|Turkeytime cocktail hour; don't forget to cut the cheese! - Photos by Miss Alice|
This was very much an UnRecipe Thanksgiving, as it came together somewhat last-minute. Our status for Turkeyday was unknown until less than a week before T-Day. Were we staying local? Packing up for a drive out to Eastern Washington to visit Mr. Wasabi's family? In the end, we decided to stay local and invited some friends who were grounded for the holidays, not wanting to do battle with the beast of holiday air travel. Call it a Fugee Thanksgiving if you want, but we kept it fast and loose, and a hefty meal of familiar flavors was feasted upon.
|Dexter-ized turkey and colorful side dishes - Photos by Miss Alice|
Foodie confessional: I'd never roasted a whole turkey before. And technically I can't really say I did on Thanksgiving, as the edible parts were removed from the bird prior to cooking. We have a standard-sized oven and it would be an air traffic controller mess to both cook and reheat multiple dishes on Thursday, so the less time one item took in the oven, the better. The raw bird was dismembered all Dexter-style, soaked in buttermilk overnight to tenderize (I believe Dexter skips this step), and the parts saw their way into an oven for a thankfully shorter cook time. The herb butter-slathered breast halves, thighs and legs roasted at a high heat to 165-degree doneness in about an hour's time, then rested in a pouch of tin foil for the final ten degree push. The carcass and neck had been reserved for roasting the day before, and made into a collagen-rich broth. This stock was used along with the cooked turkey's drippings to deglaze the pan and make a roasted garlic and shallot gravy over the stove, while the oven switched gears to warm side dishes made in advance.
|A heavenly ham joins the food party - Photo by Miss Alice|
I give thanks that the turkey, despite a few spills and one burned hand (ow!), turned out flavorful and moist. Not being sure a small turkey would be enough (or worse, be a disaster), a small ham was added for a second main course, aka, Backup Plan "S" -- for Swine. It was pre-roasted and a brown sugar, mustard and vinegar glaze was poured over the spiral-cut hock to add more flavor and caramelize in the oven.
On a bit of a whim, I made fresh buttermilk cheese from this easy recipe in Country Living. It produced a lovely little round of cheese that was like a firm ricotta. Drizzled with honey and sprinkled with pomegranate seeds, it was another addition to the wine and cheese starter menu.
|Let's be honest, Thanksgiving is all about the sides - Photos by Miss Alice & Mr. K|
Like a lot of people, I'm all about the side dishes during Thanksgiving. We had traditional flavors, but kept things simple: cinnamon spice citrus cranberry sauce, green beans with pecans and blue cheese crumbles, roasted herbed sweet potatoes, and a creamy cauliflower casserole. Guests Mr. K and Mrs. J brought ingredients for a bright and festive cranberry dressing. Mr. Wasabi brought out his giant propane burner to cook that separately on the porch because the oven and stove area had become gridlocked. Their darling friend, Ms. M also brought a deliciously rich mushroom quiche which went marvelously with all the harvest inspired dishes.
|More dessert, please! - Photos by Mr. K and Wasabi Prime|
Dessert was made ahead on Turkeyday Eve. Big thanks to Ms. CC for providing a pumpkin from her garden and delivering us from the fear of canned pumpkin puree shortages. The rounds of pie dough were rolled out and the roasted pumpkin was blended into a creamy-dreamy custard. The filling recipe was taken from the dearly-departed Gourmet magazine, available here on Epicurious. A secondary pear tart dessert was inspired by one of my favorite food bloggers, Tokyo Terrace, and another way to celebrate another fall ingredient.
A few dessert notes: our kitchen stays fairly chilly, so the desserts were fine to sit out on the counter for a day. I was pleasantly surprised the pumpkin pie crust stayed crisp -- I've read that doing a brush of eggwash over the whole surface, prior to adding the filling, can help create a moisture barrier. Those decorative flattened glass marbles that you use for flower arrangements work in a pinch when you need to do a blind bake, as I don't have pie weights and didn't have enough dry rice or beans to weigh the crust down to avoid puffing during its pre-bake.
|Some party photos and a final Thanksgiving wish - Photos by Miss Alice|
The most important ingredient of all? Friends! Along with the cranberry dressing, K + J and friend M were kind enough to bring wine and glugi, a Finnish mulled wine that is both delicious and potent. Mr. K also brought bottles of his home-brewed beer, which incorporated the fall flavor of juniper. Delightful gals Sassy J and Miss Alice arrived with ample supplies of bread, wine, and cheese to power us through the cocktail hour. Guests also provided paparazzi service for the meal, as the Prime was too harried with food prep to take many pictures, so additional thanks goes out to all the photographs!
|Turkey meal to turkey sandwich! - Photos by Miss Alice|
Despite the challenge of getting several dishes on the table at the same time, it truly was a meal prepared and inspired by many people. It was great that so many people had a hand in it, local ingredients were involved (we promised at least one locavore item on the table), and it truly felt and tasted like tradition. Much appreciation to everyone for making this meal happen -- it was a Thanksgiving worth remembering and being very thankful for.