30 January 2010

a very new england thanksgiving

Yes, I know ... it's almost February. Let's just say the last few months have been a bit zany in TTK, from mega tests that leave me wanting an entire bottle of scotch, travel, more holidays, work, etc ... To be honest, it was a blur of friends, boxes, suitcases, and modes of transportation.

So entertain me while I flip the calendar back to Nov. 2009 for a minute. You still there? Great. Glad you stayed.

This past Thanksgiving I offered to host - and cook - the beast of a Thanksgiving feast here in my Boston apartment for my family. Quite an undertaking, but all in all, what I love to do. My parents and older brother made the trek from Chicago and Rochester, and I spent the week prepping for the feast. The week started off with pork rillettes (part 1, part 2, part 3) - my special appetizer for the family, and lots of trips to various grocery stores and food markets. Needless to say, grocery shopping in a city without a car forces you to get creative, and accept that it may take a taxi or muscle man Randy Savage to get your ingredients to your apartment and into a 4th floor walk up.

Anywho, on to the good stuff -- the food.

Here's the big meals menu // cue drumroll, please.

- Pork rillettes - appetizer
- Green beans with a lemon vinaigrette and toasted walnuts
- my famous bacon braised brussel sprouts for the non-believers
- Sausage, butternut squash and kale stuffing
- Sour cream and rosemary mashed potatoes
- 19.5 lb turkey - brined with allspice berries, candied ginger, stock, and apple cider
- Cider sage gravy, with fresh giblet stock
- Homemade cranberry sauce with rum ;)
- Apple pie with cheddar crust
- Pumpkin cobbler with candied pecans

Outside of a minor hiccup involving a sharp knife and my left pointer finger, the meal all hit the table at the same time, stress was easily washed down with wine and gravy, and the feat was over. Next time, maybe not so ambitious ... or perhaps a larger house. :)

Here are some photos from the delicious day ... and I do mean, delicious. I'll gladly pat myself on the back for that. And as always, nothing beats being surrounded with family, even if that's a bit hair brained. It's what they're there for, and I'll eternally be thankful for them.

First there was the pie, adapted from the Gourmet recipe...

Which makes the most beautiful crust ... and reminds me of my Grandfather, who always had a slice of sharp white cheddar with his apple pie. Grandpa, this one's for you ...

Then Tom the turkey, which Michael so nicely carved after his lessons from the Food Network ...

The stuffing, made by browning sausage, then adding butternut squash, leeks, kale and some stock, and a mix of foccacia and pumpernickle bread. Put into a pan, drizzle with some stock, and top with some fresh Pecorino / sharp cheese, and bake. This ... was straight aces. And ... it's absolutely beautiful. So I like colorful food, that's not a crime. ;)

On to the brussel sprouts ... which oddly enough are requested in our family. With this preparation, they will soon be in your household too. First, render the fat from a few pieces of bacon, remove when crispy - you'll be using it later. Halve the sprouts and sear cut side down in the pan, making sure they have a good color to bring out the nutty flavor. Once they have a good color, add stock to the pan, cover and cook until the sprouts are practically falling apart. Remove from stock, serve with crumbled bacon on top. WIN. (no really, WIN.)

And then there was the cobbler, recipe compliments of my friend Abe. I could eat this every day and live a very happy, very overweight life. My mother pretty vehemently dislikes pumpkin pie, yet she loved this. Take that. High five! :) Based off of this recipe, though I highly recommend using about 2 cups of pecan goodness. You can thank me later.

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