Sunday, November 18, 2012

Thanksgiving Feast 2012!

This year my girls are with their dad for Thanksgiving.  They will be getting a chance to spend Thanksgiving with there Grandfather, who is a wonderful man, and all of that side of the family.  So Kelly and I will be going to spend Thanksgiving with my family in Reno, which I'm excited for, but I was a little bummed that we wouldn't be getting to cook our own Thanksgiving dinner together.  So a last minute decision was made that he would come this way the weekend before, while I had my girls on an off weekend and we would throw together a little family Thanksgiving dinner of our own.  Since it was a last minute decision and I'm working a lot these days there wasn't enough time for me to do my normal "from scratch" cooking with everything - so we had, as Sandra Lee says, a semi homemade Thanksgiving.  And it was DELISH!

Here is the menu:
A brined and smoked turkey (pre-brined and spice rubbed by Foster Farms)
Cranberry Sauce with Port and Dried Figs
King Hawaiian Sweet Rolls
Simple Is Best Dressing
Celery root mashed potatoes
Shitake Mushroom Gravy
Cucumber, Pear and Fennel Salad
Steamed Carrots and green beans in butter and tarragon.
Dessert:  Hostess Ding Dongs and Ho Ho's - just because it's our last chance!  There would have been Twinkies too if any were left on the shelves.

And now.....for the recipes (how to's):
The Turkey was a pre-brined Foster Farms turkey rubbed in paprika, onion and unspecified spices.  It smelled quite good for a commercial rub!  Kelly smoked it on my charcoal Weber Bar B Q over apple wood.  This is hard to explain, other then you need to cook it over indirect heat and keep a meat thermometer in the turkey and cook it until around 155 degrees.  Instructions will tell you 165, but if you take it off at 155 and let it rest under foil, it will finish cooking and you won't have a dry turkey, but it will be cooked all the way through.   Once charcoals are ready, move them to one side of the bbq and set the turkey over the other side.  Put the lid on, and remove it as little as possible.  Be sure you've soaked the wood chips, and put them on about half way through cooking.  I would say it took around 3 1/2 hours for us to cook a 12 lb turkey.

Cranberry Sauce:
I've been making this sauce for years and it's ALWAYS a favorite.  Way better then that weird jelly stuff in a can, and very easy!
1 2/3 cup ruby port - I usually use Tawny port and it turns out just fine
1/4 balsamic vinegar
8 dried black Mission figs, stemmed and chopped
1 6 inch sprig of fresh rosemary
1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper
1 12 ounce bag of fresh cranberies
3/4 cup sugar.
Combine the first six ingredients in a medium saucepan.  Bring to a boil.  Stir until the sugar dissolves.  Reduce heat to low and simmer 10 minutes.  Remove the rosemary sprig.  Mix in the cranberries and 3/4 cup sugar.  Cook over medium heat until the liquid is slightly reduced and the cranberries are burst, stirring occasionally.  This takes about 6 minutes.  Cool and transfer to a bowl and chill.  This can be made a week ahead of time, and it makes 3 1/2 cups.

The Hawaiian Rolls - stop at your nearest grocery store and pick some up.  ;-)  I have seen a recipe for these and hope to one day try that out.  But for now - store bought worked just fine

Simple is Best Dressing from November 2012 Bon Appetit Magazine.
I cut this in half for just the 4 of us:
3/4 stick of unsalted butter, plus more to grease baking pan.
7 1/2 oz of dressing croutons ( the Bon Appetite recipe used day old white bread torn into 1 " pieces dried out in an oven for 1 hour)
1 1/4 cups chopped Walla Walla onion - grown in Kelly's garden.   - the original recipe calls yellow onions
3/4 cup chopped celery
1 tbsp of chopped fresh sage
1/2 tbs of chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 tbs of chopped fresh thyme
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 1/4 cup homemade turkey broth (original calls for low sodium chicken broth.)
1 large egg.

If you want to do the bread crumbs from scratch, preheat the oven to 250 degrees.  Butter the baking dish and set that aside.  Scatter the bread on a rimed baking sheet and bake stirring occasionally until dried out - about 1 hour.  Let cook and transfer to a bowl - OR
Put the 7 1/2 oz of dressing croutons in the bowl.

Melt 3/8 cup butter in a large skillet over medium high heat.  Add onions and celery.  Stir often until just beginning to brown, about 10 minutes.  Add to the bowl of bread/croutons.  Stir in herbs, salt and pepper.  Drizzle in 5/8 of the turkey/chicken stock.  Toss gently and let cool.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Whisk together 5/8 stock and 1 egg together. Add to bread mixture.  Fold gently until thoroughly combined.  Transfer to the prepared dish, cover with foil and bake for 40 minutes.  The dressing can be made a day ahead and rebaked, uncovered for 40 to 45 minutes.  If chilled add 10 to 15 minutes.

Celery Root and Mashed Potatoes.
This one I more or less made up.
I took one celery root and peeled it and chopped it into 1/2 inch pieces.  I boiled it in cream and whole milk with a sprig of thyme and a tbs of butter - just enough liquid to cover the celery root - and I boiled it for about 25 minutes until it was softened.  I removed the thyme and puree the celery root and milk mixture in a cuisinart. 

Kelly boiled about 6 yukon potatoes and mashed them together with the celery root mixture with a cube of butter.

Shitake Mushroom Gravy:
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup dry Sherry
3 tbsp butter
 12 oz fresh shitake mushrooms stemmed and sliced.
1 tbsp fresh rosemeary
4 cups of my homemade turkey stock ( or chicken broth)
1/3 cup whipping cream
2 tsp chopped fresh thyme
2 tsp chopped fresh tarragon

Mix flour and Sherry in a small bowl until smooth - shaking them up in a plastic container works great!
Melt butter in a heavy saucepan over medium high heat.  Add mushrooms and rosemary and saute' until they begin to soften ( about 3 minutes)  - this step can be done 3 hours ahead of time.

Transfer any juices you may have from the turkey if you have any - we didn't because we were bbqing - and add enough broth to measure 5 cups.  Add to saucepan with mushrooms.  Add flour paste and whisk until smooth.  Bring mixture to boil, stirring frequently.  Boil until thickened to a light gravy - about 10 minutes.  Mix in cream, thyme and tarragon.  Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Cucumber Pear and Fennel Salad.

This is a recipe that I modified from the 2012 November Bon Appetite magaizine.
I peeled and cut up 2 cucumbers, chopped one small fennel bulb into 1/2" squares, placed them in a bowl and added 1 diced pear and 1 diced apple.  I tossed in some pomegranate soaked dried cranberries and tossed with a balsamic vinaigrette - which consisted of balsamic vinegar, olive oil, walnut oil, and rosemary.

Steamed carrots and green beans:
1 small bag of baby carrots and one small bag of harricot verts.
about 1 tbs butter and 1 tbsp chopped tarragon.

Steam the carrots for about 15 minutes and add the green beans.  Steam for no more then 10 minutes.  Put in a bowl while still hot and toss with butter and tarragon and a pinch of salt.  Easy peasy!

Normally I pride myself on some yummy desserts, but there was no time, and considering my girls have NEVER had a Ding Dong or a Ho Ho ever in their short lives, I thought it would be fun to let them have a little taste of mine and Kelly's childhood. It's their last chance right? And I know they will be indulging in some yummy desserts on Thanksgiving with their aunts, because they're both amazing cooks.  And I know Kelly and I will be getting some delicious goodies from my Aunt in Reno as well. 

So that was our first semi homemade, semi official Thanksgiving together.  And it was awesome!

No comments: