Next week is the beginning of about 6 weeks of Holiday eating heaven! Thanksgiving starts us off with a bang and damn that's good eating! Things are pretty traditional in our house for the big Holidays, but each holiday has its own special meal, so at least there isn't repetition.
We cook it on the charcoal grill rotisserie over a pan of wine, water, fresh sage (chopped from my garden) and some poultry seasoning, with fresh sage and a stick of butter stuck inside the cavity. We use this to baste it. It takes far less time to cook and the grill gives it an amazing smoky flavor that makes all else pale in comparison.
I make the cornbread days ahead, just like Mom taught me to do, and then let it sit out to dry. I used to make it with the giblets-- like my Mom did, but my kids really weren't loving that. I have caved in and started using sausage and they are much happier! A day or 2 ahead of time, I brown the sausage and drain the fat off. I sautee garlic, onion and celery in olive oil, till translucent, stir in fresh chopped sage, dash in some salt, pepper and poultry seasoning. This can also be done ahead of time. On the day of, I mix it all into the cornbread, which I have cubed. The juices from under the turkey are strained through cheese cloth and some is used to moisten the stuffing for baking. This way you still get the baked in turkey flavor of a stuffed turkey, but with less mess and less cooking time for all.
Dubbed "Groovy" by my Mom, for as long as I can remember, it is really yummy stuff! You just can't beat homemade gravy and the flavor from the grill is just amazing. Since I don't use the giblets anymore I do put them in a large pot of wine, water and seasonings to simmer for a few hours. This gets me some extra broth to add to the turkey juices. I wouldn't EVER want to be caught short on gravy, there might be mutiny!!
We never had mashed potatoes, that I can recall, for T-Day. I think my parents figured we had a starch on the table already with the stuffing. I had to start making them when I got married, so the Hubster would be happy! He wanted something from his family's tradition, too. These are so easy to make and everyone seems to have their own tricks. I wash them, chop them small, boil them until tender, drain the water off, dump them in my big Kitchen Aid mixer, pour in cream (only on the holidays, milk any other time) add a stick (only on the holidays, 1/2 stick any other time) of butter chopped up and start the mixer. Once things are well mixed, I turn it up to med/high and whip them. They are fluffy, still have some lumps and the skin mixed in is delicious. Since I don't put in salt, you get to salt to your own taste, which I think is best, since you don't lose the potato flavor.
I steam the beans, toss with butter and a dash of kosher salt. My Mom toasts almond slivers and adds them, but my kids aren't big fans of that. Sometimes I do toast some and put them on the table for garnish or nibbling.
We never had the canned stuff and I have no memory of ever having tried them before! Ladies night at the winery this month had a T-Day theme, so I tasted it. WOO-HOO that was NASTY! Just my opinion, of course, it's not for me. If you like it, more power to ya. Hubster had never had real cranberry sauce till he met me. Just like Dad taught me, I boil the berries in 1/2 water 1/2 OJ, using half the recommended sugar on the package and that's it. They can be served warm or cold. They are great over warm buttered cornbread the morning after. My parents used to make Cranberry Relish when we were kids. I have never made it since. I like it, but it's not my favorite. My Mom and/or one of my Brother's would make it when we had T-Day at our house back home and they always did a nice job of it.
AFTER THE MEAL
As soon as we're done eating, we start clean up. This way we get up and about before dessert and let things settle for a while. Hubster strips the carcass of meat for me. I dump it and all the bones from the table into a huge pot of water, wine, carrots, celery, all the usual poultry seasonings and simmer it for hours, till about half has dissipated. I strain it, ditch the fat and put in freezer containers for broth to use in future meals. Also, we take a lot of the meat, chop/shred it and freeze it for turkey pot pie, which is AMAZING. I bastardized a couple different recipes into my own concoction and the results were phenomenal. If the kids eat it, I know I am on the right track!
I make homemade crusts and bake Pumpkin and Cherry Pie. I love both, but the Cherry is made with tons of love, just for Hubster, since that is his favorite. KC took up making Apple Pie from scratch last year. It was pretty good too! She says she wants to make it again this year. Sounds like a yummy plan to me! I make homemade Whipped Cream, just like Grandma and Mom used to make. There is nothing in a can or a tub that compares to the yummy goodness of fresh homemade Whipped Cream, for me. It is practically orgasmic! What's not to like about that?
KEEPIN' IT REAL and REAL SIMPLE
Lots of people STRESS OUT on Thanksgiving and the other big Holidays when it comes to the meal. I do a little bit each day starting the weekend before and then I just have to throw most of it together on the actual day. Many of you who work might think you don't have time for that, but I bet if you took about 15 minutes before or after work each day, you might find you are 85% done when Thanksgiving comes. (I used to work and this is why I started doing so much before hand, SO I don't want to hear that I have no clue being a SAHM!) The nice thing about it is, once you get the hang of it, it goes even faster. Your day can be spent enjoying your family or hiding in the bubble bath and you won't feel married to the kitchen.
WHAT ARE YOU THANKFUL FOR?
I am extremely thankful most of all for Hubster and my children. I am thankful for my parents NO MATTER WHAT. I am thankful to Hubster's parent's for giving him to me, whether they wanted to or not. I am even thankful for those family members -- both Hubster's and mine -- that hate us, ignore us, disown us, treat us like shit and/or generally don't want anything to do with us. They need to know it most of all and reminding myself to be thankful for them makes it easier to remember to be a better person as often as possible. I'm oh so very thankful for my friends and the support and love I get from them. I am thankful to have a home, that Hubster has a job and that we are generally healthy and happy.
I hope you all have a very HAPPY THANKSGIVING!
GOBBLE 'TIL YA WOBBLE!
CHEERS from my wine glass to yours!