28 November 2011

Thanksgiving Roundup

I had a lovely Thanksgiving weekend, and hope you did as well. I spent Thursday with my immediate family: Mom and Dad; my brother, sister-in-law, and niece (the latter two were recipients of butterbeer); and The Roommate. Let us not forget the canine contingent: Wolfie, Bailey, and Heidi. Dad smoked a small turkey breast, but the big draw was a medium-rare smoked ribeye roast with fresh horseradish sauce. Lots of classic side dishes like my Mom's wonderful sweet potato casserole. We all sluggishly moved from the dining room to the living room and slumped into a variety of couches and easy chairs. And that's what the holiday is all about.

Every year after Thanksgiving, I like to grab a cheap turkey and a few other odds and ends from the store. This began years ago when The Roommate lamented the lack of leftovers associated with attending a big family gathering, so I began doing a small Thanksgiving dinner on Friday or Saturday so that we'd have good stuff to eat for days afterward. And then I began doing little twists here and there. This year, I fabricated a turkey and threw the breast in the oven while saving the legs and wings for the smoker. Four hours with apple wood later, I had some damned fine bird.

Julia joined The Roommate and me Saturday for lunch, where I started out with melted brie. And since she hasn't stopped raving about it, I made Julia another batch of sweet potato-green apple soup (this time I used a whole bulb of roasted garlic, and it was wonderful). I decided to have a little fun with the sour cream garnish. The appetizers and soup were served with a basic sparkling wine (more in a future post!), and the crisp bubbles were a nice contrast against the rich cheese and soup.

I kept the main course pretty simple. Fresh cranberry sauce, steamed vegetables, and intensely flavored turkey. The smoked portion was marinated and basted with Wicker's while the breast was rubbed down with a tandoori spice blend and roasted in the oven. I liked the smoked version better. Served with amazing Pinot Noir, details later.

What of the starch-heavy sides? The gravy? I like those things, but on a second Thanksgiving I like to keep things a little lighter and fresher. I want to make the turkey taste great on its own, to the point that no other additions are necessary. Those smoked wings? Probably going to go in a big pot of collard greens this week.

After a few movies (and I fell asleep during one*), it was time for dinner, and I threw together a delicious little sandwich with the leftovers: smoked turkey, cranberry sauce, and brie grilled on good whole grain bread. The combination is wonderful, but I felt the need to add a little horseradish mustard to mine. And there's enough remnants in the fridge that I can throw together another one of these right now if I want. Yep, I think I want.

* * *

It's been rainy and grey the past couple of days, but inside it's been warm and glowing with the fellowship of family and friends. Cheers to everyone this holiday season, and I hope you get to eat and drink well in December.

*I missed about 45 minutes of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2. I will catch up soon.

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