AHH, THANKSGIVING…

THANKSGIVING IS NOT JUST MY FAVORITE HOLIDAY, IT’S THE ONLY HOLIDAY I LIKE.  WE’RE COMPLETELY NON-OBSERVANT JEWS, SO WE SKIP THE HIGH HOLIDAYS.  CHRISTMAS IS UNAVOIDABLE WITH A SIX-YEAR-OLD IN THE HOUSE, BUT NEW YEAR’S EVE?  ARE YOU KIDDING?

ON THANKSGIVING, HOWEVER, WE GATHER WITH OUR CLOSEST FRIENDS, WHO KVELL EFFUSIVELY OVER THE MEAL WE’VE DEVOTED THREE DAYS PREPARING. THIS YEAR WITH ONE AND ALL SUITABLY VAXXED WE CELEBRATE THE SURVIVAL OF EVERYONE AT OUR TABLE AS WELL.

EVERY THANKSGIVING I PONDER WHAT TO MAKE.  TURKEY, NATCH, BUT HOW TO COOK IT?  I’VE SOLVED THIS QUANDARY BY TRYING A DIFFERENT RECIPE EACH TIME.  FIRST THERE WAS WET BRINING, THEN DRY BRINING.  HIGH HEAT COOKING, SLOW ROASTING, OR A COMBINATION OF BOTH.  THE LAST COUPLE OF YEARS I’VE HAD GOOD LUCK WITH MELISSA CLARK’S SPATCHCOCKED TURKEY ROASTED AT A HIGH TEMPERATURE ON THE FLOOR OF THE OVEN. I LOVE SAMIN NOSRAT’S ROAST CHICKEN WHICH IS PRE-BRINED IN SALTED BUTTERMILK AND YIELDS  TENDER FLESH AND BROWNEST SKIN YOU’VE EVER SEEN.  JUST IN TIME FOR THANKSGIVING MS. NOSRAT ADAPTED HER CHICKEN RECIPE TO TURKEY; THAT IS, A 12-POUNDER.  I GOT STUCK WITH A 19-POUNDER WHICH IS GOING TO ENTAIL SOME FANCY FOOTWORK.

TURKEY BEING THE MOST UNPOPULAR OF FOWL, THANKSGIVING IS ALL ABOUT THE SIDES.  CARRYING ON  AN ANNUAL FAMILY TRADITION, I ALWAYS MAKE CREAMED PEARL ONIONS.  ONLY FOR THANKSGIVING AM I WILLING TO PEEL 60 PEARL ONIONS.  MASHED POTATOES ARE A MUST AND THIS THANKSGIVING I’M GOING ALL IN WITH JOËL ROBUCHON’S FAMOUS AND INFAMOUS VERSION WHICH GIVEN THE PROPORTION OF BUTTER TO POTATOES IS REALLY A POTATO BUERRE BLANC.  THIS YEAR I’M SUBSTITUTING MIXED CABBAGES FOR BRUSSELS SPROUTS AND/OR STRING BEANS.   I’LL CORE AND ROUGHLY CUT UP MY CABBAGES (SAVOY, CONE AND NAPA) AND BRAISE THEM IN THE BOTTOM OF THE TURKEY ROASTING PAN AFTER I TAKE BIG BIRD OUT TO REST.  THE CABBAGE COLLAPSES ABSORBING THE DRIPPINGS, WHICH SERVE AS A BED FOR TURKEY.  I’M CONCOCTING A STUFFING THIS YEAR COMPOSED PRIMARILY OF TORN BREAD AND SLOW-BROWNED ONIONS WITH LITTLE PIECES OF GUANCIALE AND LOTS OF CUT-UP CELERY.  INSTEAD OF A THICK GRAVY, I’M OPTING FOR A DOUBLE STOCK — DARK-ROASTED TURKEY BACKS AND NECKS SIMMERED IN MY OWN CHICKEN STOCK, THEN CAREFULLY DE-FATTED AND REDUCED TO AN ESSENCE.

IF WE HAVE ROOM FOR DESSERT (AND WE ALWAYS DO) IT’S MISS LYNN’S PUMPKIN PIE, PECAN-DATE TART AND TART TATIN SERVED WITH STRAUSS FAMILY CREAMERY VANILLA ICE CREAM.

WE’LL WASH IT ALL DOWN WITH NAVARRO BRUT AND SEVERAL BOTTLES OF MORGON.

NEXT WEEK, A COMPLETE REPORT AND MAYBE A NEW RECIPE OR TWO.  HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

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