Friday, November 29, 2013

Thanksgiving 2013

This Thanksgiving was a small one — at least as far as the crowd was concerned. Kyle and I hosted at our house, and both of our mothers came, and one sister each. (We both have two sisters, but the others had plans. My dad and stepmom were hosting her parents in southern Missouri, and Kyle's dad is in Sioux City, IA, with Kyle's grandmother.)

When it came to the food, though, excess was the theme (for which we were all thankful, of course). We had ordered an 18-pound turkey from our favorite butcher a while ago, just in case we ended up with a full house. And everyone chipped in with sides and desserts. It's safe to say we'll be eating Thanksgiving leftovers for days. In fact, I had pumpkin pie for breakfast today, and I don't feel bad about it.

Here are a few pictures from our Thanksgiving feast.

Kyle is pretty well known among our friends and family for his beer-can chicken, so this year, he got up before 7 am to start smoking a beer-can turkey on the Big Green Egg. Here's a tutorial.

He even stuffed a homemade herb butter under the turkey skin.

On Wednesday, I picked handfuls of sage from the remains of our little community garden plot. What didn't go into the food made a beautiful, fragrant centerpiece.

Every Thanksgiving, I make a sweet potato and goat cheese dish (called Sweet Potato Not Pie in my cookbook, Casserole Crazy). This year, I mixed it up and made whipped sweet potatoes with ginger and coconut, adapted from this recipe. I just used the entire can of coconut cream and increased the amount of ginger. Next time, I'll probably add a little cayenne pepper, too.

In addition to the sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts (with Kyle's homemade bacon), cranberry sauce, and macaroni and cheese with corn dish, I made my rustic stuffing. See the recipe below.

After dinner, and before pie and pumpkin brownies, my sister, Jo, made hand-whipped cream for the first time. Jack watched intently, hoping she'd drop a little on the floor. She didn't, but he managed to help clean a few plates when we weren't looking.

Here’s the recipe for my rustic Thanksgiving stuffing. It’s good any time of year, of course.

1 stick salted butter

3 tablespoons fresh, chopped sage

1 large, white onion, chopped

1 large carrot, finely chopped

3 stalks celery, finely chopped

2 apples, chopped (with skins)

3 cloves garlic, chopped

16 ounces vegetable broth

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 day-old baguette
1/2 cup dried cranberries

Kosher salt and freshly-ground pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Melt the butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat. When the butter is melted add one tablespoon of the sage, the onion, celery and the carrot. When the onions become translucent, add the garlic, apples, then salt and pepper generously, very generously. After the apples have cooked for about 2 minutes, pour the vegetable broth into the pan, season with the cayenne and more salt and pepper as needed, and let the mixture sauté for 1 to 2 more minutes.

Tear the bread into approximately 1/2-inch squares and place in a 2-3/4-quart casserole dish. Add the cranberries and remaining sage. Pour the wet mixture over the bread. Mix well and bake uncovered at 350ºF for about 45 minutes to an hour. For best results, stir at least once.

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