This entry is a bit belated—I’ve spent the better part of the last two weeks alternately getting my ass kicked at work and looking for a new job—but it deserves to be written. I decided not to go home for Thanksgiving this year, since I’m going home for Christmas and New Years, so Corinne and I had a wonderful time with the Julias, Zach, and Miss Anne at her place on Danneel Street.
The assignments were simple: I handled the bird and the stuffing, Julia Ramsey and Miss Anne took care of the side dishes and gravy, Corinne baked desserts, Zach was the bartender, and Julia Moore set a lovely table with silver and china. When combined, it was easily one of the best Thanksgivings I’ve ever had.
Since I’ve never roasted a turkey before, I sought advice at Lilette on how to roast a turkey to perfection. Pat said to ice the turkey breasts before roasting—a bag of ice over the turkey and in the cavity—to bring the temperature of the white meat at least 10 degrees below the rest of the bird. This way, both white and dark meat would come to the proper temperature at the same time. He also said to cover the breasts with bacon strips halfway through—it would protect the breasts from losing moisture. And it would add great flavor.
I also used some of my Lilette experience in preparing the bird. I cured it overnight with kosher salt, black pepper, garlic powder, cayenne, and satsuma juice. I stuffed it with mirepoix (carrot, celery, onion) and the satsuma rind to add moisture, and I trussed it. Halfway through roasting—1.5 hours in at 350 degrees—I covered the breasts with applewood smoked bacon. Another 2 hours later, it was a nice, golden brown color. I dubbed it “TurBacon,” a word which was repeated throughout the evening, especially after many glasses of champagne.
While my turkey was a Lilette-based idea, the stuffing came from my grandfather. Roasted chestnut and sausage stuffing. Simple ingredients: roasted chestnuts, crumbled italian sausage, sourdough bread cubes, finely chopped mirepoix, chicken stock, sage, thyme, and an egg to bind everything together. The result brought me back to Thanksgivings from my childhood.
As for sides, Julia and Miss Anne had some great treats for us. Garlic mashed potatoes, peas in a roux, green bean salad, eggplant casserole with shrimp and crab, roasted sweet potatoes with goat cheese, Virginia ham, homemade cranberry sauce. All delicious, with some reminding me that this is a much different Thanksgiving than ones I’ve had up north.
And once we all piled our plates high, had a toast (to TurBacon!) and proceeded to forge our way into food-coma territory, the result looked something like this.
A delicious meal with friends.
One of the best parts of the night, of course, was dessert. Corinne made one of her great recipes: a spiced apple pie. Nutmeg, clove, ginger, cinnamon, and cardamom.
She also made a chocolate bourbon pecan pie, and a sweet potato and spiced rum cheesecake. All delicious and equally capable of inducing food-comas. Corinne’s baking talents never cease to amaze me.
While I was a bit sad being so far away from my family for Thanksgiving—Chelsea in Hawaii, Bianca in Washington state, my parents, brother, and grandparents in Rhode Island—I still had a great time with wonderful friends. That was the best part of the night—sitting around, being silly, drinking champagne, rooting for the Saints and having a great time. I’m glad to know that if I’m in New Orleans for Thanksgiving again, I’ll have these people to share it with.
In the words of my friend and fellow poet Abel Collins: “Here’s to us, none like us, and here we are.”