Oh my Lord, it’s Thanksgiving tomorrow.Â As Ferdinand says, “WHAT THE HECK!!??”Â Â I don’t know how it happened or what business it has showing up like that–I haven’t mopped, I haven’t folded the laundry, I haven’t shopped, planned or frozen a pie crust.Â Â We could do a repeat menu of the Thanksgiving of 1970 something when the ice brought down the power lines–pigs in a blanket and popcorn over the fire–or cereal and pie or turkey and Entenmann’s or just beautiful wine with a cheese that Jonathan bought me yesterday that is made from half milk from the morning milking, a layer of ash and half milk from the nighttime draw.Â Or just do it.Â Think of the child.Â What kind of cook/mother leaves her five year old to go back to school on Monday to report that his mother fell asleep so he ate the rest of his Halloween candy.Â Not so nice.
I’m sticking to the classics.Â Turkey.Â Remember that turkey is just a big chicken.Â Cook it slowly, seasoned really well with kosher salt inside and out, with fresh sage, thyme and rosemary, a head of garlic, an onion, an apple shoved inside, and baste it every fifteen minutes with room temperature water for the first hour.Â After that, every half hour with pan drippings.Â If you have a rack that it can sit on in the pan, even better, so that the bottom doesn’t get all gloppy.Â Set the oven at 350 degrees until the last half hour, which will be when the legs start to get a little wiggly, then shove the oven up to 450 to crisp the skin.
Make stock with the neck, the wing tips, onion, celery, carrot, a clove of garlic, a bay leaf, a sprig of parsley and a thyme sprig.Â You have to have stock on the stove like hot water at a birth.Â You need it.Â Cut up an onion and the inside stalks of a head of celery and season it with salt and pepper.Â I like to add a whole, uncut clove of garlic as well, with some fresh sage, but do what you need to do.Â Cook this until it is absolutely delicious and crying out to be eaten.Â Restrain yourself and leave it in the pot.Â Add about a pound of fresh, chunky bread crumbs, four tablespoons of softened butter and a good spill of stock.Â Butter a casserole and cook it alongside the turkey.Â Not in the turkey.Â Danger, danger.Â If you have to, you can spoon it in there right before you crank the oven up at the end.
Cube up some butternut squash, coat it with the best olive oil you can find or swindle, sprinkle with salt and roast at 375 until tender on a sheet pan.
Get a few shallots diced and in the pan with a little olive oil and butter.Â Cook them until softened and just a bit caramelized.Â Remove from the pan.Â Another spill of olive oil.Â Add some cremini and shitake mushrooms.Â Without moving them, get them seared on one side.Â Season with salt.Â Cook a bit more until tender over lower heat.Â Combine with the shallot and serve over toasted bread, or just as a side to your turkey.
Cranberry sauce.Â They have a great recipe right on the package.Â Add a little orange zest for fun.
String beans.Â Just steam them with a spill of olive oil and salt right over the top before the lid goes on and when they come out, butter and salt.
Mashed potatoes.Â Add a little roasted whole garlic and parmesan to get the crowd making noises.
You can make a salad, but people might not eat it.Â Make carrots instead.Â Plain with butter or use up the rest of your shallots , getting them gorgeous in the saute pan with olive oil before they heat the tender boiled carrots, and a teeny shot of good balsamic from Modena.
Start the whole thing off with a roasted or steamed vegetable salad–knock yourself out and use any vegetable you can think of along with capers and olives and sprigs of herbs.
Kiss your man and tell him it’s his year to make the pies.
Light the candles, put the music on, sit, breathe, and eat.