Sunday, November 29, 2015

Thanksgiving Weekend

 After several years of just the two of us, James and I had company for the holiday and I went back to cooking Thanksgiving dinner. I'm delighted. I've missed the cook's holiday and for my return engagement with turkey and trimmings I pulled out all the seasonal favorites.
For starters, Rogue River blue, a seasonal Oregon cheese wrapped in pear brandy soaked grape leaves only available from late October until Christmastime and one of my favorites. To showcase this really blue I made a batch of almond fig crackers (laced with port wine) and topped each crisp with fresh honeycomb.
 Thanksgiving is a time for favorite dishes that are just a bit better than usual, mashed potatoes with plenty of butter and cream, green beans with chestnuts and bacon (no I just can't do the casserole), endive salad with home grown persimmons, pomegranates and toasted walnuts in a sherry vinaigrette, and . . .
of course the star of the show -- turkey with cornbread, sausage, pecan stuffing.  I've been making the same basic recipe, vaguely adapted from 1979's classic The Silver Palette Cookbook for all of my turkey making years. I've dabbled with smoked turkeys or molé spiced or even gingersnap gravy doused but I always come back to the classic. I juice two oranges over the turkey inside and out then salt and pepper the exterior and the cavity liberally. After the bird is stuffed I truss it lightly, rub as much butter as humanely possible onto the skin, sprinkle with paprika and he's ready to cook. Some years I do a little sage, sometimes I flirt with Bell's seasoning but every time it is basically the same. The stuffing is a winning mix of white, wheat and corn breads, apples, breakfast sausage, pecans and spices. It's Norman Rockwell with a Southern drawl. Tradition and taste. Old fashioned and right on time all at once. In short, it's the perfect bird.
The best part of Thanksgiving may be the leftovers, especially this year. I had intended to serve oysters Rockefeller as a starter but at the last minute veered away. It just seemed too much for our little group of four and added a lot of last minute panic. So with our special "leftovers" James and I shared a day after oyster roast dinner and an after holiday breakfast with soft set scrambled eggs and luscious poached oysters. That might just be our new post holiday tradition.

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