It was a relaxed and pleasant dinner this year. We had a party of three for dinner and a fourth joined us for desert. I had prepared a lot of the meal ahead of time so I was able to work at a pleasant pace and I was actually ahead of schedule by the middle of the afternoon. Dinner was served at 6:00 p.m.. I’ve included the menu below with some updates to let you know how everything came out.
Turkey: I’ve ordered a 10 – 12 pound fresh bird from New Seasons to be picked up on Monday, the 25th. Update: The turkey (11.9 pounds) was perfect. I purchased a locally raised, pasture grown bird this year and brined it using Williams-Sonoma’s brining mix. I rubbed the skin and the cavity with olive oil, salt, pepper and placed some onion and orange wedges, and some thyme sprigs in the cavity.
Stuffing: I’ll make my usual, baked outside of the bird, recipe with sweet sausage, mushrooms, and apple. My dish uses a little of this and a little of that – it’s never exactly the same but I have written down my general guidelines: Turkey stuffing. My mother and grandmother always stuffed their birds and tended to add copious amounts of poultry seasoning and salt to the mixture. Their stuffing tended to steam inside of the bird rather than bake so it came out briny, spongy, and reeking of sage. As a child I could not understand how people could eat the stuff. Both women were wonderful cooks but “dressing”, as they called it, was not their finest dish. Properly seasoned, and baked stuffing was a revelation for me. It is now one of my favorite parts of the holiday meal. Update: I used different bread this year and I felt the dish was not as good as a result. I will go back to my ciabatta and cornbread combination next year.
Gravy: I have some nice turkey necks and will make some rich stock to reduce down in the next day or two. Turkey Gravy – Update: I added a frozen turkey back to the necks, threw in some onion, carrots and celery, along with eighteen cups of water and simmered the stock for about three hours. Then I removed the turkey parts and vegetables and reduced the liquid to a savory four cups. The house smelled of turkey stock for two days. Update: The gravy was divine.
Mashed potatoes: I have five pounds of russets at the ready. I’ll use my spiffy new potato ricer and stir in lots of butter, cream and a bit of salt. Update: I added cream cheese, sour cream and a little garlic salt to the potatoes so that they could be enjoyed sans gravy for those who are avoiding gluten. This is my mom’s “party potatoes” recipe.
Green beans: This is an update on the old green bean, mushroom soup, and canned onion rings dish. I’ll use fresh haricort verts, mushrooms, and crispy shallot rings in place of the onions. The recipe is courtesy of Fine Cooking Magazine, Issue #125 Update: I overfried the shallots so most of them didn’t make it to the table. I also mistakenly added more flour to the sauce than I should have so that it was thicker than it should be. But despite all that it was a tasty dish.
Roasted Beets with White Balsamic and Citrus Dressing: I wanted to make my favorite creamed corn but that would tilt the dinner toward overly starchy, and too much gluten so we will have beets. We all love beets. I think I will use golden beets for the nice color they will add to the table. This dish is made ahead of time and is served at room temperature. Another Fine Cooking recipe to treasure. Update: I thought the beets were great, they added an earthy note to the meal.
Cranberry chutney: My traditional cranberry dish from a recipe given to me by my dearly departed friend, Glen Kellogg some forty years ago. Update: The chutney was delicious as always with lots left over to enjoy for days to come.
Desert: Pumpkin panna cotta with apple cider sauce. This is a tasty recipe from Fine Cooking magazine, Issue #125. Update: The panna cotta was silky smooth and the apple cider sauce was sensational. I put a little of the sauce over vanilla ice cream the next night – yum!
Bread: I may not bake bread this year. We will see. Update: I didn’t bake bread. We had some gluten-free bakery rolls instead.