Monday, November 30, 2009

Hits and Misses of Thanksgiving

"When I walk into my kitchen today, I am not alone. Whether we know it or not, none of us is. We bring fathers and mothers and kitchen tables, and every meal we have ever eaten. Food is never just food. It's also a way of getting at something else; who we are, who we have been, and who we want to be."
Molly Wizenberg from A Homemade Life

I had a wonderful time planning and preparing for my Thanksgiving meal for twenty this year. I like to try a few new things every year and stick to the classics that always work. I decided to venture out in the appetizer department. We tend to nosh all day until meal time around 5pm. I put together a beautiful pickled vegetable platter (insalata di rinforzo) surrounding a steamed head of cauliflower drizzled with a red wine vinegarette. Well it looked nice and I loved it but not a lot of people ate it. I may just have to accept the fact that my family is not Italian. I won't let it deter my lemoncello making endeavor!

Then I tried a recipe from David Lebovitz's fabulous book The Sweet Life in Paris. He called it chicken and apple spread but it's chicken liver pate. My kids were scarred by the smell of it cooking but a lot of others tried it. I think it was a great recipe if you like chicken liver pate, unfortunately a lot of people at my house on Thanksgiving did not. It is definitely a grown up taste and I would make it again for a cocktail party.
My brother always brings the oysters and they roast them over our fire pit.

As to  the main meal:  I got a 22 lb. fresh turkey and decided to try brining for the first time. My dad and I mixed up our brew in a cooler. We put water, salt, brown sugar, buttermilk, peppercorns, garlic and sage. We let the brine sit overnight and then soaked the turkey in it for 24 hours. I rinsed it well before cooking, but it browned so quickly! I had to cover it with foil after only 2 hours. I think the meat had a lot of flavor but we were joking that the dark meat was so dark it looked black.

For the sides we had mashed potatoes, stuffing, spinach gratin( I was told it wouldn't be Thanksgiving if I didn't make this as usual) and cranberry relish. My mom always orders an Edwards ham sliced thin. My brother Jack  does the creamed onions and gravy. He used the cooked bits in the bottom of the pan for the gravy and it was so flavorful. My dad made a wonderful pot of kale and collard greens too. I roasted a mix of butternut squash, sweet potatoes, carrots, parsnips, and brussel sprouts with some olive oil, salt and pepper.

And a new addition this year was rotkohl or german red cabbage. I think it went really well with the meal.

A week before I made and froze these pull apart rolls and sweet potato biscuits.

And on the dessert front. Another miss was David Lebovitch's dulce de leche brownies. I had such high hopes for these but they were so dense. I don't know what went wrong.

 Otherwise I made pumpkin pie, bourbon pecan tart, and a walnut pumpkin cheesecake.
 I feel full just thinking about it all. It was a great gathering with those I love!

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