Well, it’s that time of year again. As a reminder, I’ve put up a description of how we do Thanksgiving in an earlier posting:
It includes things like the “Scalloped Corn” dish that we’ve pretty much always had. Also a description of some of the ‘fun’ of cooking for a collection of folks with various food allergies and requirements.
As a reminder, here’s the start of the article:
Oddly, while not my picture, we have the same cutting board and a similar tile background (though yellow)… and I don’t depend on the pop up things, they always pop up just after the turkey is overdone and dry. Put a butter / herb mix under the skin and cook it ‘by the pound’ instead. Just wonderful…
OK, it’s the day before Thanksgiving and I’m The Chef… so I’ve started the cooking. Yes, cooking for Thanksgiving starts at least one day in advance.
That article proceeds from there. This year will be ‘similar but different’.
The collection of ‘food preferences’ has gotten a bit more tangled, and I’m a bit slower, so we’re changing to a “Planned Pot Luck” format. I’m still doing the Turkey & Stuffing (though now only 4 ? of us are meat eaters – out of about 7 ? total to be there). So one of the simplifications is that folks with ‘special needs’ will bring anything particularly customized that they want. Then we have the ‘planned core’ where each person has chosen a ‘dish’ to prepare or bring.
I’m going the Turkey & Stuffing (though have been informed I don’t need to make a gluten free version this year). The dish that the spouse is bringing is the “Candied Yams” (that I’ll likely make too). Others are bringing the mashed potatoes (where my son was ‘helper’ before and is now in Chicago) and vegetable side dishes (the vegetarians ;-) Then we have some generic ‘dinner rolls’. I’ve decided to bring a loaf of home made bread as well.
Why? Well, for one thing, I’ve gotten good at it. For another, this loaf is ‘special’ in that it is only: Wheat flour, yeast, sugar, salt, coconut oil. As one of the party has ‘issues’ with soy and so avoids soybean oil, but does fine with coconut oil, this is a feature. (Don’t tell her, it’s a surprise! ;-) It’s almost impossible to find commercial breads and rolls NOT made with soy, or something else on the ‘avoid’ list, for her; so I’m thinking she’s expecting to just skip the breads… and hopefully will find this a bit of a treat 8-)
It’s kind of strange, after a 1/4 Century of being THE Head Chef of Thanksgiving to ‘not know for sure’ what all will show up. We talked it over briefly, and have a vague idea. A special two layer jello mold (lime / cranberry). Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, candied yams, bread rolls, some vegetables. Some kind of fizzy juice. Butter and cranberry sauce. What else? Odd to NOT know exactly what and exactly when.
So tonight I made two loaves of fresh bread. that let me take the ‘day old bread’ and make it into cubes. I’ve now got 1/2 gallon of dried bread cubes. All home made. Next this evening is to lightly toast them and make finished croûtons. Then add the spices for the ‘stuffing mix’. Pre-chop the celery and onions. Tomorrow morning, combine the celery, onions, spiced croûtons, an egg and some butter. Then taste and adjust the seasoning. (Perhaps a bit of pepper) Over it I pour about a cup of bouillon to moisten. Then the bird gets stuffed and a bit of butter under the skin. Into the roaster and off we go. Sometimes I’ve done a butter herb mix. As I have sage growing in the garden now, I’m tempted to make a sage butter…
Yes, I fearlessly stuff the stuffing into the bird. The idea of putting the stuffing in a pan and not stuffing the bird with stuffing is just unrealistically paranoid. We do make a pan like that for the vegetarians, but really, properly done the flavor of both the bird and the stuffing are better together than apart. I’m not going to worry about underdone stuffing. If you cook the bird slowly, the stuffing WILL get hot, and pasteurized. Heck, I taste it raw (pre-bird though) with raw egg in it to assure the flavor / spices are right. (I also drink eggnog with raw eggs in it and like sushi. Haven’t died yet.)
So that’s what I’ll be doing the next 24 hours or so. Don’t expect me to be active on line a whole lot, but I might ‘pop in’ from time to time as ‘wait time’ on some step happens. After all, I’m used to this being a ‘one man show’ and with only the bird to do and some yams in a pot of syrup, well, it’s just not nearly as much ‘workload’.
Oh, and the Son in Chicago is making the Scalloped Corn dish that he so identifies with Thanksgiving. Not sure I’ll be able to savor the aroma from here, but it’s nice to know some of the family traditional foods are ‘carrying on’.
Take some time to savor your family and friends. To share some good food and good times. To remember that it doesn’t matter how crazy and screwed up the world might be, as long as you and yours are happy and together. “Tomorrow is another day”, and we can all get back to worrying about the future some time in the future. For now, it’s time to think food, spirits and family / friends spirit.
Happy Turkey Day!