November 28, 2011

We Gather Together

Goodness.  Another Thanksgiving has come and gone.  This year, Sam and I hosted both sets of parents and my youngest brother here in Chapel Hill in our tiny house.  The oven was pumping all day and I spent most of it either cooking, checking, tasting, or shooing people out of the kitchen. Ok, mostly shooing.  I think I've already mentioned, I don't delegate well.  But, Thanksgiving is not a meal you can make alone.  There are just too many components, too many dishes that need to be timed perfectly to make sure everything arrives on the table piping hot.  I think I planned the meal pretty well, but it's clear I have quite a few Thanksgivings to go before I can be calm, cool, and collected in the kitchen.  A big thank you to my mom and mom-in-law for making two beautiful pies, my dad for helping to stuff the turkey and make the gravy, and to Sam for tackling the carving.  Oh, and of course to my brother and father-in-law for expertly pouring the water and champagne.  It was a full family affair.
The table (or tables)

Everyone has their own traditional Thanksgiving dishes and in my home they always included sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, stuffing, cranberries, gravy, and most importantly turkey.  There was often something green on the plate, but it was mostly just for the color.  The sweet potatoes went through a phase where they were covered with toasty mini marshmallows and there was one year when we had a frozen cranberry sorbet sort of thing.  But mostly, it was all about the turkey and the gravy.  Not brined, not dry rubbed, just plain, roasted turkey and always stuffed.  I've continued that tradition (although I've updated the stuffing...sorry Mom) and I think our table looked pretty good, if cobbled together.  Here are a few recipes from our meal - don't be afraid to try them out before next Thanksgiving!

Sweet Potato and Carrot Puree (from The Silver Palate)
Serves 6-8

4 large sweet potatoes (about 2 lbs)
1 lb carrots
2 1/2 cups water
1 tsbp sugar
12 tbsp unsalted butter at room temperature
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup creme fraiche
1/2 tsp nutmeg
dash of cayenne pepper (optional)

Preheat the oven to 375. Scrub the potatoes and cut a small, deep slit in the top of each. Set on the center rack of the oven and bake until the potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork, about 1 hour. Meanwhile, peel and trim the carrots and cut them into 1-inch lengths. Put them in a saucepan and add the water, sugar, 2 tbsp of the butter, and salt and pepper. Set over medium heat, bring to a boil, and cook, uncovered, until the water has evaporated and the carrots begin to sizzle in the butter, about 30 minutes. The carrots should be tender. If not, add a little additional water and cook until the carrots are done and all the liquid has evaporated. Scrape out the flesh of the sweet potatoes and combine with the carrots in a food processor. Add the remaining butter and the creme fraiche and process until very smooth. Add the nutmeg, and season with salt and pepper, Add the cayenne, if desired, and process briefly to blend. To reheat, transfer to an ovenproof serving dish and cover with aluminum foil. Heat in a preheated 350 degree oven until steaming hot, about 25 minutes.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Serves 8

8 cups Brussels Sprouts
olive oil
coarse salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Clean and trim the Brussels Sprouts and cut them in half, keeping all of the leaves.  Toss in olive oil, salt and pepper and roast for 30-40 minutes until the sprouts are browned and crisped.

Sam wrestling with the big bird.

Whatever your tradition, I hope you had a wonderful holiday filled with family, friends, and food. But above all, I hope you had a chance to contemplate what you are thankful for, because although Thanksgiving shouldn't be the only time of year we think about all that we are grateful for, it's a pretty wonderful time to focus on it.

Have leftovers?  Consider making Turkey Rice Soup!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing the details through your blog. Awaiting more updates. Can I subscribe to ur blog page?


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