips and parsnips separate from the Yukon golds; they cook at different speeds.  This resulted in a lumpy, watery mountain of bitter roots which had to be drowned in butter to be made palatable, thus compromising its healthy properties. 

Other standouts included the gravy we made with giblets, shitake mushrooms, shallots and organic chicken broth.  This gravy was so thick and flavorful, my Dad declared never again will he use boullion cubes as a base for either soup or gravy.  It only took sixty odd years, but I was happy just the same. 

 After considering a homemade sage stuffing using potato bread and herbs, I recanted and used the bagged Pepperidge Farm stuffing my mother made for us growing up.  There are certain dishes that remain sacred no matter how smart you become.  So what if bagged, salted, stale bread with a stick of butter and a whole egg isn’t the healthiest thing ever, it seems this is the one holdout everyone shares.  We will not be moved. 

Bro made his fresh cranberry sauce with orange juice and cinnamon, a sweet and sour dish that won me over instantly. 

For dessert, the men baked pies:  A sour cherry and an apple pie, the latter overflowing with crisp fruit, encased a buttery shell flaking so perfectly no one noticed the sneaked-in Splenda substitute.   I didn’t even notice it until the pies had thoroughly cooled the next day.  I think Splenda is great for baking and masks wonderfully in hot dishes.   I usually reheat items baked with Splenda so as not to be distracted by introduction of chemical renderings. 

Exhausted though I am, I couldn’t be more pleased with my first ever Thanksgiving.  Tonight, it’s turkey pot pie with fresh pearl onions, carrots, celery, peas, corn, and plenty of thyme.  Onward to soup and stew season! 

Did you have any Thanksgiving experiments this year?  Did you stick to the old standbys?  If so, what is your all time favorite Thanksgiving dish you absolutely cannot live without?

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. November 26, 2007 6:03 pm

    No experiments this year Chez La Famigila. It took me 3 years and a maternal meltdown to get my parental unit to branch out and make a sweet potato dish other than melting marshmallows on top of creamed sweet potatoes.

    We did have some awesome farm veggies this year.

    At some point I will try to wean my WalMom from frozen pecan pie, but not this year. She is happiest in control, and as a busy working student, it works for me too in this part of my life.

    I have a great curried turkey salad recipe, if you want it!

  2. November 26, 2007 8:36 pm

    Great job on the inaugural Thanksgiving meal!

    I cooked this year as well. I seem to do so every two-three years, although my first was only 10 years ago, when I was three days preggers with my firstborn but didn’t know it, and I couldn’t figure out why I was throwing up all day the day after Thanksgiving when no one else was sick. At least I didn’t poison E-spouse’s entire family.

    I do make homemade cornbread-sausage dressing from an old family recipe, and although it is a labor of love, it rocks!

    My other family speciality is an easy-peasy cranberry-apple crisp that people always “ahhhh” and “oooohhhh” over. E-spouse’s cousin declared that he would never eat another Thanksgiving meal without it!

  3. November 27, 2007 1:25 pm

    I am sad not to be considered part of the whole fam.

  4. November 28, 2007 1:59 pm

    We dearly missed the three family members who could not travel this year and hope to re-create some of these traditions with them when the next holiday rolls around in, oh, a few short weeks.

    You forgot to mention the fabulous array of delectable home-canned items that we snacked on before the feast: beets, two kinds of pickles, onions and okra. A beautiful and delectable spread…photos to follow at some point.

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