Thanksgiving; Or, Better Late than Never

We had Thanksgiving dinner!  You know, um, two weeks ago.   (Give or take a day.)  I bet you did, too.

I took some pictures, and thought you might like to see them.

For hors d’oeuvres, we had a date and kumquat chutney…

…served with a round of soft Camembert, the World’s Best Spiced Pretzel-Nut mixture, and the World’s Best Spiced Peanuts.  Black pepper water crackers are always a must.

There was also a cocktail hour, featuring a rye and amaro concoction that required a few attempts at mixing and sampling to perfect, simple as the recipe seems.  I think it was four tries before we hit the real magic.  Perseverance always pays off.

The entrée was a couple of wild pheasants, barded with bacon and braised whole with aromatics, juniper, and bay.  They were hunted by a friend of a friend (thank you, Sergei!), and were pretty fabulous, if I do say so myself.  On the same platter are roasted wedges of acorn squash.  To the right of the pheasant is a sweet corn spoonbread, which might’ve risen higher if I had a proper soufflé dish, but I don’t need to keep one around for how often I make soufflés (this might be the second or third time in this apartment).

This is cornbread, chestnut, and andouille dressing.  I think dressing is my favorite part of the typical All-American Thanksgiving Dinner.  Basically just bread and vegetables, maybe a little meat for flavor, what else do you need?

I don’t know about you, but I think this dish is hilarious.  It’s my nod to that perennial favorite, jellied cranberry sauce in a can.  Thanksgiving dinner was never complete without it when I was little, and it turns out it was always my boyfriend’s favorite part, too.  It was stupidly simple; I just made a fancy cranberry sauce (half recipe of that beast) and molded it in a can.  But the solids that I was supposed to trash – instead I strained and jazzed them up with a little port and some orange zest – have been my favorite leftover.  Sandwiches, curries, cheese on crackers, they all go splendidly.

For bread, I made these mustard rolls, because Thanksgiving requires a softer-crust roll.  Ciabatta or a baguette just doesn’t seem right.

Dessert was a Paris-Brest, from a Cook’s Illustrated recipe.  I usually trust CI with my life, but I feel they really dropped the ball with this one (or maybe I did).  It looked pretty enough, but there were issues.  The choux paste was fine, but it didn’t behave like my usual recipe.  The hazelnut crème chiboust filling was a little too stiff with gelatin, and didn’t melt on the tongue like you’d expect it to.  It was just okay, and I was sorry to have wasted the poor hazelnuts on it.  Yes, I’m very picky about the desserts I make.

pretty, though

On this plate, you can see the raw kale and brussels sprout salad I included for a little verdant crunch among the other rich dishes.  This salad is so, so, so good.  It’s earned a place in my short go-to list.  Full-flavored, crunchy, and ridiculously nutritious.  I could eat it every day.

For you oenophiles, the wine was a charming little number from the South of France, a blend of… some… kind… of grapes.  It had a woodcock on the label, and the old European gentleman I purchased it from assured me without hesitation that this was the wine for pheasant.  (I mean, come one, there was a game bird right on the bottle!  Who was I to argue?)  Turns out he was so very right; it was a perfect match.

Hope you all had a fabulous Thanksgiving!






4 thoughts on “Thanksgiving; Or, Better Late than Never”

  1. Sounds delicious! I agree, the leftover cranberry sauce my mom makes is always my favorite!! Let me know if you come back in town, we can get together again – that was nice!!

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