27 November 2008

Thanks...giving...and cooking

Ian and I decided to try the free range organic turkeys available from the Moscow Co-Op (despite the price tag--I think I actually yelled "HOLY SHIT!!" in the checkout line) and we were not disappointed. The meat was really juicy and flavorful, and the texture was more....something than those turkeys you can pick up at any supermarket.

This year, like last year, I was in charge of cooking the full meal. Ian's parents had suggested eating at the local Idaho Thanksgiving meal in a hotel, and my Chicago sensibilities wouldn't let that happen. The year I did eat at the Thanksgiving feed I wanted to die...or find a hole in which to stuff the disgusting plate before me. I can't eat at a makeshi(f)t Thanksgiving, and I'd rather cook.

I boil my potatoes in chicken broth for flavor and reserve some liquid for the mashing process, and this year, since I overcalculated the amount of whipping cream I would need, I used up the rest in my mashed potatoes. I added the butter and all ingredients, Ian mashed...I let him take the credit... Marriage is about sacrifice, no?

I love making my own cranberry sauce (as compared to that jelly-like can concoction people often serve) and this recipe also requires no definite measurements. For every 12 ounces of cranberries, add 1/2 cup of sugar and a 1/2 cup of orange juice. Simple and tastes like cranberry...

I also made my mother's (er, grandmother's) stuffing, which technically isn't a stuffing since it isn't cooked inside the bird. I have long feared food poisoning since my little brother contracted salmonella from White Castle, and thus I cook everything with reservation and anal retentive care. My grandmother's stuffing is very dense, so it doesn't come out soupy like many dressing recipes:

1 lb. ground pork
Lots and lots of celery leaves (not celery, LEAVES--it's where the flavor comes from)
1 or two stalks of celery, finely chopped
2 loaves of white bread (I use whole grain white bread)
Lots and lots of sage (no measurement here--make it fragrant, make it abundant)
Black pepper (I like fresh ground black pepper and lots of it)
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk (or more depending on consistency)
2 tbl. butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and coat a casserole dish with cooking spray. Tear bread into large pieces (sans crust) and then set aside. Fry up pork in a skillet, and once it browns, add celery leaves. Add celery pieces a few minutes later, then sage. Cook until crackling, or cook the crap out of it. Remove from heat and cool.

Once pork mixture cools, combine bread with two eggs and milk, then add black pepper. Add pork mixture and combine by hand (using utensils just doesn't work) until fully mixed. Transfer to casserole pan, and cut butter strips on top. Cover and bake for 45 minutes, and then uncover for 10-15 minutes.

Sweet Potato Casserole--aka my reason for living

Every year I end up Bogarting the sweet potatoes, and this is my favorite recipe for performing this action. YUM!

4 cups sweet potatoes, boiled or baked (I bake for the best taste)
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/4 tsp. salt (optional)
4 tbl. softened butter
1/4 to 1/2 cup evaporated milk
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/3 cup flour
3 tbl. softened butter
3/4 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. If you're cooking a turkey, it should already be at this point. Cook a casserole dish with cooking spray. Mash cooked sweet potatoes with the eggs, salt (optional--I rarely do include salt), butter, evaporated milk and vanilla extract. Mix thoroughly and add to casserole dish.

The butter should be soft but not liquid. Mix all ingredients except pecans together first, then add pecans. Cover the sweet potatoes in the casserole dish with the topping.

Cover and bake for twenty to thirty minutes, then remove cover for another ten minutes. Cool and serve.

Roasted Butternut Squash

16 oz. cubed raw butternut squash
2 tbl. olive oil
3 tbl. panko
1 tbl. fresh chopped Italian parsley
Salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Place butternut squash in a casserole dish and add ingredients in order, stirring with a spatula. Bake covered for fifteen minutes and remove cover for ten additional minutes, or until squash is tender.

Fancy Green Beans

1/2 lb. fresh French green beans (substituting others is fine)
1 tbl. walnut oil
3 tbl. sunflower kernels
1 tbl. Romano cheese in strips

Heat oil in a skillet and add green beans. Saute for two minutes and add sunflower kernels, and saute for an additional minute. Remove from heat. Add to serving platter to cool and shave Romano cheese on top of dish.


Jessica@Foodmayhem said...

Thanksgiving is meant to be cooked at a home, you can't go out for it so I'm glad you stood your ground! Looks like a yummy feast!

Dr. Food said...

Yeah, I have to say, all of the prep and cook hours are worth not eating canned turkey. I'm not sure what grosses me out more--canned cranberry sauce with the tin can lines still visible or turkey that still tastes of the preservative gel from the can.... bleck.