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November 24, 2006

Get me on the boil and reduce me to a simmering wreck with a slow kiss to the back of my neck

Oh, so much laughter, so much cooking, so much love. What a wonderful day yesterday was, start to finish!

Here are notes on dinner, which Debby and I think may be our best Thanksgiving effort EVAR. Subtitled "How you can tell that although we have assimilated, Todd and I were raised in the wilds of south Louisiana."

Snack was lovely paté, brought by new parents Josh and Judy. We'd told them they only needed to bring themselves, but they decided to show that they can still shop with the cleverest of them. V. yummy.

Throughout the day, Debby and I were somehow in seekrit competition to see which of us could suggest the most outrageous use of animal fat in our dinner. I think perhaps each was hoping to shock the other, to push boundaries until the other said No! We cannot do that! But we never reached that point, and the results were astounding.

We started out by frying breakfast sausage in butter, for the cornbread stuffing. Then we saved the butter/porkfat to use to a.) baste the turkey, and b.) sub in for butter in the biscuits. Mmmmm.

Here's our menu:

Heirloom turkey, brined with salt, sugar, and peppercorns, basted in butter and porkfat. Wild success.

Cornbread dressing, included sausage, half-and-half, and a bunch of very usual ingredients. So delicious.

Mashed potatoes and celery root. The celery root adds a bit of sweetness and lightness to the potatoes. Perfection.

Gravy. I minced up the offal (just heart and liver) and added in the bits of meat from the neck, which we'd made stock with (and added in some duck stock Debby just HAPPENED TO HAVE in her freezer). The gravy was thickened with a bit of cornstarch. Best gravy we've ever made. Rich, dark, meaty -- she and I were ready to pack in everything else and just dip biscuits in gravy for dinner.

Biscuits. Buttermilk biscuits from my favorite recipe (which I shall try to remember to transcribe). V. simple. But added in the porkfat to the called-for butter, which made them extra special this time. God, I love biscuits.

Collard greens. Cooked down with bacon, with a bit of homemade Inner Beauty hot sauce added for piquancy. These were bitter green perfection.

Squash. Butternut and acorn squash, baked with butter, mashed with maple syrup and soy sauce. A last minute addition to the menu because Debby was AFRAID THERE WOULDN'T BE ENOUGH FOOD, because she is just that sort of cook. And I love her for it, because if we hadn't made the squash we wouldn't have had the cooing and fussing and moaning that ensued as we ate the squash.

Dessert was pecan pie, made properly by Todd, with cane syrup in addition to dark Karo syrup. I'll dig up his recipe sometime; and also, caramel pumpkin tart, from the current issue of Gourmet, which turned out splendidly. Sort of a deep-dish pumpkin pie. I subbed in Todd's favorite pie crust recipe, as I did not have my own handy, and it was great, and clearly better than the requested one. We also grated fresh ginger in addition to powdered. Mmmm.

Josh and Judy also brought us ginger ice cream and pumpkin ice cream, from the local dairy in their town. Again, we'd have made do without this, but how could we refuse to let them contribute, even though their beautiful infant is only TWO WEEKS OLD. The ice cream really made the dessert course -- they were perfect with the pies.

Oh we were full. Stuporous. Sat around reading a Taschen book of atrocious and wonderful ads from the 70s, which continually made us ask, "Magazines thought that was okay to run? Good lord!"

And we laughed and we laughed all day, about nothing and everything, and it was a perfect day. One of many in my future, I am certain.

Posted by Rose at November 24, 2006 08:56 AM


Mashed potatoes and celery root! What a good idea. (I usually adulterate with turnips, but I love celeriac, too.)

If the pumpkin tart was from Gourmet, then I have it (that would be, uh, the issue that's still in its plastic wrapper, somewhere in that mountain of mail), but I'd still like to hear about your customizations.

Your Thanksgiving sounds awesome. Now I want to make me some biscuits with the bacon fat that's in the can on the back of the stove . . .

Posted by: I. at November 24, 2006 12:20 PM

So, I forgot my login at Gourmet; Debby will have to post our mods there. But for your edification: Their pie crust was all-butter, but I find that those are a little fiddly. I prefer a crust with a bit of shortening, not as much as half, but more than a quarter -- it makes the crust easier to handle (in my opinion). The complaints from users at epicurious.com involved their displeasure with the spicing, but Debby and I mutually felt that those folks were probably using old spices (there was one in particular where the person talked about the spice being powdery-tasting) -- we had nearly new stuff from Penzey's. We then also used grated ginger in addition to powdered, which gave the filling a nice brightness and zing.

Really, though they were tiny changes, we felt like they made a big difference in the final product, which we all *really* loved. And I just had a bit for the dessert course of our post-Thanksgiving breakfast (the decadence continues!) and it was just as wonderful.


PS: Yes! Make biscuits with bacon fat! One of us, one of us....

Posted by: Rose at November 24, 2006 12:45 PM

I think I gained 5 pounds just reading this. :)

Posted by: Ellen at November 24, 2006 03:57 PM

mmmmm! sounds heavenly!

we didn't let a drop of bacon grease go unused, either.

biscuits! just made some lovely pecan-sour cream specimens for a snack, oh yes biscuits love me some biscuits!

i do that thing, too... "there's not gonna be enough, better add this too." we are good providers is what we are.

Posted by: gotcha at November 29, 2006 02:21 AM