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thanksgiving menu

After a 5 day holiday its time to wake up tomorrow and return to regular life. The 9 1/2 hour horror show that is the typical monday these days.  Its a good time to sum up and most of that summing up is cooking.

I really started the weekend before by making corn bread and chicken stock. The corn bread I doubled the recipe on the corn bread box and added the left over grits from breakfast. That made them moist and good but it didn’t really dry out as much as I would have liked . I cut it up into squares a couple of days before Thanksgiving but should have done it the day I made it. I tossed it in the oven a couple of times on a low temp to dry it out further.

The  stock I made out of neck and back & organs of a local chicken that i simmered with a couple of bay leaves for 4 hours. I kept it in the fridge and scooped off the condensed fat. I also added the broth from any veggies i cooked during the week. I had intended to use it in the dressing but when the cooking got into a team sport plans changed.

The day before I pulled one of the pumpkins off the front porch and pealed and chopped and seasoned and cooked all the flesh. I used a lot of fresh ground spices, nutmeg, cinnamon stick, anise star, all spice, and fresh ginger. I figured letting it sit over night the spices would mix and instill themselves in the pumpkin. I ended up underspicing by a considerable degree. I probably didn’t fully realize just how much pumpkin i was dealing with. I also baked some pumpkin seeds with salt and a little lime, they were delicious. I left a few for the compost i’ve had good luck with volunteer pumpkins.

I also brined the turkey. I put in the cooler with 2 gallons of water a cup of sugar and a cup of kosher salt. the turkey i had ordered a couple weeks ago from some local farmers and then picked up on Tuesday at Cafe Berlin. I got the biggest one they had 17 lbs. more because i wanted to ensure i got a female more than i wanted a giant bird. I had to put it in the cooler on its side and it ended up bruised on one side. There was a little talk on facebook about brining and its done to both clean it and tenderize the meat. When you buy it in the grocery store its already packed in salt water.

The day of I started cooking a little before 7. I rinsed off the turkey and patted it dry. I rubbed it inside and out with olive oil and stuffed it with 2 local pears, 3 big cloves of garlic, and a white onion. I baked it at 425 for an hour and then backed it off to 325. Pretty much according to the directions from the farmers. I baked it upside down both to keep the breast meat moist and because it was too big for the roaster pan.

While it was baking Brenda put the neck and organs boiling with a half of a pack of celery. I added maybe 4 tbsps fresh picked white sage and maybe 2 of oregano plus a bay leaf and we boiled that for about 3 hours. Someone turned up the fire or I would have let it go 4. Brenda combined that with the cornbread and some more fresh sage and I roasted some fresh chest nuts and diced them in and that was it.

Early on in the day i made pie crusts. I found a gluten free recipe on line. folded in shortening into rice flour. i was regretting not getting lard, supposed to make crusts flakier. I made one the same way with wheat flour it wasn’t any good. I baked them for about 20 minutes with the turkey. two i did with pumpkin. added some egg, brown sugar, and condensed milk. My sister Betty had sent a quart of minced meat from my grandma trapp’s recipe so i made a minced meat pie as well. it was excellent. one of the better gluten free deserts i’ve had.she had also sent down some gluten free cranberry bread. we broke that out with coffee in lieu of breakfast since we were having a giant meal early.

Then got the stove top stuff ready. Cubed up some red potatoes from the market for mashed taters. Made them pretty classic with whole milk and butter and fresh ground pepper. Brenda made gravy out of turkey drippings, corn starch and I pulled up a horeradish and cleaned it up. Freshly grated it was good. Don’t think I’m going to prepare it just keep it fresh in the freezer and grate as needed, just like I do my ginger.

We also did butternut squash also mashed with brown sugar, butter, and roasted walnuts. The sweet potatoes i did in small cubes cooked on the stove top in the water from the pumpkins. I grated in extra star anise and fresh ginger and added butter and Springfield honey. they were a little mushy from scaling up the recipe.

Brenda and Heather brought a Panerra cheese bread and we chunked it up and toasted with butter and garlic powder. Did a relish tray with my dill and bread & butter pickles, black and green olives. I opened a chilled can of whole cranberries, fluffed with a fork and it was dinner. I was most appreciative of the teamwork. Everyone jumped in to help which made it really nice and allowed us to eat a couple hours earlier.

Categories: cooking
  1. November 29, 2010 at 2:39 pm

    And a lovely meal it was, Mike. I enjoyed the visit (especially the great meal), thanks for hosting me and the dogs. Sorry for bringing the cold and sniffles to your world.

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