Sunday, November 27, 2011

Plan Ahead for Next Year Using This Year's Thanksgiving Dinner Recap

Thanksgiving Table is Set

This will not happen next year.  It would be too soon to host 12 persons.  That's not as huge a number as you might guess but it includes parents and in-laws so it becomes more than just an exercise in eating food.  Fortunately everyone gets along amazingly well. But hey, next year it's someone else's turn.

Maybe yours?

Here then is a recap in photos along with some of the recipes of what made it to the table.  Oh and things get off to a good start by serving some non-vintage Champagne with warm cashews and almonds.

First Course

Thanksgiving Dinner: 1st course

Roasted Fennel with Parmesan and Warm Radishes in Harissa Butter. Easy first dishes to excite guests.

Roasted Fennel for 12:
  1. Clean 3 bulbs and cut off stalks.  Slice off the very bottom of the bulb.
  2. Slice 1/4" thick the fennel and toss in a bowl with sunflower (or other high heat) oil, salt, pepper, and optionally a dash of zatar spice.
  3. Line a cookie sheet with foil and spread the fennel on the sheet.  
  4. I caramelized the fennel by cooking it at 325 degrees F at the bottom of the oven with the turkey for 2 hours and it turned out amazing OR
  5. Cook the fennel at 400 degrees F for 45 minutes in the middle of the overn until a little char starts to form.
  6. Drizzle with some good olive oil. Sprinkle with parmesan and serve warm.

Main Dish and Sides

Thanksgiving Dinner

Cider Braised Turkey with Lager Gravy Served with Mushroom, Celery, Caramelized Onion Stuffing, Green Beans with Shallot Vinaigrette, and Cranberry Compote

Cider Braised Turkey with Lager Gravy:

This recipe came straight from the pages of Food&Wine magazine November 2011.  I only substituted a kosher turkey for the steps involving salting the bird overnight.  A kosher turkey is an excellent way to enjoy a bird that retains its juices and cooks flavorfully.

The Wine

A Legend for the Fall: Gary Farrell

It's Pinot time and few are finer than Gary Farrell.

I'm sharing notes collected by  I personally think the community way under scored the wine - possibly because many (including me) are drinking it a bit early. No matter. I gave this beauty a 93.  Excellent American Pinot showing restraint in offering notes of cherry, strawberry jam, and cola/hazelnut. Went perfectly with everything served.  Very enjoyable.


Pies of Thanksgiving

My children hopefully will have permanent and fond memories of cooking these pies with their grandmother.  Featured above are apple, pumpkin, and my favorite, mince meat.  Even if I had the recipes for these beauties, I would not have the touch or hand to pull them off as good.

And that's one of the best ways to make hosting a Thanksgiving dinner possible: Make it a potluck.  Give everyone a task to do - even if it's to get out of the way: Go outside to toss a baseball or sweep the deck!

I'm most interested in your sides eaten at Thanksgiving.  Feel free to share in the comments.

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