Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays, probably because it is focused on food. I recently learned that when the pilgrims came to New England and saw turkeys they weren’t surprised by them. Turkey had already become popular in England because they had been imported from the new world at around 1550. I had no idea that Turkey had been popular in Europe before the first Thanksgiving actually took place in the “New World.” I guess good food travels fast. It’s remarkable how many wonderful foods the native people of America have given the world.
There is always a lot of stress involved with Thanksgiving. Being with family can make some fragile, some have to travel long distances and for those that are responsible for cooking there is another level of stress. I love to cook, and am happiest at the stove, feeding people I love, but for many the whole process can be daunting. This is why being an appreciative guest is so important. It’s important to encourage new cooks, and the only way to become a good cook is to actually cook–so keep that in mind if you are a guest to a nervous cook.
I am so grateful that I can celebrate Thanksgiving twice, once with my husband’s family(which has vegetarians) and then on Friday with my family. It’s going to be wonderful! We have already finalized the menu for both days and it’s going to be a fun collaborative effort with both of my families! Menu for 1st Thanksgiving: pumpkin soup, creamed spinach, corn bread stuffing, roasted turkey, vegetarian and turkey gravy, shredded Brussel sprouts with hazelnuts, mashed roasted butternut squash with cinnamon, baked mushroom risotto, mashed potatoes, butter pecan sweet potatoes. Second Thanksgiving on Friday: 3 of our own ducks and 2 chickens from our farm slaughtered by my dad, port and cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, butter pecan sweet potatoes, wild rice casserole, stuffing, creamed kale, turnip casserole, curried brussel sprouts. Also dessert for both Thanksgivings: pies and cranberry souffle. Can’t wait!!! What do you have planned?
To brine or not to brine? That’s the question. Most experts say not to a brine if you are using a heritage pastured bird and I agree. Shannon Hayes says it better than me in this post. If you are roasting a heritage or (real) pastured turkey it is best not to brine because the turkey is already going to be far more flavorful than a commodity bird and will be far juicier. The secret is relying on your thermometer because they cook quicker. I love Alton Brown’s turkey recipe which I have blogged about before, starting out the oven at a hot temperature and then lowering it always results in a juicy bird that doesn’t take too long. I have also blogged about it here. To complicate matters, I have heard from friends who have complained that a pastured heritage bird was dry and tough. This might be partially do to with it being harvested too early, if your turkey doesn’t look finished(really skinny looking even for a heritage turkey) braising it might be best.
Happy Thanksgiving!!!!Pin It