Friday, November 23, 2007

Thanksgiving dinner

Thanksgiving dinner is a special time for me, even if I am not American for real, and I never had a turkey before I arrived on this continent. But I really like the idea of getting together with friends and family, eat good food, and say a few words about things we are thankful in life about. And no presents, no hassle, except for the food of course. This year PP did 90% of all the food prep, and the results was better than a restaurant. It was fantastic, thanks PP! (Thanksgiving is always on a Thursday, so the pictures are a day old now)

The first course was a roasted tomato-apple soup, I think, from Bobbi Flay's fantastic cook book Bold American Food. Early in the morning PP was out by the grill in the garden roasting tomatoes while I was inside struggling with a distressed internet router. This soup, served with sage pesto and parmesan cheese, was heaven on Earth. I could have eaten only this, and be satisfied for days. Our friends DG, AM, AA and RA loved it too!

The free-range turkey from Griggstown Farm, 18 pounds (9 kg) heavy before cooking, and before cut into pieces. Done after Sauveur magazine's special instructions, brined in a solution of salt, spices and 35 garlic cloves overnight, then cooked in the oven for 3-4 hours on top of vegetables that became roasted - I think we will stick to this recipe! Moist, crispy on the outside, delicious, and totally different from storebought dry flavorless turkeybreasts. DG's cranberries with raisins and walnuts were great with it and served in the same glass bowl PP's mom used to use for it decades ago.

The vegetables were run in a food processor to make the sauce (gravy), a gluten-free, rich fall-colored delicious sauce. Note the gravy boat - 60 year old Bennington ceramics from Vermont, and the same pattern as our plates. I found it in an antique store in northern NJ and not expensive at all. To the right is the stuffing, which never went inside the bird this year, it was cooked on the side in the oven. It is wild rice-wild mushrooms-dried fruit-Italian sausage stuffing, home made recipe. Yummy! Also gluten-free.

Sweet potatoes (or yams) is a tradition - here are two kinds. First Bobbi Flay's (remember him?) sweet potato gratin with smoked chipotle peppers, spicy, creamy and melt-in-your-mouth good. Then to the right is sweet potatoes first cooked until half-done in water, then halved and put into a pan for an hour with lots of butter and brown sugar (old PP family recipe). Not the healthiest, but fantastically good.

A new thing for this year was Brussels sprouts - locally grown at Terhune Orchards, I think. The three foot long stalk (1 meter) had to be disassembled into little balls, which were first boiled, then fried with bacon. I never used to like Brussels sprouts, but when PP makes them I love them.
Salt and pepper shakers for sizing.

And finally, for kids, homemade Macaroni and cheese with broccoli and lots of mozzarella. I didn't taste it, but I made it, and there is nearly nothing left so they must have liked it.

After this, pumpkin pie, made by DG and AA. I was so stuffed afterwards.

And after that, Bob Dylan sang through the newly repaired Squeezebox and Slimserver:

"I hear the ancient footsteps like the motion of the sea
Sometimes I turn, there's someone there, other times it's only me.
I am hanging in the balance of the reality of man
Like every sparrow falling, like every grain of sand."
(from Every grain of sand)

"I can't help it
If you might think I'm odd,
If I say I'm not loving you for what you are
But for what you're not.
Everybody will help you
Discover what you set out to find.
But if I can save you any time,
Come on, give it to me,
I'll keep it with mine."

(from I'll keep it with mine)

Happy Thanksgiving, also to all of you that couldn't be here with us!

1 comment:

PP said...

some comments and corrections...if it matters...the soup was tomato and white bean with smoked chiles, no apple.

The brine for the turkey had in addition to the garlic, 4 granny smith apples and lots of chile powder that was run in a food processor. THis was an excellent brine. If you have never brined anything I urge you to try it. THe basic brine is always water, salt and sugar, then the rest is up to you. I did one this summer for pork chops with clove, juniper berries, and a bit of hot pepper, it was great. The flavors really carry thru and it prevents the meat from drying out. Try it with a simple roast chicken too!