this year, i’m doing thanksgiving twice. last night, carla and i threw a dinner for eight. look what a lovely setting she made:
pickled beets and quail eggs (which is now my traditional thanksgiving dish, it seems) and braised brussels sprouts. you can just make out the turkey resting in the background behind the sprouts. i used this year’s gourmet and nytimes instructions for the simplest, most straight-up roasted turkey, and it worked perfectly. i cranked my oven up to Big Flame and sprinkled salt and pepper really liberally all over mr. turkey and shoved him in, legs first. it took a little less than two hours for a 6-kilo turkey, and i didn’t baste — not once. and there was no need to. i think it has partially to do with the superior quality of turkey one finds here. they’re not easy to find, but i’m willing to bet that they are all free-range. they also haven’t been bred to the point where they’re all dry, cottony breast. and in fact, the breast meat on the two turkeys i’ve had over here retained a succulence that you’d be hard-pressed to find in the states, unless you got one of these guys. this turkey also rendered out a remarkable amount of fat. i might have to make matzo balls with all the turkey schmaltz i’ve got in the fridge now. bra is kind of like nyc in that no one has a kitchen that can quite handle turning out a whole thanksgiving dinner, so i did the turkey at my house, and we drove it over to ugo’s:
he looks kind of dinosaur-like, doesn’t he? the high heat made him look a little shrivelly and wizened, but he tasted pretty alright. i was definitely happiest with the gravy, which required a whole stock-making session on wednesday and then a little flour slurry (which is how one avoids lumpiness), deglazing and lots and lots of drippings. all the salt and pepper i threw on the turkey actually eliminated the need to season the gravy.
so, we had, from left, clockwise, braised brussels sprouts, mashed potatoes (which are mounded on top of some awesome stuffing), roasted sweet potatoes, turkey, and pickled beets and quail egg. there was also a beautiful mâche salad, green beans (blanched and tossed with olive oil, lemon zest and pine nuts, from the same gourmet), cranberry sauce and, naturally
pumpkin pie (or a tart version if you really want to split hairs). you know, i’d always believed that one can’t make proper pumpkin pie from actual fresh pumpkins — that you need to use the canned cucurbit, but i’ve now had two specimens that have totally converted me. using fresh pumpkin gives the pie much more elegance, flavor- and texture-wise. there’s a lightness to it and it tends not to become as cloyingly overspiced and oversweetened as the kind made from the canned.
round 2 begins tomorrow. first i have to get my ass to england.