Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Thanksgiving 2012

I did something different this year for Thanksgiving: I closed the restaurant on the Wednesday before. The paltry amount of business that we have done historically the night before Thanksgiving has never made it worth the aggravation of being open. And so, the whole crew took a much needed break. The luxury of having two consecutive days of not having to go to work is something that very few people can appreciate and is something that I was super thankful for this Thanksgiving, that and the opportunity to get in the kitchen and cook with my wife. I haven't been able to say that before, have I? This is the fourth Thanksgiving we have cooked together, but our first since getting married back in September.

Gracing our table this year were Bob and Mary, Donald and Terry, and Mark and Kelley.

Donald Decorating his Cake

Queen of the Ball!

Bob in Great Spirits

Admiring Mark's Apple Pie Handiwork

Mary Helping Herself to Ann's Delicious Dressing

The only person I couldn't photo was Terry. He kept hiding in the one corner of the kitchen where there wasn't enough light to shoot him.

Sweet Potato Latkes: So Easy, So Good!

Sweet Potato Latkes with Horseradish Cream/Smoked Salmon
These latkes didn't photo so well in the very low light, but they were delicious. Topped with horseradish cream cheese and pepper-crusted hot-smoked salmon, they were devoured very quickly.

Turkey and Black Truffle Rillettes under Duck Fat
I decided to make turkey rillettes this year for an appetizer. I made turkey stock from bits and pieces of turkey: necks, wings, and a couple of drumsticks. From the gallon and a half of stock, I took a quart and reduced it to something less than a cup: let's call it a five-fold reduction. In this highly reduced stock, I poached the livers from two turkeys along with a shot of cognac, some shallots, and thyme. The stock and livers went into the blender to become liquefied. After I shredded all the meat, I poured the stock over the meat and mixed in black truffles, butter, and duck fat. Seasonings are salt, white pepper, thyme, and nutmeg. I put the rillettes in canning jars and covered them with a layer of duck fat.

Turkey and Black Truffle Rillettes with Cranberries

Crostini with Goat Cheese, Fig Jam, and Prosciutto
Ann made these crostini with local goat cheese, her fig and grape jam, and prosciutto. This is the fig and grape jam she made from the fresh figs and Corinth grapes left over from decorating our cheese wedding cake.

Champagne and Hibiscus Cocktails
To go with our appetizers we had Champagne cocktails made with candied hibiscus blooms.

What do you Stuff your Bird with?

The Obligatory Bird Photo
Here's our little farm-raised turkey. I brined it for two days, then stuffed under the breast skin with pancetta-rosemary butter, and stuffed the cavity with fresh herbs from the garden: parsley, sage, thyme, and fennel fronds.

Root Vegetable Gratin
So this ridiculous dish is a root vegetable gratin. I diced and roasted root vegetables from the farmers market: carrots, turnips, parsnips, celery root, and yellow potatoes. I infused herb stems and bits (parsley, thyme, rosemary, sage) with three lightly crushed garlic cloves and a quart of cream. I then strained the cream and added all the yellow potato scraps (from blocking off the potatoes to get perfect dice). Once the potatoes were soft, into the blender with the lot and out came a smooth custard that I augmented with eggs. I poured the custard over the root vegetables and baked until it was golden on top.

Cranberry-Orange Relish

Collard Greens and Guanciale

Hash of Brussels Sprouts, Shallots, and Pancetta
These sprouts were amazing. I slivered lots of shallots, some pancetta, and a bunch of brussels sprouts, then caramelized the shallots and pancetta, tossed in the sprouts, and tossed them a minute or so, just until the sprouts turned bright green. Then in to the pan with a bit of butter, touch of sugar, and a splash of white balsamic vinegar. Spectacular!

Ann's Mashed Sweet and Redskin Potatoes

Mark Made This Gorgeous Apple Pie

Terry Made These Fabulous Almond-Cranberry-Caramel Tarts
And in the dessert department, we cannot forget the three-layer cake that Donald made and is frosting in one of the early photos in this post. It is Deb Perelman's Red Wine Chocolate Cake and is quite amazing. I don't love sweets, but this bitter, slightly sweet cake really hit the spot.

Another wonderful Thanksgiving and I am so thankful to have great friends and family to celebrate with.

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